Somehow, a ton has changed in Modern since I last wrote about the format, just a month ago. The metagame is both incredibly stable and increasingly chaotic, as brewers and pros continue to spit out responses to the current top deck. Almost (ALMOST) anything seems viable these days…provided it has a plan to handle a bevy of Thoughtseizes, Pushes, and Shadows.
It’s been a wild ride from June to July. Let’s start back four weeks and work our way forward to today: the day I saw my own Shadow.
Four weeks ago, I ran U/R Delver back at my local shop, packing Mana Leaks instead of Condescends. As I’d strongly suspected, Mana Leak worked out better than Condescend; it was never a dead card. I walked away with a slightly worse record than the previous week, going 2-2, but that record reflected the strength of my opponents’ decks, not the switch between Leak and Condescend.
Both of my losses came at the hands of Death’s Shadow decks (as have all of my U/R Delver losses since arriving in California). I played against two different variants, Esper and Grixis Shadow.
After facing down both decks, I think Esper could be the better deck. It might not grind as well, but it can attack from a completely different angle via Lingering Souls tokens. Finding alternate avenues of attack will be important as the format adjusts to Shadow. Esper can also pack Path to Exile instead of Terminate, which might be pretty big game when you consider what happened next in Modern…
It’s HateBears’s world, we’re all just living in it.
Ok, not really. A more nuanced read of the GP Vegas results shows that Modern’s top decks did pretty well; they just missed Top 8 contention. All, that is, except Affinity, the little engine that could, can, and constantly does. Seeing Affinity in the Top 8 wasn’t surprising, but seeing three copies of it sure was. As was watching Daniel Wong pilot his excellently-sleeved Taking Turns deck.
Remember what I said above, that almost anything seems viable in Modern these days? This GP Top 8, as well as the amount of one-of decks in the Top 64, is the evidence that proves that statement true. Modern seems plenty healthy, and it seems like you can do whatever you want as long as you’re prepared to interact when and how you need to.
So of course people would start calling to turn the apple cart over. But before we can get to that, we have to talk about the silliest night of Modern I’ve ever played.
I sold out. Or bought in. However you want to phrase it.
I got a job and I wanted to celebrate and I was only about 10 cards away from being able to play Grixis Shadow myself (I was a bit further away from Esper). So I scouted game stores in the Fresno area, and I locally sourced the remaining three Shadows I needed, as well as most everything else.
I’ve played the “best deck” in Modern before and gotten burned. As such, I’ve hesitated to make any big buy-ins to a deck that’s doing very well. But Shadow kept beating me up and it seemed much better than any variant of Delver. And I’ve never gotten to play a good Thoughtseize deck before.
It was getting to play with Thoughtseize, the best card in Modern, that tipped me over. I wrote up a list and prepared for the last pieces of the deck to arrive in the mail.
So, using my extremely limited collection of cards, I threw together a Blue Moon list. I’m not even going to bother to detail it here, because it was nonsense (though I think main deck Engineered Explosives was inspired). I went 0-2-1 before dropping out of the tournament. Every single match I played went to time.
It was terrible. It was glorious.
In order, I played against:
- Mono-Green Aggro (justice)
- Blue Moon (JUSTICE)
- Slivers (???)
I’ll never play this version of this deck again. But what a way to switch from jank to the “best deck”.
Multiple sources begin to question whether Shadow is good enough to eat the banhammer, including:
Some discussions get more heated than others. Among my circles, the more important discussion is, “In what state would a ban leave Modern?”.
I don’t think a ban would make for a healthier or more diverse format. As the GP results show, the format’s already plenty diverse. And while Shadow might be warping the metagame, some deck or another is always going to do that. At least this time it’s not something particularly crazy, like Dredge.
And I don’t say that just as someone who recently bought into the deck. I’ve had my face beat in by Shadow, but most of the games were still rewarding and enjoyable. Playing against Shadow is fun Magic. I think taking it out just because it’s the “best deck” sends a bad message to people who just want to play Modern without major upheaval every X amount of months.
I have Grixis Shadow all sleeved up…but it’s a holiday. So you’ll have to wait until two weeks from now to hear a report on how I do with a deck that’s likely better than I am.
Until then, may you have a happy Independence Day, and may you see fireworks both in the sky and in Magic.