Modern Mastery: Going Through The Motions

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

I have run the gauntlet.

Over the last four weeks, I have played against every major deck of the format with my RUG Delver list. It has been an amazing learning experience. I have learned about each deck’s strengths and weaknesses, and which tools are necessary for them to find success.

I have been very happy with the results while piloting this list, which I found to be flexible and powerful. Many of the matchups are at worst 50/50, although decks like Tokens and RG Tron are terrible matchups. Thankfully, both decks are not major players at the top tables. As long as I can stay in the top brackets of a tournament, I feel good about my potential matchups. Sideboard strategies can be slanted to shore up these weaknesses, but there are too many other cards I want to access. I’m prepared to risk these matches for now.

Here is the current list:

There have been no changes since last week, as I’m pretty happy with the way things are. The flex slot is basically the second Negate in the sideboard, and this could easily become a card better suited to a local metagame.

I wanted to get some practice with the deck. I wanted to pilot it in a situation where I was forced to make many of the choices myself and try to follow the correct playlines on my own. Week 1 competitor @Travishall456 of Horde of Notions fame stepped up to the plate again to try and defend his previous victory, and we had some good matches against four-color Pod.


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After rewatching this video, I was pleased. I was trying to be aware of playing lands correctly, fetching when I should have been, and making sure my mulligan decisions were based on better information. I felt like I was playing around the right cards and making good (albeit not always optimal) decisions. We won Game 1, got smoked by a Turn 2 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben on the play in Game 2, and won Game 3 on the back of some good play, a slower draw for my opponent, and a bit of fortuitous variance in our final draw (good dumb luck). I was playing around cards that may not have actually been in the deck, but I also found myself not anticipating cards like Murderous Redcap and Thalia, which proved to be troublesome errors in Game 2.

The Great Unknown

After this challenge, I opened it up to the gallery for a shot to play. The first to jump in the ring was Uber_Goose on MODO, who brought us a new type of challenge: Modern Eggs. For those unfamiliar with this strategy, it is a deck full of cantripping artifacts. When combined with Second Sunrise and Faith’s Reward, it can create an engine that generates huge amounts of mana with Lotus Bloom while drawing the entire deck to find the single Banefire that ends the game. These games are painfully long, and often difficult to beat within regulation tournament time.


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Thankfully, I had played against another version of the deck versus Carlos (@cag5383) of Gathering Magic fame, who was also in the chat. It was very helpful to have his input alongside practitioner of Eggsmanship Chris Lansdell (you don’t really NEED me to put his Twitter handle here, do you?), which led us to two victories within time. I recommend you watch this carefully if you do not know how this deck works. It is picking up in popularity because it’s inexpensive, and it would be wise to be prepared. If you are looking for a dirt cheap Modern list and don’t feel bad about kicking puppies, it could be an option.

I also was able to get one more game in with another stream viewer, Calenrow (on MODO) and his monowhite Martyr Proc deck. If you don’t know what this deck does, it’s very close to the Soul Sisters deck that Conley Woods and Gavin Verhey played at 2010 U.S. Nationals. It plays every Soul Warden creature in Magic history, along with the worst offender in the lifegain class: Martyr of Sands. To make the deck more resilient, it runs Proclamation of Rebirth to ensure Martyr of Sands becomes infinitely reusable. Most games are closed out with Serra’s Ascendant because few decks can actually withstand that clock. I am a total underdog in this matchup on paper, but my faithful viewers helped coach me to a victory.

This RUG list is an outstanding deck for a known metagame, and it can be built to tackle anything. Lucas Siow mentioned this during Week 1, and after playing with the list a fair amount, I agree with him completely. I plan on taking this deck through a Daily event this week, and will try to make good notes to be able to practice those skills also. I hope that you can tune in and give me hand!

Looking Ahead

There was a huge announcement that erupted within the Modern format, and I’m pretty excited. Valakut was unbanned.

Those who have been following along on this journey know I am preparing for a deck change.

I can either continue my progression toward playing Jund, which gets a ton of help from Return To Ravnica with cards like Abrupt Decay, Deathrite Shaman, two Charms, and a host of others.

Alternatively, I could look to be the new bad guy, and dust off some ramp spells. Based on the decks I have been playing against, a consistent Valakut list could be just what the format ordered. It basically ignores everything that isn’t discard. This may end up being too slow, but I’m also quite worried about playing cards like Tarmogoyf and Snapcaster Mage with Rest In Peace on the horizon.

What do you think? Tell me in the comments! If you have ideas for decklists for either of these archetypes, I’m still looking for a good starting point, so email ideas to mrscottymac@gmail.com. If your list is chosen as a starting point, you can join me on the stream for the inaugural run. How about that? A contest!

Tonight at 9 p.m. www.twitch.tv/legitmtg. Be there.

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