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Five Decks You'll Play This Weekend

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Welcome to Gathering Magic's weekly quintet of Magic Online decks 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 activity gets you ahead of the competition. This week, with Grand Prix Charlotte ahead, we'll focus on Modern with a side order of Legacy.

Charlotte: Home of Hornets, Bobcats, and a Beaver

As car value website Edmunds.com nearly informs us, "A new Char loses 11 percent of its value the moment you leave the 'Lotte." While, thankfully, nobody calls Charlotte by only its second syllable (that's more appropriate for these guys), it is a pretty cool city; ever since I did some temporary lawyer work there in 2011, this rainbow skullpture in the middle of town has been my cell phone wallpaper. Now that that image is in your head, here's what 4–0'd Magic Online Dailies at least twice in the last week (Bold = won a Daily):

  • Jund: 8 (2 wins)
  • Affinity: 8
  • Red-Green Tron: 4
  • Jeskai Control: 4
  • Amulet Bloom: 4
  • Grixis Twin: 3
  • Naya Burn: 3
  • Hexproof: 2
  • Abzan Midrange: 2
  • Merfolk: 2
  • Infect: 2
  • Grixis Delver: 2

As successful as Affinity was, there was nothing interesting to mention in the decks; the stock variations are all still good sometimes. At least there's something to talk about with Jund:

Comparing this list, which won Saturday's Daily, with Ari Lax's, who 4–0'd earlier in the week, this one is more creature-centric (Ari ran three copies of Liliana of the Veil instead of Grim Lavamancer, Kitchen Finks, and Huntmaster of the Fells) and is much more worried about Islands (two Chokes). Other than that, things are mostly the same—a variety of removal and classic green threats fueled by Dark Confidant. Raging Ravine is a four-of in the main deck, as is Fulminator Mage in the sideboard; Fulminator Mage in particular helps solve several problems in the metagame (looking straight at you, Inkmoth Nexus).

Still going bigger than everybody else in Modern, there's Tron:

The deck that won Wednesday's Daily was completely stock in its seventy-five. This deck goes for a couple rarely seen options in the sideboard. I like Briber's Purse as an answer to a few random things, such as Goryo's Vengeance, that are hard to answer otherwise. The singleton Detritivore can break the mirror wide open at the very least, and against some decks, it's a surprisingly large beater. User gakugeikai, who 4–0'd the same Daily, was running two Thragtusks in the sideboard as well as two Platinum Angels, the former being more popular (and more clearly well-positioned) than the latter.

Thursday's Daily was won by the latest iteration of an established archetype:

With loads of removal made reusable by Snapcaster Mage and sturdy win conditions in Ajani Vengeant and Celestial Colonnade, this is the slow-but-steady deck of Modern. It's neither the best Snapcaster Mage deck (that might be Grixis Delver) nor the best U/R deck (that would be Splinter Twin), but it's the best Cryptic Command deck and the best Supreme Verdict deck, which make it hard to beat with anything trying to play "fair." Having good access to all three colors of mana allows Jeskai Control to build a diverse, tweakable sideboard. User _lluks_ had Elspeth, Sun's Champion, Keranos, God of Storms, Negate, and Spellskite in the sideboard from the same Daily. Having a shell that can take on most decks reasonably while having so many options after Game 1 makes Jeskai Control always a safe choice, and it can be made as spicy as you like.

One Spicy Metaball

Of course, why counter spells when you can stop them from happening?

Boom // Bust
There is a single Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker to make infinite Restoration Angels, but there's no way of finding it quickly other than the cantrips of Wall of Omens and Relic of Progenitus. So the combo is there, but the deck's focus is a rather extreme resource denial package. Not since Bloodbraid Elf's heyday has Boom // Bust been a format player, but here it's a four-of, with Flagstones of Trokair making Boom asymmetrical. Blood Moon and Ajani Vengeant further the theme, and if Bust or Ajani Vengeant's ultimate happen while Ghostly Prison is out, the game's pretty much over.

Getting Wall of Omens and the full complement of Lightning Helix is nice, with Valorous Stance making loads of sense as combo protection and killer of all the things Anger of the Gods and Lightning Bolt and Helix don't get to. (It's also a nice answer to Infect combo after the opponent has used several pump spells.) Being only two colors of control allows for a few color-heavy sideboard options, such as Kor Firewalker and Celestial Flare, and being nonblue allows Boil to join the mana-denial party.

I suspect this deck is in a good position to succeed right now, and I suspect that metagame shifts could make this a bad choice soon enough—also, it looks like it takes forever to win unless the opponent rage-quits—but it has a lot going for it. And who doesn't love blowing up lands?

Still B/U/Gs the Format

Although this is the 3–1 version of a deck that 4–0'd the same Legacy tournament, it's Dmitriy Butakov's version and it has some offbeat choices:

Shardless Agent
Eschewing the one-ofs in both the 4–0 deck (which is much more patterned after Gerry Thompson's version) and adding Umezawa's Jitte, Dmitriy's streamlining is, if nothing else, easier to parse and explain. Shardless Agent can cascade into any of the other creatures, Brainstorm, Abrupt Decay, Ancestral Vision, Thoughtseize, or Hymn to Tourach. Force of Will costing more than Shardless Agent is a huge reason this archetype can work, as it lets a hard counterspell stay in the deck without whiffing on the cascade. The rest of the deck is basically the best stuff available in colors.

What I like about this build is the choice of Marsh Casualties in the sideboard. Golgari Charm's been popular for killing True-Name Nemesis and random enchantments for a while, and this deck's obviously capable of playing it—the occasional killing of your own creatures is annoying. Marsh Casualties is one-sided and can be kicked off cascade in the late game, so it has some advantages in this archetype that haven't been explored. It will be interesting to see whether it catches on.

Conclusion

Although red featured in all of the above decks, there're still plenty of decks out there. Tasigur, the Golden Fang and Kolaghan's Command are pulling players into black from either side of it, and that change has yet to finish impacting the metagame. Whatever the case, Charlotte's Modern format doesn't seem like luck or a "good run" will have too much impact—good play skill and sideboarding choices should make the biggest difference. For watching Magic as played by its best players, that's a nice place for a format to be.


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