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March 1, 2016

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Musings of the Madman – Prepping for Saturday

Welcome back all! I’m looking forward to this Saturday’s WizardTower.com Qualifier event and have been picking up my Modern play in the past few weeks. This week I’ll hopefully be heading over to Comic Book Shoppe on Thursday, Multizone on Friday and, finally, the aforementioned qualifier event. My results for Lantern Control have been fairly positive, even with my match record being fairly mediocre at five wins and five losses or so.

What have we learned about Modern?

Without Eldrazi Around, it’s Quite Fair.

The Eldrazi decks haven’t been appearing on my side of the river, and that’s unfortunate as I need to test against them. I expect them to come out in large numbers next weekend and hopefully I can play Ensnaring Bridge early enough that I can “blank” their combat steps on the way to an attrition-based victory.

If people are playing Snapcaster Mage and bringing back Lightning Bolt or Remand, that’s pretty fair. There are enough graveyard hate pieces out there that you can put the brakes on this, and Torpor Orb is still a card that can find a niche in your sideboard.

However, the Eldrazi are real and your deck needs to be able to deal with a potential airdrop of several Eldrazi Mimic on turn one, followed by your hand being stripped of key answers or your face simply being punched for a lot of damage.

The Archetypes Need to be Clarified to Guide Ban Philosophy.

Aggro needs to exist, and it has the tools to do so with Lightning Bolt, Goblin Guide, Tarmogoyf (likely more of a near-midrange card) and Affinity always champion.

Midrange needs to exist, whether in the form of Tron variants or Lantern or Jeskai builds that use Snapcaster Mage to refuel their bolts, countermagic or other utility cards.

Combo of some sort needs to exist, whether it’s through Ad Nauseam or other outlets. Removing some of the fast mana may need to happen. Simian Spirit Guide is always talked about in this manner, but banning it may cripple Ad Nauseam, which uses it to play Lightning Storm and move on to victory.

Bans should occur, yes. They are Wizards’ only outlet to fix the format outside of new card printings, which may imbalance Standard. They should definitely ban Eye of Ugin in April, but after that? Take a breather and let your customers feel safe.

What Can We Do About It?

Play Ensnaring Bridge a lot? Play Eldrazi as well? Throw our hands up in despair? All of the above? As was pointed out on MTG Salvation, the more people play the big deck, the more placements it gets, and the more placements it gets the more blips it produces on Wizards’ radars.  Now could be the time for innovation though. Maybe Ghostly Prison isn’t too slow to stop the teeming masses of aliens? Maybe a weird deck like Time Walk can survive until it gets near-infinite turns? Probably not in the latter case, especially when your hand is getting stripped that early.

The overarching issue with the bad guys is they aren’t some monolithic build either. The green-red build can use World Breaker to exile your key cards, while the blue-white build packs a metric ton of hate so that any artifacts or enchantments you might bring in are quickly obviated.

A less appealing option is to simply thumb your nose at the format and move on to play Commander or Standard or whatever tickles your fancy. As much as I argue for Modern, taking a break is a perfectly legitimate response to the current state of affairs. Adrian Sullivan opined on Star City Games that the Modern format is now closed. He had intended to take some Phyrexian Obliterators and smash face with them, including some cute fight interactions, but it just seemed too inconsistent compared to the raw power of having multiple Ancient Tombs at his disposal. Sad state of affairs, but here we are.

Any Changes to Your Lantern Build?

Not at the moment. I have toyed with adding more Surgical Extraction either maindeck or sideboard, plusing or minusing the number of Sunbeam Spellbombs orSun Droplets or Quiet Disrepairs but the deck feels like it needs a little push. Sea Gate Wreckage has been added and become a very, very sweet draw engine at the end of an opponent’s turn. It helps circumvent costly mills from Codex Shredder and Ghoulcaller’s Bell and also lets me work around Pyxis of Pandemonium with a Lantern of Insight in play. The deck is what it is. A lot of disruptive elements and a slowish clock that can get hammered by an abundance of artifact hate post-board.

I have signed up for Saturday’s event and look forward to more focused play overall. If anything, the stringent play level will help me tighten up certain aspects. Let’s make what we can of the current format and events and look toward the inevitable changes in April.

Until then, I hope you can all find some enjoyment in the challenges ahead!