Rees’ Pieces #5

Last time I talked about Blue Green infect, a deck I have been playing recently and would have probably played at Grand Prix Madrid this past weekend if I had chosen to go. It turns out the deck did top 8 a GP at the weekend, just in Legacy instead; Tom Ross tainted strikes again. This week I’m going to discuss the results of Grand Prix Madrid and their implications on the modern format.

Firstly, pre-tournament hype. Since Khans has come out there has been two decks at the forefront of people’s minds: Blue Red Delver, and Jeskai Ascendancy Combo.

After seeing the UR list Bob Huang won the first legacy open after Khans was released with, the concept of the deck has been translated over to modern. Not that UR Delver wasn’t a deck before, but it now has a better 1 drop threat in Monastery Swiftspear which has replaced the variance high Goblin Guide and also is possibly the best Delvecestral Recall deck in the format.

Jeskai Ascendancy combo was by far the deck most hyped up, but aside from winning a few daily events on Magic Online it hadn’t put up many finished. The deck threatens to combo out on turn 2 or 3 which doesn’t fit what Wizards want for modern. As a result of this and the decks supreme hype train there have been calls from all over the place for the deck to be banned.

Ascendancy didn’t even make into the top 16, there are a bunch of cards the deck just folds to and it’s possible to hate it out easily. Red Blue Delver had a much but also failed to make top 8. However Temur Delver; a deck very similar to UR but splashing green primarily for goyf managed to not only top 8 but win the Grand Prix. Just goes to show, don’t believe the hype.

On to the actual Top 8 now. It consisted of 3 Birthing Pod decks, 1 Scapeshift, 1 Martyr Proc, 1 Breaching Trap, 1 Junk Midrange, and the Temur Delver deck. A few decks we haven’t seen in a while come out of the woodwork, but Birthing Pod proving it’s still here to stay once again putting multiple decks into a Grand Prix Top 8.

Looking at the three pod decks, all of the lists have gone in slightly different ways. Two of them were ‘Angel Pod’ forgoing the Melira combo and using Spike Feeder and Archangel of Thune instead freeing up a little space to make the main deck more flexible. One of these was fairly standard whereas the other added two copies of Tarmogoyf, an Eidolon of Rhetoric and a Thragtusk. The other list was a fairly stock Melira Pod deck with a single Eidolon of Rhetoric in the main and also included a Thragtusk. One thing all three decks shared is that they were all playing some number of Siege Rhino (More copies in the T8 than Cruise, better ban it).

I briefly touched on the Temur Delver deck that won earlier. It uses the Blue Red Delver shell and swaps out the Monastery Swiftspears for Tarmogoyfs allowing the deck to play much more reactively once you’ve landed a threat (a downside to Swiftspear). Another limiting factor on the deck is that it can’t afford to play cards like Snapcaster Mage or Grim Lavamancer as you need your graveyard for Goyf, and Treasure Cruise is pretty taxing already. That this deck can work just illustrates the power of Treasure Cruise and Tarmogoyf in the modern format.

The Junk deck looked very well positioned going into the weekends meta game with its two main deck copies of Dark Blast for the delver decks and a full eight hand disruption spells for combo. The deck was playing four copies of Siege Rhino and Bitterblossom has finally shown up. The scapeshift deck that made it is about as stock as you can get with the three Dig Through Times from Khans becoming staple in the deck.

Summoning Trap/ Through the Breach is not a deck we’ve seen a lot of for a long time but this one has combined the Primeval Titan Emrakul plan we saw in the old Cloudpost decks with Valakut the Molten Pinnacle. To supplement this the deck played Sakura Tribe Elder, Farseek and Search for Tomorrow to help get Valakut online and allow you to cast your titans, and Chalice of the Void and Anger of the Gods as Disruption.

The Last deck in the Top 8 is another old favourite in Martyr of the Sands/Proclamation of Rebirth. Its a white weenie deck very similar to Soul Sisters and it does use the same Martyr of the Sands with Serra Ascendant plan A. Past that, this version of the deck runs Ghostly Prisons and Wrath of Gods to deal with creatures; Prison also conveniently dealing with Splinter Twin combo also. Then it runs Ranger of Eos which helps you put white cards in your hand for Martyr as well as tutoring for Martyr and Ascendant and also helps you rebuild. Then it pays three copies of Proclamation of Rebirth, a forecast spell with two modes. The first if you cast it is to return up to three CMC 1 creatures from your graveyard to the battlefield allowing you to reuse Martyrs and get back Ascendants after they’ve been killed. The other mode is with forecast; paying six mana and revealing the card in your hand you can bring back a single CMC 1 creature from your yard but you keep the Proc in hand and can keep recurring it over multiple turns. Recurring Martyr every turn can easily put you out of range of some of the combo decks in the format and can stall aggro for a long time until you find a threat. This is a new take on the deck and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a rise in its popularity.

Once again that’s it from me this week, I hope you got a chance to watch some of the coverage at the weekend. See you next week,

Alastair

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