Hello all! This past weekend marked the end of the Modern format as we have known it for the past year or so, and from now on, the format will include the powerful four drops that were recently unbanned. Today, I want to update a list that I came up in early December of last year. You can read about my original card choices here.

I included that same list in my article last week, but over the course of the week, I tested with and against Jace and Bloodbraid Elf, and pictured the meta going into the next few weeks. Through testing and talking with fellow New York City tournament grinder Jed Pienkny, I was able to come up with a list I’d feel comfortable sleeving up for a Grand Prix or Open right now.

Before I get into the list, I want to make an outline of what metagame I expect for the next few weeks. These will be the most played decks in my opinion:

  • Green Tron
  • Scapeshift
  • Jund
  • Temur Moon
  • UW Miracles/Control
  • UWx Control/Geist of Saint Traft
  • Burn
  • Affinity
  • Lantern
  • Blue Moon/Kiki Moon
  • Very few Combo Decks

Here is my original list:

Spirit Jund by Riccardo Monico

Creatures (12)
Dark Confidant
Scavenging Ooze
Tarmogoyf
Bloodbraid Elf

Non-Creature Spells (24)
Abrupt Decay
Fatal Push
Inquisition of Kozilek
Kolaghan’s Command
Liliana of the Veil
Maelstrom Pulse
Lightning Bolt
Terminate
Thoughtseize
Lingering Souls

Lands (24)
Forest
Stomping Ground
Swamp
Verdant Catacombs
Godless Shrine
Blackcleave Cliffs
Blood Crypt
Bloodstained Mire
Overgrown Tomb
Raging Ravine
Temple Garden
Blooming Marsh

Sideboard (15)
Rule of Law
Stony Silence
Anger of the Gods
Bontu’s Last Reckoning
Thrun, the Last Troll
Grafdigger’s Cage
Ancient Grudge
Abrupt Decay
Surgical Extraction
Olivia Voldaren
Crumble to Dust
Scavenging Ooze

To start, I wanted to say I was very happy with the creature suite, so that won’t be changing today. In most of our testing, Jed left the Lingering Souls in our sideboard, but I felt that they would be a great help against Jace decks game one, which is usually not favored for us. Our lists differ a little bit, but there are a few things we both agreed are very important to understand.

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1. Liliana of the Veil is Absurd

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While this seems obvious, I would like to state that by absurd, I mean that running less than four is incredibly loose. The card does have diminishing returns, sure, but is so good against a variety of decks that I named above, especially other midrange decks, that it would be a huge mistake not to up the count to four. The draw to Liliana for me in the end was how good she was on turn three, but also how effective the Jund deck was at protecting her, allowing her to single-handedly take over the game. In our ~10 game 1s against Temur Moon, Liliana ultimated more than 6 times, and was put into the graveyard more often by discarding redundant copies than it was killed.

2. Your Tarmogoyf is Better than Everyone Else’s Tarmogoyf

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When playing against Spirit Jund as the Temur Moon player, I felt like the matchup was going to be favored for me, as it would be a Tarmo-faceoff and then I would win with my Jaces. Instead, game after game, the Jund deck managed to kill my Goyf, whether it be through a Fatal Push or Abrupt Decay, or even a Liliana -2, and then land their own Goyf and strand my Jace in hand. Your removal is so excellent that your threats are often just much better than theirs. This is shown mostly through Goyf, but is also true of Bloodbraid Elf and Scavenging Ooze.

3. Manlands are Insane Right Now

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After playing 5 matches against UW Miracles, and a bunch of G1s against Temur Moon, most of the games would come down to players topdecking after having efficiently answered each other’s threats (the topdecking was oftentimes because of Liliana of the Veil +1s). In these matchups, when a Blood Moon or Spreading Seas did not hit an opposing Raging Ravine, it would take over the match. In the same vein, if the Jund player did not keep in Fatal Push, Celestial Colonnade would oftentimes finish them off. In conjunction with this point, it is important to note that cards like Field of Ruin and Ghost Quarter get much better in a meta where Tron and Manlands are prominent, so be on the lookout for those.

With those three points covered, here is my list:

Spirit Jund V2 by Riccardo Monico

Creatures (12)
Dark Confidant
Scavenging Ooze
Tarmogoyf
Bloodbraid Elf

Non-Creature Spells (25)
Abrupt Decay
Fatal Push
Inquisition of Kozilek
Kolaghan’s Command
Liliana of the Veil
Liliana, the Last Hope
Lightning Bolt
Dreadbore
Thoughtseize
Lingering Souls

Lands (23)
Forest
Stomping Ground
Swamp
Verdant Catacombs
Godless Shrine
Blackcleave Cliffs
Blood Crypt
Bloodstained Mire
Overgrown Tomb
Raging Ravine
Temple Garden
Blooming Marsh

Sideboard (15)
Stony Silence
Anger of the Gods
Thrun, the Last Troll
Nihil Spellbomb
Ancient Grudge
Abrupt Decay
Surgical Extraction
3 Fulminator Mage
Scavenging Ooze

The most important change I want to talk about is the change from a 3-3 split in hand disruption spells to a 4-2 split in favor of Thoughtseize. If you take a look at the list of decks I’m worried about above, you’ll notice that against some of them, like Tron and Scapeshift, Inquisition simply doesn’t do a whole lot. Thoughtseize is simply better in a meta where two four drops just got unbanned, and are both the best cards in their respective archetype (except maybe Bloodbraid is worse than Liliana in Jund, but they’re both insane cards and work real good together so I wouldn’t complain). Taking a Jace from a Miracles deck quite simply makes it worse than a conventional UW Control deck, and taking a Bloodbraid from Temur Moon or Jund can be a virtual 2-for-1, putting you far ahead.

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The next change I made was -1 Maelstrom Pulse, -1 Terminate, and +2 Dreadbore. This is quite simply due to the fact that Jace is the best card in Modern (If you wan’t to argue that point, I’m sure Jonah Gaynor wouldn’t mind, as he wrote a whole article about it last week). While Maelstrom Pulse is good to kit off of Bloodbraid, the mana difference really does show sometimes, especially when our deck has so many great three drops to play on that turn. Dreadbore allows us to double-spell on turn 5, which is a great way of gaining tempo in a match.

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I also shaved a Blooming Marsh and two Fatal Push for a Kolaghan’s Command and a Liliana the Last Hope, cards that excelled in testing yesterday, as well as the fourth Liliana of the Veil. Getting back an Elf with either of these cards was often the final nail in the coffin, and Liliana, the Last Hope killed more mana creatures than I can count. I think we’ll see the numbers on Fatal Push go down for now, as it has become a Lightning Bolt‘s world right now.

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The sideboard before was thrown together quickly and in a different format, and I think the current one answers the expected metagame much better. Fulminator Mage into Surgical looks to give us game against Tron, which is all a midrange deck could ever ask for.

As always, thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed, and have a great week of Magic!

Riccardo Monico

Looking to play some Rivals of Ixalan Team Sealed anytime soon? Check out Ben Pall’s article on when building unconventional decks is the right choice in this format.

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