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Three Decks for Modern

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Hey there! When this article comes out, there will only be a few days until Grand Prix Prague takes place, but for those of you looking for last-minute suggestions, you have come to the right place! Grand Prix Richmond is also only a month and a half away, and even though there is the Modern Pro Tour in between, this article will contain some interesting lists for Richmond as well.

This week, I will first share some thoughts about Modern as a format and then present three decks as potential choices for upcoming Modern events.

Looking at Modern

Ancestral Vision
I quite like the Modern format at the moment, as there are a lot of viable decks that you can be playing. However, I hope that the ban list changes before Pro Tour Born of the Gods, as preparing for that event will be quite dull otherwise—it will basically be the same Modern format we have had since October. I don’t really expect a small set like Born of the Gods to shake things up considerably unless there are some bans or unbans.

On my list of cards to remove from the banned list are Ancestral Vision, Bitterblossom, Dread Return, Golgari Grave-Troll, Green Sun's Zenith, and Sword of the Meek. Naturally, all of these could not be unbanned at the same time, but I see all of these as being reasonable in Modern and not too powerful. As for bannings, I can see Goryo's Vengeance get the axe, as even though it is inconsistent, it can set up some very fast kills. Deathrite Shaman is also a potential bannable card, not because it is too powerful, but because it leads to decks being too similar, something Wizards has shown that they dislike (see the banning of Wild Nacatl).

The decks I consider to be viable and tier one, or close to it, are Jund, R/W/U Control, Melira Pod, Kiki Pod, Affinity, Merfolk, Scapeshift, Twin, and Tron. That leaves you a whole lot of options between different decks if you are looking to play Modern in the near future. I will cover Scapeshift, Merfolk, and Melira Pod in this article, as these are decks I am considering playing in Prague.

Scapeshift

I wrote an article about Scapeshift after Grand Prix: Antwerp, and you can find the article here. I have been fairly happy with that version and only made some very minor alterations. Here is my current list.

Scapeshift
If you compare the list posted here and the one I played in Antwerp, you can see that the differences are the two Firespouts in the main deck and the two Wurmcoil Engines in the sideboard. I like the split between Firespout and Pyroclasm, as it gives you more options in certain matchups. Usually, opponents will expect you to only have Pyroclasm, so they might play in a way that Firespout really gets them. Firespout if very good against Merfolk, as it kills two lords, and sometimes, Firespout can take out a Tarmogoyf against Jund, something Pyroclasm practically never does. I have also been seeing a bit of R/G and Naya Aggro online, and against a bunch of Kird Apes, you would rather be dealing 3 than 2 damage. That said, I still don’t want to play the full four Firespout, as you sometimes really need to be able to play a 2-mana sweeper.

Having the Wurmcoil Engines in the sideboard is an effort to improve the Jund matchup. I considered going up to the full four Obstinate Baloths, but they sometimes just aren’t good enough. The plan after sideboard becomes to increase the threat density so that you have better top-decks once the game goes into the later stages. You often end up in a top-deck war, as early discard and Liliana of the Veil rip apart your hand, and you are left with five or six lands in play and an empty hand. I also like that Wurmcoil Engines can be brought in against random aggressive decks as another very good card that can potentially win the game on its own.

I cut the one Boseiju, Who Shelters All, as R/W/U Control has not been very popular at the moment. Nature's Claim, the final cut, also felt unnecessary, as I have Engineered Explosives to deal with Blood Moon.

You should choose this deck if you want to play something that is very straightforward and that has a strong combo finish. You are playing a one-card combo, but you are also able to win matches without actually casting Scapeshift, something the other versions can’t really do. The favorable matchups are both Pod decks, R/W/U, Merfolk, and Tron. Affinity is close to even, while Jund and Twin are slightly unfavorable.

Angel Pod

I’ve been trying out various versions of Birthing Pod decks for a while now, and this is the newest iteration. This list differs a bit from the stock list popularized by Sam Pardee, and it was given to me by friend of mine Matti Kuisma. The main thing about this list that you will immediately notice is that it runs a whopping three copies of Archangel of Thune, as it is quite good in many of the fair matchups. Here is the list.

Birthing Pod
This deck eschews the Lingering Souls that are present in the stock version of Melira Pod, and it instead runs Stony Silence as a way to combat both Affinity and Tron. The idea is to sideboard out most of the Birthing Pods when bringing in the Stony Silences, as against Affinity, you seldom have the time to actually use your Birthing Pod.

I am not yet totally sure this version is better than the stock version, and to be fair, the differences are not all that big in the end. Having access to additional Archangel of Thunes are good against both Jund and R/W/U—as well as other fair decks you might encounter. Most opponents will not expect you to have additional copies if they deal with the first version, so the surprise value is very real. The Archangels are also just good as powerful spells that you can power out with all the mana creatures you play. As with most versions of Melira Pod, the combo matchups are not favorable in the first game, but they become a lot better after sideboarding. Tron is still a rough matchup, even with the Stony Silences, but as usual, I do not expect a ton of Tron at live events compared to online.

You should choose this deck if you want something very interactive to play, but beware that the deck is quite difficult to pilot, so make sure to put in some time for playing some actual matches in preparation. I feel you are slightly favored in most matchups except Tron, with R/W/U and Affinity being among the better ones.

Fish

Before Antwerp, I had dabbled a bit with Merfolk, and at that point, it wasn’t really a deck yet. After Raphael Levy and some others posted solid finishes with Merfolk, it has become quite popular on Magic Online. I’ve also been testing it recently, and here is my version.

Master of the Pearl Trident
The Merfolk deck is quite tough to build, as there are so many different cards you can include. I think the base of Cursecatcher, Lord of Atlantis, Silvergill Adept, Master of the Pearl Trident, and Aether Vial is the base of the deck that should always be present, and that is a total of twenty cards. If you are running twenty or twenty-one lands, that means you have roughly twenty cards to play with. Spreading Seas is also an almost-must in the current metagame, and I have been very happy with the numbers for Thassa, God of the Sea and Master of Waves. They give you a bit more late-game potential, which is very nice with a deck like this that has very little actual card advantage to make up for flooding. The two Phantasmal Images and the one Coralhelm Commander fill out the 2-drop slot, but they could be cut for some other cards if needed.

I am trying three Vapor Snags and two Remands in an effort to have interactive cards for many different matchups, as to start with, I was just running four Vapor Snags. Kira, Great Glass-Spinner is perhaps the strangest choice, and it’s one of the cards that is often not present in other Merfolk lists. I am expecting a lot more Jund, Junk, and similar decks at the Grand Prix than online, so that is the main reason I am playing it. Jund is often underrepresented online due to the hefty price tag associated with it. If you are expecting a metagame in which there are more sweepers than spot removal, running additional lords (Merrow Reejerey) or additional counters is probably better.

Hurkyl's Recall
As for the sideboard, I have to start off by saying that I have been testing online with Steel Sabotages instead of Hurkyl's Recall due to budget reasons. Hurkyl's Recall is among the few cards that cost a lot more online than in real life, due to the fact that it has only appeared in one set online but in five different sets in real life. I think that Hurkyl's Recall is vastly superior against Affinity, and that is the main reason you are playing artifact hate. Steel Sabotage has some other cases when you would not bring in Hurkyl's Recall, such as handling Vedalken Shackles, but I do not think that is a good enough reason to think about running Steel Sabotage over Hurkyl's Recall.

Other than that, the sideboard features Spell Pierce and Swan Song as additional counters for control and combo matchups, and it has some creature hate in the form of Dismember and Tidebinder Mage. Grafdigger's Cage is mainly against Pod decks, and Spellskite can be brought in both against Twin and decks that are heavy on Lightning Bolt effects as their forms of removal. I have not been totally happy with Spellskite, as Kira, Great Glass-Spinner handles some of the removal protection already, so I might consider changing this sideboard slot to something else.

You should play this deck if you want to play an aggressive deck with a lot of disruption available to it. I feel you are favored against R/W/U and Tron. Twin and Omen Scapeshift are slightly unfavorable, while Affinity, Jund, and the Pod decks are close to even. I think your sideboard really helps in most of these matchups, so the post-board games are often better for you.

Choices, Choices

As of writing, I still don’t know which of these decks I want to play. All three decks are strong contenders, and I think I will only decide on a deck at the very last minute. Before that, I will continue to try these out on Magic Online so that I feel comfortable playing whichever deck I end up choosing.

As always, if you have any questions, comments, ideas, or suggestions, be sure to contact me via the comments section below or directly though Twitter.

Thanks for reading,

Max

@thebloom_ on Twitter

Maxx on Magic Online

You can find my music on: http://soundcloud.com/bloomlive


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