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My Team Constructed Decks

Hey everyone!

I wanted to move away from pure Modern articles and investigate Team Constructed. There are plenty of Team Constructed events coming up next year and I’m already thinking about teammates and getting comfortable with each format.

I played sports when I was little and the team aspect is what I miss the most. It helps to have multiple social networks to reduce tunnel vision. I work with players from R.I.W. Hobbies, my sponsor. Team Ann Arbor is my primary team consisting of five other of Michigan’s best players. First Strike is my new Pro Tour team and I also will work with additional players qualified for Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan. The Magic community has gotten plenty of flack lately, but the team environment is great and should encourage players to rejoin. I’ve been playing tournaments for sixteen years straight which means I’ve seen a lot of people come and go. Each Team Grand Prix I see featured teams consisting of players who have left the game for years only to return and that’s awesome.

My two current go-to teammates are Stu Parnes and Brian Demars. We get along well and each provide unique strengths. I have known these two guys for over ten years at this point. Stu grinds PPTQs and Modern is his favorite format. He is a fellow Bant Company player; a deck I believe it is well-positioned. I would pick him as the Modern seat. Brian tested Standard for Pro Tour Ixalan so he has a lot of games under his belt. Temur Energy was his deck of choice so he has navigated many mirror matches which will be extremely helpful.

Brian and I see the game differently. He takes lines of play I don’t always agree with which can be challenging in the moment, but it’s good to have checks and balances. I often trust his judgment as the more important piece to the puzzle is staying consistent. Once he goes down one path, it’s hard to deviate. So, I need to trust things work out.

I also need to trust my teammates make good choices because it’s difficult to make good suggestions for in-game decisions while you are playing a completely different format. These articles have helped me stay up to date on all three formats so playing Modern was ideal for me in the past. I stick with mulligan decisions as they can make or break you and takes minimal brain power until my match ends.

Today I will talk about the decks I would bring to a team constructed event for each format. There isn’t a unified deck restriction in this format as we have Standard, Modern, and Legacy to pilot.

Let’s get to it!

Standard

It’s no secret that Attune with Aether rules the day in Standard. I wouldn’t mind playing something under the radar, but energy is too powerful of a mechanic. I’m going to choose my Standard deck choice based on the expected metagame. Four-Color Energy is my choice if I believe there will be a sea of fringe archetypes and less mirrors.


Bristling Hydra
This list is based off of Channel Fireball’s Pro Tour Ixalan list. There are only two Bristling Hydras because it costs gg. This is typically not a big deal, but the fourth Forest was cut for a Swamp to cast Vraska, Relic Seeker and The Scarab God. Two Chandra, Torch of Defiance and Glorybringer pull me in the direction of wanting rr mana, too.

Temur Energy is the default Standard deck of choice, but I think The Scarab God is well-positioned against fringe strategies. Standard has been filled with false truths in the last couple of years. Once they are debunked, there is a major shift in the metagame.

An example of this is when everyone said bg Constrictor beat Mardu Vehicles despite the powerful transformational sideboard featuring Fumigate and Chandras. Unlicensed Disintegration also created some blowouts in Game 1.

I bring this up because I hear everyone repeat the same thing: Temur Energy splashes Black to shore up the mirror match.

Both Temur Black (a.k.a. Wet Jund) and straight Temur have impactful top end in the mirror. If you believe The Scarab God and Vraska are only in the deck to improve your mirror match it’s easy to cut it once you realize Glorybringer and Confiscation Coup don’t require a splash.

My argument is the Black splash is designed to improve non-Temur matchups. Vraska and Confiscation Coup perform a similar function of interacting with non-creature permanents. Control decks don’t have many targets for Confiscation Coup, but a Planeswalker has a big impact. Glorybringer is strong against midrange creatures, but not much else. Since Temur is a deck designed on getting value, the four damage from Glorybringer is less relevant. The Scarab God is a top-end threat capable of winning the game by itself. I think this is a strong plan against every deck on power level alone.

The Scarab God
As I was watching the finals of the Magic World Cup, I could see this coming to fruition. Both Energy pilots in the finals opted to play Four-Color. We also saw Sam Black make the finals of the SCG Open with Four-Color Energy.

Temur is a powerful deck, but it can be frustrating to draw too many lands. If there’s a Servant of the Conduit in play it feels like five lands can be too many. The Black splash lets me come back from drawing too many lands and even preferring it. It’s true that each Standard deck is able to deal with The Scarab God and that’s why I’m all right playing so many copies. Once the god sticks on the battlefield I don’t need to spend my mana on anything else.

Supreme Will is my piece of flexible interaction. I like having counters in the maindeck because they’re strong against the fringe decks I expect to play. They can also snag a Hazoret the Fervent against Ramunap Red. I like Revolutionary Rebuff, but it becomes dead as the game goes long. I’m also considering Censor as it can counter more spells than usual because it’s not featured in Energy decks. I prefer to play unexpected flex slots and this version has a Lightning Strike. Blossoming Defense would be in this deck if there were more copies of Glorybringer for the same reason.

As you can see this deck is better at going over the top. I like taking this approach as Ramunap Red decks are moving away from Ahn-Crop Crasher and toward Rampaging Ferocidon. Ben Stark’s Desert Red deck moves toward the extreme of becoming midrange to battle Whirler Virtuoso. Once Red decks move up the chain to fight Temur the downside risk of going over the top is smaller.

There’s only one Confiscation Coup in the sideboard because all of the 5-drops are strong against the mirror. I am saying that I will add an additional 5-drop, but not two because the deck will be too top heavy. Since I don’t have as many Glorybringers and Bristling Hydras there’s only two Vizier of Many Faces in the sideboard. It’s fantastic in the mirror, but I’m relying on the opponent to create the creatures to copy.

This deck has plenty of powerful spells and that’s always a winning line in Standard. The consistency is only hurt by the addition of a single Swamp and I think it’s worth it to fight flooding and non-Temur decks.

If I believe the field will be flooded with Temur Energy I will go with Brad Nelson’s version he finished second at a recent SCG Classic:


I saw this version of the deck and it looks brilliant. It has all of the tools to compete in the Temur mirror: four Glorybringer, two Confiscation Coup, and four Bristling Hydra. The reason Temur has flooding issues is the top end is strong against the mirror, but can fall short in other matchups. It’s bad when you play twenty-two lands, four Attune with Aether, and four Servant of the Conduit only to ramp into unexciting threats.

Four Vizier of Many Faces in the sideboard is great for the mirror. Temur can take advantage of the clone effect because there are less Planeswalkers than Four-Color Energy. Cloning The Scarab God isn’t exciting unless it belongs to your opponent. Many players are moving toward four Viziers in the sideboard which makes casting a Scarab God a liability.

Overall I would register 4-Color Energy because I would expect a more balanced format. The mirror match is incredibly dynamic which means, even if I don’t feel favored, it can only be so bad.

Modern

I won’t spend too much time on Modern as you all know my affinity for Bant Company. There have been some sideboard changes over the last couple of weeks as I love how the maindeck is Constructed.


Geist of Saint Traft
I’ve played a couple tournaments and haven’t wanted to change a single card in the maindeck.

The sideboard is shifting to address my evergreen matchups: Jeskai Flash, Affinity, and Burn. I believe the changes to the sideboard make the deck better overall rather than just shifting matchup percentages. Most Modern decks don’t have choices like this, but Bant Vizier is a new strategy and there is still work to fully optimize it.

Geist of Saint Traft was my previous creature to board in against removal-based decks. I’m gradually moving away from this and toward Kitchen Finks. This is because I think Burn is a weak matchup. I take this further and add a Voice of Resurgence in the sideboard to further cement my removal matchups while adding a card I want against Burn.

I don’t want to cut any 3-drops against fair decks so adding four more will make things awkward. The Voice of Resurgence over the third Kitchen Finks is a concession to the curve.

Geist has impressed me less when I draw too many copies; legends don’t combo with Collected Company. When the opponent has a creature in play I don’t want to swing Geist into certain death in a card advantage game. Kitchen Finks is a more well-rounded threat in a larger number of scenarios.

Meddling Mage
Meddling Mage has greatly improved my combo matchups and I am taking this further by adding an Eidolon of Rhetoric as a disruptive threat. I can Chord of Calling for the Eidolon because I am already keeping them all in to search for Meddling Mage.

Affinity is another matchup I can improve. They need both a quick clock and a Galvanic Blast to compete in the first game. Metagaming in Modern is typically a fool’s game, but there are four types decks I can expect to face in a 2-day event: a spell-based combo deck, Affinity, Burn, and Snapcaster Goodstuff.

Since I want to always be ready for Affinity, I’m trying two Fracturing Gust. Kataki won’t be found with Chord of Calling often because I board most of them out because of Grafdigger's Cage. The cards that warp the game if it goes long are Ghirapur Aether Grid and Grafdigger's Cage; Kataki isn’t amazing against these threats. The gust is a no nonsense answer to Affinity. I can also bring it in against Whir of Invention decks as well as Boggles.

I’m back to a single Unified Will over Negate to improve the Eldrazi Tron matchup. Snapcaster Mage plus Lightning Bolt is a way to shift the creature count quickly, but I wouldn’t board in two Negates against that deck anyway.

If I was playing a Team Constructed event tomorrow I would likely not be the Modern player because Standard and Legacy requires more specialized knowledge. Most active tournament players have a fallback deck in Modern so they can take the helm. Stu, our Modern player, would likely register this 75.

Legacy is the format that requires specialization as the opponents may have been playing the same deck for over a decade! I have been playing Force of Will and Brainstorm in Modern since 2005.

Legacy

Speaking of Legacy, I have been perfecting my plans against the field with Grixis Delver.


Young Pyromancer
I began from Bob Huang’s list he used to Top 8 the Legacy Championship and an SCG Open. The biggest difference is that he prefers Spell Pierce to Cabal Therapy in the maindeck. I feel very strongly about the power of Cabal Therapy thanks to Gitaxian Probe. It felt wrong to initially play it because knowing exactly what to name against an unknown opponent, but I’ve been able to craft scenarios for it to consistently shine.

Young Pyromancer has been significantly better than True-Name Nemesis as it combos so well with Cabal Therapy. In a couple turns the clock is larger than True-Name and is deployed a turn sooner. This is very important against other Delver decks that aggressively destroy Deathrite Shaman and Wasteland your lands.

The sideboard is slightly different as I’ve been playing the deck. Abrade is a common singleton, but it only comes in when the Shatter mode is effective. I cut it for a second Ancient Grudge as it’s a stronger spell to destroy artifacts.

Forked Bolt is a spell in the sideboard I cut for Izzet Staticaster. It’s a miss on Delver flips, but games slow down as you cut counterspells for removal against creature decks post-board. I want a single way to answer a horde of Empty the Warrens tokens in my 75.

The Spell Pierce is replacing the third Flusterstorm so I can counter annoying cards like Chalice of the Void and Blood Moon. I’m considering adding an Island to the sideboard to fetch against Blood Moon because it’s a huge beating.

There’s a wide range of decks to expect in Legacy as the specialists of the formats do not switch very often. Grixis Delver is a no nonsense deck. It punishes bad draws and has a surprisingly strong late game given the large amount of creatures. I’m also rewarded for casting Ponder, Gitaxian Probe, and Brainstorm thanks to Delver, Young Pyromancer, and Gurmag Angler. Who doesn’t love having synergy between some of the strongest individual cards in Legacy?

Team Constructed may be my favorite format of all time. I want to play as many of these events as my schedule permits. Go wrangle up some friends and win some matches!

Thanks for reading.

—Kyle


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