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American Midrange in Modern

Written by LegitMTG Staff on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Modern

I don’t play much competitive Magic nowadays…between work and life, I haven’t had much time to keep up with the ever changing environment of the competitive scene. I do keep myself in the loop between SCG Live coverage, GGSLive coverage, and whatever else is brewing over the jam-packed weekends.

The past weekend however, I found myself with some spare time, a modern deck that I had from last year, and a Grand Prix Trial: Richmond at Dream Wizards which is a pretty good sized gaming store in the D.C. Metro area. I was planning on attending Grand Prix Richmond mostly just to hang out with some friends and sling a few side events, play some Cube, and sling some EDH. But honestly I really want the Eternal Witness playmat and the Foil Batterskull doesn’t hurt so I decided to try and get some byes for the GP with this deck:

I love this deck and built it because it is the colors of old glory: red, white, and blue. This list is nearly identical to the list that took 1st Place at GP Prague and was the deck I started building last modern season. The only difference from the Main deck winning list is:

+ Restoration Angel
+ Path to Exile
+ Eiganjo Castle

Thundermaw Hellkite
Sulfur Falls

As for the sideboard, it was purely a metagame call, I know Modern does have a great cost barrier to entry, especially for Tarmogoyf-type decks. So at a GPT I think that one should expect to see a greater amounts “budget” modern decks. I don’t mean budget as in common/uncommon burn…but decks that don’t break the $300 barrier. (I’m using Modern Masters release estimates, Modern prices have been shooting through the roof lately) So I expected to see more Affinity, Tron, Melira Pod, Boggles, Living End type decks than I would say Jund, Junk type decks that are close to $1000. The Disenchant is because I still haven’t been able to get my hands on a foil Wear // Tear yet, but it is in the mail!

Round 1 – Living End

Game 1: I win the roll, my opponent plays a Verdant Catacombs starts to cycle a few creatures. I immediate knew that I had to race, threw all the burn I could at his face and cast Geist of Saint Traft on Turn 3. Turn 4, I Cliqued him to see nothing really interesting (while holding Path to Exile) and Geist went all the way.

– 3 Electrolyze
+ 1 Surgical Extraction, +1 Celestial Purge, + 1 Counterflux

Game 2: He mulligans down to 5; I go with the same plan of throwing burn after he Inquisitions a Snapcaster Mage out of my hand. He then discards two Faerie Macabre and tries to cast Violent Outburst. I had my 1 Surgical Extraction and his Living End essentially fizzles and I eventually kill him with Geist again. (1-0)

Round 2 – Ad Nauseum/Angel’s Grace

Game 1: He wins the roll and suspends a Lotus Bloom; I knew I was on the clock so I started throwing burn again. Cast Geist of Saint Traft and attacked him while holding Vendilion Clique in hand. As the last suspend Counter falls of Lotus Bloom, I Cliqued on that draw step to see he has Angel’s Grace, Mystical Teachings, and some lands. I ship the Teachings and he dies to the next Geist Swing. This little guy is doing some work.

– 4 Path to Exile
+ 2 Stony Silence, +1 Counterflux, +1 Disenchant

Game 2: I kept in some burn just to try and race him; He suspends Lotus Bloom turn 1 and I kept a loose hand of five lands, Snapcaster Mage, Lightning Bolt on the draw. I drew two lands the next two turns and went for an EOT Bolt, Snap, Bolt on turn three but he responded with Ad Nauseum and Angel’s Grace while I was tapped out. Lesson learned.

Game 3: I was on the play and kept a much better hand with Geist, Mana Leak, Remand, and some other spells. I play Geist and start attacking away at his life. He plays an Angel’s Grace while I’m attacking for lethal, which buys him a turn. He then tries to go for the kill on his turn but I have the Remand for the Ad Nauseum. (2-0)

Round 3: Jund

I hate this matchup, I really do, and I feel that basically all their cards are “better” especially Deathrite Shaman and Liliana of the Veil but hey, can’t give up right?

Game 1: He goes to 17 to Thoughtseize me on turn one and sees a hand of two land, Snapcaster, Lightning Bolt, Lightning Helix, Mana Leak, and Path to Exile. He takes the Snapcaster and we trade with each other for a few turns. He is light on green mana when he casts Scavenging Ooze so I was able to Electrolyze it in response to him trying to give it a counter at the end of my turn. We play off the top of our decks until he gets an active Dark Confidant at eight life. I Clique him to see a Tarmogoyf that I politely asked him to ship, Bob flips Chandra, Pyromaster which puts him at four life but kills my Clique. I attack with some Snapcasters and a Celestial Colonnade and take game one.

– 4 Geist of Saint Traft
+ 2 Threads of Disloyalty, + 1 Batterskull, + 1 Celestial Purge

Game 2: Again I kept a somewhat loose hand of Snapcaster, Path to Exile, and five lands on the draw (one was a Colonnade). He Thoughtseizes me and takes the Path, I was lucky to keep drawing spells and managed to keep up with him. He casts Slaughter Games, (I’m thinking great, he knows I have a Snapcaster from the Thoughtseize), but names Geist of Saint Traft!? He searches my deck and sees that I boarded them all out. He gets some Oozes and Goyfs but 2x Snapcaster and Colonnades go all the way again. (3-0)

I was feeling pretty good, since there were only 5 rounds, I think that with my breakers 3-1-1 would have put me in the top 8. I wanted top seed because I thought it would determine play or draw but we found out it didn’t apply to GPTs.

Round 4: U/R Delver

Game 1: I had a chance to see my opponent’s deck and felt that I had a strong matchup because my creatures were better and I had enough removal that I won’t die early thanks to Lightning Helix. He gave me a few lands off Goblin Guide and eventually my removal traded for his creatures, and Restoration Angel and Geist took it down.

-2 Cryptic Command, -1 Remand
+2 Engineered Explosives, +1 Celestial Purge

Game 2: I see my opening draw of 3 lands, 2 Helix, Snapcaster, and Electrolyze and think that I’m going to roll my opponent when he mulls to 5. I draw into another Helix and Snapcaster thinking that there’s no way I could lose this … he taps 3 mana and casts Blood Moon. (Sigh… lesson learned #2) I failed to draw any basics and he kills me with some flying insects.

-1 Cryptic Command
+1 Disenchant

Game 3: I kept a hand with an Explosives and a Celestial Purge, actively telling myself that I refuse to lose to a Blood Moon again. I fetch up a few basics to cover myself and then start burning off his creatures. I get an active Geist with Eiganjo Castle, he reveals Earthquake off a Delver trigger but doesn’t have enough mana thanks to the Legendary Land. The game goes on for a bit when he begins to Chump Geist and Vapor Snags and Combusts my Colonnades. Eventually he runs out of gas and my creatures get the job done. (4-0)

Round 5: Affinity (ID)

I knew this was a good matchup for me and he was at 3-1 and I already locked up the top seed. While I never dream crush (unless it is to help a friend get in), I was even willing to concede to him if need be because I was extremely lucky this day to avoid a Boggles/Tron Matchup. I knew that I won’t be playing him in the Top 8 first and he can help me take out some of my bad matchups. “The enemy of your enemy is your Ally” – Art of War. (4-0-1)


Quarterfinals: G/W/B Infect

This match actually went to three games, probably shows my poor line of play as well as not being able to get red mana for two games. I burned off pretty much all his creatures game one and won with attackers. Game two I couldn’t find a red source of mana and he managed to land a Wild Defiance and killed me on turn four with an Apostle’s Blessing and a pump spell. Game three I was stuck on non-red mana again and had to Clique myself to draw an Arid Mesa, once I did it wasn’t hard to burn off everything and let Geist take over.

-3 Cryptic Command, -1 Remand
+2 Spellskite, + 2 Engineered Explosives

Semi Finals: Affinity

This round saw me paired against my round five opponent. We took the draw then, but this time we would have to play it out!

Game 1: I win the die roll and keep a hand with a good mix of spells and lands. I eventually grind him out with paths, burn, and Electrolyzes. He was a really good player and played to his outs, making the right blocks every game when he had to.

-3 Cryptic Command, – 2 Remand
+2 Stony Silence, + 2 Engineered Explosives, + 1 Disenchant

Game 2: I mulligan to six and kept a hand with, Snapcaster, Lightning Bolt, and Stony Silence. I landed the Silence and thought I was on cruise control; again I was wrong. (Lesson Learned #3) I didn’t draw any threats and EE sat in my hand while he killed me in a long grind with Etched Champions.

Game 3: I kept a good hand with a mix of spells/lands/EE. He opens by essentially dumping his hand going: Land, Mox, 2x Ornithopter, and Signal Pest. I burned off his Signal Pest on my turn and I slowly establish control. I sandbagged the EE until he played his Etched Champion and played really slow to make sure I don’t make any big mistakes that could cost me the game. Eventually in the long game, he runs out of gas and Restoration Angel/Colonnade goes all the way.

Finals: Boggles

I was not happy to play against this deck but at least I had 2x EE and a Disenchant and Threads to surprise him if he decides to Voltron the Kor Spiritdancer.

Before the match started, the judge said my opponent was the only person not to get deck checked in the top 8. (we only had one judge and the tournament started late due to the Pokemon champs) The judge came back and issued him a game loss for multiple errors on his deck registration sheet and worn sleeves that looked marked. It was clear that he wasn’t trying to cheat but I felt really terrible because he was actually a player from Bogota, Colombia that was on vacation and didn’t speak or write much English in fact, most of his cards were in Spanish. However, the judge was nice enough to buy the person sleeves from his own store credit to lend them to him but my opponent said that it wouldn’t be necessary because he was playing for packs, pride, and fun of Magic and that he is not able to attend GP: Richmond and gave me the win. We agreed to split the packs in top four and the winner gets the two additional that I gladly gave to my opponent afterwards.

I was extremely lucky that I avoided Tron all day, I think there were 3-4 players on that deck and two in top eight. I look forward to GP Richmond; but I’m sure the Pro Tour Ban (or unban, or maybe even no ban) will shake up the Modern Format in the upcoming weeks. I will update the deck after the full Born of the Gods Spoiler goes up and the Bannings are announced and give some final thoughts.

If you have any insights, comments, suggestions, or ideas please let me know below!

Thanks for reading!


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