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By: R Koster, Rob Koster
Dec 05 2019 2:00pm
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Last week, the Modern Format Playoffs were held. For those of you who don't know. It's a big Modern tournament that you get to play in for free if you have 35 Modern Points. 

And I'm playing in it. It's been a while since I've entered something more significant than a Modern Challenge or a League, life has just been eating away at my playing 10-12 GP's a year time. Up to the point where I haven't been to one in over a year.


That itch needs to be scratched, though. Although I haven't played Modern in a while, I've been just Pioneering it up. But no more of that at least until after the playoff. Onwards to the Modern!


The decks that come to mind for me to play are:

- Grixis Shadow.

- Mono-Green Tron.

- UW Control.

- Blue Moon.

- Neoform.


The tournament starts at 5 PM local time for me, so some of the requirements I have aren't purely Spikey. I'm spending my Saturday evening playing. I want to have some fun as well. So for that reason, I immediately scratched off UW Control. 


UW Control is a very reasonable deck, but the deck struggles too much with closing games for my taste. I can take that for five rounds, but not for 8 or 9. I'll end up being frustrated on my Saturday night. So, off it goes.


Neoform will also frustrate me; it's too much of a glass cannon to play in something serious, in my opinion. Although the deck is very fun.


Then we get to the three most obvious choices for me and their ups and downs.



The deck is easy to play, but I'm definitely not a good pilot, and I still fumble with it at times. I don't agree with all the people saying Tron is just a braindead deck. There are a Tron of nuances in there. And yes, I know. It's not rocket science to play Tron, but people are underestimating the difference between an excellent Tron player and well.... me.


Grixis Shadow:

I've piloted Grixis Shadow through multiple GP's. And I've always gotten mediocre results, while I know the deck is very good, it just never clicked with me. I don't know if that's a thing, but it just never was the deck for me. Which was a shame because I loved it's predecessor Grixis Delver so much. Oh man, I miss that deck. It's a shame it just isn't good enough. Dear Wizards, could we get Delver of Secrets into Pioneer pretty, please?  I'll take Historic as well, even though I vastly prefer MTGO over MTGA, but flipping Delvers is like crack to me. I know it's terrible, I know it won't do anything good for me in the long run. But dear god is it fun.


Anyway, onto the conclusion that we all knew was coming.


Blue Moon:

I considered not playing it. But it's the deck that clicks with me. We hum like a well-oiled machine together. And even though she isn't as pretty as she used to be, I still love her. I know the deck still looks underpowered compared to the rest of the format, and probably even more now than last time I played it. But life isn't all about looks. When you spend a Saturday night with someone, and it just makes you genuinely happy, take the chances you get to do it.


So I'm playing Blue Moon. And seeing as how this is still Modern, I want to be doing something unfair that wins the game on the spot.


Hello Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker! Long-time no see my old friend. How have you been? 


"What's that? Not very good? Modern has become even more brutal, and a five mana do nothing is a tough sell?"


"Well, you know how to sell yourself. You know what, don't call me. I'll call you!"


Crap, I'm looking for a win condition now. I was going to play the old I miss Twin deck. But when I look at the list I have on MTGO. It's definitely outdated and messy.


For reference, here it is:



There aren't any Mystic Sanctuary in there, for instance. I should run some number of that card. Which also makes me want Deprive


The other thing that I immediately spot is that the mana base is running 8 Fetches, 2 Steam Vents, and 2 Sulfur Falls, which seems wrong. I used to run 3 to 4 Sulfur Falls in all my mana bases. Prismatic Vista doesn't get Mystic Sanctuary, so that seems like a straightforward cut. But I could see replacing another fetchland for another Mystic Sanctuary.


Thing in the Elk also isn't looking very good. Man, the win conditions are not what they used to be. So that goes as well. With Thing in the Ice gone, I don't need eight cantrips. So some number of Opt or Serum Visions can go as well.


I also don't want to be tapping out on turn 4 or 5. If Kiki-Jiki winning the game on the spot isn't good enough, the 2 Planeswalkers surely aren't either.


And I could see the Force of Negation going to the sideboard. Because it doesn't counter Urza, Lord High Artificer, Tarmogoyf or Gurmag Angler, which are three of the scariest cards in the format for Blue Moon.


Just looking at the Sideboard hurts my eyes. I'm just going to take it out to the back of the shed and give it the Old Yeller treatment.


All in all that leaves me with:



So that leaves me with 48 to 51 cards depending on how many cantrips I want. In those cards, I need to put a win condition and a resonant gameplan and a better mana base.


Let's start with the mana base. I think it could pretty easily be upgraded to something like this:


4 Scalding Tarn

3 Sulfur Falls

3 Steam Vents

2 Mystic Sanctuary

1 Mountain

2 Flooded Strand

7 Island


I want a win condition that I can drop down, and that will win the game on its own if it stays in play. I would also love it if it had Flash because that would mean I could up the countersuite by a lot. After doing some searching on MTGO, that brings me to these options.

Draining Whelk

Torrential Gearhulk

Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir

Pearl Lake Ancient


Or I could go with the old counter burn plan in Burst Lightning and Vendilion Clique and Brazen Borrower. Or Through the Breach into an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. I honestly don't know yet. I even saw someone running Improbable Alliance. I'm testing that before the playoffs start.


What I do know is that I want some Deprive in here, and I also feel like I want the full amount of Archmage's Charm because Grixis Shadow has been doing well recently. So let's add those, which brings us to a total of 13 of counterspells. But I don't want to cast Deprive on turn two if I can help it. Let's add 2 Mana Leak for that and a Remand. I was thinking of Logic Knot as well. But I want Magmatic Sinkhole in the deck, so that's a no-go.


Then I want to add the second Blood Moon to the main as well, together with the second Magmatic Sinkhole. Those should nicely round things out.


Then there still is a sideboard to build.

One of the biggest decisions for a Blue Moon sideboard is how hard you hate dredge. I hate Dredge a ton. So I'm starting with:

3x Anger of the Gods

3x Ashiok, Dream Render


It also helps that the Ashiok's are good against UW control.

After that, I do want some number of Force of Negation in my 75. So let's add 2 for starters.


That's eight cards done. Seven more to go, and Tron has been doing well recently. Especially Eldrazi Tron. That matchup is pretty rough. So let's take a bit of a bet and play 2 Spreading Seas. I know it isn't that super-duper-fluper great against them. But Cavern of Souls destroys us. As long as they don't have that, things are usually pretty manageable.


That leaves us with five slots and a very real question. Do we think we are ever beating Burn? Honestly, I don't think so. So I'm just going to punt that matchup and play more all-round good cards.


I'm closing out the Sideboard with 2 Mystical Dispute, 2 Engineered Explosives and 1 Beacon Bolt


After all that, it gets me this list:



Next week I'll talk about how the playoffs went. If you are playing in them yourself. Good luck!