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A Junky Foray into Modern

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Back in college I used to build a ton of decks. Many of them were lists that I spent a good amount of time tuning, but a great deal of them were last minute FNM piles. The deck building process for this tended to consist of asking Jens Erickson if he had a laundry list of cards and working around the "no"s. Last Tuesday I took a little trip to nostalgia town when I threw a last minute deck together for a local four round Modern event.

Hawthorne sent me a text in the late afternoon asking if I wanted to hit the weekly Modern event at Hi-Score. Not having a deck I wasn't too enthused, but Dana Kinsella offered his collection from which to build. He had a an extra Twin deck mostly together, but I'm not generally one to play combo decks with cards that function strictly as combo pieces. Dana had an 800 card box full of "playables" that Hawthorne and I began rifling through in search of ideas.

Initially I got a little excited about trying to make something with Fauna Shaman and Vengvine work, and I even had some Grisly Salvage and Demigod of Revenge set aside to go real deep, but the more I looked at the pile the less excited I got. The Shriekmaws I had sitting out told me that I was playing a pretty non-interactive, pretty fair deck and I decided to go a different direction. Not to mention that the pile of four and fives I was assembling made it pretty difficult to jam Dark Confidant, and there's no way that he's not just immensely better than Fauna Shaman. I had also hoped that deciding on Bob would get Hawthorne to stop suggesting that I play Deus of Calamity so aggressively, but I had no such luck on that front.

The dual lands available pretty much left me with the option of playing straight GB, Jund or Junk. The third color is basically free, so the question become Huntmaster of the Fells // Ravager of the Fells and Lightning Bolt versus Path to Exile and Lingering Souls. One of these sets plays considerably better against Griselbrands and Wurmcoil Engines, so I went with Junk.

From there I more or less just jammed all of the good cards into a pile and called it a deck. Discard, Abrupt Decay, Kitchen Finks, Tarmogoyf, Deathrite Shaman... All the hits. I really had no idea how to build a sideboard, but I assumed that additional removal would be good- particularly Go for the Throat to combat Spellskite out of Twin. I also figured that some graveyard hate and a random Wurmcoil Engine would likely carry their weight. I had heard there was a pretty sweet Goryo's Vengeance deck on the rise so I wanted to jam four Leyline of the Void on my sideboard but Hawthorne convinced me to run the Jason Ford special instead. That means one copy of Leyline and maybe other graveyard hate. Looking back, considering the Bobs playing more than one Leyline is probably wrong and the misers copy is realistically more for rub-ins than anything else. The end product was slightly rushed as much of my time was spent chastising Dana to the tune of "Where is/you don't have card x?!" and an even greater amount of time was spent removing at least one copy of Deus of Calamity from literally every pile of cards that Hawthorne touched. I ended up sleeving up this, er... finely tuned machine:

First things first, Dana only had three Bobs and I have an unhealthy obsession with Elvish Visionary. The card has absolute zero place in this deck but it was my favorite spell to cast all night. I simply adore putting Visionary on the stack and stone-facing my opponents as if they're supposed to want to counter it. The second glaring omission is basic Swamp and likely a second Forest. I was rather belligerent about basics as I've been playing a lot more Legacy than Modern lately and I kind of forgot about the fact that I got to Lava Axe myself every time I wanted to cast Thoughtseize on turn one. Whoops. The Murmuring Bosk sucked, the Woodland Cemetery were unnecessary and I definitely wanted some number of Treetop Village. Other than that the deck actually felt pretty solid. I don't recall the remaining sideboard cards but I'm pretty sure they were just some kind of removal. Onto the battles!

Round 1 Versus... Dragon Stompy?

My opponent won the roll and led on Mountain Chalice of the Void for zero. To my knowledge this stops Memnite, Mox Opal various Pacts, or my own Chalice of the Void/Engineered Explosives for zero... It takes all kinds to make local game stores operate. I cast a discard spell on him for my turn expecting to see a Blood Moon effect but instead I saw four and a Desperate Ritual. This didn't bode well for the one-basic land deck. I ended up losing the first game but winning the match on the back of aggressively fetching Forest and drawing an early, unanswered Deathrite Shaman in both sideboarded games. Basic lands? Who needs 'em!

Round 2 Versus Goryo's Vengeance Combo

What this deck does is try to set up either a Griselbrand into chaining Fury of the Hoards or just a cheaty Emrakul, the Aeons Torn to annihilate its opponents. Against me it mulls to five in game one and I mise my Leyline of the Void in my opener in game two. Yes. It is nice.

I'm going to make the argument that Goryo's Vengeance Combo is probably the strongest game one deck in the format. Deathrite Shaman disrupts it fairly well but it also has Through the Breach or just double Vengeance to beat Shaman and the deck is extremely consistent. It's pretty easily disrupted if you're ready for it post-board, but it's capable of winning turn one unfettered. I would not be the least bit surprised to see something from the deck banned if WotC continues with the same Modern philosophy it has held to this point.

Round 3 Versus Blue Tron

I really don't know how I won game one of this match. I was playing against Forrest Ryan and he both Mindslavered, Oblivion Stoned me and activated a Karn Liberated three times. Outside of that his draws were pretty unspectacular. In game two I demolished him pretty handily with Fulminator Mage, Liliana of the Veil and other cards.

Blue tron is a bit more interactive than RG Tron on account of having access to Counterspells but I'm inclined to believe that GR Tron is just the stronger deck. It fetches out Tron far more consistently which makes it more explosive, and I think you either have to be extremely interactive or pretty explosive to make it in this format. Blue Tron really only meets both of these goals halfway.

Round 4 Versus Goryo's Vengeance Combo

I mise another game one off the back of discard and Deathrite Shaman and once again my Leyline was in my opener for game two. My opponent actually had to get pretty unlucky to lose game two as he had a Through the Breach in hand at the end of the game and just needed to dig for either fatty for a likely win. And that's how you turn $5 into 8 packs or something.

Going Forward

I was actually surprised at how much I enjoyed playing this deck, even if it was only for a few short rounds I would definitely consider taking a closer look at Junk for future events. Outside of the notes mentioned above the only thing I would look at changing is making Tarmogoyf into something else. It was often just a 3/4 and it tended to not play very good ball with Deathrite Shaman. With Scavenging Ooze now being legal in the format I would probably make at least two of the Goyfs into Oozes and then tinker around with what to do with the other slots. Possibly Elvish Visionary...

Thanks for reading.

-Ryan Overturf
@RyanOverdrive on Twitter

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