Legacy on Mondays: How to Beat UR Delver

Welcome Back!

So, after my metagame analysis last week, I wanted to pick something simple to do with it. How about I choose a deck that I think is pretty well-suited to our metagame? Well, the analysis in a nutshell was that Blue Red Delver is all over the bloody place, and decks that beat it are decks that are doing well. Decks that are not so great against it, such as Goblins (which is why no one is sadly playing it; I stand firm in that it might take an unsuspecting meta by surprise), have fallen out of favor.

Well here is a rather “classic” Punishing Jund list. Let’s take a look, shall we?

[d title=”Punishing Jund”]
Creatures
4 Tarmogoyf
4 Deathrite Shaman
4 Bloodbraid Elf
4 Dark Confidant
Instants/Sorceries
4 Abrupt Decay
4 Thoughtseize
4 Punishing Fire
2 Hymn to Tourach
1 Life from the Loam
Enchantments
2 Sylvan Library
Planeswalkers
4 Liliana of the Veil
Lands
4 Verdant Catacombs
4 Grove of the Burnwillows
3 Wasteland
3 Badlands
3 Bayou
2 Wooded Foothills
2 Marsh Flats
1 Forest
1 Swamp
Sideboard
1 Life from the Loam
2 Pithing Needle
1 Krosan Grip
1 Engineered Plague
2 Pernicious Deed
2 Surgical Extraction
2 Red Elemental Blast
2 Pyroblast
2 Duress

[/d]

What makes this deck good?

Traditionally, Punishing Jund has been known for being disruptive with discard and removal coupled with efficient threats and sheer resource power. [c]Dark Confidant[/c] is so busted; this deck’s curve tops out at a measly four, and most of the time Bob will be dealing much less than that for an extra card a turn, while [c]Shock[/c]ing the opponent every turn if they cannot block him. Another similar card is [c]Life from the Loam[/c]. It lets the engine start rolling to [c]Wasteland[/c] lock the opponent or just thin the deck, recur a [c]Grove of the Burnwillows[/c], or spin a [c]Punishing Fire[/c] into the bin.

Besides those two card advantage sources, and the ridiculous removal count (12 main-deck if you count [c]Liliana of the Veil[/c]!), Jund’s creatures are brutally efficient. If you have read my article about the cascade aggro deck, you know how much I love [c]Bloodbraid Elf[/c]. The card is banned in Modern for goodness’ sake! Same with [c]Deathrite Shaman[/c]. Those slow drains can quickly put an opponent away when coupled with another creature. And, of course, [c]Tarmogoyf[/c] is here to add the beats.

But why is it good for the metagame?

Well, this particular list absolutely wrecks Blue Red Delver. All of the removal in the deck, main and post-board, is relevant against them, and [c]Punishing Fire[/c] in particular kills every creature in the deck. Be wary of a [c]Daze[/c] to give that [c]Monastery Swiftspear[/c] a slight boost in response; even with Prowess a timely Fire can put away the annoying 1/2.

Post board, we are without Lilianas. They are just not that relevant. The edict is underwhelming with [c]Young Pyromancer[/c] tokens cavorting about, and the discard will probably help them to [c]Treasure Cruise[/c] more than it will help us. Instead, we have things like [c]Engineered Plague[/c]. This guy can keep elemental tokens off the board for good, or if “human” was named prevent [c]Young Pyromancer[/c] from ever living long enough to make them. Human mode also kills off the unflipped [c]Delver of Secrets[/c], and severely weakens Swiftspear.

[c]Pernicious Deed[/c] can also be used as a reset button should they escape the plethora of spot removal present. [c]Duress[/c] is a bit better than [c]Thoughtseize[/c] since it nabs most of their relevant stuff that we can’t prevent with out removal. Finally, all of the Red Blasts are a great way to stop their permission and kill Delvers should that be necessary. [c]Force of Will[/c] never looked so bad, facing down all of those lovely blasts…

So that’s Punishing Jund. The fairest of fair decks that just wants to drain your resources and kill everything you play. I believe it to be well-situated for the current meta, as it does well against Delver and many other decks that run permission and creatures. Looking at you, Merfolk.

I hope you enjoyed reading and hope to see you next week!

/Peyton

Highlights from GP Kobe

So, last week I talked about the best cards in Theros, and I ended up saying [c]Eidolon of the Great Revel[/c] was my favourite one, because it would help Burn a lot. Surprisingly enough, I was right. I tend to make awful predictions.

Burn was already getting more and more important in the online metagame, but lacked real life results to back it up. Well, here they are. There were two mono red decks in the top 8 of GP Kobe, and both sported a cool playset of Eidolons. Why am I happy Burn became important in Modern? Because I think it is a healthy deck for any format. It regulates the game, feeding on greedy manabases, thoughtseizes, and big cards that you can’t do anything about. No, I am not a fan of BGx decks. Plus, with Burn you get to see this:

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This is a Burn mirror with both players placing a [c]Leyline of Sanctity[/c] on the table before the game started. A sight to behold. One of them ended up being unable to draw. If only he had played an [c]Elixir of Immortality[/c]! Anyway, Burn was not the only surprise in Kobe, as was to be expected: Japanese players tend to be inventive brewers. Let’s see what transpired.

The other finalist: No Affinity

The deck is a rather unconventional Affinity deck (even though I’ve been told it isn’t completely original and has already showed up in other occasions). It’s called No Affinity because there is no card with the keyword printed. Is it Affinity then? In a way.

[d title=”No Affinity, Yuusei Gotou (Modern)”]
Land
4 Blinkmoth Nexus
4 Glimmervoid
2 Mana Confluence

Creatures
4 Ornithopter
4 Memnite
4 Vault Skirge
4 Tarmogoyf

Sorceries
2 Thoughtseize

Instants
4 Galvanic Blast
4 Shrapnel Blast

Artifacts
4 Mox Opal
4 Springleaf Drum
4 Chromatic Star
4 Cranial Plating
4 Darksteel Citadel

Enchantments
4 Ensoul Artifact

Sideboard
1 Thoughtseize
2 Sunbeam Spellbomb
2 Path to Exile
2 Wear & Tear
2 Ancient Grudge
2 Whipflare
2 Spellskite
2 Aven Mindcensor[/d]

I love this deck, and not only because of the beautiful round numbers. Looks incredibly solid, and the results showed it is. [c]Ensoul Artifact[/c] is here to stay, it seems. [c]Shrapnel Blast[/c] seems incredibly fun too: I don’t really know if it was popular already, but it is a fantastic spell. [c]Tarmogoyf[/c] is the midgame: rather more difficult to remove than the other critters, efficient, dodges artifact hate, and [c]Cranial Plating[/c] suits him perfectly. A beautiful list. I must try this deck. I really must. The important thing here is this deck isn’t just swapping [c]Arcbound Ravager[/c] or [c]Etched Champion[/c] for [c]Tarmogoyf[/c]: it’s a rather different animal.

Another interesting list in the Top 16 was this one:

[d title=”WUR Midrange, Tamura Ryo (Modern)”]
Land
3 Mountain
1 Island
1 Plains
4 Arid Mesa
1 Hallowed Fountain
4 Scalding Tarn
1 Seachrome Coast
2 Steam Vents
1 Sulfur Falls
1 Sacred Foundry

Creatures
4 Young Pyromancer
4 Snapcaster Mage
4 Delver of Secrets
3 Geist of Saint Traft

Sorceries
4 Serum Visions
4 Gitaxian Probe

Instants
3 Path to Exile
4 Lightning Bolt
3 Lightning Helix
3 Remand
2 Electrolyze
2 Spell Snare
1 Izzet Charm

Sideboard
2 Grim Lavamancer
1 Aven Mindcensor
1 Magma Spray
1 Shattering Spree
1 Counterflux
1 Negate
1 Combust
1 Vendilion Clique
1 Dispel
1 Wear+Tear
1 Stony Silence
1 Izzet Staticaster
1 Spellskite
1 Relic of Progenitus[/d]

This is what happens when you think about the weaknesses of UR Delver (which is a great deck) and try to solve them. There have been green splashes for [c]Tarmogoyf[/c], and URW midrange with [c]Geist of Saint Traft[/c] exists, but this is a new thing.

It worked, too: Top 16 out of more than 2,000 players is quite a feat. I am not quite sold, as the greedy manabase makes playing [c]Blood Moon[/c] impossible, and this deck vs the UR version gives a lot of free wins thanks to [c]Blood Moon[/c]. Also, you necessarily have to reduce the number of counterspells, including [c]Remand[/c], which works wonders on the regular version. On the other hand, [c]Path to Exile[/c] is a very powerful removal, [c]Lightning Helix[/c] is a fantastic card, and [c]Geist of Saint Traft[/c] is the strong threat this deck normally lacks, one that is very difficult to deal with. In all, an interesting experiment.

And then we’ve got this:

[d title=”Eggs, Taisuke Ishii (Modern)”]
Land
1 Glimmervoid
1 Tendo Ice Bridge
4 Blinkmoth Nexus
2 Mystic Gate
1 Adarkar Wastes
4 Plains
3 Island

Creatures
1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
1 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn

Sorceries
4 Open the Vaults
1 Polymorph

Instants
2 Remand

Artifacts
4 Darksteel Citadel
4 Mox Opal
1 Conjurer’s Bauble
4 Chromatic Star
4 Terrarion
4 Ichor Wellspring
4 Prophetic Prism
3 Mind Stone
3 Thopter Foundry
4 Krark-Clan Ironworks

Sideboard
2 Hurkyl’s Recall
3 Erase
2 Path to Exile
2 Supreme Verdict
3 Leyline of Sanctity
1 Silence
1 Pyroclasm
1 Seal of Primordium[/d]

The deck is not so surprising per se, but the few refinements and changes are. [c]Krark-Clan Ironworks[/c] is a known deck I have had to suffer occasionally, but [c]Thopter Foundry[/c] is a such a great fit in this deck I am surprised I haven’t seen this yet. Generates tokens, it’s a sacrifice outlet, the tokens can be fodder for the Ironworks, and occasionally one of these tokens becomes an [c]Emrakul, the Aeons Torn[/c]. Such a beautiful list. Not that I have any intention of running anything resembling Eggs, but if I were, it would probably be very, very similar to this list.

So, that’s it. Three interesting decklists that have recently placed well in an important tournament. You can access the top 8 here, the top 9-16 here, and the top 17-32 here. Should you see anything interesting, don’t hesitate to leave a comment.

See you next week!

You Too Can Play Modern: 10 Budget Modern Decks

The current economic crisis is being really hard on all our non-essentials, and Magic: the Gathering is an expensive game. Very expensive, in fact, when you decide to play a competitive format like Modern. Even if Wizard’s intention was creating a format that could be played by those who could not afford Legacy, the truth is tier 1 decks cost around 800 euros ($1,100) on average, and that’s a lot of money. Wizards is, I am sure, working on it and we’ll see reprints of the biggest offenders sooner or later. For the time being, though, it is difficult to start playing this wonderful format.

Or is it?

There are cheap decks that can be built for around 100€ ($135), and then there are versions of more expensive decks that can be built also for this approximate quantity. Which option is better depends on your priorities: I decided, when I built my first Modern deck, to start building a UR [c]Delver of Secrets[/c] deck, and to wait until I could afford [c]Snapcaster Mage[/c]. But I have friends who decided to start with Burn or Soul Sisters, and they had way better results at the beginning, which allowed them to get some store credit, which allowed them to build more expensive decks afterwards.

Anyhow, let’s have a look at some lists!

[d title=”Burn”]
LANDS
10 Mountain
4 Mana Confluence
4 City of Brass
2 Gemstone Mine

CREATURES
4 Goblin Guide
4 Vexing Devil

SPELLS
4 Bump in the Night
4 Boros Charm
4 Lava Spike
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Magma Jet
4 Rift Bolt
4 Shard Volley
4 Skullcrack
[/d]

Stay with me for a while, and don’t dismiss Burn at first sight. It is a consistent deck, it doesn’t depend on any particular card, it works, it is fun to play, and it is cheap, especially if we don’t use the classic fetch/shock lands, which we don’t need to use. If the deck works, we can perfectly afford to lose some life using [c]City of Brass[/c] and [c]Mana Confluence[/c], as the opponent will be too busy losing to take advantage of the situation.

On the other hand, it is one of those decks where mulligans hurt bad, and every game is a bit of a lottery. You can trust your top-decks, and the deck does not tend to let you down, but there is little you can do if it does. Also, there is some very specific sideboard against burn, and we lose chances every turn. Despite all that, the deck wins, and punishes durdly and slow decks like no other.

[d title=”Living End”]
LANDS
4 Blackcleave Cliffs
4 Copperline Gorge
2 Evolving Wilds
4 Forest
5 Mountain
5 Swamp

CREATURES
4 Deadshot Minotaur
2 Fulminator Mage
2 Jungle Weaver
1 Shriekmaw
4 Street Wraith
4 Pale Recluse
2 Beast Within
2 Avalanche Riders
4 Monstruous Carabid

SPELLS
4 Demonic Dread
3 Living End
4 Violent Outburst
[/d]

Living End is a pretty straightforward combo deck which had a recent spike in popularity thanks to the banning of [c]Deathrite Shaman[/c]. There is still a healthy amount of graveyard hate in Modern, but now graveyard-related strategies have a lot better pre-board situation, at least.

The combo goes as follows: we cycle big creatures, then we play a cascade spell (cascade spells allow you to reveal cards from the top of your deck until you find a spell that costs less than the one with cascade, then you play that spell), and that cascade spell can only hit [c]Living End[/c], which will be put in play without suspend, and bring back all the creatures we originally cycled, at the same time it puts all the creatures in the opponent’s side in their graveyard.

It is a fragile combo though. It is too easy for any deck with access to counterspells to counter Living End, and sometimes the deck just fails to work because we draw all our copies of [c]Living End[/c] before we can cascade into one (believe me, it happens!). But it is a really fun deck to play, and it has had some very solid results. Also, the deck can be built for extremely cheap if we substitute [c]Fulminator Mage[/c] for any other cheaper card.

[d title=”Soul Sisters”]
LANDS
21 Plains

CREATURES
4 Ajani’s Pridemate
3 Kitchen Finks
2 Martyr of Sands
2 Ranger of Eos
4 Serra Ascendant
4 Soul Warden
4 Soul’s Attendant
4 Squadron Hawk

SPELLS
4 Honor of the Pure
4 Path to Exile
4 Spectral Procession
[/d]

This deck comes from a Standard list that appeared for a brief period of time during which [c]Soul Warden[/c] and [c]Soul’s Attendant[/c] were both legal in the format. That didn’t last, but then Modern became a good soil for this idea to grow, bloom, and give fruit in the form of games won and burn decks humiliated.

It is a good deck, in my opinion, even though it is rather non-interactive (which is something that can apply to many of the decks here, to be honest). The life gain gives it an edge against aggro decks, and it tends to have good top-decks as everything synergizes with everything.

There is a rather interesting variant using [c]Norin the Wary[/c], which ensures constant Enter The Battlefield triggers. Also, having red allows for some other tools, like [c]Lightning Bolt[/c] and [c]Boros Charm[/c].

[d title=”Mono U Tron”]
LANDS
1 Academy Ruins
8 Island
1 Oboro, Palace in the Clouds
1 Tectonic Edge
4 Urza’s Mine
4 Urza’s Power Plant
4 Urza’s Tower

CREATURES
1 Platinum Angel
3 Solemn Simulacrum
1 Myr Battlesphere
1 Sundering Titan
3 Treasure Mage
1 Wurmcoil Engine

SPELLS
4 Condescend
1 Cyclonic Rift
4 Expedition Map
2 Mindslaver
1 Oblivion Stone
4 Remand
3 Repeal
1 Spell Burst
3 Talisman of Dominance
4 Thirst for Knowledge
[/d]

I have not tried this one personally yet, but I have played against it and I can confirm it is very, very effective. It’s a mix of control and ramp, and a very good one at that: the opponent will find themselves facing huge creatures and difficult board states in no time.

There is a combo inside this deck too: [c]Mindslaver[/c] + [c]Academy Ruins[/c] means our opponent will never control his own turns again, which means we have won. It has the usual weaknesses of ramp decks: early game is not fantastic, and the engine has to be set up. Blue allows for some control and tempo which make it easier for the deck to get into the mid- and late-game though, as well as some card draw/selection, so we can trust the deck to deliver the cards we need.

[d title=”Stompy”]
LANDS
22 Forest

CREATURES
4 Experiment One
4 Dryad Militant
4 Scavenging Ooze
2 Kalonian Tusker
2 Skylasher
4 Strangleroot Geist
2 Leatherback Baloth
2 Thrun, the Last Troll

SPELLS
4 Rancor
4 Giant Growth
4 Vines of Vastwood
2 Beast Within
[/d]

This is right up my alley. Aggro, creatures, tricks. This deck has not yet proven itself to be a big contender in the Modern metagame, but I consider this to be a solid list. Graveyard hate is built-in thanks to [c]Dryad Militant[/c] and [c]Scavenging Ooze[/c], the creatures are abundant and big, and green is also a great color for sideboarding, having access to artifact and enchantment hate.

Stompy, however, is a new deck and as such it could very well fizzle and just not work well enough. I am stoked, but it could pay to be cautious.

[d title=”WB Tokens”]
LANDS
10 Plains
4 Swamp
4 Isolated chapel
4 Godless shrine

CREATURES
2 Doomed Traveller
3 Tidehollow Sculler

SPELLS
3 Sorin, Lord of Innistrad
4 Inquisition of Kozilek
4 Intangible Virtue
4 Zealous Persecution
4 Lingering Souls
2 Midnight Haunting
4 Path to Exile
4 Raise the Alarm
4 Spectral Procession
[/d]

First things first: this list was made before the Modern Event Deck was released. If you like this deck and can find the Modern Event Deck for a good price, by all means start there. It is a good value.

WB tokens is as full of tools as the night full of terrors. Black and white is a very good color combination and makes dealing with anything a breeze. Also, this deck plays so many creatures the opponent has to be prepared against this or just lose: spot removal just won’t work.

Keep in mind though, there is a good amount of sideboard available for the kind of board states WB tokens creates, and it is extremely devastating.

[d title=”GU Infect”]
LANDS
4 Breeding Pool
3 Gemstone Mine
4 Forest
3 Hinterland Harbor
4 Inkmoth Nexus
2 Pendelhaven

CREATURES
4 Blighted Agent
4 Glistener Elf
4 Ichorclaw Myr
2 Plague Myr

SPELLS
4 Apostle’s Blessing
4 Groundswell
4 Might of Old Krosa
4 Mutagenic Growth
4 Rancor
2 Distortion Strike
4 Vines of Vastwood
[/d]

Infect takes a shortcut on the aggro approach, makes pump spells twice as effective, and makes the whole metagame understand how important it is to have early removal against this. It has never been a tier 1 deck, but still it has won tournaments and is a constant threat against any unprepared opponent. This is the sort of deck that keep players on their toes, and that’s a good thing.

It is a bit weak against removal, and edict effects tend to kill it dead (the deck usually runs fewer than 15 creatures), but it still is a very good option that will deliver swift kills.

[d title=”Melira Pod”]
LANDS
3 Evolving Wilds
6 Forest
4 Overgrown Tomb
2 Plains
7 Swamp
2 Temple Garden

CREATURES
4 Birds of Paradise
1 Eternal Witness
1 Farhaven Elf
2 Fauna Shaman
1 Gravedigger
1 Harmonic Sliver
4 Kitchen Finks
4 Melira, Sylvok Outcast
3 Murderous Redcap
1 Qasali Pridemage
1 Ranger of Eos
1 Safehold Elite
1 Shriekmaw
3 Sylvan Caryatid
1 Varolz, the Scar-Striped
3 Viscera Seer

SPELLS
4 Birthing Pod
[/d]

This is more of an experiment than an actual deck. You see, Melira Pod is arguably the best modern deck in existence, and there are people who fall in love with it the second they look at the Modern format, only to be let down by the price tag attached to it. It made sense to try and make a budget version, and the core of the deck is not especially expensive.

The good thing about Pod is its toolbox approach. This also makes getting the pieces for the deck easier, as they are a lot of times one-ofs. The bad part is it requires three colours, which, in Modern, means fetchlands. And you’re going to need play-sets of those. Also, [c]Chord of calling[/c] is really expensive, as is [c]Noble Hierarch[/c].

So, take this as a starting point. And pray [c]Birthing Pod[/c] doesn’t get banned.

[d title=”Hexproof Auras”]
LANDS
7 Forest
6 Plains
4 Razorverge Thicket
2 Sunpetal Grove
2 Temple Garden

CREATURES
4 Gladecover Scout
4 Slippery Bogle
4 Kor Spiritdancer

SPELLS
4 Ethereal Armor
4 Hyena Umbra
4 Keen Sense
3 Path to Exile
4 Rancor
4 Spirit Mantle
4 Unflinching Courage
[/d]

This is essentially the full deck minus [c]Daybreak Coronet[/c] and with a cheaper land base. It is a beautiful deck and the definition of both Voltron and Timmy. This is, of course, my opinion: some people use this deck to explain why the Modern format is essentially flawed.

Hexproof Auras puts a lot of pressure on the opponent. It builds a huge, untargettable beast, attaching auras to a hexproof creature. Spot removal is useless, dealing X damage tends to be insufficient, and blocking is futile – hence the success of the deck. Edicts and counter-magic can still hurt us, of course, but your opponent has to have it in his hand.

I needn’t convince you, though. There is a type of player for this type of deck. If you’re that type, you already know it.

[d title=”PyroDelver”]
LANDS
10 Island
2 Mountain
4 Steam Vents
4 Sulfur Falls

CREATURES
4 Delver of Secrets
2 Grim Lavamancer
4 Spellstutter Sprite
4 Young Pyromancer

SPELLS
2 Electrolyze
4 Gitaxian Probe
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Mana Leak
2 Pillar of Flame
4 Remand
4 Serum Visions
2 Spell Pierce
2 Vapor Snag
[/d]

UR Delver, or PyroDelver as I sometimes call it ([c]Young Pyromancer[/c] is just as central as [c]Delver of Secrets[/c] in this deck), is a great, great deck that has to be practiced and studied but which rewards the pilot with options against every deck in the meta. It does not deliver as many free kills as some other decks in this list (even though a couple of flipped delvers in the first couple of turns can mean a quick death for the opponent if they don’t have adequate removal), but it is consistent thanks to its card draw and selection, and is a very difficult deck to deal with while we are ahead in the game. It has some good recoveries too, thanks to [c]Young Pyromancer[/c].

The bad part is I had to cut some pretty important cards to make it a budget deck, and I’m not sure about this new list. [c]Spellstutter Sprite is great[/c], but its slot is normally occupied by [c]Snapcaster Mage[/c], which is really important to the deck; [c]Blood Moon[/c] is a central card here which improves the chances against some important decks; and fetchlands are pretty much a must too, as they improve the deck’s consistency.

Well, there you go. 10 Modern lists you can try out that won’t break the bank. Do you have a favorite? Do you play a different budget deck in Modern with any success? Let me know if the comments!