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Standard and Modern Update

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Hey everyone!

I’ve been busy testing Modern for Grand Prix Indianapolis coming up this weekend, but also helped Team Ann Arbor with Standard for the RPTQ in Pittsburgh last weekend.

Standard

I got to play Oliver Tomajko’s Temur Emerge deck because it gives you the best feeling for what Emrakul, the Promised End and Elder Deep-Fiend decks are trying to accomplish.


This deck is as complicated as advertised. Not only are you trying to set up an explosive emerge turn, but also taking into account casting Emrakul to put the nail in the coffin. It felt like Gather the Pack was the strongest card in the deck because I was able to get delirium on turn two. In the mid- game spell mastery turns Gather the Pack into a 2-mana draw two effect.

I tested this deck against Bant Company and it felt like the good draws were unbeatable, but Bant is just a very consistent deck at the end of the day. The new versions are warped around interacting with Elder Deep-Fiend and Kozilek's Return for good reason. I thought Selfless Spirit would be a big deal, but the Emrakul in this Temur deck made it moot unless I was under pressure. It’s generally quite strong when Bant has multiple Selfless Spirits to protect from return, but I could force my opponent to sacrifice all of them when I control the turn.

There were plenty of games where I had to mulligan due to having too many expensive spells. Since aggressive decks force me to have all of the answers very quickly I’m asking a lot to produce all of the components that deliver an explosive turn. It’s hard for me to turn away from Bant Company if I were to play Standard.


This is my current list and I think it’s great for the new metagame. The top decks to take into consideration are :

  1. Bant Company
  2. B/G / Jund Delirium
  3. R/G Ramp
  4. Temur/Sultai Emerge
  5. U/R Fevered Visions

Dromoka's Command
It’s current all the rage to cut Dromoka's Command, but after playing without it I was missing the versatility. Even in the bad matchups it can be good in weird situations. It’s all right if you cut some Commands in each matchup, but I still love them in the mirror to fight down Spell Queller and Archangel Avacyns. It can be argued that Declaration in Stone is better for the mirror because it exiles in the face of Selfless Spirit, but I want to fight the spirit first anyway as it has such a big impact on the game. Cutting commands also makes me weaker to U/R spells which is a powerful deck that will become more popular. Lets also not forget that Dromoka's Command was previously in the pantheon of Bant Company cards and it was unheard of to play less than three.

Selfless Spirit is a great 2-drop, but it’s too weak to Liliana, the Last Hope to play four copies. I don’t want a fourth in the board because it’s too low-impact. It’s worse against Kozilek's Return after sideboard because they bring in kill spells.

A deck-building decision that pops up is playing 25 or 26 lands. My theory is that I want 25 lands in versions with 2 Nissa, Vastwood Seer and 26 in the rest. Bant Company is a very mana-intensive deck so I don’t mind an extra source; card advantage generally is easier to come by with more lands thanks to Duskwatch Recruiter and Tireless Tracker.

Gideon, Ally of Zendikar is my Planeswalker of choice out of the sideboard against control. I don’t like Tamiyo, Field Researcher in that space because Black control wants to kill all of my creatures which makes the +1 worse. Gideon will be a threat immediately after a Languish which is what I want.

Clash of Wills
Negate was a mainstay, but I’m now all about Clash of Wills. It counters Ishkanah, Grafwidow, Emrakul, and Elder Deep-Fiend. Of course it doesn’t stop the cast triggers, but their effect is less scary when it isn’t combined with a giant creature. It can also be helpful to counter Avacyn out of W/B Control which can blow you out with a hand full of Negates. Delirium is the new face of control so get used to playing against more creatures than before.

Noose Constrictor is good against U/R Spells because I can discard extra cards with Fevered Visions in play. It has reach and blocks Stormchaser Mage, but also attacks through Thermo-Alchemist. This seems like a narrow use of sideboard slots, but I can also bring them in against Humans. It’s an ideal card to play because it’s also a Collected Company hit. There were times in the mirror where it was fine, too. It can block those pesky flyers and is weak against opposing Dromoka's Command.

I like Summary Dismissal more than Learn from the Past, but both are strong against Emerge and Emrakul decks. It’s important to remember Summary Dismissal costs uu2 so I can’t fit too many in the list. Learn from the Past is a concession to the mana, but also good in different situations. Both are Collected Company misses unfortunately.

As I’ve been reading articles about the Bant Company mirror over the past few weeks I’ve learned that either nobody knows what they’re talking about, or any plan works as long as you follow through. Everyone seems to have polarized ideas about the power level of each card in the mirror. I hear hyperbolic statements like “that card does nothing in the mirror” while the next person claims that same card is “unbeatable.” What I think is happening is that the Bant mirror is very dynamic. Each player is correct that certain cards are bad or good, but they’re drawing from their own experience. If a game can play out ten different ways then everyone will have differing opinions due to a lack of games under their belt. In this situation I try not to sideboard for the mirror too much because I’m likely playing for a certain scenario that might not even happen.

Here’s a quick sideboard guide:

Bant Mirror:

+1 Dromoka's Command +1 Thalia, Heretic Cathar

-1 Duskwatch Recruiter -1 Declaration in Stone

Simple and elegant. I keep the same number of Collected Company hits and just give a minor upgrade to the removal suite.

U/R spells:

+2 Noose Constrictor +1 Dromoka's Command

-1 Thalia, Heretic Cathar -1 Duskwatch Recruiter -1 Declaration in Stone

Temurge:

+1 Declaration in Stone +2 Summary Dismissal +1 Learn from the Past +3 Clash of Wills

-3 Dromoka's Command -2 Archangel Avacyn -2 Nissa, Vastwood Seer

I have to cut Avacyn and Dromoka's Command to maintain Collected Company’s consistency. This plan puts me at 23 hits which is as low as I would accept. Noose Constrictor is nice against Red removal, but I’m watching out for the Emrakul hybridization. When they take your turn all of the cards in hand will be discarded.

B/G Delirium and W/B Control:

+3 Clash of Wills +1 Ojutai's Command +1 Tireless Tracker +2 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar +1 Declaration in Stone

-3 Selfless Spirit -3 Dromoka's Command -2 Archangel Avacyn

Since I have Clash of Wills for Ishkanah there aren’t any specific answers for it that would change how I board for W/B Control. Selfless Spirit dies to Liliana so they get the axe. Avacyn is bad against Grasp of Darkness, Languish, and Ultimate Price so I swap the CoCo miss for Gideons. Learn from the Past might be all right in this matchup, but I’m not sure.

R/G Delirium Ramp:

+3 Clash of Wills +2 Summary Dismissal +1 Learn from the Past +1 Declaration in Stone +1 Thalia, Heretic Cathar

-3 Dromoka's Command -2 Archangel Avacyn -2 Reflector Mage -1 Tireless Tracker

Tyler Hill of Team Ann Arbor ended up winning a plane ticket to Hawaii with a similar build so I feel good about it. That’s all for Standard this week. Let’s get to the meat and potatoes of what I’ve been up to this week:

Modern

I’ve read a ton of Modern articles lately and many writers I respect have been saying the same thing: Grixis is fun, but I can’t get it to work so I’m playing Jund instead. This was exactly the conclusion I came to so I gave it a try at my local event. Dark Confidant was vulnerable so I want to go the Delirium route.


Grim Flayer
Overall the deck plays out the same as normal Jund, but it has more powerful late-game creatures in Grim Flayer. Dark Confidant dies to most removal in the format and Grim Flayer’s 4 toughness with Delirium will get around Lightning Bolt. Both of these creatures can help set up your early draws so they are somewhat similar.

I played this deck in a local Modern event to a 3-1 finish losing to Affinity. There weren’t many games I drew the Grim Flayer, but they were decent when I did in the mirror. I would wait for Delirium to get around Lightning Bolt and then it demanded a better answer in the form of Terminate and Abrupt Decay. The biggest weakness to the Delirium shell is flooding out on low-impact cards such as Tarfire and Seal of Fire. It’s nice that Tarfire adds both instant and tribal to the graveyard so the opponent won’t know you can turn on Delirium with two types.

Lingering Souls was the best card in the deck and it gave Jund a hard time in an otherwise mirror match. Going forward, I would try harder to play the fourth copy with an additional White dual land.

Liliana, the Last Hope continued to impress me as she won two games Liliana of the Veil would have been mediocre. I also lost a game to the mirror where Liliana, the Last Hope was played against me on turn three and then conceded to the ultimate a few turns later. The -2 ability to rebuy a Tarmogoyf is still great and I haven’t seen it used; it’s just a great threat to grind.

I like a Courser of Kruphix and Kitchen Finks split because it’s good to have more enchantments for delirium. In midrange mirrors finks acts as sacrifice fodder for Liliana, but I don’t want to draw two as it’s too low-impact. Courser can take over a game by itself, but the second copy is also essentially redundant and not good in every situation. It’s nice that Courser blocks Prized Amalgam and Bloodghast out of Dredge.

Jund Charm is a way to remove the graveyard against Dredge, but it’s also an additional sweeper. The key to a good Jund sideboard is having enough high-impact spells against creature decks to reclaim card advantage. The other cards to fill that role are Painful Truths, Liliana, and Anger of the Gods.

NaJundi

I think the mirror match is going to be popular and it’s easy to go over the top of Jund. The next deck I tried is Jund Nahiri:


Lingering Souls
I have played about ten games with this deck and it feels great against Midrange and control. The only concession in the mana base compared to the Grim Flayer Jund deck is I cut Copperline Gorge for Temple Garden. I want a second White source to play around Ghost Quarter and other land destruction. It’s a good land to have in combination with Blackcleave Cliffs so I get all of my colors. In the late game I search for the second White as insurance, but it’s also another Green source for Scavenging Ooze.

Lingering Souls is one of the most powerful cards in Modern. When I combine it with eight Planeswalkers it’s a recipe for a great midrange matchup. Emrakul is awkward to draw, but all eight walkers can put her back in the deck. This can mean your deck gets worse as most things going to the graveyard include fetch lands and Inquisition of Kozilek. To combat this from happening my flex spots exile cards in my own graveyard: Grim Lavamancer, Tasigur, the Golden Fang and Scavenging Ooze.

I tried Liliana, the Last Hope, but Lingering Souls means I don’t play enough actual creatures to return. Liliana of the Veil was made for this deck so I’m playing four, but I have a last hope in my sideboard versus midrange and small creature matchups.

Surgical Extraction is great in Modern for a variety of reasons. If you don’t play NaJundi at least consider this card for your Jund or Abzan sideboard. Fulminator Mage can blow up a Tron land or Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle and then exile the rest. It can also take key cards like Scapeshift, Primeval Titan, and Ad Nauseum. It also doubles as dredge hate. I can exile an early Golgari Grave-Troll which will slow down their game plan. This is important because Scavenging Ooze is often too slow, but I now get a turn to catch my breath. Narcomoeba goes to the graveyard before returning to play so I can extract them as they are being dredged, too.

I wouldn’t advise this deck in an aggro-heavy metagame. Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet isn’t in the deck and that’s a big loss in the faster matchups.

This deck is a blast to play and it all of my favorite Modern Staples. It’s a tad on the expensive side, but all of the cards needed are played in other decks, too. I’m still unsure of what I’m going to play at Grand Prix Indianapolis, but I still have plenty of ideas in the tank.

Thanks for reading.

—Kyle


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