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By: JXClaytor, Joshua Claytor
Jun 06 2008 12:16pm
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As everyone knows, times are not too great for MODO. The player base is feeling increasingly more alienated from the "software developer" (yea right?) known as WotC. This small subsidiary of Hasbro has been ramping up the realease of v3 (previously considered by most to be vaporware) for the last FOUR years. It's rather disappointing to think that after this extended period of time, the software client we were forced to install is in no better shape than a mid-term beta project from a respectable company. All of this aside however, I am a fan of the new art, I like the foil effects (on post-Onslaught card sets), the interface has hope, and I love the card zoom. On the downside, drafting leaves much to be desired, the casual play area is text only and you cannot see who won aside from watching replays (which function roughly half the time), the PE's are not up to snuff yet, the avatars don't work, and leagues are off. The one thing I find solice in at this moment is the fact that we can still shuffle up our cards and play some good old fashioned classic.

Speaking of which, we will soon have some new additions to our spectacular card base. On the constructed side, Shadowmoor will be coming on sometime soon (June 2nd?), and on the eternal side everyone is anticipating Tempest and MED II. Currently our metagame can be chopped up into myriad categories. Here is my brief synopsis:

RDW or Red Deck Wins

- This is the bane of most classic players' existance. It is an archetype that takes little to no skill to pilot, has almost no barrier to entry as far as hard to acquire cards, and touts little to no serious interaction. This is the closest deck in the format to playing solitaire. *As a sidenote: this archetype is the most affordable way to get involved in the classic scene - the most expensive cards I believe are A: Fetchlands [if desired] or Pithing Needles coming from the sb to lock down cop's.

Flash or FlashHulk

- This was a deck that was so feared at one point (Just after GP: Colombus last year I believe was the high point) that it actually prompted the very first restrictions we have seen in our format. The win condition consists of playing Flash and having your Protean Hulk come in play just long enough to go to the graveyard, setting up a game-ending chain reaction. Currently there are two schools of though on the builds, one being a more consistent kill and one being a more consistent build. The better kill requires 4 Disciples of the Vault, 5 or more artifacts (usually 4 Phyrexian Marauders and 2-4 Phyrexian Dreadnoughts), while the kill which requires less space consists of a Single Reveillark, a Body Double, a Carrion Feeder, and a Mogg Fanatic. The difference is obvious, as the Reveillark kill frees up 8 spots right off the top. However the disruption that can be applied to that kill makes it riskier (see Tormod's Crypt, Swords to Plowshares, removal of any sort, Direct Damage {hello RDW}, etc), while the Disciple kill is practically unstoppable after the Disciples are on the board.


- This is a solid, unwavering deck that relies on tempo, disruption, small beaters and sometimes burn. Tarmogoyf made this deck even more unbelievable, and when we get Tempest, Wasteland will make this deck an even more potent threat. Typical creature bases include both Nimble Mongoose and Tarmogoyf, with variance in the other creature slots (some play Werebear, some play Meddling Mage, some even drop the occasional Mystic Enforcer or Jotun Grunt).

Landstill or Deedstill

- These decks are predicated on total control. The funny thing about Landstill is about half the time it looks like they may be losing the board position, however they are usually just A: ramping up their answer or B: waiting for the right time to strike. The recent addition of Pernicious Deed to the maindeck has a devastating effect on half the format. Their win conditions are usually Tarmogoyfs, manlands (i.e. Mishra's Factory), or simple concession due to lockdown (See Ghost Quarter/Wasteland + Crucible of Worlds).

Aggro or Zoo

- These guys have a very easy game plan to figure out - do more damage to you than you do to me. You will almost always see Tarmogoyfs in these builds, along with other small creatures than inflict a lot of pain quickly (See Kird Ape, Grim Lavamancer, Dark Confidant, Isamaru, etc.).


- Affinity has enjoyed a renaissance of its own lately, with multiple appearances in our (past) weekly PE's. Affinity is a great option if you are expecting a lot of aggro or threshold decks, as its' racing ability is unmatched. With Berserk and Disciple of the Vault to put it over the top this deck has a very serious power level, although it is hated out quite easily (See Kataki, Null Rod, Krosan Grip)


- See above - much like affinity Goblins have been popping up more recently. Goblin recruiter is SO amazing as a 2 drop, considering you can set up a game winning chain reaction easily on turn 2.


- My good buddy Whiffy Penguin has been piloting this deck to newfound fame as of late. Bomberman is a very interesting archetype, consisting of combo [Lion's Eye Diamond + Auriok Salvagers + Pyrite Spellbomb], Beats (manlands, Trinket Mage, Exalted Angel, and now the crippling Teferi), and denial/permission {Counterspell, Force of Will, Stifle, Spell Snare}. The great thing about Bomberman is it is one of the few decks outside of Flash and Landstill which has multiple strategies, which must be accounted for at all times.

ElfClamp or BG Elves

- This deck is quite synergistic to say the least. Your very own editor beat me 2-1 with this deck during the lasp PE I played in. It has an unassuming start followed by quickly mounting armies of little guys and card advantage (hello Skullclamp!). This is one of the few decks which actually "breaks" skullclamp, as you have an almost never-ending army of little guys coming your way, with the occasional Tarmogoyf ripping flesh from your face. The recent addition of Bitterblossom makes Skullclamp all the more brokenererrr.

All of these archetypes are vastly different, from top to bottom. There is not one card in our format like the revered Black Lotus or the moxen in Vintage, Classic generally makes you think "outside the box". The format is rife with useable cards and combos, but it is up to the people to make things happen with them. One of my personal favorite things about Classic is the way you can center a deck around a specific combo and have a multitude of ways to fetch either part of the combo. With cards like Vampiric Tutor, Enlightened Tutor, Lim-Dul's Vault, Mystical Tutor, the criminally underplayed Merchant Scroll, Infernal Tutor, Burning Wish, Living Wish and Cunning Wish there should be no reason your combo should not be online by turn 3 or 4 at the latest, barring disruption of course.

Ahh, disruption. The disruption in the format is generally so much better than the tempo oriented cards that some have gone so far as to say "why even try" when it comes to combo. Cards like Force of Will (considered by some to be the barrier of entry for the Classic format), Spell Snare, Stifle, Counterspell, Duress, Thoughtseize, Cabal Therapy, Hymn To Tourach, and Swords to plawshares all demonstrate the punishingly efficient disruption available to us in our format. If you notice almost all of those cards are blue or black, lending credibility to the notion that a competitive Classic deck should contain one of these "primary colors". The only decks that really have something to say about that tend to be mono-colored linear decks, such as Red Deck Wins (RDW) or Goblins, in which case even these contain sideboard-ready 4of's of Pyroblast.

In a nutshell, that is Classic at the moment, and my optimism stems from an impending rotation that we should see soon. As everyone who has ever played modo knows, the IPA (Invasion block) cards have always been considered hard to find. Card like Meddling Mage, Orim's Chant, Pernicious Deed, and Vindicate have always been on a short list of chase IPA rares. Most of the Extended tourney players have relied on these cards for years to gain a "competitive advantage" on opponents on the tournament scene. How many cards really shut down resistance or give pseudo- Time Walks Orim's Chant, and how many cards wipe the board of all permanents that cost X or less Pernicious Deed, and how many cards after a simple duress give you the ability to change the rules and make a player unable to play card X Meddling Mage? The answer of course is singular, only the chase rares from the IPA block. I guess a case could be made for Abeyance, but it is already classic and isn't as versatile or mana friendly. Enough about that, why does this matter? People generally like to use what they spend good money on. Extended was set to rotate out all sets from IPA all the way through Onslaught block, however on the March 1st DCI Banned and restricted announcement they also announced Onslaught will stay until 2009, a small victory for the EXT format (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dci/announce/dci20080229a).

This gives a little pep to the step of the classic format as a whole, as we all expect more PE's to fire and people to flock to our beloved format, simply because their cards will be mostly unusabe outside of classic and the niche formats such as Singleton and Prismatic. This is my true reason for optimism, along with some new cards coming our way that should really help to change or at least "reshape" the format we have currently. Wasteland is another weapon for decks against control, Lotus Petal should be amazing as a 4-of (if it is not insta-restricted) enabling such decks as belcher and storm to really go off, Ancient Tomb is what Crystal Vein has always tried to be, but could never truly stack up, and let's not forget Scroll Rack. These are just a few of the cards we will be getting with Tempest, and much like IPA rares, these are truly one of a kind.

As a quick shout out I encourage everyone reading this who does have an interest in classic, or those who might be interested, to come and "/join classic" on modo. The people there are always willing to help, chat, or enjoy a friendly game.

Thanks for reading,

The_Hoff on Modo

Clan Magic Eternal


Gifts Rock by The_Hoff (Unregistered) (not verified) at Mon, 06/09/2008 - 12:37
The_Hoff (Unregistered)'s picture

I'd love to go into some gifts rock detail - I like nothing more than writing about my fav. deck of all time :D 

thanks for reading guys 


Gifts Rock by The_Hoff (Unregistered) (not verified) at Mon, 06/09/2008 - 12:37
The_Hoff (Unregistered)'s picture

I'd love to go into some gifts rock detail - I like nothing more than writing about my fav. deck of all time :D 

thanks for reading guys 


So, like by walkerdog at Sun, 06/08/2008 - 01:38
walkerdog's picture

I enjoyed the article.  I was hoping to see you go into some Gift-Rock detail though!

by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Sat, 06/07/2008 - 13:52
Anonymous (Unregistered)'s picture

Well done bro! I expect more articles from you!