Modern after the MOCS

Posted in Perilous Research on May 21, 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 to Modern Week here at Perilous Research,'s exclusive Magic Online column! Modern has been rapidly evolving since the release of Dragons of Tarkir. Powerful new tools like Kolaghan's Command are finding their way into a lot of existing strategies while entirely new engines, like Collected Company, are spawning entirely new archetypes inspired by some great strategies from the past. All the moving and shaking has opened the floodgates and we're seeing a more versatile Modern metagame than we have in years. Today, we'll be taking a look at the latest Modern developments from the Magic Online Championship and Magic Online Daily Events alike.

Collected Company | Art by Franz Vohwinkel

The MOCS Modern Decks

Last weekend, sixteen of the greatest Magic Online virtuosos arrived in Seattle, Washington, to compete for the title of Magic Online Champion. Perhaps the most exciting format showcased was Modern, where new Collected Company strategies rose up from obscurity and old favorites like Jund reestablished themselves as competitive entities. The most successful decks from this event should establish some major changes to the state of Modern.

The Winning Deck

Let's start by taking a look at Magnus Lantto's Elf Company deck:

Magnus Lantto—Elf Company

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Magnus Lantto's Elf Company deck creates absurd amounts of mana with redundancy and fuels powerful Chord of Calling and Collected Company plays that often result in Ezuri, Renegade Leader attacking for absurd amounts of damage long before the opponent has an opportunity to interact. The deck has the ability to race other combo opponents and generally demolishes midrange strategies. What's worse is that the deck is scrappy, so even when an opponent is able to break up the combo they're still often dying to a horde of 1/1s with incidental advantages.

The Single 4-0 Deck

Magnus Lantto may have won the whole event, but his record in the Modern Swiss portion of the event was less than spectacular. There were only four players that successfully navigated their way through the Modern rounds with three or more wins and only a single player that managed to go through that portion of the event with an undefeated record. Let's take a look at Jasper de Jong's Melira and Company deck:

Jasper de Jong—Melira and Company

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Jasper de Jong went undefeated through the Swiss Modern portion of the event with this Collected Company deck, which looks a lot like the heir to Birthing Pod's throne. The deck aims to combine Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit or Melira, Sylvok Outcast with Kitchen Finks or Murderous Redcap, and Viscera Seer to either gain infinite life or deal infinite damage. The deck attacks from a lot of angles and each of the cards is powerful on its own. The real danger from a deck like this is that it's always threatening to win the game out of nowhere while also applying pressure with individually powerful cards. This version of the Collected Company deck is less fragile than the Elf version, but it's also significantly less explosive.

The 3-1 Decks

Three players made it through the Modern portion of the MOCS with 3-1 or better records. Let's take a look at their decks:

Aleksa Telarov—Burn

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Burn isn't really a surprise, but it's definitely worth noting that Atarka's Command is now an automatic four-of in just about every version of the deck. It's very difficult to argue with the card's power level from a pure damage perspective. Upgrading Skullcrack to Atarka's Command made a huge difference for burn strategies with Dragons of Tarkir and we can expect these decks to continue to rise in popularity until Kor Firewalker becomes a ubiquitous sideboard option. Eidolon of the Great Revel continues to apply unfair amounts of pressure on the opponent while forcing them into making suboptimal plays.

Shintaro Ishimura—White-Blue Tron

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White-Blue Tron has been around since the beginning of Modern, but the deck may start seeing a big comeback with the popularity of Collected Company and Burn. Burn decks struggle to deal with Iona, Shield of Emeria, and Collected Company decks will have a lot of trouble dealing with Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite. Gifts Ungiven allows us to just search for a big reanimation target and Unburial Rites, forcing our opponent to put them all in our graveyard, then we can pay just four mana and lock them out of the game with a giant white legend. The permission suite available to the White-Blue Tron deck makes it reasonably well positioned against some combo decks and usually gives it the requisite time to survive for a big play.

Daryl Ayers—Jund

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Jund may have waned in popularity over the last few months, as Abzan decks established themselves as the midrange strategy of choice, but Jund is seeing a resurgence of late thanks to the undeniable power of Lightning Bolt in the current format. Kolaghan's Command is also a tremendous upgrade to the deck that provides exactly what the deck was looking for at virtually every stage of the game. Against affinity, Kolaghan's Command is a lot like having main deck Ancient Grudge and the card also happens to be good in every other matchup too! Wilt-Leaf Liege-style strategies are much less popular with the rise of combo and these versions of Jund don't have to worry about losing to creatures that simply jump onto the battlefield when they're supposed to be discarded to Liliana of the Veil.

Undefeated Daily Events Decks

The new wave of archetypes in Modern has paved the way for more traditional decks to take on new shapes to attack the metagame and establish themselves atop the rest of the decks. Let's take a look at the established decks that have changed in the last few weeks and flourished in the new and diverse Modern metagame.

All of these decks went undefeated in Daily Events over the last week:


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Affinity was lingering about in obscurity for a bit because of its general weakness to Lingering Souls. Sure, a strong affinity draw is usually pretty unbeatable, but a weak affinity draw has a lot of problems with four different 1/1 flyers from a single card. The biggest change we're seeing in the affinity lists that are doing well right now is the inclusion of one or two copies of Temur Battle Rage, a card with the ability to win games completely out of nowhere when combined with Cranial Plating or Arcbound Ravager.

AndreasBendix—Esper Control

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Esper Control is probably my favorite deck among those making a strong appearance. Esper Charm is a great card-draw spell with a lot of random upside in the current metagame, and the deck seems to be able to play the best permission alongside the format's best threat, Lingering Souls. Sure a few threats might sneak through the wall of countermagic, but Lingering Souls usually fights back pretty nicely. Opposing copies of Lingering Souls are quite weak to Jace, Architect of Thought, which also tends to dominate the other control matchups. The deck is well equipped to fight off any type of opponent and it gets tremendously better for games two and three in just about every matchup. This deck has a lot going for it right now.


Download Arena Decklist

We all thought that Zoo strategies would be making a big comeback when Wild Nacatl came off the banned list, but it didn't seem to work out that way. Zoo is doing better again now that a lot of the Siege Rhino decks are going smaller and becoming more combo oriented. Atarka's Command proves to be a valuable tool here too, and the deck makes up for a terrible Burn matchup with tremendously strong results in the vast majority of matchups.

There are still a ton of combo decks winning too. Amulet Bloom, Splinter Twin, Pyromancer Ascension, and various other versions of Tron are doing well. These decks haven't changed much, but their initial composition happens to be well-suited to a world with fewer copies of Thoughtseize and Inquisition of Kozilek. The biggest surprise of the week was the lackluster performance from Delver strategies everywhere. Delver decks remain one of the most popular choice in Modern, but the deck is losing more and more ground every week. The best versions of the deck will likely find a way to include Kolaghan's Command and post-sideboard hand disruption.

Next week, we'll explore the global aspect of Magic Online. One of the great joys of getting to play on the Pro Tour was becoming familiar with people from all around the world. When we play Magic, especially Constructed, we're often insulated within our own geographical metagame to some extent. At global events and on Magic Online, we're all thrown into the same pot and forced to operate outside our comfort zone. Learning how to play against every kind of opponent with every kind of strategy will sharpen our play-skill level and help us become more global and inclusive human beings. Stay tuned!

Knowledge is power!

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