Crucible of Words – Modern from the Inside Out by Cyrus Bales

Crucible of Words – How do you solve a problem like a Mindsculptor? By Cyrus Bales


Whilst I’m sure many of you are sick of reading articles about Modern by now, I thought as someone competed in Pro Tour Philadelphia I should chime in, especially considering some of the Wizards coverage and metagame breakdown doesn’t quite reflect the true nature of the format.

As for myself, I had worked out that the format was all about turn 3-5 kills, whether it’s Pyromancer’s Ascension, Zoo, Twin, Hive Mind or Post. So I went with the plan to win earlier, averaging turn 2-3 (with a possible turn one kill), I settled on Goblin Storm. There were some obvious issues with the deck, whilst being the fastest, it was not the most reliable and could be disrupted, but I felt the raw speed was enough to make it work, and after all, Ponder, Preordain and Peer Through Depths had made it a lot more consistent than I expected it to be.

I was going to write a tournament report, but the nature of the format made the match overviews seem somewhat brief and uninteresting, there’s only so many times you can make 13 hasty 2/1 goblins and make it entertaining to read. Instead I’ll give you the brief overview.

Beat a Jund player on turn 2 and then on turn 3.

Lost to UR Twin who mulled to five including Gemstone Caver since I couldn’t find Empty the Warrens after ten turns from my double Preordain hand.

Lost to G-Post after then turn 3 Emrakul’d me on my mull to five. Then lost when he Scapeshifted into a fifth land (after only sacking four) which gave him perfect Emrakul mana, and the judge felt only a warning was necessary.

Lost to UG post who drew their singleton Mindbreak Trap in their opening grip for game three when I had the turn one kill…

Beat an Affinity player after losing game one. A long game two(four turns in this format) led to him dropping his entire hand on turn one in game three, but I just killed him on my first turn despite his three blockers.

I then went on to 2-1 the draft finishing 4-4 and missing out on day two. Considering the top Modern list on points over the weekend was a Goblin Storm list similar to mine, I feel my deck was a pretty fine choice.


Preamble over, what I’d really like to talk about, is the format as a whole. Today, posted a metagame breakdown that I feel was very misleading. By lumping all the Cloudpost decks together, UG, mono G and RG, it massively skews the numbers. The strongest build is the RG Through the Breach deck, since it has the options to interact with opponent’s more, as well as using the above card to shut down a game much easier. By putting it together with the non-interactive builds, it shows the deck to have an unfavourable Zoo match up which is far from the truth.

Also, using a sample size of two Next Level Blue decks and one Faeries deck to show control as alive and well is clearly unhelpful. I’m sure all the teams from around the world thought about control decks, I know I did and I find it impossible to believe Channel Fireball didn’t test them, and the sample size of the pro’s testing will be much greater than just ten matches per list. Which means they tested them thoroughly and actively decided they were not viable, I even tested Lightning Angel control in search of a good control deck.

So, where next for modern?

Combo is clearly in charge, all the top decks were combo aside from Zoo, and Affinity, Affinity being the closest to combo and aggro deck can get. Talking to other players at the event, we were all in agreement that the banned list needs some alteration. There needs to be an incentive to run control, unbanning Ancestral Vision is a good example, since it’s unplayable in fast combo decks and gives control deck a cheap and important refill to continue controlling the game. Jace, The Mind Sculptor is another engine, but could be too powerful to take off the list just yet. Bitterblossom would dramatically impact the format, allowing a control deck to have a cheap threat that they could sit on whilst controlling the game. Mental Misstep is a card that should remain banned, since it would give the combo decks a free protection spell and help them far more than control decks.

In terms of banning cards, either Cloudpost or Emrakul are prime candidates since they invalidate all midrange strategies. Next is Deceiver Exarch, still allowing Pestermite to make the combo work, but the cheap cost and big toughness of the Exarch makes it incredibly resistant to hate. Blazing Shoal is a card that enables a deck that seems to be rather potent and has the ability to protect itself incredibly well. Historically, free spells have always been too good, and this is one that wins you the game, a case for its banning could easily be made. Other than that, Rite of Flame is the only other card I could agree to banning, it enables the combo decks by that extra turn to make them unfair, by removing this, it at least stops turn one kills being easy and gives players time to impact a game.

I guess we can just wait and see how Innistrad affects the format and whether the ban list changes before the Modern PTQ season.

As a bonus, what I should have tested and tuned in hindsight:

4 Hedron Crab
4 Archive Trap
3 Surgical Extraction
1 Mindbreak Trap
1 Ravenous Trap
2 Trapmaker’s Snare

4 Preordain
4 Ponder
4 Visions of Beyond
4 Explore
3 Scapeshift

4 Shelldock Isle
4 Breeding Pool
4 Misty Rainforest
4 Scalding Tarn
4 Verdant Catacomb
1 Watery Grave
1 Oboro, Palace in the Clouds
2 Island
2 Forest

1 Surgical Extraction
2 Ravenous Trap
2 Mindbreak Trap
3 Engineered Explosives
3 Vendillion Clique
2 Vedalken Shackles
2 Ensnaring Bridge

I wish I had tested this build and tuned it, I feel it could have been a good choice, the option to play more black cards like Glimpse The Unthinkable is something I would have liked to test. If the format doesn’t change by the Modern PTQ season, expect an updated version of this build.

Thanks for reading and thanks for sharing.



Please let us know what you think below...

Visit our Manaleak online store for the latest Magic: the Gathering singles, spoilers, exclusive reader offers, sales, freebies and more!

Magic The Gatherig Freebies Giveaways