A minor recap: as I’m writing this article Grand Prix Richmond has pre-registered over 3,400 players. Modern is more popular now than ever and simply put, numbers don’t lie. Prices for cards have soared through the roof, an Arid Mesa is worth more than a Plateau and two Scalding Tarns can even get you a Volcanic Island if you find the right trader. But with all this hype I’m going to talk about a deck that does not require Tarmogoyfs and Blue fetches, for those that have a last minute urge to attend but don’t want to take out a second mortgage on their homes.
When someone said Death and Taxes were unavoidable, they weren’t joking! A mono-white (mostly) hatebears style deck is not a bad choice to play versus a diverse field of decks like what you find in Modern.
While Modern does not have some of the staples that make the Death and Taxes deck work so well in Legacy (Like Wasteland and Rishadan Port), I feel the deck could be very well positioned against unfair decks of the format, as well as the fair decks like Zoo.
Here’s a sample list from the Magic:the Gathering Online dailies that I saw.
MTGO Hate Bears
When I first saw this deck, the obvious question was what is Akroma, Angel of Fury doing here? It took me a quick second to figure how this deck would cast this creature. Turns out it does not cast the Akroma. I remembered the good old days of Astral Slide Standard with Exalted Angel and Lightning Rift.
The tech is that one would play Akroma face down as a 2/2 morph, and then either play Flickerwisp or Restoration Angel, targeting the 2/2 Vanilla creature and reveal the 6/6 Angel that’s immune to Paths, Lightning Helix, and bounce spells.
While the Modern version of this deck does not enjoy having access to Wastelands and Rishadan Ports, it does have access to Ghost Quarter. While Ghost Quarter isn’t that great by itself, it can be a Strip Mine if you have Leonin Arbiter or Aven Mindcensor in play. With greedy mana bases in Modern, usually a top four search shouldn’t get the opponent a basic land unless they are on a mono colored deck.
Having this main deck is a complete hoser to decks like Tron and Zoo that do not run many basic lands. While Tron has fallen out of favor, I feel that at a Grand Prix you might still run into it once or twice. It is such a large scale tournament!
While this deck may seem like an aggressive white-weenie beat ‘em down deck, it can easily become the control deck vs aggro strategies like Zoo. Blade Splicer is very well positioned versus Zoo because they would have to either waste a burn spell on the 3/3 Golem and leave Blade Splicer alive to be reused with Angel or Wisp or waste a burn on the 1/1 and trade 2 for 1 attacking into the 3/3, either way it’s not a bad deal.
The reason why I like this deck is that it has a good match-up against the most played decks of the format. I feel that the deck is strong against decks like Melira Pod, Scapeshift, UR Storm, UWR, Amulet, and even Living End.
Versus Pod: Not being able to search with fetchlands hurt these decks a lot. Against Melira pod, Path to Exile (sometimes a better Swords to Plowshares with Arbiter or Aven Mindcensor) and Scavenging Ooze with added pressure is too much for that deck to handle.
Versus Combo decks: (UR storm, Living End, Ad Nauseam) There should be enough disruption in game one to beat these decks. Ooze can eat the graveyard and Thalia can be extremely annoying! It’s not a bad idea to Vial in a surprise Thalia when Storm is about to go off. Games 2 and 3 should be a little easier, if you find a lot of UR storm feel free to add Rule of Law in your sideboard.
Chalice of the Void on 1 hoses both the Storm deck and Ad Nauseam deck by not letting them cantrip. The Ad Nauseam deck cannot cast Angel’s Grace and Chalice on zero pretty much spells the end for Living End.
Versus Control: The key here is to apply enough early pressure while locking them out of fetchlands. If they waste removal on the Hate bear type creatures, Blade Splicer will be a pain to deal with and Aether Vial gets around their counter magic. Just be sure not to overextend into Wrath effects.
Versus Zoo: Get a Blade Splicer and try to control the bleeding with Paths. Their 3/3s are bigger than our 2/2s and 2/1s. Post board Worship can easily make the game unwinnable for them, and we have more targeted removal in Sunlance.
While all fair decks have their share of weakness, I feel that Death and Taxes is a little better since the weak match-ups can be mitigated with a strong sideboard (white has the best sideboard cards) and many of these decks are less popular.
Versus Affinity: This is clearly a hard match-up game one. I feel that without at least two Path to Exiles, game one might be a complete blow out by Affinity because of the lack of removal, and they have the possibility to be faster than us, thanks to their flying creatures. Remember Affinity usually only play one basic so Paths and Ghost Quarters become much better after the first one. If you play Worship on your sideboard remember to save the removal for Inkmoth Nexus.
Post sideboard, we do have two Stony Silence, two Sunlance, and Creeping Corrosion. Remember versus Affinity to save your targeted removal for cards that matter like Steel Overseer and Signal Pest. Chalice is a good option on the play but make sure to take them out on the draw, because I feel that they are significantly worse there.
Versus Merfolk: Another hard match-up because we don’t have much creature disruption. Game 1 their creatures can easily overwhelm us by turning them into 4/4s and 5/5s. Choke in the sideboard doesn’t provide much help because they don’t need much to operate on and have Aether Vial. An option I decided to include was Story Circle. Yes it’s funny but it’s good vs Burn, Merfolk, and Black Obliterators.
Versus Soul Sisters: This deck is almost an auto-game one loss. I feel that this deck has really fallen out of favor and we can’t do much game 1 against it anyways. Chalice of the Void gives us a chance in games 2 and 3.
Versus Splinter Twin: This is where things can get tricky, remember to save the Paths for when they combo off game one. Getting a Thalia into play is crucial and apply as much pressure as early as you can. Post-board games get a little better with Spellskites and Chokes. Torpor Orb can be an answer but I prefer Spellskite since it’s good against other decks like Zoo and Bogles.
Against Anger of the Gods: Yes this is one of the most widely played cards in Modern. One must be careful not to overextend too much and get blown out by this one sided wrath sometimes. Post board we have Burrenton Forge-Tender which helps. Always be weary against decks that have this in their 75.
Sideboard Changes and Possible Tech for your Metagame
Thrun, the Last Troll is a good option for the board if you find a lot of control decks in your metagame. I’ve seen people combine him with Worship which can be a pain against decks with little or no creature removal. The Akroma helps finish games on the Worship plan, and I have even seen lists use a Sword of Body and Mind.
Story Circle: Unexpected but it can be good to grind out late game versus decks that lack enchantment removal. We struggle with decks like Merfolk and Burn, they struggle with removing this!
Kitchen Finks: If your meta is 20-25% Zoo, then this is an auto-include.
Conclusion: The list I would run at GP: Richmond.
Suggested Hate Bears
While I can’t get the deck in time for the GP, this is the list I would run. I will have it for a SCG IQ later in the month and I’ll be sure to let you guys know my GP experience and how this deck plays out after the GP.
Modern is becoming very close to Legacy where a bad match-up can easily start your day at 0-2 and good ones can ride you into the top 8 no matter how you play. An Affinity player who dodges Stony Silence is sure to have a better record then the player who saw it every game 2 and 3.
I feel that the Death and Taxes deck punish the “unfair” decks of the format which are also the most popular such as Scapeshift, Pod, and Storm (With Jon Finkel and Kai Budde backing this deck, it will be a tier 1 deck) and even has a good match-up vs Zoo which is the most popular fair deck.
Thanks again for reading and most of all good luck to everyone attending GP Richmond! It will be a blast! As always feel free to leave a message or even tweet me!
Twitter: Just starting out @usnwfu
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