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Post-Bannings Modern


With the Banned & Restricted List announcement this past Monday, Modern has become an interesting format for me to work on. The deck-building possibilities certainly open up given that the iconic Bitterblossom and Wild Nacatl were unbanned, while the ubiquitous (and oppressive) Deathrite Shaman finally got the axe.

The obvious elephant in the room is U/B Faeries, and here’s my current take on it:

The major strength of Faeries is that it can easily adapt (the decklist, but even in game) to serve any role. Need to be the beatdown? No problem, Deluge the opponent’s squad with Cryptic Command, and play a Scion of Oona to easily race. Need to stabilize? Block with a Mistbind Clique at instant speed, which also taps your opponent out. The number of traps that Faeries can present makes it extremely difficult to play against fully, and it can sideboard a lot of its weaker cards out (Scion of Oona versus Volcanic Fallout, for example).

I like where the main deck is, but it could certainly adjust based on where we expect the metagame to go. It’s currently configured to eschew discard for removal because of the expected uptick in Zoo-type strategies involving the unbanning of Wild Nacatl. To counter that, we hedge against control and combo by playing the awesome Sword of Feast and Famine.

There’s a plethora of sideboard options, up to and including all sorts of 2-mana removal spells (Agony Warp, Go for the Throat, and so on), Vampire Nighthawk, Wurmcoil Engine, Deathmark, and discard spells (Thoughtseize, Inquisition of Kozilek, and Duress).

The mana base also has a metric ton of options: Watery Grave (alongside fetch lands), Darkslick Shores, River of Tears, Sunken Ruins, Tectonic Edge, and so forth.

I’m really excited to see where people take Faeries for Pro Tour Valencia (and for the Grand Prix in Richmond).

Another ghost from the past that certainly will be a contender is Domain Zoo:

Wild Nacatl
The goal of this deck is pretty obvious: Get ’em dead. To meet this goal, you play the some of the best aggressive 1-drop creatures of all time—Kird Ape, Steppe Lynx, Wild Nacatl, and Loam Lion—alongside some heavy-hitting 2- and 3-drops—Tarmogoyf and Geist of Saint Traft. Your black is essentially a splash here just for Tribal Flames, and blue offers the incredible Geist of Saint Traft, which you have fourteen spells to help clear the way for.

Faeries will be very hard-pressed to deal with the amount of pressure you can mount when you open up with a 1-drop into two more 1-drops (or a 2-drop) by turn two.

Traditionally, this sort of deck has been weak to combo—and sometimes to sweepers. To combat that, I would suggest looking at Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Negate (or Countersquall), Ranger of Eos, and Grafdigger's Cage as sideboard options.

An alternative to Domain Zoo is Big Naya Zoo:

Going bigger gives you a lot of advantages in Zoo mirrors. A Knight basically brick-walls all of your opponent’s opposition, and it gives you access to incredible utility lands. Elspeth, Knight-Errant is incredibly underplayed, but she gains a lot of value the more creature mirrors you expect, and she is an annoying card for control decks to handle.

Of course, with Deathrite Shaman being banned, B/G/x decks need to evolve, and I still expect to see Melira Pod in some numbers:

Melira certainly is still an extremely strong deck with two infinite combos built in. In addition, a turn-two Birthing Pod is extremely difficult for Faeries to beat, and you are inherently strong against Zoo with the full boat of Kitchen Finks pre-boarded as well as ways to grind Zoo out with two infinite combos.

Again, the sideboard is up in the air given that you have to accurately predict the metagame, but options include discard, Lingering Souls, and silver-bullet one-ofs (such as Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Ethersworn Canonist, and the like).

To Summarize

Other decks that I expect to see are Omen-Scapeshift (it won an Extended Grand Prix while Faeries was a top-tier deck) and Dredgevine (which was kept down by the combination of Deathrite Shaman and Scavenging Ooze, but I think it can adapt to just beat an Ooze).

I will be excited to see what other teams have brought to the table for this new format.

Thanks for reading, and I will do my best to respond to any comments here or on Twitter @jkyu06.


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