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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, it's all Modern all the time—or at least until you get to the end of the article.

Mod Earnings

Daily attendance was still down some—paper prereleases are a thing. Here's what 4–0'd at least twice this week (Bold = won a Daily):

  • White-Black Tokens: 2 (won 2x)
  • Infect: 2
  • Jeskai Control: 2
  • Affinity: 2
  • Merfolk: 2
  • Storm, Four-Color Ghostway, and Ad Nauseam Combo each won a Daily in their only 4-0 appearances.

It appears that a lot of the format is a reaction to Grixis Control, as the best one-for-one deck has trouble with this week's two-time winner:

This is Friday's winning list; Sunday's was also from jalah, swapping the two Ajani Goldmanes for two copies of Hero of Bladehold. Besides the disruption element and the chance to metagame against Burn with its nemesis Timely Reinforcements, this archetype is normally good at putting pressure on the opponent every turn—something control decks struggle against when they're set up to kill things for a while and then flip into threat-protection mode (and when they've moved from Electrolyze to Kolaghan's Command). Plus, Path to Exile keeps mana parity with delve creatures. W/B tokens isn't overpowering, but sometimes, its constant chipping away is exactly how to deal with the format.

Merfolk can get ahead of Grixis Control's removal pretty quickly, and the deck did well for itself this week:

The Phantasmal Image angle here is notable because Monastery Siege is in the sideboard as a companion to Kira, Great Glass-Spinner. Phantasmal Image, as with Clone effects generally, is a great answer to large creatures arriving early, and in a format filled with early 4/5s and 5/5s, Phantasmal Image looks good. In a similar augmentation, Spreading Seas in the main deck is joined by Sea's Claim in the sideboard. While I don't know the precise reasons behind its inclusion, it seems to be a decent way to stop Choke from arriving on time as well as a way to cripple the opponent's mana base once Choke arrives. Attacking Jund's mana base with Spreading Seas is a tale as old as their existences, and if Jund's trying to fight your mana, so why not fight the mana harder?

Speaking of Jund, one 4–0 deck innovated in an archetype famous for lacking innovation:

Instead of white for Boros Charm, there's black for Bump in the Night. More importantly, there's Tasigur, the Golden Fang (what doesn't he show up in these days?) as a supplement to the usual plan that also helps the mirror (blocking small creatures and buying back burn spells). I suspect, however, that a huge chunk of why this burn deck went black is for the sideboard. Self-Inflicted Wound for this deck's purposes is a burn spell with removal attached, while Rain of Gore shuts down opponents' basic strategy against burn. (If you don't want to go black like this deck did, Leyline of Punishment offers an analogous effect, although given the deck's ideal speed, it needs to be in your opening hand to be useful.)

I like the next-level space this deck's working in. It's nice to see new ideas even in Burn.

If you want some new ideas in silver bullets, the winning deck from last Tuesday is for you:

Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and Restoration Angel are in here, but the rest is basic value with a plan of Eternal Witness plus Ghostway gaining drawing loads of cards (Wall of Omens) and life (Trostani, Selesnya's Voice). Whisperwood Elemental plus Ghostway features the old Akroma, Angel of Fury trick, getting manifested creatures to return to the battlefield face-up en masse for little investment; there's a second Whisperwood Elemental in the sideboard should that plan match up well against the opponent's plan. Stonehorn Dignitary is in the sideboard as another type of lock with Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker; several decks are going to have difficulty answering it.

If you like Commander and have copies of Chord of Calling and Ghostway, you might want to try this; it looks like loads of fun.

One Spicy Metaball

The 3–1 decks this week had loads of spicy things, like a Sun Titan/Wall of Omens concoction with Mortarpod and a Mardu Tokens deck without Mortarpod. But I couldn't pass on featuring some forest friends:

Eternal formats often are enamored with the "perfect mana" available through fetch lands and shock lands, so hating on nonbasic lands becomes important, and several strategies assume the opponent virtually starts the game on 17 life. But mono-colored decks continue to have the most reliable mana in the game, and green continues to have loads of efficient early creatures. As ubiquitous as delve cards are, Dryad Militant is as main-deckable now as it's ever been, and Strangleroot Geist is as pesky now as it's ever been.

Rancor
Pesky's a good adjective for the deck as a whole, as anyone who's played against Rancor, Dungrove Elder, or Treetop Village knows. And just when you think you can get rid of something, Vines of Vastwood steps in and saves the day.

The sideboard is a little weird—outside Choke, green's not known as a sideboard color these days—but it has plenty of utility. I particularly like the idea of Oxidize, as its can't-be-regenerated clause trumps Affinity's Welding Jar. Of course, Deglamer and its identical twin Unravel the Aether get around Welding Jar for a different reason, so there's plenty of action against random artifacts should it be needed.

It may seem weird to sleeve twenty basic lands and eight vanilla creatures (and only six rares in the main deck), but this deck has a strong core plan that cuts through several aspects of the current metagame. I'm seriously considering sleeving this up for my next Modern tournament. It's been too long since Leatherback Baloth and I had some fun.

Conclusion

It's still another week until Magic Origins hits digital shelves, but Modern is showing enough diversity and adaptability that the new set should be another fun twist instead of a patch for a failing format. Grixis Control was everywhere for a bit, and Griselbrand makes several people nervous about format speed, but for now, Modern is taking care of its own business well. Here's hoping it continues that way.


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