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Modern Musings


Part of the SCG Tour is playing a LOT of Modern. The format is incredibly popular so you're sure to see a lot of it. Sometimes the format picks up some new All Star cards that can help change the format around a bit or give some previously lower tiered decks some new life and play. At one point in time I put a lot of work into Modern and had a ton of success with Grixis Twin and then some Zoo action. After Splinter Twin got banned I felt less interested and connected to the format, so I didn't play it very often. Every once in awhile they unban some sweet cards or print some new ones and I think about getting back into the format only to give up shortly after. While this is obviously an issue with how I approach the format, I certainly don't put enough work in to have the knowledge and success that some others have. Take someone like Dylan Hand, for example, who plays Humans relentlessly and has quite a few Top 8s with that deck alone. His article about the deck went in depth on his build and choices. You can tell the amount of work he put into it by the sheer amount of detail. That level of dedication has inspired me to put the work in, so I've started looking at the state of the format and what I think the future holds.

Often referred to by Edgar Magalhaes and Tariq Patel as the deck with "no bad matchups", Amu-LIT (picture someone dabbing here) makes a good case for being one of the best decks in Modern. Currently, Amulet Titan has won the last two Classics in Baltimore in addition to this win here in Columbus. The deck certainly doesn't have a lot of people playing it, so the fact that its win rate is so high is impressive. While the deck mostly functions as a combo deck with Primeval Titan and Amulet of Vigor, the deck can also grind opponents out. Using Karoo bounce lands and Tolaria West grabbing a Pact, it's easy to protect yourself or continue powering through your lands and getting ahead on board. The deck is hard to play against since it's so explosive and without knowing some of the intricacies it may be hard to know what cards to value. I'd suggest reading Edgar's article about Amulet Titan to get some insight as the deck since it has proven it has all the tools to win. The only thing missing is volume of players willing to pick up the deck and play it. While Assassin's Trophy hasn't made too large an impact, I can certainly see the deck getting a tiny bit worse in the face of Trophy. Until then, you should learn how to play against the deck.

A deck that comes in and out of favor in Modern is Burn, and right now Burn not only seems well positioned but primed to possibly leave the format smoldering for some time.

Satyr Firedancer
Taking a look at Collins's deck from his finals appearance at the Team Open, we can tell that he wanted as clean a decklist as possible. Nothing seems to be out of place but he does have some interesting sideboard tech in Satyr Firedancer. Likely for Tribal decks, this Enchantment creature was born to turn your Lava Spikes into Searing Blazes against Humans. While Jeskai had a more painful mana base, the presence of multiple Snapcasters and Lightning Helix meant the game could turn around quickly against Burn. uw has not quite a good matchup against Burn and can get trounced pretty effectively. The card I'd really have liked to see in Collins's deck is Risk Factor. I would be floored to find out he didn't at least try it in the deck, so if it isn't here, there is a reason. In general, I think the card is exceptional when you have a slower hand or have to trade a lot of resources, but I can see how it falls flat otherwise. Risk Factor has shown to be powerful in Standard and I think a lot of the same principles travel over to Modern. Burn often falls short on resources and can sometimes mulligan poorly. Risk Factor helps overcome some of these issues while being a solid card in general. I am unsure how many you're supposed to play between main deck and sideboard but I'm confident as time progresses the right amount will reveal itself.

Creeping Chill has revitalized Dredge as an archetype by itself. In the past week Dredge has picked up massively and shown up in every MTGO Modern Challenge and performed well in the Modern Classic, Top 8ing and showing up in the Top 16. Dredging as much as possible to find Chills is Plan A now instead of setting up a Conflagrate turn. My major concern is the sheer lack of dredgers that show up in every list. It feels like you'll see more hands that mulligan thanks to how vital it is to find one of your 12 dredgers. Maybe that's enough and I'm just unfamiliar with how the deck plays out now. Assassin's Trophy in the sideboard is fantastic against all forms of permanent based grave hate. Since we're at a stage in Modern's life where grave hate is almost non-existent, Dredge is going to shine. Creeping Chill changes how the deck races and gives it the ability to easily outpace Humans or even Burn. The concern with Dredge has always been the difficulty of overcoming grave hate. We shall see if this deck can pull through a potential increase in sideboard hate, but having Trophy and consistency is always a great thing.

Assassin's Trophy has been quite the card and I think it needs more love. The obvious decks are the fair trio of bg Rock decks: traditional bg, Jund, and Abzan. All of them have to change how they're built to take advantage of Trophy. For bg, Ghost Quarter and Field of Ruin become an incredible packages as it is easier to run a deck through all their basics and Path to Exile out of Abzan is great at continuing that tradition. Discard can help clear the way for Trophy and make sure the mana can't be used effectively. Trying to find another source of card advantage to bury an opponent no matter how much extra advantage they get off Trophy is another consideration. For Jund, we have the potential to use Standard all-star Experimental Frenzy. Having fetchlands means it's a lot easier to change the top of your deck if you ever get stuck, and with Liliana of the Veil, getting access to a spell a turn isn't that much different. I've included Chandra, Torch of Defiance in the list since it helps cast spells (either with adding mana or by exiling the top of your deck). It does cut into the top end with Bloodbraid Elf ,but it's powerful enough I'm interested in checking it out.

This is about where I'm at for starting to get back into the format and what I think is going to be well positioned moving forward. I'll round things out with bonus list I lost playing for the 5-0 with suring testing. The deck felt GREAT. Vraska looks a bit out of place but is extremely powerful for Modern and wonderful in bg mirrors. It kills almost everything and draws a ton of cards.

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