So each week you guys have been asking me about Modern in the comments, and I wasn't even sure why; the format is basically saturated with Treasure Cruise right now. I've seen Jund decks...splashing for Treasure Cruise. I've seen Abzan decks ("Junk")...splashing for Treasure Cruise. I've seen Burn decks...splashing for Treasure Cruise! This card is ridiculous right now, and I wasn't sure if I even wanted to try Modern until something was done about it.

But...well, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, I always say.

...actually I never really say that. But the card is pretty powerful and it gives most decks a way to prevent running out of gas. Should it be banned? I'm not sure. If you look through all of the Modern Daily Events, most of the 4-0 decks have some number of Treasure Cruise in them, which is discouraging. But is the card inherently broken, or just good? That's the question I guess, which I why I decided on today's deck.

DECKID=1220962

Magic Online user RaptureReady took this list to a 3-1 finish, complete with the full set of the latest Ancestral Recall reproduction, so I wanted to see how it fared for myself. It's basically the Abzan Midrange deck that did well in the previous season, only splashing blue for Treasure Cruise and a single Snapcaster Mage. Another solid update is the addition of Siege Rhino, which does a decent number on the life race.

I was eager to see how these Khans cards fared in a Modern world.

Abzan Cruise vs. BR Vampires

Abzan Cruise vs. Amulet of Vigor

Abzan Cruise vs. Jeskai Burn

Abzan Cruise vs. Jeskai Ascendancy Combo

Yes, Monastery Swiftspears, Treasure Cruises, Dig Through Time, and Jeskai Ascendancy are everywhere. Standard, Modern, Legacy, some ever permeating Vintage...you can't really avoid them. And while a misplay by our opponent in the Amulet matchup helped us win the game, we misplayed ourselves in the Jeskai Ascendancy Combo matchup and still managed to win. So I consider it a wash. I know Vampires isn't a truly competitive deck, but that's one thing I do love about the Modern format: who knows what the next truly competitive deck is going to be? And so many decks are at least formidable if not competitive. Either way, I was happy with how our deck performed.

The first thing I noticed after playing with Treasure Cruise was that the deck could definitely benefit from three rather than four. The first one was great, allowing us to basically refill our hand, but delve cards have huge Diminishing Returns. In other words, each one you cast after the first is going to cast significantly more mana, so you don't want to draw too many in a short period of time, and having four in the deck precipitates this. I think if we cut one for another card we'd be in better shape. The other thing is that we never want more than one in our opening hand really, as they're quite dead until the midgame and unlike a deck like Burn, we don't really dump our hand very quickly. The seven one mana discard spells do assist this however.

The other new addition from Khans of Tarkir is an obvious one, but one that I wasn't sure would find a home in Modern: Siege Rhino. The sheer power level of this card wasn't immediately apparent to me until I saw an image the other day where one player had two Siege Rhinos in play and the other had two Obstinate Baloths in play. They were both four mana creatures. One gained three life, the other gained four. One lost the opponent three life, and the other lost the opponent none. One had five toughness, and the other had four. Basically, one completely outclassed the other. If you're not splashing for black or white (which isn't that hard to do in Modern) or you think you'll be getting some value out of the Baloth's discard ability, I can understand why you would want Obstinate Baloth, but the power difference is pretty obvious; the Rhino is just outclassing our beast friend on several fronts.

The sideboard is pretty well equipped to handle a lot of strategies. The Thrun, the Last Troll and comes in against control, the Timely Reinforcements against Burn, Stony Silence against artifacts, etc. It's pretty easy to tell which cards are utilized where, which is nice. Unfortunately the Timely Reinforcements didn't do too much against the Burn deck because they managed to have a Skullcrack in their hand every time, but that's how it goes. Had they not had one each time, I imagine we would have pulled ahead there.

Speaking of the burn deck...well, it might simply be too powerful. It's just way too streamlined now, and it just received not only a new way to refill it's hand, often for less than three mana, but also a very cheap one-drop that rivals Goblin Guide. Frankly the deck frightens me as it's so hard to fight efficiently. We boarded a card that gains us a massive six life and an incredible board presence and they played the equivalent of a red Counterspells against us that has very little downside. But I digress. I understand the necessity for a format to have a Burn deck; I simply think this one might be a little too consistent, and that could be bad.

Well, that's all I have for this week. I found some sweet Modern brews in my searches so I should be good for a few weeks in that regard if you guys are still hungry for some Modern innovation. Thanks for reading and, as usual, let me know what you think in the comments!

Frank Lepore
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