Setting the Modern Scene

Posted in Event Coverage on November 5, 2016

By Marc Calderaro

Showing up to a Modern Grand Prix certainly requires some guts. There are always enumerable decks to account for, and so many players invested in the format. If you don't believe me, just check out just the Day 2 metagame breakdowns from the last Modern Grand Prix weekend, in Lille, Guangzhou, and Indianapolis.

But each time another Modern Grand Prix comes around, more and more players sleeve up cards from the last decade-plus of Magic and get to battling because the format is just so fun to play. Whatever you want, you can do. Whatever combo-deck, aggro-deck, hate-deck, prison-deck desire you have, you can explore it in Modern.

So what are the changes to be looking out for this weekend? There are few tinkerings, a few innovations, and a few off-the-wall dreams that have been floated as of late. Let's take them in order.


Thanks to Kaladesh, some decks just got a bit tweaked for the better. The first that comes to mind is Infect. Already one of the best decks in the format, seeking to inflict ten poison counters post haste, Infect increased stock by swapping out Groundswell or Apostle's Blessing for the new Blossoming Defense—a Groundswell and Apostle's Blessing rolled into one.

Tom Ross’s Infect – SCG Open, Milwaukee

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Another deck that got better is Lantern Control. The grindy, incredibly-fun-to-play, incredibly-frustrating-to-play-against deck got some cards that aren't flashy, but really help the deck tick. Blooming Marsh and Inventor's Fair are two lands that are strict upgrades to the deck's arsenal, along with potentially Aether Hub and Botanical Garden. The ability to cast either Ancient Stirrings or Thoughtseize/Inquisition of Kozilek on the first turn with no additional life loss is killer. And the passive life gain coupled with the ability to tutor for things like another copy of Ensnaring Bridge is all upside for the little trinket deck that could.

There's even room for some more Kaladesh cards like Glint-Nest Crane. It's no surprise an artifact-themed set brought some goodies to an artifact deck.

Lunik’s Lantern Control, MTGO

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The biggest innovation was a deck that was barely on the radar, and has now become quite real. Kiln Fiend has really only seen play in fringe decks—usually alongside Nivmagus Elemental. But the emergence of the Blue-Red Prowess deck has changed that.

An all-in deck that uses every prowess creature that seem worthy of Modern, along with Thing in the Ice and a bevy of instants and sorceries, has been percolating more and more in people's minds, and you might just see a few top players slinging the deck this weekend.

A Temur Battle Rage can do just about a million damage out of nowhere, especially when your Kiln Fiend is already a 10/2.

Montre82’s Blue-Red Prowess

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Or what about the big power boost to Dredge from Cathartic Reunion? Maybe this is more of a “tinkering,” but it seems like a huge innovation, as the deck was already good, but the Reunion has people saying it's the best deck currently in Modern.

The ability to discard more spells and dredge more of your library aware is more than just a “strict upgrade” from the Tormenting Voice, it's a revalation. With the power of Prized Amalgam, Narcomoeba, and Bloodghast, the deck stomps out of the gates and is a pack of relentless dead once it gets its thing going. Though the deck still loses to itself often, its power might still be worth it.

People are viewing Dredge as the new deck to beat, and I can't really blame them.

RandomDrooler’s Dredge

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Off-The-Wall Dreams

We haven't seen anything from it yet, but Hall of Famer Pat Chapin has been talking about it for a while—Madcap Experiment and Platinum Emperion.

Of all the things to be on the lookout for, this is the largest question mark.

The interaction works like this: First, Emperion should be the only artifact in your deck. Next, cast Madcap Experiment which removes cards until it find Platinum Emperion and puts it into play. Then, Madcap Experiment tries to deal you damage equal to the cards removed, but it can't because Platinum Emperion says your life total can't change.

Pretty nice, right? A four-mana, tutor-into-play Platinum Emperion. Easy Peasy.

And one of the craziest parts about the whole thing? Because it's all part of the resolution of the Madcap Experiment, your opponent cannot remove the Emperion before the Experiment finishes resolving. So there's no way to break up the “combo” and deal damage to yourself. The combo has no risk, all reward.

Though the correct shell for the interaction hasn't revealed itself yet, this odd little Kaladesh red sorcery might have a big future in this format.

These are just a few of the stories swirling around Fort Worth this weekend. As Saturday and Sunday develops, we'll see which of these ideas were good ones, a which ones needed a little more time at the drawing board.

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