Hello my fellow Stormers! It’s been a while (too long) I’d say, and it’s time to take a look at Modern and the new contender that has risen to the occasion. So this is the usual decklist check, and updated sideboard guide.
So what decks have popped up? Dredge paired with Creeping Chill has had a pretty big swing and the deck is pretty strong at the moment. Creeping Chill gave the deck way much more explosiveness and reach, pair that with Conflagrate and the deck is even better than what it was before. Also the Arclight Red deck has proven to be a serious contender. We’ll take a closer look at that deck soon!
Now there is the other side of the coin, this resurgence of Dredge means that people are packing more and more graveyard hate. Leyline Of The Void, Surgical Extraction and even Ravenous Trap are seeing loads of play. And BGx decks like Jund, Abzan and even Rock are maindecking Nihil Spellbombs, Tron maindecks Relic Of Progenitus.
What does all of this mean for Storm then? Well our graveyard is not as easily accessable but we are still in fine position, format keeps speeding up but we are already 1 of the fastest deck around and we can adapt to these situations.
My current (and same) list is still the same we touched on before. I haven’t seen a need to chance anything here honestly. Having access to 2 Remands is more important than ever since more and more graveyard hate is being maindecked. This gives us the out of going Grapeshot Remand Grapeshot for the win without the need of our graveyard. This could also be a meta thing but there is a lot of Jund/Abzan running around in Helsinki and against those midrange tapout decks, Remand is amazing card in itself.
Now a lot of people like to cut Grapeshot and add 1 Empty The Warrens in the maindeck, I can see the argument since that card is another out to graveyard hate and there are matchups where game 1 Empty for 6-10 goblins is just game or very hard for opponent to combat. Jund, Abzan and Grixis Death’s Shadow for example hate that card in game 1. Especially since Assassin’s Trophy has been added, many have shaved Maesltrom Pulse completely, or have 1 in main. That’s not a lot of outs to goblin horde.
But I still wouldn’t do it honestly, I played Empty in main for quite some time. Yes there are cases when it just wins the game, but then there are matchups where it’s horrendous. Combo decks just don’t care, UWx controls run loads of sweepers (Supreme Verdict, Terminus, Detention Sphere), Tron has Ugin, Oblivion Stone and Wurmcoil Engine, Boggles can go around it easily with Daybreak Coronet or giving flying/trample, Dredge can just use Conflagrate and Creeping Chill to race. Also you reduce your Grapeshots to 2, that is too low in my opinion. Since having 3 Grapeshots allows for those “oops I found 2 Grapeshots and just kill naturally from hand”. Since so many decks take damage from Fetchlands/Shocklands, that double Grapeshot will often just end the game. Also since I run Merchant Scroll my build has better tools to find Repeal/Unsubstantiate if we need to have the bounce for something like Chalice Of The Void/Meddling Mage. So for those reasons I don’t recommend Empty, even though there are cases where it works.
Other thing is that some have taken out Noxious Revival, I can’t stress this enough. The card is so good, that I would never, ever let go off it. Especially with fetches it makes 1 landers easier to keep, also can mess up Dredge, can force them to pop their Relic and is insane with many Gifts Ungiven Piles. I don’t think I have to go too deep with this card, it’s very good and don’t let it go.
With all that out of the way, here is the sideboard guide for you, I have included the usual suspects like before and the new deck which is Arclight Red!
Newcomer to Modern, I gotta say this deck is pretty sweet. They are trying to play bunch of spells like Faithless Looting, Manamorphose and some burn spells to dump Arclight Phoenix into the graveyard, bringing them back and smashing. They also have Monastery Swiftspear and Bedlam Reveler for some additional threats. So they are sort of like Burn, but they don’t have as much removal for our bears nor as fast of a clock. Also they have to tapout quite a bit and that opens the door for us to go off.
Now things go much harder after sideboard since they can have anything from: Surgical Extraction, Tormod’s Crypt, Ravenous Trap, Dragon’s Claw, Damping Sphere and Anger Of The Gods for potential Empty The Warrens. So that’s why we are getting rid of our graveyard stuff like Gifts Ungiven, Noxious Revival and Past In Flames. They still have a hard time with Empty The Warrens and we can use Pieces Of The Puzzle as our engine card to go through their graveyard hate. This matchup should be decent for us, but fast hand+some gy hate and we can be in trouble. Bolts and Abrade help kill those early creatures to buy us enough time, Abrade pulls double duty here by hitting those annoying artifacts also.
Spirits has proven to be a serious contender in Modern. They are pretty tough since Mausoleum Wanderer and Spell Queller are cheap and disruptive while also providing a clock. At least we are pretty free to stick our creatures and then hoping to force through their Spell Quellers for the win.
Now things go even harder thanks to Damping Sphere, Rest In Peace and more counters like Unified Will/Negate. Things won’t change too much on our aspect though, just more ways to kill their stuff and bounce annoyances. I did try Empty here but it’s bit clunky and they can gum up the board so fast that even 10 goblins might not be good enough. Pieces helps to fight against potential Rest In Peace.
Variant of the spirits that sees a decent amount of play here in Helsinki. They cut green away to make room for Leonin Arbiter and Thalia, Guardian Of Thraben. So this basically the same as above..except 100% worse. Not only do we have to deal with the normal stuff like Mausoleum Wanderer, Remorseful Cleric and Spell Queller but those others aswell. Here our only hope is to just slam a creature on turn 2, and hoping that they draw the aggro side of their deck and going off asap. Try to prioritize finding multiple creatures since that’s other way to go around Thalia. Grapeshotting their board is also valid solution here.
Postboard our plan is just jamming a gigantic Empty The Warrens and keeping up with Pieces. Gifts is terrible here because they have Leonin Arbiters so we are mostly just looking to flood to board with Goblins or going off via Pieces without our graveyard.
Definitely a “Glass-cannon” type of deck. They are using Sticher’s Supplier and Faithless Looting to dump Vengevines to the graveyard. Playing bunch of creatures like Hangarback Walker and Gravecrawler to get super fast pressure and just killing really fast. So they resemble Hollow One in that sense. But they sacrifice interaction for speed, so we are more than free to jam a creature on turn 2 and going for it on turn 3. Just hope that they don’t have that superfast insane hand on the play, and we should be good.
We transform our deck very hard since they board in Leyline Of The Voids and more discard like Thoughtseize. So Gifts Ungiven is not needed here, we can still just play our creatures without much fear and then grind the plan with Pieces and getting there. Empty is also pretty good here, they don’t have too much in the way of stopping it and if nothing else it gives us plenty of chump blockers. Bolts can kill Vengevines so having them here is fine. But still, don’t underestimate the explosive potential of them.
Very disruptive tempo deck, they can put early pressure with Delver Of Secrets or play threats at instant-speed like Vendilion Clique. This matchup is very hard for us, they have so much cheap counterspells and cheap removal which makes executing our game plan very hard. And they can pressure us pretty quickly so we don’t have that much time either. Here we are just looking for any window to go for it, I’ve had multiple situations where they have some mana open but only few cards in hand and I just decide to go for it hoping that they don’t have everything basically.
Now they side in more counterspells like Dispel and Counterflux, Relics to hit our graveyard and Ratched Bomb/Izzet Staticaster for potential Empty. We transform our deck a lot here, Empty is still good since they don’t have too many answers to it, Bolts and Abrade kill their early pressure, Pieces is additional grinding power and Gigadrowse gets that open mana out of the way (can also tap their creatures). This matchup is still not great, but now we have much more to do and threaten them with. So now we can jam Pieces against their counters and force the action from their side.
GB Midrange (Jund, Abzan, GB)
Archetype with multiple disruption pieces, they play discard-spells like Inquisition Of Kozilek and Thoughtseize to strip our hand away and creature removal such as Lightning Bolt, Path To Exile and Terminate to name a few. Here we are looking for an early tap out window to win. Or we can do a longer game with just end of turn Gifts Ungiven and killing on turn 4-5 without the reducer. It all depends on how the early game plays out and what they have access to. Liliana Of The Veil is very bad for us if they can land it since it keeps wrecking cards from our hand every turn thus making our combo potential much more difficult.
Thankfully we have our own plan which is the Pieces engine+Empty The Warrens. Lightning Bolts deal with Scavenging Ooze and they do also take some damage from Thoughtseize and Shocklands so Grapeshots and Bolts can just kill them from our hand naturally. I like to keep Repeal in just to deal with Damping Sphere and it just drawing a card is valuable. They do have some sweepers, Maelstrom Pulse mainly, but you can even fizzle it by Lightning Bolting the goblin that they target. That way you only lose 1 goblin instead of losing the entire gang.
UW Control (Azorius)
Purest control there is. Good thing they don’t pressure us with anything meaningful, builds in Finland have started to run Restoration Angel which is bit annoying since it is instant speed and pretty good clock. But they do play many clunky stuff like Teferi and Jace which they can’t almost never play, Supreme Verdict and Settle The Wreckage are also pretty terrible here. Other than that we can just cantrip, build our land-count and outplay them with Gifts Ungiven. It’s that we can just keep hanging in there and force them to answer all of the things (which they can’t do), and eventually push through.
After sideboard things get much, much more harder. They can have anything from Leyline Of Sanctity, Runed Halo, Damping Sphere, Rest In Peace, Surgical Extraction and Grafdigger’s Cage. Additional counters like Dispel and Negate aren’t too uncommon either.
But once again, we are ready for such madness. Biggest players here are Pieces and Gigadrowse. They usually board out some removal so we are bit more free to stick our creature, and Pieces fights against Leyline Of Sanctity and Rest In Peace very well. We play this again much like game 1, make sure to get plenty of lands in play, keep cantripping and then just Gigadrowsing them to tap out and killing them on our turn. At this point you should also hold bounce or 2 in order to get their Damping Sphere or Leyline out-of-the-way. We do also want 2 Emptys since making 6-10 Goblins forces them to deal with it. And if they don’t, well we win. They can’t keep the wraths in so they have much harder time dealing with goblins.
UWR Control (Jeskai+Spell Quellers)
Control deck with red, this is bit trickier game 1 since they have more removals in the form of Bolts and Lightning Helix. Spell Quellers are almost always here so we have loads of things to watch out for. What I would try to do is get decent amount of lands and use Gifts Ungiven to get there. Like end of turn Gifts, they do whatever to it and kill on our own turn with Grapeshots from hand. So very tricky and skill intensive matchup for sure.
Their sideboard contains very much the same stuff as UW, additional counters and many of the same hate cards as above.
We board very much same like against UW, only difference here is that we want Lightning Bolts, these answer their Spell Quellers since that card is very annoying. Obviously we can also string together a kill from hand with some spells, Bolts+Grapeshot. I don’t want Swan Song here, since it doesn’t hit Spell Queller and I’ve found Gigadrowse+everything else we board in to be enough.
UWR Control (Jeskai no Spell Quellers)
Almost identical matchup as above, but some builds don’t run Spell Quellers, therefore we don’t need Bolts here. Swan Song is fine here since they are trying to stop us via counterspells (and it also hits Rest In Peace or Runed Halo) Other than that, the matchup plays out the same as any other control. Their side will be pretty much the same as other controls so check the UW/UWR controls.
Good old Grixis, they are flushed with good removal, discard and counters. We can’t really jam our creatures in this matchup, same as UWR. Try to get decent amount of lands in play and play this the same way as any other control matchup really. Just beware of early Tasigur The Golden Fang, with Thought Scour+fetchlands that thing can hit the board very early! They don’t usually have Thoughtseize/Inquisition in the main so at least we won’t get shelled with discard that much, if they do, then this matchup is very tricky.
We want to board out all the creatures since they are so flushed with removal, we would much rather just blank all those removals they keep in. Gifts Ungiven is quite bad against potential Surgical but we can keep 2 in, just use it bit more carefully if you’re suspecting potential Surgical. Like don’t expose Past In Flames or Pieces. We can just get more lands if need be, and some cantrips to help dig our way out for example. And don’t go overkill with Empty The Warrens, making 6-8 goblins is plenty, that way if they happen to have a sweeper you can still rebuild for another go. I board in Wipe Away just…well just in case they have some weird permanent based hate, Damping Sphere let’s say. I haven’t seen that card from Grixis Control yet, but better be safe than sorry.
Let’s just say that I haven’t faced Esper in a long time but nevertheless here it is. They are very close to Grixis in the sense that they pack the removal sweet (from black/white), and the permission from blue. Discard spells shouldn’t be in the main but they can appear sometimes. I’ve seen anything from Spell Snare to Cryptic Command to Logic Knot. So they can have many things, Esper Charm is also bit annoying since making us discard 2 cards at instant speed can hurt a lot. But once again they have multiple sweepers and clunky planeswalkers that are pretty terrible against us. Here we can either go super long game and with Gifts Ungiven+Past In Flames we can eventually push through. Of if they ever tap out for any planeswalkers they just die. Don’t forget that we have Remands and Unsubstantiate to fight against their stuff also.
Esper’s sideboard can be, well just about anything. Some have Thoughtseize/Duress, Dispel/Countersquall/Negate/Disdainful Stroke is almost always guaranteed, Surgical/Extirpate and Nihil Spellbomb to hate on graveyards.
We board this matchup very much the same like UW/UWR Control. Just taking out most of our graveyard stuff and bringing in more grinding power with Pieces and Empty The Warrens. They can’t really leave in too many sweepers so Empty is very powerful tool here. We just attack from so many axis that we can overwhelm the opposition. Just be sure to hit enough mana, if we get too far behind on mana we just can’t win against control!
The dreaded mirror, this for once is very short and sweet. Game 1 is mostly just race and who gets to go first. Sometimes you win this, sometimes you lose, all depends who draws the faster hand.
We have very few things that we actually want. Bolts kill the creatures to give us the tempo-edge, Swan Song is insane here since just stopping that 1 Gifts Ungiven can stop them and give us enough time to strike back with the kill. I don’t board in Abrade, even though its additional removal, we don’t have really anything I would want to cut from the main to make room for it. Like I don’t wanna remove anymore cantrips since I want to have that digging power. Sideboarded games play out bit more carefully since both players are jogging for good position and trying to dodge Bolts and potential Remands as well as possible. But even then, this matchup is mostly just racing.
Another Stormish deck, they however rely on Pyromancer Ascension and flipping Thing In The Ice for winning the game. This matchup might seem like an easy combo race. Trust me, it’s not. They pack so many ways of killing our creatures that it’s near impossible to stick that thing into play alive. They also have Remands to keep us in check. It’s really hard since they just land Ascension or Thing In The Ice on turn 2 and then just keep mana open always, Manamorphose and Thought Scour are instants so they can work towards the win at instant-speed gradually. Really key here is not letting them stick either of those engines and then hopefully getting them to waste mana on their turn to clear the path for our kill.
They gain access to more Dispels/Negates/Swan Songs so they just bring in more interaction against our combo. They don’t have to board too heavily since this matchup is already fairly ok for them. We don’t do too much either, Gigadrowse is insane here since it gets them tapped out and then we are clear to go for it, Swan Song protects us and can hit Pyromancer Ascension, Wipe Away just hits their both engine-cards and I want to have access to 1 bounce just in case they could have Leyline Of Sanctity or some nonsense.
Collected Company Decks (Abzan, Bant, GW Company)
I’ve put all the Coco decks in the same pile here since we board exactly the same against each one. These decks are fairly easy for us, we are faster and still pack interaction against their stuff, whether it’s Grapeshotting their creatures away or Remanding that Collected Company/Chord Of Calling. We are favored here but do remember that all they need is Devoted Druid And Vizier Of Remedies and they gain infinite mana for pretty easy kill. Only build I will mention more is Bant, they have access to Spell Queller, so that makes things bit more hard, but then they can never pressure us, so we can work around the Spell Queller fairly easily.
Now expect sideboarded games to be far more difficult, they get to cut most of their bad stuff like Kitchen Finks, Voice Of Resurgence and so on. You can see anything from Eidolon Of Rhetoric, Tidehollow Sculler, Scavenging Ooze and even some removal spells if they are on Abzan.
We keep things pretty easy here, just Bolts to kill any manadorks or combo-creatures, Abrade does the same but also answers possible Damping Sphere. Bounces answer just about anything but mainly Eidolon is the issue here. I have chosen to cut Repeal since 2 bounces (Echoing Truth/Unsubstantiate) and Merchant Scroll to find them is good enough. Remand is also fairly bad, especially on the draw.
Very close to Coco decks but main difference here is that they utilize Knight Of The Reliquary and Retreat To Coralhelm to go off, they keep untapping the Knight, always generating more mana until Kessig Wolf Run is enough to kill. We board this matchup exactly the same as Coco decks. And all the cards here should be pretty self-explanatory, check the above guide if need be. Since their game plan is functionally the same, we want the same cards to answer the same cards as other Coco builds (Eidolon, Sphere ex..)
_The_ Valakut deck at the moment. Good thing for us, they are slower and don’t pack any other interaction than 3-4 Lightning Bolts. They also have to tap out a LOT in order to proceed their game plan and to pressure us. So Remand/Unsubstantiate is amazing here. And we can even go for creatureless kill on turn 4-5 via Gifts Ungiven.
RUG/Bring To Light Scapeshift
Blue version of the same deck, here things are obviously much harder since they play Remand, Cryptic Command, Izzet Charm and Lightning Bolt for good tempo. I would aim for the creatureless kill here with Gifts, or get them to use Cryptic for our Gifts and then killing them. Now they don’t have that many removals so we can still get our creatures to stick so going for it early is not bad idea either.
Very close to Lantern Control, they play many situational artifacts and Whir Of Invention to fetch proper answer in different matchup. Of course the heart of the deck is Tezzeret, Agent Of Bolas, it just let’s them dig for more gas and also functions as a win condition. Here we can just slam turn 2 creature and hopefully win on turn 3. Chalice Of The Void is hard but we can race it or Remand it. Since they have quite many slow and do nothings against us game 1, this shouldn’t be too difficult, and Repeal can even deal with Chalice on 2 if it comes to that. Also try to watch out for potential Surgical Extraction from the main deck. Got me by surprise few times.
So we just board in more bounces and Shattering Spree/Abrade to answer their stuff. Pieces is very good here since it ignores all their graveyard hate and Witchbane Orb. We can just work toward the win gradually here, we have so many answers after sideboard so we can just kill on turn 3 or hang in the longer game since their clock is quite slow so we have time to work around anything they have. I don’t recommend boarding in Empty The Warrens since they have Ensnaring Bridges and Ratchet Bombs+Whir to find them. I’ve even seen Pyroclasm so too many times the goblins just don’t get there unfortunately. It’s a bit different since against Lantern we want Empty since they have fewer ways to deal with goblins, but Tezzerator is more tuned against that plan and I haven’t had any issues with just killing via Grapeshot.
Prison strategy at heart. They are trying to assemble Lantern Of Insight+multiple Mill rocks to control our draw steps and just eventually decking us. Whir Of Invention is really dangerous since they can power it out so fast and they maindeck Grafdigger’s Cage and Witchbane Orb which are really hard for us game 1. Some lists play Leyline Of Sanctity, if they open with that, we can’t pretty much win game 1 unfortunately.
We want to board out LOT of stuff here. Gifts is terrible against Leyline Of Sanctity and Witchbane Orb so we can just cut all of em. All the other stuff destroys/bounces problematic permanents, Empty is good here, even though I said it doesn’t really work against Tezzerator but here they usually cut few Ensnaring Bridges since it’s not that good against our main plan. And remember, we have so many ways to blow up/bounce the Bridge that we can just make the goblins, force them to find the Bridge and then answering it. Or we can just play multiple Pieces and grind the win eventually since we aren’t under any pressure.
Fast combo deck trying to reanimate Griselbrand, draw punch of cards and killing with Borborygmos Enraged. However, they are very much a glass cannon and we can capitalize on that factor by being much more consistent. They sacrifice consistency for speed, really what we need here to happen is that we get to be on the play and them not having turn 2 kill. So just jam the creature and pray that you get there first.
We really don’t have to over board here, just Swan Song to stop them, Wipe Away is a good surprise to Chalice Of The Void/Leyline Of The Void or Sanctity or just hitting that Griselbrand back to hand, at least it buys a turn.
Classic Tron (RG, GW, MonoG)
Tron, the nemesis of Modern. It preys on any fair deck with making tons of mana and then dumping big pay-offs like Karn Liberated and Ugin, The Spirit Dragon to overwhelm the opponent. This matchup is fairly easy for us, unless they are on the play and drop a turn 3 Karn (well to tell the truth they almost always will) we will just kill them on tun 3 very consistently. And Remand/Unsubstantiate will buy us time nicely. Also cards like Ugin, Wurmcoil Engine and Oblivion Stone are pretty bad against us so they must have pretty good hand in order to beat us. They usually have few Relics and Dismembers main, but we can work around those.
Here we just board out almost our whole graveyard since they can have more Relics, Grafdigger’s Cage and Surgical Extraction. Our game plan shifts towards killing with chaining multiple Pieces and finding enough Grapeshots to finnish them off without utilizing our graveyard at all. Last cards are just catch-alls to answer those potential artifacts. I don’t recommend Empty since they do keep in Wurmcoils and Oblivion Stones.
Mono U Tron
Blue version of Tron, here things are bit trickier since they have counterspells like Remand, Spell Burst and Condescend. But they can’t assemble Tron as fast so we have bit more time and we can just keep forcing our creatures and Gifts until they can’t handle them anymore. Also Platinum Angel just does nothing against us, since we can just Grapeshot it away and after that our opponent.
Tron with the usual Eldrazi suspects. They don’t necessarily need Tron in order to play the game thanks to Eldrazi Temple. This is not the easiest matchup since they have Dismembers to kill our creatures, Chalice Of The Void is really hard if they can land 1 in time, and Thought-Knot Seer is a serious clock while also disrupting us. I would aim to either just jamming a creature (especially if you have multiples) and forcing them to have Dismember or they just potentially die. Or waiting a bit for a Remand and then killing them, they have to tap out in order to pressure us so we can wait for a good spot.
We don’t want too much here either, Empty is very good. They can have few sweepers like Ratchet Bomb, but once again make 6-10 goblins max, that way if they happen to have sweeper we don’t get blown out too hard. You can expect Relics, Grafdigger’s Cage and sometimes Surgical from their sideboard. For that reason we keep in all the bounces and want Shattering Spree to deal with Relic/Chalice.
But we do want all the Gifts here, we don’t really have slots here to board in Pieces package so just try to answer those lock pieces and going off via Gifts or making good amount of goblins with Empty, or even just killing straight from with double Grapeshots. They don’t pack that much graveyard hate that I would need Pieces in this matchup.
More aggressive version of the Eldrazi. They drop out Tron but have Simian Spirit Guide for fast mana, and Serum Powder in order to mulligan more aggressively. Eternal Scourge also combos with Serum Powder very well since you can just cast it from exile. This is not a good matchup for us, they have fast clock and can land a quick Chalice Of The Void or Thought-Knot Seer. We just have to jam a creature and hope that they draw the wrong side of their deck, giving us just enough time to win.
We board out almost the same as in Eldrazi Tron but now we add the Pieces since they pack so much graveyard hate, Surgical is just such a blowout against Gifts so we aim to go for big Empty or Pieces chain for the win here. They have Ratchet Bomb for potential goblins so try to avoid going too much all in.
Last bit of Eldrazi for 1 day I promise. So this build is going to green for manadorks like Noble Hierarch and Birds Of Paradise, additional digging power with Ancient Stirrings and red for Lightning Bolt and Eldrazi Obligator. Bloodbraid Elf usually also shows up here as it’s a great value card. Not as explosive as Colorless Eldrazi, but has more staying power in longer game. At least we don’t have ton content with Chalice Of The Void here. For the most part we can just jam a creature and make them show a Bolt or Dismember. And their clock shouldn’t be that quick so we can even pull the turn 4-5 creatureless kill. We’ll lose if they have multiple Thought-Knot Seer and Bolts, that we just can’t pretty much beat.
Our boardplan goes very same as other Eldrazi matchups, however. This time we don’t want Empty The Warrens, the reason is that they board in multiple Engineered Explosives and Kozilek’s Returns to hedge against it. I feel that is too many cards trying to dodge so more often you will make goblins even multiple times and they can still answer it. Remember, Ancient Stirrings can find both EE and Kozilek’s Return. So we just stick with the good old Pieces plan to go around their graveyard hate, Bolts are good here since killing that early manadork slows them down pretty good. Watch out for Damping Sphere though, that’s the main reason we board in Abrade and Echoing Truth. I don’t put in Wipe Away since I feel that they don’t have that much hateful permanents so Repeal and Echoing Truth will do the trick here just fine
Death’s Shadow Variants (Grixis, Esper, 4-5c, Jund)
Our longtime rival I would say. Death’s Shadow has been a solid deck in Modern for pretty long time already. And it’s not the easiest matchup for sure, they pack many removals, Stubborn Denial for easy 1 mana counterspell and to top it all of, discard spells to strip our hand away. The good thing here is that they have to go to a pretty low life total so most of the times we can just play few rituals into Grapeshots for kill. So we don’t have to go to the full combo in order to win.
We take out the usual graveyard stuff away as well as most of our creatures, they just have so much removal so it makes no sense to keep that many in. Empty and Lightning Bolts are amazing here since they don’t have that many answers to decent amount of goblins, and since they take so much damage that even Empty for 4-6 goblins can be good enough. Pieces grinds against their discard spells, Gigadrowse to get that open mana away or in some cases just tapping out their creatures. Wipe Away is just catch-all answer, I’ve used it plenty of times just bouncing Tasigur or Gurmag Angler and they can’t replay it. I like keeping Remands and Unsubstantiate in, it’s so good against their delve threats and it also gives us the Grapeshot Remand Grapeshot line.
One of the most difficult matchups for us. They put us under a fast clock, have so many ways of killing our creatures and Eidolon Of The Great Revel is just GG against us. Our only out is just them drawing all the sorcery speed stuff and then killing when they are tapped out.
Our plan after board is just slamming big Empty The Warrens, they don’t really have answers for goblins so we just hope to do it before Eidolon shows up. For that we also now have Bolts/Abrade to get rid of their creatures. Swan Song is insane here, not only does it hit any of their burn spells but it also gets Eidolon since it’s an enchantment also. This matchup is basically a coin flip, sometimes we pull it off, sometimes they get too many Eidolons and fast hand. Recent lists also play Damping Sphere and Rest In Peace, if they draw all that stuff we basically can’t win.
I want to cover this since we have Goblins in our meta quite frequently. It’s sort of like Burn, but we don’t have to deal with Eidolon nor do they have many removals. Bolts are the only concern, so we can jam a creature pretty comfortably and killing them. But don’t get too careless, their clock is quite fast.
We just want ways to kill their early offense to buy enough time to kill them. Echoing Truth is just there to answer any potential Relic/Grafdigger’s Cage. Or just bouncing some random goblins away. Remands/Unsubstantiate are just plain terrible here since all of their stuff is cheap to cast.
Death&Taxes Variants (MonoW, GW, BW Eldrazi)
Another extremely difficult matchup, Leonin Arbiter and Thalia, Guardian Of Thraben hose our deck very well. Not being able to search and making everything cost 1 more is huge issue for our strategy. We will basically have to hope that we get to stick multiple creatures and that they live to beat Thalia. And then having enough mana to go off with Gifts through Leonin Arbiter. We can use Grapeshot to mow down their board of those creatures.
Now ee just want to get rid of all the Gifts Ungivens. They are so bad against Leonin Arbiter, Empty shines here since they have a super tough time dealing with that plan. Pieces replaces Gifts here as our engine card since it’s not hampered by Leonin Arbiter, everything else is just more removal and bounces to their hate pieces.
Combo deck that I played for some time. They are trying to combine Angel’s Grace/Phyrexian Unlife+Ad Nauseam to draw their whole deck and shooting Lightning Storm to the head. They also have Laboratory Maniac in main in case they face Leyline Of Sanctity. Angel’s Grace is very annoying since we can’t answer it in any way. But we can stick a creature and usually go off on turn 3. We can force them to use the Angel’s Grace and then going off again next turn, and keep it going untill they run out of answers. Phyrexian Unlife doesn’t really matter since we just need 10 more spells to go over it.
Now sideboarded games are much tougher, they bring in Leyline Of Sanctity, Rest In Peace, Grafdigger’s Cage and even Fatal Push to kill our creatures. We just want to get out of Gifts Ungiven completely since it just does nothing against Leyline Of Sanctity. Empty might not sound too great here since they are a combo deck, but it ignores Leyline and Rest In Peace, they dilute their deck a lot in order to bring all of those cards in, so we have more time. So Empty is fine here, Swan Song gives more ability to fight against their combo and Wipe Away is the card to get rid of Leyline. Also functions as a nice surprise when they go for Ad Nauseam with Phyrexian Unlife. They can’t respond to it so it will most likely gives us another turn.
Combo deck has started to see play here, this deck was extremely powerful back when Treasure Cruise was still around. The deck is still real contender, they need to have a manadork+Jeskai Ascendancy in order to start going off. Game 1 is just a race, we are usually a turn faster so we are favored. And also the fact that we can Remand that Ascendancy if need be.
After sideboard only card you have to watch out for is Leyline of Sanctity. So for that we bring in both of our bounces. Repeal is bad here since trying to Repeal a Leyline costs a lot of mana so Echoing Truth and Wipe Away will do the trick here. Bolts are fine here since we need to get rid of their Birds Of Paradise, Swan Song just hits that Ascendancy and that can buy us multiple turns.
Mono blue deck that is aiming to go super long game and taking all the turns to eventually kill with something like Inkmoth Nexus or Snapcaster beat down. But they are extremely slow and they even play Dictate Of Kruphix to give us additional cards. We can just stick a creature and after that either killing them on the spot or forcing some action with end of turn Gifts Ungiven. They play some counters like Cryptic Command but that is slow and super easy to fight through.
After board we have to content with tons of more cheap interaction, Dispel and Negate are always there. Some might run Grafdigger’s Cage so that’s why we want Wipe Away. Gigadrowse is basically game against them since there is very little that they can do about it. And Swan Song is just additional interaction.
KCI Combo (Eggs)
Here we are just looking to race, their only interaction in game 1 is Pyrite Spellbomb to hit Goblin Electromancer or EE for 2. So we are pretty much free to jam our creatures and killing on turn 3 hopefully. And we do have Remand/Unsubstantiate to keep them at bay for turn. Now we have to be fast here, they can kill on turn 3-4 very consistently.
Now after sideboarding things don’t change that much. They usually board in Nihil Spellbombs and possibly Defense Grids in order to stop our countermagic. Galvanic Blast/Lightning Bolt is also there to kill our creatures so we have to be bit more careful on how we deploy our creatures. But still this is mostly a race nevertheless. Recent lists have also had Negates/Guttural Responses to hit Gifts Ungiven so do bear that in mind. We just board in ways to blow up their stuff, nothing too fancy here since we don’t really need much.
Elves has been a deck in Modern for some time now, there are 2 builds that mostly see play, those are GB and GW. Now GB is easier since they don’t have the Vizier Of Remedies and Devoted Druid infinite mana combo. Instead they have Shaman Of The Pack to drain us for good amounts. But they are bit slower than us so we can just go for it on turn 3.
Now sideboarding gives them much more tools. Damping Sphere, Thoughtseize, Abrupt Decay and Stain The Mind are real cards here. We just want ways to kill their creatures and that’s about it. Just hit those payoff cards like Elvish Archdruid or Ezuri, Renegade Leader and you can slow them down enough to kill them like before.
Same version but now they have access to Devoted Druid/Vizier Of Remedies for infinite mana for much easier kill. Now game 1 goes exactly the same as against GB, we should be faster and they don’t have any ways to stop us here so just jam and hope to go off before they can. They might be able to race us if they are on the play though, use your Grapeshots to mow down their creatures if you cannot kill them yet and need more time.
Sideboarded games become much harder for us, they have tons of good cards to bring in since they have access to white mana. Rest In Peace, Eidolon Of Rhetoric, Aven Mindcensor and Scavenging Ooze are pretty much always there. I haven’t faced Damping Sphere from this build yet but keep it in your radar. We board this exactly the same as GB, ways to slow them down and deal with potential hate permanents.
Good old Affinity, it has been the part of Modern since the early days and has hanged in there. Now they are pretty fast given the right draw. But they don’t have very many ways of stopping us. Here the only thing we need to think about is Galvanic Blast that can hit our dudes. But they need to have exactly that card (even 2 sometimes) and a really fast hand in order to beat us. So this goes like any other race, we are looking to slam a creature and most likely going off turn 3. We can also use Grapeshot to kill some of their stuff in order to slow them down.
Now sideboarded games become far more difficult, Rest In Peace, Stubborn Denial, Surgical Extraction, Dismember, Thoughtseize, Grafdigger’s Cage, Rule Of Law and Damping Sphere are all potential candidates here. Now that sounds like a lot of hate, but I do want to point out that they only have some of those corresponding cards. We simply board in all the ways to blow up their artifacts and bounces. Now I still dare to say that this matchup is positive for us since we also get to bring in so many answers but given enough disruption and fast clock, we can lose this. While some board in 1 copy of Empty The Warrens, I don’t recommend it. They have so many flyers and evasive threats that goblins won’t usually get there. We can just use Gifts for much easier kill and with the amount of ways we board in to slow them down, I’d say that’s more than good enough.
Hardened Scales Affinity
They are basically more resilient Affinity, but not quite as fast. Now they don’t have Galvanic Blast but do keep Walking Ballista in mind. It can kill our creatures quite easily. Other than that this functions much like Affinity. Just race and we are bit more faster on average.
Now combo is not what Hardened Scales wants to face, so their sideboard is stacked with hate. Damping Sphere, Dismember and Surgical Extraction are pretty much coming in. Our sideboard plan is basically to counteract those cards. Bolts and Abrade kill their threats while Abrade also hits that pesky Damping Sphere, Echoing Truth helps with Sphere also. Now it’s much more even matchup but I still like our odds here. They have to draw extremely well in order to keep up with us.
Disruptive aggro deck. Unlike other tribals, here their creatures are also really disruptive. Meddling Mage and Kitesail Freebooter are real pain for us. Reflector Mage can also hit our creatures which just adds up the pain. Here your best bet is hoping for them not drawing too many of those cards and then going off. Use Grapeshot aggressively to clear their stuff out if it comes to that. But if they draw too many of the above cards we just die.
Here both decks don’t sideboard that much, they bring in Sin Collectors and Damping Spheres. We just want Bolts to kill all those disruption pieces, Echoing Truth and Abrade deal with any creature or Damping Sphere. We don’t want Empty here since they can go so wide so even 10 Goblins might not be good enough. And if we can reach that kind of storm-count we should just win with Grapeshot.
Zoo (5C, Naya)
Aggro deck that utilizes solid creatures and burn spells to finish the game. This matchup can be hard if we don’t find our stuff fast, since they can curve out really fast and even drop Reckless Bushwhacker to hit for a ton. Here we are looking for a good tap out window and then killing them really, we can’t deploy our creatures too easily since they have Lightning Bolt and Lightning Helix to kill them.
Sideboarded games play out quite the same, Empty The Warrens is insanely good here, they don’t really have too many answers to that card. Bolts kill their early aggression and Echoing Truth just in case they have Damping Sphere or some nonsense. But still we are looking for a good spot to go for it, or even jamming Empty on turn 2.
Living End (Jund)
Combo deck that cycles creatures into graveyard and then looking to bring them back with Violent Outburst/Demonic Dread cascading into Living End. Now this is bit trickier since Violent Outburst is an instant so they can Living End at instant speed+having Simian Spirit Guide even potentially on turn 2. Here we are looking to find an opening to go for it, Remand is incredible since getting that Living End in their hand is just nightmare since suspending that thing is super slow. On the play we can play a creature since they must have exactly Violent Outburst+Simian Spirit Guide in order to punish us. On the draw I would play a bit longer game, using Remand to stall out and just killing on turn 4 with end of turn Gifts and going off without the creature. Now just remember to watch out for potential Faerie Macabre or Fulminator Mage though.
From their sideboard they can have Leyline Of The Void, more Faerie Macabre or the worst, Slaughter Games. Now Leyline And Macabre aint that bad since we have access to Pieces Of The Puzzle. But Slaughter Games is just nightmare since we can’t really answer it (except with Unsubstantiate) so basically we just have to hope that they don’t find that card if they are playing it.
Living End (Blue)
Bit different from Jund version. Now they are using As Foretold to cast Living End from their hand. So they actually want to draw the Living End funny enough. We need to prioritize preventing them from sticking As Foretold into play. Not only will it allow them to play Living End, Ancestral Vision and Cryptic Command are also real things. They also have Remand, Supreme Will and Mana Leak so they can play kinda like control deck. Our dream-scenario is that they tap out for As Foretold on turn 3, we get to counter it and then kill them.
Now you can expect Leyline Of The Void/Sanctity. Some have both, some have one or the other. Dispel, Chalice Of The Void, Tormod’s Crypt, Dismember and even Nimble Obstructionist have been the cards I’ve seen. Since they have Tolaria West, they can find Chalice or Tormod’s Crypt for example. Due to Leylines we board out all the Gifts and most of our graveyard aspect. Our cards are pretty much the same as Jund Living End. Pieces is our engine-card, Gigadrowse helps us fight against their open mana, Swan Song is insane here since it hits As Foretold or Living End, erhm..well any counterspell also. Echoing Truth is good to have for those potential Leylines.
Totally graveyard based combo-deck. They just play the game from their graveyard, dumping dredgers in there, using the “Dredge” mechanic to get Narcomoebas and Prized Amalgams into play aswell as Bloodghasts. Then finishing the game off with big Conflagrate. But they don’t really play interaction game 1 and Conflagrate is a sorcery. They also can’t pressure us fast enough that we don’t even have to go for it on turn 3 if we don’t happen to have it yet.
From the sideboard we have to watch out for Leyline Of The Void, Damping Sphere, Thoughtseize and Lightning Axe/Fatal Push for our creatures. But they still suffer from the same issue that they have tap out a lot in order to progress their own game plan, and that gives us the window to win. Our sideboard is very simple, Pieces fights against Leyline and Thoughtseize, Echoing Truth hits the Leyline if they happen to have it. I don’t board in Empty The Warrens since they can flood the board, and can use Conflagrate to just kill us or clean the tokens away. I feel that Pieces plan is very strong here, and we don’t have to do overkill here.
Blue based control deck, however they take advantage of Blood Moon to shut down opponents manabase. But we don’t care about Blood Moon at all, especially since we are on fetches, we can get basic island just in case. We can treat this as other control decks, use Gifts Ungiven to push through and make sure to have plenty of mana and those basic islands to not get hit by Blood Moon. But they can’t really pressure us quickly so we have time to work against their stuff too.
After sideboard we are attacking from multiple directions, we can make Goblins with Empty, play Gifts Ungiven and force action, or just jam Pieces against their counters. Now they do gain Dispel/Negate and potentially some sweepers (EE, Anger Of The Gods) and Blood Moons will come out. We can shave 1 Grapeshot since we are boarding the Empty plan, we have time to cantrip/draw into it.
Very close to Blue Moon, you might even see Blood Moon from them also. But their main plan is using Through The Breach to put in Emrakul, The Aeons Torn for pretty much autokill. They have loads of tempo cards to keep us out of balance. You have to find the right balance here, we can’t really go for turn 3 (unless they tap out for Moon which doesn’t really happen), but if we wait too long they can just play Breach and kill us. Do remember that if they Breach on end step they get to untap and attack with Emrakul since Breach says to sacrifice the creature at the beginning of the next end step.
Here they don’t really gain much. Relics and additional counters, Dispel and Negate do come in. Izzet Staticaster is a possibility if they suspect the goblins. Empty is actually decent against them, it kinda goes around Emrakul since we can just sack a bunch of Goblins to the annihilator. Pieces is fine here, just having higher threat density is good but we can still keep 2 Gifts in, because playing the game on their end step is still fine. Gigadrowse is obviously insane here (like against any blue deck).
Last bunch of the UR shells. You see almost the same cards, but now there are Pestermites, Deceiver Exarchs and Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker for the combo. They have the same tempo aspect but their combo is sorcery speed (for Kiki-Jiki) so that we can always Remand away. Treat this like UR Breach/Blue Moon.
Now sideboarding we do things almost the same, but we want Bolts here to deal with Pestermite and potential Kiki-Jiki to stop that combo from happening. Other than that we are just building up lands, playing Gifts Ungiven and Pieces to grind and find the kill eventually. Remember that we can just sandbag multiple Grapeshots in hand to just kill from our hand at some point. They board in more counters from blue and Relics to hit on our graveyard (but we aren’t going for the graveyard after sideboard that much anyhow)
BR Hollow One
Aggressive deck that is looking to use Faithless Looting and Burning Inquiry to drop early Hollow Ones and hitting hard with Flameblade Adept. Their only interaction here is Lightning Bolt for our creatures and possibly few copies of Collective Brutality to take something from our hand or killing Goblin Electromancer. Now they must have extremely fast hand+Bolt in order to beat us here. For the most part we can race them with either waiting for turn 3 tap out window or jamming a creature turn 2 and winning on turn 3.
Now you must be ready for Leyline Of The Void, for that card alone we take out Gifts Ungiven completely, and rely on Empty or Pieces to find the kill. They might have few sweepers for goblins. Some play EE or Anger Of The Gods, some have none. So Empty is super solid plan against them. Bolts and Abrade help kill Flameblade Adept and Abrade can even hit Hollow One which is pretty nice. For the most part we are just looking to get our creatures online and then either finishing with big Empty or building with Pieces.
I would say the deck I never ever want to play against. When you are playing a critical mass combo deck and facing a deck that just takes your entire hand away, well what can you do? They hit us hard with multiple discards so the best plan here is to build up enough lands, let them discard your hand and then build towards gigantic Past In Flames kill. That is basically your only chance here.
We board this like BW Smallpox, Empty on turn 2 is usually game since they can’t race that and their deck is mostly discard, Pieces keeps cards flowing to our hand and Echoing Truth just in case they have Damping Sphere/Leyline Of The Void. This matchup is still super hard for us, Surgical Extraction+so much discard makes our gameplan very hard to do.
Very close to Tokens but, well no tokens here. I would treat this more like BW control, it has the usual discard spells, good creature removal and planeswalkers like Liliana Of The Veil and Gideon, Ally Of Zendikar for pressure. Now this is far more annoying since they can strip our hand away, kill our creatures and just hit hard with Smallpox. They key here is trying to find a good opening where they tap out and going for it. Try to make sure that you have enough lands to weather those Smallpoxes also.
Sideboarding is very close to BW Tokens, they have the same Rest In Peace stuff but also Surgical Extraction. Empty is very good here since they don’t have many ways to deal with it, Pieces helps against discard and Echoing Truth just for potential Damping Sphere.
Pretty much lost deck at this point but it still pops up from time to time. They are looking to flood the board with tokens and them pumping them up with Intangible Virtue. Their clock is not that fast and in order to pressure us they have to tap out a lot which gives us the window to go for it. Now they do have Inquisition Of Kozilek and Thoughtseize to disrupt us. And Path To Exile/Fatal Push to kill our creatures so if they manage to strip our hand and land a fast clock we might be in trouble.
Since they have access to white we can expect the usual suspects like Rest In Peace for example. Damping Sphere is there most of the times as 2-3 off. Since they attack our graveyard and hand with discard spells we just bring in Pieces and Echoing Truth just to hit Damping Sphere or just wipe out all of those Spirit tokens if nothing else shows up. We can grind with Pieces and if they ever tap out there is a decent chance that the game is over. Empty is not good here since they can flood the board so quickly and they have Zealous Persecution.
One of the most beloved tribals in the game, the Merfolk have been part of the game right from the get go. This is another matchup where we are just looking to race. There are few builds of Merfolk, the monoU is pretty easy since they aren’t playing that much interaction. Some have none (except Cursecatcher and Merfolk Trickster), but those aren’t enough to stop us. Now some monoU lists have Relic and Spell Pierce in main so this is not a freeroll by any means. But we should still be favored. There is also the UW version that has Spell Quellers in main, that build is much trickier but still doable as long as they don’t find too much disruption.
Now they gain few stuff, Relic, Deprive and Dismember. UW could have Rest In Peace also. For that reason we want all the Pieces to fight against that plan, Bolts just kill those lords before things get out of control, and Abrade does double-duty here by either killing any creature or hitting Relic.
Combo deck that was very dominant during the days of Summer Bloom. They are bit slower now but Primeval Titan is still a serious threat. But when talking about being a faster combo deck. We take the cake here, they don’t play almost any interaction from the main deck. There is 1 EE, Pact Of Negation which is useless in the early game and some have Bojuka Bog in main. If they have Sakura-Tribe Scout they can threaten Bojuka Bog at instant speed.
Now you have to watch out for Spell Pierce/Swan Song and especially Ruric Thar, The Unbowed is nightmare for us if they manage to stick it. But still I would dare to say that we are that tiny edge faster and pack more interaction. Bolts help kill Azusa and Sakura-Tribe Scout, Abrade blows up Amulet or Relic. Wipe Away hits the same stuff+Ruric Thar.
Even without Gitaxian Probe, Infect is still a real contender in Modern. This is another matchup where it’s just a pure race. So we can slam a creature without any concerns (other than dying). Basically if they open up with Glistener Elf we are basically dead. But a bit slower hand we can most likely race.
Sideboarding here is very simple, Bolts and Abrade to kill their threats, Wipe Away is also nice since thanks to split second they can’t respond with anything so it just bounces any threat or potential Grafdigger’s Cage.
Here we need to prioritize finding enough lands to weather their early land destructions. Since we run fetches we want to get that basic island so Blood Moon doesn’t harm us. And even then we have Manamorphose to get out from under if it comes to that. We can stick our creature and kill them without too much resistance.
Now they get to cut loads of stuff to board in, Trinisphere and Relic Of Progenitus are almost always there. We want Bolts to kill their manadorks, Echoing Truth and Abrade answer Trinisphere and Relic. On the draw Remand is not good enough so we can take them out there. Opt is fine to cut on the play since we cut our counterspells.
Grindy deck that functions much like Jund or Abzan, discard spells+solid removal for creatures. But they have to tap out at some point to put pressure on the board and that is the point where we can strike. Stuff like Lingering Souls is just way too slow against us. And if they sit the whole game mana open we can do the usual turn 4-5 creatureless kill via Gifts Ungiven.
Now postboard they can have Leyline Of The Void, Surgical Extraction, Rakdos Charm, Nihil Spellbomb, Damping Sphere, Kambal, Consul Of Allocation and EE/Zealous Persecution to answer Empty. So they get to cut all of their fair midrange stuff. But we also get to transform our deck really well. Here we are mostly on Pieces and Empty plan, Bolts help kill Young Pyromancer and Goblin Rabblemaster before they get out of control. Abrade and Echoing Truth are just additional answers to Damping Sphere and Kambal especially.
Very much a pure race. They don’t really play any meaningful interaction in main other than that few Path To Exiles. Some run Leyline Of Sanctity in main, but it has started to drop from the main deck thankfully. If they open with the Leyline we need to find Repeal in a hurry. If they don’t have it we can just happily kill them on turn 3 without any issues.
Now you can expect Leyline Of Sanctity, Rest In Peace, Damping Sphere and Gaddock Teeg. So things get much harder but we get to take out Gifts completely since it’s just terrible card after sideboard. We are just going for Pieces and using our bounce spells to get rid of their hate. Abrade is fine here since it hits Damping Sphere and Gaddock Teeg.
That’s everything for this time, and like I always say. Keep up the Storm!