With the release of Modern Horizons modern has undergone a lot of changes since my last update. Big mana decks with Karn have dropped off quite a bit while Humans and UW have risen drastically. Plus The new Hogaak deck has proven itself format warping as well. Due to this I have added an Empty the warrens back into the main over the third remand. Empty is great against this field, gives more payoffs to hit when doing the “need to go off in some way turn 3 or die” sequence, and also freeing up a sideboard slot. This is why I gave it the nod over Unsubstantiate. The only other change in the main deck is the one Fiery Islet over a Shivan Reef. While the card draw is nice it doesn’t come up too often and the damage over Reef comes up more, so just having access to the 1 has felt right.
In the sideboard there are only 3 changes. The Wipe Away has become a Rebuild since Wipe is a bit clunky, new Teferi appearing in multiple decks now makes it even less appealing, and now with Hogaak making lots of graveyard hate needed in the format prison/chalice decks are much better and by having cycling gives us another name still for gifts if we only expect artifact hate from an opponent. Another change is the addition of Aria of Flame over the Empty the Warrens slot and Negate. This is mainly here to serve where Pyromancer Ascension has in the past only now we get to exploit those deck’s current heavy graveyard hate reliance. One thing to note about Aria though is that we want to send it out last when they have 4+ answers in their deck as the life gain does hurt the empty plan more in this order. The final change is trading out the Grapeshot for a dismember. This is mainly due to not feeling the extra Grapeshot is really needed against Phoenix or control anymore, especially with Aria helping out there, plus having another named instant speed removal spell that’s commonly “free” against humans and other creature combo is better.
OTHER MH1 CARDS
Fact or Fiction: I tested FoF in most of my leagues this week and it has definitely over performed but just due to the current speed and mass amounts of graveyard hate I have preferred Pieces of the Puzzle. If the meta slows down though I’m definitely much more interested in putting this back in.
Flusterstorm: I really liked Flusterstorm but again here the problem mainly came down to it only being good against a smaller section of where we normally want counters. Such as now countering Walkers is important against UW. The many loot synergy with Baral was promising though and here a meta shift would make this an easy include.
Shenanigans: I haven’t gotten to testing with Shenanigans yet as the main times I’ve wanted extra artifact removal in addition to Abrade I’ve wanted a “reset the board” card due mainly to Chalice and welding jars, over reusable single removal. This does have a lot of nice synergy with Gifts so its not out of the question for the future just currently I don’t see where it would be much better than Rebuild.
Below I will outline the Hate Cards, Sideboarding, and general game plans for the most popular matchups currently and any matchups that have stayed the same will be the same as was presented in the last blog post,
Hate: Surgical, Ravenous Trap, Dispel, Spell Pierce
In: 2 Aria of Flame, 1 Empty the Warrens, 3 Pieces of the Puzzle, 1 Echoing Truth
Out: 3 Gifts Ungiven, 1 Past in Flames, 2 Goblin Electromancer, 1 Remand
Preboard: Here their main plan is to execute which ever of their plans that gives them the fastest start against us is while holding up minimal reaction for that window turn. This is commonly either a bolt or or Surgical so we should be playing a reactive game until this point where we try to set up either a huge turn to be able to brute force through a surgical (usually via gifts with enough floating we can then flashback PiF right after before priority is given to the opponent) or to have a nice Grapeshot + Remand kill. I would like to note here though that the remands should be valued quite highly and not just used for tempo as they are vert good for combo turns by not just remanding Grapeshot for the kill but to also protect our bears since they commonly tap low as mentioned on said window turn. Another thing I would also like to note in the matchup currently is that the main decking of Surgical is no longer almost guaranteed. There is not a large portion the has replaced them with Gut Shot in response to the rise of Humans and reduction in graveyard decks. Thus if you see Gut Shot before going off you have a high likelyhood that there is no main deck graveyard hate.
Postboard: Here not much changes on their side except they have more copies of graveyard hate cards (Surgical and Ravenous Trap) and they gain a few 1 mana counterspells. For us meanwhile we gain a more resilient main engine in Pieces over gifts and now that we have Empty we can produce another angle of attack only it just requires making sure there is no Thing in the Ice to stop it in time. Due to the removal of Flame Slash I leave in the repeal now to still have 2 answers to Thing but also this helps us against their Ascension draws as well which are becoming more common due to their lower number of graveyard hate cards and trying to “flip the script” on our current plan of the responsive role in the matchup. Note here though that we are still “the control” so that there is no clear plan A to force before we even start playing postboard, it is still quite dependent on the direction the opponent takes most of the time. Also now we have the angle of attack from Aria of Flame. Here the plan is to just jam it whenever we can get it to resolve and just then cast spells as they have no way other than Echoing Truth to deal with it and they are usually too slow to beat turn 3 Aria untap cast 7+ spells.
Hate: Relic of Progenitus, Surgical Extraction, Thought-Knot Seer, Graf-Diggers Cage
In: 3 Pieces of the Puzzle, 1 Echoing Truth
Out: 1 Gifts Ungiven, 1 Past in Flames, 1 Repeal, 1 Sleight of Hand
Preboard: Here usually it is just a big race where we will slam a bear on turn 2 almost any chance we can (with few exceptions) and we just try to combo off on turn 3. Note that this will entail a lot of “hope you don’t have the Karn/natural Tron” type plays that we just have to jam into. While usually the traditional scenario above is how we play this matchup out new Karn has changed it a bit, as casting him with tron on turn 3-4 is similar to how it would play out with old Karn only now the path to winning is a significantly lower percent due to prison elements being very hard for us to beat game one, especially when we only really have one turn to answer it before the Lattice combo comes online. So this doesn’t change our play much since it still is the same basically the same effect as when they cast a planeswalker before but does significantly affect our ability to remand it with 8+ mana on their side due to them being able to “wish” for Tormod’s Crypt. Beware that the opponent does also have many Relics main that can come down any turn so it is still important to always keep the Remand + Grapeshot line in mind when sculpting and casting Remands.
Postboard: With New Karn, they have severely limited boarding options so it will typically be limited to about 2-3 cards in the form of Thought-Knot Seer and/or Surgical Extraction, as opposed to the previous 4-5 pieces at least. They also now typically have basically no removal so our bears are even safer but our main plan is still the same as before, we just lean a little harder on Remand + Grapeshot.
Hate: Counterspells, Surgical Extraction, Rest in Peace, Damping Sphere, Relic of Progentinus, Teferi, Time Raveler, Force of Negation
In: 3 Pieces of the Puzzle, 2 Empty the Warrens, 2 Aria of Flame
Out: 2 Gifts Ungiven, 1 Past in Flames, 1 Pyretic Ritual, 1 Desperate Ritual, 2 Goblin Electromancer
Preboard: Here our main plan is to make land drops and not fall behind there as we usually have inevitability in the matchup. Also we are almost always looking to jam a bear early as they have little removal outside of Path to Exile (which also ramps us and plays into our make land drops strategy). We are here just looking for the right window which the opponent will most of the time have to give us (usually by tapping low for a Jace/ Old Teferi) and then just capitalize on our mana advantage to kill them. Here we also sometimes will cast Gifts end of their turn to also produce a counter fight we intend to lose to produce the same effect. While our traditional strategy above is the plan we’d really like to still happen with the addition of new Teferi they can hamper our try to tap them down its gifts, remand plans, and our usual ritual a few times in response to removal that we lean on later for bears. To combat this we should still be jamming bears early but also but them playing these walkers they give us more opportunities that they will tap lower themselves (similar to Jace and Old Teferi) so we should be looking out for these as well. Note that they also play Narset, Parter of Veils which while cary doesn’t actually interact with us much outside our cantrips (Serum Visions and Manamorphose in particular as opt can be cast on their turn and Sleight doesn’t technically draw a card), as combing off we don’t actually need to draw cards. Also to note some versions are running Force of Negation main deck now so we do have to also consider that when they give us windows by tapping down and sometimes will just have to play hoping they don’t have it.
Postboard: Here we have Empty as another angle of attack against them that isn’t commonly use for a go big and hope it wins line but instead as small waves of attacks (ie empty for 4-6 goblins) that force the opponent into sub games they need to solve with expensive answers such as Supreme Verdict or Detention Sphere. Thus then forcing a window for us to then go off with grapeshot. Also important to note is that these mini waves while probably not lethal by the time they are handled do make the double grapeshot/grapeshot+remand lines much easier to accomplish as the opponent will likely be at 13 or less life. Again here while the above is still what we want to do we should currently put a higher priority on mini Empty lines as with more planes walkers and additional permanent based hate, such as Damping Sphere and Rest in Peace, as well as removal of terminus they are even more ill equipped to deal with the waves. Also note that here they are stronger against our grapeshot remand lines due to Teferi so we should also be willing to “cycle” them for tempo a bit more often than in the past. Here the above still holds and we also gain the addition of Aria to serve as pseudo Empty 4-5. Since UW has lots of bounce and answers to it in Teferi, Sphere, Celestial Purge, and Cryptic Command we also will try to make Aria the last “wave” as the answers to it and Empty overlap a bit so we can try to draw those answers out first.
Hate: Leyline of the Void, Damping Sphere
In: 3 Pieces of the Puzzle, 1 Empty the Warrens, 1 Echoing Truth
Out: 3 Gifts Ungiven, 1 Past in Flames, 1 Remand
Preboard: Here it is a pure race where we really just hope they don’t have the crazy present 8+ power on turn 2 draw or to play around Conflagrate. Other than that though they have no instant speed interaction so we just hope to either stick a turn 2 bear or turn 3 bear plus remand to buy time/combo off.
Postboard: Here they now gain meaningful interaction for bears in Lightning Axe while also making our graveyard very unreliable due to Leyline. Thus we do switch over to Pieces and Empty here. One thing to note though is that due to Creeping Chill Empty the Warrens have to be for large quantities here a lot (12+ Goblins) most of the time to clock the opponent in time.
Hate: Hate bears, Damping Sphere, Grafdigger’s Cage, Leyline of the Void, Ravenous Trap
In: 3 Lighting Bolt, 2 Abrade, 1 Dismember, 1 Echoing Truth
Out: 2 Remand, 2 Sleight of Hand, 1 Pyretic Ritual, 1 Desperate Ritual, 1 Peer Through Depths
Preboard: Here it is all about how interactive the opponents draw is and whether or not we can jam a bear on turn 2. Besides Grapeshot we have no good interaction main deck to go against them so we typically just try to execute our combo or mow down their whole board with Grapeshot. We are a bit weak to them with this build game 1 due no Unsubstantiate. So if you have any opportunity to use a remand for any value its almost always correct to take it. We do also have Empty now as another “out” so it’ll take 3 to lock us now instead of 2.
Postboard: Now we board in a lot of removal so we take on the control role and just try to kill everything interactive as well as keep their clock in check. By siding out the rituals we make sure we are less likely to flood out with nothing to do as we are trying to extend the game. We are still all about jamming bears on turn 2 as it gives us our best weapon vs Thalia and maximizes our ability to dig for removal if needed. Note here that they now commonly bring in lots of artifact based hate so the abrades are extra valuable. Also this generally slows them down as they have a less consistent deck and thus we still can maintain the plan of answer creatures then just deal with sphere later. Note here that while humans hasn’t really changed strategically much after War of the Spark for us we should expect our first bear to be answered much more often due to the uptick in number of Dismember being run in their Sideboard, as well as Deputy of Detentions. Also now another thing we must consider is the presence of either Leyline of the Void or Ravenoous Trap. This is why we keep in the copy of empty and also when going off we can use techniques from forcing them to play it and then rebuilding the graveyard or playing just a ritual then Past in Flames to not trigger the trap condition. While this seems quite scary they are still a critical mass deck and every hate card they draw does slow them down on average (think similar to burn when they draw rest in peace).
Grixis Death’s Shadow
Hate: Discard, Stubborn Denial, Surgical Extraction, Nihil Spellbomb
In: 3 Pieces of the Puzzle, 2 Empty the Warrens, 1 Echoing Truth, 1 Dismember, 2 Aria of Flame
Out: 3 Gifts Ungiven, 1 Past in Flames, 2 Remand, 1 Repeal, 2 Goblin Electromaner
Preboard: Here they will be attacking us on many axis starting on turn 1 so we will have to hope to survive a while. The biggest part of the matchup preboard is determined by their draw and how fast they get out a 4+ power threat to turn on Stubborn Denial. One thing to note here though is due to their life total being <11 much of the time we can piece together lots of low resource and/or bearless kills against.
Postboard: Here they now mostly just gain graveyard interaction but we gain Empty as just 4-6 goblins is commonly enough to threaten death to them quite quickly. Also Pieces is a bigger upgrade to Gifts then usual are we not only dodge graveyard hate but we dodge non ferocious Stubborn Denials easier and Disdainful Stroke. Again here the most common way we will lose is due to a threat by turn 3 from them with backup. We also now gain a huge tool in Aria of Flame as the life gain works against their shadows (which are also the worst starts for us). With all of their life loss we will commonly only need to cast 5-6 spells after to win the game. This is where Aria truly shines. Note though that here we are leaving in a lot of the bears unlike in many previous board strategies, this is due to them boarding down to 4 removal commonly, them being unable to counter bears with their current choices in counter magic, ease with which sticking one lets us “mini” go off from heavy discard starts from the opponent, and the chip damage from attacking not being irrelevant.
Hate: Bojuka Bog, Negate, Pact of Negation, Karn, the Great Creator
In: 2 Abrade, 1 Echoing Truth
Out: 1 Sleight of Hand, 1 Empty the Warrens, 1 Repeal
Preboard: This is a pure race where they do have main deck interaction with one way being Bojuka bog, but without a Tribe Scout it is only sorcery speed so can still be played around, and now the addition of Karn which can easily fetch a Tormod’s Crypt to hold off our graveyard a turn then they Lattice us out . Basically this plays out similar to a faster Tron matchup from our perspective, only now its much closer than before new Karn. So the whole game should center around landing a turn 2 bear, but one small difference from this to the tron matchup when considering whether to jam or hold up remand it is here much more often we hold up remand if they have the ability to cast a titan or Karn (with replaying it) the next turn with amulet in play. Also would like to note that now if they assemble 10 mana it is basically game over with just a Karn, while before most threatening Titan turns would need an Amulet in the first 4-5 turns.
Postboard: Now they gain ways to interact with our bears in Path to Exile but we are still on the racing plan. Also some builds might not run white anymore but will still have removal in either the form of Dismember or Assassin’s Trophy. We also gain ways to kill or bounce scout and Azuza so if we can do that and we are getting pathed (or dismembered) we have hopefully slowed them down enough to then be on the same speed as us thus giving us and edge due to Remand. Also even though we are still racing we must give consideration to any untapped blue and if they have 5+ mana with 2 or more of it being blue due to Negate and Pact. Also note that we have boarded in the Negate as we are still very afraid of Karn. This is the matchup most affected by the new addition of Karn though as they not only can lock us but still have their normal game plan to race us, epscially when we are on the draw.
Hate: Grafdigger’s Cage, Damping Sphere, Surgical Extraction
In: 2 Pieces of the Puzzle, 2 Abrade, 1 Echoing Truth, 1 Rebuild, 2 Lightning Bolt, 2 Aria of Flame
Out: 2 Remand, 2 Gifts Ungiven, 1 Past in Flames, 1 Pyretic Ritual, 1 Desperate Ritual, 2 Goblin Electromancer, 1 Empty the Warrens
Preboard: Here they have no real way to interact with us outside of Walking Ballista so we are on the jam bears and hope to not die on turn 3 plan a lot. Also since their deck is slower than normal affinity and has a lot of 2 drops sometimes it is correct to hold up remand instead since they are typically quite bad in the faster matchups we can still find a way to time walk them more often that we’d expect
Postboard: Now instead of fearing basically nothing we are expecting to always see a fair amount of hate so we turtle up a bit and side out some rituals to function similarly to hoe we do against humans post board. The major difference being that they have welding jar so bounce goes up in value. Here is also where Rebuild Shines as we have basically an instant speed shatterstorm that can also cycle if needed. We also here gain Aria as they do slow themselves down a lot to play a lot of permanent and graveyard hate (with basically no enchantment answers against us) so we can just play Aria and win through the hate quite often.
Hate: Eidolon of the Great Revel, Rest in Peace
In: 2 Empty the Warrens, 3 Lighting Bolt, 1 Echoing Truth
Out: 2 Sleight of Hand, 2 Remand, 1 Gifts Ungiven, 1 Repeal, 1 Peer through Depths
Preboard: Here the strategy is mostly to hope for no Eidolon or have the answer to it ready all while in a racing scenario. Barring that though we will just want to set up a fast kill and if we have drawn multiple bears to hope they don’t have searing blaze and to use them as “healing salves” to extend the game as burn has a harder time dealing 23+ damage
Postboard: Now we again gain the extra plan of Empty and a quick one for 10 + goblins is usually enough. We are weaker to their pure burn based draws now but are much stronger against Eidolon or Rest in Peace due to Empty. We are also more able to handle the Eidolon draws similar to game 1 due to the extra removal, but this matchup is still quite unfavorable to we just have to hope these small edges can get us there.
Hate: Leyline of the Void, Lightning Axe, Discard
In: 3 Pieces of the Puzzle, 2 Empty the Warrens, 1 Echoing Truth, 1 Abrade
Out: 2 Gifts Ungiven, 1 Past in Flames, 1 Repeal, 2 Sleight of Hand, 1 Remand
Preboard: Here it is a pure race. We are just trying to goldfish as they have no interaction against us and we have a slightly faster goldfish than they do. Their main way to beat us is with their Alter of Dementia draws to mill us out.
Postboard: Now it gets a bit trickier as they have Leyline of the Void but Empty the Warrens isn’t that great due to them getting lots of creatures quickly. While that is true outside of multiple bridges or alter in play we can empty for 12+ early to get in a swing or 2 that can kill them due to them having to deal 3-4 to themselves most games. and all their non bridge creatures can’t really block well. Also this means that the medium Empty + Grapeshot (or even better Grapeshot + Remand) combo offs are also quite effective to set up a lethal position for the following turn. We board in abrade over a remand since we don’t really want 2 of either and their main way to win post board is for us failing to overcome a leyline or them alter combing us.
Hate: Surgical Extraction, Tormod’s Crypt, Ravenous Trap
In: 3 Pieces of the Puzzle, 2 Empty the Warrens, 3 Lighting Bolt, 2 Aria of Flame
Out: 3 Gifts Ungiven, 1 Past in Flames, 2 Goblin Electromancer, 1 Repeal, 1 Peer Through Depths, 2 Remand
Preboard: Here this is just a pure race. This is similar to burn on they are faster and have to tappet much more often. Most times we just try to goldfish on turn 3-4 when they usually will tap low. Also since we have so many bears using our extras of them as “healing salves” is still effective.
Postboard: Now they usually only have graveyard hate in addition to their burn but no answers to Empty usually. Thus here the game plan is simply to try and combo on turn 3 where also letting Empty for 10+ being good enough. Their deck is very reliant on their prowess creatures connecting so lightning bolts here are also highly valuable and we should kill any of those creatures as soon as possible. We also gain Aria of Flame as another win condition we can jam early, since they have no answers for it.
Devoted Druid Combo
Hate: Scavenging Ooze, Eidolon of Rhetoric, Rest in Peace, hate bears
In: 3 Lighting Bolt, 2 Abrade, 1 Dismember, 1 Echoing Truth
Out: 1 Pyretic Ritual, 1 Desperate Ritual, 2 Remand, 2 Sleight of Hand, 1 Empty the Warrens
Preboard: here we are just racing them by jamming a bear as early as possible and then either combing off or setting up a big Grapeshot to kill the opponents board or remand plus win the turn after. Note here that when thinking about holding up remand on turn 2 it is usually correct to play a bear over it as if they will have 4 mana available they can just cast and recast the vizier to combo off or if they don’t have druid we are safe for a turn anyway.
Postboard: Now pasteboard they will have silver bullet hatebears (usually Eidolon of Rhetoric) and graveyard hate. The game plan here is similar to humans only here their creatures aren’t usually disruptive and many of them do nothing quickly on their own (such as Vizier or Birds) so our removal is even more effective. The main difference from game 1 here is just us commonly needing to have enough different named removal/bounce spells to answer Eidolon and then go off.
Hate: Chalice of the Void, Karn the Great Creator, Thought-Knot Seer, Leyline of the Void