This weekend I attended the SCG Open in Baltimore. While I didn’t do well in the Open or the Classic on Sunday, I had a ton of fun with new friends and got to meet some great people, so overall it ended up being a great weekend.

In both the Open and the Classic, I played Counters Company (Can we please get rid of this atrocious name?) Here is the list I used:

Counters Company by Riccardo Monico

Creatures (30)
1 Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit
4 Birds of Paradise
4 Devoted Druid
2 Duskwatch Recruiter
4 Eternal Witness
1 Fiend Hunter
4 Kitchen Finks
2 Noble Hierarch
2 Viscera Seer
4 Vizier of Remedies
1 Walking Ballista
1 Scavenging Ooze

Non-Creature Spells (8)
4 Chord of Calling
4 Collected Company

Lands (22)
2 Forest
2 Gavony Township
1 Godless Shrine
3 Horizon Canopy
2 Overgrown Tomb
1 Plains
1 Swamp
2 Temple Garden
4 Verdant Catacombs
4 Windswept Heath

Sideboard (15)
1 Abrupt Decay
1 Orzhov Pontiff
1 Eidolon of Rhetoric
1 Spellskite
3 Path to Exile
1 Qasali Pridemage
1 Kataki, War’s Wage
1 Selfless Spirit
3 Tidehollow Sculler
2 Tireless Tracker

As you can see, the deck is very similar to Bradley Carpenter’s winning list, with the sideboard changed up for what I expected the meta to be like. I wanted the Spellskite in the board for Death’s Shadow, against which the combo can be a great option if they draw a discard-light hand, and Spellskite helps you protect the combo, or even whatever creature you are using to race if that is your plan. Orzhov Pontiff is in the board because of Lingering Souls, but I did not play against a Lingering Souls deck all weekend long, and not many made the top 32, so that slot could definitely be used in a better way.

The Kataki, War’s Wage would have been great had I drawn it the one time I played Affinity, but alas, it was nowhere to be found, and given the diversity of Modern, using a sideboard slot for the card was probably not worth it. In the maindeck, I absolutely loved Scavenging Ooze all weekend, and it was definitely a choice I was happy with over the second Walking Ballista. While Ballista was pretty good every time I cast it, the deck is in fact a Collected Company and Chord of Calling deck, and having two more cards that aren’t hits in your deck is suboptimal.

If I were to play the weekend over, I would one hundred percent change my deck to a Death’s Shadow variant. Over the course of the weekend, I was super impressed by both the Jund version, but more notably the Grixis version of the deck, and the dark horse contender, Sultai Shadow. Here are those lists:

Grixis Death’s Shadow by Brad Nelson at SCG Baltimore – 1st

Creatures (16)
4 Death’s Shadow
2 Gurmag Angler
4 Snapcaster Mage
4 Street Wraith
2 Tasigur, the Golden Fang

Non-Creature Spells (25)
4 Fatal Push
2 Inquisition of Kozilek
2 Kolaghan’s Command
1 Lightning Bolt
4 Serum Visions
2 Stubborn Denial
2 Terminate
4 Thought Scour
4 Thoughtseize

Lands (19)
2 Blood Crypt
4 Bloodstained Mire
1 Island
4 Polluted Delta
4 Scalding Tarn
1 Steam Vents
1 Swamp
2 Watery Grave

Sideboard (15)
3 Ceremonious Rejection
2 Collective Brutality
1 Izzet Staticaster
1 Kolaghan’s Command
1 Kozilek’s Return
1 Liliana, the Last Hope
2 Nihil Spellbomb
2 Stubborn Denial
2 Surgical Extraction


Sultai Death’s Shadow by Ryan Hovis at SCG Baltimore – 6th

Creatures (14)
4 Death’s Shadow
2 Snapcaster Mage
4 Street Wraith
4 Tarmogoyf

Non-Creature Spells (27)
2 Liliana, the Last Hope
1 Abrupt Decay
1 Dismember
4 Fatal Push
1 Maelstrom Pulse
4 Mishra’s Bauble
4 Serum Visions
3 Stubborn Denial
4 Thoughtseize
3 Traverse the Ulvenwald

Lands (19)
1 Breeding Pool
1 Forest
4 Misty Rainforest
2 Overgrown Tomb
4 Polluted Delta
1 Swamp
4 Verdant Catacombs
2 Watery Grave

Sideboard (15)
2 Ceremonious Rejection
2 Collective Brutality
1 Countersquall
2 Flaying Tendrils
2 Fulminator Mage
1 Go for the Throat
1 Golgari Charm
1 Nihil Spellbomb
1 Stubborn Denial
2 Surgical Extraction

The thing that really makes these decks worth playing are the discard spells. Thoughtseize is already one of the best spells in Modern, and turning its downside into an advantage is so good in this format that it can’t be underestimated. Inquisition of Kozilek is better than ever right now because of the prevalence of Collected Company decks, who’s marquee card gives them deck constraints that play right into the sorcery. Throughout the weekend, I found myself keeping hands that felt great unless the opponent was on Death’s Shadow and had a discard spell to disrupt my plan early, and there was nothing I wanted more than to be on the opposite side of that equation.

The strength of Grixis Shadow comes from its versatility when choosing what role to play in a given matchup. Because of cards like Snapcaster Mage and Terminate, Grixis Shadow can play the long grindy game and then finish the game with Tasigur, the Golden Fang or a Gurmag Angler. This makes the deck much stronger than the versions that play Temur Battle Rage, as those versions are one-dimensional and has much less play in most matchups.

A card I am very interested in is Stubborn Denial, as it feels very strong in so many situations, and stops the high end of Control, Company, and even Tron for just one blue mana. This makes it one of the best counter spells in the format right now, and playing a deck with the best creatures, discard spells, removal, and counter spells in Modern right now seems pretty good to me.

The Sultai Shadow deck has a few differences, as it eschews the delve creatures and some removal spells for Mishra’s Bauble (never thought anyone would say that) and Traverse the Ulvenwald. While some of the very successful aspects are gone from the Grixis Shadow deck, the Sultai Shadow deck has resiliency because of the versatility of Traverse the Ulvenwald, which allows the deck to keep up with the grindiest of them all. Overall the deck is definitely interesting, and is totally worth giving a shot in testing if you have the time.

Another deck that looked great this weekend is Dredge.

Dredge by Ben Friedman at SCG Baltimore – 2nd

Creatures (19)
4 Bloodghast
2 Golgari Thug
1 Haunted Dead
4 Narcomoeba
4 Prized Amalgam
4 Stinkweed Imp

Non-Creature Spells (21)
4 Cathartic Reunion
4 Collective Brutality
3 Conflagrate
2 Darkblast
4 Faithless Looting
4 Life from the Loam

Lands (20)
1 Blackcleave Cliffs
1 Blood Crypt
2 Bloodstained Mire
4 Copperline Gorge
2 Dakmor Salvage
2 Gemstone Mine
1 Ghost Quarter
2 Mountain
1 Sheltered Thicket
2 Stomping Ground
2 Wooded Foothills

Sideboard (15)
1 Ancient Grudge
3 Engineered Explosives
1 Gnaw to the Bone
4 Leyline of the Void
3 Maelstrom Pulse
2 Thoughtseize
1 Vengeful Pharaoh

No Golgari Grave-Troll? No problem! The deck thrived this weekend, and Ben Friedman was able to show his proficiency with it. The deck’s sideboard options are great, and help overcome any form of permanent hate, allowing the deck to do what it does best and run the opponent over.

In unrelated news, I think that the old version of Abzan Company may be better-suited to this metagame than the current version, With all these discard spells hanging around, we can’t be relying on Devoted Druid and Vizier of Remedies to save the day, especially in the eyes of Fatal Push and whatever else removal will wreck you, whether it be Abrupt Decay, Lightning Bolt, or Terminate. Sadly, Spellskite may not be good enough to mitigate this problem, at least while there is only one.

As always, I hope you enjoyed this article about some sweet decks I would consider playing in the next event, and that you should consider as well. The next stop for me is the RPTQ in 2 weeks, and i’ll be jamming nonstop sealed and draft leagues for the next 10 days! Good luck to all of you out there playing in tournaments soon, and I hope all goes well for you, and that the top six cards of your library yield good results in each format you play.

See ya next time,

Riccardo Monico

Looking for a way to beat the boogeyman of Standard, Temur Marvel? Read this article from Charlie Rinehart-Jones, where he adds to the discussion of if Temur Marvel is ban-worthy or not and offers a good solution to those wanting to beat it.

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