Welcome to a new series. In these articles I am going to be chronicling my journeys playing the Modern format. The decks, the matches, the sideboards, and the results. I'm excited to reflect on my own play and, hopefully, we can all get something out of it.
After writing about Mardu Young Souls last week, I was itching to take it for a spin. I took my own advice and made some changes I suggested and ended up with the following list:
That is the exact 75 cards I played. I took out the Restoration Angel package and added 2 Butchers, 1 Kolaghan's Command, and 4 Thoughtseize. There is also a budget constraint (real life sucks) in that I do not own Arid Mesas. Instead, I played 4 more Shock Lands.
Round 1: Joey - Zoo
I started my night against my best matchup. Rock, Paper, Scissors went my way and I led with a tapped Land and passed. He dropped a Temple Garden into Experiment One. My Turn 2 Pyromancer was Path'd on his turn 2 which was without a second Land drop. The extra land off the Path let me drop a Turn 3 Ajani who proceeded to Helix his sole guy. I figured Ajani was dead to a Bolt either way if he draws a Mountain, and this way left him without a dude. He drew the Mountain and Bolted my Planeswalker.
I never saw another threat and he drew one more than I could deal with.
Game two began with some mana screw for me. I desperately clung to life with cheap removal and eventually was able to cast Lingering Souls on three consecutive turns. Chump blocks abounded until I hit my fourth land and, at 8 life, back-to-back Butchers were able to finish him.
Our final game was a non-event as Joey had to mulligan himself into oblivion and never saw a Land. I lived the dream of Pyro into Souls into Butcher and he was dead in short order.
Board: -2 Kolaghan’s Command, +2 Anger of the Gods
Round 2: ??? – Abzan
Apologies for the poor notes, I forgot to write down this guy’s name. Game one taught me a valuable lesson: Liliana of the Veil is a tough bitch to beat. In the end, he was able to out value me by casting Maelstrom Pulse on his own Spirit Token (which I couldn’t sacrifice to my Butcher to fizzle the spell) leaving my Butcher alone and vulnerable to Lili’s sacrifice effect.
The next game was a slugfest. I needed two columns on my life pad to track all of the changes. I started by Thoughtseiz-ing away his Path to Exile and seeing no answers to the Blood Moon in my hand from out of the board. After a turn two Pyromancer, he top decks the Inquisition of Kozilek to strip it out of my hand… The deciding factors were his Vault of the Archangel and Gavony Township. I never saw a Ghost Quarter to answer either of them and he was able to stay alive long enough to pump his Spirits high enough to outclass my Butchers.
Board: -3 Lightning Helix, +3 Blood Moon
Round 3: Michael – Company Combo
I won game one so fast, I didn’t see anything except a Kitchen Finks and Green/White Lands. I correctly guessed he was on Company Combo, but decide to hedge my sideboarding in case he was on something like Hate Bears, GW Aggro, or even Zoo.
He got off the Infinite life combo of Viscera Seer + Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit + Kitchen Finks on turn three of game two (thanks to a turn one Birds of Paradise) and looked at me expecting a concession. I responded by acknowledging his ability to perform the combo as many times as he would like and asked how many iterations he would like to do. He replied with 10,000 and we set his life total to 10,019. He Scryed one at a time until he found his Murderous Redcap for the infinite damage combo and, tapped out, ended his turn. I untapped and proceeded to kill both his Anafenza and his Seer. Before letting them die, he went through another 5,000 iterations and Scryed his way to what I can only assume was a Collected Company. Using Butcher’s Lifelink, I was able to stay alive for quite a while as he was burning through Collected Companies and Eternal Witnesses buying them back. I knew my only out was him decking himself (I refused to play slow and let the clock determine the match – a fact he later thanked me for), so I just amassed a massive board state of tokens and sat on my removal spells. He dropped double Spellskite which was crucial as I could not find a third targeted removal spell for when he dropped the entire combo in a single turn.
With less than five minutes left in the round, kicking myself for not bringing in the Slaughter Games, we tried to get in as much of game three as we could. Nothing much took place and we drew the match.
Board: -2 Planeswalkers, -4 Lightning Helix, -2 Kolaghan’s Command, +2 Anger of the Gods, +2 Slaughter Games, +4 Rakdos Charm
Round 4: Kyler – Elemental Shotgun
Things began with a turn one Delver of Secrets and I smiled, expecting a traditional Tempo Delver deck. Boy, was I wrong. Delver didn’t flip, but he was joined by a Nivmagus Elemental and my eyes got wider. What was I in for? His turn three consisted of a missed Delver flip, a Double-Strike spell for the Elemental, and two more spells to feed the Nivmagus. I took my rather-large lumps and saw my life at 7 before my third turn! Luckily I had a Helix for the Delevr and a Path for the Elemental. He didn’t see another creature for a few turns and Lingering Souls into Butcher sealed the game.
I wasn’t exactly prepared for this deck, but I had some good sideboard cards nonetheless. His game two was built around double Kiln Fiend and Tainted Strike, but my Thoughtseize took the second one and made note of the Pyroclasm he had brought in for my tokens. He seemed to struggle finding spells to pump his guys, however, and couldn’t answer three straight Butchers. This game never really felt close.
Board: -2 Kolaghan’s Command, -2 Planeswalkers, +4 Duress
Round 5: Scott – Zoo
Another Zoo matchup?! It must have been my lucky night. Both games went exactly as planned. I started off trading my removal for his dudes, used Lingering Souls to chump block, and transitioned into a Pyromancer/Butcher finish.
Board: -2 Kolaghan’s Command, +2 Anger of the Gods
I ended up finishing 4th on the night, so I’m pretty happy with my results. The deck functioned wonderfully for most of the tournament and I played against good opponents, both players and people, all night. The changes I made were amazing and I’m quite happy with current Maindeck construction. I’m thinking I may need some more hard removal in the board, though, like Terminate or Murderous Cut. Shout out to the folks I met for the first time who seem really cool. I hope they continue to make it out on Monday nights. Until next time, folks, (insert "catchy catchphrase I can't currently concoct" here).