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5 Decks You Can't Miss This Week


Modern Masters 2015 weekend is in the books, but Modern isn't out of the spotlight yet. All kinds of exciting things are happening in Modern as we head in to Grand Prix Charlotte: the rise of Tron as a deck to beat; the integration of Kolaghan's Command as a powerful maindeck card; the decline of Splinter Twin is response to Abrupt Decay decks. There's plenty of new sweet decks and interesting technology, and this week we've got five decks featuring everything from Death's Shadow to Cruel Ultiumatum. These are five decks you just can't miss.

Planeswalkers have been some of the most exciting permanents in Magic ever since they were first printed in Lorwyn. Starting with Lorwyn and Shards of Alara, we saw the first successful build of Superfriends, a deck which tried to use Planeswalkers who could protect one another to assemble a tag team of Planeswalkers which would accrue small advantages turn after turn. Matt Higgs thinks it's about time for that archetype to make a comeback in contemporary Standard. Here's his take on Sultai Superfriends:

The key to this style of deck has always been Planeswalkers like Kiora, the Crashing Wave. At her worst, Kiora functions as a card advantage engine that ramps you into the late game while absorbing a few points of damage. At her best, she is able to team up with your removal spells to lock down the board until you can emblem up and take over the game. Critically, it's important to note that Kiora and Ashiok do a great job of protecting one another, with Kiora giving you time to put creatures into play off of Ashiok.

One of the most important aspects of Superfriends decks is forcing your opponetns to overextend into sweepers. This deck generates a lot of positional advantage against midrange decks by forcing opponents to cast additional creatures to fight through Kiora and Winds of Qal Sisma. When they finally commit enough, you'll have had enough time to Anticipate and Dig Through Time your way into a Crux of Fate to clean up the board and generate a dominating board position.

Between Ashiok against control and the bevy of removal spells against creature decks, this seems like a deck that both has reasonable matchups and does a lot of exciting things. Honestly, I just can't help wanting to play any deck that plans on regularly ultimating Planeswalkers, because that's one of the things I enjoy the most in all of Magic. If you are a like-minded individual, then maybe this is the deck for you!

But what if you're not interested in grinding out incremental value with a team of superfriends. What if you'd rather just overwhelm your opponent with raw aggression? _LSN_ may have exactly the deck for you. Warriors has been a huge theme in Khans of Tarkir Block, but we haven't really seen that theme manifest itself in Standard. At least not yet. This is _LSN_'s attempt to change all of that.

This is a deck that has always been on the fringes of playability, short one or two powerful cards from breaking out at a big Standard event. Fortunately, the Warriors archetype got two big pickups out of Dragons of Tarkir: Blood-Chin Fanatic and Blood-Chin Rager.

Blood-Chin Rager is the one that changes everything. Between Siege Rhino, Courser of Kruphix, Dragonlord Ojutai, and even Elspeth, Sun's Champion, thisis is a Standard format that is all about blocking. Blood-Chin Rager turns all of that on its head, and prevents your opponents from using Sylvan Caryatid and Satyr Wayfinder to buy the time they need to set up their mana and leverage Courser of Kruphix.

Instead, you get to keep crashing in with your team of cheap Warriors, backed by either Obelisk of Urd or Blood-Chin Fanatic to end the game in short order, even without being reliant on the combat step. As the format has shifted more and more towards Creature- and Combat-based interactions, being able to manipulate your opponents' ability to utilize the combat step has become increasingly important, while Blood-Chin Fanatic's ability to win games outside of combat becomes increasingly important as board stalls become more commonplace.

Warriors is a deck that has gotten a lot of interesting tools, and which hasn't been fully explored. There are several color combinations which can be considered, but there is a lot of power in the consistency of going straight Mono-Black. If you want to bring the budget beats at your Friday Night Magic this week, this might be the deck for you.

Every couple of months we see a fresh take on someone trying to break Death's Shadow in Modern. Since the inception of the format, we've seen various takes on the Thoughtseize, Mutagenic Growth, and Shockland shell that lets you reduce your life total at a breakneck pace. We've seen this style of deckbuilding out of the Kiln Fiend/Nivmagus Elemental combo decks from Pro Tour Return to Ravnica, as well as out of Black-White builds featuring Angel's Grace as a combo piece. This week, we're focusing on a new build that caught Frank Karsten's attention:

No combos. No frills. This deck is distilled, pure aggression. This deck plays eleven of the best one-drops in Modern and the full suite of Mutagenic Growths and Gitaxian Probes. This combination of cards lets you do a number of things that are critical for the success of a strange brew like this one. Firstly, you get to apply an enormous amount of pressure very early in the game while Mutagenic Growth[card] gives you a way to fight [card]Lightning Bolt or force your way over Tarmogoyfs. You also get to very easily put your life total in the single digits within the first three turns to turn on Death's Shadow.

The key to this deck is that your spells are all cheap; your curve potentially tops out at two with Temur Battle Rage! This means that you can deploy all your threats more quickly than most opponents can answer them. While your opponent's are durdling around with Serum Visions, you get a similar effect out of Mishra's Bauble plus shuffle effects to find additional threats or combo pieces. That's right. This deck has a combo kill in addition to its natural ability to present a quick clock. It's relatively easy for this deck to assemble the combination of Become Immense and Temur Battle Rage, potentially with Gitaxian Probe to check if the way is clear.

There are plenty of hyper-aggressive, linear decks in Modern. This one is unique in that all of its spells are so cheap and it gets to play Death's Shadow as an enormous board-stalling presence when games start slipping away. The strength of this deck is that it has the ability to assemble a game-winning combination, but is also more than capable of just presenting a quick clock. This forces your opponents to use their removal proactively, potentially opening themselves up to a combo kill.

As we head in to Grand Prix Charlotte, many people are considering new ways to attack Modern. The problem with that is that the format is very broad, with many linear strategies that punish you for not having the specific cards you need to interact with them. This makes it particularly difficult to build control decks in Modern, as the generic answers just aren't efficient or broad enough to cover everything. Kolaghan's Command may just change all of that though. This one card gives players ways to safely interact with Artifacts, midrange decks, and aggressive creature decks all at once. In fact, this card is so versatile that the combination of Kolaghan's Command and Snapcaster Mage may be single-handedly bringing about the return of Grixis Control. Here are two interesting takes on the archetype:

This first build is Matt Costa's take on the archetype. Notice the emphasis on efficient, hard answers. Remand has been ditched in favor of Deprive and Mana Leak. In combination with Snapcaster Mage, Kolaghan's Command, and Cryptic Command, this gives you access to all the hard counters you need to keep the game under lock while you find enough pressure to close out the game.

The key features are Vedalken Shackles and Blood Moon. This combination of cards helps you close the door on numberous matchups. Blood Moon can just win the game against three-color decks and just win the game by shutting off Urza Lands, Blinkmoth Nexus, and Gavony Township. Similarly, even just a few turns of Vedalken Shackles can render a game all but unwinnable for aggressive- or combo-oriented Creature decks.

Osmanozguney's build is a little different than Matt Costa's. This build goes a lot bigger, with Planeswalkers, Damnation, and even Cruel Ultimatum. If you're expecting a lot of midrangey Black-Green decks, then having a higher density of powerful topdecks may be exactly where you want to be. The problem is that this deck doesn't have as many three mana cards that can just end the game, like [card]Vedalken Shackles and Blood Moon.

Instead, this build has Fulminator Mage, which does a great job of shutting down Amulet of Vigor and Urza Tron decks. This is particularly true when Kolaghan's Command, Snapcaster Mage, and even Cruel Ultimatum let you rebuy your Stone Rain to keep your opponent locked out of the game. Is this better than Blood Moon? It's hard to say, but it's pretty hard for me to say no to a Cruel Ultimatum.

For many years, there have been various takes on Stompy decks in Legacy. These are decks that utilize Ancient Tomb, City of Traitors, and other fast mana to ramp into Chalice of the Void, Trinisphere, and powerful four- and five-drops. These builds have featured all manner of interesting cards like Sea Drake, Exalted Angel, Spawnwrithe, and even Rakdos Pit Dragon. Panottie opts for a different approach in this Daily Event, going black for powerful Demons and efficient removal:

I don't know about you, but the idea of facing down turn one Chalice of the Void into turn two Desecration Demon off of a Chrome Mox is not the kind of thing that I'm excited about. Even turn one Mardu Strike Leader can win a game against an opponent who isn't prepared. If ramping out giant monsters isn't going to cut it, you still have powerful disruptive tools like Liliana of the Veil and Hymn to Tourach to force through Trinisphere and Chalice of the Void.

Once you've locked up your opponent's more mana efficient cards, it almost doesn't matter which threat you resolve, as any Abyssal Persecutors or Phyrexian Obliterator is going to clean up whatever is left behind. Certainly Young Pyromancer may be problematic, but if you can shut off the cantrip engine, navigating your way to a win shouldn't be problematic.

My biggest concern about this deck is the disjount between cards like Ancient Tomb and Hymn to Tourach or Liliana of the Veil. When cards like Chalice of the Void and Trinisphere want you to lead on Ancient Tomb to power them out as quickly as possible and Hymn to Tourach and Victim of Night want double Black, it can lead to very awkward sequencing. The goal for this deck should be to cast a huge haymaker every turn until one resolves and goes the distance. This deck is heavily dependent on Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth to realistically curve out and apply adequate pressure to your opponent.

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