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Modern and Standard Hodgepodge

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Hey everyone!

Standard has taken some crazy turns since the Pro Tour. There was a flash flood of Temur Aetherworks that was quickly quelled by Blue Aggro and Blue Control. Next we had U/W Flash, B/G Delirium, and R/W/(b) Vehicles forming the next wave of tier 1 decks. The combo decks featuring Aetherworks Marvel and Metalwork Colossus have a tough road ahead of them. There are also some tier 2 strategies, such as U/R Dynavolt Tower, with game against U/W Flash and graveyard strategies that can break through on a particular weekend. Last weekend featured more copies of B/G Delirium in the top 8 of GP Santiago and GP Warsaw you can shake a stick at.

Today I want to highlight a few Standard decks I think are worth playing — Jeskai Control, U/W Flash, and B/G Delirium. Vehicles is a decent option as well, but it’s not my style so you can find a sick list for that elsewhere. In anticipation for SCG Columbus and the next wave of RPTQs I’m going to share my update of Jeskai Flash for Modern, too. I’ve seen plenty of false prophets playing Geist of Saint Traft in Jeskai and it’s my civic duty to steer you away.

Let’s get things kicked off with Standard


This deck is basically what I played at Pro Tour Kaladesh with some updates as the format progresses. I’ve been improving on the list by playing local Standard events.

Nissa, Voice of Zendikar

Nissa, Voice of Zendikar

I began by playing a single copy of Nissa, but it has been too powerful not to play more. It represents a sizable amount of damage with Ishkanah, Grafwidow and the plant tokens can stall to the late game. Control decks are bad at killing Planeswalkers and the ultimate is scary. The Plants can also protect Liliana, the Last Hope from Torrential Gearhulk and creature lands. It’s annoying to mow down tokens in the mirror as well and I expect plenty of delirium in the near future. I currently have too many instants so I like adding additional Planeswalker types to the deck. Kozilek's Return is unpopular at the moment, but I can save Ishkanah and Mindwrack Demon from the triggered ability of dealing 5 damage to each creature with the -2.

Westvale Abbey

Westvale Abbey

Since I have Nissa, I have considered a Westvale Abbey to search for with Traverse the Ulvenwald and Grapple with the Past. It’s also easy to get five creatures in play with Ishkanah. Making a 9/7 isn’t a great idea against U/W Flash, but it’s nearly unbeatable in the mirror and good against control.

Mindwrack Demon

Mindwrack Demon

I played 3 copies at the Pro Tour, but I went down to two because of Reflector Mage and Spell Queller out of U/W Flash.

Pilgrim’s Eye vs. Filigree Familiar

Pilgrim's Eye
Filigree Familiar

I tried Pilgrim's Eye because it had a successful weekend in Providence, but it unimpressed me. Filigree Familiar isn’t too exciting either. I basically cut one of the artifact slots for the second Nissa which has a sizable effect on the board. The Filigree Familiar (Doggo) has always been fine for me so I still play one.

Tooth Collector

Tooth Collector

At the moment I’m already happy with my matchup against Vehicles (still undefeated). There are a lot of 3-drops that fight aggro decks so it’s not a high priority. I would play 4 Liliana before a single Tooth Collector since I would search for Ishkanah before against aggro with Traverse the Ulvenwald anyway.

Noxious Gearhulk

Noxious Gearhulk

There are a lot of matchups where the gearhulk doesn’t do anything so I prefer it in the sideboard against Emrakul, the Promised End decks and midrange.

Vessel of Nascency and Grapple with the Past

Vessel of Nascency
Grapple with the Past

When I play six Planeswalkers Grapple with the Past is weaker and Vessel of Nascency is stronger. I wasn’t happy casting Grapple with an empty graveyard so I decided to add the third Vessel to get Delirium and not miss on getting a spell. There are enough instants thanks to Grasp of Darkness, too.

After last weekend’s set of Grand Prixs I think it’s safe to say B/G Delirium Control is the deck to beat. It has a dynamic mirror much like the last Standard boogeyman, Bant Company. I will once again be playing the best deck because it rewards dedication to understanding how it works. When I was younger I took the opposite approach: “ignore playing the best deck because my opponent will know how to beat me better than I know my deck.” I have found sticking with the best deck to dramatically increase my win percentage in constructed.

Delirium is great against other fair decks, but is weak to combo. This is very similar to Bant CoCo last rotation. There are decks that beat Delirium, but they aren’t as good. The winner’s metagame of many Standard events have fair decks which works out for the best deck.


I don’t have much to add on this archetype because it’s pretty well established. Something I want to mention is that this type of deck is always considered “the best deck” in Standard. Don’t get me wrong this deck is powerful, but it seems the masses are always quick to judge Blue tempo decks as “the best.”

Currently there are four slots in U/W Flash that are up for debate. They can be filled with:

Spell Shrivel
As different decks emerge to fight U/W it will be more clear what those last slots should be. I prefer Spell Shrivel to counter Ishkanah, Grafwidow. Negate is also strong in the main deck because it counters removal spells on Spell Queller while also countering key threats like Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and vehicles.

The sideboard is also up for debate. When a deck is straightforward and filled with powerful cards it’s tough to cut them. There are control transformations that include large threats like Bruna, the Fading Light. I don’t like playing too many large threats in the board because cutting Smuggler's Copter in any midrange/control matchup feels like a mistake. Looting becomes very awkward when you want both lands and spells. I have been happy with Jace against midrange and control decks out of the board.

Quarantine Field has been good against control decks with Dynavolt Tower. Since I can’t fill my deck with removal I have to answer Planeswalkers, creatures, and artifacts. Quarantine Field is able to answer multiple threats at the same time and different types, too. It can be a guessing game if Thing in the Ice or Dynavolt Tower will threaten to end the game.

Another card I think is very powerful at the moment is Confiscation Coup. I don’t see it in main decks, but it’s going to break out soon because it takes creatures and artifacts. Control’s competitive advantage stems from winning with creatures and artifacts and it’s hard to answer both. It’s not as strong as Archangel Avacyn, but a good sideboard card here.


Torrential Gearhulk
I’ve noticed a lot of control decks out there sporting 3-4 copies of Thing in the Ice. B/G Delirium has Grasp of Darkness and U/W Flash has Reflector Mage. Why have a “win condition” that plays into commonly played answers? As a U/W Flash player I fear Dynavolt Tower out of U/R Spells so I think it’s great to play it in a control deck, too. I can build my deck around instants thanks to the power of Torrential Gearhulk already. The key to gaining board control after casting spells like Dynavolt Tower and Glimmer of Genius are the 5-drops — Fumigate and Confiscation Coup. The Coup can take opposing Dynavolt Towers, Aetherworks Marvel, or any large creature thanks to the energy enablers in the deck. When you cast a coup with Dynavolt Tower in play you get six energy!

Now that Aetherworks Marvel has been contained there isn’t much incentive to play Ceremonious Rejection. It’s safe to play Void Shatter even though it’s colorless. I tried Scatter to the Winds, but the awaken wasn’t useful. It’s also key to exile Emrakul or threats from the graveyard strategies. Summary Dismissal is also a main deck card thanks to the annoyance that is Emrakul. As a Delirium player I am afraid when my opponent is able to flash in a gearhulk and cast Summary Dismissal in the late game. I noticed my Transgress the Minds get countered by Summary Dismissals which makes me like Negate in the matchup. I want to save Summary Dismissal for Emrakul whenever possible.

Anticipate and Galvanic Bombardment are very strong in control decks with Dynavolt Tower. It’s easy to generate enough energy with high velocity spells. As the game progresses bombardment becomes like Swords to Plowshares. Remember to flash back Harnessed Lightning ahead of bombardment because they get exiled which makes the following copies weaker.

When building control decks it’s important to have enough cards to bring in against midrange and control. Galvanic Bombardment and Harnessed Lightning are nice, but creature burn spells aren’t good against every deck. The cards in your sideboard need to act like the nuts and bolts against control and midrange like Negate and Spell Queller. If you change cards for the deck remember that you need enough spells to turn on Dynavolt Tower post-board.

Modern

Now let’s get to the fun stuff . . . 


This deck is honestly the most fun I’ve had for constructed in my fifteen years of competitive play. Here are some common questions and observations I’ve had with Jeskai Flash:

You Don’t have to Cast Serum Visions on turn one

Serum Visions

Something I have found myself doing with this deck is holding off on casting Serum Visions on the first turn. This is most often in Game 1 when I don’t know what deck I’m facing. How can I scry in a deck full of interaction against an unknown opponent? It’s a different story if you’re going to miss a key land drop so use discretion.

Don’t Play the Fast Lands

Seachrome Coast
Spirebluff Canal

I didn’t play Seachrome Coast and I don’t intend to play Spirebluff Canal. There are six 4-drops so I want lands to come into play untapped in the midgame. Celestial Colonnade can be annoying at times, but is powerful enough to make an exception. If I hold off on casting Serum Visions I can have my early lands enter the battlefield tapped anyway.

Maindeck Negate (Mana Leak and Remand are Overrated)

Negate

This deck operates almost entirely at instant-speed. As your deck has more different types of interaction you get less punished for having the wrong answer at the wrong time. Negate is bad when you leave up a counter and your opponent plays a creature. In this deck I can just bolt the creature and hold up Negate when it’s needed. Remand is strong against Snapcaster Mage which isn’t very popular at the moment. It’s also weak against linear aggro decks while I can counter Cranial Plating and Galvanic Blast against Affinity or a pump spell from Infect. It’s valuable to have hard counters in the main against shaky matchups like Tron. I don’t like playing Mana Leak in a slow deck that plays Path to Exile.

Why is Ghost Quarter in the Sideboard?

Ghost Quarter

I play 3 Lightning Helix and 3 Cryptic Command in a Serum Visions deck. This means I cut lands because I can find them from scrying and colored sources are at a premium. When I board out Lightning Helix or Cryptic Command colored sources are less important and I can switch out a land to blow up tron or creature lands. It’s also possible to board up to 25 lands against control decks.

Try This Deck Without Changing Cards

I notice players adopting my lists, but arbitrarily change cards before playing the deck even a single time. In many cases it feels like strict downgrades. Jeskai Flash is my pet deck and I’ve tried many iterations; you’ll be happy with this list.

Where’s the Dredge Hate?

Dredge is a bad matchup. There’s a single Grafdigger's Cage for Collected Company that can incidentally come in against Dredge. Since the graveyard menace is so popular at the moment it will flop in the near future. I’m going to let the rest of the world hate it out.

On Geist of Saint Traft

Geist of Saint Traft

I think Geist is a terrible card for Jeskai Flash despite seeing many top 8 lists with four copies. This deck is strong against linear aggro decks and combo. It’s weak to midrange Abzan decks and Lingering Souls in Particular. Geist doesn’t do anything to address your bad matchups and is bad against aggressive decks.

Blade Splicer has been the lynchpin to stabilizing bad matchups because it can grind through Lingering Souls where Vendilion Clique had fallen short. I don’t like Geist when my opponent can cast a Liliana on the following turn and make me sacrifice it. Splicer also works well with Spell Queller and Restoration Angel. If you play splicer on turn three the opponent will likely kill the golem token, but also be afraid of the actual creature since it can be blinked. This is a good situation to be in because it’s distracting your opponent from holding removal for Spell Queller that can be played in the midgame. My older versions of Flash featured a Spell Queller that would often die to Lightning Bolt because there wouldn’t be other targets. Geist is a hexproof creature so my opponent will still have removal when entering the Spell Queller phase of the game. Blade Splicer can also team up with the token to block down a Thought-Knot Seer.

I’m looking forward to trying this deck again at SCG Columbus!

That’s all I have for this week.

Thanks for reading!

—Kyle


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