Well, Wizards has fully spoiled Modern Masters 2017 and in the process have driven players wild with just loads of amazing reprints. They must have looked at the reprint policy and then just shredded the thing in the recycling bin because this set looks NUTS. Honestly, who’s idea was it to reprint all this awesome stuff? On top of the set being full of many valuable reprints, Wizards has done an admirable job of balancing cards intended for competitive play and those destined to see play in Casual formats. Today I’m going to go through my top 10 cards for Casual play from Modern Masters 2017. If you feel like I missed something on my list, leave a comment down below.
If you feel like I missed something, please leave a comment down below or find me on twitter because I’d love to hear what other people have got in mind. As always, thanks for stopping by and be sure to come again for another Casual Encounter.
Shaun McLaren has already proven his dominance of the UWR Control deck in Modern so it looks like he felt it needed a tweak to keep performing for him. And while it was not able to propel him to the top spot, it was good enough to push him into the top 4 of a very strong field. His deck still has the classic control elements of draw, permission and removal but adds an interesting creature twist to grind out all the value.
Let’s start from the top with the title card which adds the new spin with Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker who is no stranger to Modern but has traditionally been found in either the Twin or Pod decks. Here we find him used to grind out some mega-value or even surprise combo for the kill. So looking first at that combo kill, when we pair Kiki up with Restoration Angel you create a possible infinite loop of tapping Kiki to copy Resto then blinking Kiki with the copies into play trigger to rinse and repeat. You can also flash in Resto as a blocker if Kiki is in play and create enough blockers to shut down an alpha strike from a Twin deck, very sneaky. The other key target for Kiki is Wall of Omens which works to shore up some ground defenses while providing a solid and steady stream of card advantage. There is also Snapcaster Mage which can continue to rebuy spent spells in the grave with Kiki. A singleton Vendilion Clique is extremely useful in the deck as a way to not only gain information about your opponents plan but also to help disrupt it as well. The manabase also affords us the inclusion of a set of Celestial Colonnade which are a key beatdown element and one of the main avenues to victory. As advertised this is a control deck and thus has a well rounded permission suite starting with a set of Mana Leak, a pair of Remand, and singletons of both Spell Snare and Cryptic Command. The removal is also very heafty including Lightning Bolt and Electrolyze to either burn creature or straight to the dome, and Path to Exile to decisively remove any creature threat in the way. The deck is also able to squeeze two Tectonic Edge into the manabase as an additional hedge against manlands or Scapeshift combo. The draw power of the deck lies primarily with the Wall, Electrolyze, Remand and Cryptic, but the are also singletons with a Sphinx’s Revelation and a Desolate Lighthouse to bolster the draw package.
It seems like the GW Hatebears motif was out in full effect this past weekend. In addition to the winner of the SCG Cincinnati we also saw this port over to Modern at the Bazaar of Moxen. And with good reason as the overall theme of the deck is a very strong disruption with aggro beats. While there are differences of course since the Modern card pool and metagame is not the same as Legacy it continues to show dominance across formats due to its incredible power.
The Modern version also utilizes Æther Vial as a very key component to the deck and while countermagic is not nearly as prevalent as it is in Legacy gaining advantage by dropping basically free creature and doing so at instant speed provides a huge disruption element which is the focal point of the deck. The other first turn play in the deck is Noble Hierarch which serves the deck well as a mana dork providing both White and Green for the deck as well as a bonus power boost if you are sending in a lone attacker for the beatdown. Moving up the curve to the two drop spot there is the all-star of the deck Thalia, Guardian of Thraben which does as much in Modern as in Legacy to slow down all non-creature based strategies, pesky Leonin Arbiter which shuts down searching the library unless you pay the price, and Scavenging Ooze to nullify the popular graveyard based strategies most especially the rampant Birthing Pod decks. We then go to our three drop slot where we have disruptive Aven Mindcensor to effectively shut down any deck looking to search the library for tools, we can Vial in a Flickerwisp as a way to protect our important pieces which may get targeted by removal, and even Blade Splicer can be a shocking surprise as the Golem Token it brings along to fight can First Strike an attacker to death which had expected a free and clear passage. And finally we get to the angels of the deck at the four cost with added protective redundancy from Restoration Angel and the unique disruptive ability from Linvala, Keeper of Silence which will shut down manadorks along with any other activated abilities from opponents creatures. The deck also runs a full set of Path to Exile to have some pinpoint removal to take out those most important threats. To assist in the beatdown plan the manabase includes Gavony Townships for additional creature pump and for disruption there is a full set of Ghost Quarter which combine with Arbiter and Mindcensor to effectively become Strip Mine.
While the main combo finish involves enchanting an Exarch with a Twin there is a redundancy package which includes Restoration Angel that can interact with Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker as a secondary plan to create infinite token creatures. One way the White splash helps in this deck comes from Wall of Omens which is part of the decks draw engine and especially abusive if you Twin in, but more importantly in a new meta which is partially defined by recently unbanned Wild Nacatl a four toughness two drop can be the sole difference between holding off a ruthless assault and holding on to combo the win. Additional draw comes from format staple Serum Visions with its Scry ability to not only draw valuable cards but also filter unneeded cards away and a one of Desolate Lighthouse allows you to dig through the deck to find answers or missing combo pieces. For removal with this deck having access to both Red and White we find the requisite format all-stars Lightning Bolt and Path to Exile both efficient and effective for their purpose. There is also Swan Song as a light permission suite to handle at an very cheap cost many of the problems that the deck might face and the token you give usually not problematic, with the removal able to handle most other problems. A full set of Snapcaster Mage are able to rebuy all of your used instants and sorceries to effectively double the amount of draw, removal and counters in your deck. As an alternate beatdown plan the deck sports a full set of Celestial Colonnade to bring the ‘death from above’ should the game stall into a draw out affair. Finally a one of Spellskite in the maindeck is there as a hedge preboard in the mirror and also a way to draw removal away from your combo creatures so you can go off unhindered when you’re ready for the kill.
1st Place at GP Prague Modern on 01/12/2014
The first Grand Prix of the new year has come and gone this past weekend from the historical European capital of Prague in the Czech Republic. The format for this tournament was Modern which since its inception two and a half years ago has been one that always piqued my interest, much like the Extended format which it took its roots from did for me before it. This weekend was another very exciting weekend and Vjeren was able to battle through Moderns rather diverse field to rise to the top and take the first GP crown of the new year. It was great to see Modern in action as it is sorely lacking from this PTQ season since Wizards decided to push the Modern PTQs to the summer. This was also partially a tune up for some players as this is the only big tournament for the format before the Pro Tour in Valencia next month which is also going to have Modern for its constructed portion.
Getting into the deck it is at its core an extremely strong Counter-Burn shell using some of the most powerful elements of control and aggression to take over games and destroy opponents with impunity. The creature suite is centerpieced by a pair of legendary creature with Geist and Clique. They are supported by a pair of one-ofs in Resto Angel and Thundermaw which really help to dominate the skies. But the real synergy comes from a full set of Snapcaster with a plethora of targets to push his value to the limit. A huge burn package starts with the requisite set of Bolt along with a set of Helix, then to top it off Electrolyze which doubles as card draw as well. As if all that burn wasn’t enough there’s a trio of Path to clear away any pesky creature threats. Then we get into the permission package with the versatile Cryptic, tempo play Remand and stock control piece Leak. Put that package together and we get a deck that can really lay out the beats.
So if you are lucky enough to have your local game store host Modern FNMs or are already thinking ahead towards the summers PTQs definitely give this deck high consideration. And even if you don’t think this deck is your style make sure you have it in your gauntlet to be sure you know how to attack it lest it burns you out with a Bolt Snap Bolt GG finish.
Eric J Seltzer
@ejseltzer on Twitter