Modern Times: Super Sundays
If you followed me on Twitter the other weekend at Grand Prix Nagoya, then you’d know that it didn’t end as I had hoped. I went 6-3 at the main event which meant no day 2. As I always do when I wash out, I take part in the Super Sunday Series. Previously at Grand Prix Shizuoka, I had been in the running for prizes until I lost my last game to finish 6-3 with my standard R/w devotion deck. This time around, the SSS gave you a choice of either Modern or Sealed. With GP Nagoya now behind me, all I have to look forward to in Japan are the Big Magic Open in May, and Grand Prix Kobe in August. Therefore, I decided to do Modern because I wouldn’t get another chance to try out my deck at a large tournament with high level players until the next PTQ season starts in June.
A quick look at Modern in Nagoya
It’s been more than a month since I last wrote about Modern in Japan. The last time I had played in an event, I went 0-3 in a control/tempo heavy tournament of about 12 people. Since then I’ve played in two more small tournaments and have steadily been improving. UWR tempo/control, Twin, and Jund continue to be pretty popular with the crowd here in Nagoya. The format itself has been growing exponentially. There are now 4 places holding weekly modern tournaments, and most of the modern prices in town have caught up to what they were in the USA. There are still some deals to be found, but its getting harder and harder to find them. Before the GP, I won my first ever modern tournament with my Modern red devotion deck, defeating mono black devotion, a GR Warp World rogue deck, and UR Faerie/tempo. Not the greatest of challenges considering what was being played that weekend, but it’s a start. Here’s the current list I’m running:
|Modern R/w Devotion|
|75 cards, 15 sideboard|
|2 Ghost Quarter
4 Clifftop Retreat
4 Arid Mesa
4 Sacred Foundry
4 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
4 Ash Zealot
|2 Blasphemous Act
2 Koth of the Hammer
4 Path to Exile
8 other spells
15 sideboard cards
I’ve started to really get a feel for this deck. It continues to go head to head with the best decks of the format, especially if you know how to use the devotion mechanic to your advantage. The mainboard still feels fine, and the sideboard is REALLY strong. It acts like a red aggro deck on the surface, but Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx quickly gets out of hand and lets you go crazy on your opponent. I have a better sideboard plan now as well, and as I become more familiar with various decks people play, I think my win percentage will only get better. My current sideboard plan for the top decks is:
- Affinity = +1 Shatterstorm, +2 Wear/Tear, +2 Blood Moon, +2 Stony Silence / -2 Koth of the Hammer, -1 Fanatic of Mogis, -4 Ash Zealot
- UR/RUG Twin = +2 Combust, +2 Wear/Tear / -2 Blasphemous Act, -2 Koth of the Hammer, (+1 Relic of Progenitus, -1 Fanatic of Mogis for Tarmogoyf match-ups)
- Birthing Pod = +2 Wear/Tear, +2 Stony Silence, +2 Birthing Pod, / -2 Koth of the Hammer, -2 Blasphemous Act, -2 Demigod of Revenge
- UWR control = +2 Banefire, +2 Grafdigger’s Cage, +2 Blood Moon / -4 Path to Exile, -2 Blasphemous Act
There are other decks that I’ve been preparing for as well, such as BW tokens, Zoo, and UR Storm, but the ones I’ve been getting a lot of experience against are the ones I mentioned above. I was pretty psyched on Sunday (after getting over the disappointment of not making day 2 at the GP). This would be my deck’s first real test in a very competitive environment. There were over 200 people participating in the tournament, including pros such as Makito Mihara who didn’t make day 2 (FYI, Mihara ended up winning the event with a GB deck). I finished 4-5, but I felt like all the games I lost were really close and that I could win them in the future if I improve my decision making in the future. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s a tier 1 or 1.5 deck, but Modern Red devotion is definitely a contender for Tier 2.
- BW Tokens (lost 1-2) – The main reason I lost this match up is my mulligan to 4 in game 1, and my mulligan to 5 in game 3. I had been running Tectonic Edges instead of Ghost Quarters, and it really hurt me in this game as I was not able to destroy my opponent’s Windbrisk Heights in time. I’m also in the progress of getting a play set of Arid Mesa, so my mana problems were further exacerbated by playing less than optimal lands. Blasphemous Act + Boros Reckoner are great in this match up.
- RUG Twin (lost 0-2) – I didn’t have my Path to Exile to stop the combo in game 1, but I did great post sideboard with the Combusts and Wear/Tear. I would have forced a game 3 had my opponent not used Snapcaster Mage to Lightning Bolt me twice. I definitely felt confident about this match up though. Relic of Progenitus also kept Tarmogoyf unthreatening in game 2.
- GW Hatebears (won 2-0) – Double Boros Reckoners, turn 5 Blasphemous Act for 26 damage in game 1, and in game 2 I curved out well and hit him hard in the air with Demigod of Revenge. My deck simply had better removal and better evasion.
- UR Twin – (lost 0-2) – You think after a 2nd loss to Twin I’d devote more cards in the sideboard to beat it, but I feel like my deck still does really well against it. My problem in round 4 was a misplay with Wear/Tear. I should have used Wear on my opponent’s Spellskite, but I didn’t and my Path to Exile couldn’t stop his Deceiver Exarch from going infinite on me the following turn.
- Scapeshift (lost 1-2) – This was another game where my mana hurt me. Landing a Blood Moon won me game 2, but not having the right mana in game one led to slow play and allowing my opponent to kill me with Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle. I also got sideswiped by an Inferno Titan in game 3 after siding out all of my Path to Exiles. I definitely can beat this deck though if I keep a typical explosive hand that red devotion decks get regularly.
- UW Ghostly prison (lost 0-2) – Triple mulligan again, couldn’t put any early pressure on the board in either game. Sometimes you just get bad hands.
- RW Burn (won 2-1) – I was in trouble going into round 7. I was 1-5, and in danger of having to wait an hour due to getting a bye. However, I knew what my deck was capable of and decided to push through the event for the valuable experience. Shockingly enough, I was able to outrace my opponent thanks to fast hands and the ability to pump my creatures quickly with Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx.
- UW Blink (won 2-1) – This was my first time playing against this deck so I didn’t know what to expect. Luckily I got a god hand in game one, going Figure of Destiny, Kargan Dragonlord, Burning-Tree Emissary +Nykthos for 5 mana on turn 3 and then cast Demigod of Revenge. There was no way my opponent could come back from all that. He managed to steal a game from me thanks to me over extending into a Supreme Verdict, but luckily for me, he triple mulliganed in game 3 and I was able to beat him.
- UWR control (won 2-0) – I had clawed my way back and was sitting at 3-5 going into the last round. One more and I would feel I did pretty respectable. Game 1 went quick with me curving out quickly and putting too much pressure on him too quickly, and in game 2, a turn 3 Blood Moon absolutely destroyed him.
I was really happy to be able to play against such a wide variety of decks during the Super Sunday Series. I felt like I learned a lot in a very short period of time. I’m also very satisfied with how my deck did, and I think it has a chance come PTQ season this June. The next big event in Japan is the Big Magic Open, a joint tournament between Big Magic and Star City Games in Yokohama, Japan. It’s the first of it’s kind, and it’s shaping up to be one of the biggest non-Wizards event Japan has ever seen. On Saturday, May 10th, hundreds of people will be taking part in either a Legacy tournament or a Pro Tour Qualifier. On Sunday, May 11th, the gears change. Standard and Modern will be the name of the game. I’m definitely planning on doing the PTQ, but I’ve yet to decide what I want to do on Sunday. Getting more practice for GP Kobe seems to be a good idea, but at the same time I’d like to familiarize myself with more of the Journey into Nyx cards before the Pro Tour which is the following weekend.
Now that Grand Prix Nagoya has passed, I’ll be focusing on my booster draft skills and block constructed decks. Next weekend is the Journey into Nyx pre-release, which means that I’m only going to have about 2 weeks of preparation time to really test out my block constructed deck. I plan on taking my creations to every standard event I can play between now and May 9th. My current testing has shown RW Tokens to be pretty strong (but lacking card draw), UG tempo to hold the board well (but it lacks aggressive cards), and B/u to easily get outclassed (it could use more evasion or removal I think). As for booster draft, I’m going to try and do at least 2 of those a weekend, as well as to hold a special tournament with friends to test the format.
This will likely be my last Modern Times article for a while. You can expect more as we get close to the Modern PTQ season, but starting next week I’ll be focusing 100% on my Journey into Nyx articles. I’m itching to take a look at the limited format and how the new cards will interact with the rest of the Theros block. For those of you following my exploits in modern, I hope this article helped. I really enjoy the format, and can’t wait to see how the next set shakes things up in a few weeks. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to leave them down below. If not, be sure to join me later this weekend for my first look into Journey into Nyx! Thanks for reading!