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Kyle's Constructed Favorites

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Hey everyone!

It's been a while since I wrote an article due to work constraints, but I'm back to share my thoughts on Standard, Modern, and Legacy. I will continue to write infrequently because it's fun for me even with a busy schedule.

Before we get to the Constructed portion of this article I have to give a shout out to my Boogie Board. I got one for my birthday and it's great. You all should get one to record life totals.

I also attached at the bottom of the article my sideboard file in Excel. It helps me organize my thoughts on how to construct the right sideboard.

There's a check in column L so I don't board more copies of a card than I have in my deck. This helps when making changes to the list to quickly find out where the model is inaccurate.

Cells are color coded based on their function. Red is formulas so don't type anything. Yellow is for the spells in your main and sideboard as well as the sideboard plan. Light blue is for the names of the spells in your deck. I left my Tron sideboard model filled in to illustrate how it works.

If you go through the rows it makes it easy to spot trends of cards that are under utilized in the sideboard. Use this file for your own decks and let me know how it works. If you have questions about the file let me know in the comments.

Let's get to the decks!

Standard

Standard only has about a month left before Amonkhet and Kaladesh blocks rotate and we return to Ravnica, but I have a solid list of br Midrange before then. I made the Top 8 of the Chicago RPTQ a couple weeks ago and fell short of taking home the blue envelope by a single game win. It's disheartening to work hard preparing for a tournament and come so close, but that's the way competition works sometimes.

Since we do have some time left with this Standard format, I will share my current list of br as well as how I sideboard.


With Mono-Green on the decline and more players adopting br Midrange, I'm not a fan of Soul-Scar Mage. It's deceptively bad in the mirror which leaves us only wanting it against Wizard Red and what's left of Green Aggro. Bomat Courier is bad against all Red and Green decks, but shines against Blue where you struggle Game 1. I like running out Bomat on turn one against Red because I would rather have it die to Chainwhirler instead of my Rekindling Phoenix egg.

Hazoret the Fervent was bad for me in Game 1 against every deck. Creature removal clogs my hand against control and I would rather have Phoenix against Red and Green decks. Chandra is a haymaker that excels against Green and control; she's also passable against Red.

I play four Abrade because of God-Pharaoh's Gift and Mono-Blue Paradoxical Outcome. These aren't top tier strategies, but they can win if you don't respect them. It also kills Torrential Gearhulk, Heart of Kiran, and my own Rekindling Phoenix in response to exiling spells. Heart of Kiran gets around Chandra's Defeat so I want more ways to kill the pesky vehicle in the mirror.

The sideboard is slightly different and I believe gave me the edge to make it far in the RPTQ. Doomfall has been fantastic for me and it comes in just about every matchup. I use it in the mirror to exile Scrapheap Scrounger, Hazoret, and Rekindling Phoenix. Most removal is weak to recursive threats and this is a cheaper Hour of Glory.

I use Doomfall to play a protect the queen strategy against Blue decks. Hazoret, Rekindling Phoenix, and Chandra are weak to Cast Out and Vraska's Contempt so I need to pick their hand apart first. If these threats stay on the battlefield for a couple turns, the game is done. It's also a way to hedge against control decks bringing in Lyra Dawnbringer, Torrential Gearhulk, or Carnage Tyrant. It feels bad to leave in Unlicensed Disintegration for a potential Lyra.

It's important to have a powerful post sideboard plan versus Blue combo and control decks because there are so many cards I want to cut. I get to add four Duress, three Doomfall, Hazoret, and potentially Sorcerous Spyglass.

Hazoret has been mediocre for me Game 1, but this pup is great against control after sideboard. Since Bomat Courier and Duress keep your curve low, Haz can attack quickly against a dismantled hand.

Siege-Gang Commander is my concession to Red decks bringing in 3-4 Chandra's Defeat to fight Glorybringer. Goblin Chainwhirler should have already been cast leaving the tokens safe for a couple turns. Since there is so much removal after sideboard in Red mirrors I like having a haymaker that generates value. I also like Siege-Gang against control to have a threat that doesn't care about Vraska's Contempt.

Magma Spray has been fine for me, but I recently swapped the second copy for the fourth Chandra's Defeat as they come in for similar purposes. Red decks typically get chunkier post board so I would rather have four copies of the more scalable removal spell in Chandra's Defeat.

Here's my quick and dirty sideboard guide:

br Midrange Mirror:

Green Aggro:

uw Control:

Turbo Fog:

ub Midrange:

God-Pharaoh's Gift:

Esper Control:

Red Aggro:

My friend, Sean Dunn, finished in the Top 8 of the LA RPTQ using this exact 75 and sideboard notes. He even took down Logan Nettles in the mirror despite recently winning a Grand Prix with the same deck.

br is the best deck in the format and I will continue to play it until rotation.

Modern

I'm teaming with Andrew Elenbogen and Tyler Hill at Grand Prix Detroit this weekend. Tron may be my deck of choice as I have been playing it for a couple months now. Here's my current list:


Since Humans will be on our team I need to replace Horizon Canopy and Dismember in my sideboard. If there weren't any team restrictions this is the list I would want.

I find myself searching for Horizon Canopy very often after I've already found Sanctum of Ugin and the necessary Tron lands. It's a fifth Green source; most lists just play a fifth Forest instead. I find it easy enough to hard cast Wurmcoil Engines and Thragtusks against decks that Path to Exile and Field of Ruin me repeatedly with four Forests so I'm happy with this change.

Walking Ballista continues to be great for me so I want four copies in place of some of the less versatile maindeck spells such as Dismember, the third Relic of Progenitus, or the second Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. I've been down on Ugin lately because there are so many colorless decks in the format. If a sweeper is good in the matchup then Walking Ballista is fine, too.

The fourth Wurmcoil Engine in the sideboard is a concession to some matchups coming down to me casting it on turn three or four. Burn and Hollow One can be tricky if I don't resolve the engine quickly and I'm not sad to have it against Black midrange decks, too.

Here are my sideboard plans against some of the popular decks:

Tron Mirror:

Burn:

Affinity:

uw Control:

Hollow One:

KCI:

Humans:

Mardu Pyromancer:

Storm:

I feel confident bringing Tron to the Grand Prix because Modern is a powerful format and I am doing something degenerate. There are strong players in the event so it's also nice to have a deck that can carry me some of the way.

Another deck I've been thinking about is a derivative of uw Miracles...

Jeskai Miracles

If I'm not playing Tron I will be activating some of my favorite planeswalkers. Someone on my team will pick up the Tron torch, if that's the case, because it's a very powerful deck.

Terminus is a very powerful spell that allows control decks to fight decks like Bogles, Hollow One, and Dredge. Jeskai Terminus is also under the radar which can give you an edge in a format where most players know 58 of your 60 cards in the first two turns.

Humans having Aether Vial on 2 allows them to flash in Meddling Mage or Kitesail Freebooter with the Terminus Miracle trigger on the stack. That's an awkward interaction so I like having the additional flexible removal in Red.

Here's what my current list looks like:


I like Logic Knot over some of the more situational counters uw plays such as Mana Leak and Remand. Since there are eight fetch lands and cheap burn spells that go to the graveyard I can get away with more Knots.

The biggest drawback to playing a third color is only getting to play three Field of Ruin. This affects the Tron matchup, but as a big mana pilot I feel favored against uw anyway.

Red spells help in the mirror where I can bolt planeswalkers. Additional cheap spells going to the graveyard means I can play four Snapcaster Mage, too. I think uw Control can be easily attacked as it relies heavily on setting up Terminus situations.

I tried Rest in Peace, but it was too awkward with Search for Azcanta, Snapcaster Mage, and Logic Knot. Damping Sphere is similar to Blood Moon, but my plan is to counter all of the opposing spells which makes it unneeded. Storm and Tron will eventually find a way to remove the Damping Sphere. Stony Silence is so obvious out of White decks that KCI and Tron are ready with 3-4 Nature's Claim. I would rather blank their claims and counter their spells with Ceremonious Rejection.

Abrade looks strange, but it's the best card against tribal aggro. As a Terminus deck I don't like creatures being flashed into play at the end of turn with Aether Vial. Abrade is a more elegant solution to Aether Vial compared to Stony Silence because it kills a creature if the powerful artifact isn't drawn.

I don't like Baneslayer Angel or Lyra Dawnbringer in this deck because Terminus is good against the same decks and that's not a combo. I have three Jace and two Teferi at the top of the curve so I don't need more expensive spells. Ben Nikolich had success with the angel plan, but Settle the Wreckage plays better. It's also common knowledge that uw Control decks board in angels so many players hedge with Dismember. Once again, I would rather blank common sideboard cards I expect to face.

Ancestral Vision is a way to generate card advantage after board against fair decks with a low mana cost. Since I have Jace, Teferi, and Cryptic Command I don't need more expensive threats. It's also a generic card I can bring in when I need to cut four Path and four Terminus.

This deck is very fun to play and I have already surprised many opponents with Terminus since most Jeskai decks play Settle the Wreckage and Supreme Verdict.

Legacy

As the Legacy format begins to settle we see a few Brainstorm decks rising to the top: Grixis Control, Miracles, and Death's Shadow. As a result, I am a fan of Baleful Strix decks: Esper Stoneblade and Grixis Control.

My current Grixis Control list looks similar to Reid Duke's:


The biggest difference in this list is the slight aggressive turn to Lightning Bolt over Fatal Push. I made this change because the combo decks don't care about creature removal. Lightning Bolt is still powerful against creature decks and the only real consideration is the mana. I can begin with Underground Sea and Badlands to enable both Bolt and Hymn to Tourach. I suspect the damage to planeswalkers will be more important as players gravitate toward Liliana, the Last Hope. Snapcaster Mage can team up with Lightning Bolt to take down large creatures like Gurmag Angler, too.

The Mountain over the fourth Underground Sea is a nod to the uptick in Back to Basics and the playset of Lightning Bolts. I like having a Red source that is immune to Wasteland, too. The Red mana becomes even more important after board when Pyroblast comes to party.

If I were to play a large Legacy event tomorrow I would certainly play this list.

The other deck I enjoy in Legacy is Esper Stoneblade. It's not a deck on everyone's radar at the moment, but it has been doing very well for me so far.


This deck plays well against Death's Shadow because Baleful Strix and True-Name Nemesis hold off the large Black creatures. Death & Taxes also has a good matchup against Death's Shadow without Dread of Night and Stoneblade is also favored there, too.

I have a maindeck Sword of Feast and Famine over Umezawa's Jitte because I can already fetch Batterskull against creature decks. Stoneforge Mystic is a bad Tarmogoyf against combo decks without an equipment that prevents the opponent from doing something powerful with spells.

I have been very impressed with the power of Esper's sideboard in Legacy. Surgical Extraction, Containment Priest, and Zealous Persecution are backbreaking when they are good in the matchup.

Overall, Stoneblade has been playing smoothly for me which is not always the case of Batterskull decks. I'm indifferent to my early creatures dying, but they present threatening clocks; that's a great place to be.

My current overall strategy in Modern and Legacy is to play more Lightning Bolts because that card is just bananas. I would get some Beta Lightning Bolts, but what deck would have the honor of using them?

That's all I have this week.

Thanks for reading!

-Kyle

Download Sideboard File