fbpx

Experiences of a Level 46 Archmage – Modern After Worlds

Modern is such a great format. The only problem with it is I can only play it at certain times such as a PTQ season or a Grand Prix/Pro Tour. While I understand the format can be expensive for many, the fun level is much higher than Standard in my opinion.

Luckily for me, Modern was the final day of Worlds and I would stick it out even though I posted a 2-4 in Standard and 3-3 in draft. Many of the players were uncertain of the right deck for Modern because there weren’t any firing Magic Online events or SCG Opens to tell us exactly what to expect. Everyone knew Zoo and Splinter Twin would be big going into the event because beatdown has never been a bad choice and Twin only lost [card]Ponder[/card] and [card]Preordain[/card], but won the last Pro Tour. Losing [card]Ponder[/card] and [card]Preordain[/card] is not the best news for Twin players, but [card]Sleight of Hand[/card] and [card]Serum Visions[/card] will do just fine.

I normally preach to take decklists from Worlds with a grain of salt and this year is no different. A majority of the players I talked to didn’t play much Modern since Pro Tour Philadelphia. It will take a few tournaments to get a feel for what the format should look like for the PTQ season in the winter. So far, we have a diverse metagame as is often the case in unexplored formats. The card pool got smaller thanks to the recent changes to the banned list.

[draft]Rite of Flame
Ponder
Preordain
Cloudpost
Green Sun’s Zenith
Blazing Shoal[/draft]

Cloudpost was quickly identified as the boogieman of the format and forced players to accept its dominance or lose. WOTC has pretty much stopped all of the combo decks from either being too consistent or just destroying them altogether. They want a fair format and you are going to have to play by their rules to win. Naturally, many of the players I talked to looked for a Zoo deck that crushed the mirror because it would most likely be the most popular choice. The strange thing is that there are so many options to beat the mirror with the exception of little zoo. Midrange Zoo decks were clearly the way to go and the more controlling the deck, the better it is for the mirror.

Our options include:

[draft]Punishing Fire
Eternal Witness
Tribal Flames
Snapcaster Mage
Bant Charm
Knight of the Reliquary
Elspeth, Knight-Errant
Ajani Vengeant
Gideon Jura
Baneslayer Angel[/draft]

My weapon of choice took me to a 4-1 finish with an intentional draw in the last round since I couldn’t get any better than top 200 with a win, but a loss could knock me out.

[deck]2 Eternal Witness
4 Tarmogoyf
4 Qasali Pridemage
4 Wild Nacatl
4 Knight of the Reliquary
4 Noble Hierarch
4 Path to Exile
4 Tribal Flames
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Lightning Helix
2 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
4 Arid Mesa
1 Forest
2 Marsh Flats
4 Misty Rainforest
1 Mountain
1 Plains
2 Sacred Foundry
1 Scalding Tarn
2 Stomping Ground
2 Temple Garden
1 Treetop Village
1 Watery Grave
Sideboard
1 Ajani Vengeant
3 Ancient Grudge
2 Gaddock Teeg
1 Journey to Nowhere
2 Lightning Helix
1 Ranger of Eos
2 Rule of Law
2 Spellskite
1 Tectonic Edge[/deck]

Overall, I was very happy with the deck because the two Zoo mirrors felt very favorable. I beat both Bant Zoo (midrange) and Tribal Zoo (little Zoo) 2-0 with commanding board states in each game. [card elspeth, knight-errant]Elspeth[/card] is probably the strongest card in the mirror because it turns every creature into a must-answer threat (even [card]Noble Hierarch[/card]). It also stops your opponent from having an Elspeth in play which is crucial. Sometimes it can be difficult to attack in the mirror because you are facing down a giant [card]Knight of the Reliquary[/card], but the +3+3 and flying completely changes the game.

I chose to exclude [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card] because the mana is atrocious with [card]Tribal Flames[/card] and blue spells. Who wants to fetch an Island, Naya duals, and a black source every game? Mage also makes [card]Bant Charm[/card] an easy splash, but this creates a deck that is terrible against removal spells. Each burn spell you cut makes control a worse matchup because it reduces your late-game reach. The idea behind my version of Zoo is to have access to essentially 6 [card]Tribal Flames[/card] because [card]Wrath of God[/card] is bad news for me otherwise.

Conley Woods didn’t lose an actual match with this list (he was 4-2, but conceded to two team mates).

[deck]4 Arid Mesa
1 Breeding Pool
1 Forest
1 Hallowed Fountain
1 Horizon Canopy
1 Kessig Wolf Run
4 Misty Rainforest
1 Plains
1 Sacred Foundry
3 Scalding Tarn
1 Steam Vents
2 Stomping Ground
1 Temple Garden
1 Geist of Saint Traft
2 Kitchen Finks
4 Knight of the Reliquary
4 Noble Hierarch
2 Qasali Pridemage
1 Snapcaster Mage
4 Tarmogoyf
4 Wild Nacatl
2 Bant Charm
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Lightning Helix
2 Negate
4 Path to Exile
Sideboard
2 Ancient Grudge
2 Combust
2 Gideon Jura
2 Kitchen Finks
1 Mindbreak Trap
1 Ranger of Eos
1 Rule of Law
1 Seal of Primordium
2 Spell Pierce
1 Torpor Orb[/deck] [card]Geist of Saint Traft[/card] is an interesting idea because it’s great with exalted. I’m a little puzzled by the lack of Elspeth because it’s so good in the mirror and has great synergy with the deck. I think 2 [card]Qasali Pridemage[/card] is the right number because it’s not amazing against Splinter Twin due to their [card]Punishing Fire[/card], [card kiki-jiki, mirror breaker]Kiki-Jiki[/card], and [card]Firespout[/card]. I overlooked the new colorless land cycle for Modern, but [card]Kessig Wolf Run[/card] and [card]Moorland Haunt[/card] are both powerful options. [card]Knight of the Reliquary[/card] can get large so trample can be important in the mirror and extra damage is crucial against control.

Richard Bland used many of the mentioned cards in the maindeck of Zoo to crush the mirror as well. He combined planeswalkers and Punishing Fire to have an unbeatable endgame in the mirror.

[deck]4 Arid Mesa
2 Forest
4 Grove of the Burnwillows
1 Horizon Canopy
4 Misty Rainforest
1 Mountain
1 Plains
2 Sacred Foundry
1 Stirring Wildwood
2 Stomping Ground
1 Tectonic Edge
1 Temple Garden
4 Knight of the Reliquary
4 Noble Hierarch
2 Qasali Pridemage
4 Tarmogoyf
4 Wild Nacatl
2 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
2 Gideon Jura
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Lightning Helix
4 Path to Exile
4 Punishing Fire
Sideboard
2 Ancient Grudge
2 Combust
1 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
1 Lightning Helix
2 Qasali Pridemage
2 Relic of Progenitus
3 Rule of Law
2 Sword of Feast and Famine[/deck]

It appears the best way to have a shot in the mirror is to include [card]Oblivion Ring[/card] or [card]Beast Within[/card] somewhere in the 75 to deal with planeswalkers. It’s pretty tough to beat an Elspeth, but [card]Gideon Jura[/card] seems insane after seeing it in my opponent’s hand after a match. Twenty-four lands and 4 [card]Noble Hierarch[/card]s seems like a lot, but planeswalkers, [card]Punishing Fire[/card], and utility lands give Richard extra mana sinks.

Notice how both Richard and myself have [card]Rule of Law[/card] over [card]Ethersworn Canonist[/card]. This was to avoid [card]Firespout[/card] from Blue Red combo decks and [card]Ingot Chewer[/card] from Living End. This choice has been gaining steam this season so it may not be worth it for now when everyone expects it. The difference between two and three mana can be crucial against combo decks.

We both play at least three [card]Lightning Helix[/card] because Burn can be a very difficult matchup. You don’t want to run out a turn 1 [card]Wild Nacatl[/card] if it means taking even two damage. I lost game one to burn at Worlds because I didn’t find a way to gain life, but [card]Eternal Witness[/card] returning Helix can be game ending. I was essentially [card]Time Walk[/card]ed every turn because my duals came into play tapped to save life. The moral of the story is to not underestimate burn because it’s actually good.

As you can see, Zoo has had a good amount of high finishes at Worlds (33 players finished 4-2 or better), but there were many different versions. Slow Zoo is great against the mirror while Domain Zoo has a better chance against control and combo.

The first couple weeks of the Modern season will be heavily focused on Zoo and decks that think they beat zoo consistently. There were many decks in the tournament that appeared to have a strong Zoo matchup and were rewarded with high finishes. My loss was at the hands of Kai Burnett and his Birthing Pod/Melira Combo deck. I felt like I had no chance against this deck because the individual combo cards were strong against me as well as the utility creatures; the Birthing Pod was just icing on the cake.

[deck]5 Forest
2 Godless Shrine
4 Misty Rainforest
2 Overgrown Tomb
1 Sunpetal Grove
2 Swamp
2 Temple Garden
1 Twilight Mire
4 Verdant Catacombs
1 Acidic Slime
4 Birds of Paradise
1 Eternal Witness
1 Fulminator Mage
4 Kitchen Finks
3 Melira, Sylvok Outcast
1 Murderous Redcap
1 Nekrataal
1 Obstinate Baloth
1 Phyrexian Metamorph
1 Ranger of Eos
1 Reveillark
1 Spellskite
1 Sun Titan
3 Viscera Seer
4 Wall of Roots
4 Birthing Pod
4 Chord of Calling
Sideboard
1 Kataki, War’s Wage
1 Linvala, Keeper of Silence
1 Obstinate Baloth
1 Orzhov Pontiff
3 Path to Exile
1 Qasali Pridemage
1 Shriekmaw
4 Thoughtseize
1 Tidehollow Sculler
1 Withered Wretch[/deck]

This will be a powerful option at the beginning of the season because of the powerful Zoo matchup. It plays [card]Spellskite[/card], [card]Nekrataal[/card], [card]Reveillark[/card], [card]Kitchen Finks[/card], [card]Obstinate Baloth[/card], and [card]Wall of Roots[/card] in the maindeck- that is hateful. The deck can just get maximum value from a resolved [card]Birthing Pod[/card] against other decks since [card]Fulminator Mage[/card] is great against control, as is [card]Acidic Slime[/card] and [card]Sun Titan[/card].

I would be prepared for the Melira combo at your next Modern event because it was not heavily represented, but had great preformances.

Shuhei Nakamura

[deck]1 Blood Crypt
1 Breeding Pool
1 Darkslick Shores
1 Forest
2 Graven Cairns
4 Grove of the Burnwillows
1 Island
2 Misty Rainforest
1 Overgrown Tomb
1 Stomping Ground
2 Swamp
1 Tectonic Edge
2 Twilight Mire
3 Verdant Catacombs
1 Watery Grave
2 Eternal Witness
2 Kitchen Finks
4 Sakura-Tribe Elder
1 Snapcaster Mage
1 All Suns’ Dawn
1 Consuming Vapors
2 Damnation
1 Doom Blade
1 Duress
2 Engineered Explosives
4 Gifts Ungiven
1 Go for the Throat
2 Inquisition of Kozilek
1 Life from the Loam
3 Liliana of the Veil
3 Punishing Fire
1 Raven’s Crime
1 Rude Awakening
1 Smother
2 Thirst for Knowledge
Sideboard
2 Ancient Grudge
2 Combust
1 Extirpate
1 Obstinate Baloth
2 Seal of Primordium
4 Tarmogoyf
3 Thoughtseize[/deck]

This was a very cool deck that will no doubt be a major player in the early season. It’s a rock deck with plenty of play and has great cards against more than just aggro decks. Shuhei posted an impressive 6-0 record with the deck; [card]Gifts Ungiven[/card] is insane and it deserves a place in the metagame.

Modern is a reason to hold on to [card]Liliana of the Veil[/card] because it’s great in this deck because you can discard [card]Punishing Fire[/card] and return it or just kill a [card]Tarmogoyf[/card]. We also saw plenty of Jund decks including the MTGO World Champion, Reid Duke (congrats!). He chose to play Bant Zoo up until the finals where he beat Big Zoo with the help of Liliana and [card]Bloodbraid Elf[/card].

Tommy Ashton won 5 rounds with this list at Worlds.

[deck]4 Blackcleave Cliffs
1 Blood Crypt
1 Fire-Lit Thicket
2 Forest
4 Grove of the Burnwillows
1 Overgrown Tomb
1 Stomping Ground
2 Swamp
4 Treetop Village
2 Twilight Mire
4 Verdant Catacombs
4 Bloodbraid Elf
4 Dark Confidant
1 Eternal Witness
3 Kitchen Finks
4 Tarmogoyf
1 Thrun, the Last Troll
2 Inquisition of Kozilek
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Liliana of the Veil
4 Punishing Fire
3 Thoughtseize
Sideboard
2 Ancient Grudge
2 Deathmark
2 Inquisition of Kozilek
1 Kitchen Finks
3 Surgical Extraction
3 Terminate
1 Thoughtseize
1 Thrun, the Last Troll[/deck]

A key player in the Modern format is the interaction between [card]Punishing Fire[/card] and [card]Liliana of the Veil[/card]. Clearly, it’s possible to combine it in aggro/control or just grinding control decks. It also seems pretty good to cascade into [card]Liliana of the Veil[/card] from [card]Bloodbraid Elf[/card], but the second one would be awkward due to the legend rule. Perhaps a smaller amount of Lilianas would be ideal because of the cascade interaction.

I like the heavy amounts of discard in here because Jund has always had an issue with being too clunky in games. The last thing you want is a hand full of three drops only to lose immediately to a fast start.

I think it can be possible to include Boom/Bust in this deck because it has the capability to blow up all lands thanks to [card]Bloodbraid Elf[/card]. Boom stops on cascade flips, but the rules say you can cast either part of the split card. Although [card]Noble Hierarch[/card] is clearly weaker due to the color choices, [card]Birds of Paradise[/card] can be almost as good for color fixing. Many players had success with Busty Zoo at Worlds although the non-bo of [card]Path to Exile[/card] and [card]Blood Moon[/card] appeared in every list (though some more than others).

Andrew Roistan pulled off an undefeated record with this list.

[deck]4 Arid Mesa
2 Forest
1 Ghost Quarter
3 Marsh Flats
4 Misty Rainforest
1 Mountain
1 Plains
2 Sacred Foundry
2 Stomping Ground
2 Temple Garden
1 Treetop Village
4 Bloodbraid Elf
4 Boom Bust
4 Knight of the Reliquary
4 Noble Hierarch
2 Qasali Pridemage
4 Tarmogoyf
4 Wild Nacatl
2 Blood Moon
1 Dismember
4 Lightning Bolt
3 Lightning Helix
1 Path to Exile
Sideboard
3 Ancient Grudge
2 Gaddock Teeg
1 Geistflame
3 Kitchen Finks
2 Nature’s Claim
2 Path to Exile
2 Rule of Law[/deck]

I like that he kept the [card]Path to Exile[/card] to just one copy as I have been seeing 3-4 as industry standard. If you are going to cast [card]Blood Moon[/card], there is no reason to play more than one Path maindeck. I played [card]Path to Exile[/card] in my sideboard because I would take out [card]Blood Moon[/card] and Boom//Bust against creature decks so the strategy behind the deck changed completely. [card]Temporal Isolation[/card] was a great card when DJ Kastner and I made the deck last year because of [card]Dark Depths[/card]. The existence of Splinter Twin makes playing this deck a strange endeavor because [card]Dismember[/card] has high diminishing returns and [card]Path to Exile[/card] has no synergy with the deck. Other options include [card]Journey to Nowhere[/card] and [card]Oust[/card]; neither of these choices can beat infinite 1/4s.

Enough about Zoo, lets look at some control decks.

Jun’ya Iyanaga played an interesting [card]Mystical Teachings[/card] deck.

[deck]4 Creeping Tar Pit
1 Darkslick Shores
2 Fetid Heath
1 Godless Shrine
1 Hallowed Fountain
1 Island
3 Isolated Chapel
4 Marsh Flats
1 Plains
4 River of Tears
1 Shizo, Death’s Storehouse
1 Swamp
1 Verdant Catacombs
1 Watery Grave
3 Snapcaster Mage
1 Consume the Meek
1 Cryptic Command
2 Damnation
1 Doom Blade
4 Esper Charm
1 Gifts Ungiven
4 Inquisition of Kozilek
4 Mystical Teachings
1 Pact of Negation
4 Path to Exile
1 Pithing Needle
1 Rest for the Weary
1 Smother
1 Surgical Extraction
4 Thoughtseize
Sideboard
1 Damnation
2 Deathmark
1 Duress
3 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
4 Geist of Saint Traft
4 Timely Reinforcements[/deck]

Is [card]Rest for the Weary[/card] the new anti-red spell due to the synergy with [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card]? The [card]Inquisition of Kozilek[/card] combined with Snapcaster is pretty cool as well since you can disrupt your opponent’s curve without losing life like with [card]Thoughtseize[/card]. What I learned from this deck is that it’s possible to play a slow and grinding control deck with minimal counters, but still win.

A cool idea I heard about is casting [card]Gifts Ungiven[/card] for [card]Iona, Shield of Emeria[/card] and [card]Unburial Rites[/card] to dump them both into the graveyard. You are only required to search for two cards and the first two of them are put into the graveyard so it’s possible to dump a bomb and a reanimation spell for 4 mana. I could see putting that combo into this deck since the deck could take a while to win without a quick finisher.

Robert Jurkovic had a cool Teachings list that earned him a 4-1-1 record.

[deck]2 Creeping Tar Pit
2 Drowned Catacomb
3 Glacial Fortress
1 Godless Shrine
2 Hallowed Fountain
5 Island
4 Marsh Flats
1 Plains
2 Scalding Tarn
1 Swamp
2 Watery Grave
1 Grave Titan
4 Snapcaster Mage
1 Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
1 Vendilion Clique
4 Cryptic Command
4 Esper Charm
1 Go for the Throat
3 Inquisition of Kozilek
4 Mana Leak
3 Mystical Teachings
3 Path to Exile
1 Slaughter Pact
1 Smother
3 Spell Pierce
1 Surgical Extraction
Sideboard
1 Consume the Meek
1 Damnation
3 Deathmark
1 Dismember
1 Rest for the Weary
1 Silence
1 Surgical Extraction
2 Thoughtseize
3 Timely Reinforcements
1 Vendilion Clique[/deck] [card]Spell Pierce[/card] has appeared in a decent amount of lists that include Zoo decks from Channelfireball; the synergy with [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card] is almost worth the inclusion alone. It is essentially a hard counter in the late game with [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card] because they have to pay 4 mana.

I like that Robert plays 4 [card]Cryptic Command[/card] because every game is going to go late. Only 7 creatures in the deck and they are bad at attacking so counters are important. What’s better than flashing back a [card]Cryptic Command[/card] countering a spell and returning [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card]?

Modern is a pretty diverse format if you look past all of the different Zoo decks. Worlds is just a starting point because many of the players simply took the most obvious deck to them since testing for Modern was not important to many of the players. They had to test for Standard and Draft, but Modern is on the last day so it is easy to put off. It’s not that they planned on testing later in the weekend, but it takes a lot of time to adequately prepare for more than two formats.

There is plenty of innovation to be had in the coming months as Modern is likely to become more popular thanks to the next PTQ season. I would pick a deck at around this time and assemble it before the card prices shoot through the roof again.

That’s all for this week, thanks for reading!

Kyle

kmboggemesATgmailDOTcom

Discussion

Scroll to Top