RWHope's picture
By: RWHope, RWH
Feb 15 2013 12:47pm
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What I'm Doing Here

Modern has been my favorite format since it was a player run event in the Anything Goes room. Old Extended was dying and finding matches had become a chore. Zen/Som was a great standard format regardless of the power of the UW control list, because I felt that there was so much room for brewing. Sure Valakuts were killing you turn 5 but hey, blue plays counters. Anyway since then I have tried to brew my own lists or find the most off the wall ideas online I could. Here is my attempt to share with you some ideas I have that are as original as I can make them. 

Welcome to the Brewery

Today I'd like to talk about some of the changes to Modern and how my decisions are dictated by them. You've probably read about how Bloodbraid Elf and Seething Song were banned a hundred times by now by someone with a much better idea of their impact than I but in case you haven't I encourage you to look an article up, only because those bannings have made making more original decks in Modern much easier. Bloodbraid Elf was the premiere 4 drop and pushed anyone playing mid-range into R/G and then into Jund. Seething Song was a key component in Storm and with it gone many people will be discouraged from playing without it. Without having to worry about Storm we can focus on a more creature based defense.            

UWr has become a powerhouse just in the last month or so, and with the weakening of Jund it looks to become even stronger. Not to mention that counterspells in general become much more powerful. Many people have talked of new UW or UWB control lists that look to be very good in this new meta. Wafo-Tapa's Gifts list came out of nowhere as a very competitive control list and more will follow suit. But where there is control there is an aggro deck made to out speed it. Mono Red has been a contender as an all out aggro list for a while but settled at a tier 2 to 1.5 even with the inclusion of black for Deathrite Shaman and Dark Confidant. Jund did a good job of going over it and Storm could combo out faster than Red could burn it. But if people are slowing up for favor of a controlling game Mono Red could become a very competitive even tier 1 list. Affinity is another fast deck that is also cheap to build but has fallen out of favor lately. Personally I don't like it or think it is very good with all of the available hate but you'll undoubtedly run into it if you play Modern. Combo still exists of course but in very different forms from Storm. Splinter twin is creature based combo with some control elements underneath. This is the most powerful combo deck in the format and can be very consistent. Eggs can be a top deck in paper but the time it takes to go through actions makes it a questionable choice for MTGO and not very popular. The other top tier combo is the fairly recently created Scapeshift. When Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle was unbanned many people were excited by the prospect of bolting people to oblivion with their lands and while it is very strong it lacks speed and consistency. 

So let us review, Modern now has a healthy mix of archetypes with control, combo, and aggro all holding a relevant foothold. Of course this leaves one more major archetype, midrange. Midrange has been dominated by Jund for quite some time now. Other decks include Mono White or GW Hatebears but they were definitely overshadowed by Jund. Bloodbraid elf was a very strong card for a number reasons due to its cascade. It gave Jund extra gas and worked around counterspells very well. With it gone, the deck is not dead but no longer does a midrange deck need the elf to keep up. The midrange archetype is very well suited to face a meta mostly made of aggro and if we have some cards to beat control then we'd have a top tier deck.

The List




      Fast Offense

Avacyn's Pilgrim Geist of Saint Traft Loxodon Smiter Rancor

These creatures are going to hopefully be your turn 1 and 2 plays. There is not much more fierce than swinging with one of these 3 drops on turn 3. On the play, control decks wont have common countermagic such as Mana Leak or Remand yet and that all but promises an open attack, especially if you have the hexproof geist. Rancor makes these attacks into a 3 turn clock. Smiter is big enough to avoid early blockers and Restoration Angel or one of your removal spells can easily support geist. And of course Rancor plus blinking effects just puts it back into your hand.

     Applying More Pressure

Restoration Angel Vendilion Clique Baneslayer Angel Selesnya Charm 

Some fast creatures are good but these big buddies will keep you through to games that last a little bit longer. Restoration Angel has good synergy with geist, allowing him to attack into blockers and blinking him from danger. She can also keep your non hexproof creatures safe from targeted removal and as an added bonus, shes a 3/4 flyer, no too shabby. Vendilion Clique is a 3/1 flyer who can also beam in in a flash (ha) and has another ability that can control your opponents hand. Flashing him in on your opponents upkeep can make sure they lose that key card, or have to burn a counterspell during their turn. Baneslayer Angel has been a force on its own since its printing and at a mere 5 cmc it can come down hard and fast turn 4 or even 3. That's a nice Thundermaw Hellkite you got there, I'll just swing back for 5 and gain that much life too. And first strike is nothing to snuff at making this very hard to block or get through when held back. Selesnya Charm while not a creature can do alot for one little instant. If there are little dudes in your geist's way it can make him big and trample. If there happens to be a bug threat it can just remove that sucker on the spot. Putting a knight down can be useful in certain situations but I rarely found it that good. 

      Controlling the Board

Mana Leak Path to Exile

Counterspells are a very powerful card type and a major if not the reason that blue is often thought as the most powerful color. Mana Leak is the premier counterspell of Modern and a huge tempo gain in the early turns. If you dont hit the turn 1 pilgrim holding up leak is a great way to slow down an opponents game plan, allowing you to get ahead. The hope is that you are curving out rather well and have plays for turns 3 through 6 rather consistently. If you are holding up leak on turn 2 it is safest just to leak whatever spell they cast, especially a creature. Against aggro any leg up you can get is good and you don't want combo doing anything. Path to Exile is the best white removal spell since Swords to Plowshares and one of the best removal spells in Modern. It can exile anything it can target and them getting a land is hardly a problem when you just need one more opening to kill them. 


Misty Rainforest Cavern of Souls Gavony Township

I wanted a nice balance of duals and fetches to make sure I get the colors I needed early and untapped. But Blood Moon is a very popular sideboard card right now and I did not want to leave myself vulnerable. Never did I have trouble getting my colors by turn 3 but rarely I could miss a turn 1 green for my pilgrim. Cavern of Souls was mainly just to push that last creature through countermagic. There is no synergy between the creatures and their types but sometimes you just don't want a creature countered. Gavony Township is an all-star in this deck and can make a stalled boardstate an inevitable victory. Getting that extra few damage isn't bad either and pumping geist makes him that much more lethal. 


Aven Mindcensor Stony Silence Negate Celestial Purge Rest in Peace Back to Nature

Aven Mindcensor is a sneaky way to stop decks that require searching, most notably Scapeshift. I like bringing him in against three or more color decks to screw with their fetches. Tron may want lands but rarely are they searching their library so don't fall for that. Stony Silence destroys affinity and may be a clutch card against weird decks. Negate is something I bring in against combo or gifts, any deck that has very important non-creature spells to win. Celestial Purge has plenty of targets against all manner of decks, black and red being very popular. Back to Nature is for those pesky bogle decks. Anyone who has played against that knows that it is not a fun game to play and you probably lose. But one Back to Nature is generally enough to get you enough tempo to win. Rest in Peace is for decks centered on Deathrite Shaman, Lingering Souls, or gifts. 

Closing Statement

The aggro archetype looks to make quite a stir in the Modern meta and Gatecrash brings some new tools to the table. I have always liked mid range and think it is very powerful in Modern. Most importantly of course this is supposed to be semi-original ideas that arent in the spotlight of the meta and fun for me. The pros are good but don't be afraid to brew up your own lists.

Thanks for reading.


Nice article and welcome to by olaw at Fri, 02/15/2013 - 15:47
olaw's picture

Nice article and welcome to PureMTGO!

The deck looks pretty sweet, though I question whether Noble Hierarch would be better in the Avacyn Pilgirm spot. I'd be interested to know what your strongest and weakest matchups are with the deck.

Thank you very much by RWHope at Fri, 02/15/2013 - 18:44
RWHope's picture

And i'm kicking myself right now. Noble Hierarch is definitely better than pilgrim. Don't know how I missed it.

Just a few changes by radiant at Tue, 02/19/2013 - 16:45
radiant's picture

Switch the pilgrims to hierach, cut 2 selesnya charm and add 2 pillgrims (better chances of hitting turn 2 geist or smiter), the mana base also looks off, why not fastlands? And what's the cavern naming? Angel (The only creature type shared by 2 cards on your list)? Why not a couple of swords in there? Geist is sick with them.
Anyway, really nice deck idea.