This week, I’ll cover two Grand-Prix-related topics. First, with Grand Prix San Antonio coming up, I’ll discuss the Team Unified Modern metagame. Second, with two 12-3 players missing money at Grand Prix Shizuoka, I have some proposals for some slight tweaks to the prize structure, later in the week.
Team Unified Modern
The format at next week’s Grand Prix San Antonio will be Team Unified Modern. In this format, a card can only show up in one of your three decks—if you have a deck with 1 Stomping Ground, then none of your teammates can play any copies of Stomping Ground in their decks.
I previously analyzed the format a few weeks before the 2016 World Magic Cup. You can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here. Since then, a bunch of things changed. We don’t have to worry about Gitaxian Probe overlap anymore, Death’s Shadow decks have a new look, and new cards such as Baral, Chief of Compliance, Walking Ballista, and Fatal Push have entered the scene.
Unleashing my methodology once again upon the new Modern metagame, I found a clear winner.
At the time of writing, MTGGoldfish has Affinity, Death’s Shadow, and Eldrazi as the three most popular archetypes in Modern. (“Death’s Shadow” includes Jund, Grixis, and other color combinations, while “Eldrazi” encompasses Bant Eldrazi and Eldrazi Tron.)
Since there is almost no overlap between these three decks (apart from a few non-essential sideboard cards), this configuration stands out as the one to beat.
It’s not the only configuration that will show up, of course. Modern is extremely diverse. You could easily replace Eldrazi or Affinity with Ad Nauseam or Merfolk, for instance—that would still give you 3 top-tier decks with minimal overlap. Many other possibilities are there. But one way or another, I would get ready for a lot of Arcbound Ravagers, Death’s Shadows, and Reality Smashers.
How should you build Affinity, and how should you distribute key sideboard cards?
I don’t have a lot of useful input for the other decks, but I can offer some tips for Affinity.
- I would play a version with 4 Steel Overseer, 4 Master of Etherium, and 0 Etched Champion main deck. This will give you an edge against Eldrazi decks and other Affinity decks. I would also strongly consider 1-2 Glint-Nest Crane (no more than that, for curve reasons) over Galvanic Blast or Thoughtcast in my expected Team Unified Modern metagame.
- If you have a Death’s Shadow deck in your line-up, then assign Thoughtseize to that deck. The loss of Thoughtseize from the sideboard of Affinity can be mitigated by including 1-2 Stubborn Denial to counter Scapeshift or Karn Liberated, and 1-2 Rule of Law to stop Ad Nauseam or Puresteel Paladin. Unlike Thoughtseize, you can’t board these cards against Bant Eldrazi, so you just have to hope to dodge Stony Silence against them or luck out with Ghirapur Aether Grid.
- With the printing of Spire of Industry and the loss of Thoughtseize, you could consider a version with 3 Glimmervoid and 3 Spire of Industry (cutting 2 Blinkmoth Nexus) to get enough white sources for Wear // Tear against Stony Silence. Meanwhile, it would give you enough black sources to include Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas. These are untested ideas, but I think they have merit.
- If you have a Jund Death’s Shadow deck in your lineup, then you may have to distribute certain artifact hate cards. I believe the best way to do that is to give them Creeping Corrosion or Shatterstorm so you can put Ancient Grudge in the sideboard of Affinity.
- Dispatch is probably a better sideboard card than Dismember nowadays.
- If you have a Bant Eldrazi deck in your lineup, then put Rest in Peace in their sideboard and put Relic of Progenitus (which is probably better than Grafdigger’s Cage in a Death’s Shadow world) in your sideboard. Rest in Peace nullifies the modular ability of Arcbound Ravager, so it’s not the best fit for an Affinity sideboard.