Modern Mastery: Upping the Game

Written by Scott MacCallum on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Modern, Multimedia

This week I had the privilege of being joined by another Team Canada member, Alexander Hayne. Because the Pro Tour Avacyn Restored Champion was at the Magic Player’s Championship, it was a good opportunity to get him on the show while I tested against UW Midrange and RUG Vial. I sent Alex the list from last week, and we only had a couple of changes to make before starting the games. For reference, the list we settled on:

Adjustments

The notable changes include adding a second Electrolyze and returning Grim Lavamancer to the maindeck, replacing both Vapor Snags from last week. Alex loves Electrolyze on premise alone and he felt Vapor Snag was one of the worst cards in the list anyway. Also of note was a change away from Sleight of Mind toward the third Serum Visions. Although it is no Preordain, Alex thought it is a necessary card to flip Delver of Secrets with more regularity. Since I am allergic to flipping Delvers in the first place, this change was obviously going to help.

Sideboard changes were also slight, but they ended up having a huge effect on our games. Alex’s first cut was the Grafdigger’s Cages because shutting off our Snapcaster Mages is too detrimental. Pithing Needle came in as a broad answer with multiple applications. Combusts were also added again and Blood Moon was reduced to two copies because drawing the second is useless. Ancient Grudge got shaved to one copy, but Alex indicated the Affinity matchup is not that bad, and adding the second Electrolyze to the maindeck helps anyway. Threads of Disloyalty also made it back in because it can be tough to beat opposing Tarmogoyfs without Vapor Snag. One is the proper number because you want it to be a blowout and not something opponents actively play around.


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Results

We did really well this week, finishing 4-0 across all the matches. I only made one error that slipped by Hayne. I didn’t play a Misty Rainforest that would have helped us out of a bad Delver reveal against UW. It is fair to note, however, that it’s very difficult to lose when you have a coach delivering perfect play lines into your ear. It also seemed like my opponent couldn’t buy a game, with mana shortages and floods hanging about like the plague. I am still rewatching this stream even today. Alex drops so many subtle tips constantly. Listening to Alex’s logic about making game decisions is more than worth your time. There is so much to learn I can’t actually contain it all here in this article.

One critical area I needed to improve was making effective mulligan decisions. As seen in my previous videos, I often misevaluate hands as being too slow or too risky when they are often just fine. I’m going to read Who’s The Beatdown again, and a few select chapters of Next Level Magic again because I clearly have forgotten something that I shouldn’t have. Alex and I discuss this when we come across some borderline hands, and I am looking to improve on this more and more.

Another habit I am going to start is playing with a pad of paper beside me. I want to take notes I can reference easily, and more importantly, write down a series of reminders or questions I need to be asking during my turns. Once I get this completed, I will happily share the format that is working for me. (If you have any suggestions, I would sincerely appreciate it.) I’m not the type of person who can recount instantly from memory how a specific play sequence unfolded in a game last week, so this skill set is even more

I felt both the decks that I played against were fair. I wasn’t ever under game-ending pressure and the cards to play around were obvious and not too intimidating. UW has a fair amount of permission and many strong synergies with Restoration Angel, but forcing the opponent to play around my own permission while presenting a quick clock seemed to be the correct plan. On paper, RUG Vial felt like it would present a much tougher match because the deck basically gets to ignore our countermagic while matching us threat for threat. Once again, I felt Delver of Secrets was the important card. If it hits early and flips, it presents a great jump on the clock.

What’s next

Tonight I will be running the deck through a variety of lists, trying to simulate a Modern Daily environment. Next week, we will actually run through a daily or two. And then we get to switch decks. I’m looking forward to Return to Ravnica’s release on MODO, and there will be likely a ton of updates to the format. I will be talking about my note taking and sideboarding results next week, because this is an often underlooked item of great importance.

Sorry for the resolution issues this week, but all of our tech issues have been cleaned up.

See you at 9 p.m. EST!

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