Making the Jump to Modern

Posted in How to Build on March 14, 2017

By Jacob Van Lunen

Jacob Van Lunen began playing Magic in 1995. He has participated in organized play at every level of competition and was a member of the winning team at Pro Tour San Diego in 2007, thanks to an innovative draft strategy. As a writer, Van Lunen has had more than three hundred Magic strategy pieces published

The sheer number of available tools at our disposal in a format like Modern can seem daunting. Unlike rotating formats, Modern continues to grow with each new set release. One might assume that a format this large would be relatively stagnant; there are so many cards that a few hundred more from a new set may just seem like a drop in the bucket. However, Modern continues to evolve as sets are released and continues to prove the endless depth of the greatest game ever conceived. Today, we'll be taking a look at recently printed cards that have made the jump from Standard to Modern and discussing their applications therein.

Modern Masters 2017 Edition looks like it may be the most powerful set ever released. There's no doubt that we'll all be spending a lot of time cracking packs and drafting in the coming weeks. Some of us may not have a Modern deck yet and Modern Masters, while providing a lot of powerful cards for our decks, will only get us so far in crafting our own Modern masterpiece. Luckily, a lot of cards that we have from Standard (and some that have recently rotated) are currently making waves in Modern.

Build Arounds

Let's start by looking at more recent cards that we can build our deck around.

Sram, Senior Edificer

Sram, Senior Edificer and Puresteel Paladin have joined forces to make a combo deck that draws through scary numbers of cards by playing free Equipment, then bounces all those cards back to their hand with Retract, then plays and draws even more cards before eventually finishing the game with a lethal storm spell.

People tried to play Puresteel Paladin combo decks in the past, but the redundancy we get from Sram, Senior Edificer makes the deck a lot more consistent than ever before.

The deck is fragile, and being unable to protect or find either Puresteel Paladin or Sram, Senior Edificer can pose some real problems. Of course, these are things we have to live with if we want to be winning on the second turn of the game with scary amounts of consistency.

Below is a version of the deck that Caleb Durward went undefeated with in a Magic Online League.

CalebD's Equipment Storm

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Baral, Chief of Compliance

Baral, Chief of Compliance combines with Goblin Electromancer to make traditional Modern Storm into a super-powerful version of its previous self. Like Sram, Baral creates redundancy and consistency that the storm deck never had before.

Having access to seven or eight cards that reduce the cost of spells allows Storm players to reliably play Gifts Ungiven, which often feels like four Demonic Tutors when you're playing this deck. With Gifts Ungiven, the deck no longer needs to lean on Pyromancer Ascension when it's trying to set up a combo finish.

Reducing the cost of spells transforms unthreatening cards like Pyretic Ritual or Manamorphose into absurdly powerful cards that don't feel like they belong in the format.

Noesmitipo's Storm

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Expertise Cards

 

Both Kari Zev's Expertise and Sram's Expertise are being used alongside Beck // Call and Breaking // Entering to do very unfair things in Modern. The deck usually aims to reanimate Emrakul, the Aeons Torn or Griselbrand as early as the second turn as its primary means of victory. Unfortunately, no versions of the deck have had wide tournament success just yet. However, the ability to cast very big spells for very small amounts of mana is something that can't be overlooked when constructing the Modern deck for you.

Eldrazi and Walking Ballista

One of the biggest developments in Modern recently has been the new versions of Eldrazi Tron. Todd Stevens brought the deck to a tournament and went an astounding 17-1 with his list.

The deck uses Urza's Tower, Urza's Power Plant, and Urza's Mine alongside Eldrazi Temple and completely eschews the ability to make colored mana at all. More recently released cards like Endbringer, Matter Reshaper, Thought-Knot Seer, and Walking Ballista all make an appearance here. Walking Ballista and Endbringer get very exciting when combined with Basilisk Collar, making any sort of creature matchup into a cakewalk by giving them deathtouch so they can demolish the other side of the table.

Sicsmoo's Colorless Eldrazi

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Cards that give us access to toolboxes

Modern is a format where we can find ourselves in a lot of different situations. Some new cards allow us to build our Modern deck so we can play few copies of situational cards that can be found when we need them.

Traverse the Ulvenwald

Traverse the Ulvenwald has been a major player in Standard since it was printed. Now, the card has become the cornerstone of strategy in Modern's current top dog, Death's Shadow. The deck demolished Grand Prix Vancouver, putting three players into the Top 8 and eventually securing Josh Utter-Leyton another trophy.

It's easy to quickly turn on delirium in Modern and, in doing so, we end up with some pretty gigantic Tarmogoyfs. With Traverse the Ulvenwald, we can find a bunch of Death's Shadows when it's huge, just grab some more Tarmogoyfs when we're trading cards with the opponent, cantrip and make our Death's Shadow bigger with Street Wraith, and set up a finishing blow, often comboing alongside Temur Battle Rage with Ghor-Clan Rampager.

If you're looking to play the "best" deck in Modern, then this is probably at the top of the list right now. It's hard to argue with results, and this deck's are absurd.

Josh Utter-Leyton's Death's Shadow

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Collected Company

Collected Company has proven itself as the heir to Birthing Pod's throne in terms of creature combo. Collected Company allows Modern players to find all the pieces to creature combos while also finding specific cards that have the ability to dominate certain matchups.

Oftentimes, Collected Company is used to set up Chord of Calling by finding two-thirds or half of a creature combo before tapping the found creatures to find the finishing touch.

The ability to find sideboard cards or main deck inclusions like Spellskite, Scavenging Ooze, Eternal Witness, or Renegade Rallier when they're necessary for a specific game situation has really pushed Collected Company to the point of being a Modern staple.

We can expect various Collected Company decks to always be competitive in Modern. Here's a current version of the deck that made the Top 8 of Grand Prix Vancouver in the hands of Eric Severson. It includes the Archangel of Thune/Spike Feeder combo (Gain infinite life and put infinite +1/+1 counters on our creatures by repeatedly activating the Spike Feeder's ability and letting it and the Archangel of Thune trigger resolve) alongside the more traditional persist combo. (Use Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit or Melira, Sylvok Outcast with Kitchen Finks and Viscera Seer to gain infinite life and set up our draw step by repeatedly sacrificing the Kitchen Finks.)

Eric Severson's Abzan Company

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Powerful Upgrades

Some of the cards we're seeing a lot of from recent sets are simply powerful and synergistic enough to find their way into some of Modern's most effective strategies.

Jace, Vryn's Prodigy

Two-mana planeswalkers are very scary, and Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, while not currently the toast of the town, is sure to be a part of many powerful strategies going forward. It's hard to argue with the sheer power-to-mana ratio here, and there's enough to do with our graveyards in Modern to make this into a long-term staple of the format.

Renegade Rallier

This card from Aether Revolt is already doing a lot of exciting things in both aggressive and midrange Modern decks. The card is most commonly being used in Collected Company decks, but we're also seeing it in other midrange decks and in some aggressive strategies.

Reckless Bushwhacker

Aggressive creature decks that aim to flood the board with inexpensive creatures have welcomed the addition of Reckless Bushwacker. The card deals absurd amounts of damage for a relatively inexpensive cost. The card is at its best when played alongside Burning-Tree Emissary. In fact, I found myself dead on turn three the other night when my opponent cast Renegade Rallier resurrecting Burning-Tree Emissary, thus making mana to surge Reckless Bushwacker and attack me for some ungodly amount of damage.

I'm a sucker for a weird aggro deck, and this Human tribal deck from Zaelphur that went undefeated in a Magic Online League looks like the perfect place for Reckless Bushwhacker to serve as the finisher.

Zaelphur's Five-Color Humans

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Kolaghan's Command

Kolaghan's Command saw a bit of Standard play, but the card really shines in Modern for a number of reasons. It's much more likely that we'll be able to kill an artifact. Modern tends to be a format where people empty their hands quickly at times; in these situations, Kolaghan's Command being used to make someone discard during their draw step can often be the difference between victory and defeat. Kolaghan's Command also offers up card advantage without sacrificing tempo, and that's exactly what we want to be doing if we're trying to win the card war in Modern. The best deck that currently utilizes Kolaghan's Command is likely the Death's Shadow deck that won Grand Prix Vancouver.

Thing in the Ice

Thing in the Ice has allowed a fringe strategy like prowess to enter the competitive ranks of Modern play. The card performs so well here that I can imagine it finding its way into a lot of other Modern decks in the future. The Horror is very easy to flip in Modern, and that's a whole lot of card for just two mana.

Here's a prowess deck that vini-torres used to go undefeated in a Modern League.

vini-torres's Blue-Red Prowess

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Collective Brutality

Collective Brutality hasn't been doing much in Standard, but the card has quickly become a Modern staple where it's able to do a lot of work for just a small amount of mana while also fueling our graveyard or emptying our hand to expedite our deck's game plan. The card has a lot of homes already, but it seems tailor-made for the Lantern of Insight decks that aim to control their opponent's draw step while often hiding behind an Ensnaring Bridge.

Here's a version of Lantern Control that recently went undefeated on Magic Online. The deck may not look like it does very much, but you'd be surprised by its ability to win.

AngledLuffa's Lantern Control

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Atarka's Command

Atarka's Command is one of the best burn spells ever printed, and it has quickly become a staple of Modern burn decks. Burn isn't the best-positioned deck right now, but the deck is sure to rise to prominence again at some point, and Atarka's Command will certainly be making an appearance. As Burn has less of a presence, Atarka's Command has been adopted by aggressive Red-Green Zoo decks.

This is the perfect time to build a deck for Modern. The release of Modern Masters 2017 Edition opens up a world of possibilities when we combine those cards with the best the new sets have to offer. Crack open some packs, scour the internet for deck ideas, find your favorite card, and make a home for it. Modern is a format that lets you be you. Take advantage!

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