Bringing New Light to Modern

Posted in Perilous Research on October 29, 2015

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

Welcome back to Perilous Research, DailyMTG's exclusive Magic Online column. For the last week, I've been obsessed with brewing Modern decks. Battle for Zendikar introduces one of the most interesting Modern tools we've had at our disposal in a long time. Bring to Light looks like it has the potential to be additional copies of Scapeshift, but the applications of the card go a lot deeper than that. Today, we'll be taking a look at recent undefeated Modern decks from Daily Events, paying special attention to Battle for Zendikar's most exciting Modern addition!

We'll start by discussing the obvious. Bring to Light is very good in decks that need a specific card that costs five or less mana. Post-sideboard, Bring to Light decks gain access to a lot of powerful cards that might otherwise not be worth the slot. For example, Fracturing Gust, Crumble to Dust, Slaughter Games, and Thundermaw Hellkite may not be worth a slot in our 75-card list by themselves most of the time, but when we're able to tutor up game-breaking sideboard options, it gives us access to a lot of game-breaking plays.

Let's take a look at some decklists!

Right-Seid's Scapeshift to Light

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Right-Seid went undefeated in a Daily Event earlier this week using a Scapeshift deck that takes advantage of Bring to Light. Glen Elendra Archmage seems like the best tutor target available for the control matchups. Bring to Light finds the bullet, and the deck can naturally protect its combo with incredible efficiency from there. The deck also plays a single copy of Wrath of God to search up when the opponent's board gets out of hand. In general, the deck plays very similarly to previous iterations of Scapeshift; however, giving the deck access to additional copies of its namesake while also giving it access to Wrath of God, Glen Elendra Archmage, Shatterstorm, and Crumble to Dust makes the Scapeshift deck have a much more powerful sideboard. In the past, it's been difficult to get strong sideboard usage in this type of combo strategy, because any cards we might bring in would dilute our ability to combo or protect our combo with the desired efficiency. Bring to Light gives the deck access to a lot of haymaker sideboard potential without requiring the deck to change many cards for the second or third game. Scapeshift as a strategy essentially guarantees that we'll be seeing Bring to Light in Modern.

JVLTMS's Bring to Light

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I was very intrigued by Bring to Light as a toolbox engine. I decided to build a deck that took advantage of this in the best way possible. I tried all sorts of tutor targets: Keranos, God of Storms, Thragtusk, Sigarda, Host of Herons, and Glen Elendra Archmage, among others. I ended up settling on Thundermaw Hellkite, Obzedat, Ghost Council, and Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker as main deck "fives" to tutor for. Kiki-Jiki combos with Restoration Angel to win the game; we can activate Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, copying the Restoration Angel and blinking Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker until we have enough Angels to attack for the win. Obzedat, Ghost Council has proven to be one of the best targets, usually winning the game by itself. In matchups where Lingering Souls is the name of the game, we have Thundermaw Hellkite to win the Lingering Souls war. Thundermaw Hellkite can often kill a creature or two while speeding up our clock by a turn, and occasionally it just wins the game by itself. Lotus Cobra is better here than I've ever seen it before. The card enables turn-three Bring to Light and allows us to get Obzedat, Ghost Council on the table right away. In post-sideboarded games, the deck gets dramatically better with access to a toolbox filled with cards that can win matchups entirely by themselves. My favorite part about this deck is that all the cards are individually strong. There's no weak link where we're looking at a card and wondering why we're playing it in Modern. We get to play some of the best spells in the format while having access to an incredible toolbox, especially after sideboarding. I've already won a bunch of eight-player queues with this, and the concept seems promising.

Bring to Light makes a lot of things possible. I'm looking forward to searching up more fun and exciting options as I learn about all the card has to offer in a format as big as Modern. Other decks have been winning too, though! Let's take a look at some of the other strategies that people have used to go undefeated in Daily Events this week.

Shoktroopa's Blue Tron

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Shoktroopa is still playing Blue Tron, as has been true for well over a year at this point. The deck can be very difficult to pilot, but the various lines of play make it one of the most interesting strategies available in Modern. Eventually, the deck aims to win by looping Mindslaver with Academy Ruins to lock the opponent out of the game. Treasure Mage allows the deck to find a clutch Wurmcoil Engine, Platinum Angel, or Mindslaver. The deck essentially slows down the game with countermagic and disruption before it takes over with its top end. We shouldn't expect this to become a huge part of the Modern metagame, but it's worth noting that Shoktroopa is truly dedicated to the deck and has enjoyed a lot of success with it.

ORDAL's Infect

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Infect has started putting up some very impressive results in Modern, now that Lingering Souls has become less popular in the last couple of weeks. The deck is capable of turn-two kills, something that's pretty rare and exciting in Modern. Become Immense gave the deck a lot of late game kill potential that was previously unavailable. Now, even with just a couple poison counters on the opponent, one card in the infect player's hand can represent lethal alongside a single Inkmoth Nexus. It may seem like the deck is weak to dedicated spot removal, but draws involving Vines of Vastwood, Apostle's Blessing, and/or Spellskite are generally pretty good at powering through cards such as Path to Exile and Lightning Bolt.

_Goblinlackey's Burn Zoo

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The other deck that's been on the rise recently is Burn Zoo. The deck enjoyed a lot of success last spring and seems to be making a comeback as a lot of players are cutting Kor Firewalkers from their sideboards. With fewer Collected Company decks and more clunky decks that are trying to do big things, it makes sense that a focused, aggressive burn strategy would be one of the top dogs in the format. This is likely the most popular Modern strategy right now, and we can expect it to have a huge presence at upcoming Modern events. This is a matchup that everyone should be testing for.

Modern is constantly evolving and warping itself to better adapt to a current metagame. Just last month, the format seemed to be defined by Grixis delve strategies. Now, that deck has become a lot less popular and we're starting to see the decks that are a bit softer to disruption perform much better. Bring to Light shines a new light on unexplored areas of the format and encourages us to innovate new and powerful decks. What are you playing in Modern? What card(s) from Battle for Zendikar have you tried in Modern?

Knowledge is power!

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