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By: olaw, Oliver Law
May 07 2020 12:00pm
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Hello!

Welcome to another Rogues' Gallery!  It's another month of lockdown so obviously there are no physical tournaments to look at but plenty of brewing with Ikoria hitting MTGO.  First, we take a look at some Pre-Ikoria highlights and then move onto the latest brews with the newest set on the block.

PRE-IKORIA MODERN

Scapeshift Control


This is a very interesting take on the Scapeshift decks of yore.  The deck completely forgoes creatures in favour of operating at instant speed and packing the deck with interaction and disruption finally setting up for the lethal Scapeshift.  It's a bold and unusual approach in the current metagame but one that clearly paid dividends for PhantasmalBear.

Sultai Mill


Modern Mill has been very much a fringe archetype for most of its time in the format.  However, recently we have seen Sultai Mill putting up some really good result on MTGO.  The difference really seems to be Uro who gives the deck a much needed big end threat at little cost to its main gameplan and also a nice way to stablise the board against aggro opponents.

IKORIA MODERN

Ikoria recently hit MTGO and is already Modern legal on the platform.  It seems there are already some concerning signs that Companion might be too powerful for the format, which was what I feared but hoped would not happen.  Unsurprisingly, Lurrus of the Dream Den is the card that seems to be seeing the most love and may soon become a problem.  I fully expect Lurrus to be banned in the not too distant future but I imagine Wizards will let it play out longer. 

Jund appears to be the biggest beneficiary of Lurrus so far with it adding nicely to the deck's existing attrition strategy.  However, there are various other beneficiaries including Death's Shadow, Hardened Scales and Burn.  Other companions are also seeing love including Zirda, the Dawnwalker and Yorion, Sky Nomad (which I didn't think was particularly playable) but I don't think any have proven themselves overly problematic just yet (though there is still plenty time).

Grixis Delver


Ikoria seems to have a slightly unexpected hero in the form of Sprite Dragon who manages to have revived the Delver archetype, at least temporarily.  Alongside new favourite Lurrus, this deck seems to be having considerable success in the format emphasizing cheap threats and interaction.

Cats


This is how Companion was supposed to be played - quirky decks built around odd restrictions like Kaheera, the Orphanguard.  Cats have a new Companion and a new lord and apparently it's reasonably playable.  Thorn of Amethyst is an interesting main deck card in this deck but might be a powerful option in the Lurrus world we seem to be entering.

Gruul Obosh


Even Obosh is managing to get into Modern action.  Mana dorks and mana ramp with hasty beaters support this Obosh deck which looks to land the companion and quickly smash face.

HammerTime

 

This deck is far and away my favourite for this month.  The mission is simple - get hammer, equip hammer, SMASH!

The deck is filled with cheap creatures to hammer with (and ones that can potentially kill in one hit), ways to find Colossus Hammer and ways to bypass the Hammer's hefty equip cost.  The deck can also play Lurrus as a companion which is a neat way of getting back broken hammers or creatures to equip.

CONCLUSIONS

New set releases are always a great time for brewing and so I look forward to what we will see next month.  So far it looks like Lurrus of the Dream-Den needs to be banned and hopefully that happens in the not too distant future.  It's just too good in too broad a range of decks and has even seen off format staples like Urza (the previous bane of Modern) for now. 

Companion was a risky mechanic for older formats but, although time may prove me wrong, I actually think Lurrus is giving companions and Ikoria a bad name so far.  I think most of the other companions have a relevant enough deck restriction to make it at least costly to include the companion.  Lurrus needs to go and I think the other companions aren't nearly as egregious errors.  Sadly, until that time you may want to acquire a Lurrus if you are playing Modern.

That's all for this month.  I'll be back with more exciting brews next month!

Thanks for reading,

Oliver Law (olaw on MTGO)