Brew Report: Tweaks & Twists

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Recent weeks have seen Modern continue to admit newcomers via Magic Online induction, further upholding its status as a brewer's paradise. But the metagame has also settled some, and players are discovering the most effective ways to attack a known field. If history has taught us anything, the paper metagame is sure to follow suit.

Today's brew report goes over the updates pilots are making to Modern's established decks to beat the hate and attack the competition, and also unveils some of the kooky experiments going on beneath the surface.

The Tweaks

We'll kick things off with the adjustments players have made to existing decks.

Still Junding After All These Years

What's a Brew Report without a couple of Jund spotlights? As in previous weeks, the respected midrange shard continues to undergo radical makeovers as pilots attempt to render Jund playable in the current metagame.

JOETRU's Blood Moon Jund looks similar to the Jund Moon decks I worked on three years ago, but with some critical differences. For one, the mana acceleration package is absent from this deck, replaced by Jund's characteristic suite of interaction: one-mana discard spells and cheap removal. But that removal suite has also been vastly improved thanks to the addition of Fatal Push to Modern.

In terms of construction, this deck basically trades Jund's Liliana of the Veils for Blood Moon, doing away with Raging Ravine in the process. Although possible, it can prove difficult to hit BB in a Moon deck, and the walker and enchantment occupy the same slot on the mana curve. While mana dorks partially resolve both these issues, this build opts instead to simply do away with so much clunk in favor of spell-based disruption and win conditions.

A common thread among recent 5-0 lists is the prevalence of Leyline of the Void, and Blood Moon Jund hops right onto that bandwagon. Leyline is a hands-off answer to the smorgasbord of graveyard decks in Modern, including Dredge, Bridgevine, Hollow One, and Grishoalbrand. I personally prefer one-shot answers, especially in decks with the right colors; Surgical Extraction and Nihil Spellbomb are favorites. Leyline eliminates the need for incessant clicking, at least online, and requires fewer decisions from the pilot. That said, I'm even less excited about the enchantment in decks without reliable discard outlet, such as this one.

Blood Moon Jund now has multiple 5-0s, but only time will tell if it's here to stay.

Why slam Blood Moon when you can simply kill your opponent? That's TYHENDO's philosophy, and it's rewarded him with a 5-0. The combination of TarmogoyfMantis Rider, and Death's Shadow is eyebrow-raising, but understandable; I tried (and failed) to put something similar together myself. Each of these creatures attacks from a unique angle, and utilizes a unique resource: Goyf comes down early to attack or block and depends on the graveyard; Rider flies into the midgame and demands intensive colors; Shadow out-bodies other creatures in the late-game and requires life point management.

More impressive is the pilot's inclusion of 4 Blightning. Here's a card that was once a staple in Jund... a very long time ago, when the shard lacked the utility tools it does now. In such a burn-heavy build, TYHENDO must want to continue pressuring enemy life totals with more reach while limiting their resources in general, making Blightning a perfect fit.

The sideboard again contains 4 Leyline, a choice that strikes me as more reasonable this smaller-curve deck. Pilots simply won't have the mana to nerf the graveyard early when they're casting Tribal Flames and Blightning. Domain Jund is bound to be mana-light on just 22 lands. Like certain builds of Traverse Shadow, TYHENDO also runs Lingering Souls in the sideboard as a mirror breaker.

But my favorite sideboard innovation here is 4 Spell Pierce. I've long sung Pierce's praises in Modern, and consider it a staple in Counter-Cat. The card is fantastic against anyone looking to play big spells, be they fair decks like UW Control and Jeskai or spell-based combo like Storm and Ironworks. The full four copies demonstrate TYHENDO's understanding of Jund's need to interact efficiently with such decks on the stack.

More Decks, More Updates

But wait, there's more! While these next couple lists represent disparate archetypes, their recent updates represent a potential sea change for each.

Bridgevine's breakout performance at the Pro Tour some months ago sent waves of shock and fear through Modern. As is often the case with new Modern decks, that fear proved to be unfounded as players began to understand the deck's weaknesses. Chief among those is its softness to disruption: resolve a hoser, or pluck an enabler from their hand, and the deck fails to do much of anything.

While Wispmare and Ingot Chewer are common sideboard bullets for Bridgevine to deal with hosers, RUCKUS-MH decided not to lose to targeted discard, either, splashing blue for Hedron Crab to add to Bridgevine's explosive openers. Crab joins Stitcher's Supplier, Faithless Looting, and to a degree Insolent Neonate as a one-mana way to get the ball rolling. It also gives the deck a new angle of attack by presenting a threat opponents desperately want to kill, making it more difficult to decide whether to keep otherwise lackluster spells like Fatal Push in against the deck.

Another of the format's infamous decks, Bogles, is reviled for its apparent emphasis on variance and the difficulty fair creature decks have interacting with a hexproof, lifelinking beatstick. If the deck opens well, it dominates creature decks; if not, it doesn't. At least, that's how the complaint goes.

Splashing blue for Invisible Stalker doesn't exactly alleviate this consistency issue, as Gladecover Scout has always been available in-color, as has the more commonly-seen Kor Spiritdancer. But it speaks to the fact that Bogles doesn't really need a consistency boost after all. It just needs opponents to not be ready for it.

There are other reasons for TECH4SS4N's blue splash that I find more compelling, chief among them Curious Obsession. My own experiments with the enchantment proved fruitless, but Bogles seems like a far sounder home for the upgraded Curiosity. Here, obsession draws pilots into more plays in case of relevant disruption from the opponent.

Best of all, Obsession draws pilots into actual answers for that disruption in the form of Stubborn Denial. A beefy Bogle turns on ferocious all by itself, and many Modern players know from experience how powerful it is to swing with a large creature while holding up permission.

The Twists: Opal on the Rocks

Closing out today's report are a couple of Mox Opal decks. Affinity has been on the decline, with Hardened Scales eating up its share in the metagame with its increased robustness in the face of sweepers and hosers. But there are still other homes for Mox Opal in Modern, something bound to be the case for the extended future. Here are some of the neater brews I've found featuring the card.

Or, Lantern Control without not just Lantern of Insight, but almost any one-drops, all to support Chalice of the Void. This is a prison list with more obvious prison elements, but with the same overall win condition: deck opponents out, now using not Ghoulcaller's Bell, but a looped Ipnu Rivulet.

More than Lantern, this deck is something of a Whir of Invention toolbox strategy with bullets for nearly every scenario: Jester's Cap for combo; Damping Sphere for big mana; Tormod's Crypt for graveyard decks. For everything Chalice of the Void doesn't hit, and that gets around all those bullets, there's Engineered Explosives, the card David has identified as being the key strength of Ironworks combo. No Ancient Stirrings makes Explosives harder to find, but with three copies in the deck, it must wind up in hand a decent portion of the time.

While I initially pegged Lanternless as a fluke, a follow-up 5-0 from a different player made me reconsider my stance. Now, I think the deck probably has legs; they're just legs that are tough for me, a lowly combat lover, to decipher.

Last on the agenda is a Grinding Station combo deck piloted by TENSHI. I've already seen this deck pop up at my locals, but have heard little else about it. One thing's for sure: it's got to look very attractive to Thopter-Sword lovers.

Thopter-Sword is a combination that has done very little in Modern since its unbanning. The combination was once locked into the Modern banned list for its potential applications with Lantern Control, but it's proven to do very little for that shell. More recently, I've heard rumors recently of the package's inclusion in Ironworks as an alternate win condition.

In Grinding Station, Thopter-Sword is built into the deck as a main win condition. The other one involves Sly Requisitioner, an improvise creature nobody batted an eye at upon release, including me. Requisitioner combos with Grinding Station itself to mill opponents out of the game, and with myriad artifacts in the deck to provide an aerial fair plan should things go awry. In other words, this deck basically plays the Thopter-Sword combo twice, and only uses the graveyard for one such combination. I'm excited to see this deck evolve as more players discover it and pick it up.

More From the Workshop At 11

As Modern continues to shift and grow, you can count on me to summarize its latest intriguing developments in this column. Anything I missed? Which brews are you on these days? Let me know in the comments.

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