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5 Decks You Can't Miss This Week: Modern Madness


It's time. Pro Tour Fate Reforged has come to Washington, D.C. and the spotlight is on the Modern format and all the wacky things that you can do in the wake of the recent bannings. We've seen Humble Defector in Splinter Twin. Tasigur, the Golden Fang has debuted in Abzan Midrange lists. Patrick Chapin cast Gurmag Angler in a Modern feature match. The possibilities are endless, and we'll have plenty to think about as results and decks from the Pro Tour start pouring in. In the meantime, I can't wait to start exploring.

Since the printing of Khans of Tarkir, Jeskai Ascendancy has been the boogeyman of the Modern format. Will someone break it? Is it too good? With the recent banning of Treasure Cruise, it's unlikely that Ascendancy is too good unless some crazy technology develops. Fortunately for us, Gerry Thompson has combined Jeskai Ascendancy and Golgari Grave-Troll into an abominable amalgamation of peoples' least favorite cards to play against. Let's take a look:

This is a combination of cards I never thought I'd see together. So what does it actually do? The plan is to dig into Jeskai Ascendancy and Fatestitcher to start going broken, as usual. While you do, you can use various dredge effects and discard outlets to dig deeper into your deck for Life From the Loam and other graveyard nonsense. Foremost among this is setting up Unburial Rites for Sun Titan to rebuy Jeskai Ascendancy.

Once you've got the Ascendancy in play, you can use Fatestitchers to loop through Life from the Loam and Flame Jab until you kill your opponent, either one point at a time or with an enormous Fatestitcher alpha strike.

The pieces are weird. The engine is weird. Nothing about this deck makes any sense; that's the charm. It's really interesting to see all these disparate ideas and interactions combine to form an interesting and reasonably cohesive deck. I don't know if this deck is good or not, but it's certainly sweet and shows just how much is possible in the Modern format.

The banning of Birthing Pod has left an enormous void in the Modern metagame that many decks are going to rush to try to fill. The best midrange and creature-based combo deck in the format were both banned at the same time, and that leaves plenty of room for new decks to crop up. One such deck is a new take on creature-based combos featuring Chord of Calling and Ghostway. Here's Sam Black's take:

So how does this deck work? You curve mana creatures into value creatures to start, setting up your mana and sculpting your hand. When you have enough creatures in play, you can start using Chord of Calling to protect your creatures from removal spells with Restoration Angel or find silver bullets to grind your opponent out. What you're really trying to do is sculpt gamestates where you can do something degenerate with Ghostway, like blinking a bunch of creatures that do stuff when the enter the battlefield and untapping them so you can Chord of Calling.

The exciting thing about this deck is your ability to Eternal Witness back Ghostway, or Chord of Calling for Restoration Angel to reset enters the battlefield abilities. Because of the sheer density of your creatures and ability to grind out value with extra draw triggers, this deck has a very reasonable aggressive plan. Alternatively, you can just grind your opponent down to nothing before going for the Restoration Angel plus Kiki-Jiki combo finish.

I don't know if this deck is a real thing, but I'm excited just thinking about the possibilities. Urabrask the Hidden turns Ghostway into a pseudo ritual. Summoning Trap could hit combination of Eternal Witness to rebuy the trap, which you can recast and try to hit Restoration Angel or additional Eternal Witnesses to try to chain traps until you hit the combo kill. The possibilities are exciting, and I can't wait to see how they play out.

If I've learned one thing about Modern by watching the recent coverage, it's that burn is kind of a big deal right now. So many matches come down to Monastery Swiftspear and Goblin Guide backed by Searing Blaze and Lightning Bolt. When that's the case, it's usually a good idea to go a little bit bigger and play a lot of incidental lifegain and protection. Here's how Atomic is hating on the Lava Spike decks:

This deck is hateful in a big way on a lot of the big players in the format. Maindeck Soulfire Grand Master and Fulminator Mage? Avalanche Riders[/card plus [card]Restoration Angel? This deck even has an Akroma to flip face up and Kiki-Jiki to combo with the Restoration Angels!

All this and it's still backed up by the most efficient removal spells in the format, which can be rebought again and again with Soulfire Grand Master while pulling ahead on life? Seems like a great place to be to me. You even get the option of rebuying Angel's Grace turn after turn in matches where your opponent can't profitably interact with Soulfire Grandmaster. There are plenty of cool interactions and options in this deck, and I'm excited to see if this is this is where Soulfire Grand Master might find a home.

Abzan Midrange is the best deck in Modern heading into Pro Tour Fate Reforged. It's worst matchup, Birthing Pod, was recently banned. It still has all the most efficient discard, creatures, and removal spells in the format. Also, Siege Rhino is kind of a big deal. We've seen a lot of interesting takes on Abzan throughout the first day of competition at the Pro Tour, but one thing has been consistently true: Tasigur is the truth.

With Birthing Pod banned, Liliana of the Veil is free to run rampant in Modern again. Discarding Lingering Souls in Abzan or lands to Life from the Loam variants, Liliana is the premier Planeswalker and an absurd card advantage engine in this new format. The reason? She allows you to consistently force your opponent to trade resources with you. The Abzan deck is all about making small exchanges where you come out just a little ahead. My Thoughtseize for your Cryptic Command. My Tectonic Edge for your Inkmoth Nexus.

You know what's really good when you're exchanging resources? A one-mana 4/5 that generates card advantage seems okay. Delve allows you to control which non-land cards are in your graveyard, and that allows Tasigur to make sure that you have a never-ending stream of gas throughout the late game. Not only that, but Tasigur is immune to both Abrupt Decay and Lightning Bolt, two of the premier removal spells of the format.

We've seen many takes on Abzan this weekend; across the spectrum from aggro to control, featuring all manner of things from Gavony Township to Wilt-Leaf Liege. One thing's for certain: Abzan in some flavor or another will be a mainstay of the new Modern format.

One thing we haven't seen especially much of in recent Modern is Enchantments. Sure, we see the occasional Prismatic Omen and Splinter Twin, but there are lots of other sweet enchantments that see basically no play. Where are the Ghostly Prisons and Runed Halos?. Rayolun is trying to bring Enchantments to the forefront with an exciting take on an old classic. Get ready to get epic:

The problem with Enduring Ideal in this format is that there is an abundance of discard, and you always have to cast it early if you're going to have any hope of keeping up. There are all manner of ways for you to die by turn five between various combo and aggro decks. Sure, you can just cast Ghostly Prison and Leyline of Sanctity, but that only does so much. You really need some kind of ramp effect and consistent access to Enduring Ideal before this becomes a top tier contender.

So what does the deck do? You resolve Enduring Ideal and tutor for various cards that protect you. Your plan is to assemble a hard lock over the course of a few turns utilizing various protection enchantments like Dovescape, Runed Halo, and Sphere of Safety. Eventually you can tutor up Privileged Position and Form of the Dragon and slowly eat away at your opponent's life total from behind your pillowfort of Enchantments.

One of my favorite things about this deck is the number of free wins you're going to get in preboarded games against decks like Burn and Splinter Twin by having access to powerful hate cards. You also get to play Ensnaring Bridge, which is a powerful card that we haven't seen much in Modern. The deck has a lot of powerful things going on; all we need to do is find a way to make it a turn or so faster, and a little more consistent.

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