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Dominaria Modern Dive


Dominaria has been legal on MTGO for a couple of weeks now, but it was only legal in paper for the first time just last weekend. Modern is an ever changing landscape -- especially when potentially impactful cards get released. Today, I would like to highlights some of the interesting technology that came out of the SCG Open weekend in Atlanta, as well as the Modern Challenge on Magic Online.

First up, a card that was not really on my radar from Dominaria seems to be having at least a small impact, Teferi, Hero of Dominaria. Coming in first in the Challenge event was this take on Esper Control:

Many people, myself included, thought non-Jace Blue planeswalkers would be mostly pushed out of Modern with the return of the Mind Sculptor, but it is looking like we were wrong. While Teferi, Hero of Dominaria's card advantage is not quite as powerful as Brainstorming every turn, the fact that he increases in loyalty while drawing cards is a big deal.

The five-mana cost in Teferi's corner is kind of deceiving since he untaps two lands with his plus ability. This allows us to deploy a source of card advantage, while also continuing to interact with the board. This means we can continue to generate tempo for the rest of the game in an archetype that often plays a fair deal of tempo negative cards. It is much easier to sweep the board and then have more interaction up on the opponent's turn when two of our lands are resetting.

There are also a couple of Damping Spheres hiding in this sideboard, but honestly I am not sure if I am a fan of them here. This deck really lacks the closing power to leverage the few extra turns Sphere will give you on average.

It was not just the Modern Challenge where Teferi popped up. Finishing in the Top 32 of the team open was Jeskai mastermind Ben Nickolich, who was playing a grand total of zero Jace, the Mind Sculptor, but still had room for a Teferi:

While Jace is absent, there are a whooping 3 copies of Search for Azcanta in addition to the Teferi, Hero of Dominaria to generate card advantage for Nickolich.

While this next list is not playing Teferi, it is within a few cards of the Jeskai Nahiri list I posted last week that I said I felt was well positioned. This finished in the Top 32 of the Modern challenge:

Their sideboard is a few cards off of what I had posted and their main deck is exactly one card (turning the 4th Nahiri into a 3rd counter spell). I'm unsure how I feel about trimming our combo enabler, but I am a fan of the addition of Vendilion Clique to the sideboard. This is a card that both provides disruption and pressure against combo decks.

Up next we have a slightly aggressive midrange deck that seems reasonable for trying to leverage the power of Damping Sphere to slow down the more degenerate decks in the format:

Much like Jund (or bg), this style of Grixis deck is exactly the type of home I'd expect to see Damping Sphere in. The deck can have aggressive draws, but generally will be 2-3 turns too slow to close the game before a deck like Tron can go over the top of them. Damping Sphere allows an avenue to gain time in a game, giving the midrange player a real chance.

Past just leveraging Damping Sphere in the sideboard, I like the core idea of this deck a lot. Faithless Looting plus Thought Scour should enable you to churn through your deck fairly quickly to find whatever answer you need for a given situation.

To shift gears completely from more controlling decks, up next we have a couple of decks that are looking to go really fast:

This is a more streamlined build of the Mono-Red deck we saw at the SCG Open a few weeks back. It has cut all of the three-mana cards to play a lower curve. The only thing I would change in this deck off the bat is the lack of fetch lands. Not playing fetch lands in your four Grim Lavamancer deck seems like a mistake -- especially in something as aggressive as this.

I'd also like to mention I love the clean sideboard here. Lots of four-ofs that come in for very obvious problem solving. Clean and not susceptible to overboarding like these decks sometimes tend to be.

Then we have an archetype that I have had a lot of fun playing with. I am excited to still see this deck putting up results here and there in a world where Damping Sphere exists:

The thing of biggest interest to me in this list is the inclusion of four Fatestitcher. This makes the archetype a little more susceptible to graveyard hate, but also gives you the ability to play through removal and counterspells a bit better.

Ideas Unbound is not a card I have tested much with, but it seems powerful at the right timings.

It wouldn't be a Hoogland Modern round up if I did not point out some of the sweet mana dork decks that have popped up. First off, we have an interesting take on Hatebears that cuts the terrible cards for more reasonable ones:

This deck leverages the power of Wasteland Strangler in conjunction with temporary exile effects like Tidehollow Sculler and Flickerwisp to generate some powerful card advantage against other creature based decks in the format.

Finally, I'd like to close out highlighting a list from the Top 8 of the classic at the open this weekend. If you are interested in finding a good home for Shalai, Voice of Plenty this might just be it:

Fairly close to the Lotus Saheeli lists I have worked on in the past, I like a lot of the things this deck is doing. Most notably, I like the inclusion of a Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker to enable more combo lines. This generally uncastable goblin probably is not too hard to get into play thanks to the powerful fixing Lotus Cobra can provide alongside fetch lands.

One decision I found a bit odd about this specific configuration though was the inclusion of Blood Moon in the sideboard. With Damping Sphere being a card now, I think I would much rather play that to have an additional hedge against decks like Storm. Storm and Tron are traditionally the hardest matchups for a deck like this, so having a card that is good in both of these places sounds powerful.

Wrapping Up

Modern is still my favorite Constructed format. There is always lots to play with and new things to test and discover. What cards and decks are you enjoying and finding powerful with the release on Dominaria? Let me know in a comment below!


--Jeff Hoogland

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