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By: BlastodermMan, Carl E Wilt
Jun 04 2015 11:00am
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There is little doubt that football is probably the most popular sport in America, followed by basketball. Coming in a distant third (and in some areas even fourth behind hockey), is baseball. Even with a wane in popularity, it is still consistently called the National Pastime. Probably more so than the other sports, baseball has a history and timelessness that is rarely surpassed. 

Back in the late '80's to early 90's, the toast of the American League was the team from Oakland...the Athletics. They were brash and bawdy and fun to watch. Aside from having an often overlooked and underrated pitching staff, this team was centered around two young sluggers, Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire, known as the Bash Brothers. These guys each won Rookie of the Year honors in back to back years in '86 and '87, and during the '88 - '90 seasons, led Oakland to three AL pennants and one World Series title, while combining to hit over 200 combined home runs during that span. A lot of people forget how great those teams were. Without winning multiple championships, they were never classified as a dynasty, in spite of their domination over the AL.

Yes, I'm aware of the steroid admissions and allegations. No, I will not vilify them for those, as it wasn't illegal in baseball at the time, use was rampant, and it's absurd to think the same owners, front office people and managers that today loudly proclaim how horrible it was and how the players stole money by using performance enhancing drugs, were not aware of what was going on. Use was open, and encouraged. Sports writers wrote about it like it was nothing in the early years...just a way to get better. A nod and a wink and a quick look the other way. Watch ESPN Classic when it replays, say, the '85 World Series and compare the players in size and bulk to those teams that played in the early 90's. Society as a whole didn't just start randomly packing on 30-50 pounds of muscle per person. It wasn't until it became stigmatized that suddenly everyone was up in arms. Oddly, the banning of the little discussed amphetamines the year after steroids were banned had a greater impact on baseball and offensive statistics than the banishment of steroids did. But that can probably be discussed elsewhere.

To circle back to my original point, the Bash Brothers were fun to watch, and were often quite dominant. In Magic, we are kinda living in another Bash Brothers era, sans steroids of course. Both Gurmag Angler and Tasigur, the Golden Fang are seeing a lot of play in Modern right now. These guys are big, bad, and can hit as early as turn two or three with relative frequency and ease. What is a R/G mage to do? With my plans to hit up the SCG Modern Open this weekend with the wife, I need to have something I can play that won't just roll over and die to the field.

My lovely wife will be playing a deck very close to the one played and written about by Jay Nelson last week. For her, it was between that or a tokens Polymorph deck she likes to play. For reference, here is her version: 

Modern Mono Green Aggro
Modern Deck for SCG Columbus Modern Open
4 Dryad Militant
4 Dungrove Elder
4 Experiment One
4 Kalonian Tusker
4 Leatherback Baloth
1 Scavenging Ooze
4 Strangleroot Geist
25 cards

Other Spells
4 Aspect of Hydra
2 Dismember
4 Rancor
4 Vines of Vastwood
14 cards
21 Forest
21 cards

Dungrove Elder

The game plan against the Bash Brothers? For starters, she has the obvious Dismember. She also had the ability to go really wide with a bunch of creatures. The big guys can still only block one other creature, so flooding the board with a bunch of guys and having pump spells can easily just get there. Post board, there is also the option of Beast Within to kill the bashers. Taken together, it is a solid plan. 

The rest of the deck is pretty straight forward. In the board, Deglamer was chosen rather than Naturalize for very specific reasons. Both take care of pesky Enchantments and Artifacts, but the shuffle in effect is particularly useful against Wurmcoil Engine, while not adding cards to the opponent's graveyard to re-buy or utilize for Delve. Triumph of the Hordes is a "fun-of" that provides trample to a set of creatures that is pretty much non-evasive and allows for a random poison victory over token/weenie strategies. 

So, the wife is all set, which may be the most important consideration overall. But where does that leave me? Currently, the only deck I have together for myself to play in paper is Green Moon, which I have discussed before. It is not the best deck at removing X/5 dudes from the board, and it would not be outrageous to see me crushed under a pile of Bash Brothers before lunch. That's not really how I want to spend $50.00. And I don't think running a deck full of Chameleon Colossus, Great Sable Stag, and Whirling Dervish is the proper way to answer the big black threats. Though, it may be a humorous metagame call in a format that is sure to see a ton of Jund and Junk decks that rely on cards like Abrupt Decay, Terminate, and Dismember. Of course, those decks also rely on Path to Exile and Lightning Bolt as well, so the final laugh would probably be at my own expense. 

One possibility, which actually required me to pick up a few cards, was posted by Gerry Thompson this week. 

This is a deck that, obviously, appeals to the R/G mage that lives deep inside of me. What's not to love about my favorite colors, acceleration, and Fatties? I do like that it accelerates into Blood Moon and LD, and can bring the fat when needed. I don't like that it runs a mere 21 lands, only 13 of which actually produce mana. For a deck that really needs to get to its threes, fours, and fives, this looks like it may be a mulligan-fest just waiting to happen. It also feels like I have no answer to the random "Has-it" turn four Twin combo. Post board I get three Rending Volley and a Deglamer, but I'm always wary of a deck that simply auto scoops game one to one of the better, and more played, decks in the format. Keep in mind that none of this means I didn't spend too many tickets to test it. It's just that I see weaknesses and I'm not sure this is going to hold up over a 9 round event, and give me the requisite 7-2 to day 2. 

 As I kick around ideas, I consider one other possibility. Maybe I can try a 3-color deck...break the something different. Of course, Naya is probably the way I would go: 


One thing I do like about this deck is that it is pretty low to the ground and between creature beats, and cheap removal to answer the Bash Brothers, it may be a consideration. In many cases, this deck may just be too fast for people, and it could allow for some seriously savage wins. This can get crushed by an early Blood Moon, and essentially lock me out of casting spells. Obviously, using fetches wisely is highly suggested. Also, while not bountiful my any means, a Chalice of the Void set to 1 would be pretty devastating as well. 

It looks like I'm going to commit a cardinal sin and go to a big event with little testing. Sitting here at mid-week without a clue as to what I should play is probably not going to give me the results I want. In the end, I will be there battling. Probably with something Red and Green.

With any luck, I'll be able to strike out the Bash Brothers.

Carl Wilt