R Koster's picture
By: R Koster, Rob Koster
Sep 12 2019 12:00pm

What a week it has been in Modern. Stoneforge Mystic unleashed all of its raw power on the format in a form that no one could keep up with. Except for Tron, Burn, Whirza, Jund, UW Control and if I have to believe the 5-0 deck dumps that have been put out over the last week about a million other decks. So any rumor of Moderns imminent demise because of everyone's favorite Mystic have once again been vastly overrated. We're all fine. Actually. We're better than fine. I'm curious as to how long it will last, but I have been absolutely loving this format the past week. I did all sorts of crazy stuff like counter spells, not boarding in 10 pieces of Graveyard hate and still lose, but craziest of all. I had a turn 4 in almost every single game I played this week and to top that all off. My decisions mattered a ton! It has been an absolutely riveting time to be playing Modern on MTGO. You can very obviously tell that most people didn't realize how much they hated the Faithless Looting format until it was gone. But even though Faithless Looting is gone. A lot of the things it enabled are still very much alive/dead-ish (you can never tell with a bunch of these decks, they're like bad zombie movies. It might be dead, it might not be dead. Whatever happens, it's something.) 

So some of the decks that people that were dead after the Faithless Looting ban have been doing absolutely fine. (Although not a single sighting of the canary in the coalmine, ironically enough, like in real life, the bird is the only thing that went the way of the Dodo.) 

Everyone wrote off Mono-Red Prowess, Mardu Pyromancer and Dredge. (Come on guys, we will never be that lucky!) But they are still around, although in different shapes and forms then we are used to. Which, to me, is a good thing. If you look at the things that have been performing online, you see something that if you're new to rotations and bannings might be surprising, but the Old Yeller's of the format are still alive and kicking just as well as the new toys.


Even though no Stoneforge Mystic decks won anything this past week, they definitely played along with all of their new friends, and now seem to be finding it's own little nesting place in the format. Just as in Legacy it seems to do best in White decks that don't mind an extra threat. Think something along the lines of this UW Control deck that did very well in last weekend's Mythic Championship Qualifier.

What we see here is someone who took Stoneforge Mystic and took away one of the two biggest reasons I hated playing the deck. I can't stand playing a deck in Modern that can't close a game in any reasonable fashion. No matter how fun it is to tick up your Jace, the Mind Sculptor while drawing cards with a Teferi, Hero of Dominaria. It takes for bloody ever, and if they ever rip two in a row, you might still just join that Dodo I just mentioned. The closing speed UW Control had was just... let's put it nicely, lackluster at best. In my own list, I put (Monastary Mentor) in the Main Deck, but it just wasn't quite right. (Mentor does close games though if you've never been across a Mentor. If they untap with it and 1 or 2 cards in hand, you could very well be dead in two turns. No matter what life total you are at, Mentor doesn't care about your life total. It just thinks to itself: "I need to do 65 to you? Cool, no problem. I'll start with this (Serum Vision). At this point, you just doze off and check your e-mail or your Whatsapp. After a while, you get a notification saying you have priority again and see a 40/40 Mentor with 39 of his friends swinging your way. It's like a game of Clues, somebody's dead, no one knows how good luck figuring it out.) 

As you can see in the decklist, it's a very small package, but it's very potent and solved a big problem. Although if your Meta is filled with decks like Tron and Ad Nauseam, I would go back to the pre-Stoneforge build. So, as usual, it's a meta call, but in Modern proactivity is king and Stoneforge makes a deck very proactive for very few spend slots.


Wait, Rob; you mentioned two things that you hate about playing UW Control. What's the other one?

"Well, that's easy. It's Teferi, Time, Raveler. Also known as T3f3ri; that card just takes away every fun and interesting aspect of a game of Magic and is the reason I stopped going to FNM, I refuse to spend my Friday night playing with or against that card. The card makes me just unhappy for starting a game, and I hope that they ban it in every single format and then shoot every copy in existence into a volcano."


Enough of my ranting. Let's talk about something else that I already hinted on a bit.

There have been no Phoenix decks anywhere. Not a single person has been successful so far with Arclight Phoenix since the Faithless Looting ban. Which isn't really that surprising, to be honest. The first time Modern met Izzet Charm, it just snickered. I'm guessing someone will find out an Arclight Phoenix shell at some point. It's still a 3/2 Flying for 0 mana after all, but not yet. If we ever get something like Careful Study into modern though, I'm guessing the Phoenix's will rise again like a... well, Phoenix.


The thing with the Izzet Phoenix deck has always been that it's a Thing in the Ice deck. As someone who loves Blue Moon more than life itself, I can tell you that Thing in the Ice is an insanely busted Magic card, even without Tweety in the background muddling its spotlight. I haven't 5-0'd yet, but the list I'm currently playing has been posted. I didn't change a card from this list:

This list has been one of the best Izzet decks I have played in Modern in a long time. Credit where credit is due, Thepensword did a fantastic job with it. It might take some time to get used to playing a deck like this, but the power is definitely there. If you like working for your wins. Being able to beat anything with the right plays and some sprinkles of luck at times. This is the deck you should try. 

It also has a little card that came off the banlist as well! Look at that Sideboard, those are some very unexpected Dinosaurs in there. Yes, those really are Rampaging Ferocidon.


Wait, what? Those were unbanned in Standard? Oh, they must have gotten lost and wandered into the wrong format. Those things happen, let's move on.


No, not yet! What are they there for?

They are for, and I kid you not, for the Whirza matchup. But I'm guessing anywhere you want some more threats they should be fine. But it just laughs at Thopter Foundry and Sword of the Meek as if they were someone who just stepped in a turd and tried to clean it by wiping it off on their pants.


There is one other deck though that has been making rounds in the Blue and Red spectrum. I will never in my life play it again because I always have the same thing happen to me. I had it with the Living End deck when I tried them. I had it with the Restore Balance deck when I tried, and it happened to me in the first *Insert naughty word match that I played with this one.



Look at this. JUST LOOK AT IT. It always happens. 





That stupid fancy (Grizzly Bear) beat me from 19 to dead this game without a single thing I could do about it. I immediately did the thing everyone who tries to improve their game at all times and I Whatsapp'd some of my friends, told them the deck is a complete garbage pile and tossed it in the trashcan, vowing never to touch it again.


A fairer way to look at it is like this; everyone has deck types that work for them and those that don't work for them. My old roommate, for instance, was the perfect teammate for Unified Grand Prix (No one can register the same cards in a tournament like that.) Because he couldn't win a game with the decks I wanted to play to save his life, and the feeling was mutual. It was great, no-nonsense about who gets the Wooded Foothills and who got the Scalding Tarn. A good friend of ours was Affinity guy, it made coordination just the easiest thing.


Anyway, back to the point. When you play this deck, the best thing you can do is being excellent about drawing cards in a different order then I did in the above screenshot. I'm sorry, I really don't have more than that. I will, however, ship you a decklist before I finish up.

So that's how it's been on MTGO the last week. I'm personally loving the Stoneforge Mystic meta and hope no one breaks it for a while. It'll happen. It always does. Have you cracked the Arclight Phoenix deck? Please let me know! But for now, I just hope that as many of you as possible join in on what currently is a fantastic format.