R Koster's picture
By: R Koster, Rob Koster
Dec 09 2020 1:00pm

In the last few months, life has been pretty crazy, and with that comes less time to play Magic. However, I have kept up with what is going on in my beloved Modern format, and honestly, I really like what I'm seeing.

First off, I want to give massive props to Tweedel, who won not one but two Modern Challenges two weekends ago playing Mono-Red Prowess. I think that is the first time ever that someone won them back to back, so congratulations.

Tweedel did it with this list:

Tweedel's Back to Back Modern Challenge winning list 28/29-11-20

The Blast Zone look out of place to me. From what I gathered, they are for the mirror and for Scourge of the Skyclave decks where you don't want to take damage from your own lands and want a way to destroy their giant creatures. Still seems odd to me, but I'm not going to argue with back to back wins. That is an incredible feat no matter how you slice it or, in this case Lightning Bolt it.

In my past experiences, when Mono-Red is in a good position, formats are pretty healthy. There are a few cards that I would still like to see go far and far away from this format. But I'll keep that veil to myself for this article—no escaping it in the future, though.

Back to my point. There are some really cool things going on right now. For instance, apparently Hardened Scales is a thing again.

I've played the Pioneer version of this deck a bunch when that format just came out, and someone from my local game shop has top 8'd and top 16'd a bunch of GP's with the Mox Opal powered version of the Hardened Scales deck.  I have mentioned in previous articles that I like having an Artifact based aggressive deck in the format, and I'm delighted to see that something is brewing here that might just make the cut in 2020 Modern.

After taking the deck through its paces in a league, I do have some comments, though. I, for the life of me, do not understand why we aren't splashing White. I died to my own Dismember in multiple matchups. Against Spirits and against Rakdos Shadow, the damage really added up fast. Against Storm, however, I was very happy with the 1 mana removal.

The second reason I would want to run White is that I never cast Scrapyard Recombiner. It was always just too slow. I get that it's there for the grindy matchups, but come on, this is Modern. Those aren't happening a lot. I would instead run some number of Heliod, Sun-Crowned. The deck is even already running Phyrexia's Core to trigger it.

The third reason is that I would rework the Sideboard for the White cards. I'd love to get me some Path to Exile, and if we can make it work in the mana base, I would even go as far as to include Skyclave Apparition. I wouldn't even be surprised if Skyclave Apparition becomes an inclusion in the maindeck. It is currently the most played creature in Modern for those who don't keep up with stuff like that. It is that good.

Something like this seems like it would be a good place to start.

This list is a bit low on colored mana, but I went up to four Ancient Stirrings to smooth things out a bit to compensate for that. The 14 sources of green give us a 91.4% chance of having a Green source on turn 1, and from there Ancient Stirrings should help pick up the slack on the white sources. 12 Of those gives us a 69% chance of casting Skyclave Apparition on turn 3 if need be. Which is iffy, but that's what's the extra Ancient Stirrings are there for. Also, I don't know why you would ever run less than 4 of a 1 mana card that looks at your top 5 and lets you choose almost your entire deck from them. If only it would get you Heliod, Sun-Crowned as well.

Everyone who has ever read one of my articles knew that this one was coming.

Twinless Twin is back again! It keeps hashing itself up to keep hanging with the new guys!

I have to give credit to the most perfectly matched username ever for this deck.

I love that there is a crowd out there that just keeps bringing this deck back from the dead again, and again, and again. Mainly because I am very much one of them. I've played this deck every chance I've gotten since the moment I found out about it being a thing again.

Some things about this list:

– The mana base takes some getting used to. Gone are the Steam Vents, the Scalding Tarn and the Mystical Sanctuary. It is good, though, just different.

– This Blue Control deck plays Boil. It just says so much about this format.

I have changed a few things to my own personal preference. Mainly taking out the mainboard Flusterstorm because I hate staring at it while my opponent goes turn 1 Bomat Courier, turn 2 Scourge of the Skyclaves, turn 3 Death's Shadow. I am convinced that Modern isn't a maindeck Flusterstorm kind of format. Everything is 1 Mana, and there are way too many creatures floating around everywhere. Of the top 10 most played spells, only Aether Gust is 2 mana, and no one is playing that against us. Well, okay, Mystical Dispute, Force of Negation, and Dismember are technically 3 mana. But are they really?

The final archetype I want to look at is the Hatebears archetype. This deck has always been around in all sorts of shapes and forms. People have tried Mono White, Selesnya, Orzhov, Orzhov and Eldrazi, Boros, Azorius. You name it, people have tried it. But recently, it has had a massive surge in popularity. Which has all to do with Skyclave Apparition and a bit to do with Archon of Emeria.

This list has gotten a smattering of little boosts over the past few years. It got Stoneforge Mystic, it got Field of Ruin, it got Maul of the Skyclaves. But the two big ones are, as I mentioned already, Archon of Emeria and Skyclave Apparition. Archon of Emeria was a card that no one was talking about until it magically got aided by a YouTuber and shot into the limelight, and it never left it again. For good reason, while a 2/3 flyer for 3 isn't the biggest thing on the block. It is maindeckable Storm and Landhate with a super reasonable clock attached. Talking about land hate, people have been complaining about not being able to interact with lands enough in Modern for years, but this list has plenty of that; 3 Archon of Emeria, 4 Field of Ruin, and 4 Ghost Quarter. I mean, that is more land destruction than Ponza is running these days. It's obviously working. The deck has been showing tons of success recently.

The other massive boost the deck got was Skyclave Apparition. That card is excellent. It's the most played card in Modern for a reason. With Aether Vial, you can even remove things like Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath before they hit the graveyard. It is not the greatest exchange, but tons better than waiting for it to Escape and go to town.

Lots of cool stuff going on in the format right now! Even though it's not perfect, it's in one of the best places I've seen it in a long time, and I highly recommend queuing up for a league right now.