Jank Central; Modern; Mono-U One Shot

Jank Central; Modern; Mono-U One Shot

Woah…two articles in a row? Yea that’s right I work and it interrupts my normal trips to FNM, but hey atleast I get to bring you guys a brand new segment! This is Jank Central; a new part of the show where I post lists that are NOT BUDGET, but will make you shake your head. This list is going to be for the modern format, and is indeed a combo deck. Let’s get started!

4x Pili-Pala and 4x Grand Achitect
Pili-PalaGrand Architect

The combo in the deck. Lately everyone has been clambering over the Devoted Druid and Vizier of Remedies, but I think this one is cheekier. This two card combo has the potential to generate an infinite amount of coloured mana. By using Grand Architect’s ability to make Pili-Pala blue. By doing this we can use Grand Architect’s second ability to tap Pili-Pala for two colourless mana. We then use that two colourless to untap Pili-Pala, netting a single mana of any colour. Now we can continue this as much as we want until we decide to stop.

4x Pull from Tomorrow and 1x Laboratory Maniac
Pull from TomorrowLaboratory Maniac

Now that we have all of this mana, what do we do with it? We dump it into drawing our entire library duh! Sure we won’t necessarily have to draw our entire library, but enough to hit our win conditions. The first of which being the Ad Nauseam all star Laboratory Maniac! Once we hit this guy, all we have to do is cast a second Pull from Tomorrow for the rest of the deck.

1x Banefire and 1x Walking Ballista
BanefireWalking Ballista

Oh no! So you kept a really good hand and drew into Laboratory Maniac. Your opponent hits you with a Thoughtseize and makes you discard it. What do we do now? Well, once we get hold of our combo we can blow up someone’s face. Banefire for 600? Totally doable. Generate 10,000 blue mana, make a 5,000/5,000 Walking Ballista and ping your opponent to death? Yep! These two win cons are a great way to just take it to your opponent’s life total.

4x Muddle the Mixture, 4x Tolaria West and 3x Fabricate
Muddle the MixtureTolaria WestFabricate

These are our versatile spells. These will help us find the things we need to win the game. We can transmute Muddle the Mixture for either Pull from Tomorrow or Pili-Pala. Transmuting Tolaria West gets us Pact of Negation or Walking Ballista. These cards helps us dig for what we need to seal the deal on our opponents.

4x Serum Visions and 4x Remand
Serum VisionsRemand

These two are your typical blue staples which help us dig for win cons and establish dominance. 

4x Mana Leak and 2x Exhaustion
Mana LeakExhaustion

Mana leak is sort of a no brainer. Exhaustion on the other hand is super good in certain situations. With Grand Architect we can’t combo off until we have four mana. So being able to ensure that our opponent stays tapped out until our turn four is super clutch.

8x Fetch Lands, 3x Academy Ruins and 1x Boseiju, Who Shelters All
Academy RuinsBoseiju, Who Shelters All

The fetch lands do not matter. These eight blue based fetch lands will ensure we have the mana we need to combo off. Academy Ruins is here to retrieve any artifacts that accidentally hit the graveyard. Boseiju is here to ensure no one has any plans to stop our combo.

SB –
3x Twisted Image – Not only the best Spellskite answer known to man, but a cantrip aswell.
2x Vapor Snag – A little stall can go a long way.
2x Echoing Truth – More stall can go an even further way!
3x Hurkyl’s Recall – Pesky artifacts getting the bump!
3x Negate – So we can stop anyone trying to stop us.
2x Surgical Extraction – A wee bit of exile never hurt anybody.

Death of a Marvel

With WotC’s recent ban announcement it has left me deck-less. I had finally gotten all of my cards together for Sultai Marvel and managed to play it at one FNM. Not even two weeks after I finish the deck, WotC announces the removal of the deck’s namesake. Back to the drawing board for me I guess.

I will leave you all with a little treat…enjoy.

 

 

 

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Aetherworks What?

Aetherworks What?

Hello once again my fellow spell slingers. It is I, the Salt Shaker Supreme, and I have returned from my writing hiatus with something a little different. I have not been to FNM in quite some time and since Pro Tour Amonkhet is in our rear views I thought it was be fun to take a look at some of the decks that managed to slag their way into the Top 8. In the latter half of this article I would like to compare two versions of the increasingly popular pseudo-combo deck featuring the legendary artifact from Kaladesh; Aetherworks Marvel.

Pro Tour Amonket

Even though I’ve been off of standard for a while, I still thoroughly enjoy watching it. I especially enjoy spectating standard when the cards are in the hands of some of the best Magic players on the planet. On the weekend of May 13th, 2017, the worlds’ best MTG spell slingers traveled from around the globe to Nashville, Tennessee, to battle it out for the prestigious Pro Tour trophy!

The Pro Tour was a magnificent spectacle to behold. Watching all of the cool new innovative ways to utilize the fresh cards coming out of Amonkhet was quite the sight. After a brutal slugfest of draft and standard swiss, there arose eight players to duke it out in single elimination until only one remained. The Top 8 lists can be found here, but I’ll give y’all a quick run down of the standings.

The Top 8 consisted of four Aetherworks decks, three Zombie lists, and one Black-Green Energy deck. After the quarterfinals we were granted our 8th place lists; White-Black Zombies piloted by Chris Fennell, Mono-Black Zombies piloted by Christian Calcano, Temur Aetherworks by Marc Tobiasch, and another Temur Aetherworks by Eric Froehlich. After the semi finals it was another Temur Energy list piloted by Martin Muller, and Ken Yukuhiro’s Black-Green Energy list that were slotted into 4th place, thus leaving Gerry Thompson and Yuuya Watanabe on Mono-Black Zombies and Temur Aetherworks respectively. In the end it was zombie horde which clambered its’ way to victory earning Gerry Thompson the Pro Tour Amonkhet title.

Vroom Vroom?

I’ve seen a few people trolling around on Reddit and Facebook asking the REAL BURNING question of “Where was Mardu Vehicles?” and I believe I have the answer. You see, in a world where Saheeli Rai and Felidar Guardian are a turn 4 auto win, you need someone able to rise up and beat it, because there is a reason Splinter Twin got banned in Modern, no one likes a turn 4 kill.

In my honest opinion I believe Mardu Vehicles was a necessary evil to combat Copy Cat Combo. It was full of cheap burn, spot removal to deal with Felidar Guardian, and evasive cheap creatures to kill Saheeli when she hits the field. In a post-Felidar banned format, I believe we will see less and less of Mardu Vehicles, as the threat of monstrous eldrazi titans and hordes of recurring zombies slowly takes over the format.

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Temur or Sultai? Red or Black?

For those of you whom have been following my blog for a while, are aware that I have been out of the standard game for a wee bit. There hasn’t been anything that really makes me go “oooh shiney!” for quite some time. However, watching the Pro Tour I stumbled onto a list by one Reid Duke that didn’t have a particularly strong showing, of 6-4, but I thought the deck was sweet. The deck is an interesting take on the typical Aetherworks Marvel lists by removing the red and adding black. The temur list feels more like an actual energy list where as the sultai list feels more like a delirium-esque list.

There are quite a few pros in terms of running the temur build. The biggest and probably most apparent bonus is Harnessed Lightning. This versatile instant speed removal spell is not merely just an expensive bolt. One of the most innovative ways I’ve seen this played is to target ones’ own creature, generate the three energy, then spend none, dealing zero damage to the target. Another perk of running temur is Whirler Virtuoso. This three mana dude has a pretty cool ability to vomit 1/1 flying thopter tokens for three energy. Whirler Virtuoso enables one to go wide with tokens when the board is gummed up with creatures. The third and final big perk to playing red is Chandra, Flamecaller. Not only can she refill your hand with her zero ability, but she can just Ball Lightning. If that isn’t your speed she can deal three damage board wide while retaining one loyalty counter.

Harnessed LightningWhirler VirtuosoChandra, Flamecaller

Onto Mr. Duke’s list which he played at the Pro Tour. I’ve been playing this version online quite a bit and it feels very similar to the Green-Black Delirium list that I used to run back in the day. Now what are the pros of playing black? WELL LET ME TELL YOU I’M LOVING IT! To start things off, the most format shaping card in a while, Fatal Push. This one drop kill spell has completely shaken up the modern format and I feel it is still super strong in standard as well. Whirler Virtuoso grants the temur list a cheap way to drain energy, black gives us Demon of Dark Schemes. Not only does he act as a pseudo-sweeper, but him sweeping some wheenies can grant crazy amounts of energy. Not only that, but he has the insanely good ability to pick creatures out of not only my graveyard, but my opponent’s graveyard as well. Temur Aetherworks gets Chandra, and Sultai Aetherworks gets an equally awesome femme fatale in the shape of Liliana, Death’s Majesty. Her plus one ability feeds delirium, and she works well with DoDS in filling my yard, giving me an ample supply to pluck from. Her negative three ability is the real kicker though, being able to grab back an Ulamog, or a Demon is sweet business. Finally her negative seven wipes the board, sparing zombies. This is relevant as her second ability makes the creatures she reanimates into zombies so she doesn’t wipe her own board. There are also other huge boons to playing black. Black gives us access to the mirror killer Dispossess, the reanimation killer Kalitas, and the new walker removal spell Never//Return.

Fatal PushDemon of Dark SchemesLiliana, Death's Majesty

I guess it all comes down to a matter of one’s own play style. As I played delirium before and was a fan of it I believe that is why I am drawn to the sultai version as opposed to the temur version.

That looks like all about I wanted to talk about today…WOAH! SPOILER ALERT!

RETURN OF THE GOD-PHARAOH

HOLY CHRISTMAS LAND BATMAN! Looks like we have officially received our first spoilers for the upcoming set Hour of Devastation!

First off we have a gorgeous new board wipe in black. I just wanted to begin by saying this art is beautiful. Oh it looks amazing. Now onto the actual card. A three mana board wipe is yuge, and yes, I am talking Trump yuge. However, the downside to this card could be quite crippling. I have high hopes for this card and how we will eventually see the pros find a way to break it.

Samut was a red and green legendary creature from Amonkhet with a white activated ability. Seeing her returning as a strictly two colour planeswalker is interesting. At four converted mana cost and four loyalty she has a one plus ability and two minus abilities. My first instinct right off the bat is she isn’t going to be particularly strong. Her immediate presence on the battlefield is heavily dependent on you having a creature to utilize her double strike. Playing her on an an empty board is basically useless, unless you count shocking your opponent for four mana and two loyalty is productive. Her ultimate is kinda cute as you can just slam things from your library, but I feel that is the only thing this “tested” Tessa has at her disposal.

ALL HAIL THE GOD-PHARAOH! Oh baby! Bolas is back and he is maaaaaaaad! This seven cmc, seven loyalty, four ability gangster dragon looks mad enough to break the Donald. His first ability is possibly the most broken walker ability I have ever seen. It exiles cards from your opponents’ library until they hit a nonland, then casts it for free…are you kitten me. How is that not a negative ability? That is insane. His alternate up ability has your opponent exiling two cards from their hand…that is also insanely good. He has a negative four ability which is straight up deal seven damage to either a creature your opponent controls, or their face, whichever you prefer. Finally, the piece de resistance, exile each nonland permanent your opponents control. This is gonna be hectic as anything in multiplayer, and in one on one? Gummed up board? Sure, exile everything they have. Pesky Ulamog in your way? Ok byeeeee.

So far, two of the three cards spoiled have gotten me really excited! I can not wait to see what WOTC does with the next set. HYPE HYPE HYPE.

Until next time! Stay sodium’d my friends.

Spirit Control Deck Tech

Spirit Control Deck Tech

Hello saltlings! I was unable to attend my weekly FNM at Jack’s on Queen due to work constraints, so instead I’m going to do a short standard deck tech!

Last weekend I Head Judged a GPT for Montreal at Jack’s on Queen. I had the opportunity and privilege to watch local competitors go head to head with a variety of decks. Sure there were a few copies of Mardu Vehicles, but the list that stood out was the opposite of Vehicles. Vehicles is a list that is almost all creatures, with removal splashed in. The list I had my eye on was a combination of blue and white, and the only creature in the list was a three of Sphinx of the Final Word.

Sphinx of the Final Word

I watched this bird/man/lion close out games pretty convincingly once it hit the board on turn seven. My only quam with the list was that it didn’t manage to close out the game on a regular basis. One game I saw the pilot had played a Sphinx early on but it was cleared out via board wipe. However, once the first one was gone, the bottom two were in the last seven cards of his library. I felt deep down that this player was onto something, so I took a play from his book but decided to lower the creature curve a little.

Azorius Spirit Control

So in order to close out the game a little bit faster than the Sphinx counter part, I opted to go with smaller flash induced spirits.

Mausoleum Wanderer

The first of these ghostly goobers is Mausoleum Wanderer. This Cursecatcher type spirit is a little upgrade than its’ fishy counterpart. Not only does the wanderer have flying, it also had a triggered ability. Whenever another Spirit enters the battlefield under your control, Mausoleum Wanderer gets +1/+1 until end of turn. The activated ability counters an instant or sorcery unless the spell’s controller pays x, where x is the Wanderer’s power.

Rattlechains

The second and one of the most useful Spirits in the deck. Rattlechains‘ enter the battlefield ability gives another Spirit hexproof. It also gives all of my Spirits flash, which is so good when attempting to counter things with Wanderer, or stopping board wipes with the help of our next Spirit.

Selfless Spirit

This little nugget is pretty good when it comes to chump blocking, as well as preventing board wipes from taking you out of the game. Selfless Spirit can be flashed in with Rattlechains in order to perform some pretty sneaky counter plays.

Spell Queller

Probably the best spirit ever printed, Spell Queller is the best at flashing in at the right time and taking your opponents’ Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. Spell Queller eats everything that is relevant in the current standard meta right now so it’s definitely a solid pick up.

DisallowHorribly AwryVoid Shatter

The counters in this deck are quite nice. I’m a huge fan of Horribly Awry as it deals with a majority of the prime threats in standard at the current moment. Anything that doesn’t get picked off by the above counter spells will be stopped by Negate.

Blessed AllianceImmolating GlareStasis Snare

Counter spells are blue, removal is white. Using Stasis Snare and Immolating Glare as targeted spot removal and Blessed Alliance as a shortcut around indestructible or hexproof creatures, this deck is pretty effective at removing threats. I’m still toying with the idea of Declaration in Stone, let me know what you think in the comment section below!

AnticipateGlimmer of GeniusBlighted Cataract

We need to dig for the answers. I’m using the typical Anticipate and Glimmer of Genius as card draw engines. I decided to run two copies of Blighted Cataract as additional card draw engines later in the game.

Well that’s all she wrote folks! Until next time, enjoy some Modern Masters 2017, and stay salty my friends.

March 10th FNM & The WotC Bans

March 10th FNM & The WotC Bans

Modern Tho…

That special time of the week again! Driving out to Elmvale on a magical Friday night to jam some cardboard crack with my friends! This week I had something a little special in place for the folks at Jack’s on Queen. For the past month or so I’ve been ranting and raving over the Snow-Mentals deck, but through multiple play time online I discovered something, it’s pretty darn bad. However, I made a miraculous discovery whilst rummaging through my brother’s card collection for goodies. It was an old deck box, a deck box that I hadn’t seen in a very long time. I flipped it open and what did I see staring back at me? The eyes of a combo deck, a combo deck so despised that people just scoop at the sheer sight of the namesake of the deck….AD NAUSEAM…

Now for those of you ‘modern virgins’ out there let me give you a crash course on how the deck works. The namesake of the deck Ad Nauseam was printed in Shards of Alara and it didn’t see much play in its’ standard day, but in modern, with cards like Angel’s Grace and Phyrexian Unlife, this allows one to draw their entire library. Once you have your entire deck in your hand, you discard three copies of Simian Spirit Guide and cast Lightning Storm, at this point you ditch all the land in your hand to OTK (One turn kill) your opponent.

Round 1; Loss in 3 vs Mono-Blue Fairies

You want to know what is the worst possible match up for a combo deck? A deck with literally all of the answers. Game one I got countered every play I made, it was a nightmare. Game two was hilarious. So the deck runs twenty lands and I didn’t realize it, stupid me. Lightning Storm deals a base of three points plus x where x is the number of charge counters on it. GUESS WHAT GUYS, AT THE CURRENT POINT AT WHICH I AM WRITING THIS BLOG I REALIZED I WAS READING LIGHTNING STORM WRONG!!! I thought that you ditched one land to add one counter, APPARENTLY IT ADDS TWO COUNTERS. THIS WILL BE RELEVANT LATER. I managed to combo off game two and take it. Game three I just got completely countered out.

Round 2; Win in 3 vs Mardu Burn

Playing against my good ol’ pal in round two. I think I’ve got a pretty decent match up against burn as I can drop Phyrexian Unlife and force my opponent to do an additional eleven points of damage to me. Game one I did as such, dropped Unlife and managed to combo off. Game two I never had such luck and was brutally beaten by a gang of Goblin Guides and Monastery Swiftspears. Game three I stuck an Unlife and took my opponent down after they took a mulligan to six. I was able to capitalize on the lack of burn and combo kill!

Round 3; Loss in 3 vs Super Friends

So this is where the freak out in round one comes in. So not only did I cast Ad Nauseam before Angel’s Grace, which isn’t allowed, I also didn’t read Lightning Storm properly. I thought the card quite mediocre, to my understanding, discarding a land merely added one charge counter to the spell, while in reality it adds two. So when I realized the deck only ran twenty land I thought I could only play three lands and had to keep the other seventeen in my hand. Regardless, I took my opponent to three, even after discarding seventeen lands. Game two I managed to win, some how, I can’t even remember. What I do remember is game three. On my opponent’s turn four he played Doubling Season. He had Leyline of Sanctity out so I could not throw a storm at his face, so I dropped Laboratory Maniac and passed the turn back. If I were to untap, I had the Ad Nauseam/Angel’s Grace combo in my hand, but alas it was not meant to be. My opponent cast Jace, Architect of Thought and since Doubling Season also doubles planeswalker loyalty as they enter, he ulted immediately. My opponent went through my deck and played a copy of my Unlife, he went through his and played a second Jace. He then ulted again and cast Emrakul, the Aeons Torn from his library, and I scooped. He would have taken an extra turn off of the cast trigger, and then annihilator six would have wiped my board.

Round 4; Bye

I hate having byes. I come to play Magic, and when an odd number of players show up, there is nothing one can do. I just walked around and spectated other matches until the round was over.

Conclusion

Now if I knew how the deck was supposed to work I probably would have done much better. But considering the entire night I was refusing to play lands so that I had enough damage to kill for sure restricting my ability to play. I also desperately need a couple copies of Pact of Negation and a single Slaughter Pact, to ensure that my combo actually goes off, and to deal with little pests like Spell Skite

Ban Hammer Time

Ok, so can we talk about the Felidar Guardian in the room? The current standard competitive meta is the most boring thing. Standard as a whole right now is revolving around three primary decks; G/B Constrictor, Copy Cat, and Mardu Vehicles. Each of these lists has their own strengths and weaknesses, however the dominance of these decks has pushed every other tier two or lower deck to the nether regions of competitive play. Now let us talk about the whole MORE BANS situation. WotC announced that they were going to be doing bans a week after a new standard set prereleases, and five weeks after every Pro Tour.

Last time the ban hammer took a swing it took out Emrakul, the Promised End, Smuggler’s Copter, and the most hated card in standard history Reflector Mage. The reasoning behind the bans were as follows; “Emrakul faced too little resistance and ended games too easily. She was the world-ending, all-powerful monster she was in the story, which was too much for Standard.” this is a direct quote from their Restricted and Banned Announcement on January 9th, 2017. This is a valid statement and Emrakul was a little too strong. “Simply put, Smuggler’s Copter is too efficient and shows up in too many decks, diminishing the format’s diversity.” another direct quote. You want to know what other card is too efficient and shows up in too many decks? Walking Ballista and Heart of Kiran. Now the thing that kills me is in the article, WotC states that Reflector Mage combos too well with Collected Company. But having one of your creatures bounced is hardly game ending, you want to know what is game ending? The combination of Saheeli Rai and Felidar Guardian. WotC has even stated that this was an oversight in R&D and that they had no intention of printing an infinite turn four kill in standard, nevermind the same block. But saying sorry with no intentions of a fix? Why bother saying sorry at all?

However, there is something in the article that slightly irks me. WotC says that they have no intention of banning anything because they deem a three-deck format as “healthy”. They go on to say that they saw the “rise of Temur Tower” at GP Utrecht and how it will join the “upper echelon”. If one does a simple google of ‘GP Utrecht top 32 deck lists’ one will find that only three copies of Temur Tower were in the top 32, as opposed to thirteen copies of Mardu Vehicles, nine copies of G/B, and three copies of Copy Cat. At GP Barcelona there was one copy of Temur Tower in the top 32, but was crushed by nine Copy Cats, twelve Vehicles, and six assorted G/B lists. I would prefer to call Temur Tower a ‘blip’ on the standard radar compared to these commanding giants. For example, there were more copies of Aetherworks Marvel decks in the top 32 at GP Barcelona than Temur Tower lists. Even taking a quick skim of the top 32 lists from GP New Jersey this past weekend, one can see only three Temur Tower lists made top 32.

 

Well that’s plenty salt for one post. I hope y’all can agree to some extent that something in standard needs to change. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Until next time, stay salty my friends.

 

Modern Masters 2017

Modern Masters 2017

What Masters?

If you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple weeks then let me fill you in on a little something…. WIZARDS OF THE COAST HAS LOST THEIR MINDS. A month and a bit after WotC denounced Modern as a format, they produce the greatest money machine of all time. Modern Masters 2017 is the culmination of all the great stuff that us modern players want in our lives. It’s a magical Christmas set. This set will be opened like crazy, so if you are on the bubble about throwing together a modern list, it’s the best time to do so.

Why Modern?

But why should you, random player, build an eternal format deck? Because it’s eternal. The great thing about modern is that the cards never rotate, so you can take your time in putting the deck together. I had been working on my original B/W Eldrazi list for about a year, and I’m still looking to optimize it. But there in lies the beauty of modern, I can take my time. In a rotating format like standard it seems like a rush to break the format, and get all the best cards, and then build the best deck while you can before it rotates.

Another great thing about Modern is the diversity. I don’t know about you, but I personally can’t stand playing against the same decks over and over again. The deck diversity in modern is so good, people often complain about it. As an example, if we look at the last three Star City Games Standard Opens, there are three decks that exist; Saheeli/Cat Combo, Mardu Vehicles, and a combination of G/B Aggro decks. These three decks act as a sort of rock paper scissors at times, where in Vehicles beats Saheeli, Saheeli beats G/B and G/B beats Vehicles. Sure this isn’t 100% of the time but these are the better match ups. Not only does this make somewhat boring Magic to play, but it also makes for boring Magic to watch. The casters they get for these televised events are pretty good, but there are only so many ways they can narrate a vehicles mirror before it gets absolutely dry. I would not like to turn your attention to the last three SCG Modern Opens. Out of all three Top 8’s, there were five copies of Death’s Shadow, four copies of Grixis Control, three copies of Bant Eldrazi, and the rest were all one ofs. Not only does deck diversity make for great playing, but it also makes for great spectating.

Modern is currently in the best state it ever has been, and it’s never too late to DELVE into the awesomeness.

Where to Start?

Ok, have I convinced you? Good, let’s begin. The format of modern is a big place, and you have to remember that looking for the best deck is not necessarily the way to go, as with modern there is no definitive “best deck”. If I could be honest, the best thing to do is find a list that looks interesting, and then use some sort of online simulator to test your games out, like untap.in. Doing this can prevent the dreaded “oh I finally put a deck together, played it, and I don’t like it” scenario.

This is where the diversity of modern shines, it has something for everyone. Enjoying blitzing your opponent with hastey one drops and then finishing them with burn? Play Boros Burn. Enjoy lowering your life total to play a one drop creature that has eight power and eight toughness? Death’s Shadow is your list. Do you enjoy monotonously sitting around, slowly killing your opponent and forcing a draw? Looks like you’re going to want to play Lantern Control. Want to have no friends? You’ll probably enjoy 8-Rack. Modern is a format in which any play style can be competitive and fun as well! Well, except maybe 8-rack…

Let’s Get Started!

So now you’re all set, you’ve picked your deck, where are you going to play? Well if you live in the Simcoe County area, Jack’s on Queen holds Modern and Standard based Friday Night Magic. They are also holding Modern formatted Grand Prix Trials throughout the upcoming months for Grand Prix Montreal and Grand Prix Vegas. Check out their Facebook for details.

In addition to these, Face to Face Games hosts huge competitive rules enforcement level events called Face to Face Opens! These large events are held at Seneca College in Toronto and usually host around 160-200 players. The next one is approaching awfully quickly, as it is March 18th. If you are available to attend this event I highly suggest you do so. I’m proud to say that the Head Judge for the event is a very good friend of mine, and also my judge dad, Jason Malott. Jason’s love for the game runs deep, and he was my inspiration for pursuing the life of a Magic judge. I unfortunately am slated to work that day, but I will be with him in spirit!

Drafting the Beast

Modern Masters 2017 is releasing March 17, and a majority of stores are holding drafts for the event. I have a few tips for drafting this monster of a set.

Step 1; Don’t go in blind

When the first Modern Masters set came out in 2013 I had only ever played standard, so I was completely green to the concept of ‘modern’. So I sat down at my LGS and proceeded to draft my first packs of Modern Masters. It was a pretty chill event, just a couple pals chilling playing draft. So here’s me, flipping through the cards of my first pack, I had a game plan in mind but I didn’t know what any of the cards in the set were. I get to the uncommons and see this four drop 4/4 flier by the name of Tower Gargoyle, and if there is anything I know about drafting, flying is good. I take a peak at the rare and it’s some two drop green creature. It has some text that give it +1/+1 for each card type in the graveyard so I though ‘that’s pretty meh in draft, I can’t build around that’. So just as I was about to pass the pack and my buddy stops me, “Dude…what are you doing?”. “Uh, taking the best card in the pack?” I replied, shocked at his interjection. “You’re going to take the green card, put it in a sleeve, and sell it.” At this point I’m supremely lost. He put his hand on my shoulder, leans in and whispers “That’s a Tarmogoyf, and it is currently priced at $200.” Guys I nearly lost my mind. I never could have imagined that this little piece of paper was a crisp $200 bill. Needless to say my luck to this day has been pretty shook. But if you are going to go draft MM17, please take a look at some of the ‘chase cards’ from the set, because if you pass a Liliana of the Veil, you will never forgive yourself.

Mythics of note;

Rares of note; as well as the fetch lands…

Step 2; Know your archetypes

Every set has certain archetypes that belong to the respective colours, Modern Masters 2017 is no different. According to an article published by Magic R&D Developer Adam Prosak, there are five archetypes in MM17.

White-Blue Blink – This colour combination focuses on enter the battlefield effects and blinking the creatures to abuse these abilities.

Blue-Black Instant Control – This dual colour combination utilizes instant speed removal and counter spells to alter the battlefield.

Black-Red Unearth – Unearth is an ability that allows cards to return from the graveyard with haste for a turn.

Red-Green Wheenie Tokens – This combination wants to create a bunch of small goblin/saproling tokens and go wide, swinging past even numerous blockers.

Green-White Populate – Populate is an ability from Return to Ravnica in which you can create a token that is a copy of another token creature you control.

It is important to know these archetypes when going into a draft scenario to have the knowledge of how the colour combinations are supposed to be played. There are also some three coloured cards in the set, so one can mix and match archetypes to their choosing.

Step 3; Drafting for winning VS Drafting for value

The age old debate comes up. You’re on your last pack, your deck is coming together quite nicely, and you’re super deep in a Green-White token list. Your last pack has ‘meh’ commons, ‘meh’ uncommons, a Snapcaster Mage and a foil Craterhoof Behemoth. Now you know that the Hoofey is going to be awesome in your draft deck, however after the draft it’s just going to sit in your binder and not amount to much, SCG has it at $30. But that Snapcaster, a prime modern staple in any blue deck, besides merfolk. You could start a bidding war over the Snapcaster, SCG has it at $40. So what do you do? Take the Hoofey and hope to do well, or take the Snapcaster and know that it will sell. Truth be told, it’s entirely up to you.

This incident happened quite a while ago at Grand Prix Vegas. Pascal Maynard was in the Top 8 at Grand Prix Vegas, where the draft was Modern Masters 2015. He was pretty deep into a Red/White list when he opened his pack two and stopped dead. There was a copy of Burst Lightning which would have been great for his list, but something shiney caught his eye, a foil Tarmogoyf. What he did next garnered him so backlash, he took the Goyf. This event sparked a huge social media storm known to most Magic players as Goyfgate. The backlash from his fellow Pro-Players was that of anger and disgust. Some saying he “ruined the spirit of the game” by drafting for value rather than winning. But in a statement issued by Maynard, he did indeed ‘win’. He put the foil Top 8 stamped Tarmogoyf up on E-Bay for auction and vowed to donate half of the money to Gamers Helping Gamers. Let’s just say the world was behind him as the card finally ended up selling for $15,000 USD.

Wrap-Up

So yea, that’s it for this blog. I hope you enjoyed the read and that some of my insight into the modern format brought you closer to building your own list.

Until next time, stay salty my friends.

February 17th FNM & Special Planeswalker Profile

Salty’s Back…

Hasn’t he used that title before on another blog post? Yea…but it fit…so get over it. AFTER A LONG AND ARDUOUS CONTEMPLATION, I DECIDED TO GIVE STANDARD A TRY. I thought long and hard about what decks are at my LGS Jack’s On Queen, and I decided on running a Green/Blue Energy list. I built the list to combat the machine menace of Mardu Vehicles. Using Thriving Turtle with an attack activation to block almost all of Mardu Vehicles ground threats, primarily Toolcraft Exemplar and Scrapheap Scrounger. Also bouncing my opponent’s Heart of Kiran with Unsubstantiate is essentially a 2-for-1. So let’s get into the games!!

Round 1; Win in 2 vs Hedron Alignnment

Now I knew coming into FNM that I was going to run into some gimmick based decks. Primarily I thought it was going to be Paradox Engine and Cryptolith Rite that would have been the gimmick of choice, but in no way shape or form did I suspect Hedron Alignment. The deck uses a variety of draw then discard like effects to get a singular copy of Hedron Alignment into the yard, then targets it with Secret Salvage, to exile one copy and get the rest into hand. I never let my opponent get rolling. I just pushed super hard for lethal with a barrage of Greenbelt Rampagers‘ to take game one, and Nissa‘s elementals to take game two. As one sided as the games were, my opponent and I still had a great time playing. I loved the premise of his deck and we spoke after the game about improvements.

Round 2; Win in 3 vs Dimir Artifacts

You know a game is going well when you can swing with a Thriving Turtle three times. The list is basically a control shell which uses super cheap artifacts and Tezzeret’s Touch to make giant 5/5 monsters which end lives very quickly. Game one I managed to squeak out but game two I just got slaughtered. The MVP of game three was Architect of the Untamed. This Tireless Trackeresque looking creature has two abilities. The first is a triggered ability which occurs when a land enters the battlefield under your control. The second and most important of the two is an activated ability which costs eight energy, and allows me to put a 6/6 colourless beast onto the battlefield. This beast was crucial in game three as my opponent swung in with a 5/5 enchanted artifact I was able to activate the Architect’s ability and brick wall the artifact with my 6/6 beast. Which swing was what I needed to break through my opponent’s defenses and secure the W.

Round 3; Loss in 2 vs Mardu Vehicles

This was it, this was the game I was waiting for. Game one went in my opponent’s favour but was close after I cast Confiscation Coup taking my opponent’s Heart of Kiran which he quickly replaced. I just didn’t stand up to the onslaught. I hit the sideboard hard, bringing in a total of 10 cards. Including all copies of Aether Meltdown, Appetite for the Unnatural, Natural State, Clip Wings and Horribly Awry. I was on the play and my opening hand was Attune with Aether, Aether Meltdown, Architect of the Unnatural, Horribly Awry, and three lands. This had was fantastic…or so I thought. I proceeded to Meltdown my opponent’s Heart of Kiran, I got Architect out and got up to seven energy before my opponent killed it, but you want to know the worst part? Out of my 10 draw steps before the game ended, I had drawn two non land cards. Worst land clump of my life, against the match I had been prepping for. MVP was my obviously garbage shuffling job.

Round 4; Win in 2 vs Servo Mimic

Aha! I knew I wasn’t through with gimmicks just yet! Metallic Mimic is a very interesting card and I can see it being played in a variety of tribal based decks, such as Green White Humans. But something I was not expecting was servos. My opponent would flood the board with servos using Sram’s Expertise and Master Tinketeer to just go Servo nuts! However, both games my opponent was running into some land trouble. Complete opposite of what happened to me in the game previous, my opponent never hit a fourth land drop in either game. These games would have been much closer if that did not happen.

Wrap Up

After all was said and done we finished 3-1 which got us third place in the standings. I enjoy the deck but I feel as if some cards definitely under performed. I feel Confiscation Coup is a cute card, but too slow in the current meta. I enjoy Aether Theorist and what the Scry brings to the table, but I feel that maybe Shielded Aether Thief would make for a better pick up. Another big let down was Greenbelt Rampager. With almost every deck I played against running some number of Fatal Push, spending two energy to get push is meh, it also just gets eaten by Heart of Kiran. I think I will have to change the deck if I intend on playing it again, possibly look for a more control based approach.

 

The Phantom Menace

Now I use the Star Wars title loosely as I am about to inform you about a certain player at my LGS. This guy came to his second FNM on Friday and proceeded to do a clean sweep of standard and take home first place. Now I bet you’re asking yourself, “But Brad, why is that such an achievement?” Well that’s not all he’s done. He played in both of Aether Revolt’s Gamedays and made it to the finals both times. Both games were super intense, and quite a thing to behold. He actually took home the Kaladesh Gameday Mat from my LGS a couple months back. Oh yea, and one more thing, the guy is nine years old. You heard me right, nine year old Lucien Lahaie is a little magic pro. Through watching his games and the way he plays I think we can all learn a thing or two. A big thing I notice is how little time he takes to make his mind up. Whether we call that the impulsive moves of a nine year old or the pre-calculating thoughts of a clever mind, it is refreshing to see. Far too often I see people over think their plays. They play themselves into a corner and play far too cautiously, and I’ve seen it lead to people’s detriment. But with Lucien, it’s like his brain function goes like this, “Draw threat? Play threat. Draw removal? Play Removal”. From his frame of mind its’, ‘I have a removal spell, I will kill your thing, I don’t care if you have another thing in your hand, I’ll remove that later.’ On Friday he was piloting Mardu Vehicles, and I know some people are going to say “But it’s Mardu Vehicles” yea well I say you gotta see this kid play it first. One thing I remember from FNM was I was sitting next to one of Lucien’s opponents during their game. Each player controlled a copy of Toolcraft Exemplar. Lucien declared the trigger and swung. His opponent quickly declared his own Exemplar as a blocker and said “they trade”. Lucien held up one tiny finger and said “read the card”. It was at this point during my game that I had to pay attention. I took a peak over my opponent’s shoulder as he read the wording on Toolcraft Exemplar; “At the beginning of combat on YOUR turn…” My opponent gave me a look of shock and slight horror as he said “he’s right.” My game ended shortly after so it gave me time to watch the remainder of Lucien’s game. It was at this moment that I realized how little time he spent in the tank, and I think that is where a majority of Magic players trap themselves. They go too deep into the tank and psych themselves out. It was the final round of the tournament and Lucien was up against the mirror. Lucien had Pia Nalaar on board and a couple of other things while his opponent had quite a significant state, difference was that his opponent was at three life and he was at a comfortable 16. A crowd was gathering around the table at this point as matches were finishing up. It seemed that the tempo had shifted in his opponent’s favour as Lucien was empty handed. Then seemingly out of no where Lucien picked up his graveyard, removed a copy of Thraben Inspector and put it off to the side, as well as putting a Scrapheap Scrounger from his yard to the battlefield. The crowd couldn’t believe it, his opponent couldn’t believe it, had he known that the scrounger was there the whole time? He used Pia’s second ability and sacrificed the Thopter and the Scrounger to disable his opponent’s blockers and swung for the win with Pia’s first pump ability.

The kid has some serious piloting skills and I can’t wait to see attend big events as he grows along his Magic career.

Image result for anakin podracer

Well that’s all for this week! Stay tuned for next week when I might play Snow-Mentals in Modern!! Until next time, STAY SALTY MY FRIENDS!!

U/W Spirits Deck Tech

Heyo saltlings, it’s another weekend so that means it’s time for the salt. Sad to say, not much today as FNM was draft and I didn’t draft! The FNM sanctioned events this week at Jack’s on Queen were posted as Eldritch Moon Draft and Modern Constructed. I signed up for modern but all the other attendees signed up for draft, so I guess there’s a wee bit of salt there. But, I present to you a silver lining, I got to practice judge drafting procedure!

With the official release of Eldritch Moon we get some wacky new cards for standard, as well as some possible modern and legacy playables! So this weeks blog is going to be a standard deck tech. This deck is built to combat my local meta, but I also believe it will have a strong showing in competitive environments. Let’s get into it!

http://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/uw-flash-spirits-1/

Mainboard

2x Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit

Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit

Starting with little spirit Annie. Some people are caught quite off guard by this little soldier. The part that makes her work so well in this deck is the spirit synergy with Rattlechains.  Being able to flash her in on someones’ end step, or even having her bolster all of your 2/1 spirits into 3/2’s. She also works very well with Mausoleum Wanderer. Being a Legendary creature I only run two.

4x Bygone Bishop

Bygone Bishop

What would I be without this guy? No clue. This spirit turns all of my other creatures into draw spells. Being able to cast creatures and get clues to sacrifice later for card advantage? An also great upside of this card, a three drop for a 2/3 with flying is fantastic. Running a playset of these guys is a must as you can have multiple investigation triggers. Solid.

4x Rattlechains

Rattlechains

The one behind the entire deck. Giving my spirits flash, giving a spirit hexproof on entrance is amazing. Being able to hold up counter magic, and then also flash in other creatures if he can stick around is so good. This has great synergies with Topplegeist, and Mausoleum Wanderer, and just about every card in the deck!

2x Spectral Shepherd

Spectral Shepherd

I know a lot of people have questions about this guy. I do admit this guy is quite fringe, and may require some explanation. This guy has amazing synergy with just about every creature in the deck; Rattlechains, Topplegeist, Bygone Bishop, Anafenza, and Spell Queller. Also, another bonus of this guy, I can block a creature with lifelink and bounce the blocking creature to my hand so no life is gained. I really enjoy this guy and feel he brings quite a bit of utility to the deck.

2x Spell Queller

Spell Queller

The first new addition to the deck from Eldritch Moon. This guy is bonkers, firstly, a three drop 2/3 with flying, flash and a sweet ETB ability. This spirit is super versatile, I can stop just about anything that causes issues in the current format that threatens my game. Gideon? Take a seat. Languish? Not today! Another Spell Queller? THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE! This dude works well with Spectral Shepherd as I can delay a spell until I have a counter spell to use on it, then bounce it, counter the exiled spell, and exile another spell on the stack, lots of loop holes, but this guy can jump em.

 

3x Topplegeist

Topplegeist

The best part about this card, the art by far. I mean look, he’s the angsty teenage spirit we’ve always wanted. Not only is he a one drop for a 1/1 but he has flying…and a totally boss ETB effect…AND A DELIRIUM TRIGGER…oh man how is this card so good? In this deck I can hit dilirium quite easily, and the potential of abusing of flashing this with Rattlechains, and bouncing it with Spectral Shepherd and flashing it in again. The limits are quite endless.

3x Declaration in Stone

Declaration in Stone

Possibly best removal in the format? I think so! Permanent Detention Sphere! This was one of the cards that I complained about when I did my “Problem with Standard” post. My mentality at the moment is one of two minds, “Build to beat it” or “Can’t beat em, join em”. The latter is the thought behind this card. This puts a stop to g/w tokens, and also firmly places a foot in the butt of humans decks. I can even use this on my own creatures if I get desperate for card draw…but nah best removal by far…

2x Anticipate

Anticipate

This card is available for swapping. I just liked the ability to peel the top three and pick one in secret. Being able to do this and look at the top three cards for an answer is great value and is a great addition to the deck.

4x Clash of Wills

Clash of Wills

I was a huge fan of Syncopate when it was in RTR standard and I’m a huge face of CoW. Being able to counter any spell my opponent casts on curve for two mana is really good. Given once it hits late game this isn’t the best, however I can force my opponent to tap out in order to let their spell resolve, that’s when you slip in another counter spell!

4x Epiphany at the Drownyard

Epiphany at the Drownyard

I really like this card. Not only is it a mana sink, but is great delirium fuel.Putting one of each card into the piles can really put pressure onto your opponent. Even baiting opponents into putting creatures into your yard, so you can bring them back with Ojutai’s Command. Most people aren’t a fan of this card but I vouch for it all the way.

1x Horribly Awry

Horribly Awry

Once again, I love the art. This card is a really answer to those cards that have pesky recursion. This is basically for zombie decks as there isn’t much reanimation in standard right now. It counters creatures, it does what its supposed to do.

3x Ojutai’s Command

Ojutai's Command

What could possibly be better than gaining four life, returning a creature with CMC two or less, countering a creature spell, or drawing a card? Picking two of those and doing it for four mana. Arguably the best of the five commands, this card is amazing as most spirits are CMC two or less, life is always valuable, drawing cards is awesome, and countering creature spells is amazing.

2x Unsubstantiate

Unsubstantiate

For the third time this blog, I LOVE THIS ART. This card is a different Remand. I say remand because I don’t find this card better, nor worse. Remand counters a spell, bounces it to owner’s hand, then draws you a card. This card does what remand does, but instead of card draw, has the potential to bounce a creature. Given this card is terrible against eldrazi and most eldrazi has cast triggers, and this enables your opponent to get multiple cast triggers. A good card none the less.

2x Stasis Snare

Stasis Snare

My answer to big creatures I can’t counter or don’t have the answer for immediately. Also great at enabling delirium if removed from play. The whole flash deal is amazing so that I can keep my mana open and flash this in on my opponent’s end step.

3x Port Town
3x Prairie Stream
4x Evolving Wilds
5x Island
7x Plains

The land is well balanced and I almost never have land issues, knock on wood. The evolving wilds help access delirium and to thin out the deck.

Sideboard

1x Declaration in Stone

Declaration in Stone

The fourth to make the play set. If my opponent is indeed running a token strategy or has multiples of the same creature, this comes in.

2x Descend upon the Sinful

Descend upon the Sinful

This card is for dealing with heavy aggro strategies. I can bounce my spirits out of harms way at opponent’s end step, then cast this on my turn to exile their board. This deck quite often has delirium active around turn five, so getting the 4/4 angel is almost always guaranteed.

1x Dispel

Dispel

Basically just to counter counter spells. Also stops CoCo and kill spells. This comes in against control like decks.

1x Disperse

Disperse

If I can’t stop a planeswalker from entering at the time, at least I can bounce it with its’ ability on the stack. This is also very good with bouncing my own Stasis Snare if a better target comes along, or bouncing my opponent’s enchantments.

1x Horribly Awry

Horribly Awry

Another creature stopper. Comes in against creature heavy aggro decks. Basically just to counter humans otherwise an alright card for sideboard.

2x Mausoleum Wanderer

Mausoleum Wanderer

Art is sooooo good. Akin to Topplegeist, a one drop for a 1/1 with flying and sweet abilities is amazing. Pairs well with Anafenza to make it a 2/2, also pairs very well with Rattlechains to flash counter things. Swap this in for Topplegeist when against control like decks.

3x Negate

Negate

The ultimate card to deal with control like decks. Midrange walker decks, or other control decks. This card stops em all; walkers, enchantments, counters, burn. This card goes the distance.

1x Ojutai’s Command

Ojutai's Command

Bring in this to finish the playset when facing down aggro decks. If you’re bringing in this card you’re probably going to be using it for the counter creature and gain life modes.

2x Selfless Spirit

Selfless Spirit

The final new addition to the list. Flashing this guy in thanks to Rattlechains, then sacrificing it to give your creatures indestructible can make for some really nasty trades to blow out your opponent. One can also use Ojutai’s Command to bring this back from their graveyard to the battlefield. Bring this in for aggro decks for trades, or midrange decks to get in when opponents’ try to wipe your board.

1x Stasis Snare

Stasis Snare

Bring this in against control decks and midrange decks. Some of you are like, “Control decks? What? Why?” Well the reason is that control decks have very little win conditions. Given there aren’t many true to the form control decks out there right now, but slapping this on things like Gitrog Monster, or Dragonlord Ojutai when it attacks, feels really good.

Well that’s the deck. Let me know what you guys think. I’m open to suggestions and discussion! Until next time, stay salty my friends.