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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 Magic Origins finally about to hit digital shelves this weekend, we'll take a look at Modern and catch an intriguing development in Vintage.

Birthing Mod Is Banned in Podern

Here's what 4–0'd at least twice this week (Bold = won a Daily):

  • Affinity: 3
  • Merfolk: 2 (won 2)
  • Hexproof: 2
  • Infect: 2
  • Jund: 2
  • Living End: 2
  • Red-Green Tron: 2
  • Abzan, Elf Company, and Grixis Twin each won a Daily in their only 4-0 appearances.

In the wake (Thrasher?) of Magic Origins bringing Harbinger of the Tides to the archetype, Merfolk's already on a roll:

Besides the Sower of Temptation in the sideboard, the variation in this Wednesday’s winning list is the pair of Triton Shorestalkers and the single Merfolk Sovereign. As a backup plan to islandwalk, unblockability can turn the tide of victory in the absence of Spreading Seas. I hadn't seen Triton Shorestalker in a Merfolk list before, but it makes sense in a lean, aggressive slant. Will it see more play as Harbinger of the Tides brings even more tempo options to the archetype? Swinging with a 1/1 encourages the opponent to swing back, and curving into Harbinger of the Tides that way seems profitable.

Thursday and Sunday saw Hexproof 4–0, including a win, piloted by the same player:

The tech here is Spirit Link, perfectly fine on several creatures in the deck but also backbreaking when placed on an Eidolon of the Great Revel—the same reason Vampiric Link has been in black sideboards recently. Having an interactive spell in the main deck is unusual for the archetype, and having an answer to Burn in the main deck is unusual for the format. That might be enough to see Hexproof through while Burn remains a boogeyman.

The Modern Pro Tour Qualifier over the weekend was won by another boogeyman:

Although this is obviously a Delver list, it's not as all-in as they usually are, with only two Young Pyromancers and a pair of Gurmag Anglers to join Tasigur, the Golden Fang. Bitterblossom is an interesting dimension out of the sideboard, and Tribute to Hunger is a fantastic response to Griselbrand decks. Nice Emrakul, the Aeons Torn you spent all your cards to summon—I'd like to gain 15 life for the trouble, please and thank you.

One Spicy Metaball

Kolaghan's Command has been tasked frequently with bringing Snapcaster Mage back from the graveyard to the hand. But another Elder Dragon can skip a step, as this 3–1 deck from Friday explores:

Part of this deck looks like a Temur Delver list, with Snapcaster Mage, Young Pyromancer, Tarmogoyf, and cheap instants. But instead of a Delver of Secrets direction, the focus is on 2-drops, both for Aether Vial and for Ojutai's Command. Whether those cards are putting Snapcaster Mage or Tarmogoyf directly on the battlefield, there's a lot of value to be gained from the reanimation side. Eternal Witness adds to the recursive toolbox feel, while the other spells are mostly great tempo plays.

The sideboard highlights what the deck's capable of. Dromoka's Command broadens the options, looking particularly good when it lets a Tarmogoyf fight. Ethersworn Canonist is an inspired choice, as a huge chunk of this deck's on an Aether Vial/flash plan anyway, so it's easy enough to circumvent the drawback. Leonin Relic-Warder hasn't been seen much since infinite combos with Phyrexian Metamorph, but as a 2-drop that can deal with problematic permanents, it has a home here.

This is the sort of thing I would mull over—"Wouldn't that be cool synergy?"—but never expect to work. But it can work, and exploring Ojutai's Command—a card that, like other converted-mana-cost-matters cards, only grows better with age—is great uncharted territory.

Judge Dredge

The main deck's familiar, and the sideboard's familiar, but rarely do they go together. Winning Wednesday's Daily:

The Dredge package, getting great deals from Bazaar of Baghdad (back-to-school sales soon!), is well-known in Vintage, even if it hasn't been successful recently. Chalice of the Void and Vengeful Pharaoh are a different contour than other Vintage Dredge decks I could find; besides the Vengeful Pharaoh's utility against creatures, it's an easy choice of black creature card to exile to reanimate Ichorid if need be. But the main innovation here is the transformative sideboard, which is a single Riftstone Portal and the Dark Depths combo package. Rather than play weird spells in the sideboard due to severe mana constraints, why not play a combo that circumvents graveyard hate and barely needs mana? If I'm facing this deck and I have to go to Game 3, sideboarding correctly is a fifty-fifty gamble instead of the usual hundred to zero. I love the idea, and I'm curious as to whether it will catch on.

Conclusion

The linear creature decks fared well this week, and while sweepers are an obvious answer, the space needed for them takes away from other matchups. It could go several ways in the upcoming weeks, although it seems that the creatures from Magic Origins are more likely to appear in Modern than the spells are, tilting the format more in this week's direction. It'll be fun to see what happens next.


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