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Modern Mastery: Some Unexpected Results

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

This week I was joined by the winner of the deck submission contest, Legit MTG’s own Tyler Premier (@tylerthefro). He submitted an Unexpected Results deck not unlike the Standard one that smashed me so soundly a couple of weeks ago. Here it is for reference:

This deck looked super fun to play. While the Standard deck relies on resolving Omniscience to win, this one goes the Honey Badger route and adds Through the Breach and Summoning Trap as extra ways to cheat these legendary monsters into play. And all of them have a huge impact on the board. The added bonus that I have never played with Griselbrand before played a small part in my desire to run this list.

The game plan is simple. Play a mana accelerant and resolve one of the backbreaking cheat spells to devastating effect. Should be simple enough, right? I mean, Lotus Cobra is a huge bump to mana production, especially in multiples, and Wall of Roots can hold off even the 4/5 Tarmogoyf before dying. The fact that Unexpected Results also allows you to CAST the card it reveals is very important. This can expose you to counterspells, but it also allows you to abuse the Eldrazi cast triggers. Vindicates, Tidings, and Time Walks? Oh my!!! Through the Breach is an excellent spell that you can abuse by casting it during the opponent’s end step, giving you a free turn with your legendary beater.

I really liked the idea of having a bunch of different legends at my disposal when casting this card. I was surprised by the versatility this provided; I could gain life or draw cards with Griselbrand, lock out colors with Iona, Shield of Emeria, make creatures enter the field tapped with Urabrask the Hidden, stop suspend cards with Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir, and even annihilate with the Eldrazi monsters. “How could a deck like this possibly be bad?” I asked.

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So the highlight happens really early when we get to play our first game against the one and only Gaudenis Vidugiris, who was piloting a Junk list with all of the expected offenders: Liliana of the Veil, Deathrite Shaman, Tarmogoyf, Thoughtseize, Knight of the Reliquary, Lingering Souls, Path to Exile, and Inquisition of Kozilek. I knew if there was a weakness to this deck, it is runner runner discard spells with a Liliana of the Veil. Such. Sick. Beats. At least a Breached Emrakul gave us the miracle win in Game 2.

The night continues to go south for us, until Tyler and I start to look at the sideboard a little further. As constructed, the board seemed overprepared for control and Splinter Twin; it had far too many counterspells and not nearly enough protection from creature decks. After consulting the stream and thumbing through our collection, we ended up on this sideboard:

4 Kitchen Finks
2 Obstinate Baloth
1 Boseiju, Who Shelters All
3 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
2 Dispel
2 Spellskite
1 Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir

I also ended up cutting one of the maindeck Griselbrands for the third Iona, Shield of Emeria from the sideboard. She consistently overperformed for me, and I was happy to have her battling for us. Astute watchers will also notice the other subtle Timmy change that I made to the deck.

The deck ended up being a blast to play, despite the record we posted. The MTGO meta was quite prepared for a glass cannon combo deck that has trouble dealing with disruption, surviving aggression, or interacting with the opponent. Who could have guessed that? The changes we made to the board were much better against other creature strategies, because we could board into a stable ground-based midrange deck with the ability to cheat in a huge game-winning bomb at a moment’s notice. As you see in our last match versus UW, this is exactly what the doctor ordered.

As I look back on the experience, however, I can see some things worth considering should anyone continue to play this list. Playing the list in its last configuration post sideboarding almost made it feel like a worse version of the GW Summoning Trap/Windbrisk Heights deck. This might be the correct version to play in the current Modern metagame. You still get the blowout draws with huge Eldrazi or the white legends, Elesh Norn and Iona (which were the best ones anyway), but you also get Primeval Titan and Knight of the Reliquary for additional utility and manafixing. Spectral Procession seems like it could have done a lot of work if we had access to it.

The other deck to consider as a comparison is the Standard Unexpected Results deck, which relies on Door to Nothingness as its primary win condition. The major strength the Standard list has is the inclusion of tutor effects. Increasing Ambition is a great card for that deck, and it can find the pieces required to win at will. There was a high degree of variance that innately exists in this week’s deck, which on a number of occasions turned out to be our downfall. Live by the sword, die by the sword. I would certainly try to find a way to smooth that variance somehow if I was planning on taking the deck any further. While occasionally explosive, our ramp package was very fragile in a world of Path to Exile, Lightning Bolt, and Dismember. I clearly understand there are two different metagames at play here, but there are similarities that should still be considered. I might consider a more spell-based ramp package in a future build of this deck, and add some more effective creature control elements.

More Mastery

Next week is the last Modern Mastery stream.

Let’s allow that to sink in.

I’m sorry if you feel jaded and taken for a ride. I promise you, though, that all is not lost. After much discussion with the executive team at Legit MTG, we decided that in the interest of maintaining relevance it is time to move the stream into a more flexible position. We will be changing the name and unveiling a sneak peek in next week’s stream. We are not getting out of Modern for good by any stretch, but it is time to give the brand some more reach.

I want to thank each and every one of you for this wonderful project; without your attention and support, I never would be able to do something like this. So please, continue to watch, and continue to read. I promise that there will be change, but the more things change, the more they stay the same. So expect the same old Scotty and the same old antics, but with a new skin, a new name, and new guests whom you have never seen before on my show. I have grown as a player since the birth of this project, and I have begun to take an honest inventory of my skills and play preferences. None of these things could have happened without all of you, and for that I am truly thankful. I have selected the winner for the last deck challenge, and I hope you will enjoy this as much as I will.

See you Monday.

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