Please send help. I’m trapped in an apartment in Roanoke, Virginia with nothing but food, water, and an internet connection. I have degenerated into a hollow husk of a human. I cannot control my metamorphosis, and I grow worse every day. I’m more robot than man these days. My mind has deteriorated into a pre-programmed machine that can only complete three tasks. I can grind Modern Competitive Leagues on Magic Online. I can compose, read, and respond to Tweets on Twitter, and I can read Reddit outrage threads. No more, no less. I am who I am, and this is becoming me more and more everyday. Save me. Save me from Modern. Save me from myself. Please. It may be too late…

I startle awake. I check the clock. 5:43 p.m. Sounds about right. The days blur together. I sleep at random times for variable hours at a time. Ever since Hawaii I haven’t been able to get back to a normal sleep schedule. I dream every single time I sleep. I can’t remember the last time I slept and didn’t dream. It’s been weeks, maybe months. Lately, my dreams have been more and more realistic, more and more mundane, but always weird, and always with a twist. This last dream involved an ordinary family get together. It was boring and generic, but then came the twist. It eventually devolved into a story about a murderous serial killer on the loose who I was determined to take down. Somehow, in my quest to bring justice to the serial killer I started using Pyxis of Pandemonium to control my opponent’s draw steps with Lantern of Insight on the battlefield. Even serial killers can’t escape that kind of a lock. It seemed logical when I was in the dream. Nothing struck me as odd about using Magic cards to control real life events, until I woke up and realized how ridiculous it all sounds. I mean come on. There’s no way that could be true. Pyxis of Pandemonium never stopped a Murder. You always let them draw the removal spells that don’t matter.

I rub the sleep from my eyes and look around my room. Instinctively, I grab my laptop computer sitting next to my bed. I fire up Magic Online and check my Modern League status. I’m currently 2-1 with Little Kid Abzan. Time to finish these last two matches. I go 3-2, predictably. I collect +1 treasure chest. I’d open it, but I have too much restraint for that kind of reckless behavior. I’m saving my chests for something big. I just started doing this earlier this week. I’ve got 79 treasure chests since then. You may be thinking “Wow, that’s a lot of treasure chests, you must be crushing it!” The truth is more that I’ve just been playing a lot of Modern. A lot. A disgusting amount. More than I want to admit, but here I am, admitting it. It’s the first step to recovery. The kind of recovery I will never experience. The first step on a path where I will never take a second step. A meaningless exercise, but one I relish nonetheless.

I’m on a quest. There’s no honor in this quest. There’s no glory. Only pain. Repetition. Struggle. To succeed in this quest brings about only long-term failure. The quest is to find the next broken Modern deck. For years, I have succeeded in Modern by playing a powerful deck that will later get banned. Birthing Pod. Splinter Twin. Eldrazi. Right now, I am on a journey to find the next deck in Modern to get banned, so that I may partake in its glory and victory for a brief period of time before it all comes crashing down at the Banned and Restricted announcement. Banned: My deck. Restricted: My options.

I have a nagging fear. What if it doesn’t exist? What if this is all a fool’s errand? What if they finally balanced Modern? What if a broken deck doesn’t exist anymore? That is a terrifying thought. How will I ever win without something busted to help me? I don’t know if I’ll be able to live with that idea.

The files, Brian. The files. Tell them about “the files.” They need to hear about “the files.” They need to know what lies buried within. Stop running from the truth. You’re trapped here. It’s too late for you, but not them. It’s not over for them. You can still save them. Tell them… Tell them… TELL THEM!

I startle awake. I check the clock. 5:43 p.m. I just had the weirdest dream. I dreamed I was writing an article about Modern, and then my computer started yelling at me. Hah, good one brain. I’d never do something as asinine as write about Magic’s worst format! I remember when my dreams used to be realistic.

I look around my messy room. I find a half-empty water bottle. I guzzle down what remains. It doesn’t quench my thirst, but it helps. I notice my laptop computer sitting there. The screen is on, Magic Online in the background. I scratch my head. That’s weird, I’m surprised the screen saver never came on. How long was I asleep? Four hours. Five? I really don’t even know anymore.

I log in to Magic Online and check my Modern League status. I’m 3-1 with Dredge. I play the last match, mulligan to oblivion and go 3-2. +1 Treasure chest. Cha Ching! I check my treasure chest count: 79. Doing it.

I close Magic Online. I go to close my laptop, but I notice something is off. I double-take. Something is wrong, but I can’t place it. Finally it hits me. My desktop is littered with Notepad files. Deck lists. Notes. A week’s worth of testing, documented haphazardly across a generic desktop background. When did I do that? I don’t remember doing that. It must have been yesterday, or…what day is it?

BBDAbzan.txt

Notes: Deck is good, but not great. It has game against a lot of the field but is not abstractly powerful.

DeathShadow.txt

Notes: Deck is quite powerful. Mana is awkward. Can’t beat Abzan.

JeskaiQueller.txt

Notes: I had a notion that an aggressive Spell Queller deck could be good. That may be true. This is not that deck. This deck is heinous. It’s a mockery of the Modern format. It should never see the light of day.

BantSpirits.txt

Notes: Does some cool things. Has some awkward draws. We can do better.

Lantern.txt

Notes: It’s good. It’s fun to play. I think it falls a little short, though. Some matchups are really tough, and sometimes you just lose anyway. I could see myself playing this at some point in the future for fun anyway, though.

Dredge.txt

Notes: Busted good, but struggles against hate. Mulligans to oblivion. Sometimes loses to itself. When it does its thing it is the best deck in the format. High risk, high reward.

I scream as loud as I can. Nobody can hear me. Everyone carries on with their life as though I am invisible. I look around. I am invisible. I’m trapped in a life I don’t want to live. I can’t control myself. I can’t stop what I’ve become. It’s only moments like this when I remember my true self. I remember what I used to be. Human. Emotional. Normal. These are my only moments of sanity. Everything else is surreal, fake. Or all too real, maybe. I don’t even know anymore. Confusion has taken hold of everything. The line between reality and dream has blurred, and been crossed too many times. Is this the real part or the dream part? They say once you realize you’re in a dream you start to wake up. The fact that I haven’t woken yet must mean…

I startle awake. I check the clock. 5:43 p.m. I feel sluggish, like I slept too long and should have woken up hours ago. Too much rest for the wicked. I have this weird nagging feeling. It’s probably nothing. I remember dreaming, vividly, but I can’t remember what the dream was about anymore. I glance down. My laptop computer is cradled in my arms, almost like it is an extension of myself. Weird. I must have fallen asleep like this. Well, at the very least, I woke up like this. I open my computer up and fire up Magic Online. I check my Modern League status. I’m 2-0 in a league with Lantern Control. I guess I might as well start the day off by finishing off this League…