Unblinking Bleb: Focus on Modern – 23nd – 29th May 2018

Despite its billing as Wizards of the Coast’s premiere non-rotating format, ask any enfranchised player and they’ll be able to tell you that Modern as a format is constantly changing and evolving.

Indeed, if you took a PTQ grinder from the start of January, trapped them under an Oblivion Ring for six months, and let them loose into the Modern landscape today they’d find arguably the most powerful planeswalker of all time released from the banned list, alongside his red-green nemesis in Bloodbraid Elf, and then be even more surprised that these cards have been absorbed into the fabric of Modern without the cataclysmic metagame shift many were expecting.

Instead, a different blue planeswalker from Magic’s newest set, in the form of Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, has pushed Jeskai Control into the number one slot on MTGGoldfish by metagame share (control lives!), closely followed by a who’s-who of the best human beings in Modern in the form of 5-Colour Humans.

Hall of the Bandit Lord took pride of place in a decklist that took down the Modern challenge on Magic Online the weekend before last, in the hands of the mighty Atsushi “Matsugan” Ito, and psychopaths keep insisting on trying to combo Retract with Sram to acquire maximum breakfasty value.

Whether you’re casting an eye forward to the Modern PPTQ season on the distant horizon, or just want to pick up your copies of the next Gemstone Caverns before they spike in price, I’m sure you know it behoves you to have a finger on the pulse of Modern. But, if you’re anything like me, you’re also lazy. Having to bounce between Magic Online decklists, articles spread across multiple websites, and coverage of various events on an almost daily basis can get tiring.

So instead, let me guide you through the last week’s worth of news (to the 29th May) in the world of Modern: highlighting spicy brews, tournament-topping decks and the cards that are perhaps seeing the light of Modern for the very first time.

5-0 Magic Online Modern League Decklists – 25th/29th May

A good place to check the pulse of Modern is in the Magic Online 5-0 decklists published frequently on the mothership. While the results are curated to ensure diversity (more of a function of ensuring diversity in the Standard results, Modern has enough wacky things going on that it doesn’t need much assistance in that area) and we need to maintain an awareness that a single 5-0 doesn’t necessarily mean a deck is viable or going to be “the next big thing”, both Death’s Shadow and BR Holllow One had previously graced the 5-0 results before breaking out in the tournament scene as “real” tiered decks.

Since the 23nd May, WotC have published two sets of 5-0 decklists, with the most interesting elements of these (to me personally) summarised below:

25th May:

(https://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/mtgo-standings/competitive-modern-constructed-league-2018-05-25)

Karn, Scion of Urza continues to spill into Modern, with two copies present in the maindeck of Shadow_PT’s Affinity list, his -2 ability scaling to meet Modern’s power level by churning out chunkier constructs by virtue of Affinity’s heavily-artifact permanent base.

Karn, Scion of Urza

A more unexpected Dominaria card making an appearance on the 25th is Squee, the Immortal, with the unkillable Goblin taking up three maindeck slots in swayjisse’s Mono-Red Prison list, which also features three copies of Gemstone Caverns – a previously maligned land that was drawn back into the spotlight by its inclusion in Colourless Eldrazi, and is also included in Spiderspace’s 5-0 list below:

Spiderspace’s Mono-White Eldrazi and Taxes

4 Eldrazi Displacer

4 Leonin Arbiter

4 Reality Smasher

4 Simian Spirit Guide

4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben

2 Thalia, Heretic Cathar

4 Thought-Knot Seer

4 Dismember

4 Chalice of the Void

2 Smuggler’s Copter

1 Cavern of Souls

4 Eldrazi Temple

3 Gemstone Caverns

4 Ghost Quarter

2 Horizon Canopy

5 Plains

4 Shefet Dunes

1 Wastes

SB: 1 Cast Out

SB: 1 Celestial Purge

SB: 1 Declaration in Stone

SB: 1 Karn, Scion of Urza

SB: 1 Ratchet Bomb

SB: 2 Rest in Peace

SB: 3 Stony Silence

SB: 3 Tocatli Honor Guard

SB: 2 Worship

Remember this deck well as it will appear again later in the article!

On a quick glance, you might be forgiven for lumping Spiderspace’s masterpiece in with the typical Mono-White Eldrazi and Taxes lists of late, but further inspection reveals a few curveballs thrown into the mix: the omission of Aether Vial may seem odd, until you realise Spiderspace’s modifications include a full playset of Simian Spirit Guide alongside four Chalice of the Void. With Dismember replacing Path to Exile as the deck’s removal du jour, a Chalice on one has no impact on Spiderspace, but can lock an opponent out of a game in the way Chalice does best.

While I still have trouble wrapping my head around the fact that As Foretold Living End is a real-thing-that-exists, Urzatheplaneswalker’s list is close enough to “stock” that it needs no more than mentioning in passing. Instead, the final thing I noted from the 5-0 decks published on the 25th was Dionykos’ Hardened Scales Affinity list.

While Hardened Scales Affinity isn’t a new concept, having recently been in the spotlight when it was played during the Modern Super League, Dionykos’ list is interesting in that it eschews Throne of Geth for a playset of Animation Module.

29th May:

(https://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/mtgo-standings/competitive-modern-constructed-league-2018-05-29)

Venioetvinco’s Colourless Eldrazi list from the 29th has added another previously-unplayed land to its colourless arsenal in the form of a playset of Zhalfirin Void, the deck’s colourless manabase jumping at the chance to play the untapped scryland. Venioetvinco’s sideboard also includes an uncommonly played card in the form of two copies of Culling Scales.

While a nonbo with the Chalices of the Void, and to a much lesser extent Eldrazi Mimic, powering out an early Scales against more aggressive decks acts as a potent speedbump. The targeting aspect of its ability also gives it a degree of precision, and while the Scales can’t hit Bogles they can still pick off one-CMC enchantments.

Goblin Warchief

Two different Goblin-themed decks also made the 5-0 lists on the 29th: Feirman’s more traditional 8-Whack playing 2 Devastating Summons, and Shufflerpwned’s more unusual Rg Goblin Company list (below):

4 Goblin Chieftain

1 Goblin King

4 Goblin Piledriver

4 Goblin Rabblemaster

4 Goblin Warchief

3 Legion Loyalist

3 Metallic Mimic

4 Mogg War Marshal

4 Skirk Prospector

4 Collected Company

3 Lightning Bolt

3 Bloodstained Mire

1 Forest

11 Mountain

3 Stomping Ground

4 Wooded Foothills

SB: 1 Goblin King

SB: 1 Lightning Bolt

SB: 4 Blood Moon

SB: 3 Fecundity

SB: 3 Goblin Chainwhirler

SB: 3 Tin Street Hooligan

Taking advantage of Goblin Warchief and Skirk Prospector sliding into Modern with Dominaria’s release, Shufflerpwned’s green splash enables main deck Collected Company, and a potent sideboard engine in the form of three copies of Fecundity.

Other Dominaria cards of note in the decklists from the 29th were the three copies of Mishra’s Self Replicator in Rogedeckwin’s KCI list, and the assorted singleton copies of Shalai, Voice of Plenty that kept popping up in a variety of decks, from Elves splashing white for the Vizier/Druid combo to Eldrazi and Taxes.

Articles / Websites

(https://www.mtggoldfish.com/articles/instant-deck-tech-mono-blue-artifact-stompy-modern)

MTGGoldfish presented Torii Yuuya’s Mono-Blue Artifact Stompy list as an Instant Deck Tech this week. While the deck looks sweet, built around Illusory Angel and Salvage Titan, and playing sideboard The Antiquities War, the deck’s only finish so far was as a 3-0 at an 8-man Hareruya event, so don’t rush to buyout Salvage Titan just yet.

(http://www.hareruyamtg.com/en/k/kD12091W/)

While the card name Enduring Ideal typically conjures up visions of Mono-White Prison lists, Hosokawa Yuuya’s 6-0 decklist from the 26th May (first among 45 participants) instead plays the white epic sorcery inside a Jeskai shell, with a toolbox of juicy enchantments including Lich’s Mastery from Dominaria to choose from.

4 Simian Spirit Guide

2 Izzet Charm

3 Remand

4 Enduring Ideal

4 Serum Visions

4 Sleight of Hand

1 Dovescape

2 Form of the Dragon
1 Leyline of Sanctity
1 Lich’s Mastery
1 Meishin, the Mind Cage
1 Overwhelming Splendor
3 Vessel of Volatility
4 Lotus Bloom
4 Pentad Prism

1 Arid Mesa

4 Flooded Strand

1 Hallowed Fountain

2 Island

1 Mountain

2 Plains

1 Sacred Foundry

4 Scalding Tarn

4 Seachrome Coast

1 Steam Vents

SB: 3 Lightning Bolt
SB: 3 Firespout
SB: 3 Leyline of Sanctity
SB: 4 Defense Grid

SB: 2 Jace the Mind Sculptor

Premiere Events

SCG Modern Open Minneapolis

(http://www.starcitygames.com/decks/StarCityGamescom_Modern_Open/2018-05-26_modern_Minneapolis_MN_US/1/)

In the world of paper Magic, the SCG Modern Open in Minneapolis was won by Sam Cocchiarella’s Humans, having defeated Jonathan Rosum’s Jeskai Control in the finals. A second copy of Jeskai Control and Humans, alongside Eldrazi Tron, Jund, Burn and Affinity rounded out a top eight that included a total of five copies of cards from Dominaria: 2 copies of Teferi in each Jeskai list, and a singleton Karn, Scion of Urza in the sideboard of Pieter Tubergen’s Affinity.

Sam Cocchiarella’s Humans:

4 Unclaimed Territory
4 Kitesail Freebooter
4 Thalia's Lieutenant
4 Reflector Mage
4 Mantis Rider
4 Cavern of Souls
1 Restoration Angel
1 Kessig Malcontents
3 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
4 Champion of the Parish
4 Phantasmal Image
2 Seachrome Coast
4 Ancient Ziggurat
4 Noble Hierarch
4 Horizon Canopy
4 Aether Vial
1 Plains
4 Meddling Mage

Sideboard
1 Selfless Spirit
2 Sin Collector
2 Izzet Staticaster
1 Dismember
1 Mirran Crusader
2 Gut Shot
2 Kataki, War's Wage
2 Auriok Champion
2 Reclamation Sage

SCG Modern Classic Minneapolis

(http://www.starcitygames.com/decks/StarCityGamescom_Classic/2018-05-27_modern_Minneapolis_MN_US/1/)

SCG’s second large Modern tournament of the weekend, the Minneapolis Classic, was taken down by Mr Storm Counter himself Caleb Scherer, appropriately piloting UR Gifts Storm to victory over Rodney Parshall’s BR Hollow One. Between the top eight decks, the only suggestion that Dominaria had even been released was the two copies of Karn, Scion of Urza in the sideboard of Jeffrey Kabbe’s eighth-place Mono-Green Tron deck.

Modern Challenge [27th]

(https://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/mtgo-standings/modern-challenge-2018-05-27)

Remember I told you to remember Spiderspace’s Mono-White Eldrazi and Taxes deck from earlier? It was with good reason! Not content having appeared in the 5-0 post, Spiderspace took the deck on a 7-0 run through the swiss portion of the Magic Online Modern Challenge on the 27th!

Blood Moon

Unfortunately, Spiderspace couldn’t overcome the swiss curse and ended up 3rd overall, one place behind Bigdunka’s RG Land Destruction in 2nd, a deck which in turn lost a favourable match-up to Painhuman’s Mono-Green Tron which was the first place deck!

Like Jeffrey Kabbe from the SCG Classic, Painhuman also adopted a pair of Karn, Scion of Urza for their sideboard, while Snapcaster-Bolt’s fourth-place Mono-Green Tron deck instead featured maindeck Emrakul, the Promised End and Geier Reach Sanitarum and a sideboard Broken Bond by way of innovation.

Online PTQ (382 Players) [28th]

(https://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/mtgo-standings/modern-ptq-2018-05-29)

And we come at last to the last source of premiere event data for this week’s article – the top 32 decklists from Monday’s Online PTQ!

Having already taken down the Modern Challenge, the mighty Karn Liberated continued a strong weekend as the online PTQ was ultimately taken down by Wurzlking’s Mono-Green Tron (playing a singleton maindeck All is Dust in addition to a full four Oblivion Stone, and a sideboard Emrakul, the Promised End).

Wurzlking’s Mono-Green Tron

4 Karn Liberated

2 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon

2 Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger

2 Walking Ballista

3 Wurmcoil Engine

1 All Is Dust

4 Ancient Stirrings

4 Sylvan Scrying

2 Dismember

4 Chromatic Sphere

4 Chromatic Star

4 Expedition Map

4 Oblivion Stone

1 Relic of Progenitus

5 Forest

1 Ghost Quarter

1 Sanctum of Ugin

4 Urza’s Mine

4 Urza’s Power Plant

4 Urza’s Tower

SB: 1 Relic of Progenitus

SB: 1 Emrakul, the Promised End

SB: 3 Nature’s Claim

SB: 2 Spatial Contortion

SB: 2 Surgical Extraction

SB: 3 Thought-Knot Seer

SB: 3 Thragtusk

Other highlights from the rest of the top eight came in the form of: Youngprodigy’s Knightfall list placing 4th; BladeofIce’s Affinity list packing two sideboard The Antiquities War in 5th; and Mono-White Eldrazi and Taxes with Chalice of the Void continuing to make a strong showing with a 6th place finish, this time in the hand of Bertram (don’t worry, Spiderspace also placed again, piloting the deck to a 16th place finish).

While there were some small differences in Bertram and Spiderspace’s lists, eagle-eyed speculators will note that the three copies of Tocatli Honor Guard remained unchanged in the sideboards of all the reported lists from the weekend.

And while we’re on the topic of notable inclusions – scrolling down to 22nd place in the PTQ results reveals Egooglegon’s Druid / Vizier combo deck, playing three maindeck Lightning Greaves!

Certainly not standard for the archetype, they appear to serve a similar role to the Hall of the Bandit Lord in Matsugan’s recent Modern-challenge-winning all-in Druid/Vizier combo list, with Postmortem Lunge also being a piece of technology shared with Matsugan’s masterpiece.

Conclusion

And with that, all that remains to be said is that I hope you enjoyed this whistlestop tour through the last seven days in Modern, and I hope you’ll join me next week when we do it all again!

Oliver Frith

@mazeofrith

PS: Congratulations to Rob Catton for taking down Axion Now’s Mega Modern event this bank holiday weekend! We’ll have to see if any decklists leak out for our later consumption!

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