Looking In on Seven Video Deck Techs

Posted in GRAND PRIX COPENHAGEN 2015 on June 21, 2015

By Frank Karsten

Early on Saturday morning, the video team invited several well-known players to talk a bit about their Modern deck of choice. I took a moment to watch and listen to what these masters had to say.

Martin Müller's Amulet Bloom – Grand Prix Copenhagen 2015

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Martin Müller, leader of the Danish National team that won the trophy at the World Magic Cup, opted for Amulet/Bloom. The deck aims to play multiple bouncelands with Summer Bloom, untap them with Amulet of Vigor, and then get Primeval Titan into play as early as turn two. His list is essentially a copy of Alexander Hayne's list from Grand Prix Charlotte, except for the replacement of Tendo Ice Bridge by another basic land to improve against Path to Exile and Ghost Quarter and for the addition of Engineered Explosives to the sideboard.

Martin Müller

"I think it's a powerful deck, and I don't expect too much hate for Amulet Bloom in the metagame now," Müller said. "It didn't do very well last weekend in Charlotte, and I expect players to replace their Blood Moon and Fulminator Mage by cards that beat the new decks like Elves, Griselbrand, and Ad Nauseam."

Simon Nielsen's Goryo's Vengeance – Grand Prix Copenhagen 2015

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Simon Nielsen, who was also member of the Danish WMC team, registered the Grishoalbrand or Goryo's Vengeance deck that broke out at Grand Prix Charlotte. "I haven't really faced a bad matchup yet in testing. The deck doesn't interact much and can get turn-two kills, just like the Amulet deck, but people are not prepared for it. I think it is one of the best decks until people adjust."

Simon Nielsen

"Griselbrand doesn't need to attack to win with this deck. The way the combo works is that you pay life to draw cards, at which point you will have probably drawn Nourishing Shoal and Worldspine Wurm. You gain 11 and continue to draw your entire deck. At some point you exile two Simian Spirit Guides to splice Desperate Ritual on Nourishing Shoal, and eventually you get up to enough mana to cast or splice Through the Breach. Borborygmos Enraged enters the battlefield, and you should have enough lands to kill your opponent at that point."

Steve Hatto's Scapeshift – Grand Prix Copenhagen 2015

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Steve Hatto, national champion of Luxemburg, opted for Scapeshift. "I love to play a controllish deck with a one-card-kill combo," he said. "And I love the challenge to play against a metagame full of Blood Moon. I can beat it by bouncing it, countering it, or destroying it ... and sometimes not at all," he laughed.

Steve Hatto

His version also featured a creature plan in his sideboard. Especially when his opponents boarded out creature removal, he would surprise them and win with, say, an uncontested Thragtusk.

Martin Dang's Grixis Twin – Grand Prix Copenhagen 2015

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No Atarka's Command for hometown hero Martin Dang, the winner of Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir. He chose Grixis Twin for this event. "I really like the Twin combo and I have been playing it a lot." After being chastised by Riley Knight for having mismatching basics and three different versions of Remand in his deck, they went on to discuss card choices.

Martin Dang

"The two Splinter Twin decks in the Top 8 of Grand Prix Charlotte were straight blue/red, but I like the black cards. Kologhan's Command is good in the late game and excellent with Snapcaster Mage. Tasigur, the Golden Fang can win the game by itself if it comes down on turn two or three. And Inquisition of Kozilek is the best way to deal with Abrupt Decay."

Olle Råde's Living End – Grand Prix Copenhagen 2015

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And then we had Gold level pro Fabrizio Anteri doing a video deck tech on ... Hall of Famer Olle Råde's Living End deck. Somehow Råde was not available to explain the workings of his deck on camera, whereas Anteri was willing to do an interview but preferred to keep his own deck "secret" for the time being, so somehow they worked out this as a solution.

Fabrizio Anter

Fortunately, since Anteri had also considered Living End as an option for the Grand Prix, he was able to share some of his insights on the deck. "The metagame is in a good spot for Fulminator Mage because Amulet/Bloom and Tron are relatively popular, and Living End is the best deck to abuse Fulminator Mage. Living End is also very strong against creature decks based around Collected Company. Our version is pretty standard, although four Architects of Will is relatively new. One-mana cyclers are just so important for this deck."

Pierre Dagen's Jund – Grand Prix Copenhagen 2015

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Gold-level pro Pierre Dagen, here to chase Pro Points in the hope of clinching Gold status for another season, went with Jund. "It has a good fighting chance against every deck," he said. "Kolaghan's Command is as good as Cryptic Command. I'm extremely sold on the card."

Pierre Dagen

"I built the deck to play well versus Blood Moon. I don't have too many man lands or Ghost Quarters—I have more basics instead. I even have Blood Moon in my own sideboard."

Eduardo Sajgalik's Ascendancy combo – Grand Prix Copenhagen 2015

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Eduardo Sajgalik likes Jeskai Ascendancy. He piloted it to the Top 8 of Grand Prix Milan 2014, the previous European Modern Grand Prix, and he's back for more. Although many people discarded the deck after Treasure Cruise was banned, Sajgalik (along with his testing partner João Choça) didn't give up.

Eduardo Sajgalik

"I looked for a replacement that could refill your hand purely card-wise. I tried a lot of cards, but Life from the Loam was the one I ended up with because it had dredge. That was key for me. It allows you to mill a lot of your deck so you can find Faithless Looting and Fatestitcher. And it adequately fills your hand size for Ascendancy."

This deck deserves a slightly lengthier explanation than the preceding ones, so I sat down with Sajgalik to talk about his deck. He was happy to explain how it ticked. "A turn-three kill that is hard to disrupt would go as follows. Turn one tapland. Turn two Sylvan Caryatid. Turn three Jeskai Ascendancy. From there, any 1-mana spell you play will be free and will allow you to loot through your deck. At some point, you'll hit Fatestitcher and discard it. You unearth it, and from that point any 1-mana spell you cast nets you one additional mana. Eventually you will hit Life from the Loam, which allows you to return some fetch lands or lands you discarded. With the draw and discard from Ascendancy, you can set up a dredge chain, drawing and discarding Loams. Eventually, you'll hit more Fatestitchers, which will get bigger thanks to Ascendancy, and you attack for 20. You don't have to go infinite."

But what if the opponent gained infinite life or if you need to go off in your second main phase? "Then Wheel of Sun and Moon provides an alternative kill condition. So you combo off, and at the end of the combo you have a Serum Visions, Thought Scour, and Glittering Wish in hand, with one card in your library. You Glittering Wish for Wheel of Sun and Moon and cast it targeting yourself. Thought Scour mill them for two, Wheel of Sun and Moon puts it back, and then you redraw it with Serum Visions. You can repeat this enough times to mill them out."

How about sideboarding? "Leyline of Sanctity is against Jund and Burn, and Silence is there against all the blue decks. But I never board much because of the Glittering Wish sideboard. As for what to take out: If they play Lightning Bolt, then Birds of Paradise come out. Other than that, I mostly shave one Manamorphose, one Sleight of Hand, one Glittering Wish, one Silence, and/or one Slaughter Pact, depending on the match-up."

What are good and bad match-ups of the deck? "Jund and Burn are bad match-ups. If I could pick a card to never see, it's Eidolon of the Great Revel. But Tron and Affinity are amazing matchups. In general, any deck that tries to win on turn four and doesn't interact much with you is a really good matchup."

Did Sajgalik consider the deck a good choice for Modern right now? "I think the deck is definitely playable in Modern. You can never play it online, only in real life. There are so many triggers, it's extremely unforgiving, and you have to know exactly how to play every match-up. But it's inherently powerful, extremely potent, and it kills on turn four consistently. Many people also don't know how to play against this deck because they've never seen it. As long as no one expects it, it's fine."