Category Archives: Much Modern, Very Nolan

What does Terminate do that Forest Doesn’t (And other stupid questions we’ve all faced.)

Hello all!

I’ve been a lazy boy about posting. You deal with my kids and try to find the time. Sue me if you’d like – no blood from a stone fool! ZINGO!

But after reading some of the vast amount of virulent hate I have produced by typing on a computer (Don’t applaud just yet) I’ve noticed a trend. I, or someone, makes a suggestion with the intent of sparking a further discussion, or a Brainstorming session (PUNS RULE) only to have some pigeon-brained yokel crop up with “I CANT TYP SO GOD BUTT U ARE RONG 4 SAYEING WUT U SAD AND KNOW I MOK U.”

WARNING: ACTUAL EVIDENCE TO FOLLOW:

Me: [In reference to Garruk Wildspeaker Jund, a list I've advocated and piloted in the past, well before Channelfireball Author Jacob Van Lunen posted about it, and was apparently....orally loved by Jund fans on CFB.] JVL, have you considered in your more aggressive designs a Sarkhan Vol?

SOME GUY WHO IS NOT NAMED SCHMETE: LOL, WHAT DOES SARKHAN DO THAT GARRUK DOESN’T?

Me: Actually, I don’t recall them doing the same things, I never saw Sarkhan untap two lands or produce a beast and I never saw Garruk act of treason or Goblin-Lord Anthem something, so like, Nothing I guess, but in the world of stupid questions and observations, Garruk sucks at brainstorming too.

See? Do you see what I mean? That butt-wipe came in crapped all over the party, like he’s the freakin’ expert. (Were we both on a plane, I would’ve considered his expertise on Jund tied to flying, and promptly given him das boot out of the plane, just to see how much he truly knows. Teach him for squashing it.)

By the way, the card in question, Prophetic Flamespeaker, actually straight up sucks. But spoiler alert, Jacob Van Lunen is paid to sell cards, I’m not paid to do anything but point out the obvious. So if you want the original article, it’s here: Well, actually here.

But, back on point, that idiot, and those like him, are the death of brewing and testing. And they make such lame, crap-ass arguments (HE MADE A SWEAR!) as to why you should shut up when you have an idea. Sure, some ideas you’ll have are just hideous, like “HIDEOUS END MIGHT BE PLAYABLE!” and “WURMCOIL ENGINE CLEARLY BELONGS IN BOGLES!” and “NOLAN, YOU TOTALLY CAN PLAY LASHWRITHE IN MONO-BLACK STANDARD CONTROL! IT’S TOO OVERPOWERED NOT TO!”

But, some ideas may not be that terrible: “Maybe Shadow of Doubt IS playable!” “Eidolon of the Great Revel is worth my time!” “Boros Reckoner is an overblown joke outside of Standard and I should quit wasting my time!”

And then someone has an idea that is truly groundbreaking: “Holy crap look what I can do with the Urza lands!” “GORYO’S VENGEANCE LET’S ME TURN TWO A GRISLEBRAND INTO THEIR DOME!” “If I just stop buying bad cards I won’t have bad decks!”

Feeling a bit better about ourselves? Good. Now that we’re all on the same page, let’s look at blanket statements that just flat out suck to hear and drain your intelligence.

1) “Well, that card isn’t good enough, it dies to X” – Dies to removal is your argument genius? Well, let’s logically extrapolate the initial argument first. If I stick my Dark Confidant, My Primeval Titan, My Lotus Cobra, My Vendilion Clique, My Snapcaster Mage, My Plague Stinger, My Master of Etherium, etc. And it survives just one little turn, I’m ahead of my opponent, or I’ve got more raw power than my opponent. And because I have developed my card advantage / mana / raw on-board damage, I am ahead in the game. So I’ll have to man up and risk it. Because your logical extension is this: Can’t play creatures that can be doom-bladed, so I’m stuck playing black creatures. But black creatures can die to sweepers and sacrificial removal, so those are out. So I have to play enchantments and artifacts. Oh wait, most colors have a way to kill me or kill the artifact or enchantment, so looks like I’m down to planeswalkers. Oh crap, you can target a planeswalker or just whoop it mid combat. Looks like I’m stuck playing lands. Well, lands tend to die to at least Fulminator Mage or Tectonic Edge, so I’m down to basics. Oh, you can ghost-quarter a basic? Well, crap, those are gone. Time to play Oops! All Spells forever. Oh crap, Force of Will? Well, I guess I have to register this decklist then:

4x Darksteel Citadel
4x Darksteel Relic
52x Basic Land of your Choice.

Well stop the presses you outright genetic failure, looks like my argument of weighing safety over raw power level wins.

2) Uhh, the pros are playing X, so you playing Y means you’re doing it wrong (Especially after you just beat me.)

Oh, this always makes me want to cave in a skull or two. Okay, let’s break down why this argument is typically wrong. You know what stock Merfolk looks like – Mono U. But you notice your meta is really heavy-aggro, and really heavy into Tron. So you get the bright idea that maybe adding a few bolts and decide coupling that with Blood Moon will give you a competitive edge. Maybe it’s Friday Night Magic in, oh, say, Schmidiana Pennsyltucky, where literally nothing matters. You go toe to toe with the best, and it works out you make Top 8, but get wiped. The guy you beat to make top 8 fires off that genius argument. Instead of just calling him a name that will get you in serious hot water, you can just calmly report “Well, idiot, you were playing Tron, and the first three rounds I faced Zoo, Affinity, and Jank Aggro, so it doesn’t seem so stupid, as those cards gave me an edge I didn’t have playing Mono Blue. Oh, and last time I checked, we’re not at Pro-Tour Paris, so cram it.”

Because that’s what it really boils down too. Some people do have pro-builds down to the sleeve, because they could afford it. And some people have weighed their personal tastes and how they view the metagame, and they adjust cards accordingly. Some people think, and some just copy and paste lists into Starcitygames.com‘s decklist builder and start pressing buy. And it’s not your fault you thought about things. Hell, maybe it didn’t work, but you looked at the last three events and made a call. Maybe it cost you a lot. You did fail to call the meta, but you didn’t fail for reaching out and trying; it’s how we got as far as we did as a species.

3) GENERIC DECK BIGOTRY. “JUND IS STUPID EASY TO PILOT.” “TRON IS A DECK SHUFFLER WITH A FAN.” “MERFOLK? Tier two trash.” ” “Affinity is so simple any idiot can top 8 with it.”

Well, Nolan, at least you’re being honest with yourself. Here’s the real answer to that nonsense, whether or not the idiot your engaged with will believe it is up to him. He is allowed to keep his eyes covered is horse pop and horse burgers, but here’s the truth, from my fingers to Inagi’s ears:

“Unfair” decks, like Tron, Affinity, Bogles, RG Stompy, Infect, etc. require a skill check in the opening 7 cards. They are by far the most difficult to pilot because if you don’t mulligan correctly, the deck punishes you with a loss. They also don’t allow you to interact, so the opening grip is more important that literally all but your first land drop. That decides if you can win the game or not. Correct game play isn’t as important, as the deck will shoulder the brunt of that work. Much like finishing a Rubik’s Cube in less than 10 minutes, it’s a labor of love to master the mulligan, as decks like these reward you insanely well for doing so.

“Fair” decks like Merfolk, Jund, Junk, American Control, Even Twin and Pod, (Twin and Pod being called Unfair in error mostly due to haters) require skill checks midgame and at every decision. The opening grip isn’t as important (and frankly, for the most part is forgiving as all get out) and once you’ve established your oppression engine (How you win the game) the deck becomes easier and easier to pilot. The skill checks are how to get there when faced will real game play decisions, and again, all the card draw makes errors a lot less important, but they still do reward tight game play.

The only decks you should openly taunt are designed and played by one person, and you should do it YOU SHOULD TOTALLY DO IT because you might see him chuck his deck against the wall and throw a hissy fit IN PUBLIC OVER MAGIC THE GATHERING SERIOUSLY WHAT A BABY. IT IS TOTALLY WORTH THE POTENTIAL PUNISHMENT TO MAKE FUN OF THAT ONE PERSON SHOULD THEY REAR THEIR SPOILED, ROTTEN LITTLE HEAD. And no, he doesn’t play Skred. Unless he does now. Then there would be two of ‘em.

4) Douchebag Spectator: Why are you playing X? Y would be better.. (You then untap and continue playing.)

Well, here’s a joke I like to make that some people take seriously. And I mean take it seriously as they actually probe you as to why you’re playing literally ANY card in your library but not playing a certain one. First, this one comes up mid game, and it’s totally:

1) A revelation to your opponent your not doing that, giving them way too much power all at once.

2) A violation of secret information you may not want to have shared.

3) A dick move.

Don’t ever ask that of anyone mid game. Seriously. In fact, if someone would like to ask me that at the next event, under those circumstances, I’m going to personally request the judge reveal everyone’s decklist prior to registering, so I can scoop all my matches to badger out plays and cards not in your hand so that your opponent just wins at information. See how you like it you obnoxious boners. The reason it isn’t in my hand is either a) I haven’t drawn it b) I didn’t own it c) I didn’t want to play it or d) shut your pie hole. Asking that post match is completely acceptable; in fact, it sheds a lot of light and can really help. The flipside to that stupid question is “Bet you wish you had X” where X is something you actually might have but don’t have in your hand. That’s just as bad, and I’m legally required to point out at this junction I own rusty fishing hooks, and I give castration lessons to up and coming Dictators. You figure out what I meant by that.

 

Well, there you have it: STOP ASKING STUPID QUESTIONS.

GOODNIGHT YO!

A top ten….no wait, 2 top 5 lists…of my favorite cards in modern.

Hello everyone!

I apologize sincerely for the log hiatus (BIG WORD ALERT) but frankly, being a dad/shark/curse-word user/Casanova is darn difficult (SELF CENSORSHIP (2ND BIG WORD ALERT)) and I’ve been a bit far behind, what with trying to jump head first into the big fish pond of Legacy (9 cards and a hundred+ each away!) and the fact that Modern has left a bad taste in my mouth (PARENTHESES MAKE YOU SEEM SMARTER THAN YOUR READERS, BUT REALLY YOU JUST COME OFF LOOKING LIKE A JERK. EVERYONE WINS!) I haven’t posted in a good long while. So I’d like to fix that, primarily by giving you more stuff you can already guess – cards I like and did like in Modern. As a bonus, I’ll give you an explanation of each, and in the case of the now-banned guys, maybe I’ll toss in why they banned it. Now, keep in mind one important thing – I was recently informed by my boss at my big boy job that when altering a legal document, such as in the case of an error you made, you must strike it out. So, since my opinion is lifelong and legally binding, I’ll do just that for you tonight, so you can make sure what I typed was really me, and not by an editor.

 

Let’s begin with…….

NOLAN’S TOP 5 FAVORITE CARDS CURRENTLY MODERN LEGAL (AND SEVERAL SOON NOT-TO-BE.)

5) Lightning Bolt

Was anyone really surprised? This is the core of removal for the entire format. I do believe it’s in the top 10, and with good reason. Instant speed, very cheap, works as a kill and a finisher, it does it all. I don’t think I’m keen to build any decks in modern anytime soon without this card as a four of in the 76. What, that’s not off, I tend to play 76 – 61m+ 15sb. It’s a math thing idiot In fair deck matchups, it gives you access to that extra spell that can sometimes put you ahead of them. DC would tell you it’s the 20-Xth land, but if you’re playing 76 in a fair deck, you didn’t just jam in a land willy-nilly. You knew what you were doing you filthy little monkey you clever girl. In fact, I discussed just today in detail how possibly to build 14-Bolt RUG. I haven’t worked out the kinks, and it is in fact the stupidest combo deck ever, but at the same time, wow does that get me going does that sound appealing.

4) Wild Nacatl

My lust for furries is well documented and court-ordered to not be spoken about beyond that Wild Nacatl may not be seeing big numbers play wise (or at least success wise) but since her return to the format I am perpetually aroused I love playing with and against this card. The race is afoot when this often T2 4-powered attacker is at it’s best in a Naya or Naya+ deck, or when you add that white land into GRx Decks. Bottom line, I have fun when this card is allowed in the card pool, and all else ignored, I’m glad she’s back.

3) White Sun’s Zenith

Never thought I’d say I liked a Zenith other than one of the Blue or Green variety, but this card has the approval of myself and the only other person I take magic advice from. Instant speed, comes back when you need it, and when you cast it for big, you’ve got yourself a musical on your hands. That’s the only high class joke your getting tonight chuckleheads Since playing lots and lots of white mana is unusual, especially given modern’s completely degenerate and terribly aggressive nature, when you get to cast it, it’s awesome. That card saved me against no I didn’t mean to strike out that completely degenerate line, don’t you get smart with me, Facebook is still a thing, I’ll get you Esper Control, and has gone completely over the top in routine testing. Each time I see it I’m in love with it.

2) Snapcaster Mage

WHY DON’T YOU BAN THIS NEXT, YOU WIZARD-NAZI’S??!?!?! I meant that too. Snappy is the closest BBE we have that’s currently legal, and I probably should explain it more, but just thinking about it gets my nipples all a flutter leaves me with a void as to where to begin on the value this card is yielding now. I contest any Mid-range, Control, or even Aggressive blue strategy needs to be playing this card, at bare bones a 2 of. Expect a banning by early 2015. Hell, I’d guess it’ll be banned by the Next Standard, if not with Journey into Nyx.

1) Supreme Verdict

This card is probably my favorite right now, especially considering how much I hate seeing Zoo, Tokens, Faeries, Affinity, Enchantbo (Bogles,) or any of that other nonsense that tries to punch. Then again, I’m horribly biased and I refuse to pretend I’m not. I’m loving me UWR strats across the board right now, and Supreme is one of those Lynch pin cards for how far into durdle mode I like to be. In UWR, this is leaps and bounds better than Anger of the Gods, and even with Red being more prevalent, I’d still argue this is better. That can’t be countered clause still means something against your Faeries and Fish players, and Anger just opens you up to a crotch kicking. Also, the exile clause on Anger is cute and all, but if you were already planning on leaving that Wild Nacatl stick around long enough to be anger’d out of existence, why not just wait a turn and send it and all it’s stupid friends to the grave with it? I’m looking at you, Tarmogoyf.

THE TOP FIVE CARDS I MISS THANKS TO THE NEWEST BANNED LIST. (WARNING, MAY INCLUDE PREVIOUSLY BANNED CARDS.)

5) Seething Song/Rite of Flame

STOOORRRMMMM! Oh, how I weep for thee, that thou art being dredged from the depths by people who won’t let thy slumber remain peaceful. Storm lost so much when these cards were banned, and yet, lo, those who are not Jon Finkel wish you to remain viable. Truly Gods did you make of your pilots, and planeswalkers did you slay, in such numbers and with such swiftness thy evil Fascists had to cull you, lest you remain playable and enjoyable to said….deck pilot. To the most powerful of rituals, I say to you, good night sirs.

4) Hypergenesis

Oh, Hypergenesis, how I believe you should be in the format. WoTC yells for battlecruiser magic, but apparently your magic is far too battle-cruiser-ey to be allowed. This is one of those cards that people who don’t ‘get’ blue mana fear, because, yeah, I know, Hyper let’s you finish the game up quickly. However, I also contest that with a card like this in the format, you have one of those focal pillars that let’s Blue mana be the regulator on Combo Decks and forces Combo Decks not to be the best damn fair decks in the format at the moment, which helps to correct modern’s current predicament.

3) Jace, the Wallet Buster aka Jace, the backbreaker aka Jace, the Mind Sculptor

Jace, we all hate you. But I have a special kind of hate for you, one that is born out of the immense love I have for you and your baller emo-robe. You let Blue be Blue, and make magic extremely interesting at least to those of us who could and would play with him and afford him. Plus, just resolving you is a skill test for the opponent. Again, I’m biased as all hell, we all know it, in the absence of Jund I run screaming towards Blue. And you’d reward me for that even harder. You did in standard, post-Jund rotation, and I know if you came back to us in modern, I could get away with only two Sphinx’s revelations. Here’s a card that could, in theory, easily come off the banned list, but probably never will.

2) Deathrite Shaman

I almost quit modern when you were banned. You made the format healthier, despite what people want to believe. They hated you because of what else you required to be good. But I don’t. I miss you lil fella and scavenging ooze sucks by comparison seriously take him and come back to the format!

1) Bloodbraid Elf, Dark Confidant, Tarmogoyf, Lilliana of the Veil, Thoughtseize, Inquisiton of Kozilek, Treetop Village, Raging Ravine, Anathemancer, Kitchen Finks, Chandra Pyromaster, Garruk Wildspeaker, Terminate, Abrupt Decay, Maelstrom Pulse, Sword of Feast and Famine, Lingering Souls, Ajani Vengeant, Thundermaw Hellkite, Olivia Voldaren, Sowing Salt, Rakdos Charm, Golgari Charm, Verdant Catacombs

Just thinking about you makes well crap there go my nipples again me remember you fondly and shed tears.

I don’t know how else to describe how affected I am by the banning of Jund. So, here’s a song to explain.

I miss you so much it hurts.

I can only hope the crybabies who hated this deck get a bezoar the size of a volkswagon small economy car built by the Nazi’s.

Goodnight, and may your deck not be banned erratically.

 

 

 

Remand: A love-hate affair

Today, I was posed a question in relation to my UWR Control list for Modern (for reference, listed below.) Specifically, why I don’t play the Power Uncommon, Remand. The list:

4 Snapcaster Mage
2 Elspeth, Knight Errant
2 Gideon Jura
3 Supreme Verdict
4 Lightning Bolt
3 Path to Exile
3 Electrolyze
3 Cryptic Command
2 Negate
2 Mana Leak
1 Counterflux
3 Sphinx’s Revelation
1 Mountain
1 Island
1 Plains
1 Sacred Foundry
1 Mystic Gate
1 Sulfur Falls
1 Glacial Fortress
1 Clifftop Retreat
2 Ghost Quarter
2 Steam Vents
3 Arid Mesa
3 Scalding Tarn
3 Hallowed Fountain
4 Celestial Colonnade

SB:
2 Sowing Salt
2 Shatterstorm
3 Spell Pierce
3 Hibernation
2 Pithing Needle
1 Path to Exile
1 Batterskull
1 Supreme Verdict

Why would I not want Remand? It’s an efficient blue cantrip that janks the opponent. (Janks is a hyper technical term for ‘delays their plans and paces the game according to your designs, not the oppositions.’ I’m gonna get super technical on this one, so I’ll post these helpful reminders as I deem necessary.)

Also, it appears my goal is to turtle-durdle into a choke-r@p3 win, so Remand helps me pace to where I want to be in the game state, doesn’t it?

Well, as my article suggests, I both love and hate the card, and that’s the short answer to why I don’t play it in my current favorite list.

I love Remand for that very reason. Even check out the flavour text (Flavour is the King’s English for flavor (King’s English is the English language as spoken by Don King)) – It’s awesome. And it comes at the price tag my prissy arse wants to be paying for cardboard, and at he cost I like to cast my efficient pains. So why leave it so glaringly absent?

Well, and this is why I hate it, I don’t feel it durdles well. When you want to go off and Pact of Negation is too risky, Remand is there to jank up rival counter spells. When I want to subtly shift the pace against Jund and take the lead, Remand is there. I am not doing either of those things. I don’t need a tempo-advantage spell, so my logic goes, when I frankly don’t give a crap about my opponent’s first three turns. The theory behind this particular style of play is actually to very openly give the tiniest of f@@ks when you do things in the first three turns. Traditionally in Modern games are won or lost in that battle for the first three, or at least the tone of the game is set. I openly laugh at your attempts to establish and kill me quickly. I yawn and do the least possible to stop you. In fact, I would go so far as to say the more I do early the more I’m worried I’ll lose, lest I be below 3 cards in the grip on turn 8. My goal is to drag every match to a topdeck war where I’m drawing cards and have a full hand, and you’re stuck topdecking memnites or wild nacatl’s like a boss late game. I’m jumping Colonnades in a dead board scenario, and you’re….praying I ghost quarter my own land. I sphinx’s revelation for 7, you stare as I undo four turns of work. That’s the methodology behind the deck.

Remand rewards you for sticking an early threat (Say, Wild Nacatl, Delver of Secrets, Goblin Guide, Grim Lavamancer) and then playing a quick defense with Remand for both Heavy Damage from the threat and card advantage for you and card disadvantage for the opponent. It’s a counterspell that wants to come out swinging, and the faster the better. It begs your opponent to do something so it can windmill slam that crap into the ground and giggle as you keep wailing away at them.

Again, I don’t want that for what I plan on doing for the foreseeable future. When I want something dead, I want it dead. Period. No chance for a mulligan on that cast. I want that crap countered.

Ultimately, I guess what I’m saying is, Remand is a great card I just don’t want to play at the moment, and OJ Simpson once played football. Enjoy!

1885

The Best Six Cards you should Probably be playing in the New Modern.

Good evening boys and girls (okay, let’s face it. Probably just boys. Girls usually have better things to do than listen to a random internet troll complain. Except the girls of certain message boards. They have to be boys in real life and that’s hard.)

Tonight I’d like to treat you to what you should be playing post rotation, or at least cards you should be kicking yourself for not.

Now, in no  particular numeric order, but just to make sure I get to six – Some say I ramble – here’s a nice, clean, orderly list.

6) Shadow of Doubt

If you’re going to, in my opinion, waste time and try to play Faeries, your best shot to beating Zoo is attacking their presumably raw-dogging mana base. Zoo was notorious previously for being more emo than Jund with the wrist cutting, especially in the Dark Zoo variants, and with Knight of the Reliquary poised to be a contender or nothing of significance  (time’s going to tell, I’m pretty sure if he matters it’s because he helps beat up other RWG variants) Zoo will probably return to the “gut myself for 3 T1, Drop Nacatl, Gut myself 3 t2, drop hierarch, swing 4 – Go” plan, one can gain ground by smacking them with a solid S.O.D. and peeling a better card, kill spell or creature to help establish. Plus, Shadow in response to cracks is wayyyy better than t2 bitterblossom go, considering T1-T3 in modern is so vital for setting the tone of the game.  Yielding T2 can set you back farther than freakin’ cantripping, and disrupting the opponent is a solid bonus. Plus, it still helps screw with most of the combo in the format, so that’s just an additional win.

5) Rancor

Rancor solves the durdle war that fat Zoo creatures will create, and laughs at bitterblockers for just G. The insane value of Rancor is so puke-worthy right now, the only counter spell I can foresee being useful within the first turns of the game starts with Flash and ends with Freeze.  Token chumps? They sure are. Rival Goyf’s? Not a problem. Need Cranial platings 5-8 to finish the game? Sure thing.

4) Anger of the Gods

This pyroclasm on crack will be the only salvation in the eyes of control decks I reckon (I personally just went from zero to three in my own list) and with good reason. Wild Nacatl, Hierarch, Loam Lion, and Kird Ape will all be ending in 3 by t3, and there’s a real shot Gofy and KoTr will too. Anger takes care of that problem, and in such a way cute players (read: me.) who try to ‘next level’ the opponent with value cards Eternal Witness and Naya Charm will be left eating their ‘clever next-level’ tech. Firespout deserves a nod here, as if you’re playing some bizarre Fliers-based Naya Beats (Swords + Rancor, maybe?) ‘spout can be manipulated to leave you untouched while gutting your opponent. However, clever players get value back from the E-wits and N-charms, so plan accordingly.

3) Knight of the Reliquary

Knight is the guy who has a shot to bully rival’s Goyf’s and do little else. He lacks the former standard ‘I’m one of the most efficient cards possible’ moniker and is not the legacy ass-whooping engine in this format. However, he does hold the title of ‘Biggest Creature in the format fastest.’ We do not count Grislebrand or Emrakul here, as typically they don’t stick at the point Knight can be a 5/5, and wailing on your opponent’s ‘Goyf. Also, if you go into a Rock/Red Rock/Dark Zoo strategy, he’s the biggest dude you can peel off of a Dark Confidant and keep your life total relatively intact.

2) Flashfreeze

Skip this if you’re not going to be playing Faeries.

Okay, are all the non-Faeries players gone? Good.

First, those of you who stuck around and read this, thank you for being free wins. You will help with the general ‘Modern sucks ’cause my expensive cards aren’t good!’ attitude that will hopefully, over time, open this format back up, and maybe even make your deck good again. But seriously, why not play Nacatl? Alright, alright, enough berating you, but man, are you going to need Flashfreeze. Between Bolt, Helix, Late Nacatls, Hierarchs, Knights, Scavenging Oozes, Kitchen Finks, Huntmaster of the Fells, Thundermaw Hellkites….maybe even a Swagtusk or two, you’re going to be facing so much RWG you might have trouble at stoplights in the future. And how in the hell is Remand actually supposed to begin to stop that onslaught? Is Mistbind Clique going to dig you out in the face of that? Is turn 2 bitterblossom? Exactly. Flashfreeze (hell, maybe even Tidebinder mage) becomes mainboard material, because this format is going to be overloaded with Naya Colored Decks. If you refuse to do so, and insist on casting things with Blue in the cost, you better be a combo deck, like Hive Mind Pyromancer Ascension Storm Splinter Twin. Even then, for Twin Decks, how horrible is it? Really? Eh.

1) Wild Nacatl.

Duh. Let’s be reasonable. This card coming back off the banned list is like your wayward son coming home now that he’s done carrying on (And thank you Kansas.) Everyone wants a piece of it, and for good reason – In this format, she is the biggest, baddest, meanest D.O.B. you can be casting in the first two turns of the game. She burns your opponent hard, loose, and clean (METALLICA REFERENCE) and clock’s ‘em quick. She *may* be the biggest drop you can launch turns 1-3, solely because she meets the correct drop speed and damage over time to race a ‘goyf single-handedly. Oh, and there’s a sweet amount of Tech-y lands that make her even meaner – Teetering Peaks, Smoldering Spires, Sejiri Steppe, Kessig Wolf Run, Gavony Township (to name…possibly all of them) that make this little G investment even more badass. Oh, and Rancor? In theory, on turn two, you can smack ‘em for six between t1 – Nacatl, t2 – Drop Hierarch, Drop Rancor Swing. With one little bolt the following turn or a clean Boros Charm, that’s a three turn clock for a turn four kill. If that double strike connects unchecked or underdefended, she’s possible a two turn clock for a turn three kill. She will leave your opponents tattered and torn (SLIPKNOT FOR THE HAT TRICK) before anything else starts to matter.

There you have it. This is the most serious thing I’ve done in terms of posting, so to help even things out, here’s an idea of what I’ll be doing all day Monday.

1885

Building a deck in “Modern”: The cold hard facts.

Good evening everyone! After much thought regarding this format we call “Modern” and it’s “Modern” rules and “Modern” approach to bannings, you might be a bit confused as to what factors constitute worth building a deck. I gave it much thought, and I felt I should share. Because sharing is in fact equal to or greater than caring (Eat my shorts MPAA) and thus, here we are.

In “Antiquated” formats like Standard, Legacy, Vintage, and your kitchen table, banned lists evolve from degenerate states. The cream of the crop is removed only when it hedges everyone else out of play. But we wanted a new world. A better world. A German Modern world. (Get it? It’s a subtle hint that certain…organizations….behave like Nazi’s when it comes to the rules of Modern. It’s subtext, you’ll learn that as you write more. See if you can detect more in this post!) So that we may arrive at our Nazi-organized banned list of arbitrary rotation, we must eschew certain old ways of thinking. we must eliminate all undesirables (Nazi’s think undesirables must be eliminated – it’s subtext and subtly yet again!) as they arise. So, with our new Modern mode of thinking, let us analyze what cards you should think about for this particular format.

1) Is it playable?

Playability can be loosely defined as efficiency of the card at performing it’s goal at a given cost. To give it a comparison, a basic Island is efficient because at the cost of discarding one card from our hand we have a reliable, resilient source of blue mana.  As a bonus, we didn’t even have to spend mana to get it! Free source of blue mana each turn?! Sign me up!

Let’s compare basic Island to, say, Axebane Stag. With an Axebane Stag, we have to discard a minimum of eight cards (seven lands from our hand, into play plus cast the Stag itself) and then pay seven mana to acquire a 6/7. It has no abilities, it’s not even ‘square’ (A term wizards uses to describe cards with power equal to toughness) or even ‘top heavy’ (a term referring to say, a 6/1 or a 3/1 – power being greater than toughness.) Hell, Axebane is an Elk, not even a relevant creature type – It’s below Flagbearer, but above Eye, if you were wondering. Axebane Stag does not see play in any major constructed format, because it’s playability is very low. It’s horribly inefficient.

2) Is the cost of the card I want to play realistic in terms of my budget?

This is a sticky situation, because you have to see what your goals are vs. your cash budget. As Clawsome pointed out, eating Ramen for 6 months to get that piece of cardboard may not be an optimal strategy. This is about measuring the value of that cardboard to say, your car payment, and I’m not qualified to make that decision for you. Sorry.

3) Will Wizards ban it anytime soon?

This is a real problem in Modern. With Modern’s initial banned list, it seemed heavy, but they just came off like new parents, wanting to protect their new baby, and turn it into a healthy, viable, fun, and exciting long term format with nigh-limitless possibility. One could easily forgive them. When Shoal and Post were banned, we reasoned this was no more than a vaccine; a necessary shot in the arm. When they unbanned Valakut, we had real hope that the banned list would shrink. When they banned Bloodbraid and Seething Song, we were confused, but we held out hope (Seriously, Seething Song? 4% of the online meta plays it? What?) Heck, they even nerfed Second Sunrise because it was boring to watch the Eggs kid durdle as, let’s face it, he really didn’t know how that deck worked, and it took him 50 minutes each time to figure it out. He wasn’t slow playing, he was just slow.

Then, they went ahead and banned Deathrite Shaman, despite the consensus at the professional level that the format didn’t need touched, Standard cards over time would rectify the problem. (To be fair, they did say if something was to go, it needed to be Deathrite and Birthing Pod.) Deathrite Shaman was declared too efficient, and thus it got the banhammer rained upon it in Wizard’s-y wrath.

This tells us two things.

1) They don’t give a crap at how much money you threw at a deck, if they want it dead jump ship, don’t try to fix it.

2) Efficient cards (read: playable) are the problem in Modern, and these undesirables will be squashed out by the Cardboard Gestapo (Please, do try and keep up to the subtly and cleverly worded references.) Again, let’s reiterate: Modern is so warped that efficiency is the biggest problem in Modern. Bannings must occur to keep any one deck from being too efficient.

So, keeping in these 3 factors, Price vs. Playability vs. Banning, I want to present to you a list that may very well cause you to have invested your Modern dollars wisely.

Can’t Touch This.deck

4x Gilder Bairn
4x Ral Zarek
4x Sphere of the Suns
4x Panoptic Mirror
4x Time Warp
1x Cruel Ultimatum
1x Sorin’s Vengeance
4x Fog
2x Cyclonic Rift
4x Manamorphose
4x Gitaxian Probe
4x Street Wraith
4x Misty Rainforest
4x Breeding Pool
4x Yavimaya Coast
4x Hinterland Harbor
2x Island
2x Forest

This deck is aptly named can’t touch this because it’s intended effect is to Fog long enough to play one of the two infinite turn combo’s and then win off of Panoptic-Ultimatum or Panoptic-Vengeance. It lacks a general gameplan to get to that point and it’s most efficient card is Misty Rainforest. While being expensive, this deck will ensure you can 10% of the time go infinite and go epic on the opponent, and will never see a banning. Let’s say you don’t care for combination decks, and you’d rather wail on someone! That’s fun, right? Well, then feast your eyes on this unbeatable (and unbanable) Modern Murder Machine!

Die Ueber-Zeigen!.deck

4x Rampant Growth
4x Chameleon Colossus
4x Harrow
22x Forest
4x Springjack Pastures
3x Coat of Arms
4x Adaptive Automaton
2x Mirror Entity
4x Temple Garden
4x Safewright Quest
4x Springjack Shepherd
1x Sword of Feast and Famine

This list ensures a few things: An awesome kill condition (Seriously, Goat Stampede, it’s a real problem in Midwestern States) of an overwhelming amount of Goats on turn….I don’t know, 15? Turn 15 I guess you may have three or four, if you’re lucky on top decks. It definitely doesn’t violate the turn four rule, gives you plenty of outs, and I doubt they’ll band Springjack pasture any time soon. And if this list isn’t budget, I’ll eat the internet.

But perhaps blue mana is more your style? That’s right, we have the hyper resilient Modern Mono-U Control Deck.

Can’t stop you!.deck

4x Thieving Magpie
4x Hinder
4x Delay
4x Unsummon
4x Into the Roil
4x Gigadrowse
4x Early Frost
4x Oona’s Grace
4x Divination
4x Elixir of Immortality
4x Terramorphic Expanse
4x Evolving Wilds
4x Island
4x Dimir Guildgate
4x Izzet Guildgate

Now, here’s a deck that ensures you won’t have any fun or counter a spell too quickly for the Master-Banners liking (Yup, tucked one more in there.) With a hideously inefficient mana-base, 4 mana 1 power beat stick that can’t, in this deck, connect before turn 5 (With a heck of a lot of luck, that is) and counter spells that don’t…you know, actually counter anything, we ensure no fun is had by the pilot, but we have something to use for a prolonged period. Funny enough, I think it still beats Axebane Aggro, it’s just too fast for that.

Well, this is the last time I’ll gripe about the banned list….for tonight, anyway. Fare thee well, and I hope you weather the storm!

******BONUS TIME**********

Here’s one more awesome list for you! I cooked up one more joke list, just because I do love you all so much. As long as we’re talking about straight up unplayable decks, we can’t leave this one at home:

Mill.deck

4x Glimpse the Unthinkable
4x Tome Scour
4x Mind Sculpt
4x Dregscape Zombie
4x Undercity Informer
4x Hedron Crab
2x Mind Funeral
3x Sudden Death
2x Victim of Night
2x Countersquall
3x Mana Leak
4x Misty Rainforest
4X Watery Grave
2x Drowned Catacomb
2x Sunken Ruins
3x Creeping Tar Pit
4x Darkslick Shores
2x Ghost Quarter
2x Island
1x Swamp

SB:

3x Telemin Performance
2x Spreading Seas
3x Pithing Needle
4x Leyline of Sanctity
2x Tormod’s Crypt
1x Laboratory Maniac

So you wish to play Modern post-banning, eh?

Well, we now live in Day 2 of Banned Deathrite Shaman. Grumble. But seriously, here’s what I would wager happens to the format.

Regarding Faeries: Yes, this is a thing now. UB Faeries is back. Hopefully this runs more bad kids out of the format so we can get the greatest hits / super combo format Modern deserves to be, not this rotten hot mess of bannings and general lack of fun. There, I said it. The player base is responsible for this, and I openly blame you. Come at me, bro. But, with all that out of the way, here’s what this affects.

Faeries trumps Tron with its flash/hand disruption/tap your lands/resiliency to pyroclasm. Ironically, with Jund looking sickly, Faeries is poised to battle with UWR and The Rock for the fair deck king. If the tribe formerly known as Fae take the throne, I believe we will see Tron greatly drop in viability, unless they fall back on U/UW variants. RG is so streamlined it actually gets hideous, especially with any sideboard UWB shenanigans in the form of Momentary blink.

I think yet again Affinity ramps up in the short term – they could really care less about Faeries. I know, the outcry is “BUT BITTERBLOSSOM TOKEN BLOCK ROBOT HARDCORE GREAT JOB.” Rancor is G for trample; Fury Charm is versatile. Look, now Bitterblossom is net Zero life protected. And don’t think they won’t play ‘em; it’s much cheaper than scrapping Affinity.

Jund may survive; if it does it’ll have to be on the back of Grim Lavamancer or Lotus Cobra/Olivia. Literally Jund can’t function without some sort of Over-Powered yet Fair move, and DRS + BBE riding the pine doesn’t give it many options. Thrun is still a decent SB card; Thundermaw Hellkite shuts down all the BB tokens you could ever hope to survive making, plus it’s good at gutting V-Clique and Spellstutter. Olivia is the ticket there.

Twin is fine; twin may become more prevalent due to it’s available counters + waaaayyyyyy more tokens. Merfolk also seems fine, I doubt it’ll change much.

Pod is largely untouched, and I think if Faeries doesn’t take over for Jund as Sheriff, you can bet your bottom Melira Pod will. (I treat Naya-Pod as a Twin variant, and therefore I believe it’s fine.)
Having a combination deck as the boss is a scary concept, and I believe this is the first time Wizards is actually supporting that happening. This part will be fascinating.

UWR – Seems fine, doesn’t seem like it’ll change much, it may build itself a little different to combat Mistbind Clique. Otherwise, I don’t expect much. The Rock also seems playable with a 1 for 1 swap with Hierarch to the DRS slot. Hierarch plays off both enemy colors, and it can play 8 black fetches, and Black Fetches sure do go and get Overgrown Tomb pretty well. I don’t see much happening here either, except maybe Shadow of Doubt is actually more playable given the unconditional U factor. It helps fire it out when you have Temple Garden, Hierarch, and Tomb or Godless Shrine.

Black-White Tokens seem to have gotten a shot in the arm with Bitterblossom, but it’s hard to say. The deck is t2 for a reason, and that reason is sweepers are printed. However, if memory serves BW Tokens was good at rumbling the Tribe Formerly known as Fae, so it could very well shift itself upwards with all that has happened. Much like the Folk of Mer, I don’t see these doing any more or less, but again, time will tell.

Infect/Enchantments – Expect more blue, and compensate. Or thrown your Infect/Enchantments deck on a fire, that’s fine too. You know, whatever you’re comfortable with.

Zoo* (Naya, Bant, 5cc “Counter-Cat”) – You’re a thing again! Yay. Depending on how you want to run this, it’ll either just be a sub-par aggro deck (Naya and Dark Zoo suck in Modern, this ain’t Legacy) that bullies the dying kid (Jund) with its big plethora of fast punches that most other decks…actually don’t give a crap about OR…with 4cc Bant / 5cc Counter Cat, you may actually be a dark horse contender for Fair Deck Boss. Once upon a time Wild Nacatl led the charge for Counter-Cat running the show, even after Punishing Jund reared its ugly head after the Blazing Shoal, 12-post, 1st storm ban. With GSZ remaining banned it may not be quite what it was, but it’s certainly still a possiblity. Be alert.

There you have it. For the short write-up, I call Fae rumbling UWR and Zoo as very possible for the fair deck of choice, with Melira Pod taking top-dog status if they can’t, and Twin/Affinity growing even more, as they are the sturdiest choices to play (Wizards apparently loves Twin/Affinity/Tron)…or at least the best investments.

-Nolan

Modern Feb 3rd 2014 Banned List Changes – Why I do so hate WotC.

Unbanning Bitterblossom to stop the greatest hits format from existing is the same as kicking Paul McCartney out of Wings but filing a court order forcing him to reform and rejoin the Beatles. This replaces Jund with the deck that was so oppressive Jund was created to fight it.

Banning Deathrite Shaman was a generally terrible idea. [Editor's Note: I was informed that I needed to clean this up, lest I be censored more than Protesters during the Bush: The Sequel Era.] However, it does serve their general purpose of annihilating old standard decks. See point 1 if you wish to see why this contradicts literally what they just did.

Unbanning Wild Nacatl is long overdue; it should’ve never been banned. The argument for banning it would’ve been aptly applied to banning Etched Champion and Vault Skirge; they make affinity super nuts and make all other aggro strategies unplayable. Sadly Wizards was really close to catching the f—–ng plot, but thankfully yet again they didn’t. Affinity is the current Standard greatest hit to survive the longest; let’s see if it goes the distance as of Journey into Nyx.

Also, the concept of a rotating eternal format without the greatest hits plus the reasonable combination deck engines is frankly not only hilarious, but goddamn insane. WotC needs to cut their two-drink minimum to show up and work for the day, otherwise this will keep happening.

By the way, does anyone want to start a donation for Modern? It needs some medicine stat, and from what I hear, it can’t afford health insurance. I for one will be setting up donation jars at every gas station possible. I encourage you to do the same, or at least donate.

-Nolan