Hello everyone! Last week was pretty chaotic, and I didn’t manage to fit an article in, but I’ll make up for it in the near future (get ready for some non-text format Magic in the next few weeks).

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Alright, today I want to talk about Modern. Last weekend was GP Phoenix, and for
the first time in recent memory, the Top 8 was made up of eight different decks!

Steve Locke won the day with Humans, but following close behind were Jund, Bant Knightfall, Krark Clan Ironworks Combo, GW Hatebears, Bring to Light Scapeshift, Mono Green Tron, and RG Eldrazi.

Woah! That’s a whole lotta decks! Something that I want to point out (that I’m sure the title has spoiled already) is that this says alot about the state of the Modern format.
The fact that eight different people were able to Top 8 the tournament with radically different strategies means that basically anything is viable. Here’s the key: You have to
be proactive.

The State of Modern

As I’m sure I’ve said time and time again in my “What to Play Week One” series, being able to punish the opponent’s stumbles and just overall have a quick way to end the game is crucial.

Every single deck in the Top 8 of this tournament does that. The only one that might be disputable is Bring to Light Scapeshift, but something alot of people miss is that it still functions like a normal Scapeshift deck! Just because Bring to Light costs an extra mana does not mean you won’t be dying to a Scapeshift! All this deck does is identify that normal Scapeshift is a turn too slow, throw in some disruptive elements to get you to that turn alive, and then kill your opponent. Oh yeah, and also cast Bring to Light into Jace, the Mind Sculptor, which is pretty cool if you ask me.

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As you can see in the Top 32 decklists, there was an unusual absence of control decks. The control list that did the best by far was UR Breach. Why, you may ask?

Because it has a proactive plan.

Conventional control lists, even with the introduction of Jace, simply don’t have the tools to answer everything in the format (or even a majority of the format!).

When you are playing a reactive deck in a format such as Standard, you know that you are able to win against maybe 60-70 percent of the metagame, because of the fact that you are able to configure your deck to beat the five or six metagame options other people are playing, while only rendering yourself vulnerable to the other three or four.

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In Modern, however, there are still roughly 20-25 different lists people play in high level events! You can’t possibly attack that many different decks with your one control deck, because you only have 60 cards! And they aren’t even all spells! All reactive control lists can boast a favorable matchup against maybe 50% of the format, depending on each build. This looks fine on paper, but when you consider that some of the decks they are good against are proactive, and thus capable of punishing any stumble from the control player, their win percentage unsurprisingly decreases.

But Riccardo, why, you might ask, is Jund so good if you shouldn’t play reactive strategies?

To that, my astute reader, I would reply that while Jund, on the surface, does look like a reactive deck because of the Fatal Pushes, Maestrom Pulses, and even Abrupt Decays, it is really a proactive deck with some disruptive elements  which fights under the facade of being a reactive deck (just like Grixis Death’s Shadow, the old king of the format was!).

Scavenging Ooze, Bloodbraid Elf, and Dark Confidant are all proactive cards that help you accrue advantage as you attack. Tarmogoyf is the biggest creature in Modern, and coincidentally also costs two mana, which sets up our clock. Liliana of the Veil looks reactive but really strips our opponent’s hand away turn after turn as we beat them down with our creatures. The rest of the deck is hand disruption and removal, which all facilitate our plan by making sure we don’t die too quickly, and are able to finish our opponent off before they can regroup.

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Even the Death and Taxes decks are now reasonable choices, as they do a similar thing to Jund: slow the opponent down while killing them quickly. Other decks that do this are UR Breach, Mardu Pyromancer, Humans, Madcap Moon, and Ponza.

The Future

Going forward, I think we will see this sharp decrease of Control decks doing well to continue the way it is, and more aggressive strategies will continue to dominate the format.

I think “play what you’re good at” is a pretty reasonable stance to take for Modern. If there is a deck you really like, no matter the archetype or strategy, just know that as long as it is proactive, you will be able to get match wins. Even the deck that Jonah Gaynor wrote about last week, Faeries, is a contender right now, as it can take a player done extremely quickly with the help of Mistbind Clique and Vendilion Clique.

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Strangely, Burn was nowhere to be seen in the Top decks this weekend, but I’m sure it will rear its head once again in the near future, so don’t cut your Burn hate, players! Affinity made  a huge comeback this weekend, and this is largely due to the lack of artifact removal fact that it is a proactive strategy that can get out of hand really quickly.

As always, I hope everyone enjoyed the article and got something out of it! Personally, I have no idea what to play in Modern right now! My brain is stuck between Humans, Jund, Bogles, Ad Nauseam, or Mardu Pyromancer. I’ll have to do a ton of testing between now and Hartford to make up my mind and choose the best deck! If you’ll be at that tournament or any other Modern tournament in the near future, good luck to you! Remember to stay proactive,

Riccardo Monico

Want to check out the Faeries deck that was mentioned earlier in the article? Check out Jonah Gaynor’s thoughts on why it might be a good choice moving forward!

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