How to Tweak Pro Tour Decks

Posted in How to Build on February 9, 2016

By Gavin Verhey

When Gavin Verhey was eleven, he dreamt of a job making Magic cards—and now as a Magic designer, he's living his dream! Gavin has been writing about Magic since 2005.

Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch is in the books. And what a Pro Tour it was!

Even with so many cards available, Modern continues to be a constantly evolving format. Between the exit of Splinter Twin and Summer Bloom and the entrance of Oath of the Gatewatch's colorless mana, the Pro Tour left Modern in an exciting state—ready for continued evolution!

It was also certainly a bit of a whirlwind for the Modern aficionado. The entire format was turned on its head, and there's a whole new world to adapt to.

So...where to go from here?

If you spent the weekend watching Pro Tour coverage and were wondering about what to do next, well, that's what this article is here to cover!

Ready? Let's hop right into it!

The Eldrazi

You couldn't even glance at Pro Tour coverage this weekend without hearing rumblings about the new titan on the block: the Eldrazi!

This new archetype is fueled by Eldrazi Temple and Eye of Ugin, allowing you to deploy many of the Oath of the Gatewatch colorless Eldrazi, such as Thought-Knot Seer and Matter Reshaper, far earlier than anyone expects!

Here are a couple of example decklists—including the Pro Tour–winning list!

Jiachen Tao's Blue-Red Eldrazi—Winner, Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch

Download Arena Decklist

Luis Scott-Vargas's Colorless Eldrazi—Top 4, Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch

Download Arena Decklist

So, let's say you want to take one of these decks to your local Friday Night Magic. What are some options for you?

Well, the first thing to take under consideration: expect plenty of the mirror match!

Part of the success of Jiachen Tao's—or JC for short—decklist (and the rest of Team East West Bowl) was because he was favored in the mirror match. Vile Aggregate and Eldrazi Obligator were much more effective than cards such as Chalice of the Void from the likes of Luis Scott-Vargas.

Outside of having more functional cards, the key in this matchup is really to have the last Eldrazi standing. Dismember is great for killing off cards like Thought-Knot Seer and Reality Smasher. If you're looking for sideboard options to consider, Roast is a surprisingly effective option: for two mana, it kills all major threats from the opposition.

But like the Borg or the Cybermen, the Eldrazi have already begun to quickly adapt to the opposition.

On Magic Online, where the metagame can evolve so quickly that it passes you by if you do so much as blink, they've already come up with a new Eldrazi deck that is designed to beat the other versions!

That's right. In the same weekend a deck debuted at the Pro Tour, Magic Online players also came up with the mirror breaker.

Or should I say...the World Breaker?

GoblinLackey's World Breaker—Winner, Modern PTQ

Download Arena Decklist

This red-green Eldrazi deck is uniquely positioned to go over the top of both the blue-red Eldrazi deck and the pure colorless deck. World Breaker is excellent in the mirror, getting rid of your opponent's Eye of Ugin and cutting them off from their crucial double-mana sources, such as Eldrazi Temple.

But the real killer is Kozilek's Return.

The first one clears the ground against the blue-red Eldrazi deck. But then, when World Breaker comes down, it wipes your opponent's board!

And did I mention it's strong against one of Eldrazi's worst Game 1 matchups, Affinity?

If you're looking to bring a tricked-out build of the Eldrazi deck to your local tournament, something like GoblinLackey's is where I would go to. GoblinLackey won a Magic Online PTQ over the weekend, and I wouldn't be surprised to see more events fall in the wake of this red-green Eldrazi deck.

Beating the Eldrazi (And Everything Else, Too!)

Let's say you don't want to align yourself with the Eldrazi. Let's say you, in fact, want to slaughter Eldrazi after Eldrazi.

Well, there are options for that.

Modern always has the tools to adapt. And while the Top 8 was laden with Eldrazi and Affinity, looking just slightly down the standings results in plenty of other options.

How about someone looking to fight with creatures featuring more colorful mana symbols? Well, here's a solid option for you:

Phillip Braverman's Zoo—Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch

Download Arena Decklist

The Eldrazi deck is full of cheap, efficient creatures—but after its initial onslaught, it can run out of gas. So some sizable creatures of your own backed up with Path to Exile and quickly growing Tarmogoyfs can go a long way.

The cards in Phillip's deck that really caught my eye, though, were those two main-deck Magus of the Moons.

While it is vulnerable to Dismember, it can buy you some time—and often, that's all you need to mount your Zoo assault.

If the game stalls out a bit, Knight of the Reliquary can even go find Gavony Township and start pumping your creatures to titanic heights.

One tweak you may want to try is increasing the amount of removal that can kill off those Eldrazi creatures. There's one Dismember hanging out in his sideboard, and I could definitely see using more.

Another deck that put up phenomenal results at the Pro Tour, not dropping a match but finishing just outside of the Top 8 due to the accompanying draft record, was Matthew Rogers's Chord of Calling deck.

Matthew Rogers's Chord Combo—Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch

Download Arena Decklist

This deck does plenty to gum up of the works of the Eldrazi deck, using Path to Exile to remove creatures and playing efficient creatures of its own.

Unlike other midrange decks, what this features is a two-card combo that should be able to win you the game. Archangel of Thune plus Spike Feeder lets you gain unlimited life and put unlimited +1/+1 counters on all of your creatures—which should be more than enough to seal the deal.

There are a couple pieces this deck may want to add in the wake of the Pro Tour. First, that fourth Path to Exile seems mighty solid against an onslaught of Reality Smashers—especially when people seem to be gravitating toward the builds without a main-deck Chalice of the Void.

Something else to look for is a Chord-able creature that can kill off your opponent's creatures. I could definitely see a one-of Fiend Hunter, for example, to get their major threats off the board (and perhaps draw off of Thought-Knot Seer) and let you reclaim the advantage.

But there's some real tech lurking just beneath the surface if you want to be really cruel. There's one card that is immensely difficult for the Eldrazi deck—or many beatdown decks, for that matter—to deal with.

That card? Worship.

Land a Worship, sit behind a creature (perhaps a Chord of Calling–able hexproof creature), and watch your opponent squirm as they can't do anything. Worship is a card I expect to see show up in the weeks to come.

But how about if you're looking for a more accessible deck? Perhaps you're just getting into Modern and don't have a large swath of lands and cards like Tarmogoyf.

Well, I like the cut of Thien Nguyen's jib with his red-green Valakut Scapeshift deck:

Thien Nguyen's Red-Green Valakut Scapeshift—Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch

Download Arena Decklist

Primeval Titan is far from gone in Modern. Scapeshift with Valakut is basically a one-card combo, and this deck aims to set it up as quickly as possible with ramp spells. With seven lands on the battlefield, you can Scapeshift for Valakut and six Mountains to deal 18 damage to your opponent's dome—and with eight lands, you're dealing twice that!

While it is vulnerable to discard, it can race many of the aggressive decks—Eldrazi included—and features huge threats like Primeval Titan that must be killed on the spot.

Any number of red sweepers could help shore up your aggressive matchups—and the card that really got me excited here as a potential include was Wildfire. The Eldrazi deck badly needs its double-lands to work. Wildfire cuts off its mana and most of its creatures to boot. As long as they don't have a Reality Smasher or Blight Herder in play when you cast it, you should be golden. It's definitely something to try out in the weeks to come.

So, what would I play if I was looking to fight the Pro Tour results? Well, I have a recommendation.

Something I've heard rumbling around in Magic Online queues to much success is actually Living End.

If you aren't familiar with the deck, the way it works is that you cycle away a ton of creatures, such as Deadshot Minotaur and Street Wraith. Then you play any cascade spell, find your guaranteed Living End, and reanimate your graveyard—while wiping your opponent's board! It's even a budget strategy to boot.

It's very much a metagame choice. Some of the Eldrazi decks feature Relic of Progenitus and Chalice of the Void—and that's a huge issue for Living End. But the decklists people are moving toward, like the blue-red and red-green versions, don't have either! Some main-deck Ingot Chewers would help keep those contained as well.

Why Living End? Well, it has massive redundancy: any cascade spell will find your Living End, meaning it fights through the disruption of the aggressive decks. It also wipes the board as it combos off, so the Eldrazi or any other aggressive-to-midrange deck is going to be in a rough spot.

It's a bit of a gambit—but it sports an incredible matchup against versions of the Eldrazi deck like JC's and can be built to fight the others.

A good place to start might be Butakov's 25th-place decklist from this past weekend's online PTQ:

Butakov's Living End—25th place, Modern PTQ

Download Arena Decklist

Modern Architecture

The entire architecture of Modern is going to be rapidly changing in the days to come.

What will settle on top? How strong will the Eldrazi deck be once people start playing tools to fight it? Will a new control deck with Spreading Seas emerge? Will Painter's Servant show up as a sideboard option?

Well, it's Modern—and if there's one thing I know about Modern, anything is possible. Happy battling!

Hopefully this article gave you some ideas on where to start. If you have any thoughts or questions at all, please feel free to get in contact with me! You can always reach me by sending me a tweet or asking me a question on my Tumblr.

Have fun with Modern! Until next time,

—Gavin

@GavinVerhey

GavInsight

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