Like Infect, Burn was a deck that surprised many people with its solid performance. It wasn’t that the deck was an unknown, but before today it was always a tier below the top decks; it was a deck people played for fun. It had never been this good, and Eidolon of the Great Revel is most of the reason for its ascendancy into a top deck.
If the Pyrostatic Pillar on legs isn’t removed on sight, the damage will spiral out of control, usually as the opponent tries to search for a method of removal. Its mere existence blanks entire combo decks. Try playing Storm when this card’s around. It doesn’t go well.
In sixth-ranked Lee Shi Tian’s win-and-in mirror match against Nathan Smith, Eidolon of the Great Revel was instrumental. Once Lee was ahead on damage he stuck an Eidolon and put Smith in a terrible place. Smith couldn’t point the burn at Lee’s face, or he would inevitably lose any damage race. Therefore, he was forced to waste a precious burn spell on the creature, while taking two damage for his trouble.
With Eidolon around, Burn just might be here stay.
4. Tasigur, the Golden Fang (and an honorable mention for Lingering Souls)
One of the most sought after cards from Fate Reforged this weekend was Tasigur, the Golden Fang. Team after team, player after player, those that tested the format extensively discovered that Tasigur had multiple uses in decks. Some adopted it to create a Grixis-colored Splinter Twin deck. Others pulled it into aggressive Zoo decks, controlling Jund, Sultai, and Black-Green builds, and even more esoteric creations.
The most powerful place Tasigur came to rest was in Abzan decks like semifinalist Jesse Hampton’s. Hampton used the powerful legend to break open his match against Eric Froehlich that had otherwise come down to battling Batterskulls in the Pro Tour quarterfinals.
Tasigur wasn’t the only breakout card of that match, however, as Lingering Souls gave Hampton the room he needed to climb back into a place where Tasigur could help. The power of Lingering Souls was on show all weekend, giving highly played deck ways to fight through discard and reach through the air. Besides its synergy with Tasigur, Lingering Souls was often called the most important card in the Abzan mirror, and its power helped push decks to include cards such as Gavony Township and Zealous Persecution to gain an advantage.
With the removal of Birthing Pod from the Modern Metagame, many players looked back to old favorites, such as Splinter Twin and Abzan decks. It was a deck that was lightly regarded coming into the weekend, however, that proved looking forward matters just as much. After its Top 16 appearance at Grand Prix Omaha in the hands of Adam Boyd, one of the most powerful Pro Tour testing teams adopted Infect as its deck of choice.
Less an aggro deck and more like playing combo, the deck looks to lead an early Glistener Elf or similar creature with Infect and pile on the poison counters with Vines of Vastwood and other efficient pump spells. Become Immense added a layer of power to the deck by turning used up spells into another efficient way to apply poison in a hurry.
And it worked with “regular” damage too, as Hall of Fame player Zvi Mowshowitz discovered playing against Martin Müller in the final round of the second draft. Become Immense was always a threat with trampling creatures in Khans of Takir, but the addition of Temur Battle Rage in Fate Reforged meant any creature could become not just massive but also outright deadly. Running Mowshowitz over out of nowhere brought their games to stunning conclusions twice, and raised the profile of both cards in Booster Draft going forward.
Prime Time is back, and the behemoth's more impressive than ever.
Widely considered the best six mana creature ever printed, Primeval Titan was one of the key cards in the Amulet Bloom combo deck piloted by finalist Justin Cohen and sixteenth-ranked Samuel Black this weekend. Alongside Amulet of Vigor, Primeval Titan creates huge amounts of mana when it enters the battlefield. Primeval Titan, also known by its nickname Prime Time, often searched for one of many Ravnica lands that allowed the pilot to bounce another land along with Tolaria West, which can be bounced to search for various free spells that are perfect for a given situation.
Justin Cohen was on the ropes in his third semifinal game against Jesse Hampton. He had Primeval Titan, but the tremendous tutoring power was neutered by Hampton’s Aven Mindcensor. Cohen only had 2 life remaining and Hampton was at 9. If Cohen passed the turn without winning, he would have assuredly lost the game. With his back against the wall, he had no choice but to attack with Primeval Titan and risk finding what he needed in the top four cards of his deck.
In truly miraclulous fashion, Cohen found Slayers' Stronghold and Vesuva in those top four cards, used Vesuva to copy his Boros Garrison, untapped both with Amulet of Vigor, and activated Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion and Slayers' Stronghold so that he was attacking with an 8/6 trampling double striker. Hampton only had six points of toughness on the board and found himself dead from a position that seemed almost impenetrable.
Even in situations where the power of Primeval Titan is constrained, it can still create blowouts, and sometimes a 6/6 trampler that finds some utility lands is enough to get the job done as well.
When players were preparing for Pro Tour Fate Reforged, the theme on everyone’s mind was how much the format had changed. With two blue card drawing spells banned and format mainstay Birthing Pod gone as well, suddenly Modern seemed like it was a whole new format.
And yet, when the dust settled it was Splinter Twin, the same deck that won the very first Modern Pro Tour, Pro Tour Philadelphia, was on top again. This time piloted by Antonio Del Moral León, the Splinter Twin combo once again proved itself capable of crushing the competition. It was also the choice of Hall of Famer Jelger Wiegersma, who picked up his fifth Pro Tour Top 8 with infinity faeries and the weird Rise of the Eldrazi aura.
Fate Reforged might be about altering the past to change the future, but Splinter Twin proves that, sometimes, the more things change, the more they stay the same.