With Standard being at a Standstill until Born of the Gods, and with fresh results from Grand Prix Prague to look at, I thought now would be a great time to talk about the Modern format. Modern has been picking up steam since Modern Masters, and the momentum will only grow from here until the beginning of the PTQ season this summer. Rather than rehash all the top decks, I'm going to go deeper into one particular deck with a video deck tech. I am a big fan of champion Vjeran Horvat's list, an aggro-control adaption on the popular UWR shell.
My article today will include a video deck tech and videos of me piloting the deck through an entire Magic Online 8-man queue, along with a bonus match. I then share my sideboard strategy against the most popular decks in the field. Enjoy!
Here is a video of me laying out and discussing the cards of the deck:
Let's take it out for a spin through a Modern 8-man queue!
Round 1 vs. UR Pyromancer
Round 2 vs. Jund
Finals vs. Monogreen Devotion
Here is a nice bonus match from another event, against an Affinity deck.
American Midrange vs. Affinity
In the matches I played the deck performed very well. I felt like I was in every game and made many decisions that impacted the outcome. Since every card in this deck is good by itself, throughout the game most draws are live action. Planning for each possible draw is important. It is also important to know what role the deck must assume each game, and when it must change plans. While the deck is able to play both aggressively and defensively, this flexibility can lead to easy mistakes, so having a specific reason behind each and every play is crucial
I certainly look forward to battling more with this deck against the field. I particularly like this style of deck now that the Modern format is starting to stabilize with some clear winners and losers emerging.
Modern's history has been plagued with constantly changing banned list. Each change essentially created a brand new format and new world to evolve in, so players have continually had to start over. This impact is even more dramatic considering that most of the changes have occurred after major events, events that would otherwise have defined the metagame going forward, leaving players in the dark in an unknown metagame. This has had a tremendous impact on the long-term evolution of the format. While the format itself is about two and a half years old, the current banned list has been static for about a year.
Modern has often reminded me of Legacy years ago, a format where there was a nearly endless list of viable archetypes. While this does speak to the broad and fun nature of formats like Legacy and Modern, it also means that Natural Selection has not culled the weak. In Legacy there might be 30 archetypes, but I could count on a hand or two archetypes that one could reasonably expect to win a tournament on a given day.
With Modern starting to polarize and the best strategies becoming apparent, a well-built aggro-control deck can prey on the predators. This list of UWR is great against the top-tier of Modern as it stands and looks to be a force going forward. The deck will be forced to adapt as the format continues to evolve, but for now it will enjoy this period of stability.
Here is a sideboarding guide against the top four most popular winning decks on Magic Online, which together make up approximately a third of the field. Knowing how to beat these decks provides a solid foundation from which to combat Modern as a whole.Splinter Twin:+1 Damping Matrix+1 Wear // Tear+1 Celestial Purge+1 Path to Exile+1 Counterflux
-4 Lightning Helix-1 Thundermaw HellkiteAffinity:+2 Stony Silence+1 Batterskull+1 Damping Matrix+1 Wear // Tear+1 Engineered Explosives+1 Path to Exile
-4 Geist of Saint Traft-3 Vendilion Clique
Jund:+2 Threads of Disloyalty+1 Celestial Purge+1 Engineered Explosives+1 Batterskull
-1 Lightning Helix-1 Path to Exile-1 Thundermaw Hellkite-2 Vendilion Clique
RG Tron:+2 Stony Silence+2 Aven Mindcensor+1 Counterflux+1 Sowing Salt+1 Thundermaw Hellkite
-4 Lightning Helix-2 Lightning Bolt-1 Path to Exile
A more aggressive option is to play more Lightning Bolts over Path to Exile, with plans to counter Wurmcoil Engine. I like Electrolyze because I value the ability to dig through my deck for the hate cards.
As time goes on and I gain more experience, I will share more sideboarding tips in the forums. Please ask if you have any specific questions. As far as tuning the deck, I really like the maindeck, but the sideboard can be tuned for any particular metagame. Note that often what is coming out is more important than coming in, so plan accordingly. I would not recommend any sideboard changes for online and the sideboard has clearly performed well in paper, so I am sticking with this 75 for now.