Posts Tagged ‘modern format’

Modern Love by Ken Briscoe




Josh (left) battles Ken (right). This was when there used to be regional tournaments. Remember those?


Hi all, welcome to my first article here on Battleground Games & Hobbies. At this point, I don’t know how often I’ll be writing, or even if Simeon will want to keep putting my articles up! However, when I do write, it’s going to be mainly about Eternal formats – that is, Modern and Legacy. There may be a little Vintage every now and then as I begin to learn that format, but as I don’t get a chance to play it but a couple times a year, that certainly won’t be a focus of mine in this series.


So with that, let’s go!


Today’s article is going to be about my recent love affair with the Modern format. When it was first announced a couple years ago, right after the death of Extended, I viewed Modern as “Legacy Light.” I was just starting to become invested in Legacy cards and following the format, and I felt as if I didn’t have time for another format. So I ignored Modern for a while to focus on playing what I do consider to be the best format of all, Legacy. But as I’ve come to realize recently, Modern is no slouch. It’s a deeply rich format with its own identity.


Very Modern. So Deck. Much Archetype.


In the last year, Modern has gone through an insane popularity boost. With the wildly successful Modern Masters and the huge Grand Prix Richmond leading the way, not to mention the current PTQ season, players all over the world have taken up Modern. Now with all these events, as the metagame changes and Wizards gets more and more data on what’s too good (or the opposite), the format is as healthy as ever. There’s no one boogieman-best-deck that everyone is either playing or trying to beat.


You could play any one of maybe 30 different decks and not be laughed out of the room. The format is that wide open. For starters, in no particular order:


UR Pyromancer Ascension StormUR Splinter TwinRUG Tarmo-TwinJund“Big” Zoo

“Small” Zoo



UW Control

UWR Control

UWR Kiki/Twin

Mono Red Burn

Melira Pod

Mono-Black Devotion

Restore Balance

Kiki PodAngel PodTribal Flames ZooGW HatebearsGR Tron

Mono-Blue Tron

UW Tron

Mono-Green Tron

BW Tokens




GB “Rock”


Living End


I’m sure I missed a handful of decks too!


Granted, some of these decks are simply better than others, but if you were to head to a large event it wouldn’t be unheard of to play nine rounds against seven or eight different decks. If I had to pick the top five decks with which to run through a large tournament, I’d probably say it’s these five, more or less in this order:


1)      UR Splinter-Twin

2)      Angel Pod

3)      Robots

4)      UR Pyromancer Ascension Storm

5)      UWR Control


My Own Personal Modern


In March, I got to compete in Grand Prix Richmond. In seven rounds (thanks to two byes), I played against six different decks. My day two experience was less than stellar, quickly losing three in a row – to a Melira Pod deck, a Kiki-Pod deck, and a Jund deck. More importantly, out of the 10 rounds I played at that tournament, I played against seven different decks! The format is wide open, and I think that’s absolutely fantastic. You can pick out almost any card from your trade binder and build a deck with it.


In fact, that’s almost what I did last weekend for a Grand Prix Trial at the Plainville location for GP Boston/Worcester. I have been playing UWR midrange/aggro-control for a while, but wanted to mix it up with Jund for this event. However, at the last minute, I stumbled across this Jund-like list. When I reached into the old Modern binder, on almost every page, there was a card I could use for this deck. Here’s what I sleeved up:


4 Dark Confidant2 Scavenging Ooze

1 Snapcaster Mage

4 Tarmogoyf

1 Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver

3 Liliana of the Veil

1 Sword of Feast and Famine

3 Abrupt Decay

2 Disfigure

4 Mana Leak

1 Slaughter Pact

2 Spell Snare

4 Inquisition of Kozilek

1 Maelstrom Pulse

2 Thoughtseize

2 Bitterblossom


1 Forest1 Island1 Swamp2 Breeding Pool3 Darkslick Shores

2 Hinterland Harbor

4 Misty Rainforest

2 Overgrown Tomb

4 Verdant Catacombs

2 Watery Grave

1 Woodland Cemetery


I went 3-1-1 in the swiss, cracking the Top 8. The only blemishes were a draw with UR Splinter Twin in round 1 (he also made Top 8) and a loss to Mono Red Burn in round 3. Then a quick loss to Robots in the Top 8.


I’m not claiming this deck is great. It’s mediocre at best. The reason I even typed out the list is to show some of the playable (if not fantastic) cards that you might not think of.


  • Disfigure – Who knew? That card was absolutely amazing for me all day.
  • Spell Snare – Seems a little niche, but I played it to great effect in both UWR in the past and in this deck. It counters a lot of problem cards – with Cranial Plating being the primary reason for running it.
  • Bitterblossom – Since coming off the Banned List, it hasn’t really found a home. It was OK for me in this deck, but I think I know why it hasn’t really found a home in Modern – it’s slow. But it was definitely worth a try.
  • Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver – OK, this one was no all-star for me, but there are worse cards to run, I’m sure. And it was an interesting experiment in peoples’ reactions to it.


Picture Package 1 resize

Wrapping up


If nothing else, take away from this article my three favorite things about Modern:


1)      Even “unplayable” cards or decks can be playable, and even good, in the right spot. Did you know that both Shadow of Doubt and Twisted Image see Modern play? Those cards are awful by most standards, but in certain situations, they really shine in Modern.


2)       There’s a ton of playable decks in Modern, so if you don’t have a certain set of cards, there’s always other decks to play that will fit your play style. That is, you don’t need a set of Tarmogoyfs to play Modern. The barrier for entry is actually quite low if you’ve been playing Standard for a couple years. Maybe you won’t be able to play your first choice deck, but you can find something similar, no doubt.


3)      Every tournament, every round, and every game, you learn something. Unless you’ve played the <Deck A> vs. <Deck B> matchup a million times, nothing is old hat. Maybe you’re seeing a deck for the first time. Maybe you finally realize why a certain card is played. Maybe you see a new use for a card (casting Remand your own spell in response to a Cryptic Command, perhaps). There’s just so much information available that every time you play Modern, you find out something new.


If you haven’t tried out Modern yet, or even if you have and love it as much as I do, come give it a shot. There’s another Grand Prix Trial for GP Boston/Worcester on 6/29 – this time at the Abington location. I like Modern so much I turned down the chance to judge the event so I could play! In addition, Abington hosts weekly Modern tournaments on Tuesday nights and every third Friday of the month is a Modern tournament. In Plainville, they have Modern tournaments every FNM. So you have plenty of chances to not just play Modern, but to play against a wide variety of decks each and every week!


Until next time, thanks for reading.




About the author

Ken Briscoe is a local competitor of the Abington store and lover of all things “Magic: The Gathering.” He began playing “Magic” during Revised, and quit for about 6 years. He then picked things right back up at Mirrodin block. For real work, Ken is an IT Consultant. He is also a die-hard Boston Red Sox fan. He attended Syracuse University and Bridgewater State. but not at the same time. His latest accomplishments include beating Paul Calder last week in fantasy baseball.


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