Awesome Decklists from SCG Charlotte!

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What if I told you there was a high-level Modern Magic tournament in my literal backyard, and I didn’t even go? To my surprise/dismay I woke up late last Saturday morning, threw on some soft pants, tossed some bacon on the burner and cranked up the SCG stream to find…

“Welcome boys and girls, to the Star City Games Open in Charlotte, North Carolina”



Last time the SCG boys came to town, my buddy Joseph Herrera took one for the home team, piloting Jund all the way to the finals and taking down the trophy, defeating notorious SCG grinders looking to come into our house and steal our glory all along the way. I didn’t go to Charlotte, but some awesome players did, and this week I’m going to do something I often try to avoid: tournament results and decklist analysis, complete with relevant information! Pick yourself up off the floor, and hold on to your seat. It’s gonna get wild!


Painful TruthsBrian’s list is as stock as they come, but with Jund that’s often more than enough. Jund functions as an exercise in value; most of its cards are included because they either react favorably with the current metagame in an irreplaceable way or are simply just the best option at that spot on the curve. Lightning Bolt, Tarmogoyf, Terminate, Dark Confidant and friends are for the most part ubiquitous, and it's rare to see any deviation from the standard formula. There's just not much to be gained by wildly deviating from the norm. I’m surprised to see Jund continually performing well in Charlotte specifically, though. The old “local metagame” theory of years past is all but disproven at this point, but I know for a fact Charlotte is packed with R/G Tron players as far as the eye can see. Take it from a local: the “local metagame” doesn’t exist (and probably hasn’t for a while). Five years ago, maybe, but we live in the digital age. Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram rule the land, and everyone knows everything (except how to keep selfies and duck-faces to themselves) and prepares accordingly.

This list is so boring I find myself actually excited to see a one-of Painful Truths in the board. Is this how far we’ve fallen!? Seriously, though, Painful Truths is slowly creeping into Modern and is probably here to stay. Jund can offset the lifeloss with Scavenging OozeObstinate Baloth, Huntmaster of the Fells // Ravager of the Fells, or Thragtusk (not seen above) and I’ve been trying out two Painful Truths (one MB, one SB) in my Grixis Control 75 alongside Jace, Vryn's Prodigy // Jace, Telepath Unbound and Tribute to Hunger. Sure, it’s as grindy as can be, but that seems to be where we’re at these days. Make sure you have a plan for Burn and Affinity, and Painful Truths can really beat up everything else. Ok, I spent two paragraphs on the winning list. Obligation fulfilled, lets move on to the good stuff!

GriselbrandBob’s back from the grave(yard) with his signature Goryo's Vengeance list. You know, the one that he and Zach Jesse (RIP) took Charlotte by Flusterstorm with last June at GP Charlotte. This time, Huang made it all the way to finals, and I’m hoping this strong finish will sponsor a comeback of sorts for the flash-in-the-pan combo deck.

Bob cut a Noxious Revival, a Manamorphose, a Night's Whisper, two Tormenting Voice, and a land from his/Jesse’s GP Charlotte list in favor of a playset of Serum Visions and two Izzet Charm. This obviously butchers the manabase beyond recognition, but overall improves the velocity of the deck and with that its consistency. The more cards you see, the more likely you are to see the cards you need to win. Serum Visions is just an excellent card for anyone looking to combo (or midrange, or draw cards, or play Magic…).

Blood MoonThe sideboard has shifted significantly from the old Charlotte list, but most of that has to do with the move away from Blood Moon. If you remember, back in June Blood Moon was everywhere to fight the Tron and Amulet Bloom decks running around, and the B/R Goryo's Vengeance list was able to leverage a full playset in the board to fight the big mana menaces. Currently, Blood Moon isn’t that great, and Bob can’t afford to play it with the blue splash anyways. Blood Moon often exists in the format as just a mere threat, and often its existence serves to keep decks that die to it out of the field. This creates a situation where Blood Moon is a necessary and powerful card, but doesn't show up in numbers indicative of its power as decks that lose to it either aren't played or built to make Blood Moon poor, which is where the format is right now. Assuming this deck is here to stay, expect a spectrum of B/R Blood Moon versions and the greedier lists with the blue splash we see here in the future.

Are we at the point where Josh Cho needs re-introduction? A household name on the SCG circuit when I first was getting into the game, Josh was running the tables back when Squadron Hawks and Delver of Secrets // Insectile Aberration were all the rage. Here he is with a brew, of all things! Maybe I don’t know his range, but I always had typecast him as being on the best deck, especially as he always kept beating me with “best decks” at every other SCG Open I went to. Maybe some Josh Cho fanboys/girls out there can enlighten me.

Gideon Ally of ZendikarAnyways, here we see some Gideon, Ally of Zendikar goodness alongside Sorin, Solemn Visitor. I took a lot of heat when I cut Sorin, Solemn Visitor from the deck in favor of Gideon, Ally of Zendikar in my B/W Video Series a while back, but here Cho is favoring the 2-1 Gideon split. I’m going to default to my normal stance (pilot knows best) and say that I think he’s on to something. In the abstract, Gideon seems like the individually more powerful card, but you can’t deny the impact Sorin, Solemn Visitor can have when we have literally any board presence.

26 lands feels like one too many to me, but he’s got the dual Shambling Vents and a Vault of the Archangel as “spell-lands” in case of flooding. Playing an extra land over one too few is always a better habit to be in, and I wouldn’t change a card until I played at least a few matches with the deck (another good habit to have). In true Jeff Hoogland fashion, I LOVE the one-of Worship in the board. Speaking of…

"Kiki Chord, 8th Place, Jeff Hoogland – SCG Charlotte"

What, no Worship!? That’s it, I’m out of here.worship

Jeff kept the exact same maindeck from his runner-up Cincinnati list, swapping only a Stony Silence, Obstinate Baloth and Slaughter Games for a Burrenton Forge-Tender, extra Fulminator Mage and Magus of the Moon in the board. Take that, haters! Two Top-8’s in a row with the same 60 really speaks to the staying power of the deck (or at least Hoogland’s proficiency with the archetype) so hopefully we’ll finally see this deck pick up some steam. I’ve been watching from the sidelines hoping to see more Kiki Chord and Goryo's Vengeance in the mix, and it looks like we might finally get there.

Birthing PodThis deck is Birthing Pod reincarnated, and naturally is just plain sweet. Where the Abzan Company lists look to play sub-par cards like Viscera Seer and hope to get there with Thoughtseize after board, Kiki Chord instead just looks to grind with solid value creatures and gain advantage the fair way (if you consider Restoration Angel blinking Pia and Kiran Nalaar actually fair). The Lightning Helix board plan against Burn and Zoo is solid, but we’re built to beat up on those decks anyway. The Twin matchup seems fine, but it can’t be great. A playset of Path to Exile helps, but with the limited experience I have with this deck I’d hesitate to call it even.

This deck just tickles my value itch in every possible way (yes, that way too) and I love all the interactions I can see, and there’s definitely many that I don’t. If there was ever a format where a deck like this could succeed, this is the one (as Jeff has been politely reminding us). If this is your style of deck, pick it up NOW.


Outside of the Top 8 we see local NC poster-child Ali Aintrazi in 10th with his trustworthy Tron, and another good buddy from the local shop named Dalton Ozmun in 17th with Junk. Besides that, we see a lot of Infect in the Top 32, suggesting a midrange field that’s soft to the combo-aggression it represents, but only one copy in the Top 16 in the hands of Tom Ross. Analytical minds can infer that Infect was the “obvious next-level choice” for the event, and it beat up on the Day One field but lost to those prepared for it and was ultimately pushed out of the Top 8. Take a look at the archetypes and sideboards of the Top 8 lists and you’ll see a collection of cards curated to specifically punish Infect: Lingering Souls, Pia and Kiran Nalaar, and Sudden Shock. While the “local metagame” narrative might be dead, the “beat the deck that beats the field” narrative still holds true. Which brings us to the now. Which deck beats the field next week, and which deck are you going to play?

Thanks for reading!

Trevor Holmes
The_Architect on MTGO

9 thoughts on “Awesome Decklists from SCG Charlotte!

  1. I like Kiki-Chord list so much. Every time I see it in coverage, Jeff does just some crazy ass stuff with it. I’d definitely see myself playing something like that one day.

  2. I think it’s dubious to conclude much about Gideon in BW tokens because of a single top 8 finish at a single event without any alternative builds of the deck to compare results with. That said, it made me reconsider my previous position that Gideon was strictly incorrect in the deck. I still believe that Gideon is generally worse than Sorin, but Gideon may be a better choice if the following are true: 1) you don’t expect to see a lot of Path to Exile specifically; 2) you don’t expect to face a huge number of highly aggressive decks where you need to buff your life total repeatedly; 3) you do expect to face matchups where you just need to flat out race but your life total is not necessarily relevant (ie, vs a combo deck that either overkills by millions or loses), where Gideon can force through damage faster than Sorin. In general, Sorin has much better synergy at an efficient rate, and Gideon’s synergy is far less efficient but his damage output potential is higher. So there may indeed be a place for Gideon in the right environment. (Or maybe I’m just underestimating how powerful Gideon is as an individual card that simply deserves inclusion for power level alone.)

    1. I actually can’t wait to brew B/W Tokens after OGW. I think Oath of Gideon may have a shot in the deck if you go for a deck that is Planeswalker heavy. I was running 2 Gideon, 2 Sorin, 1 Elspeth Tirrel. With such strong ultimates coming from those 3 planeswalkers, the deck could be back-breaking. A Gideon survives the ultimate, Sorin needs 1 turn, and Elspeth can come down and wipe a board except your 6 Souls.

  3. The Jund list IS a bit out of the ordinary for a number of reasons:

    1) 3 Liliana – Cutting the fourth says a LOT about how she’s not at her best right now.
    2) 2 Scooze – He’s obviously ok with -1 graveyard hosers
    3) The Nalaars AND Olivia – It’s usually one or the other. Also note that there is NO Tasigur; I’ve done this myself since it’s terrible when remanded and the activation rarely gets you something that isn’t hand disruption.

    Just from these changes it looks like the deck was more tuned to beat tokens/Lingering Souls, so these are probably good changes in the face of abzan and eldrazi.

    The pyroclasm in the board is strange addition, but the more I think about it the more I like it.

    Yeah, not as entertaining as newer or more unusual decks, but this one has a lot of subtle angles going for it, and subtlety is what separates turns a good Jund pilot into a great Jund pilot.

      1. That’s very true, which would explain why Grixis control has been quiet the last month.

        What I really wanted to say is that I don’t like Tasigur in Jund since it’s almost always goyf #5. I can count on one hand the number of times a Tasigur activation got me something good out. Grixis, on the other hand, plays enough delve and cantrips that their activations are a lot better. I replaced it with the Nalaars because they do the same amount of damage, don’t have anti-synergy with my goyfs, can block affinity attackers and inkmoths, and act as flexible removal/burn when I need it. If Jund REALLY wants to get a lot out of the activation then it needs to play a few more delve spells, like murderous cut.

  4. Trevor! What are your thoughts on Grixis Control/Midrange right now? I know you love the deck, and your articles about it have encouraged me to sleeve it up for myself. But with the rise of the Eldrazi decks, I am scared to be a Grixis player. Maybe you could write an article introducing some new sideboard cards that might improve the B/x Eldrazi matchups as well as an update on your thoughts of the deck. Have you been playing Grixis lately?

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