Pro Tour Fate Reforged Modern Introduction

Posted in PRO TOUR FATE REFORGED on February 6, 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

Pro Tour Fate Reforged brings Modern to Magic’s biggest stage. Most of you are probably familiar with Modern after Pro Tour Born of the Gods and the World Championship, but this weekend promises to deliver exciting new strategies that haven’t previously been a part of the Modern canon. Let’s discuss the types of decks we can expect to see this weekend in an effort to further understand the current state of Modern!

Birthing Pod decks were a force to be reckoned with in previous Modern events. Birthing Pod brought a big game to the table: Aggressive creature strategies found themselves in stalled situations that would usually end with the Birthing Pod player assembling one of its combos. Control decks couldn’t play a truly long game because a resolved Birthing Pod at any stage of the game resulted in defeat. Midrange strategies were forced to play cards like Anger of the Gods in their main deck to stand a chance. The banning of the powerhouse artifact opens the door for countless decks to make an appearance.

Similarly, the under-costed card advantage engines of Dig Through Time or Treasure Cruise pushed a lot of cards out of the Modern spotlight. Thoughtseize, Inquisition of Kozilek, and other strong discard effects were neutered because players could simply refill their hand for one or two mana in the clutch. We can expect to see a lot of targeted discard in the wake of Dig Through Time and Treasure Cruise having been banned.

What decks should we expect to see?

Black-Green midrange strategies are the big winner with the recent bannings. Thoughtseize, Inquisition of Kozilek, and Tarmogoyf are major players again with Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time out of the format. These decks aim to disrupt their opponents with the best targeted discard in the format, remove creatures with some of the best spot removal spells available, and attack the opponent with some of the format’s best threats. Abzan versions of the deck will likely be the most popular, using Lingering Souls, Path to Exile, and Siege Rhino to dominate the mid-game after early discard and removal picks apart the opponent’s game plan. Jund versions of the deck gain access to Lightning Bolt, Chandra, Pyromaster, and Terminate to make the deck stronger in a creature-heavy metagame, but worse against combo and burn decks. Straight Black-Green versions of the deck will also show up, relying on consistency over power.

Splinter Twin is the combo strategy of choice in Modern right now. This deck aims to combine either Pestermite or Deceiver Exarch with Splinter Twin or Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker. By copying Pestermite or Deceiver Exarch, the player can then untap either Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker or the creature enchanted with Splinter Twin, this process can be repeated an unlimited number of times to attack the opponent for actual billions of damage. Some versions of the deck splash green for Tarmogoyf to make the deck have a more reasonable tempo angle. Other versions of the deck may be splashing black for Tasigur, the Golden Fang and targeted discard like Thoughtseize to better protect the combo.

Affinity is the aggressive strategy of choice. The deck aims to empty its hand of cheap artifacts as quickly as possible to end the game in the blink of an eye. Key cards like Cranial Plating and Arcbound Ravager make this deck an extraordinarily difficult opponent for anyone without a sufficient sideboard plan. Temur Battle Rage may make an appearance in some versions of this deck as a supercharged Berserk to combo with Cranial Plating. Some versions of the deck will be taking advantage of Ensoul Artifact, which can often make a 5/5 haste creature for just two mana.

Aggressive red decks will also show up in some number. Eidolon of the Great Revel does a tremendous amount of damage in a format where the vast majority of cards cost one or two mana. Eidolon, along with Goblin Guide and Monastery Swiftspear, are backed up with a flurry of burn spells to leave the opponent in ashes. The deck is as consistent as they come and players could be seeking to get free wins against a field that’s going to 15 by fetching up and untapped Overgrown Tomb to cast Thoughtseize on the first turn. In general, Modern decks play much better when going first, but the red deck ascends this truth by simply aiming to resolve six or seven total spells.

Jeskai Control decks could be aiming to take advantage of the format’s current state by combining Path to Exile and Lightning Bolt with Snapcaster Mage to dominate the early to mid game against creature opponents. The deck usually wins with some combination of Vendilion Clique, Snapcaster Mage, and Restoration Angel. Sphinx’s Revelation was unable to fight a long game against Birthing Pod, but, with the new bannings, we could see the format’s biggest draw spell return to action.

We’ve only scratched the surface of the decks we can expect in the Modern portion of this weekend’s Pro Tour.