Posted in NEWS on March 9, 2014

By Marc Calderaro


5. Scapeshift

It would be easy to overlook this four-mana green Sorcery. It gets lost in the shuffle of the Pods, the Twins, and all those robots. But this little guy refuses to quit. If you look at the archetypes of the undefeated decks from Day 1, Scapeshift put 2 players (out of 12) in the X-0 bracket, but represented significantly smaller portion of the Day 2 metagame. To compare, the other deck that put up two undefeated players was Merfolk, and it had 21 pilots; Scapeshift had 7. One of the two pilots, Andrew Calderon, was the last undefeated player at 13-0 in a 4,300-person tournament. The Tempo-Combo deck that could (no, not Tempo-Twin) might be a little better positioned in Modern than people expect—especially because all the heat is on those three decks above.


4. Spellskite

This card is doing double duty here. Firstly, it's protection in the Splinter Twin decks. Top 8 finisher Jamie Parke had two in his main deck. If you cast a Spellskite early, you can more confidently jam the combo out there if you need to. Sure, maybe your opponent has two Path to Exiles and you're boned. But maybe they only have one. And four toughness is the magic number that survives the format's most common removal spell, Lightning Bolt.

Secondly, it's a necessary card in the sideboard of many decks—and often against Splinter Twin itself. It's best out of proactive decks that don't want to be bogged down by pesky spot removal. Hall of Fame member Zvi Mowshowitz noted that it was the best card in his sideboard—saying that it blanks decks like Hexproof Auras by requiring them to target your creature with all those awesome Auras.

The card came back to bite Parke in the Top 8. Vipin Chackonal used it out of his Affinity sideboard to protect Torpor Orb during his march to the finals. If your opponents want to help their board, why don't you let them help yours instead?


3. Thoughtseize

In a field that has seen so many archetypes near the top tables, you need a sideboard card that can answer anything. Thoughtseize, for a mere two life, can answer anything before it becomes a problem. Named by Quarterfinalist Luis Scott-Vargas and Finalist Vipin Chackonal as the best card in their sideboards, Thoughtseize is a one-mana response to the most powerful cards Modern can muster. And when people are trying to do unfair things, Thoughtseize can bring them back down to earth.

In the words of No. 8 Josh Utter-Leyton, "It forces uninteractive decks interact with you."


2. Arcbound Ravager

This card has not changed one bit, has it? The damage-stacking rules have changed around it, but Ravager doesn't care. It just does what it wants, and it does it well. You can pick many cards from the Affinity deck to highlight the powerful synergy of the deck, but the more Affinity gets played, the better Arcbound Ravager becomes. Eventual finalist Vipin Chackonal leaned on it hard in the mirror match, allowing him to always trade his creatures profitably, netting a few +1/+1 counters for his trouble. And in the counting war that is the Affinity mirror match, "a few" is all it takes.

Additionally, Arcbound Ravager is the deck's best card to fight against Kataki, War's Wage from decks like Melira Pod. In the Quarters, Michael Sigrist used Arcbound to avoid paying upkeep costs for artifacts like Ornithopter and Signal Pest, while converting them into the valuable creature-pumping resources.

The game may have changed, but Ravager still knows all the rules.


1. Shatterstorm

"I told you to play that card!" A friend of winner Brian Liu called out the proclamation as he won the decisive third game of the finals. Having the right tools for the right decks was a theme players kept coming back to on Sunday, and Shatterstorm shouts what it's meant for: Affinity.

Working with a slower, six-card start, Brian Liu rendered Vipin Chackonal helpless with his potent artifact destruction. With only an Island left to worry about, Liu's victory lap of turns was a leisurely stroll.

That's what the right card in the sideboard can do for you, even if your friend had to convince you upfront.