Hello everybody,

As a Magic player (and a perfectionist), when I do something, I try to finish it and make it as good as possible to get as close as possible to perfection.

Since Pro Tour Fate Reforged I had time to work on my Modern deck, even though it's unlikely I'll play it again in a high profile tournament. I've had a lot of feedback, people liking the deck and wanting to know more about it, and most importantly, know how to play it. I've mentioned it a couple of times: the deck isn't easy to play, with sequences that might not be very intuitive.

I've thought about ways to explain what to do with it, but the best way is to actually show how it works. Last week I submitted an article with the videos of the stream of the Daily Event I played, along with explanations of some plays. Unfortunately, the videos were not usable and it was too late to submit anything else (more about this later).

So today, I'm going to walk you through the latest version of the deck, introduce you to the new changes and give you the new sideboard plans and matchups I haven't covered before.

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As for the changes from the last version (version 3.1 that you saw here):

-1 Liliana of the Veil
-1 Polluted Delta
-1 Dragonskull Summit
-1 Squee, Goblin Nabob

+1 Ghost Quarter
+1 Stomping Ground
+1 Wooded Foothills
+1 Darkblast

Sideboard:

-2 Deathmark
-1 Leyline of the Void
-1 Vengeful Pharaoh

+3 Bojuka Bog
+1 Darkblast
+1 Ghost Quarter

I found Ghost Quarter to be a key card in a lot of matchups.

-The deck now has an extra land that makes Flame Jab, Raven's Crime, Life from the Loam and Bloodghast better.
-It keeps Tron away from hitting all three pieces of Urza lands.
-It destroys manlands against Abzan, Affinity, and Infect.

-1 Liliana of the Veil

Liliana was a way to win the game against heavy graveyard hate strategies. But these days, there just isn't so much graveyard hate and wasn't necessary in the deck overall.

+3 Bojuka Bog (SB)

Bojuka Bog was suggested before the bans of Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time. At the time, it wasn't a significant card to fight Delver decks. Leyline of the Void would just shut down these decks on its own and deserved the three sideboard slots. Now that they're gone, there's no good reason to play Leyline, but we need some kind of graveyard interaction to fight Storm and Dredgevine. Bojuka Bog is probably the best option as you get to bring it back with a Loam if you mill it, and that makes it that much better than Nihil Spellbomb (or Leyline) that you'd have to draw in your opener or hope to draw when you decide not to dredge.

+2 Darkblast (+1 MD, +1 SB)

Infect seems to be a very popular deck these days and even though we have a ton of removal in the deck, sometimes you just don't have the time to play them; two mana to get rid of one creature can just be too much, especially when they're holding a Vines of Vastwood or a Spell Pierce. With one extra silver bullet in the main and one more in the sideboard, it becomes much better. That's what the deck was missing to turn this matchup around.

-2 Deathmark
-1 Vengeful Pharaoh

We took out cards (Deathmark and the second sideboard Pharaoh) that were specifically in against Zoo. Zoo isn't exactly a popular deck anymore. The versions out there these days tend to play heavier creatures like Loxodon Smiter or Knight of the Reliquary. These heavier decks also tend to play Scavenging Ooze (and Pharaoh isn't as good then). The games are much longer and you have more time to settle your game plan. Two Pharaohs after sideboard should be enough.

-1 Polluted Delta
-1 Dragonskull Summit
+1 Stomping Ground
+1 Wooded Foothills

These manabase changes were suggested to me here and on Twitter. The idea is to fetch the Stomping Ground to be able to play both Faithless Looting and Life from the Loam off one land. It used to be tricky to fetch the first land with both of these cards in hand and only one fetch. Should you fetch for a Blood Crypt and hope to draw another fetch or a green source? Or get the Overgrown Tomb to retrieve your fetch on the following turn and then have all the colors you need. Now you can do both with Stomping Ground. The other good thing is that you can fetch your third red source to go off with Flame Jab (you couldn't fetch the Summit). The obvious drawback is that you can't cast Smallpox of it and it's yet another shockland.

Replacing a Polluted Delta with a Wooded Foothills allows you to have another way to fetch Stomping Ground (and your basic Forest), and the only lands you can't fetch with Foothills are basic Swamp and Godless Shrine.

-1 Squee, Goblin Nabob

Squee is a great card that I'm happy to mill (not too much to draw). It really shines against burn, but the deck is good enough the way it is already. It's also great against Liliana, but again, Liliana is not really a problem for us as you'll find other cards to discard. It becomes one of these one-ofs that can be extremely good in some games but that you don't need to hit every time.

It feels like we're getting very close to the perfect list. Sure the format may evolve and we'll probably have to change a few things over the next few weeks/months, but there's very little I feel we could change right now.


Matchups:

Vs. Infect

+1 Darkblast
+2 Ancient Grudge
+1 Vengeful Pharaoh
+1 Raven's Crime

-1 Golgari Brownscale
-3 Zombie Infestation
-1 Squee, Goblin Nabob

Your plan against infect is to kill everything on sight. It's very hard for them to keep any creature alive once you have Darkblast going or if you have resolved a Smallpox. Ghost Quarter and Ancient Grudge take care of Inkmoth Nexus and there's nothing you're really worried about once you've established control. You can also achieve that by emptying their hand with Raven's Crime (very efficient when you're waiting for a threat). Just be careful not to attack their hand when there are creatures still on board, you would help them fil their graveyard to pay for their Become Immense.

You take out threats (Zombie Infestations in this case), as you really don't need to put any pressure. They will run out of threats and you'll be in total control after a couple of turns. The finish is really just a formality.

Vs. Tron

+4 Ancient Grudge
+2 Raven's Crime
+1 Bojuka Bog

-2 Darkblast
-1 Golgari Brownscale
-1 Terminate
-2 Go for the Throat
-1 Murderous Cut

There are two versions of Tron and they play very differently. However, the sideboard plans are almost the same.

Against the Gr version of Tron, your plan is to control the game and keep them away from the tron. Smallpox and Ghost Quarter should help while you try to empty their hand. The pressure you put on them isn't as important as against Monoblue Tron. They may have Pyroclasm and they're running Relic of Progenitus as well, so you won't be able to play with your graveyard for very long, or at least not with the "same" graveyard. The Gr Tron relies heavily on the Urza lands to win so as long as you keep them from hitting the three of them, you should be fine. The thing is, even if they do and don't have Karn to follow up, you have ways to deal with Wurmcoil Engine. If you manage to keep some creatures on the board, you can attack with flying Spirits and kill your blockers with a Darkblast for example and deny them the lifegain. It's not ideal but it works.

Against Monoblue Tron, it's a different story. Keeping them from hitting the Tron is not going to be as efficient, mostly because they don't need it as much as Gr Tron. They have Counterspells to stall a little bit, Solemn Simulacrum and Talismans to ramp to five or six mana without the Urza lands. Your plan here is to put as much pressure as possible early, and then try to keep them away from their sixth mana. Trying to keep them away from six mana without pressure on the board is a lost battle. This matchup is probably one of the hardest you'll get to face.

Vs. Burn

+1 Ray of Revelation
+1 Raven's Crime
+1 Vengeful Pharaoh
+2 Golgari Brownscale

-3 Lingering Souls
-1 Flame Jab
-1 Darkblast

Burn is not a matchup I'm afraid to play anymore. I'd even say we're heavy favorite against it. The sideboard plans haven't changed much since last time, but I'm always feeling very confident when I play against it, you just have to play cautiously, especially with your fetch and shock lands. Zombie Infestation is still your go-to card and Golgari Brownscale usually buys you enough time and put you out of range of direct damage.

Vs. Sultai

+1 Raven's Crime
+1 Vengeful Pharaoh
+1 Bojuka Bog

-1 Darkblast
-1 Bloodghast
-1 Swamp

Gerard Fabiano won the last SCG Open with Sultai, and I guess we have to get ready for that deck to emerge. Just like most midrange decks that rely on Snapcaster Mage, we don't have to worry too much about Relic of Progenitus or Rest in Peace. I haven't played against this deck yet, but I think we are heavy favorites as they have very few ways to deal with our threats and we have answers for pretty much everything they have. Without Spell Snare, they will never really be able to play around Smallpox and have their Tarmogoyfs stick around for long enough.

Vs. Storm

+2 Raven's Crime
+3 Bojuka Bog
+2 Ray of Revelation

-1 Golgari Brownscale
-3 Lingering Souls
-1 Vengeful Pharaoh
-1 Murderous Cut
-1 Terminate

Against Storm, you have a lot of dead / bad cards. Spot removal only kills Goblin Electromancer and you don't want to have too many of them. Lingering Souls is also way too slow. Your main plan is to get to Raven's Crime and start emptying your opponent's hand.

We have three Bojuka Bogs in the sideboard that are super handy in this matchup. Usually when you bring in lands from the sideboard, you take out lands from your maindeck to keep as many active spells as possible. In this case, extra lands will be like extra active spells (fuel to Retrace Raven's Crime). You want to go up to 26 lands to have enough fuel to cast Raven's Crime again and again without having to cast your Life from the Loam.

Vs. Loam Pox

+2 Ray of Revelation
+3 Bojuka Bog

-1 Swamp
-2 Go for the Throat
-1 Murderous Cut
-1 Terminate

I got to play this matchup a couple times online. While the key card is obviously Bojuka Bog after sideboard, Zombie Infestation is the card you'll have to fight over. If one of the two players has an Infestation, he's a heavy favorite. There's no real way to deal with three or four zombies at the same time (with more coming), unless you have yours, and then the one who hits his opponent's Loams with Bojuka Bog will win.

Vs. Amulet of Vigor

-2 Darkblast
-1 Golgari Brownscale
-3 Lingering Souls

+4 Ancient Grudge
+2 Raven's Crime

You have a lot of ways to disrupt your Titan Amulet opponent. Smallpox on turn two after he played a tapped land is a huge step back for him. Ghost Quarter is also a good way to keep them away from six mana. After sideboard, you have a lot of ways to destroy their Amulet of Vigor ( Ancient Grudge) and your plan will be to empty their hand with Raven's Crime. The only way you lose is when they go off on turn two or three with Summer Bloom and Amulet of Vigor.

Sometimes they board in Hive Mind and try to kill you on the same following turn with Summoner's Pact. Keep in mind that could be one of their plans and that you may want to have double green with your lands.

By now, with all the articles you read about the deck, you probably have most of the important sideboard plans for the format (even with the new changes, you should be able to figure out the few differences).

Below you'll find the matchups and where I think the deck stands:

Heavy Favorite:

-Bogles
-Jeskai Midrange
-Affinity
-Sultai Midrange
-Infect
-Scapeshift

Favorite:

-Burn
-Splinter Twin
-Abzan
-Amulet of Vigor

Average:

-Storm
-Gr Tron
-Zoo
-BW Tokens

Bad:

-Monoblue Tron
-Dredgevine
-Merfolk

Usually, favorable matchups never really go over 65%. With this deck, some of the matchups are close to unlosable. While you can of course stumble on lands or mulligan to four every game, it will be very hard to lose sideboarded games against Affinity or Infect for example.

We fixed the hardest matchups, including the not-so-present Dredgevine that we could just never beat (thanks to the addition of Bojuka Bog). But then, Monoblue Tron and Merfolk aren't unwinnable matchups. They are indeed tough, but we're not that far behind (at 35 or 40% maybe).

You should have everything you need to be successful with the deck. If you want to watch the stream of the Daily I talked about at the beginning of the article, go to my page on Twitch where you'll find each of the games in the highlight section. During that Daily, four rounds of Modern, we got to play against four different decks, four different archetypes: the perfect way to show how the deck interacts with the field and how to sequence the plays. So go check it out (and don't forget to follow for future streams)!

As usual, take care and see you in Liverpool for some Limited action

Cheers,

Raph

Twitter : @hahamoud
Twitch : Raphaellevy