The Modern PTQ season is already underway, and this week I would like to go over some decks I think have a lot of potential, for those looking to earn a trip to Hawaii. I am going to be looking at some newer decks that performed well on Magic Online, and may be a step or two ahead of the metagame.
When playing in a Modern tournament the most popular archetypes right now seem to be Affinity, Splinter Twin variants, Jund, and Melira Pod. I am not saying there aren't a ton of other archetypes out there that see lots of play, but if I were to prepare for a Modern tournament, these are the decks I would want to be prepared for. Modern is a format that is just as much about deck choice, as it is about play skill. My best advice for those trying to select a modern deck is to choose a deck that you are comfortable playing. Many of the matchups in Modern are very close, which means that while these decks are certainly all good decks, there are plenty of other viable options.
I decided to take a look at some of the more innovative strategies on Magic Online. Here is a look at Death and Taxes, piloted by CharlesCarmichael:
Yes White Weenie can be played in Modern! Aether Vial is a card that just isn't seeing enough play, but this type of "hate bear" strategy, works perfectly with Aether Vial. There may not be any Karakas like in Legacy, but that doesn't mean that you can't abuse Mangara of Corondor. Restoration Angel can flash in with the Mangara of Corondor trigger on the stack, or Flickerwisp can flash in via Aether Vial in the same way.
Similarly to Mangara of Corondor, Blade Splicer can be abused to make extra golems with the help of Restoration Angel or Flickerwisp. Leonin Arbiter and Aven Mindcensor shut down decks that heavily rely on shuffle effects, such as Melira Pod. The creatures may initially look unimpressive, but depending on the matchup a single hate bear can be enough to win a game. Thalia, Guardian of Thraben can be very good, especially when playing against a deck like storm.
The plan of this deck is to win a fair fight with small creatures and disruption. Judge's Familiar may look insignificant...but I have learned that this card can do a lot more than you think. The deck is full of answers to just about every combo strategy that is out there. It could be that the time has come for a deck like this to start picking up in popularity.
Tron is a deck that most people are aware of, the deck is usually red/green, or maybe blue/white. Here though is a look at Monoblue Tron, played by yclb5671:
Treasure Mage is a card that I love to see getting some love. Being able to have the option to tutor for Mindslaver, Platinum Angel, Wurmcoil Engine, or Sundering Titan is pretty sweet. This means that it is very easy to find whatever the best win condition is in a given matchup, while still only needing to run one copy of that win condition. This deck runs more creatures than the other versions, as it also has Solemn Simulacrum. Solemn Simulacrum is simply a value card that also happens to be an artifact. The deck has a number of artifacts, which make Thirst for Knowledge and Academy Ruins more effective.
This deck is able to run Counterspells, and actually plays a full set of Remand and Condescend, alongside a Spell Burst. This is a ton of countermagic from a Tron deck, and most people won't be able to play around the Counterspells. The deck has a simple gameplan of being able to stall the game out early, until urzatron is assembled. Cards like Repeal and Cyclonic Rift can be used to buy some time if necessary, and they become better later on as well.
This deck plays a lot of cards that are off the radar right now, and I like it in the metagame right now. This is the type of deck that struggles with super aggressive decks, but in a field full of midrange strategies, this could be a great choice.
Like Tron most people are aware of Faeries, though the deck is normally straight blue/black. Let's take a look at a BUG version played by yasu02:
I have been wanting to play Faeries alongside Tarmogoyf, and here is a list that has proved the combination can be successful. Tarmogoyf can be very good in strategies that one might not think it would be a good fit. Tarmogoyf is now splashed for in Splinter Twin, so why can't the same idea be applied to Faeries? Tarmogoyf provides a large body on the ground, capable of stopping problem threats like Wild Nacatl.
The other green card in the maindeck should not be overlooked. Abrupt Decay is exactly the type of removal spell Faeries wants to be playing, as no longer is the deck forced to run a bunch of low quality removal spells. Abrupt Decay is necessary in a format where killing Dark Confidant on turn two can be the difference between winning and losing, and I am actually surprised there aren't four copies.
The rest of the deck may look like a typical faerie deck, though not all versions have planeswalkers. This list has shaved some of the core Faerie cards like a Spellstutter Sprite, a Mutavault, and two Mistbind Cliques, in order to make room for more versatile threats. I like the idea to having access to Jace Beleren, Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver, and Liliana of the Veil. These are all threats that can win the game by themselves if left unanswered, and come down right after Bitterblossom. To illustrate the power of Abrupt Decay, it actually takes out all of the planeswalkers and Bitterblossom, where no removal spell in straight blue/black can.
Here is a deck that is great if there is a lot of aggro in your metagame, or maybe you are losing to burn a lot. This deck is no stranger to modern, but hasn't been seeing much play recently. This is katsuJP's Martyr Proc list:
This deck has been losing some popularity because of the perceived poor combo matchups. While it is a linear strategy, there are some interesting card choices, that I think gives the deck a better gameplan. One of the cards I'm not always used to seeing in this type of deck is Ghostly Prison. Ghostly Prison can be used to stop an aggressive assault of small creatures, but it has other functions as well. This card is a house against Spinter Twin, as it stops the combo. Ghostly Prison slows down your opponent from attacking, which means that with the added lifegain from Martyr of Sands, having a high life total shouldn't be an issue.
The deck merely aims to play against any fair deck, which will allow the late game engine of Emeria, the Sky Ruin or Proclamation of Rebirth to come online. Recurring Serra Ascendants and Martyr of Sands can put the game away pretty easily. While recurring the one-drops, it becomes easier to hold back white cards in hand, and Martyr of Sands is that much better. The deck has access to whatever one-drops it might want, as there are four copies of Ranger of Eos.
The other one-drop in the deck is Weathered Wayfarer, which can find any of the important lands in the deck. If you play this guy turn one on the draw, he will immediately be online turn two. Having the ability to tutor for Cavern of Souls, Emeria, the Sky Ruin, Flagstones of Trokair, Ghost Quarter, or Mistveil Plains, is just super sweet.
While the synergies here are quite exciting, the deck is also packing plenty of removal. Sometimes it is nice to play Path to Exile early, just to be able to use Weathered Wayfarer. I particularly like Banishing Light as an answer to some of the more problematic cards, like Birthing Pod. The one choice that initially seems out of place is running four copies of Wrath of God. Wrath of God effects aren't seeing much play and I don't know what creatures this deck is specifically worried about with all the lifegain, and Ghostly Prison. I might move these to the board.
One of the more innovative decks I have seen in a while is riverotter's take on Possibility Storm. Here is his list:
This deck has a lot going on, and your opponent may not realize what's happening, until Emrakul, the Aeons Torn is suddenly in play. The deck plays out like a straight blue/red control deck, with a touch of black to be able to flashback Mystical Teachings. There are a bunch of deck manipulation spells, bounce spells, burn spells, and card draw. This all seems great, but one of the issues with these types of decks has been actually winning the game.
The deck wins by resolving Possibility Storm, casting Memnite, and then casting Emrakul, the Aeons Torn for free. It is important to have only one creature besides Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, to ensure that Emrakul, the Aeons Torn is flipped off Possibility Storm. This means the deck needs a way to find the one-of Memnite. This is where the lands of the deck come into play. The deck runs a full playset of Tolaria West, which can transmute to find Memnite.
I like the concept of this deck, as there are a lot of pieces that all seem to fit together quite nicely. There are some unique one-ofs other than Memnite. It's nice to see Mouth of Ronom getting some love here. The other potential way to get Emrakul, the Aeon's Torn into play, is via the one Through the Breach. It is nice to see a rogue deck like this pop up and do well.
Many players right now may be afraid to invest in modern cards, as the prices certainly are prohibitive, but there are inexpensive strategies that are also relatively straightforward. Burn is an archetype that is certainly no stranger to modern. Here is a list played by RavensAnger on MTGO:
Okay, so you may look at the list and wonder if playing 20 basic lands as the manabase can be right. An argument can be made for playing fetchlands, but to me while having fetchlands does make Searing Blaze better, the difference isn't that significant. The plan is simple: draw the right combination of lands and burn spells, and make life very difficult for your opponent. Against decks that have lifegain, be careful about when to use Skullcrack, and Flames of the Blood Hand. I do like the inclusion of Flames of the Blood Hand, as while it a three mana spell, shutting off lifegain is a big deal.
If the deck did incorporate fetchlands, another color could be added as well, perhaps for Boros Charm. This list simply opts to run both Spark Elemental and Hellspark Elemental, rather than other options like Grim Lavamancer. There are plenty of different cards burn has available, so while I personally like to run Magma Jet, the concept remains the same it has always been.
Why stop the monocolored decks now? Well this deck is mostly one color, but includes an innovative white splash. Merfolk has established itself as a solid choice in the current metagame, but this version with white gives the deck a bit more play against some of the tougher matchups, like Twin and Affinity. Here is a list piloted by lockkeee:
The deck is similar to typical merfolk lists, but having Path to Exile is a big deal. Aggressive decks want to be playing at least one reliable removal spell, and Path to Exile fills in a lot of the holes. The white splash is not difficult on the manabase because of Wanderwine Hub alongside Seachrome Coast, and Hallowed Fountain, there is still no need for fetchlands.
Anew addition to this list is Dakra Mystic. I have heard Merfolk pilots complain about the lack of quality one-drops, but perhaps Dakra Mystic will be able to fill that role. It is a card that can do a lot of work with its activated ability, and with an Aether Vial in play, the deck usually has mana to spare. That being said it does seem a little bit worse in a format full of fetchlands.
The one Sygg, River Guide seems sweet, as that little guy is capable of making life very difficult, especially coming off Aether Vial. He also has islandwalk, though this deck doesn't abuse islandwalk, as there are no Spreading Seas maindeck. I suppose that something had to be cut to make room for Path to Exile, but I don't know if I like moving Spreading Seas to the board. I would also like to see Tidebinder Mage somewhere in the 75.
Thanks for reading,