Modern is supposed to be known as the format where anyone can play whatever they like. Unfortunately, it seems like all too often people try to pick up the flavor of the week forgetting this format still rewards deck knowledge.
While there are people like Tom Ross who could probably throw some forests into an Uno deck and run the tables, he’s the exception, not the rule.
We have people winning with Skred Red, GW Tron, and people top 8ing GPs with maindeck Torrential Gearhulks.
Do I recommend trying to take down your next local GP with UB Mill? No. Do I recommend trying to pick up the flavor of the week instead of sticking with what you’re comfortable with? Also no.
Feel free to sleeve up Infect, Affinity, or Dredge if you want, but these are some decks that I think aren’t getting the respect they deserve.
While much of my success has been built on the shoulders of the mighty Lhurgoyf, this has been my “Jund” deck of choice lately.
Being able to play a proactive strategy with Delver and Young Pyromancer game 1 gives you a lot of game against the random decks of the format. If need be, you can turn into a Grixis Control deck after sideboard. This deck pivots on an ever changing axis from tempo to midrange to control, giving it game against a ton of decks.
My only concern is that Grixis Delver’s power can be influenced by how concerned with Dredge other players are. If people are floating around Defcon 3 on Dredge sideboard hate, you’ll probably only run into Grafdigger’s Cages, Nihil Spellbombs and the like. Graveyard hate that is only a small speedbump to Grixis Delver.
It’s when people bump it up to Defcon 1 and start siding in a playset of Leyline of the Voids where you start to worry.
Jund has been dipping lately in numbers and Jund, along with Infect, are usually the biggest concern on the Ad Nauseum player’s mind.
Ad Nauseam is unique in that it is the most successful combo deck that plays almost entirely on the stack.
One of the main ways to interact with Ad Nauseam decks are to kill them faster than it can combo. That isn’t an easy job. Infect gets off easy as they’re lacking on any meaningful interaction. Their maindeck “fog” effects like Phyrexian Unlife and Angel’s Grace don’t buy them any time like they would against Burn, Dredge, and other damaged based aggressive decks.
Beyond that, you’re looking at a turn 4 to 5 goldfish backed up by the redundant aforementioned fog effects that can buy a ton of time.
You can also interact with discard. While Ad Nauseam is technically a two piece combo, it’s more like a 3 piece combo. Ad Nauseam + Angel’s Grace or Phyrexian Unlife + a lot of mana. If you don’t have a turn 1 Lotus Bloom, then that mana is going to come from your land drops. Hitting your lands drops in the middle of digging for your combo all while staring down a Liliana of the Veil can be rough.
You can also interact on the stack. There’s not a ton of blue floating around, so there’s not too much to worry about here. You’re also packing 3 maindeck Pact of Negation, so if it’s a durdly blue deck you can just take your time and easily punch through their interaction.
If you’re not against Jund, most of the meta’s only choice is to race you. I really like Ad Nauseam’s odds against the field when racing.
Sun and Moon
I can’t guarantee I’ll be saying the same thing in 6 months, but Sun and Moon is a really solid “metagame deck” right now. Anger of the Gods, Blood Moon, Chalice, and heavy hitting planeswalkers really attack at an unfair angle against a lot of the top decks of the format.
If I was playing Infect, Dredge, Jund, Bant Eldrazi, Burn, Affinity, etc. at an Open and read “Todd Stevens” as my opponent I would probably sit down, shake his hand, and fill out the match slip before he took his deck out of the box.
Normally I would never advocate building or choosing a deck just to attack the metagame in Modern, but this deck just does it so well.
Whatever You Want to Play
I’m cheating, this isn’t actually a list of 4 decks. While I understand where Maynard is coming from, there is a lot to be said for just knowing a deck inside and out.
Do you think Corey Burkhart, Jeff Hoogland, Wafo-Tapa, Gerard Fabiano, or Shaheen Soorani are going to listen to you when you tell them (insert decks here) are the best choice for the weekend?
Do you really think the reason you didn’t top 8 this weekend was because of your deck choice and not because of misplays or poor sideboarding?
Do you think it’s easier to test every new deck that comes up, or do you think your time would be better served learning one deck?
Do you think I like asking rhetorical questions?
Patrick Chapin’s words echo in my mind:
“It is better to play the deck you know than some other deck that you are not familiar with. We’re just talking about percentage points. If you know your deck inside and out, you’re going to swing matchups by 20 or 30% where deck choice is only a few percentage points.”