Alright – Modern.
I don’t have a damn clue what I’m doing in modern. I have just picked up the format and the deck I’m playing (my sideboard is missing like 7 cards!). However, I decided to put myself down for a modern tournament at my LGS today and it went… ok? I have tested a little bit with people – a bit of a low-powered version of 8-rack, G-Tron and a UR Wizards build. I had no expectations of myself and no knowledge of what the meta game at the store was going to be like. Would I be facing a lot of U-based control? Aggro decks like Affinity, 8-Whack, Burn? Grindy mid-range like Jund? I had no idea.
With all that out of the way – let me introduce the deck I was playing and then get to how my matches went. I’ll include links to lists that are similar to the decks I was playing – but obviously I don’t have the lists of all my opponents and I didn’t speak to all of them extensively about their decks, so the lists will be close approximations based off what I saw.
First off, finding cards is hard and I only have so much money to waste all at once. Because of this, I am missing key cards from my sideboard that may have had an impact on a number of my games and I had to work around this as best I could. The list I use is taken straight from Caleb Scherer – a competitive player who is considered one of the best in the scene when it comes to tweaking and playing UR Gifts Storm. I am using this version, however he does make changes and talks about his reasoning behind them on his blog.
I am missing 3x Empty the Warrens, 1x Wipe Away, 2x Pieces of the Puzzle and 1x Shattering Spree. I put 1x Dispel in at the last minute.
Round 1 – Titan Shift
Titan Shift, another combo deck that is similar to ours in game plan. One problem though is that Titan Shift is generally slower to reach their combo than Storm. Another issue with Titan Shift is his lack of access to certain colours. Lacking Blue means he doesn’t have counters, lacking white means he misses out on the best creature removal in the format.
This led to a pretty straightforward and fast 2-0 victory. In game 1, I was able to stick an Electromancer on board on turn 2, have it removed and then follow up with another on turn 3 which enabled me to go into standard gifts piles and win. Game 2 followed suit, my opponent couldn’t develop their game plan as fast as I could – and didn’t get to reach any of their sideboard hate cards in time to stop me from going off. 2-0 round bringing me to a 1-0 start.
Round 2 – Kiki-Combo
Kiki-Combo, my lack of experience in the scene caused some issues for me here.
Game 1, I had a very strong opening hand and my opponent had no interaction at all, easy stick reducer on 2 and win the game on 3. However, post side-board is when it got difficult.
Having not gotten much information on my opponents deck in game 1, only that they were in Abzan colours, I wasn’t really sure what to do with the sideboard I had. I brought in 2x Pieces and 3x Lightning Bolt, assuming my opponent was on some kind of Abzan mid-range type deck. I was punished hard in game 2 when my opponent dropped on me a Dampening Sphere and then followed up with a second. I durdled for a bit but gave up because I simply can’t storm through double sphere.
For game 3, I realised the massive mistake I had made by not bringing in Echoing Truth and Abrade, so I took back out 2x Bolt and put those in instead. This is one of the moments that my lacking sideboard hurt me. Ideally, I would have also been able to bring in Wipe Away and Empty the Warrens because it helps me avoid being blown out by Surgical Extraction on Grapeshot and gives me another out against Dampening Sphere. My efforts were no help in the end, he was able to establish a board that was too hard for me to work through and he eventually was able to go infinite with his Kiki-Jiki. 1-2 rounds leave me at 1-1.
Round 3 – Eldrazi & Taxes
WB Eldrazi, WB Hatebears, something like that. Either way, it uses creatures like Thalia and Thought Knot Seer to increase casting costs and disrupt cards in hand.
Game 1 was pretty much impossible to win when your opponent has 3 Thalia’s (Note: I’m dumb and I don’t know how I didn’t realise that that’s incredibly against the rules while playing, it took me writing it down here to realise after the fact that I totally missed it. Don’t hate me Gary).
Game 2 I brought in 1x Abrade, 3x Lightning Bolt, 2x Pieces, 1x Echoing Truths and 1x Dispel. I had to play through a small amount of interaction – 1 Thalia which I bolted and having one of my reducers pathed, but ultimately did just fine and was able to go off.
Game 3 was straightforward and fast because my opponent was land screwed, even resorting to pathing their own Thraben Inspector because they kept missing lands. 2-1 round leaving me at 2-1.
Round 4 – 8-Rack
Hand attack. Game 1 I had a pretty sub-par hand but couldn’t mulligan because of the risk of getting a hand that can’t play spells and having to mulligan at all, let alone multiple times, against a hand attack deck is just game over. He played Raven’s Crime on turn 1 and probably retraced it over 8 times that game. So difficult to deal with. I brought in 2x Pieces, 3x Lightning Bolt, 1x Echoing Truth and 1x Abrade.
Game 2, I think I may have been able to win. However, I made a critical mistake early in the game by going for a gifts pile which put my Past in Flames in the graveyard without a way to protect it. I think the pile was Gifts, Morphose, Noxious and PiF. This let him put both Noxious and PiF in the bin, and he followed up by targeting it with Surgical Extraction. Had I instead tried to diversify my threats by doing something like Noxious, PiF, Dispel (which I probably should’ve brought in) and Grapeshot he probably would’ve put Noxious and PiF in the bin, but I would’ve had Dispel to counter the Surgical which I should’ve known he would certainly at the very least have in his deck, if not in hand.
At this point my hand was like 5 rituals as well, so resolving a PiF would’ve been an extremely easy win. I think that was the exact mistake that lost me the game because he was very slow at attacking my hand following on from that moment and had I had PiF available to me I would’ve won for sure. I tried my best to make it through without, but this is another time that my sideboard missing cards let me down – having only 2x instead of 4x Pieces meant I was less likely to be able to chain rituals and draw together from my deck instead of from graveyard to combo off. 0-2 round loss leaves me 2-2.
Going 2-2 means I didn’t make the cut to top 4. I’m a little bit disappointed by some of the mistakes looking back now, but also pleased that I managed to go 5-5 across my 4 rounds – a 50% win-rate isn’t bad. It was a fun day and I learnt a lot about the format and could’ve done better if I didn’t make some of those mistakes – namely that triple Thalia in Game 1 of Round 3, I don’t even know how I didn’t even realise what was going on there during the games, and the Gifts Ungiven pile that probably lost Round 4. Hopefully I get better results next time and when I write up about that one – it’ll be less about the mistakes I made and more about the wins I managed to pull through.