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Modern Concoctions and Marginal Successes

  • I have been having a really hard time finding a deck that I want to play in Modern. As a result, I have been cycling through decks at an alarming rate. Most recently, I was reflecting on a conversation I had with the other members of the Cardboard Junkies team. We were discussing counter magic in Modern and Jake made the very bold claim that [[Mana Tithe]] is the best counter in the format. While I was somewhat skeptical, it got me thinking about what deck could make good use of this card.

    I started by thinking about why [[Daze]] can be played profitably in Legacy. It is clear why the card is great in the first couple turns of the game. However, because mana is so tightly regulated with cards like [[Wasteland]], [[Daze]] can really shine late game as well.

    For Modern, it then seems that I am looking for a deck that can take some control over the opponents mana (and of course, a deck that plays the White mana required to cast [[Mana Tithe]]. The decks that meet these requirements are Death and Taxes and GW Hatebears. Hatebears is not really my style of deck,  but Death and Taxes was very enticing. However, instead of going with mono-White, I decided to go with the BW shell that has gained some marginal popularity.

    The numbers here are not yet fully set in stone, but they are getting close.

    BW Death and Tithes
    Brandon Hepola

    4 [[Leonin Arbiter]]
    4 [[Deathrite Shaman]]
    3 [[Dark Confidant]]
    2 [[Hero of Bladehold]]
    2 [[Aven Mindcensor]]
    2 [[Tidehollow Sculler]]
    1 [[Thalia, Guardian of Thraben]]

    3 [[Liliana of the Veil]]

    4 [[Path to Exile]]
    3 [[Mana Tithe]]
    3 [[Thoughtseize]]
    3 [[Inquisition of Kozilek]]
    2 [[Dismember]]

    4 [[Ghost Quarter]]
    4 [[Isolated Chapel]]
    4 [[Marsh Flats]]
    4 [[Swamp]]
    3 [[Plains]]
    2 [[Tectonic Edge]]
    2 [[Godless Shrine]]
    1 [[Overgrown Tomb]]

    3 [[Kor Firewalker]]
    3 [[Stony Silence]]
    2 [[Rest In Peace]]
    2 [[Zealous Persecution]]
    2 [[Thalia, Guardian of Thraben]]
    2 [[Disenchant]]
    1 [[Thoughtseize]]

    In the few games that I have been able to play with this deck and the few games that I have been able to play against this deck (thanks again for testing with me Malcolm Mohr), I will say that this deck is very promising. The combination of the [[Ghost Quarter]]\[[Leonin Arbiter]] package and the hand disruption suite is very potent. It is fairly easy to just lock your opponent out of the game. Furthermore, the three copies of [[Mana Tithe]] have been pretty insane. In most game-ones, your opponent will not even know to play around it and just get blown out. Once they have seen it they will likely play around it, giving you more time to close out the game.

    I have been looking at better finishers than [[Hero of Bladehold]], but I can’t seem to really find anything (I am considering it a requirement to have a casting of cost four or less). Hero sits in that nice spot that it can’t be bolted or hit by [[abrupt decay]].

    I decided to include a potential sideboard for this deck, mainly because I would like hear all of your thoughts on it. It seems that the really poor matchups for this deck will be very aggressive decks such as Affinity and Burn. As a result, I stacked up a ton of hate for these decks. [[Kor Fire Walker]] comes in against any Red strategy over the [[Dark Confidant]]s. When we are playing specifically against Burn, [[Thalia, Guardian of Thraben]] can also come in. For the Affinity matchup, we can bring in [[Stony Silence]], [[Zealous Persecution]], and [[Disenchant]] over [[Dark Confidant]], [[Liliana of the Veil]], and [[Thalia, Guardian of Thraben]]. It is also possible that [[Kitaki, War’s Wage]] could replace [[Disenchant]]. I will test both.

    The rest of the board is there to shore up other matchups. [[Thalia, Guardian of Thraben]],  [[Thoughtseize]], and [[Kor Fire Walker]] are excellent options against UWR control. Even though the Tron and Pod matchups are weighted heavily in our favor, [[Stony Silence]] can still come in. While I don’t really have a board against Twin and some of the newer fringe decks, I feel like the disruption suite can keep them off of their game.

    As usual, please give me any feedback that you may have on this deck!

    For the remaining portion of this article I want to discuss my recent PTQ experience. I personally don’t like reading tournament reports, so I am not going to write one here. Not to mention that I don’t actually remember the ins and outs of all my matches (sort of a whirlwind).

    Two weeks ago, I achieved my first PTQ Top 8. I can’t tell you how truly exciting it was for me. I have been playing magic on and off since Revised (3rd Edition), but it has only been in the last year of testing with all the great players at Mead Hall that I have been able to really start to develop my skills as a competitive player. This tournament was a reminder of how far I have come and how far I still have to go.

    While I am still convinced that large chunk my success can be attributed luck, I have started to reflect on other possible factors. One being  familiarity with my deck. I have been testing and jamming FNMs with mono-Black splash Green for quite a while now. Information on the deck can be found here. Being comfortable with my deck and its lines of play gave me confidence in a lot of the tough matches. My advice to anyone who is considering competing in a large tournament is to find a deck and play as many games as possible with it.

    While I am happy with my performance at the PTQ, I walked away focusing more on my failures than my successes. The experience casted a light on my weaknesses as a player and presents me with the opportunity to correct them moving forward. I look forward to the opportunity.


  • Second Yang
    Second Yang Why not four Tidehollow Sculler and only two Leonin Arbiter? Why not four Dark Confidant? Add one Sin Collector? What about Elspeth, Knight-Errant, Blade Splicer, or Squadron Hawk? Add Verdant Catacomb and cut the Tectonic Edges. You have so much hand dis...  more
    January 6
  • Brandon Hepola
    Brandon Hepola Second, great suggestions! I have considered playing with numbers for some of the creatures. I don't think I will cut any arbiter and as a result won't include hawks. I will consider blade splicer, but with no way to recur them I think hero is better. The...  more
    January 6
  • Second Yang
    Second Yang That is true. If your game is to punish searching then Verdant Catacombs isn't your friend. It does make Deathrite Shaman seem odd then. My hunch is you're casting a Turn 1 Thoughtseize or Inquisition of Kozilek. Silence? That would be hilarious!
    January 6
  • Brandon Hepola
    Brandon Hepola Honestly, Deathrite is in their because there simply isn't a better one drop (even when I don't use his green ability most of the time). However, land does pile up in the graveyard rather quickly so I do get him for that. He is also a very real clock for this deck.
    January 6 - 1 likes this