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More on Modern – Minnesota Wild Nacatl and Grixis Updates

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With the Modern PT in the books, the internets are currently saturated with articles on the format. While most players won't have a relevant Modern event until the next Modern PTQ season (And who knows when that will be?!) this is a great time for me to kick things into gear on my GP Minneapolis preparation. A couple weeks ago I posted a Delver Nacatl deck and a bit of insight, and between then and now I've jammed a decent amount of games with it on Magic Online, which brought me to this updated list:

For the last sideboard slot I either want Ray of Revelation or Back to Nature, but I'm not entirely sure which is better. It's probably Back to Nature, but with I'm not ready to make that call as of yet.

Thoughts on the Deck

From the games that I've played, this definitely feels like the best list of this deck. We're at peak efficiency and we have tremendous redundancy. The only thing the deck is potentially lacking is some sideboard graveyard hate, but for the most part the counter suite can handle all the dedicated graveyard decks I've seen while Path to Exile and Tarmogoyf handily outclass Vengevine.

Since I first wrote about this deck I adopted Serum Visions over Gitaxian Probe primarily because this deck can rarely pay life for Probe, but also for the fact that hand information doesn't especially matter. This deck is so many efficient that it can either interact or it can't. If you're new to the format and need a crutch, then Probe is fine, but the scry is slightly better than seeing the opponent's hand, even though you'll usually end up shuffling anything that was scried to the bottom back into the deck with all the fetchlands. Either way, the single sorcery slot is essential to making your Tarmogoyfs 4/5s, and I've most often wanted to draw the card in this slot for this bit of utility and for no other reason.

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Being threat-light looks like it might be an issue, but any time I've found myself out of creatures and drawing dead I was just completely out of spells entirely. While I've definitely had many creatures die in many games, I've generally been able to win those games by just playing to Lightning Bolts and Snapcaster Mages off the top. Speaking of, whatever I end up playing in Minneapolis I can't imagine that it won't feature both of those cards. Snapcaster Mage is likely the most powerful card in Modern due to the redundancy that it adds to any game plan and Snapcasting a Lightning Bolt will either remove a problematic threat or significantly alter your clock. I can't say enough good things about Snapcaster in Modern.

I enjoy this deck, but I'll admit that my enjoyment is likely somewhat stemmed in the intentional similarities to RUG Delver. I've had a solid win percentage with the deck, and I'd be happy to sleeve it up for a local Modern event. The sideboard gives the deck a plan in every matchup, and despite appearances to the contrary I've been able to win a lot of long games.

On the Format at Large

But that brings me to a peculiar dilemma. A very high percentage of my games with this deck end up going long, and I believe this to be true of the format at large. This makes me wonder, if my games are lasting 10+ turns, why do I want to play one mana creatures? A lot of games end on the back of Lightning Bolts off the top, so it seems to me that I'd rather have the ability to draw extra cards than to just carve a path for topdecks.

The initial motivation to even build a Wild Nacatl deck stemmed from the fact that I wanted to beat Bitterblossom, but the Pro Tour metagame didn't show much in the way of non-Splinter Twin token generators. This all makes me more inclined to give Dark Confidant another shot.

The Grixis list that I posted when last I wrote about Modern was definitely a few cards off, and with a few revisions I could see it being a real player in Modern. The biggest blunder on my part was thinking that Spell Pierce was playable in Modern. Maybe it is in a combo deck, but it has tested abysmally for me in fair decks.

To update the deck, I would definitely stick with everything that is working for the Nacatl deck. These four-ofs have definitely proved their worth to me:

The Lightning Bolts and Snapcaster Mages are self-explanatory. The Mana Leaks get boarded out every time against aggressive decks, and get quite a bit weaker the longer the game goes, but they're the most efficient counter that permanently deals with a spell. I could see four Spell Snares being an unpopular choice, and Pro Tour champion Shaun McLaren is content to only play one, but they've more than carried their weight for me. They counter Snapcaster Mage at any stage in the game, which is invaluable. They're also excellent for winning shootouts against Lightning Helix decks, and are live if not excellent against non-Tron decks in general.

The most relevant change that I would make to the deck, in my opinion, is adding a Batterskull to the mix. I've played against a lot of UW decks that have implemented this technology, and assuming it doesn't get countered it's an awesome source of inevitability. Not to mention that it outclasses several Wild Nacatls. This is what my updated list would look like:

Hashing out a sideboard is on my to do list, and a likely starting point will be to just steal the Nacatl sideboard with Vandalblast replacing Ancient Grudge and Engineered Explosives playing the role of enchantment hate. Some more Thoughtseize also sound good.
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More importantly, I need to test to the point where I can say it is correct to play Sedraxis Specter. Barring Anger of the Gods it's usually some form of two-for-one at worst, but I can't help that the endless laughter of every other Magic player gets to me whenever the topic of Sedraxis Specter comes up. I'll admit readily that it's far from ideal to have a three mana sorcery-speed spell against Twin and Storm decks, but Specter has always performed admirably against fair decks in my experience. The plan then, is to gain more experience.

One Last Thing

On the same consideration that brought me to Dark Confidant, the notion that games tend to go long makes me feel that there is potential in Modern for a dedicated Thirst for Knowledge deck to just crush. Spellskite has proven itself to be stellar in multiple matchups, and Engineered Explosives is also a sweet one, but I haven't been able to really flesh a deck out yet. Maybe there's nothing there, but part of me thinks that there has to be something.

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That's what I have on Modern for now. This weekend I have a Standard PTQ to attend to follow up my 5-2 performance at the Fargo PTQ last weekend. Next week I'll have a consolidated tournament report as well as a follow-up on Standard Burn. Hopefully I'll have a top 8 to report on.

Thanks for reading.
-Ryan Overturf

2 thoughts on “More on Modern – Minnesota Wild Nacatl and Grixis Updates

  1. I’m also on board for Engineered Explosives and 4 Spell Snare. My problem is that I either play Delver or Engineered Explosives, due to a need for enough instants and sorceries that flip the Delver.

    1. Yeah, Delver and Snapcaster can have a heavy influence on deckbuilding. I want to build Tezzeret, but that just pulls me towards needing a critical mass of artifacts and instants. There might be something there, but I’ve yet to find it.

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