Hey everyone! Welcome to another Modern Musings! This week I’m gonna talk about how I’m personally preparing for GP Vegas, as well as my thought process in choosing a deck for myself as I haven’t yet decided. I have three decks I’m trying to choose from that all have their merits, and I hope in writing this article I can maybe figure out which I want to play. For you guys, I hope it gives some insight into what I’m thinking about before I head into the GP. Before we get started there are a few things about myself when regarding tournament Magic that I feel I should talk about first.
#1: I don’t like playing the best deck
Mostly this is because I like being the rogue. I simply have way more fun when I’m playing something a little different than everyone else. There is also something to be said for the advantage you get when playing something your opponents aren’t familiar with. It makes it a little more difficult to know which hands to keep, and which cards are important in the matchup. This is especially true in right now in Modern, when Meddling Mage is all over the format. If your opponent doesn’t know what your deck is doing, then they will probably name sub-optimal cards as well as not be able to play around your good ones.
#2: I don’t want to be playing a deck I don’t enjoy
Don’t get me wrong, I play Magic to win. However, this is also a game, and I want to enjoy myself while playing it. With that in mind, I’m not going to be playing something absolutely terrible just in the name of being rogue. I still want my deck to be competitive, just something that I have fun playing. And let’s be real, GP Vegas is a long GP; I don’t want to play upwards of 15 rounds (assuming I day 2) with a deck I don’t enjoy. I also tend to play better when I’m having fun, so that’s also helps me a bit.
With that out of the way, let’s get into what I think about this GP.
This GP in a sense is a bit easier to prepare for than last years as we have a very clear idea of what the best decks in Modern are. In picking my deck I need to have plans for Humans, B/R Hollow One, and Tron. Specifically though, all three need to beat Humans as it is most likely going to be the most popular deck there.
The first deck that I’m considering is R/G Land Destruction, a.k.a. Ponza. Ponza has a reasonable matchup against what I suspect are going to be some of the most popular decks at the GP: Humans, Tron, and U/W control. In general, I like Ponza because it disrupts your opponent’s mana base while ramping into big boys like Inferno Titan. I love slamming down big threats, and Ponza is filled with a combination of scary creatures and planeswalkers to overwhelm your opponent’s crippled mana. Among the decks that I’m considering, I think that this is the strongest choice, albeit the most mainstream.
Next we have Blue Steel, a deck I talked about fairly recently, as Zack Elsik just updated his list. This deck is super sweet to play. It plays like a slower Affinity that has a ton more mana and a little more disruption. Lodestone Golem is a house and is one of the strongest reasons to play this deck. If you’re not familiar with the deck, I just wrote an in-depth article on it that you can read here. That all being said, this is a deck that I’m somewhat split on. The reason being is that I don’t think the deck is quite optimized yet, and I’m not sure I have time to optimize it. The problem that I have with the deck is that I frequently have a ton of mana and nothing to use it on. Traxos feels a bit weak, to be honest, and I’m thinking of cutting him in favor of +2 Wurmcoil Engine and +1 Myr Battlesphere. If I do that, I think I can -2 Minamo, School at Water’s Edge for +1 Cavern of Souls and +1 Tolaria West (for Walking Ballista or Academy Ruins). If I have the time to test these changes and they pan out then I might play Blue Steel, otherwise I’ll probably stick to Ponza.
This is the final deck that I’m considering, and the most rogue of the three. I have played this deck a fair amount and it functions a lot smother than it looks. It abuses your opponent’s exile pile to generate value for yourself through Blight Herder, Wasteland Strangler and Ulamog’s Nullifier. It largely functions as an aggro/control/tempo deck, countering your opponents threats with Delay while deploying threats early with Eldrazi Temple. The maindeck features the not-often-played Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver, which not only helps with our processor plan, but gives us additional threats in our opponent’s creatures. The sideboard has some extra spiciness in The Scarab God, which allows us to exile creatures from our opponent’s graveyard, then put them back again with one of our processors…to exile them with Scarab God again. I think overall this deck garners most of its advantage through the fact that only the most rabid consumers of Modern know that this deck exists, and fewer understand how to effectively play against it. The downside is that it doesn’t function that well against Swarm style decks, and sometimes gets clunky draws.
Anyway, that’s all for this week! I’ll be behind the Magic Stronghold booth on Thursday at GP Vegas if you want to come say hi. I hope to see you there!