Last weekend was the 2014 TCGplayer Modern State Championships, and here in Ohio Ronald Ritner won the event with Junk Midrange. Ritner also won the Ohio TCGplayer Limited State Championships earlier in the year, so he'll be awarded a $350 appearance fee at the $50,000 MaxPoint Series Championship the weekend of October 24th-26th in Indianapolis; if, before that, Ronnie wins the Ohio TCGplayer Standard State Championship on October 4th in his quest for the triple crown, he will be awarded a $1,000 appearance fee for his efforts. There are some awesome bonuses, so check out all the details of the TCGplayer Maxpoint Series.

Here's Ritner's decklist:

DECKID=1209759

Last Thursday, after our match during the weekly Modern event at Great Lakes Game Emporium, a friend said my deck impressed him, and later that night he asked me for the decklist. I was playing Junk, and the list I gave him was Robin Dolar's Grand Prix winning list, except I replaced the sideboard Golgari Charm with a Darkblast. When he asked about any changes I said to maybe tune the manabase. My friend ended up not playing the deck himself but instead passed it off to Ronald Ritner. Ron cut the 2nd Twilight Mire for a Woodland Cemetery, and he went on to win the Ohio TCGplayer Modern State Championship event on Saturday.

I'll be playing Junk Midrange in a Pro Tour Qualifier this weekend, so what better deck to pilot on camera this week than Junk Midrange! I am not in an exploratory period with this deck, nor is it new to anyone familiar with Modern, so in the videos I am seeking perfection, and I really focus on finding the correct lines of play and explaining my thought processes behind every decision.

I played Junk Midrange through a Magic Online Modern Daily Event and recorded its entirety along with my commentary. Here's video of me playing a Modern tournament, turn by turn:

Round 1 vs. Monored Burn

Round 2 vs. Merfolk

Round 3 vs. Boros Burn

Round 4 vs. UR Pyromancer




Conclusions:

Burn

I was glad to get quality experience in against Burn, and I was of course pleased to win both matches against what I consider to be an unfavorable matchup. Burn has been gaining a lot of steam as an archetype in Modern. Some anecdotes: it has been a big player in all of the Japanese PTQs this season, and the deck skews the metagame so much that many Junk decks maindeck Obstinate Baloth; Burn is currently the fifth-most winning deck in Magic Online Modern Daily and Premier Events; vocal local Burn advocate Brendan Reginbald has been putting up constant results in PTQs and beyond, including a Top 8 finish at the TCGplayer MaxPoint Championship last fall in Columbus. Finally, Hall of Famer Raphael Levy played Burn at Grand Prix: Worcester-Boston and championed the deck in an article on this very website.

Merfolk

I don't consider Merfolk to be a great matchup, but the combination of removal and strong threats gives the Junk deck plenty of game. It's important to see Merfolk as the aggressive deck and Junk in the control role. Keeping opposing synergies in check and preserving life points are of critical importance.

UR Pyromancer

The UR Pyromancer deck does pose challenges for Junk because it's so good at playing the tempo game, and sometimes it steals games by imitating a Burn deck. On the other hand, Junk Midrange has all the necessary tools to beat the Delver deck, and compared to other Rock decks the white splash of Lingering Souls gives the Junk deck an extra edge in the matchup. Darkblast is the most relevant sideboard card, and it's capable of shutting down their entire offense singlehandedly while Thrun, the Last Troll is impossible for them to deal with. The sideboard cards that gain life and generate board presence, Obstinate Baloth and Timely Reinforcements, are also quite powerful. It's important to stay aggressive and close the window on the opponent.


Sideboard Guide

Here are my go-to sideboard plans against the stock builds of the top archetypes:

Affinity:

Out: 4 Dark Confidant, 4 Thoughtseize
In: 1 Engineered Explosives, 1 Darkblast, 1 Creeping Corrosion, 2 Stony Silence, 3 Fulminator Mage

This match is straightforward, just play the control role and disrupt the opponent. Dark Confidant is a big liability, while Thoughtseize is fine but the weakest link. Fulminator Mage is great as an answer to manlands like Inkmoth Nexus and acts as another threat once the game is in control.

Melira Pod:

Out: 3 Inquisition of Kozilek, 1 Abrupt Decay, 2 Liliana of the Veil
In: 2 Grafdigger's Cage, 2 Aven Mindcensor, 1 Darkblast, 1 Engineered Explosives

Liliana of the Veil is awkward against persist creatures and Voice of Resurgence, and it competes with Aven Mindcensor on the curve, so cut a pair of the planeswalker for the other three-drop. Inquisition of Kozilek has few targets and becomes a dead draw very quickly, so cut all of them. Abrupt Decay has few good targets and is the worst removal spell so it can be replaced by more powerful removal like Engineered Explosives, which can potentially steal a game from behind.

Scapeshift:

Out: 2 Dismember, 4 Abrupt Decay
In: 2 Aven Mindcensor, 3 Fulminator Mage, 1 Thrun, the Last Troll

Put on pressure and disrupt their combo. Fulminator Mage can be used after a Scapeshift to lower their Mountain count, so keeping one in play is often better than sacrificing immediately because it still slows them down by a turn but can attack in the meantime. If the opponent has Prismatic Omen or Courser of Kruphix leave in some Abrupt Decay, but in general Maelstrom Pulse is better as a catch-all answer that also answers potential sideboard cards like Inferno Titan and Batterskull.

Splinter Twin:

This matchup really depends on what version they are playing. I'm going to dig into some of the details, but don't worry too much, because this Junk deck doesn't play many potential sideboard options for the matchup nor does it need them, so sideboarding is always going to be relatively minor.

In general Twin decks become more controlling after sideboard, so act accordingly. Cards like Maelstrom Pulse get better as an out to cards like Batterskull and Inferno Titan, while Lingering Souls can be valuable for grinding them out. Thrun, the Last Troll is weak against the card Splinter Twin, but it can be extremely strong against opponents that shift towards a control deck. Tarmogoyf calls for more robust removal and less regard for their combo. Todd Anderson recently won a PTQ with a Tarmo-Twin deck playing two maindeck copies of Huntmaster of the Fells, a card which may gain popularity in the coming weeks. I won't provide a strict guide for this matchup but rather list the cards I would consider cutting and consider bringing in.

Out Considerations:
Scavenging Ooze
Maelstrom Pulse
Lingering Souls
Garruk Wildspeaker

In Considerations:
Engineered Explosives
Thrun, the Last Troll
Fulminator Mage
Engineered Explosives

Urzatron:

Out: 1 Slaughter Pact, 2 Dismember, 4 Abrupt Decay
In: 3 Fulminator Mage, 2 Aven Mindcensor, 2 Stony Silence

The white splash gives the Junk deck a big edge in the matchup compared to the straight BG Rock version. Stony Silence goes a long way in shutting down their artifact cog engine of Chromatic Star, Chromatic Sphere, and Expedition Map along with key removal spell Oblivion Stone. Aven Mindcensor helps attack their deck searching abilities including Sylvan Scrying and Eye of Ugin.

UWR Control:

Out: 4 Abrupt Decay, 2 Maelstrom Pulse
In: 3 Fulminator Mage, 1 Thrun, the Last Troll, 1 Obstinate Baloth, 1 Grafdigger's Cage

Fulminator Mage is excellent for attacking their three-color manabase and controlling Celestial Colonnade in particular. Fulminator Mage is also a great threat because if the opponent answers it with removal it can be sacrificed to destroy a land, generating a favorable two-for-one exchange. Obstinate Baloth is simply a threat and better than dead removal, though the lifegain can also be relevant. Thrun, the Last Troll is very difficult for them to answer, though Wrath of God has been gaining popularity. A potential way to one-up the UWR deck is to replace the creature with Choke, which is also great against other blue opponents. Grafdigger's Cage turns off Snapcaster Mage and is very likely better than Maelstrom Pulse and Abrupt Decay unless the opponent shoes something like Batterskull.

Rock Mirror:

Out: 4 Thoughtseize, 3 Inquisition of Kozilek
In: 3 Fulminator Mage, 1 Obstinate Baloth, 1 Engineered Explosives, 1 Darkblast, 1 Thrun, the Last Troll

The most important thing here is cutting the discard spells because they are the worst top decks in a matchup all about the topdeck war. Fulminator Mage can be used to keep the opponent down and potentially lock them out of a color, while it's also great against manlands. Obstinate Baloth is hate against Liliana of the Veil. Engineered Explosives is potentially a great topdeck that can steal a game from behind or generate card advantage. Darkblast ensures the opponent won't be able to trigger a Dark Confidant. Thrun, the Last Troll is just another threat.

Burn:

Watch the videos!

That's all for this week, turn to the comments with any questions or comments!

-Adam