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Hey everyone!

Grand Prix Indianapolis is quickly approaching so I want to shift gears from Standard to Modern. There was a host of data to scour from the SCG Open in Syracuse and Modern will play a pivotal role in this weekend’s SCG Invitational as it will be featured in half of the swiss rounds and theTop 8. I have a love-hate relationship with Modern because there are so many decks to play. This rewards dedication to a particular archetype as each strategy will be strong and weak to a wide variety of decks. Unlike Standard and Legacy the pairings play a huge role in the winner of each match because every deck is so focused. If you’re unable to interact with your opponent’s game plan it will spell doom.

My comfort zone for Modern includes U/R/x Control and Zoo so I would like to not drift too far away if possible. I will play anything except combo so I’ll take Black midrange, too.


This is a more conservative approach to the deck as I’m not playing too many high drops. The main draw to Bushwacker Zoo is the ability to have a quick goldfish against any opponent. I moved down to two Flinthoof Boar because it was too expensive and often the last card in hand; Vexing Devil is more proactive and still helps with evolving Experiment One.

I’m not playing the deck without Dryad Arbor so I cut the Simian Spirit Guide for a third Stomping Ground. This will allow me to keep more hands with two lands, but I’m sacrificing the turn one Burning-Tree Emissary draws.

I’m running two main deck Forked Bolt that don’t do a great job at providing an explosive opening hand. Since I made room for them by cutting pump spells neither of those slots provide an ideal start. With that being said Forked Bolt is still great against plenty of decks in the format and deals two damage to the opponent worst case scenario. They need to be in the 75 because being a sorcery is a boon for Tarmogoyf.

Grafdigger's Cage is going to be important due to the emergence of Dredge. Ross Merriam won SCG Syracuse with it last weekend so the bandwagon for Dredge will be large. This version is by no means as strong as the original versions in Extended, but it can go crazy on turn two. Old standbys such as Rest in Peace may be too slow on the draw because a large amount of Prized Amalgams and Narcomoeba’s enter the battlefield too fast. This is worst-case scenario as dredge will fold to hate in most scenarios.

Modern is such a wide open format so it’s nice to have game versus even your bad matchups. This is why Wild Nacatl and I get along so well.

Grixis Control

I tried a classic version of Grixis Control to get a feel for it and I learned a lot. Zach Allen had some cool ideas such as sideboarding Boom // Bust so I was naturally interested as that card and I go way back to cascading into it with Bloodbraid Elf in 2010.

Here’s the new version I’m trying:


Thought Scour plays well with both Tasigur, the Golden Fang and Goblin Dark-Dwellers. I can mill Ancestral Vision or Boom // Bust for Dark Dwellers to recast. When I played three Boom // Bust in the sideboard I brought them in about half of the time and they were great. On turn three I could target a fetch land and sacrifice in response and also cast a 1-mana interaction spell.

The main draw to interacting with Boom // Bust is that it conflicts with the Mana Leak slot. This is good because I don’t want to fill my deck with countermagic in a field as diverse as Modern. I now have some early interaction that can close a game quickly by destroying all of the lands when I’m ahead on board. This may seem trivial, but discard-based control decks are at the mercy of the opponent’s topdecks so I don’t want the game to drag out.

Anger of the Gods appears to be the strongest sweeper in the modern metagame and it can be cast from Goblin Dark-Dwellers, too. I’m happy with the second copy sitting in the sideboard since some decks don’t play creatures and this spell is expensive. Kitchen Finks will be out in force and I could see plenty of players adopt Jeff Hoogland’s Eldritch Evolution Chord deck despite it underperforming at SCG Syracuse.

Since I was able to fit Boom // Bust and Anger of the Gods in the main deck I have room for Slaughter Games in the sideboard. This card is for the glass cannon combo decks; I plan to name things like Ad Nauseam, Primeval Titan, or Scapeshift. I think the “Cranial Extraction” effects are generally overrated so bring this in sparingly. Another option is Surgical Extraction because you can blow up Tron lands and remove them from the opponent’s deck. If you do some work it will perform a similar function as Slaughter Games against combo, too. If you discard or counter a key spell the opponent will never find the second. It’s also great against Dredge which can be a deciding factor.

Another way to build Grixis is to take advantage of a great new card, Bedlam Reveler. I lost in the finals of my local Modern event a couple weeks ago with Grixis Control against U/R Delver with reveler and it was impressive. There are many ways to build around Bedlam Reveler; it can be a tempo or a control deck.

I like this version because it’s basically Grixis Control that DUHANIMATION took to a 5-0 finish in a Magic Online league:


Again, we have a control deck that isn’t playing a ton of countermagic and is instead opting for hand disruption. Why hold up mana to counter a spell when you can churn through your deck to cast a cheap Bedlam Reveler? I want to tear up my opponent’s hand and then cast a big scary Red creature. Thought Scour is an all-star here, but I lose Ancestral Vision. This makes my Jund matchup worse, but some decks need quick interaction. It’s possible to play Ancestral Vision in the sideboard if you expect Jund to show up which might be the case.

Forked Bolt is great against a lot of decks in Modern and is cheap to get into the graveyard to cast a cheap reveler or delve for Tasigur and Gurmag Angler. I’m losing some versatility with Forked Bolt by not playing Delver of Secrets or Young Pyromancer to be aggressive. In case you haven’t noticed I think Forked Bolt is very good in Modern.

I get some great inevitability with Kolaghan's Command; Thought Scour can mill Bedlam Reveler and I can return Bedlam Reveler to my hand in the late game. This interaction makes up for the lack of creatures in the deck. I would expect this deck to be weak to Liliana of the Veil because there aren’t any creatures I can use for sacrifice fodder except Snapcaster Mage.

Here’s another fun version of U/R Bedlam Reveler that is more focused on tempo designed by Ann Arborite, Kevin Chang:


Despite this being tempo-focused I think this is a great deck. It can be a challenge to face Black midrange decks that blow up your creatures because U/R decks aren’t favored as the game goes long. Bedlam Reveler gives U/R Tempo a breath of fresh air thanks to its ability to refuel much like Treasure Cruise in the old versions. Young Pyromancer does a good job of providing fodder to sacrifice to Liliana of the Veil.

A trade-off of not splashing is that it’s necessary to play the awkward Red removal. Since I lean hard on Lightning Bolt it can be tough to kill something with more than 3 toughness. This means I have to play spells like Harvest Pyre and Dismember which are basically worse than Terminate. There can also be games where I’m not being aggressive and wind up bouncing a creature with Vapor Snag for minimal value. That’s the price you pay for good mana.

The single Blood Crypt can be fetched as a Red source that makes Dismember only cost 2 life. This can be key when flashing back Dismember with Snapcaster Mage in the late game. I don’t want to pay 8 life to kill two creatures in a single game.

If I were to play this type of strategy at Grand Prix Indianapolis it would likely be a hybrid between these two extremes. Ideally the deck I play can close the game quickly to give myself the best chance against a large amounts of different decks.

Jund Delirium

My gripe with Jund was that it only had Tarmogoyf to close the door quickly. Thanks to the power of Grim Flayer I now have plenty of ways to attack for large chunks of damage.


Since your large creatures are only 2-drops it’s possible to cut down to 24 lands. I’ve seen some versions play Mishra's Bauble, but time will tell if it’s too cute. My criteria for a good Modern deck is that it’s able to have some way to close quickly and this deck is more aggressive.

I could see cutting a Dark Confidant because it’s easy to kill and there are already plenty of other 2-drops. Grim Flayer plays well with Dark Confidant because you can leave lands on top of your deck to reveal and not take damage.

This feels more like a beatdown deck which was the origins of Jund. Discard can be used to proactively take removal spells to continue attacking against fair decks. Just good honest Magic. I might want a seventh discard spell because Jund Delirium is focused on attacking and this is the best disruption.

To play devil’s advocate, there were only 2 Grim Flayers in the Top 8 of SCG Syracuse between three Jund decks. I’m going to take Chris Anderson’s list for a test drive:


What’s holding me back from Grim Flayer is that Chris Anderson decided to play Jund and not play any copies. He even played the Seal of Fire because it goes well with Tarmogoyf and Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet. I don’t typically play Jund, but it felt well-positioned and then almost made up half of the SCG Syracuse top 8. Liliana, the Last Hope is awesome with Seal of Fire and Grim Lavamancer; the +1 can team up with shock effects to kill more creatures. She will be good in the matchups where Liliana of the Veil falls short.

Standard Updates

I don’t want to go the entire article without mentioning where I’m at in Standard. This will be brief as I want to highlight some high level views of building the popular decks:

  1. Decks based around Emrakul can’t go all-in on Emerge, too. Sacrificing Sanctum of Ugin pressures your mana. A happy medium is Owen’s Temur Emerge deck where it simply plays some Elder Deep-Fiends. Oliver Tamijko also had a cool version he used to top 8 GP Portland.
  2. Black Control decks will keep Eldrazi in check and get crushed by Bant Company.
  3. Bant Company is still a tier one deck that has a rough time with Emerge decks. Between GP Rimini and GP Portland it made up 9 of 16 top 8 slots. The Pro Tour competitors tried their best to keep it down, but it’s a very good deck.

I’m still playing Bant Company because it’s powerful and consistent. It appears Dromoka's Command is terrible against many of the top decks. Going forward I’m playing Paul Rietzl’s version with a ton of Collected Company hits:


Dromoka's Command is becoming worse in the mirror thanks to Selfless Spirit being a staple. It doesn’t prevent the damage from a flash back Kozilek's Return either. Black midrange decks don’t care about command because their removal is non-damage. This is entirely a metagame call and will likely change in the coming weeks.

Elder Deep-Fiend out of the sideboard fits nicely when you bring in the third Nissa to sacrifice. This is a better option than Subjugator Angel because she’s so expensive. I like this version against Black control because it plays a large amount of card advantage creatures: 2 Jace, 2 Nissa, 4 Tireless Tracker, and 4 Duskwatch Recruiter. I like to overcompensate with card advantage creatures because I want 4 Selfless Spirit that are terrible against Liliana, the Last Hope.

Despite Paul being one of the few pros that works full time he also grinds a lot on MODO. I would trust these numbers for your weekend event.

Legacy Updates

It has been a while since I posted my Legacy list. Here’s what I’m working with now:


I tried a Planeswalker-heavy version that didn’t turn out so well. There were too many hands I needed to mulligan thanks to the large amount of expensive threats. Liliana and Jace are both great, but I need to do a better job building up to them instead of jamming them into opposing interaction.

Overall I still like this deck, but I’m going to try Joe Lossett’s version of miracles that’s based around Karakas and legendary wizards such as Vendilion Clique and Venser, Shaper Savant in future events.

Conclusion

So there you have it, three formats and plenty of cool stuff happening in each one. I’m going to try hard and find a deck I love to play in Modern for Grand Prix Indianapolis to hunt for pro points. We’re now in the beginning of the new pro season so I am back at 0 points and the grind begins again.

Check back next week as I go over some sweet decks from the SCG Invitational and lock down my Modern deck for the Grand Prix.

Thanks for reading!

—Kyle


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