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Owen’s a Win – Modern on Magic Online

This week I want to write about my Modern Top 5, my list of the top five most popular and powerful decks in Modern. I’ve read some articles that have come out recently about the banned list, and as far as I’m concerned it’s all wild speculation until we finally see the hammer come down and we will have to reevaluate then. For now, it’s good to work with what we’ve got.

1. Jund

tallanddirty’s Jund

[deck]Main Deck
3 Blackcleave Cliffs
1 Blood Crypt
1 Forest
4 Marsh Flats
2 Overgrown Tomb
3 Raging Ravine
1 Stomping Ground
1 Swamp
2 Treetop Village
1 Twilight Mire
4 Verdant Catacombs
4 Dark Confidant
4 Deathrite Shaman
2 Scavenging Ooze
4 Tarmogoyf
2 Abrupt Decay
1 Blightning
2 Chandra, Pyromaster
3 Inquisition of Kozilek
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Liliana of the Veil
2 Maelstrom Pulse
2 Terminate
3 Thoughtseize
Sideboard
3 Ancient Grudge
2 Anger of the Gods
1 Batterskull
4 Fulminator Mage
1 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Phyrexian Arena
1 Shatterstorm
1 Sowing Salt
1 Torpor Orb[/deck]

This deck is near and dear to my heart, and my own personal weapon of choice last time I played Modern, at GP Detroit. This is the list brewed by Reid Duke that he used to finish 2nd at that GP. You can tell by the cards like [ccProd]Blightning[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Chandra, Pyromaster[/ccProd]. I love this deck because it has a strong proactive game plan with [ccProd]Dark Confidant[/ccProd], [ccProd]Tarmogoyf[/ccProd], and [ccProd]Liliana of the Veil[/ccProd], while providing the best cheap disruption with [ccProd]Thoughtseize[/ccProd], [ccProd]Inquisition of Kozilek[/ccProd], and [ccProd]Lightning Bolt[/ccProd].

Jund can be tuned and tweaked to fit any metagame, and you can see the wide variety of sideboard cards in this list so you can always dig deep to solve a specific problem. That is one of Jund’s primary strengths, its ability to warp to fix a problem. If you expect [ccProd]Kitchen Finks[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Murderous Redcap[/ccProd], you can play [ccProd]Pillar of Flame[/ccProd], and if you expect a ton of [ccProd]Deceiver Exarch[/ccProd] or [ccProd]Restoration Angel[/ccProd], then you can switch to more [ccProd]Terminate[/ccProd]. Jund is the old standby and boogeyman of the format, and almost no matter what happens to the banned list it will exist in some form.

2. Splinter Twin

ceobry01’s Splinter Twin

[deck]Main Deck
1 Desolate Lighthouse
5 Island
3 Misty Rainforest
2 Mountain
4 Scalding Tarn
4 Steam Vents
1 Stomping Ground
3 Sulfur Falls
2 Tectonic Edge
4 Deceiver Exarch
1 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
3 Pestermite
4 Snapcaster Mage
2 Vendilion Clique
2 Cryptic Command
1 Dispel
1 Electrolyze
2 Izzet Charm
4 Lightning Bolt
1 Peek
3 Remand
4 Serum Visions
4 Splinter Twin
Sideboard
2 Ancient Grudge
2 Anger of the Gods
2 Blood Moon
1 Counterflux
1 Electrolyze
2 Grim Lavamancer
2 Relic of Progenitus
2 Shatterstorm
1 Vendilion Clique[/deck]

This deck has already proven itself to be a powerhouse in Modern, winning a Pro Tour and a Grand Prix in the format. I used to play Splinter Twin when it was Standard legal and I have always loved the deck, it’s clean, consistent, and super powerful. In Modern the deck is impressive in its ability to sideboard cards like [ccProd]Ancient Grudge[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Blood Moon[/ccProd].

[draft]ancient grudge
blood moon[/draft]

Ancient Grudge is an incredibly overpowered card given its cheap cost and flexibility. It’s a perfect fit for a deck like Splinter Twin because if opponents try to sideboard in cards like [ccProd]Torpor Orb[/ccProd] or [ccProd]Damping Matrix[/ccProd], one Ancient Grudge can neutralize those cards easily. That isn’t even mentioning the great utility it has against matchups like Affinity or even some possible unknown strategy that contains artifacts—if you ever get paired against a person with a problem artifact in their deck, you’ve got it covered.

We’ve seen the power of sideboarding Blood Moon in a combo deck in Legacy Sneak and Show, which has done this for a while now and dominated tournaments. It’s a surprise card that works on a different axis than your game 1 combo. If someone sideboards in too many [ccProd]Path to Exile[/ccProd] or [ccProd]Torpor Orb[/ccProd] and plays too few basic lands (as all Modern decks do) they can lose on the spot to a turn-three Blood Moon. It’s a card that says 2R “I win” against a huge percentage of decks, and the most effective way to fight Blood Moon hands down is [ccProd]Thoughtseize[/ccProd].

3. Affinity

Puddingtime’s Affinity

[deck]Main Deck
4 Blinkmoth Nexus
4 Darksteel Citadel
4 Glimmervoid
4 Inkmoth Nexus
1 Island
4 Arcbound Ravager
3 Master of Etherium
3 Memnite
4 Ornithopter
4 Signal Pest
4 Steel Overseer
4 Vault Skirge
4 Cranial Plating
4 Mox Opal
4 Springleaf Drum
3 Thoughtcast
2 Welding Jar
Sideboard
2 Dismember
3 Etched Champion
1 Grafdigger’s Cage
2 Relic of Progenitus
2 Spell Pierce
2 Spellskite
1 Wear and Tear
2 Whipflare[/deck]

Affinity is a super strong deck that makes good use of cards like [ccProd]Cranial Plating[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Mox Opal[/ccProd], which come close to just breaking the rules of Magic. Cards were not intended to cost two mana and deal 7 or 10 damage, but there are games where Cranial Plating will do exactly that.

[draft]cranial plating[/draft]

My main complaint with Affinity is its lack of consistency, and I still feel strongly that this is true for the deck. In some games you put every card in your hand on to the table and you’ve got a total of 2 power—that is unacceptable. [ccProd]Arcbound Ravager[/ccProd], [ccProd]Steel Overseer[/ccProd], and [ccProd]Cranial Plating[/ccProd] are your bread and butter, no question about that, but if you look at the deck and the sum of all its individual parts, many of the cards are quite weak or do actual nothing.

Look at the following list of cards and examine how they either amount to a card that produces mana or attack for one damage:

[ccDeck]4 Blinkmoth Nexus
4 Darksteel Citadel
4 Glimmervoid
4 Inkmoth Nexus
1 Island
3 Memnite
4 Ornithopter
4 Vault Skirge
4 Mox Opal
4 Springleaf Drum
2 Welding Jar[/ccDeck]

That said, Affinity isn’t going anywhere and will continue to be a fixture of Modern since its explosive draws happen enough and those draws can beat any deck in the format. [ccProd]Stony Silence[/ccProd] is a widely played card that shuts this deck down hard.

4. Birthing Pod

diophan’s Melira Pod

[deck]Main Deck
3 Forest
3 Gavony Township
1 Godless Shrine
1 Marsh Flats
4 Misty Rainforest
2 Overgrown Tomb
3 Razorverge Thicket
1 Swamp
1 Temple Garden
4 Verdant Catacombs
1 Archangel of Thune
4 Birds of Paradise
3 Deathrite Shaman
1 Eternal Witness
4 Kitchen Finks
1 Linvala, Keeper of Silence
1 Melira, Sylvok Outcast
2 Murderous Redcap
1 Orzhov Pontiff
1 Qasali Pridemage
1 Ranger of Eos
1 Reveillark
1 Spellskite
1 Spike Feeder
2 Viscera Seer
2 Voice of Resurgence
1 Wall of Roots
2 Abrupt Decay
4 Birthing Pod
3 Chord of Calling
Sideboard
1 Aven Mindcensor
3 Dismember
1 Harmonic Sliver
1 Kataki, War’s Wage
3 Lingering Souls
1 Shriekmaw
4 Thoughtseize
1 Voice of Resurgence[/deck]

There are multiple flavors of Pod decks but I believe the most played and most popular version is Melira Pod. This deck is super consistent and takes advantage of [ccProd]Birthing Pod[/ccProd], which no other Modern deck can.

[draft]birthing pod[/draft]

Birthing Pod is way too good, it’s unreasonable how powerful this card is. It works like [ccProd]Aether Vial[/ccProd] mixed with [ccProd]Demonic Tutor[/ccProd], producing mana and card advantage as you work up the chain and into an infinite combo. This deck only just recently adopted the [ccProd]Archangel of Thune[/ccProd] + [ccProd]Spike Feeder[/ccProd] combo which has become the standard for this deck, it’s a nice two-card combo that both gains infinite life and makes a */* flying creature where * is only limited by your imagination. This combo is extra cute because I have heard skilled Pod players say that they might want to just play Archangel of Thune in their deck anyway if there were no combo because it’s such a great attacking creature. That’s what’s wonderful about the Pod decks, they win way more games than you might expect simply by attacking.

5. UWR Control

Vjeran Horvat’s UWR

[deck]Main Deck
4 Arid Mesa
4 Celestial Colonnade
1 Glacial Fortress
2 Hallowed Fountain
1 Island
1 Mountain
1 Plains
1 Sacred Foundry
4 Scalding Tarn
1 Snow-Covered Island
2 Steam Vents
1 Sulfur Falls
2 Tectonic Edge
4 Geist of Saint Traft
1 Restoration Angel
4 Snapcaster Mage
1 Thundermaw Hellkite
3 Vendilion Clique
3 Cryptic Command
3 Electrolyze
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Lightning Helix
2 Mana Leak
3 Path to Exile
3 Remand
Sideboard
2 Aven Mindcensor
1 Batterskull
1 Celestial Purge
1 Counterflux
1 Damping Matrix
1 Engineered Explosives
1 Path to Exile
1 Sowing Salt
2 Stony Silence
2 Threads of Disloyalty
1 Thundermaw Hellkite
1 Wear and Tear[/deck]

Last, but certainly not least, is UWR Control, which has quietly been building a strong resume in Modern by winning not only the most recent Grand Prix but also the World Championship. This deck prays on creature matchups and plays a ton of spot removal—imagine seeing this deck get paired against a creatureless deck and having its [ccProd]Lightning Bolt[/ccProd], [ccProd]Lightning Helix[/ccProd], [ccProd]Electrolyze[/ccProd], and [ccProd]Path to Exile[/ccProd]s rendered useless. Overall that’s a pretty rare occurrence for Modern though, as each of the previous top five decks I’ve listed have been heavily based on creatures, even decks that aim to win with a combo have to do it with either Melira or Pestermite.

People may have forgotten about [ccProd]Geist of Saint Traft[/ccProd], but not Horvat, as he used it to decimate the competition at GP Prague. I understand the power of a card like Geist of Saint Traft and I played it in Legacy not too long ago. A three-mana hexproof creature that attacks for 6 damage is obscene when uncontested. It kills the opponent very quickly, and that isn’t even counting the games where someone draws two [ccProd]Lightning Bolt[/ccProd] and a [ccProd]Snapcaster Mage[/ccProd] and burns you out from a high life total. [ccProd]Thundermaw Hellkite[/ccProd] can also deal a ton of damage out of nowhere.

I left off a few decks like Tron, Delver, and Merfolk that don’t crack the Top 5 but are true contenders. This is what you should be planning to either play with or play against if you’re grinding Modern on Magic Online. One common trend you’ll see, and one of my favorite aspects of Modern, is the diversity in sideboard cards, people have correctly adapted the strategy of playing multiple different cards in small numbers for each matchup instead of the usual 4-4-4-3 mix. This makes those decks very hard to prepare for and overall just stronger. When I know you have exactly 4 Damping Matrix to side in against me, I don’t have to think about what to put in my own sideboard to combat that, but if you choose to play 1 Damping Matrix, 1 [ccProd]Aven Mindcensor[/ccProd], 1 [ccProd]Linvala[/ccProd], and 1 [ccProd]Grafdigger’s Cage[/ccProd] now I need to vary my answers and hope to draw the correct answers for your specific threats, which is very difficult to do without a good amount of deck manipulation. I love the format and I think the top decks are super interesting, but at the same time I can’t wait for the updated banned list to come out so I can get to brewing a whole new format in time for Pro Tour Born of the Gods.

Owen Turtenwald

qazwsxedcrfvtgbyhnuj on Magic Online

OwenTweetenwald on twitter

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