Getting Value in Modern and Legacy

Hey everyone!

Since Mono-Red was the big dog on campus and now Zombies has taken the reins, I’ve found myself at a crossroads. Do I play the dominant deck despite it being out of my range or to stick with my guns? This got me thinking about not only Standard, but also Modern and Legacy. Today I’m going to talk about some sweet Modern and Legacy decks that are fun to play.

Let’s get to it!

Modern

I began by searching for existing decks that seem fun to me and arrived at {W}{U} Control.


Gideon of the Trials
This deck has so many good things going for it, such as Gideon of the Trials into Supreme Verdict. There are also going to be plenty of games where Elspeth, Sun’s Champion seals the deal. There’s a good amount of countermagic, but I could see having trouble against combo decks given that I need to tap out to win at some point.

Gideon of the Trials is a cheap threat that saves me from Lightning Storm/Laboratory Maniac out of Ad Nauseam or makes my opponent overextend into Supreme Verdict. It’s also key to be able to close a game quickly in Modern because anything can happen.

While this deck was certainly something I enjoyed doing in Modern, I found it to be a little too clunky for my liking. It would also be helpful if I could consistently win a game quickly and not just when I draw Gideon of the Trials.

I wanted to do something fundamentally different with Gideon of the Trials besides simply pairing it with sweepers. No matter how I build the rest of the deck it paints me into a defensive corner with a lot of bad matchups. Blowing up creatures is nice, but what if they don’t win with them?

Then I had an idea . . . 

Jeskai Flash Update


Cryptic Command
If I was playing a Modern tournament tomorrow I would register this 75.

Gideon of the Trials does a lot of great things in Jeskai Flash. It’s a threat I can cast in the face of Liliana of the Veil as she typically gives Azorius decks headaches. His +1 ability nullifies large threats that are typically only answered by Path to Exile such as Death’s Shadow, Tarmogoyf, and Eldrazi.

I want to animate Gideon and attack on turn four while having a Restoration Angel to save it from Path to Exile for maximum value. When that happens I can use Gideon a second time in the turn which means I can +1 on a permanent or make an emblem. Gideon can stop opposing creature lands from getting nasty on the following turn and that can be key against Affinity’s Nexus lands.

The reason I shied away from Jeskai Flash in recent months is because of Death’s Shadow. Too many people had Fatal Push for Celestial Colonnade and other efficient removal for Spell Queller. Now that Grixis Shadow is less popular than before, I feel safer bringing Jeskai Flash out to play. I’ve also heard a few cases of undecided Modern players moving to Affinity and Jeskai has a great matchup against that.

I’m playing five 4-drops: two Restoration Angel and three Cryptic Command. There were games where I had too much action and not enough time to cast it all. The third Cryptic Command was typically a card I would sideboard out, but is a catch-all Game 1.

Jeskai Flash has difficult deck-building decisions centered around 3-drops. There are so many great options: Vendilion Clique, Snapcaster Mage, Spell Queller, Blade Splicer, and Gideon of the Trials. There’s also the anti-creature bomb in Izzet Staticaster out of the sideboard.

Snapcaster Mage
Snapcaster Mage is likely the strongest because of all the 1-mana spells to flash back and works well with Restoration Angel and has flash. Blade Splicer represents four damage and that’s good against even combo. It’s weak to Kolaghan’s Command and is sorcery-speed, so I don’t want too many. When I play creatures without flash in this deck, they must be strong against Liliana of the Veil, and Blade Splicer is no exception.

Gideon of the Trials is double White to cast and legendary so I don’t want more than two copies. Spell Queller is weaker against fair decks because of Fatal Push, so I cut down to three. It’s still an all-star against combo and a ⅔ flyer matches up nicely against Lingering Souls. The fourth stays in the sideboard because it’s still powerful in a format as diverse as Modern. Vendilion Clique has been unimpressive lately and gets boarded out against basically anything that isn’t combo. Since Gideon has applications against combo I think it’s a win-win to play the Planeswalker instead.

The counterspell suite looks strange at first so allow me to explain. Spell Pierce costs one mana, so it can be cast on the same turn as a Spell Queller to save it from removal. I originally maindecked a Dispel, but there aren’t enough targets against some of the popular decks. Pierce is playable in the main of Jeskai Flash because I don’t expect games to drag out forever thanks to all the burn and creatures. I started with one, but moved up to two.

Logic Knot is much better than Mana Leak because it’s great in the early and late game. Double Blue mana can be tricky so there are three lands that can’t cast it: Mountain, Plains, and Sacred Foundry. I cut Ghost Quarter for a third Island to help with the Blue mana symbols.

Spell Snare is good, but I’ve been liking Spell Pierce more. Death’s Shadow is the fair deck of choice and they have plenty of 1-drops, but not many 2-drops outside of Snapcaster Mage.

I have two Celestial Purge for Grixis Shadow because they now have Liliana of the Veil. It can hit Blood Moons if you search for the plains, too. The matchup feels favorable, but anything can happen.

Company Update


Collected Company
Just because I have locked in on a Modern deck doesn’t mean it’s the only one I like. Collected Company has been near and dear to me ever since it was good in Standard. I was playing a version that included both the Devoted Druid combo and the life gain combo with Kitchen Finks and Viscera Seer. As I worked on the deck, it became clear gaining lots of life isn’t what I wanted to be doing; might as well just play more good cards.

The problem with the Kitchen Finks combo is there’s an opportunity cost of each 3-drop in the deck. Finks doesn’t generate too much card advantage and I can play Voice of Resurgence instead. Voice is a very powerful creature and makes the opponent play into my Spell Queller. If the opponent casts a spell on my turn I get a token. It works similarly to animating Gideon and having Restoration Angel to save it from Path to Exile. I prefer the full set of Spell Quellers in this deck because there are plenty of targets for removal early on. It wasn’t feasible to play four when there were Kitchen Finks, so this is an upgrade.

Perhaps the biggest upgrade by dropping the Finks/Viscera Seer combo is cutting the Viscera Seer for the seventh mana dork. Noble Hierarch becomes stronger since there are no more Black spells in the deck, too. Overgrown Tomb can be replaced with Botanical Sanctum to help cast Spell Queller. The only loss of cutting Black is not getting to play Orzhov Pontiff in the sideboard; I replaced it with a second Walking Ballista.

Legacy

I don’t always have time to follow Legacy, but I think it’s incredibly fun. Since Sensei’s Divining Top was banned, I haven’t found a home in the format until now.

Four-Color Control (Czech Pile)


Kolaghan's Command
I would register this 75 if I had a Legacy event tomorrow.

I’ve been playing this four-color deck at local Legacy events lately and it’s very fun. There are plenty of fair decks in Legacy and three Kolaghan’s Command helps you go over the top and grind through most boardstates.

In my quest to find a new Legacy deck, I wanted to stick with Force of Will. There are many flavors of Blue decks ranging from Grixis Delver to Four-Color Control. On the Delver end of the spectrum you have a great combo matchup, but can fall short against card advantage. Four-Color Control is great at going long against interaction because you’re indifferent to creatures dying. Baleful Strix trades with a removal spell, but gets replaced, as does Leovold, Emissary of Trest. The sweet spot is winning long games while having a passable combo matchup.

Four Snapcaster Mage was too much because Deathrite Shaman is annoying. I may as well play a mix of 3-drops so a second Leovold gets the nod. Kolaghan’s Command combos with Snapcaster Mage so I will inevitably get the value loop going. Tasigur, the Golden Fang is my delve creature of choice because there aren’t many spells I don’t want to return. It can be bounced by Karakas, but that means I get to recast it to make my activations more juicy.

Spell Pierce is better than Thoughtseize because I can pitch them to Force of Will in the late game. I will fire this off against basically any target- especially setup spells like Ponder and Brainstorm. It can hit Blood Moon and Chalice of the Void against prison-style decks.

I faced a True-Name Nemesis Game 1 against {U}{B}{G} Midrange and realized it was important to have maindeck answers. Liliana of the Veil and Diabolic Edict are good answers that can also be used to answer the Dark Depths combo. Speaking of which, I have a single maindeck Wasteland to fight some of the annoying lands like Dark Depths and Grove of the Burnwillows. Four-Color Control is good at using all of its mana, so I don’t fire off the Wasteland to cut off the opponent’s colors.

Blood Moon was a consideration for my sideboard, but I only liked it against Lands. Since this deck plays four colors, I don’t want to have Blood Moon in matchups where it won’t swing the game. A second Wasteland is in the sideboard to have an additional land if my mana is pressured or I need to take out a key land.

Hymn to Tourach is a good spell against combo decks, but is also card advantage against grindy interactive opponents. I found there to be diminishing returns on this effect against fair decks, so the third copy is in the sideboard for combo opponents.

Four Ponder felt like too many because the deck doesn’t get an advantage from casting a critical mass of instants and sorceries. If I was playing Delver of Secrets or Young Pyromancer, I would feel better about having so many cantrips. There were games where I was casting Ponders and Brainstorms just to get them out of my hand. Ponder is ideal at finding early land drops and the mid-game where you have a fetch land to get rid of the useless cards afterward.

Ideally I get another Wasteland spot in the maindeck, but that’s difficult with four colors. This led me to try a similar deck without Red.

BUG Control


That’s right; no Tarmogoyfs in my {U}{B}{G} Midrange deck. It dies to Fatal Push without profiting so I stick with Baleful Strix. Goyf shines against Delver decks that can’t interact with large creatures, but they all play Fatal Push. Leovold will be the first creature to enter the battlefield on my side that demands a kill spell which is profitable for me.

Since Red was the reason for Kolaghan’s Command, I have room for plenty of 3-drops that generate card advantage. I like Liliana of the Veil to answer Dark Depths and True-Name Nemesis, but also to discard late-game Thoughtseize and Spell Pierce much like in Four-Color Control.

The mana is the only reason to play {U}{B}{G} over Four-Color Control, but either are powerful options in Legacy. It’s a super fun archetype because all you do is get value, and who doesn’t love that?

The moral of the story today is play what you like. I’m back on value decks and life has never been better.

Thanks for reading!

—Kyle


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