Jeskai Twin

Today I’m going to talk about the deck that won GP Pittsburgh—UWR Twin. It’s also the deck that I played at GP Porto Alegre, and even though I didn’t do well, I thought it was a good metagame choice.

Each list of Twin has its advantages and disadvantages. UR has the best mana and can afford to play Blood Moon without being punished. Grixis Twin and Tarmo Twin add some sideboard cards and can play undercosted beaters (Tasigur and Tarmogoyf) to get an edge against other blue decks. UWR is generally going to be better against the fair decks, which is where the white cards shine:

  • You’re better against Junk and Jund (especially Jund) because you have two cards that are very hard for them to deal with—Restoration Angel and Celestial Colonnade.
  • You’re better against Zoo and Burn because you have Path to Exile and Wall of Omens in the main deck, and access to powerful sideboard cards (Timely Reinforcements or Leyline). This is huge because there’s no nonwhite card that is nearly as good as Timely or Leyline in the red matchups.
  • You’re better against Affinity because you have Path to Exile that kills anything and Restoration Angel that blocks a lot of their creatures (particularly Signal Pest). You can also sideboard in Stony Silence which is the best card against them.
  • You’re better against Infect because pump spells don’t stop Path to Exile.
  • You’re better in the UR mirror because you have Path and better threats.
  • You’re better against Spellskite since you have Path, and Kiki-Jiki ignores it.

As a counterpoint, you’re worse against the unfair decks—your deck is slower and less dedicated to the combo, and white doesn’t offer the disruption you can get from black. This includes but isn’t limited to:

  • Tron
  • Amulet
  • Griselbrand
  • Bogles
  • Living End
  • Scapeshift

You’re also unfavorable against Grixis Twin, depending on how their deck is constructed (they have better sideboard options than you).

As you can see, it’s hard to know which deck is better at any given moment—it really depends on what you get matched up against. Right now, I’d say the decks you’re better against will outnumber the decks you’re worse against by a decent amount, which makes UWR a good build of Twin and the one I’d play in a Modern tournament right now.

Here is the list Alex Bianchi played at the GP Pittsburgh:

Jeskai Twin

Alex’s list looks erratic to me. There are a bunch of 1-ofs, and some 3-ofs that are usually 4-ofs. It’s not impossible that this is right, but it’s unlikely. The list I like is a bit more streamlined. This is what I would play right now:

Jeskai Twin

By Paulo Vitor Damo Da Rosa

This deck plays like a control deck that has a combo kill, and not the other way around. This is different than the Grixis builds I used to play—those were more focused on the combo. You will often play this like a control deck with Bolts, Paths, Snapcasters, and Angels, and you will win more than half of your games without Splinter Twin. Even then, it’s important to have the combo in your deck for two reasons:

  1. It gives you game against horrible matchups. UWR is great against fair decks, but it’s awful against decks like Amulet, Tron, and Scapeshift. With the combo, you can randomly kill those decks on turn 4, and that makes a big difference.
  2. It makes people play and sideboard differently against you. Even if you don’t kill them with the combo, the combo is very threatening, and forces them to react to it—the reason you don’t kill them with the combo is because they go to great lengths to stop you from doing it by not tapping out, saving removal spells, and not siding out cards like Abrupt Decay.

The main differences from my build and Bianchi’s are:

+2 Wall of Omens

Wall of Omens is a very good card, and one of the reasons to play white in the deck. It blocks Goblin Guide and Wild Nacatl, it helps with land drops, it protects you from Liliana and it cantrips with Restoration Angel. It’s also a fallback target for Splinter Twin and Kiki-Jiki. I’ve considered playing 4 of them, since they’re rarely bad and often fantastic, but I can’t find anything to cut so I play only 3.

+1 Angel, +1 Kiki-Jiki, -1 Pestermite

This focused a bit more on the Kiki-Jiki part of the combo. Resto/Kiki is immune to many things that beat the normal Twin combo (Spellskite, 2 Soul Wardens, etc.), and Restoration Angel is actually a very fine card, especially against Jund and in combination with Colonnade.

+1 Land

This is a land-heavy deck, and I think you should play 24. Colonnade is very good versus Jund and decks like Grixis Control, so I like having 4.

The rest is mostly based on what you expect: Electrolyze and a 4th Path, for example, could be good against an Affinity metagame.

The sideboard also shows a difference in philosophy. I tend to prefer generic answers—cards like Negate, Wear // Tear, and Vendilion Clique that can be boarded in against multiple players, rather than specific cards like Stony Silence, Rest in Peace and Blood Moon, which win the game against one archetype each. I think Modern is too diverse and too varied for you to target a single deck that you know is not going to be more than, say, 7% of the field—you just can’t hate out everything that way. If you have reason to believe a deck like Amulet will be a much bigger percentage of the metagame, then I’m fine with having a specific card like Blood Moon, but if the metagame remains as it is, then I like generic answers more.

The other different card I have is Supreme Verdict, and I think it’s very good. It’s great against Zoo, Merfolk, and Affinity, but it’s also surprisingly good against Jund and Junk. I would definitely play at least 2 and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the best card in my sideboard.

Sideboard Guide

Combo Decks

Leave in the combo. Take out Bolts and/or Paths, depending on whether they’re creature-based or not, and bring in Dispel, Negate, Vendilion Clique and Wear // Tear if those cards have targets.

You almost always cut 1 Wall of Omens and you can go down to 1, or even 0 if you are playing against a combo deck against which creature removal is good.

Affinity

Leave in the combo, and leave in all the removal. Take out Remands, Dispel, and Wall of Omens.

Board in Wear // Tear, Verdict, Vendilion Clique (blocks Signal Pest).

Red Decks

Leave in the combo but take out the Kiki-Jikis. Remand is bad on the draw, but generally good on the play. It’s still likely your worst card so you have to cut them (but if you have to keep some cards with a different sideboard then they’re not horrible to keep). You want Timely, Dispel, Spellskite and if they are playing a more creature-based version you also want Verdict. You can also cut one or two Restoration Angels if you need more room.

Junk/Jund

I like taking out 2 Exarchs and 2 Twins, keeping Angels and Kiki-Jikis. Bolt is bad versus Junk, but better versus Jund since they have Ravine that you can kill. Dispel is also bad against them.

Verdict is good, Keranos is the best card you can play, and I like Vendilion on the play because it threatens Liliana (it’s not bad on the draw either to be fair, so if you have room board that in).

Other Blue Decks

You want Vendilion, Dispel, Negate. If they don’t have the Twin combo, then you also want the 2 Keranos—I don’t like them if they have Twins though.

The combo is generally bad but I like keeping some of the pieces (Kikis certainly, some Twin/Exarch), and Bolt is bad unless they have Jace. I think you can side out 1 Wall of Omens if you must, but I like keeping some in because of Angel.

Tips and Tricks

  • You know that you don’t have the combo, but opponents don’t. Every turn you pass with 3 open mana is a turn they’ll live in mortal fear of dying and that will affect how they play.
  • Wall of Omens and Snapcaster Mage are not bad targets for Splinter Twin/Kiki-Jiki.
  • You can Path your own creatures (usually Wall or Snapcaster) if you need more lands.
  • If you animate Colonnade, you can copy it with Kiki-Jiki, but you’ll only get a non-animated Colonnade, so it doesn’t do much for you.
  • Colonnade and Angel do more damage than you think, and people take a lot of damage in Modern because of fetchlands and shocklands. Often, players struggle on lines of play and don’t realize that if they just activate Colonnade two turns in a row and Bolt their opponent they’ll win.
  • It’s usually right to Remand anything that opponents can’t immediately recast.
  • Be careful with opposing fetchlands in games 2 and 3 against the red decks—it’s not hard for them to go down to a low life total too, and then your Timely might not work.
  • You can Restoration Angel a Snapcaster to flashback another spell.
  • Don’t forget you need RRR for Kiki-Jiki—it’s easy to not think about it while you’re fetching early game and then not be able to cast it.
  • If you have a ton of lands but no RRR, you can cast Exarch to untap a red source.

That’s what I have for today! I hope you’ve enjoyed it, and see you soon!

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