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Modern Preparations _ Black Border

Modern Preparations _ Black Border

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Published by: Jairo Zamora on Feb 07, 2012
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Modern Preparations
 Article by Adrian Posoiuon Fri, 02/03/2012 - 13:59
 
 Adrian Posoiu Dark Ascension Modern Modern Odds and Ends
 About Adrian Posoiu
I've started playing Magic since I was 18 years old, around the time when Mirrodin reared its head in Standard.The jump to semi-competitive play came shortly thereafter, as I started grinding local events on a regular basis.I attended my first Grand Prix in Athens 2006 and made my Pro Tour debut in Nagoya 2011. Recently, I wonthe Romanian Nationals and am currently set on participating at the World Championship. For those interestedin what goes on outside my realm of Magic influence: I'm currently studying for a Master’s degree in Astrophysics, as I find it one of the most interesting and rewarding branches of science at the moment.
Modern Preparations
By the time my next article rolls in, I will have taken part in both my first Pro Tour Qualifier of the season, aswell as Grand Prix Lille. I'm sure that I will have plenty of tales to recount and many interesting facts to reportat the beginning of March, but in the meanwhile it's important to prepare and keep up to date with the twoconstructed formats involved. To this end, I think it would be best to make a short summary of the currentModern environment by looking at online and paper events from the past week. Decklists have been rolling inand it's up to us to make heads or tails of the whole bulk of information.
The Modern Environment
To start things off, I thought I'd look at the overall numbers presented by the highly dynamic Magic Online metagame. I looked at theprevious 15 Modern daily events that took place this week and compiled a table of all the decks that have obtained a record of 3-1 or 4-0.In total, I managed to differentiate between no less than 31 archetypes, amounting to a total of 221 lists - slightly above 14 lists perevent.There were a few obvious outliers, such as one-time appearances of Mono Black Infect, Blue/Red Control and White Weenie, rogue buildsthat have little impact on the present metagame. This prompted me to add a first criterion of selection in order to eliminate the candidateswhich were not statistically significant or sufficiently well represented to be included in the analysis. Nonetheless, I did not want to set thebar too high and risk losing bits of valuable data, so I resorted to including any archetype that had at least two appearances and twodifferent pilots in the past 15 daily events. This is the information I was left with:
Modern Preparations | Blackborder.comhttp://www.blackborder.com/q/node/141121 of 504/02/2012 09:53 a.m.
 
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Magic 2011 Core Set (Foil)
Main Deck (60 cards)Sideboard(15 cards)
4Snapcaster Mage2Disenchant4Squadron Hawk1Engineered Explosives3Kitchen Finks2Ghostly Prison3Vendilion Clique1Kitchen Finks3Spell Snare2Relic of Progenitus2Steelshaper's Gift2Spell Pierce4Path to Exile2Sunlance4Remand1Sword of War and Peace4Cryptic Command2Wrath of God1Mortarpod1Batterskull1Sword Of Fire And Ice1Sword of Feast and Famine2Celestial Colonnade2Hallowed Fountain4Seachrome Coast4Misty Rainforest2Moorland Haunt3Mutavault2Mystic Gate4Island2Plains
Plot
Mana CostColorCard TypeRarityMain Deck:Sideboard:
 Average:Your rating:
The light blue and dark blue bars show the amount of 3-1 and 4-0 records, respectively. From here on out, we can draw a series of conclusions regarding the success rates of each strategy and the consistency and resilience it displays when performing at a high level of competition. This can be achieved by looking at the conversion rates of each archetype, specifically at how many of the top finishes wereundefeated streaks compared to the total number of times the deck has been listed in the above table. The importance of this informationis twofold. On the one hand, most of us are only concerned with Modern from the perspective of prospective PTQ competitors, whichmeans that we are looking for a strategy that is strong enough to take down a seven-round tournament, as well as the subsequent top 8.By predicting the theoretical chance that a given deck can convert a 3-0 record into a 4-0, we are basically trying to quantify theconsistency of the overall strategy in a diverse field. Furthermore, with the rate at which things change on Magic Online, having a deck continuously perform well enough to attain a winning record is testament to how well it fits in the current environment, namely of how itcan fend off both dedicated hate and any splash damage encountered along the way. All of these are important traits for any archetypesaspiring to PTQ glory and this simple analysis constitutes a decent starting point for choosing which decks to test and which to stay awayfrom.Unfortunately, with the current way decklists are provided on the mothership website, it is impossible to accurately determine the true rateof success of each strategy. With the increased number of scheduled events that fire incessantly on the online platform, providing the fullrange of decks played at each of these daily events is no longer an option. Consequently, I will refrain from making any comments withregards to the absolute number of 3-1 finished each archetype had, since looking at that number out of context might be deceiving. At afirst glance, the sheer amount of 'money finishes' that Jund managed to post might make it seem like a premium contender for the MVPtitle, but in truth the amount of players entering a daily event with the deck might be so great that it completely skews the initialperspective. Sadly, we will never know if such a thing is true. As an alternative, I will use the total number of 3-1 finishes as the newbaseline and will narrow the analysis down to the top performing decks.Three decks gravitated around the 25% mark, the average threshold for what is expected of eachstrategy. Past in Flames combo (25%), Splinter Twin (23%) and the neo Caw Blade (22%) all haddecent showings in the 15 daily events, with roughly one in four players at the top tables goingundefeated. What is interesting to note is that both of the blue/red combination decks had a loweramount of total players. This variation might indicate either a loss in popularity for both of thosestrategies, or the fact that the environment became more hostile to them as they became more of aknown quantity. While proactive strategies might have been a great choice for the first weeksfollowing the debut of the PTQ season, it seems that control and midrange decks are slowlyadapting to the metagame and are taking over the format.This trend is also evidenced by the addition of UW Blade as a tier 1 contender. The deck burst ontothe scene following two recent Magic Online qualifiers where it managed to snag back-to-back top 8slots, albeit falling short of the invite. As players once again embraced the strategy, they quicklydiscovered that the power of Squadron Hawk in conjunction with the protection swords is highenough to present a serious threat in Modern, much like it did in the Standard and Extended of old.With access to both of the Darksteel equipment spells, along with the already established Sword of Feast and Famine, the deck is able to present an efficient and highly disruptive gameplan that canbe adapted to combat a variety of specific threats.In the absence of Stoneforge Mystic, some lists have resorted to a few copies of Steelshaper's Gift, in order to be able to fetch out theproper piece of equipment for any situation. Tech begets tech and with this inclusion, most lists have started running a singletonMortarpod alongside the more impactful swords. For reference, here is a recent list:
Steelshapers Blade
Deck by Adrian Posoiuon Fri, 02/03/2012 - 03:29
 
Blue White
played by _Monstruito_ in an MTGO Daily Event
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Modern Preparations | Blackborder.comhttp://www.blackborder.com/q/node/141122 of 504/02/2012 09:53 a.m.
 
 
Main Deck (60 cards)Sideboard(15 cards)
4Delver of Secrets1Combust3Snapcaster Mage2Divine Offering2Vendilion Clique1Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite4Lightning Bolt3Gifts Ungiven4Path to Exile2Grim Lavamancer4Serum Visions2Pyroclasm2Spell Pierce1Relic of Progenitus2Mana Leak1Sphinx of the Steel Wind3Magma Jet1Unburial Rites4Lightning Helix1Vendilion Clique1Research / Development4Isochron Scepter2Misty Rainforest1Arid Mesa4Scalding Tarn2Steam Vents1Hallowed Fountain1Sacred Foundry3Sulfur Falls2Celestial Colonnade2Tectonic Edge4Island1Mountain
Plot
Mana CostColorCard TypeRarityMain Deck:Sideboard:
 Average:
 
 Your rating:
 
1 comment
The many incarnations of Delver of Secrets have consolidated their position in the Modern metagame and various lists have now become amainstay of every daily event I browsed. I briefly talked about the blue/black and RUG versions in my previous article, but the breakoutbuild was by far the one featuring Isochron Scepter (33%, well above average). By combining a blue/white/red control shell with theadded tempo of Delver and the card advantage engine provided by the Scepter, the deck manages to play both the aggressive and thedefensive roles pretty well. What both of the above cards have in common is that they love instants and sorceries, which makes them anideal couple to build an entire strategy around.
Scepter Delver
Deck by Adrian Posoiuon Fri, 02/03/2012 - 04:23
 
Blue Control Red White
played by _Blaze777_ in an MTGO Daily Event
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With artifact removal becoming a staple of every sideboard, the Isochron Scepter plan may not be enough to seal the deal in the postboardgames. To alleviate this concern, most lists dedicate a few of their sideboard slots to a reanimator package that uses Gifts Ungiven to tutorfor assorted fatties, backed up by Unburial Rites. It might seem like common practice to cut the maindeck Path to Exiles in favor of Disenchant effects when facing this deck, but the Delver list punishes this method by swapping their only artifacts for an entirely differentapproach, similarly to how some Storm builds are ready to field the Splinter Twin combo from the board. As far as the creature selection isconcerned, Elesh Norn has proved to be just as effective at combating creature decks in Modern as it did in Standard. It usually wipes theboard upon arrival and it effectively nullifies Blinkmoth and Inkmoth Nexus as long as it stays in play. Sphinx of the Steel Wind is targetedspecifically at the most popular deck being played right now, as most Jund lists have little to no outs to a resolved Akroma. To supplementthe reanimator gameplan, the burn suite that was previously destined for the Scepter can now function as spot removal, alongside thecounterspells and the card advantage that comes along with Snapcaster Mage. Of course, if the match winds up in the decider, theopponent will be kept guessing as to which of the two strategies the deck will adhere to. Just remember to always shuffle your entiresideboard into your deck and then remove any 15 cards you deem fit.The last deck on the list that I want to discuss is the Birthing Pod-fueled Melira Combo. The archetype has been present in the format eversince Worlds in San Francisco and it has been putting up decent results throughout the field. Although the deck failed to claim an invite sofar, looking at the reported PTQ results in the US shows us several near misses - a finals appearance, as well as two more quarterfinalslosses. What is interesting to note is that Birthing Pod claims to have the best conversion percentage throughout the 15 events weanalyzed. It clocks in at an amazing 43%, meaning that almost half of the recorded finishes come from undefeated players.Not having played any actual games with the deck, I thought that disrupting the smooth flow of the combo wouldn't prove to be difficult. After all, the strategy is vulnerable to both artifact destruction like Ancient Grudge, as well as targeted removal. As such, any other deck istheoretically capable of favorably interacting with the combo by virtue of the diversity presented by the format. Nonetheless, what I failedto take into account is that, even in the absence of the infinite life/damage loop, Melira Pod is capable of fielding a decent creatureoffensive by making use of its diverse toolbox to present answers and/or threats that the opponent will have a hard time dealing with. Forinstance, with a typical draw of turn 1 mana accelerator, turn 2 Birthing Pod, the deck can tutor up either a Qasali Pridemage to deal withSplinter Twin or Cranial Plating, or a Gaddock Teeg to prevent control decks from casting Cryptic Command or board sweepers. To addinsult to the injury, Spellskite is a universally legitimate option that forces any opponent to have two answers to the combo or risk losing onthe subsequent turn.It is possible that the sample size was too small and that the emergence of the 'Pod deck can be attributed to the random distribution of 
Modern Preparations | Blackborder.comhttp://www.blackborder.com/q/node/141123 of 504/02/2012 09:53 a.m.

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