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  • posted a message on Grixis Death's Shadow
    In your list, specifically, I could see Deprive being an issue because you're heavier on red. In a list with more blue cantrips, though, you're already fetching blue sources pretty actively in the matchups where you'd bring in Deprive. In particular, I'm talking about decks like U/W Control, Tron, KCI, Burn, Titanshift, Amulet Titan, and Storm. Against those decks, you usually want to stick a threat early, then just react to everything your opponent is doing. You're generally using discard spells to sculpt their hand so that it lines up favorably against your available answers, and just trying to stop them from resolving key spells for 3-4 turns. Deprive plays very nicely into that plan, and I have actually found the requirement to bounce a land to have some amount of upside. I played a match against U/W last week where I played a Shadow, which my opponent tried to Cryptic with 1 additional mana up (playing around Stubborn denial). I was able to Deprive the Cryptic, resolved my Shadow, then replayed the land and was able to hold up Stubborn Denial. Your ability to play a longer game against U/W improves drastically when you're not as dependent on turning on Stubborn Denial to prevent them from resolving big spells once they hit 5/6 mana.

    I would really recommend to anyone that they try Deprive before writing it off, it's been doing real work for me in the matchups I've brought it in for.
    Posted in: Midrange
  • posted a message on The State of Modern Thread (B&R 01/10/2018)
    I was the Shadow player, I expected to play against a lot of Dredge and Hollow One and wasn't disappointed. I think that Death's Shadow takes great advantage of Surgical, and that the current MTGO metagame is actually a boon for Shadow because it makes running the Surgicals main a good thing. Death's Shadow lines up really well against the current version of Dredge, I'm on something like a 6 match win streak against it online.
    Posted in: Modern
  • posted a message on Grixis Death's Shadow
    Quote from Spsiegel1987 »
    I found shadow decks frustrating to play when it had such a massive target on its head. But, now that its just a good deck and an established archetype in modern it seems like a good place to go with where the meta is heading.


    This is incredibly true, and up until people were running a ton of graveyard hate because of Dredge I've actually had a really good time with the deck for the entire year. It feels like playing Jund did in 2015, where you could answer a lot of what people were doing and your creatures were generally better than everyone else's. It's too easy to hate the deck out for it to always be the deck to beat, but since the initial popularity died down a lot less people are playing the deck, so it's been able to skate under the radar pretty nicely.

    Quote from Spsiegel1987 »
    I'm a long time gbx player but modern has gotten to the point where it feels like everything easily slips underneath midrange and a lot can go overhead. Drawing multiple lands feels like a death sentence in this format, too, which happens to jund too much, manlands or not.


    This has been the dealbreaker for me with B/G/x. You can't win top-deck wars with 24 lands and no filtering when every other deck is running ~20, and a bunch of those are playing cards like Faithless Looting and Horizon Canopy to further mitigate flooding. The 17 land shadow builds almost never flood, although hitting your third land can sometimes be an issue.

    Quote from Spsiegel1987 »

    Is there a true reason to just go jund? Why go grixis right now? I know grixis grinds better against fair matchups, what is jund and 4c better with? Is 4c the best deck for spell based combo and aggro? Is grixis meant more for spell based combo and midrange?

    I've played every Shadow variant over the last year, and did a bunch of testing with Traverse when Trophy came out. Ultimately, I think that Grixis is better because it can support Stubborn Denial and Temur Battle Rage in a 3 color manabase, and I think that any argument between the decks is secondary to that.

    Traverse Shadow can get into some real problems if you're drawing your basics and shocklands instead of fetches, and ultimately I don't think Tarmogoyf is enough to warrant the green splash. The 17 land Grixis lists running Baubles are better at finding their threats than the older 18 land lists, and sometimes you have to mulligan "lands and spells" hands to try to find one with a threat, but I haven't found this to be a significant issue. I also think people in general are too stingy with their Snapcasters when they're not drawing Shadow/Angler and just need to start attacking.

    Quote from Spsiegel1987 »

    Has ben friedmans bauble and loot significantly changed a lot?

    So...is more than 2 loot just too much for the shadow decks? Ignoring our specific personal meta, what should the sideboards be utilizing?

    I did a lot of testing with Looting and also didn't like it in the long run. The 17 land lists tend not to flood and your post-board configurations are already so tight that you really don't want to discard anything. I've really come around to Serum Visions in this deck over Opt because of how it can interact with Street Wraith to dig deeper.

    I don't know if I'd play this list in paper, but I just got 2nd place in the MTGO Modern Challenge with this:


    I was expecting a ton of Dredge and Hollow One, and I played against a ton of Dredge and Hollow One. The Surgicals in the main were super sweet, and easy to board out when I didn't want them. Also, I think Deprive is strictly better than Disdainful Stroke because of how the games play out where you're boarding it in.

    Edit- I'll also echo what Hype_rion said about being able to play an unfair game and this feeling like an evolution of the B/G/x archetype. While Jund has that weird "everything goes over or under me without much issue" problem, Shadow knows exactly where it sits on the totem pole.
    Posted in: Midrange
  • posted a message on The State of Modern Thread (B&R 01/10/2018)
    People keep talking about Faithless Looting, but I actually think Bloodghast is the biggest problem out of the recursive graveyard decks. It cheats on mana to a huge degree, and only gets better as the game goes on and you chip away at your opponent. I think that banning it would kill multiple graveyard decks, though, which is probably a little excessive.
    Posted in: Modern
  • posted a message on Jund
    Quote from Spsiegel1987 »

    I'm slightly frustrated with Jund because it very much feels like these aggro decks can easily go under us and we easily can have this other decks go way over us.


    This was the overall conclusion that I came to after testing various B/G/x decks after Assassin's Trophy came out. It just feels like everything is a bad matchup now, even the creature-based matchups that were traditionally favorable for us. I ended up moving to Traverse Shadow and then back to Grixis Shadow, which is what I've been playing this year up until the Trophy printing. I would actually play either Shadow deck over one of the other B/G/x decks right now, because they operate similarly but have much higher card efficiency, which lets them keep pace with the faster decks of the format. Grixis, specifically, also has an absurd amount of flexibility in how you build/sideboard/execute it.

    It's hard to even say what it is that Jund actually needs at this point. Trophy did so much for the deck's bad matchups and freeing up it's sideboard, but the clunky set of removal it replaced was the most glaring issue in the deck's shell. I really liked Jadine's recent list and how it lowered the overall curve of the deck, but even then it's still a 24 land deck that can't filter its draws. I think that the high land count and inability to really mitigate flooding are what's made grinding with Jund so much harder lately.
    Posted in: Midrange
  • posted a message on Grixis Death's Shadow
    I actually think Young Pyro is a great grindy option right now because it doesn't depend on the graveyard at all.
    Posted in: Midrange
  • posted a message on Jund
    Some of the high points of Jadine's article:
    - The 4 Confidant/3 BBE split is a response to her expecting more uninteractive decks, where Confidant helps you find your sideboard cards and your life total isn't as relevant. If you're expecting more creature decks and midrange/control, she still likes the 3 Bob/4 BBE.
    - She's super high on Assassin's Trophy, and credits it with freeing up her sideboard enough to play as much anti-dredge hate as she did.
    - Adding Assassin's Trophy lowered her curve a bit, so she felt comfortable going down to 24 lands. She wanted 3 Ravine and no Treetop because of a desire to cast Anger of the Gods consistently, but likes Treetop if you're expecting a lot of U/W control.

    Beyond that, there's a lot of the great detailed analysis that makes her a Premium writer to begin with. It's definitely worth the full read.
    Posted in: Midrange
  • posted a message on Jund
    Cage has some overlap in that it's good against Coco and Chord, though. I like how diversified her graveyard hate is because it makes it much harder for Dredge to play around, which seems important.

    Jadine's manabase is almost exactly what we typically played in 2015-2016, and it was generally stable enough to support Anger and Finks if you fetched with those cards in mind. In general, the construction of her main deck looks like a throwback to that era of Jund, which I really like.
    Posted in: Midrange
  • posted a message on Death's Shadow Jund
    I've definitely been beating up on Dredge with Grixis Shadow, and I would imagine Traverse is even better because you're not as blown out by Leyline of the Void. My strategy with Grixis has basically been to mulligan any hand that doesn't contain either Leyline or Shadow and Battle-Rage. I've beaten the deck on mulls to 4 and 5 because of how powerful those cards are in the matchup.

    I actually spent a lot of time trying a few different Traverse lists but I could just never quite get it right. I'd like to give Peter's list a try because I think he got right a few numbers that I just couldn't make up my mind about.
    Posted in: Midrange
  • posted a message on Abzan
    I think the 4 Tracker/2 Tasigur configuration is people copying Jeff Hoogland's list, which he's been streaming to a reasonable amount of success. The 3 Brutalities in the main and no Dark Confidant basically makes it pre-boarded for the creature matchups, which is a solid place to be. I think his list struggles a bit against Celestial Colonnade decks though, because it's a little less threat dense. His post-board configuration for the B/G/x mirror also doesn't look great on paper. Given the general MTGO metagame, with that in mind it doesn't strike me as surprising that this type of configuration is doing well.

    I've been really torn on Kalitas, I'm still running a 1/1 split between the main and sideboard but I've been getting closer and closer to cutting them. He's so great when he's great, but he's just so bad when he's not, and I've probably lost more games with him in my hand at this point than I've won because of him. The fact that Spirits, Humans, and Hardened Scales all have evasion on some of their best creatures makes him feel really dumb sometimes, too. It's too bad Ishkanah, Grafwidow is just a little too hard to make work in normal B/G, because she's pretty much what I'd want out of a big, bomb creature against those decks.

    I'm really loathe to cut Confidant entirely because it's backbreaking to resolve on turns 2/3 against U/W Control, still great against decks not trying to kill you on turn 4, and I'm concerned about not being able to deploy threats in a timely mannger, so right now I'm trying 4 Goyf/3 Confidant/3 Ooze/4 Tracker/1 Kalitas. I'm also running 3 Brutalities in the sideboard to have a clean swap with Confidant in the matchups where he's bad.
    Posted in: Midrange
  • posted a message on Abzan
    In addition to what's been stated, I think that Lingering Souls is actually overrated as a grindy card and that a lot of it's reputation comes from before Twin was banned. When I started playing Jund (the fall before the Twin ban), the midrange decks at that time did have a very hard time dealing with Souls. Jund only played a single Maelstrom Pulse and 1-2 Anger of the Gods in the sideboard while Twin/Jeskai/Grixis played some number of Electrolyze but that still wasn't quite enough. In that meta, a single flashbacked Lingering Souls would often take so many resources to fully address that resolving a second one would just put your opponent in a position where they needed to race. It's very hard to beat Lingering Souls with 1-off spells, which is still true today.

    Then they printed Liliana, the Last Hope, which is a brutal card to face down when you're trying to cast Souls. I think things have gotten even worse for Souls in B/G/x mirrors with the unbanning of BBE and the widespread inclusion of Treetop Village in all flavors of B/G/x.

    Even outside of B/G/x mirrors, Souls has lost equity. The current builds of U/W and Jeskai run more sweepers than the Snapcaster control decks of the aforementioned era, which leads you to not want to flashback Souls too aggressively. However, the planeswalkers those decks play have to be answered immediately, which puts more pressure on you to want to have a strong battlefield presence. The planeswalker issue gets better with the printing of Assassin's Trophy, but that still doesn't change how their answers line up against Souls. Cards like Thalia and Mausoleum Wanderer also make it clunkier against some of the more popular creature decks in the format right now.

    The real final nail in the Lingering Souls coffin for me was Tireless Tracker, which is so good that people are experimenting with it as a replacement for Dark Confidant.

    All of that being said, Souls is still a fine card, but I think it's just fine, and that we have better options now.
    Posted in: Midrange
  • posted a message on Abzan
    That was the list that I initially based mine on, and I was a little dubious about that mana base as well. I've probably played about a dozen matches with that mana base, and my issue was more with taplands than a lack of black sources. I do think that with how black-heavy my sideboard is, I may end up needing to swap the third Treetop Village with a Hissing Quagmire, but Quagmire is just so much worse as a manland that I'm only going to do it if I find myself consistently having issues getting enough black sources. I would probably try replacing the 5th fetch with a Twilight Mire before I added Quagmire, but that can be real rough alongside 4 Field of Ruin. It's really unfortunate that the dual-colored manland cycle was finished in one of the weakest Standard sets in recent history, I really wish we could have seen them at a power level more in line with Kaladesh/Dominaria/Guilds of Ravnica.

    I think Pulse is still a great card, and I'm not really sure what I'd run instead (I do not like Brutality maindeck). The fact that my list runs no sweepers leaves me a little more vulnerable to go-wide and token strategies, which Pulse is decent against. I think my list has a lot of ways to deal with Lingering Souls, in particular.

    I'm really interested in playing against the graveyard decks you mentioned, because those are three matchups where Flaying Tendrils really shines over the single-target removal spells I'm running. I'm hoping that the combination of Surgical, 3 Ooze, and 2 Kalitas is good enough, but I'm not really sure. Most of my experience against those decks is with Grixis Shadow, which runs a totally different gameplan.
    Posted in: Midrange
  • posted a message on Abzan
    I finally got to play my first league with Assassin's Trophy last night. I went 2-3 overall, losing to U/G Hardened Scales (not sure what the blue was for), Bant Spirits, and Scapeshift, beating Storm and Blue Moon. The deck is much better than my record indicates, and I'm still learning the Hardened Scales and Spirits matchups. I also only have access to 1 Surgical Extraction online, which is important in the Scapeshift matchup.

    I've slowly come to the conclusion that I don't want to rely on 3-4 CMC spells against the current creature decks because they're extremely difficult to resolve through Mausoleum Wanderer, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Spell Queller, Meddling Mage, and Kitesail Freebooter. I'm looking to try a different approach, which led me to tweak my list to this:



    Some brief explanations:
    - I swapped the 4th Treetop Village for a 5th fetchland. 4 taplands is just too many, and Tracker is happier with another fetch anyway. Up until the BBE unbanning, Jund very commonly played 3 Raging Ravine, which always felt to me like the right number of manlands.
    - I dropped Flaying Tendrils and Natural State in the sideboard for a second Darkblast and a pair of Disfigure. I have no idea if this is correct, but I want to see if the creature matchups become easier with access to more 1-mana removal spells. While Disfigure isn't exactly a Modern all-star, I didn't want to play more than 2 Darkblast because they don't seem great in multiples, and I just couldn't think of a better 1-mana black removal spell. It can also kill things through Welding Jar and Selfless Spirit, which is relevant. My current sideboard plan against Spirits/Scales/Humans would be -2 Thoughtseize, -2 LotV, and -1 Confidant all the time, and -1 more Confidant on the draw vs -1 Inquisition on the play.
    - I swapped Vraska, Golgari Queen for the second Kitchen Finks. This isn't a knock against Vraska, I just want to focus on refining the overall list before testing individual new cards, and Finks is extremely solid.

    In general, I really liked my maindeck outside of some clunky mana issues that I've hopefully addressed. The deck was extremely dominant in the matches that I won, the Blue Moon matchup almost felt like a bye because it was so easy for me to answer my opponent's threats and so hard for them to answer mine. I can't promise that this is the best list for Assassin's Trophy, but it's at least not the worst.
    Posted in: Midrange
  • posted a message on Abzan
    I think there are very few cards that make the Tron matchup favorable on the draw, but the ability to even break up Tron before it's assembled is going to give us some wiggle room that we've never had reasonable access to before. I actually think that a B/G list like the one I posted on the last page goes pretty even with Tron because you have so many ways to disrupt their assembly of Tron. When I was putting together the sideboard I didn't even feel like I needed additional land destruction, and my plan is just to bring in the Surgicals, Duress, and the Natural State.

    As far as Jund and Abzan go, I think that Trophy does a lot less for them in the Tron matchup. I think that they're unlikely to run the full playset of Trophy, and their manabases can't support Field of Ruin without opening themselves up to some real mana consistency issues. Fulminator Mage is still an option, but then their sideboards are just as constrained as they are now.

    My hot take is that a more favorable matchup against Tron and U/W Miracles is going to make straight B/G the "best" B/G/x deck for the fall.
    Posted in: Midrange
  • posted a message on Abzan
    It's not at it's best against Humans, but I think it's passable. Like you said, it always answers Thalia, Hierarch, and Phantasmal Image in the main, and Sin Collector out of the sideboard. It also answers Champion of the Parish and Thalia's Lieutenant if you can play it in time, which I'll admit isn't always possible. The deck usually leads with Hierarch, Champion, or Vial on turn 1, and Darkblast can answer 2/3 of that, which seems okay. It's also possible to use the "Darkblast in upkeep, dredge Darkblast, Darkblast again" trick to kill x/2s, but that does have its own drawbacks. Speaking of x/2s though, it's common to play Liliana, the Last Hope against Humans, which pairs decently well with Darkblast. It can also team up with Flaying Tendrils to kill x/3s, but that's not something I would want to depend on.

    It doesn't have the "win on the spot" potential of Damnation, but I think in the average game against Humans it can help round out your removal suite.
    Posted in: Midrange
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