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The End of the Block

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

For this article, I was actually going to put together a couple block decks, play some games, and come back with actual sideboard plans and updated deck lists. But with the recent announcement by Wizards banning all future premiere and daily events, I’m not entirely sure I want to dump money into block constructed. Of course, I could play standard, thus involving block constructed, and practice for any major standard tournaments coming up, but I have my heart set on another course.

Modern, and specifically Grand Prix San Diego.

Modern Ambitions

Obviously, practice on MTGO will be significantly different until WOTC updates their program and things resume as normal, or at least as normal as possible. But I feel that I can still play enough games between now and March that not only will I have an understanding of the modern format but also a well-rounded understanding of my deck. Pepper that with periodic modern tournaments using cardboard cards and I’ll call it good.

Now this will be my first major tournament ever, so while I’d like to win (why else would you play at a grand prix), making day 2 would be super sweet as well.

As of right now, modern looks to be fairly stable and thus a solid place to start playing. It’s cheaper than legacy for the most part and it won’t rotate like standard. In case you’re not on the up and up, the pillars of modern are: Afiinity, Splinter Twin, Tron, and Jund. Of course, there’s a ton of other viable decks, and even more fringe ones, and it would take forever to go over all of them. So instead, I’ll just talk about the deck I want to play.

White has the best hate cards known to planet earth, and I thought with such a low casting cost average that Dark Confidant would be able to help push our card advantage through the roof. This type of strategy already exists in Modern but pairs green with white instead of black for cards like Loxodon Smiter, Scavenging Ooze, and Voice of Resurgence, thus making it more of a midrange deck.

I wanted to approach the format from a different angle of attack, so I used the Death and Taxes archetype from legacy to build this. Death and Taxes has had lots of success in Legacy, so I hoped it would have similar success in modern. Granted, they are completely different formats and thus different card choices, but I feel like it has a good shot of doing well.

If you’re familiar with the legacy archetype, you’ll notice 3 major differences right away. The first is easy, and that is Stoneforge Mystic is banned in modern. Dark Confidant fills up that card advantage hole nicely. I have concerns about games going too long and Dark Confidant killing us, but I won’t know that until I’ve played a significant number of games.

The second is that I have 0 Mangara of Corondor. There is no Karakas type card in modern, and while you could still use Restoration Angel and Flickerwisp/Aether Vial to get maximum value out of her, I feel that most decks are so redundant in modern that a Mangara type effect isn’t very good.

The third difference is I also have 0 Flickerwisp. After you take away Mangara and Mystic, I don’t really see any reason to keep it around unless you start adding Blade Splicers. If we had more swords , then I would say maybe, but even then I could just play Restoration Angel instead.

If you’re unfamiliar with the deck, here’s how it works. Leonin Arbiter and Aven Mindcensor provide soft locks to many of the formats mainstay cards including Birthing Pod, Chord of Calling, Reshape, Expedition Map, Sylvan Scrying, Search for Tomorrows, Scapeshift, Eye of Ugin, Fetchlands, and many more. Their main use here is mana denial, and they happen to turn Ghost Quarter into Strip Mine fairly often.

Thalia, Gaurdian of Thraben is excellent at also adding insult to injury, helping in the mana denial plan. She also happens to be a good beater due to having first strike.

Phyrexian Revoker and Tidehollow mobile casino Sculler add another element of denial, taking away an opponent’s critical removal spell or naming an important piece of the opponent’s deck.

Burrenton Forge-Tender and Spellskite round out the rest of the creatures. Most decks are packing plenty of removal, and having cards that help stymy their removal is key in case they get ahead of our mana denial plan.

As for non creatures, path to exile speaks for itself, but when combined wsith Leonin Arbiter or Aven Mindcensor it becomes insane. Aether Vial lets us get ahead of our opponents, prevents our creatures from being countered, and even adds an element of surprise, like dropping in a Leonin Arbiter when an opponent activates his fetch land. And last but not least, Nihil Spellbomb is great at keeping graveyard based strategies at bay.

As for the Sideboard, I tried to pick cards that would shore up the decks weaknesses. Suppression Field covers a lot of decks and cards, from Birthing Pod to Splinter Twin to Affinity. Leyline of Sanctity is for decks that try to target us, like Storm, Burn, Scapeshift, or Ad Nauseum. Ghostly Prison is for decks that try to swarm us. Kataki, War’s Wage is specifically for Affinity, but could be used in case other artifact decks emerge. 2 more Burrenton Forge-Tenders are necessary against decks packing red spells. Rest in Peace adds to the graveyard hate we already have, and the Pithing Needle is a catchall for whatever you come across that needs shutting down.

Hatebear Stare

If I wasn’t going to play this, the other deck I would consider playing would be G/W Hatebears, and it would look something like this:

I like this style of Hatebears more because of the sheer card advantage that Blade Splicer brings along with Flickerwisp and Restoration Angel. I’d like to fit in a couple Sword of War and Peace to give our flying creatures better damage output, plus added protection from Path to Exile and Pyroclasm/Firespout doesn’t hurt.

Modern is one of those formats that I think doesn’t get all the attention it deserves. Unfortunately, no one has championed an ongoing tournament series for it, and thus many of the best brewers that we’ve come to know can’t afford to spend much time making new decks to beat. I hope to change that; it’s a lofty goal to be sure, but an attainable one I think.

I have a lot of ideas I’m excited to share with everyone, but you’ll have to wait till next article to hear about them.

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