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Milling About: Modern DMU Store Championship Report

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I've mentioned before that I'm usually up to play about any format, with drafting as my favorite. Drafting Unfinity is a lot of fun, but it can get old quickly. There isn't much interest in drafting Dominaria United anymore, and Brother's War is the soon to be new hotness. With many stores serving up Modern for their Store Championships I decided, with my son, to join in the fray.

Yes, Omnath, Locus of Creation looks like a four-armed booger

Weapon of Choice

Before covid reared its ugly head, I would play a mix of Draft, Standard, and Modern on a regular basis. Since we've been able to get back to playing in person, my constructed formats have suffered. I've dismantled all of the decks and it's been easier to just draft instead. I also haven't been inspired by anything in the format, so that didn't help either.

Now, with Champs on the horizon, I had a reason to build, but still a lack of interest. Fortunately, low writer David Ernenwein piqued that interest with his article last week. Close to the end of the article, David expressed that a potential winner from the Yorion, Sky Nomad ban was Mill.

Prepping for the Event

I have some experience piloting the deck, but could I do so optimally? That was more uncertain. It's been around three years since I've played Mill, and over a year since my last Modern game. Still, there have been some nice updates to the deck with Fractured Sanity, Tasha's Hideous Laughter, and Drown in the Loch.

Along with presenting a hopefully decent tournament report, I posed a few Modern-esque questions to my opponents. I wanted to get a feel for their thoughts on the state of the Modern and related topics, since I'm sure they're more versed in the format than I.

30 players; 5 rounds

Jarod and I arrived ready to get our game on. He decided to play one of the heavy hitters, UR Murktide. He's piloted it before with mixed results, but he generally enjoys the lines of play the deck provides. Unfortunately for him, he lost his first match against a top-decked Indomitable Creativity and ended up 1-2.

Round 1: Mark, Hammertime

Mark's Hammer tech: Invisible Stalker

How long have you played Magic?
I started around Fifth or Sixth Edition. Sometime around 1998.

How much Modern do you play compared to other formats?
Mostly Modern. I play at least once a week, and fill in the gaps with Commander.

What Modern decks do you have experience with?
Quite a few. I played 4-Color Omnath before Yorion, Sky Nomad was banned. I've played a decent amount of UR Murktide, Yawgmoth, Burn, and of course, Hammertime. The decks I played the most over the years were Ponza and Storm, until Faithless Looting was banned.

Do you feel the direct-to-format Modern Horizons sets are good or bad for the format?
I believe there are specific cards that have been an issue, but overall, they have been good. I like that we've gotten more fetchlands through these sets. Cheaper and in turn more accessible fetchlands are great.

Are there any cards in Modern you feel need to be banned?
Me personally, no. For the health of the game, probably so. Wren and Six being one of them to take a close look at. He's just so good.

Any cards to unban?
I'd love to see Punishing Fire come back. If it came back tomorrow, it'd be in my deck today.

Has the constant deluge of Magic products affected your relationship with the game?
It hasn't really affected me a lot. Since my focus is very specific to Modern, I am only interested in a small section of these cards. I wouldn't see a problem with Wizards slowing it down somewhat, but much of what they put out now is very optional, like Secret Lair.

Which Magic products do you regularly purchase?
I'll grab a few standard rotation packs, like Dominaria United. Always happy to grab a couple Modern Horizons 2 packs, but mostly singles otherwise.

Are you planning on buying any of the Magic 30th Anniversary product?
No. Personally I don't have a use for them. They look cool, but definitely not for me.

Match Details (2-1)

I got my mill on the first few turns, and three of Mark's Colossus Hammer hit the bin. Here my inexperience showed, because I had the Surgical Extraction in hand and wasn't sure if I should use it to grab the last one (hint: the answer was yes). Mark drew his last one right off the top the following turn, and without any removal, I was toast.

Still, at the end of it, Mark expressed his displeasure in having had to face Mill. He said Mill is very favored in the matchup. I didn't doubt him, yet did my best to not be on the receiving end of a very big stick. I sided in more removal, was able to resolve a couple of Tasha's Hideous Laughters, and took the next two games in similar fashion.

Round 2: Tony, UR Murktide

How long have you played Magic?
I've been playing since 2000.

How much Modern do you play compared to other formats?
I'm pretty exclusive to Modern. I'll hit a Legacy event every once in a great while, but Modern is it.

Which Modern decks do you have experience with?
I've been playing various UR decks since the format was created. One of my early decks was the Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and Pestermite combo deck.

Do you feel the direct-to-format Modern Horizons sets are good or bad for the format?
Personally, I think they weren't good for the format. Just within the two Modern Horizon sets, they greatly increased the power level and pushed out a lot of cards.

Are there any cards in Modern you feel need to be banned?
Currently, no. Nothing specific stands out.

Any cards to unban?
I'd love to see Mystic Sanctuary back.

Has the constant deluge of Magic products affected your relationship with the game?
Not anymore. I gave up trying to keep up with the various sets a while back, so I don't have any issues with it either way.

Which Magic products do you regularly purchase?
Strictly singles for my Modern decks.

Are you planning on buying any of the Magic 30th Anniversary product?
No, since I only focus on Modern. Still, I know nobody has to buy it, but it feels really greedy.

Match Details (2-1)

Tony played a Dragon's Rage Channeler and quickly started taking three-point chucks out of my hide. Fortunately for me, I was able to fire off a bunch of early mill cards. I do believe that my first Tasha's Hideous Laughter exiled close to 30 cards! Gotta love these cheap mana decks.

The second game was very close and I would have been able to mill him out, but I had to play both Fraying Sanity and Tasha's Hideous Laughter. Unfortunately, I was at four and had to use Polluted Delta. He flashed the Lightning Bolt that I figured he had and we went to the next game.

This one down to the turn where if I didn't win, he would on the next. Tony had a Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer, a Dragon's Rage Channeler, and a 12/12 Murktide Regent staring me down. Just like the last game, I had both Fraying Sanity and Tasha's Hideous Laughter in hand. The difference this time is that I was at nine and only needed one of them to resolve. I played the Fraying Sanity. Tony responded with Spell Pierce. I paid the two, and received the handshake.

Round 3: Shane, Affinity

How long have you played Magic?
I've been playing since 2015. My first deck was the Elf precon from Magic Origins.

How much Modern do you play compared to other formats?
I play Modern the most, with Commander a close second. I'll happily join in on the other competitive formats, but Modern is my main focus.

Which Modern decks do you have experience with?
I started with Gifts Storm before Modern Horizons came out. Switched to UR Phoenix, then enjoyed playing Elementals for a while. I then started playing Affinity because I borrowed it from a friend and loved it.

Do you feel the direct-to-format Modern Horizons sets are good or bad for the format?
I feel they were good. Modern is very diverse currently, many decks are represented. Still, most of the cards you're playing are just from those two sets. Definite power creep.

Are there any cards in Modern you feel need to be banned?
Abundant Growth. It lets decks stretch their mana to where you don't have to worry about color restrictions as much. In my opinion, that's not good for the format.

Any cards to unban?
I don't believe any cards need to get unbanned, but I would like to see Punishing Fire come back. With the current power creep, I don't see it being as detrimental to the format as it once was, and might open up more decks.

Has the constant deluge of Magic products affected your relationship with the game?
Not really, but I'm all for the amount of supplemental decks and products to slow down a little bit.

Which Magic products do you regularly purchase?
I mostly go for singles and going in on the most recent set, usually through Prereleases. With other premium sets, I'll buy a little less. Other than that I might buy a Commander precon every once in a great while.

Are you planning on buying any of the Magic 30th Anniversary product?
(Shane laughing) No, not at all. Some people will want it. I won't. It's a definite money grab at that price point.

Match Details (0-2)

Not much to see here. Shane beat me pretty handily in the first game. I drew no removal, milled him a little, and died. The second game was even worse. I stalled at three lands and died with two Damnations and a Crypt Incursion in hand.

Stick Around...

Being taken out as quickly as I was, I had some time to relax, so I sat in the area where the Unfinity drafts had taken place the night before. I wanted to share a picture of something I noticed beside me:

Somebody lost their sticker! Of course, that's maybe to be expected during a fun draft. Who cares about the little stickers? The individual Unfinity stickers are quite tiny and can get anywhere. So, it did make me think about the logistics of using stickers in a more competitive environment. Could a sticker like the one above yield another Mike Long moment?

Round 4: Claudio, Mono-G Tron

How long have you played Magic?
I believe around 15 years, or since approximately 2007.

How much Modern do you play compared to other formats?
I'd say 95% of what I play is Modern.

What Modern decks do you have experience with?
I've played Dredge, Mill, and love Tron.

Do you feel the direct-to-format Modern Horizons sets are good or bad for the format?
Overall it's good. Before you would add maybe one or two cards per set that were viable, so it's nice to see more cards in the format. I do believe, in hindsight, there are certain cards that were a mistake, like Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer.

Are there any cards in Modern you feel need to be banned?
Nah, nothing specific.

Any cards to unban?
Deathrite Shaman. I don't even know if he would be that great in the current format, but I think he could be added back in. I know it's not realistic, but I'd love to see Golgari Grave-Troll unbanned again, because I love Dredge even more.

Has the constant deluge of Magic products affected your relationship with the game?
No. Wizards is churning out a ton of product, and I pay attention to anything concerning Modern, so personally, I only focus on a small part of it all. I don't get into them personally, but do like the Secret Lairs in general.

Which Magic products do you regularly purchase?
I'll play a rare game of limited, but I'm almost exclusively a singles buyer.

Are you planning on buying any of the Magic 30th Anniversary product?
Not at all. It looks like its printed for a very specific sub-set of people, like Commander players with a ton of disposable income, but it's definitely overpriced. The fact that it's random packs is crazy to me.

Match Details (1-2)

I knew I was generally favored in this matchup. Being able to Surgical Extraction a Tron piece would take the game, and I could generally deal with Karn Liberated and Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. The problem cards were Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger and Karn, the Great Creator.

I took the first game pretty easily once I milled and extracted his Urza's Tower. He did get one of them on the board, but a timely Field of Ruin solved that issue. In the second game, Claudio was able to use Karn, the Great Creator to get a Witchbane Orb and stop me in my tracks. He then grabbed a Liquimetal Torque and started destroying my lands.

Here's where my inexperience and inattentiveness came into play. I was ahead, milling Claudio out. He played out Karn, the Great Creator and retrieved the Liquimetal Torque. When he went to play it the same turn, I was able to Spell Pierce it. I knew he would use Karn to get the Witchbane Orb next turn, so I had some concern being able to finish him out.

I had an Archive Trap in hand and was watching his plays, but I guess I lost focus for a moment. He took a chance, played Sylvan Scrying to get one more Tron piece, and passed. I drew my card and realized the missed opportunity.

Claudio then played the Orb, but also Ugin, the Spirit Dragon to wipe my crabs off the board, and I conceded. We counted out the cards left in his library.

Thirteen cards.


Yea, that's a hard lesson. Fortunately, it makes for an interesting bad beats story!

Round 5: Scott, GW Hardened Scales

How long have you played Magic?
I don't know, about 10 to 15 years, starting sometime around Lorwyn. Most of my early years were kitchen table, but I've been playing Modern for around seven years.

How much Modern do you play compared to other formats?
I cube quite a bit with my friends, but usually play Modern, and Commander from time to time.

What Modern decks do you have experience with?
I played Affinity back before Mox Opal was banned. I transformed it into the deck I'm playing today. I also enjoy playing Mono-Green Devotion and when I want people to regret all their Magic choices, I'll play Martyr-Proc.

Do you feel the direct-to-format Modern Horizons sets are good or bad for the format?
Good, but there are concerns with the overall power level. The sets have definitely shaken things up. The elemental cycle was probably a little too strong.

Are there any cards in Modern you feel need to be banned?
No. There's always going to be a best deck, so you work with that.

Any cards to unban?
The artifact player in me says Mox Opal, but not really. I haven't thought much about it.

Has the constant deluge of Magic products affected your relationship with the game?
I don't buy a lot of packs unless drafting. I did buy a box of Modern Horizons 2, but mostly it's just singles.

Which Magic products do you regularly purchase?
Yea, singles. I do enjoy when they have things like the Mystical Archives from Strixhaven. I don't buy them for the most part, but I appreciate products like the Secret Lairs.

Are you planning on buying any of the Magic 30th Anniversary product?
Nope. If I wanted to run proxies in my decks, I'd use much cheaper ones.

Match Details (0-2)

Top eight was almost certainly out of my grasp, but I wasn't too worried about it either way. Of course, I would have rather not made that egregious error last round, but Jarod was out of the tournament and we were both getting hungry.

Scott was running the other artifact creature deck featuring Hardened Scales and The Ozolith. We split the first two games, with me getting my mill on in the first, and him running me over with a huge Arcbound Ravager and friends in the second.

The third game was quite interesting, since I was able to answer the majority of his threats and Field of Ruin an Urza's Saga. I was feeling somewhat safe, until he dropped a few counters onto his Inkmoth Nexus and spread the infection.

The Echoing Truths in my hand were no help here. I did attempt to activate a second Field of Ruin on my turn, but he was able to turn the Nexus back into a creature and save it with Snakeskin Veil. Scott kindly gave me the official win, since he was planning on heading out for dinner, even though I was ready to do the same.

So What Place Did You Get, Really?

Without Scott's concession, I'm probably hitting dead center of thirty players. Still, I was able to do what I set out to do. Mill is definitely viable, especially against the cheap, low-to-the-ground decks. Getting to chat a bit about the state of Modern with my fellow players and playing some awesome games was a great time. Other than the Affinity match up, the games were interactive and interesting.

How did your Store Championship event turn out? Were you able to fight for the prize or bow out gracefully? Share your tales in the comments or on Twitter.

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