This week was a bad Magic week for me. I was prepared to play my first post-banning Standard event in a MOCS monthly, watch the MOCS finals, and maybe attend a local tournament this past Sunday.
Unfortunately, we had a huge storm in the Boston area and I lost power on Friday afternoon and it spanned into Sunday evening. This left me stuck in some bad weather at home, using poor cell phone reception to watch the MOCS finals. I missed the MOCS monthly, and after not sleeping well, I decided to stay home and miss the local SCG Classics.
Normally when I sit down to write an article I have a week of Magic behind me to both give me ideas and share what I learned. While I played very little Magic this week, I did learn a few things while the power was out:
4) Bogles Has Earned Respect
Dmitriy Butajov, 1st place at MOCS
This MOCS finals marks the second major victory for Bogles in the hands of Dmitriy Butakov. Shortly before that, we saw a Grand Prix Toronto win from Dan Ward. In a heavily midrange format, Bogles has a bunch of incredibly favorable matchups. Still, it was an impressive victory from Butakov, winning the event for the second time. A truly deserving winner of the event and someone I’ll be happy to see playing at the Pro Tour for some time to come.
While Jund used to be a weapon of choice to combat Bogles, the addition of Leyline of Sanctity to the main deck swings the matchup decisively in favor of Bogles.
I’d expect that now is the time more and more players start picking up this deck, giving it a bigger metagame share, enough that it’s time to respect the deck with your sideboards.
If you’re a Jund player like me, the wheels are already turning on what we can do to improve the matchup.
First, more Abrupt Decays and Maelstrom Pulses in the main deck can steal some wins against Bogles’ anemic draws. I’d like to play something like 2 Abrupt Decay and 2 Pulse in the main deck now, at the cost of maybe a Scavenging Ooze and a Liliana, the Last Hope or Kolaghan’s Command.
There a lot of sideboard options, main deck choices, and even deck choices you can use to combat the hexproof menace. Here is a list of some of the better cards with which to fight Bogles:
This is one of the most versatile, and one of the best options against Bogles players. It has the ability to clean up a pile of Auras and a Bogle. Totems can protect the Bogle, but it’s still going to have a huge impact on the game. The biggest counter play they have to this card is to bring in Stony Silence, but I suspect a good deal of Engineered Explosives to be played in sideboards now, especially because of its versatility.
Engineered Explosives isn’t necessarily where you want to be with Bloodbraid Elf in your deck. Cascading into it is quite weak, and if you’re mainly bringing this card in for Bogles, you may want to consider other options.
Spellskite is a card we don’t see a lot of anymore now that Infect is all but extinct from the Modern metagame. While this card has some utility, it’s narrow, and I’d expect this to be a worse option than something like Engineered Explosives. I’d expect to see decks with Chord of Calling or maybe Collected Company add this as an option for Bogles, but it’s not one I’d want in most other decks.
All Is Dust
You may see more of All Is Dust in Eldrazi decks now, and in Tron. It’s a slower way to interact with a fast Bogles deck, but it can get the job done on its own and leave nothing behind, whereas a card like Oblivion Stone is weak to Stony Silence and doesn’t get the Bogle if there’s a totem armor on it.
Chalice of the Void
Chalice of the Void on turn 1 is close to lights-out against Bogles. While it can be a little slow, playing it early can stunt the development of a Bogles player, or lock them out of the game altogether if they don’t have a 2-mana way to interact with it.
We watched Jon Stern bring Ensnaring Bridge to the table in a second-place finish at GP Toronto in which he lost to Dan Ward in the finals. Had Dan Ward not had one of his Seal of Primordiums for Jon Stern’s Ensnaring Bridge, Burn would have taken the title instead. Ensnaring Bridge is another colorless option that can come in out of any deck but will best be utilized in decks already built around it.
Golgari Charm is one of the better and more versatile options for a Jund or B/G player to interact with Bogles. It can sweep away a Bogle on turn 2, kill an Aura, kill a Leyline of Sanctity, or in a pinch get rid of a Dryad Arbor fetched up in response to a Liliana of the Veil activation. Golgari Charm also has utility outside of this matchup against decks like U/W Control that play enchantments like Detention Sphere and cards like Supreme Verdict. Golgari Charm also has some obvious utility against a deck like Elves or Affinity that are full of 1-toughness creatures. I like Golgari Charm, but I think I might want something a little higher impact until the Bogles die down.
Back to Nature
Back to Nature is my go-to for highest impact at an affordable mana cost against Bogles. This is a narrow card, but if Bogles picks up enough in popularity I wouldn’t be surprised to see one or two copies of this card in a lot of Jund decks. This card solves virtually all problems for the Jund player as it can sweep up all of the Leylines that came into play for free and eat all the Auras in combat while also setting up a profitable block. If I play Jund this weekend I’d be playing at least one copy of this card, despite how narrow it is. While Engineered Explosives is a safer card to play because it has more applications, Back to Nature doesn’t suffer from being a bad cascade with Bloodbraid Elf.
Favor of the Mighty
I remember this one from way back when. It’s a cheap way to make all the Auras fall off of a Bogle, which makes their deck quite useless. This card has the issues of being poor with creatures, narrow, and likely worse than other options. The option exists but I’d likely want to look elsewhere.
While not really sideboard cards, both of these cards interact favorably against totem armors. One way to improve your Bogle matchup as a control deck with sweepers is to play these over other options. I think the extra mana is quite a cost, but if you want to improve as a control player, these options aren’t that bad.
Some other options to consider are edict effects like Devour Flesh, or enchantment removal like Natural State, Seal of Primordium, or Unravel the Aether. These cards have a little bit more utility, but also are far lower impact.
The point remains that I don’t think we can just ignore Bogles anymore. It’s time to give the the Affinity treatment and push them around a little bit with some high impact sideboard choices. If your deck is weak to Bogles, you should definitely keep them in mind moving forward.
3) Jace, the Mind Sculptor Isn’t Going to Ruin Modern
This week just reaffirmed my view that Jace, the Mind Sculptor is not going to ruin Modern like many people believed. While the MOCS players didn’t have a lot of time to test Jace, I know a lot of them tried it, and weren’t successful in doing so.
Jace, the Mind Sculptor is still a 4-mana card that takes multiple turns to bury your opponent in card advantage, and is difficult to protect. With an uptick in creaturelands in all the fair decks, it becomes awkward to play Jace on early turns. Field of Ruin is a huge mana investment, so as the game develops, Jace gets better, but it has to get to that point before it can take over.
We will find better shells for Jace as time goes on, but no one has found a Jace deck yet that I’d put in the same ballpark as plain old Bloodbraid Jund.
Jace will find its home in Modern, but it’s not going to be too broken for the format.
2) Eldrazi Decks Could Be Great Again
When I was playing a bunch of Leagues with Jund, everyone assumed that Tron was the matchup I wanted to play against the least, but I was actually most fearful of playing against Eldrazi decks.
First, my deck was designed to play at sorcery speed with cards like Maelstrom Pulse and Dreadbore as removal, which both line up poorly against Reality Smasher and Thought-Knot Seer. The efficiency of Terminate is less appealing to me in a world full of Liliana of the Veil and Jace, the Mind Sculptor.
Secondly, my sideboard was just bad against Eldrazi decks. Normally, I’d want to have some Damnation or more instant-speed removal in my sideboard, but both of those cards are fairly narrow, and honestly not always that good against them. Adding Terminate to my sideboard isn’t going to give me a huge win percentage boost, and you need to draw Damnation at the right time, otherwise they’ll strip it away with Thought-Knot Seer or follow it up with a Reality Smasher.
I had the same experience with some of my Jace, the Mind Sculptor decks against Eldrazi, and in a format that’s full of midrange decks, it crossed my mind that maybe Eldrazi decks will be great again. In my conversation with Sam Pardee when he was deciding what to play in the MOCS, I briefly mentioned this, but he decided to go with a Jund deck as it was a safer choice and he hadn’t had stellar results with Eldrazi decks since the unbannings.
Then, I checked the tournament results for the local Modern SCG Classic I missed, and it was won by Colorless Eldrazi. No, not Eldrazi Tron—Colorless Eldrazi. This deck looks a lot like the one my team and I designed for Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch.
Jordan Boisvert, 1st place at SCG Classic
This deck is a delightful throwback, and it actually makes total sense that this deck was able to win the event. While you don’t have Eye of Ugin, it’s been replaced by Gemstone Caverns and the addition of Serum Powder.
Serum Powder in conjunction with Eternal Scourge is just awesome. When you exile Eternal Scourge from your free mulligan you get to essentially add it to your future hands, both making more mulligans less punishing, and giving you a better chance at finding an Eldrazi Temple. This trick also works with Gemstone Caverns. Relic of Progenitus and Scavenger Grounds can also exile an Eternal Scourge from your graveyard.
Affinity and Lantern were always the decks this deck was worst against, and with more metagame share for Ancient Grudge and Kolaghan’s Command thanks to Bloodbraid Elf those decks are both more poorly positioned and seeing less play.
I think this deck is pretty well positioned against various Jace decks, and I would not want to play against it with most builds of Jund. With 4 copies of Ratchet Bomb in the sideboard and 4 main deck Chalice of the Void with Simian Spirit Guides, Bogles is likely not too rough a matchup either.
I think this take on Modern Eldrazi has a chance to be excellent and I’m excited to fire up a league with it.
1) You Never Know How You May Effect Someone
While I was pumped to be watching Steve Rubin, a fellow member of my Team GP trio Dem Boyz, move onto the finals of the MOCS, the internet on my cell phone kept failing. I had just gotten my power back but my cable was still out, resulting in some spotty viewing of the MOCS semifinals. At one point I got a bunch of messages from people asking if I was watching, and someone showed me this clip, which I hadn’t seen because my Twitch app froze:
Seeing and hearing this was touching, and made me think about all the great friends I’ve made playing this game, and of course how close I’ve been with Steve. My time at home is mostly spent with my family, and my time away is always with my closest friends who’ve bonded over this game and our passion to pursue excellence at it.
Playing this game isn’t just about winning though. No matter what level you’re at, the most important thing you’re going to get out of this game is the relationships you form. We are all lucky to be part of such an exceptional community that cares about each other and shares a love for the best game ever invented: Magic. Seeing and hearing Steve made me realize that.
I’m proud of how I treat people. I always give people respect, and am always looking for the best in people. I choose to be nice, even when it’s inconvenient. I believe that in doing so, I will live a happier life, and so will those around me. I almost always give people the benefit of the doubt. This has worked out well for me, and I believe that I’m a happier person for it.
Let me give you an example of how giving one person the benefit of the doubt made me a life-long friend.
In Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir I found myself at 10-0 playing against Ondrej Strasky for the first time. At the time, Ondrej was young and I had never seen him before. Ondrej and I were featured, and talked in the few extra minutes we had before the match. After asking him how he was doing and where he was from, he asked me, “What are you playing in Standard?” I briefly explained to him that I’m the only undefeated remaining and if I lose this match, I’ve got a good chance at playing him immediately again in the next round so I didn’t want to tell him. Ondrej, being young and naïve, said to me that his testing team already knew and he would just ask them, so why not just tell him? So I thought about it and said you’re probably right, and I told him that I was playing Abzan Aggro.
This of course led to a followup question from myself. “So what are you playing in Standard?” Ondrej’s response was quick. “Oh, I’m not going to tell you.” Ondrej didn’t actually think I’d tell him. We played our match, he won, and two rounds later we played again. I was unaware of what he was playing as our team didn’t scout him, but we knew his two teammates Ivan Floch and Stanislav Cifka were playing U/B Control. I looked at my opening hand, saw a couple of cheap removal spells, and decided to mulligan. It turns out that Ondrej was playing Jeskai and my opening hand was perfect against his deck.
You could blame me for telling him my deck, you could blame him for not knowing he should probably reciprocate, but in the end what he did may have cost me equity deep in a Pro Tour. I’ve joked about it with him and he definitely knows he was in the wrong and has profusely apologized to me. I never held against him—not for a minute—and in doing so I’ve gotten to know Ondrej better and he’s one of my favorite people now, and truly one of the kindest people I know. If I held this against him, I may have lost out on a great friendship with a great person.
Be kind to people. Cut them some slack, and stay positive. The people you meet in the Magic Community are worth more than winning, even the Pro Tour. Just ask Steve Rubin.