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5 Decks You'll Play This Weekend

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Welcome to Gathering Magic's weekly quintet of Magic Online you should be aware of this weekend, whether you're playing a major online event, going to a Grand Prix, or hitting Friday Night Magic. In an era of big data, Magic Online provides some of the biggest data, so even a quick-and-dirty snapshot of recent Dailies gets you ahead of the competition. This week, I'm looking at Modern in anticipation of Pro Tour Fate Reforged in Washington D.C., with a peek at Legacy in a post-banning universe. [Editor's Note: I'll be there working coverage all weekend! -Stybs]

Potomac, River Cutthroat

Few people I've met genuinely love Washington D.C., but it's situated pretty well and there's a lot of important stuff to do and notice in it. Modern's similar except that it has a much higher approval rating. So what might we see in the Pro Tour coverage this weekend?

Here's what 4-0'd on Sunday and Monday (Bold = won the Daily):

Three Times:

Abzan Midrange

Two Times:

R/w Burn

Scapeshift

Once:

Infect

Splinter Twin

TarmoTwin

The Rack

Through the Breach

Zoo w/Siege Rhino

Delver might be fully dead; no 3-1 or 4-0 deck from these Dailies ran Delver of Secrets or Young Pyromancer. What's replacing it?

The Popular Kids

These lists have slight variation - Kitchen Finks/Dark Confidant/Lingering Souls vary a bit - but the core of the deck is intact. Siege Rhino is proving that it doesn't have to be tutorable to be good enough for Modern. Rain of Tears is unusual in the sideboard; the normal spot goes to Fulminator Mage, so I wouldn't be surprised if the choice were a concession to budget. Other cards in 4-0 Abzan sideboards include legends Thrun, the Last Troll, Sigarda, Host of Herons, Obstinate Baloth, Drown in Sorrow, and Seal of Primordium; the obscure-card-lover in me hopes Seal of Primordium shows up a lot this weekend. It's an easy sideboard against Splinter Twin and Affinity, especially Affinity's lands, as free instant activation is a big deal.

Keep an eye out for Timely Reinforcements in sideboards this weekend. It's one of the best easily splashed anti-red cards in Modern, and any deck that worries about living past the initial burn onslaught (not to be confused with Onslaught, a set not in Modern) has interest in the card.

And how is burn doing so well?

As a collection of the best damage-for-mana, burn lists don't change much. This list takes a novel line by splashing green for the sideboard Destructive Revelry, here as a backup Smash to Smithereens that also hits enchantments (all this extra enchantment hate should alert you to Splinter Twin's resurgence). I like beating up on Affinity, and getting to bring in Destructive Revelry and Smash to Smithereens seems great, as it means your sideboard plan brings the same amount of burn as your maindeck. Volcanic Fallout hasn't been as much the Modern player as it was in Standard, but it seems like its time may be now, what with Young Pyromancer still being a force.

Burn didn't lose anything from the bannings, while Scapeshift lost Dig Through Time. But Daryl Ayers, who's well-versed in the archetype, pilots it well enough to keep winning all of the games:

The primary differences between his version last year and this year are the Sleight of Hand and Repeal, in for Firespout and Lightning Bolt. Daryl's version has little red in it once those cards are removed; that feels weird for a deck that ostensibly kills with Mountains, but what Daryl gains from it is the chance to run far more cantrips than the typical Scapeshift deck. Cryptic Command, Electrolyze, Izzet Charm, Peer Through Depths, Remand, and Repeal are all cantrips or close to it, so it should be far easier to assemble the combo in this version than in the more controlling builds.

I'm not used to seeing Kiora, the Crashing Wave in Modern, but it's a reliable turn three play here, and both the plus and minus abilities seem relevant - the former to dealing with midrange, the latter to speeding up the combo. I don't know how much Pro Tour players will tinker with Scapeshift (Tinker...Scapeshift...tutoring combos for wins...get it? *Rimshot*), but Daryl's changes seem sensible as long as he can stay alive to cast all his card selection.

One Spicy Metaball

Bubbling under the 4-0 lists is a white aggro/hate bears deck that appears to center around Aether Vial, Flickerwisp, Blade Splicer, with Thalia, Guardian of Thraben as the reason you're playing all creatures apart from Aether Vial and Path to Exile. Sunday's Daily had three such decks that went 3-1, and one dipped into Fate Reforged as well as red for a card with little Modern hype:

Thalia, Guardian of Thraben has been on the Modern sidelines a little, but as you can see from the other lists in this article, many top decks are creature-light. Add Leonin Arbiter to the mix, and decks like Scapeshift are going to take much longer to get off the ground. Preceded by Aether Vial or Dryad Militant, this deck has the potential to disrupt several game plans.

Flickerwisp and Restoration Angel mostly blink Blade Splicer, although the always spicy fourth-turn Akroma, Angel of Fury is a possibility (cast it face-down, then blink it so it returns face-up). Restoration Angel can function as a Turn Aside (or Avoid Fate, if you want to go deep with Modern instants) and a combat trick; it's as hard to play around as ever. But the new tech is with War-Name Aspirant, which can't trade down as an attacker, and Alesha, Who Smiles at Death. This doesn't read as an obvious Alesha deck, but what it can get back is a hassle (as is being a 3/2 first-striker to join Thalia in a wall of combat skill). War-Name Aspirant revived by Alesha will always get its raid trigger, so it's never truly a creature with power 2 or less. Likewise, bringing back Blade Splicer means Alesha is effectively returning a 3-power creature to the battlefield. Plus, who's going to block a Blade Splicer that can keep coming back?

I have no idea if this deck has enough game for the Pro Tour, but I would love to see new cards like Alesha get some air time. Maybe the monowhite version is more stable; user Newplan's list ran Mirran Crusader (two reasons it can't be Abrupt Decayed!) in the maindeck and True Believer in the sideboard, and both are interesting for different reasons. If you see a lot of spell-heavy decks talked about in the initial metagame roundup, don't be surprised to see a Thalia deck overperform this weekend.

A Peek at Legacy

Sometimes it takes awhile to determine what deck to peek at. But when a deck wins consecutive Dailies, it's pretty easy to decide:

Dmitriy Butakov, featured last week for 4-0'ing a Modern Daily, isn't doing anything especially fanciful; he's just playing cards with a long Legacy pedigree in solid colors. He seems particularly well-equipped (pun intended, of course) to deal with the mirror match, as Electrickery, Council's Judgment, Meddling Mage, and Supreme Verdict all deal in different ways with True-Name Nemesis and Young Pyromancer should he be staring them down. Dig Through Time is a two-of, and I can't imagine that decks of this type can fit a third easily; there's too much spot removal that needs to go in a deck like this, not only to deal with threats but also to fuel both 'Mancers (Young Pyro and Grim Lava).

Conclusion

The recent Modern bannings brought status quo ante to the format, but Siege Rhino has stuck around, and Alesha is interested in joining the party. I'm looking forward to seeing whether the pros take any of these decks or whether they anticipate the new metagame with an entirely different direction. No one knows for sure what will happen, but recent Dailies indicate the Pro Tour at least won't be dull.


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