Tag: grand-prix-richmond

Eric Jeffrey Seltzer - March 15, 2014

Deck of the Day – UB Faeries by Alex Sittner (15th at Grand Prix...

U/B Faeries
Alex Sittner
15th Place at Grand Prix on 3/9/2014
When the last Banned & Restricted announcement was released one of the cards that was unbanned was Bitterblossom. Bitterblossom was one of the cards that was placed on the initial banned list when the Modern format was born mainly because of the dominance that Faeries had during its lifetime in Standard. A highly repressive Aggro-Control deck that used the tribal synergy of Faerie creatures to create a very streamlined and highly efficient machine. That unbanning of Bitterblossom was heralded by some as the beginning of a second coming of the Fae, but so far the deck has under performed expectation.

A huge part of the functioning of this deck comes from that newly legal enchantment which provides every turn a new 1/1 Flying Faerie with which to either continue a beatdown strategy or defend your life total, which can be very important as it slowly bleeds you one life each turn. The other Fae in the deck are not just aggressive creatures but are efficiently equipped with additional abilities and all are able to appear at will with Flash. Starting with a look at the permission package we have Spellstutter Sprite which with so many Faeries around to support it will more often then not be able to counter any spell threatening you. It is complimented by Mana Leak, Spell Snare and Cryptic Command to ensure dominance over the opponent. Next we look at the disruption which is rooted in the legendary Vendilion Clique which can appear out of nowhere to remove a key piece of action from their hand and then move into a beatdown role. There is also a mix of Inquisition of Kozilek and Thoughtseize which coming out turn one plays to the harsh opening into Bitterblossom turn two which can often spell doom for the opponent. Our last true Faerie is Mistbind Clique which is used as a virtual Time Walk by flashing out on the upkeep of your opponent to tap down his lands for that turn. The Champion ability can also be your savior in a long game where Bitterblossom, which is coincidentally also a Faerie, is taking down your life too low and you’re able to make it disappear for as long as Mistbind is around. To round out the creatures there is also a pair of Snapcaster Mage which help take full advantage of the decks instants and sorceries, and also manlands in the form of the evasive Creeping Tar Pit and Mutavault which when active is also a Faerie to help either Spellstutter or Mistbind if necessary. A bit of spot removal is found in the form of Tragic Slip and Go for the Throat to contain the most important of threats. Finally there is the powerful Sword of Feast and Famine which will allow you to play spells or activate manlands before combat and then untap your lands to keep up mana to counter the enemies plans as well as forcing incidental discard.

While many pros have already dismissed the Faeries deck as an under powered option in this powerful format I’m not convinced that it has been put through the ringer yet. Only time will tell what new interactions people will think up to push this deck back into the top tier.
Eric J Seltzer
@ejseltzer on Twitter
Eric Jeffrey Seltzer - March 14, 2014

Deck of the Day – UWR Twin by Samuel Tharmaratnam (10th at Grand...

Splinter Twin
U/W/R Twin
Samuel Tharmaratnam
10th Place at Grand Prix on 3/9/2014
From the time it was discovered that Splinter Twin could be paired with Twin in order to create an infinite army to smash your opponent it has been abused in every way possible. Its short life in Standard left people wanting to continue to abuse this interestingly unique interaction and has lead to several different iterations of this combo kill. Traditionally Blue/Red was the build of Twin but lately there’s been a new spin adding Green while this version of the deck goes for White.

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.

Eric J Seltzer
@ejseltzer on Twitter
Eric Jeffrey Seltzer - March 13, 2014

Deck of the Day – Scapeshift by Andrew Calderon (13th at Grand P...



Andrew Calderon

13th Place at Grand Prix on 3/9/2014

As is the case with many decks in Modern the basis for the original design was found in Standard which was adapted and improved upon by the cards available in the expanded pool. This one is no different and comes from a very powerful deck which was known as Valakut. The basic premise of the deck revolves simply around the land Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle and its interaction with Mountains which can turn a Mountain entering the battlefield into an uncounterable Lightning Bolt. The original design of the deck in Standard used Khalni Heart Expedition and Primeval Titan as was to get Mountains into play faster but Modern had a very different way to combo for the kill…Scapeshift. Once you have achieved a critical mass of lands in play you are able to use Scapeshift to sacrifice all your lands to search for either one or two Valakut and usually six or seven Mountain in order to kill your opponent on the spot.

There are a few pieces to the puzzle to help get lands into play ahead of schedule in the form of Sakura-Tribe Elder, Search for Tomorrow and two Explore. Since you need the lands in play for Scapeshift to do its magic these cards are critical and opening turns will often go turn 1 Suspend Search into turn 2 Elder which basically advances your combo by two turns. With Blue in the deck and a combo finish that needs protection we find a permission suite that consists of Remand and Cryptic Command, the latter usually the reason the deck will float four mana when going for the kill. There is also the utility player Izzet Charm which can act either as additional counter, dig to draw into answers or combo pieces, or even a way to burn small pesky creatures especially hate bears. There’s also a pair of Lightning Bolt, an Electrolyze and an Anger of the Gods to help as removal or a small amount of reach if needed to finish them off. And that Electrolyze pairs up with Peer Through Depths as the draw power of the deck with Cryptic and Explore as well. And finally what has quietly become a format all-star Snapcaster Mage is able to rebuy any of the already cast instants or sorceries and even do a little beatdown himself to work your way towards victory.

Eric J Seltzer
@ejseltzer on Twitter
Eric Jeffrey Seltzer - March 11, 2014

Deck of the Day – UW Control by Shaheen Soorani (18th at Grand P...

Cryptic Command

U/W Control

Shaheen Soorani

18th Place at Grand Prix Richmond on 3/9/2014

Those that know Shaheen Soorani know that he is no stranger to UW based Control style decks, in fact he can be called somewhat of an expert on the subject. It’s no secret that it is his person preference as far as play style and he has championed those Control decks in every format. Often it is difficult to build a Control deck in a relatively wide open field especially one as hugely diverse as Modern, but Shaheen is never one to back down to a challenge.

As with any Control deck in the post-Lorwyn world of Magic we find a very important package of Planeswalkers. Working as primary win conditions which come down once the deck has taken over the game we find the incredibly powerful dynamic duo of Elspeth, Knight-Errant and Gideon Jura both with their own style of beatdown. Also, we have Jace Beleren or ‘Baby Jace’ which is a very strong source of card advantage. There is also a pair of Vendilion Clique and a set of Celestial Colonnade to help the deck finish off the opponent making great use of Flying to sneak through the beats. Next we get to the permission package of the deck which sports some diverse answer with full sets of each Cryptic Command, Mana Leak and Spell Snare to ensure the opponent isn’t allowed to advance their game plan. There’s also a singleton Repeal to bounce any nuisance which they may have been able to sneak in at some point. And no Control deck would be complete without a range of removal with this deck rife on both spot and mass including a set of Path to Exile, trio of Supreme Verdict and pair of Detention Sphere which will find a way to get rid of anything that was allowed to hit the board. There is also a set of Tectonic Edge in the manabase to fight against opposing manlands, Tron lands or even Valakuts. As for draw supplementing the Jace and Cryptic there is also Serum Visions to help dig through the deck to find that right answer. The last piece of the puzzle is found in a trio of Snapcaster Mage that given this deck runs 23 spell targets for the Snappy to rebuy is a dream for any control player when able to slot them in.

While the trend for Control in Modern had been to go with a Blue/White shell adding Red to supplement with reach through burn that route does limit some of the options available to you and relies heavily upon cooperation from your manabase to operate effectively Shaheen was content to stick with the two colors and while it didn’t pay off with a top 8 it did get him 18th out of some 4300 players which is none too shabby. I expect with this result we should be seeing more of the straight UW Control builds and they will as always never end in their constant tweeking and tuning to adapt to an ever-changing metagame.
Eric J Seltzer
@ejseltzer on Twitter
Eric Jeffrey Seltzer - March 11, 2014

Deck of the Day – Affinity by Vipin Chackonal (2nd at GP Richmon...

Cranial Plating
Vipin Chackonal
2nd Place at Grand Prix on 3/9/2014
Affinity is a name that’s holds a deeper meaning then just what it stands for in Modern. Part of that meaning is why people tried to reinvent the deck to be known as Robots, but that name just wasn’t accepted. Way back when it was a deck that had a huge amount of game in Standard during the original Mirrodin era it was a menace to that format. This deck is certainly not the same deck as that as there are key elements that came out of Scars of Mirrodin which made the deck a much different beast. Also, the elements around it throughout the Modern metagame even out the playing field a little.

The key to Affinity is a critical mass of artifacts and this deck boasts 48 including the manlands. The reason why the amount of artifacts is so crucial is because Cranial Plating can turn a simple tiny creature into a one or two shot killing machine as it boosts power for each artifact you control. The army comes from a variety of artifact creatures starting with zero drop in Ornithopter and Memnite which help the deck start the game by emptying as much onto the battlefield as quickly as possible increasing the total artifact count substantially. The decks true one drop is Signal Pest with it team pumping Battle Cry and uniquely evasive ability, but Vault Skirge with it Phyrexian mana cost is most often played as a one drop and can quickly gain back the life lost paying for it. Speaking about pumping the team Steel Overseer is a card that if you are allowed to untap with it on the board can quickly make your army of mites turn into ferocious battle bots quickly. Another strong card is the Arcbound Ravager which carries a lot of history in the Affinity decks. With him able to manipulate the board state and sneak damage through where you opponent left himself defenseless can create an inevitable demise for your enemy. The final creature is Etched Champion which in a land of spot removal and opponents with colored creatures it reigns supreme. Often once you attain Metalcraft with him on board it’s gameover in very few hits. There is also two set of manlands with Blinkmoth Nexus and Inkmoth Nexus, both able to help end the game but Inkmoth with it poison counters pairs up with Cranial Plating very nicely to quickly infest your opponent from the inside out.

The deck also derives it blinding ability to speed its hand onto the battlefield with acceleration pieces in the form of Springleaf Drum and the impressively powerful Mox Opal. The Mox is able to get around the Legendary drawback of only one in play for you at a time by using the recent changes to the rules and allowing you to use it for mana, play a second sacrificing the first and then using the second for more mana often powering out a huge fighting force on the first or second turn. For some amount of removal and reach there’s the megabolt in Galvanic Blast which will almost always have metalcraft to burn for four. And finally we get to the draw power of the deck and only card with the Affinity mechanic to still be included in the deck with Thoughtcast which with all the ways to speed out your threats helps to ensure those threats just keep on beating.
Eric J Seltzer
@ejseltzer on Twitter


Eric Jeffrey Seltzer - March 10, 2014

Champion’s Deck – Kiki Pod by Brian Liu (1st at Grand Prix...

Birthing Pod
Kiki Pod
Brian Liu
1st Place at Grand Prix on 3/9/2014
One of the marquee cards in Modern has been Birthing Pod and it’s unique ability to upgrade creatures into new creatures from your library. There is an entirely different Pod deck which centers around Melira, Sylvok Outcast but this version uses a different legendary creature Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker to steal the ‘Twin’ win engine and combo kill your opponent with infinite creatures.

The engine of the deck runs primarily around the interaction of Birthing Pod with its ‘pod chain’ which is basically a set of creatures at each converted mana cost which you chain together to move up progressively. There is also a second way to ‘tutor’ your creatures with Chord of Calling which is why the deck is so heavily focused on creatures and has a toolbox which can find answers in the maindeck to many of the problems the deck may face from the different decks in the format.

We then get to the creatures in the deck which comprise an entire half of the deck. Starting at the bottom we have the one drop creature with four Birds of Paradise and three Noble Hierarch which serve as the primary acceleration of deck to power out you Pods as quickly as possible. Then moving to the two drops there is three Wall of Roots which complete the mana dork suite and have a favorable interaction with Convoke from Chord of Calling to provide two mana towards the casting cost. There is also two Voice of Resurgence which will leave behind its token when podded, two Scavenging Ooze for incidental lifegain and graveyard control, one Spellskite which can be used either to protect key creatures or disrupt opponents such as Splinter Twin, and one Qasali Pridemage that can destroy a pesky enchantment or artifact especially after sideboard. From the three drops there are two Kitchen Finks which helps to regain life lost from spending Phyrexian mana as well as basically two creatures each for Birthing Pod because of Persist, one Eternal Witness which can rebuy anything lost to the graveyard back to your hand, and one Deceiver Exarch which is a key piece in comboing off for the kill using its ability to untap your Pod or combined with Kiki create infinite creatures. At the next level the four drop are comprised of four Restoration Angel which is another integral cog in the combo by blinking a Pod or Exarch to continue chaining or as a Kiki target to create an infinite army of flying angels. There is also utility from one Murderous Redcap which can be used to kill off low toughness creatures or go to the dome to finish the last points of life, one Glen Elendra Archmage which is the decks only permission, and one Linvala, Keeper of Silence which shuts down many creature abilities to either stiffle the opponents chance to win or at least severily delay it. Finally we have the five drops where we find the namesake of the deck with two Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker the way this deck combo kills for an instant win and also one Zealous Conscript which can be used in the chain to continue by untapping a Pod to be used again.
This deck also has in its manabase two Gavony Township which allow it to switch to the beatdown plan if necessary and also remove -1/-1 tokens from the Persist creature to get additional use from them.
This deck is truly a work of art and only continues to improve with each new creature that is printed being another possible option to add to your pod chain. You should definitely expect this deck to be around for a long time in Modern and must either prepare to face it or learn to master it.
Eric J Seltzer
@ejseltzer on Twitter