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September 22, 2016

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Next Level Analysis

Welcome to the first instalment of the newest weekly column on MTG Canada. This article is perfect for the reader looking to take his or her game to the next level. Each week I will look deeper into the cards that are performing the best in different formats and cards that we should be watching to make breakout performances in the near future. This week we will take a closer look into the Modern format.

This past weekend was a perfect example of how quickly a format can change. Players went from seeing the pros at the World Championship playing many GBx decks such as Jund and Abzan to a much faster play style being seen at the Star City Games Orlando Open. Throughout the weekend we got to see many unique decks with a couple even making it all the way to the end of day two. Once the dust had settled and the tiebreakers examined we got to see a very diverse top eight. There was not a single Jund or Abzan deck that had previously made up 50% of the World Championship for Modern. The top eight at the Star City Games Orlando Open looked like this: Infect, Affinity, Goryo’s Vengenance, Scapeshift, Bant Eldrazi, 8 Rack, and Knight Retreat. Many players would never consider Affinity or Bant Eldrazi slow decks but last weekend they were. The format has defiantly speed up with the final two players standing being; Brad Carpenter playing Infect and David Sharfman playing Goryo’s Vengeance.

As we got to see, Infect would be triumphant on this day, however I would like to take a closer look into Sharfman’s deck. This was far from the typical reanimate style we have come to see in Modern. Unlike many versions that force green into the deck for Worldspine Wurm and Nourishing Shoal, Sharfman decided to go with a more interactive style. By removing green from the deck we have plenty of spots for cards that I will call this week’s breakout stars. Let’s take a look at the deck as it was played this past weekend.

David Sharman – Goryo’s Vengeance – 2nd Place SCG Orlando

Creatures: (12)
Simian Spirit Guide
Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
Griselbrand

Lands: (20)
Island
Mountain
Swamp
Blackcleave Cliffs
Blood Crypt
Bloodstained Mire
Creeping Tar Pit
Darkslick Shores
Polluted Delta
Scalding Tarn
Steam Vents
Watery Grave

Spells: (28)
Goryo’s Vengeance
Izzet Charm
Lightning Bolt
Through the Breach
Collective Brutality
Faithless Looting
Serum Visions
Sleight of Hand

Sideboard: (15)
Quicksilver Amulet
Leyline of Sanctity
Murderous Cut
Anger of the Gods
Thoughtseize
Vandalblast

Throughout the weekend this deck was referred to as an Emrakul deck instead of a Griselbrand deck. I have been doing some playtesting with the deck and I would have to agree. In a format where many players are using turn one to; fetch, shock, and Thoughtseize, being able to do 15 points of damage with one creature is pretty insane. Prior to watching this deck, I had been testing with the green version for about 2 months. After making the switch, it would take a lot to get me to consider switching back. Emrakul, the Aeons Torn is just far more reliable that Borborygmos Enraged. Still I think there could be a few changes we could make to the list to fine tune the deck to the current meta. Here is the list I currently am playtesting with.

Magic Deck

Creatures: (11)
Simian Spirit Guide
Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
Griselbrand

Lands: (20)
Island
Mountain
Swamp
Blood Crypt
Bloodstained Mire
Creeping Tar Pit
Graven Cairns
Polluted Delta
Scalding Tarn
Steam Vents
Watery Grave

Spells: (29)
Goryo’s Vengeance
Izzet Charm
Lightning Bolt
Through the Breach
Collective Brutality
Faithless Looting
Geth’s Verdict
Liliana of the Veil
Night’s Whisper
Sleight of Hand

Sideboard: (15)
Quicksilver Amulet
Dragonlord Kolaghan
Leyline of Sanctity
Anger of the Gods
Dispel
Chalice of the Void
Nihil Spellbomb
Oath of Liliana

The changes I made to Sharfman’s deck are made to deal with the decks we saw the most of in the last few major events in Modern. With Bant Eldrazi still on the rise and with Infect being able to make creatures get out of bolt range pretty easily, I have included a removal package. With both Liliana of the Veil and Geth’s Verdict we are able to deal with even the most dangerous of threats. I also have adjusted the mana base to allow us to have no issues casting these cards. Also I believe that Chalice of the Void has plenty of matchups that it can be devastating in and has earned its place by allowing to shut down; Bogles, Burn and Infect. Also with Jund and Abzan still seeing much love from the Magic community I have included Nihil Spellbomb to help deal with an oversized Tarmogoyf and even can be used to help in our mirror match. With all this in mind let’s sleeve the deck up and put it to the test with the changes.

Game 1 (Jund) 2-0 Win
This match up went very well for us. After being Thoughtseized in game one losing our Goryo’s Vengeance we were stuck waiting to cast the Through the Breach remaining in hand. Luckily, we had just enough removal to deal with Scavenging Ooze and Tarmogoyf. We were able to play the Through the Breach on turn four and take down the remaining 15 points of damage with an Emrakul. In game two we were able to get a Leyline of Sanctity in our opening hand and without little interruption we were able to once again annihilate the board presence and remaining life total of our opponent for a 2-0 win.

Game 2 (Infect) 2-1 Win
This matchup is very tough with both players being able to pull off a turn two win with the right pieces in hand. In this case it ended up being whoever won the die roll. With the sacrifice package we did have a slight advantage however. Geth’s Verdict did a great job in dealing with an oversized Glistener Elf that would have dealt lethal damage in game one. After the infect player had used all of his spells in the one offensive attack we were able to ride a Liliana to sculpt the perfect hand and graveyard. Game two the infect player was just simply too fast for us with him pulling off a turn three kill with our second land coming in tapped as a Creeping Tar Pit. Game three ended with a turn two Chalice of the Void on our side shutting the infect player off from most of his pump spells and no way to deal with the chalice. The turn four Emrakul was the final nail in the coffin for this Infect deck.

Game 3 (Mono White Soul Sisters) 1-2 Loss
Unfortunately, we couldn’t keep our win streak alive as we lost to Soul Sisters in the final round of the single elimination tournament. It’s hard to deal with an opponent gaining 12 life on turn 2. Also Auriok Champion left us getting pinged for one every turn with no way to deal with it in the main deck when our opponent just flooded the field. Game two we just ended up being quicker to the draw with a turn two Griselbrand into a turn three Emrakul. Game three was not so lucky. We just couldn’t get the combo together and the few turn delay allowed our opponent to take control and be able to beat us down and eventually get the win.

In conclusion I think this deck has great potential. Not only can it outrace other combos, it has the tools to make it through the late game unlike its green counterpart. Versus the typical meta we are fine-tuned and ready to take down any threat. If you enjoyed reading about this deck you can pick up the pieces from Wizard Tower for around $1800 CAN or online for about 800 Tix. As far as breakout stars this week I would have to choose Geth’s Verdict as my true underdog. No one saw this card coming and it was able to get us out of some pretty dark places. I will defiantly have to keep this deck in mind for future tournaments and would love to hear your feedback and suggestions to improve on the deck. Until next time, best of luck taking your game to the next level.