Unlike many other new formats in Magic that have died out or been forgotten once, say, Standard finally rotated or Modern became fresh again, Premodern has flourished since I last talked about it. Not only has our own playgroup in Stockholm increased in numbers, but there have been a few larger local tournaments, such as Premodern Nationals in both Sweden and Italy, as well as side events attached to larger events. If we go from the local spectrum of the formats to online, there’s been a significant growth in interest. There’s been new Reddit threads, Discord channels, blogs, and online playtest groups, and the website has been updated and improved. Not only has the interest increased in many different areas, whether it’s in real life or online, but the format has evolved since I last covered it—a lot, in fact!
So what better way to understand the metagame than to go through the latest deck lists from both Swedish and Italian Nationals, starting with Swedish Nationals from June 17th?
Jonas Lefvert, 1st place
Ander Turrez, Top 8
Jonas Lefvert and Ander Turrez took Swedish Nationals by storm, being the only two Enchantress decks in the room, and both getting to the Top 8. Lefvert hoisted the trophy in the end. Both decks, much like the Legacy version of Enchantress, build around the engine from Enchantress’s Presence and Argothian Enchantress together with cheap enchantments like Elephant Grass, Mirri’s Guile, or Wild Growth. With a few card draw engines in play, locking down the game with Solitary Confinement becomes easy, given how well its engines eliminate the downside. From there, it doesn’t really matter how you win, whether it’s with Sacred Mesa, Opalescence, or Words of War.
The great thing about Enchantress is that it can take over whenever you’re not ready with specific card choices, which is exactly what happened at Nationals. Goblins, for example, can’t win through Solitary Confinement without a specific answer such as Anarchy, given its natural inability to deal with enchantments. Once the metagame shifts and people expect the deck, they’ll start to adopt cards like Akroma’s Vengeance, Reverent Silence, Upheaval, and Anarchy. Then the deck loses a lot of its upside, since it gives your opponent a lot of draw steps to find their answers and it can’t interact with them in the form of counterspells or discard spells.
Martin Sahlberg, 2nd place
Martin Sahlberg’s take on 4C Control netted him 2nd place at Nationals. The interesting thing about Sahlberg’s build in particular is that it reflects a metagame that has gone from mostly combo and blue decks to an uptick of creature decks, especially with Goblins solidifying its position as a tier 1 deck. Moving away from Wall of Blossoms, Martin instead plays more red mana and Lightning Bolt, as well as Fire // Ice. This helps him become better against cards like Goblin Lackey, Grim Lavamancer, and Ball Lightning, while slightly losing some value from the cantrip effects of Wall of Blossoms in grindier matchups.
Andreas Lindblad, Top 4
Andreas Lindblad took a Top 4 spot with U/W Standstill. U/W Standstill has been a classic of the format since its creation. The archetype is straightforward—use all of the tools U/W Control has to offer to draw cards and keep the board clear. Once the board is clear, you can play a Standstill to leverage your advantage. Since you have a higher-than-average number of creaturelands like Mishra’s Factory and Faerie Conclave, and helpful ways to deal with opposing creaturelands with Wastelands, getting an advantage without breaking Standstill becomes easy. The thing that puts it over the top is how well Decree of Justice works with Standstill, since cycling it and creating tons of 1/1 tokens doesn’t break the enchantment. More often than not, it forces your opponent to break Standstill, hopefully giving you enough of an advantage to bury your opponent.
Without being anything revolutionary, I like that Andreas has chosen to play a high number of Decree of Justice and a fourth one in the sideboard, giving him a huge advantage in the control mirror, where it’s possibly the best card.
Per Rönnkvist, Top 4
In the other Top 4 slot, we have Per Rönnkvist with R/B Goblins. Per, one of my longtime friends and with an even longer-time passion for Goblins, worked together with me to tune the perfect Goblins list, starting with my Patriarch’s Bidding version in my first Premodern article. The Patriarch’s Bidding list was slightly untuned and a little bit clunky with so many 5-drops. The mana is not perfect in this format and has a hard time supporting so many red early drops and a double-black card at 5 mana. We had to steer away from Patriarch’s Bidding. We tried R/G Goblins with Fecundity and Mono-Red Goblins, but in the end we came back to R/B Goblins.
The reason why R/B Goblins was great wasn’t because of Patriarch’s Bidding, but because it gave you Duress versus a, open metagame, full of powerful shenanigans and permission going on. Dralnu’s Crusade, however, was the card that put the R/B version over the top since it solves a number of problems. First off, now with Goblins on the radar, you needed an answer versus Engineered Plague, and Dralnu’s Crusade nullified it while still being a powerful proactive card. The second major reason is because it turns all of your creatures black, meaning that it also serves as a fantastic answer versus Circle of Protection: Red, a popular sideboard card with Sligh being a tier 1 deck.
Lastly, with Patriarch’s Bidding gone, we opted to include only Goblins and lands in our deck, similar to Humans in Modern. This naturally gives you a better game against control, since so many of your draws are live. It also makes your Goblin Ringleader absurd. Maybe Frank Karsten can give us an estimated hit ratio?
Michael Lindryd, Top 8
Michael Lindryd, another longtime friend of mine, made it to the quarterfinals with my second deck I brought a long, Counter Rebels! Not only did he borrow my deck, but he also knocked me out in a win and in for Top 8. With my own deck! Awkward. A reason why I didn’t play the deck myself is because I don’t own 4 Meddling Mage for the sideboard, which is why you’re seeing an 11-card sideboard, making it all the more impressive!
Counter Rebels, an old Standard fiend that in the end became so dominant WoTC banned Lin Sivvi, Defiant Hero, is a sweet deck in Premodern. The archetype revolves around playing Rebel searches, such as Ramosian Sergeant, Defiant Falcon, and especially Lin Sivvi, Defiant Hero herself to search for more Rebels. Since you can activate their ability to get another creature at instant speed, it plays well with counterspells. If you play something dangerous, I’ll counter it. If you refuse to play into my counterspell, I’ll add more pressure to the board by searching for a Rebel. It’s the Premodern Faeries!
Since Rebels find more Rebels that then find more Rebels, they spread like a plague if you don’t deal with each of their creatures, making it difficult to deal with each one of them before one loses summoning sickness. You can throw Mother of Runes into the mix, which acts as protection for any future Rebel searchers. The one big weakness to the deck is that it doesn’t put enough pressure on control opponents before they can set up Wrath of God with Counterspell backup. That’s why…
Counter Rebels *Updated*
I’ve decided to move Meddling Mage to the main deck in my updated version. Not only does it give me more sideboard space, but it gives me a great answer to Wrath of God. Every time you can go Mother of Runes into Meddling Mage, you are mostly safe from Wrath of God, giving you an easier time to grind your opponent out so that they can’t sweep the board. Don’t forget that Meddling Mage is also naturally fantastic versus combo decks, where the help is definitely welcome because there can be an issue with how slow the Rebel clock is.
Christofer Vikström, Top 8
Another fantastic brew that wasn’t not mentioned in my first article made the Top 8, with Christofer Viktström on Welder Stax. The mana bases can be a bit rough in Premodern., but Christofer has turned the issue on its head and chosen to barely play any colored cards at all to utilize the full power of the colorless lands in Premodern: Mishra’s Factory, Wasteland, Rishadan Port, Ancient Tomb, and City of Traitors. With the Sol land and some mana acceleration, the deck tries to gain a resource advantage. While doing so, it also tries to distrupt your opponent’s mana with land destruction to then totally lock your opponent out with Smokestack. When this is accomplished, it finishes the game with a broken or mediocre artifact creature.
Mikael Magnusson, Top 8
Last but not least we have Mikael Magnusson, the original creator of the Premodern 4C Control deck. One spicy addition I especially like is Teferi’s Response in the sideboard. Playing 4C Control, one of your biggest weaknesses is when your mana base is targeted by Wasteland. In particular, when you have a Reflecting-Pool-heavy draw together with Grand Coliseum, which sometimes leaves you with access to only one color in a four-color deck. Teferi’s Response not only saves your land, but also draws two cards for a full 3-for-1. While situational, resolving one of these bad boys should win you the game.
With Swedish Nationals now in the books, the format has evolved considerably. Aggro has finally set its foot in the metagame and players are starting to respect it. New decks like Welder Stax, Enchantress, Counter Rebels, and even some Bargain Storm decks landing just outside of the Top 8 are starting to take root. In my next installment of this article, I’ll walk you through Italian Nationals, my general take on the metagame moving forward, upcoming tournaments, and my latest brew!
If you’re looking to connect to other players for Premodern, this is great place to start, where you can find local Facebook groups, online platform play, the Premodern Instagram account, and the official Reddit page, as well as the Discord channel.