In my previous article (which you can find here), I did a deck tech on BW Tokens in Modern. Just to recap, the decklist is…
4 Tidehollow Sculler
2 Sorin, Lord of Innistrad
Right, so that’s the deck. Let’s get straight into the testing.
I decided to run the deck through a Daily Event on Magic Online. These are simply swiss tournaments with 4 rounds where I need to go 3-1 or 4-0 to win prizes. I would have liked to record it with full commentary, but I’ve recently invested in a new PC and I haven’t gotten round to buying a microphone for it, so no luck there. Hopefully in the near future I will be able to record a Daily Event for this or even for a standard deck or a draft. For now, here is my Daily Event report:
Round 1: UWR Delver
His deck is basically a super fast aggro/control deck that uses Delver of Secrets, Geist of Saint Traft, Steppe Lynx and a ton of burn and counter magic. I lost the die roll and was on the draw. I kept a reasonable hand with Intangible Virtue and 2 Tidehollow Scullers, not knowing what I was playing against.
He led with a turn 1 Steppe Lynx and followed it up with another one on turn 2. I played a Turn 2 Sculler, seeing 3 Lightning Helix and a Lightning Bolt in his hand. So, when he plays a fetch land and swings for 8 I know I’m in trouble and the next turn I was dead to his plethora of burn spells.
On to sideboarding:
In this matchup, discard is awful and I would have taken out all 8 discard spells if I could, but the remaining Scullers were going to be a lot better than all of the alternatives on my board since they at least battle things. I brought in Mindcenser because of how many Fetchlands his deck played and since I could theoretically flash it down in front a flipped Delver and trade with it. Persecution is also pretty sweet since all of his creatures, except for Geist of Saint Traft and Insectile Aberration, die to it!
So, I was on the play for game 2 and kept a sweet hand with an Honor of the Pure and a bunch of Lingering Souls. He led with turn 1 Delver, flipped it on turn 2 and played a second one which flipped on turn 3. I could only play Honor of the Pure on turn 2 but my Lingering Souls made 2 2/2 fliers to get in front of the Delvers.
He then had two Lightning Bolts to kill my guys and swing for 6, dropping me to 10, but I just flashbacked my Lingering Souls to make more blockers. For the rest of the game, he didn’t attack and just played out a Geist of Saint Traft and another creature, especially when my turn 5 land was a Vault of the Archangel, set to put me back in the game whenever I needed.
I finally drew a Raise the Alarm to give me 4 attackers in total and had a Windbrisk Heights with Spectral Procession under it, so I attacked with my 4 2/2s (now lifelinkers thanks to Vault). He had a Path to Exile for 1 of the fliers and took 6 down to 10, putting me to 16, but the End of Combat Spectral Procession forced him to concede the game in the face of so much flying damage and me gaining about 10 life per swing.
In game 3, I admit this was pretty lucky on my part. We both mulled to 6 and I kept a risky hand on the draw of: 2x Zealous Persecution, Timely Reinforcements, Gather the Townsfolk, Intangible Virtue, Isolated Chapel.
We all know the pitfalls of 1-land hands, but I was pretty certain that since my hand was just bonkers with a second land, it was keepable. Funnily enough, I drew a Marsh Flats on turn 1 and led with it. Even more fortunately for me, he only led with a tapped Steam Vents. From then on, he was horrendously mana flooded and I kept drawing into token generators. Whilst he did have plenty of spells, he just saw no creatures, but a ton of counterspells, removal and TWO Volcanic Fallouts so I never managed to get a creature down either.
Mid game, I threw a well-timed Zealous Persecution to wipe the board of the creatures he did draw. I then followed up with a Tidehollow Sculler into his 2 cards and open mana, so he shot me with a Lightning Helix and then flashed it back with Snapcaster Mage so my Sculler missed (hence why I wanted to take it out lol). This dropped me to 3, with 4 open mana of my own.
I was very tempted to play the Gather the Townsfolk that I still had in my hand and get full value out of it (especially as I had 2 Intangible Virtues out by this point), but I also still had Timely Reinforcements and since any burn spell off the top would kill me, I was forced to play Timely to gain me some life and give me no creatures. However, the following turn, the Townsfolk were gathered and now with 3 attackers, I was able to cast a Burrenton Forge-Tender off of a Windbrisk Heights to make sure I wouldn’t lose the following turn and with him now on 2 life, he scooped.
Round 2: U/R Storm
I won the die roll and kept another sweet one with 2 lands, 2 Persecutions, a Sculler and 2 Token makers. I led with a tapped land and he started with an Island and a Sleight of Hand. I followed up with a turn 2 Tidehollow Sculler, taking away a Past in Flames but leaving him with a ton of action. I later Thoughtseized away a Pyretic Ritual, but he then drew a Pyromancer Ascension and that was the game, with no way of me interacting with him further.
Now, I can see from this sideboarding that I don’t have a whole lot to deal with Storm. My main reasoning being that I have focused my sideboarding more towards better and more popular combo decks like Splinter Twin and Melira Pod. But I have 8 discard spells maindecked so I’m more resilient than usual. I boarded out Zealous Persecutions figuring his plan is to burn me out with a Grapeshot and I needed room to bring these cards in. I don’t like the Mindcensor now, but I figured any way of interacting with the opponent, even cutting off fetchlands would be desirable.
So, for game 2 I kept 4 lands with Grafdigger’s Cage, Intangible Virtue and Disenchant. It wasn’t a great hand, but at least it had hate cards in it. I led with a Windbrisk Heights into a turn 2 Cage. Contrary to my sideboarding plans, he had decided to keep Empty the Warrens in his deck and then made 14 goblins on turn 2. Well, that was a fun game… On to round 3 🙁
Round 3: Tezzeret Affinity
I won the roll and I keep another sweet one with a turn 2 Thoughtseize and double Spectral Procession. He led with Darksteel Citadel into Paradise Mantle. My Thoughtseize showed me 4 lands, a Master of Etherium and a Cranial Plating. Figuring I can quite happily race a Master of Etherium, I take the Cranial Plating and pass.
He then draws a Vault Skirge which I’m not too fussed about. I throw down my turn 3 Spectral Procession, ready to block the Skirge and so he plays Master of Etherium but doesn’t attack, fearing a double block. On my turn, I drew a Path to Exile for the Master of Etherium and then attacked, leaving open Zealous Persecution.
On his turn, he attacked with the skirge and played out a Signal Pest, passing again. I swung back with my tokens but again, passed the turn leaving Zealous Persecution open. He then drew and cast Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas and upon trying to make his Skirge a 5/5 guy, I used the Persecution, leaving him with no creatures. On my turn, I killed Tezzeret and made more guys, then an Intangible Virtue the following turn forced the concession.
I had to use a Path to Exile on his Spellskite but by this time, it hadn’t escaped my notice that he only had 1 card left in hand (which ended up being a land) and the only pressure he’d committed to the board was a Vault Skirge and 2 Blinkmoth Nexus.
I cast a Lingering Souls which immediately double blocked the Nexus he attacked with to kill it followed by the Flashback was enough to get him to stop attacking and then a Spectral Procession when he knew I had Sorin in hand was again, enough to force the concession.
Round 4: UWR Delver
Ok, so I didn’t get to play against 4 different decks over 4 rounds of Modern, but I wasn’t too displeased. This matchup seemed good for me and I really wanted to win those 6 boosters. Not to mention I haven’t played against this deck much and wanted to test it more.
On the play, he led with an Island into a Serum Visions. I figured he was therefore on Storm or Splinter Twin, so like an idiot, I cracked a fetchland into an untapped Godless Shrine to Thoughtseize him and uncover a hand of 3 Burn Spells, a Snapcaster Mage and a Geist of Saint Traft and immediately began the facepalming that I’d put myself to 15 life on turn 1 against an aggro deck…
I took his Lightning Helix which was also a bad play considering he only had 1 more land and an Island in play, so he couldn’t cast it yet. In hindsight, I think taking the Snapcaster Mage would have been much better. So, for the rest of the game, I do my best to preserve damage, so a turn 2 Honor of the Pure and a turn 3 Spectral Procession to block his Geist of Saint Traft helped me do that.
He bolted me a couple of times and in no time, I was reduced to 7 life, facing down an active Moorland Haunt and I hadn’t drawn another token maker since my turn 3 Spectral. Luckily, the cards I did draw were removal for his Spirit tokens and I managed to stay on 7 life before drawing a Lingering Souls, which I promptly played for (by this time in the game) 4 3/3 Vigilant Spirit tokens. With only a Geist to defend him and a Vault of the Archangel sitting on my side of the table, he scooped up and we went to game 2.
I then played an Honor of the Pure, which would allow my token to block the Geist of Saint Traft that he played, but I was stuck on two lands. He bolted my token and got in for 6 damage, dropping me to 11. However, I finally got my 3rd land and was able to cast a Spectral Procession to block his Geist, but having done so, he played a second one.
I made a Lingering Souls, but 2 bolts later I had no creatures and he still had Geist active. However, now that I hit my 4th land drop I cast Timely Reinforcements for its full value and a Burrenton Forge-Tender to prevent any Lightning Bolt shenanigans. He tried to attack with Geist but having blocked it, I played another Honor of the Pure and my 9 power vs. his 17 life gave me the match.
And my prize:
First of all, Burrenton Forge-Tender was sweet. I feel that since in that final game I would have been dead to more burn if I didn’t have it, having it there as an extra line of defense was just perfect and I would like to keep the Forge-Tender in the deck.
I found myself boarding Aven Mindcensor in in every game (although it was a mistake to do so against Storm). However, this was purely because I wanted an instant speed flying blocker against these Aggro or Tempo decks. It’s possible that because of this, I’d like to start playing Midnight Haunting again (which was played originally, but removed in favour of Lingering Souls and Gather the Townsfolk) or even Beckon Apparition, which would be a nice graveyard hate card and also a flying blocker. I would like to try and extend this slot to 2 cards and try out Midnight Haunting and Beckon Apparition in place of the Mindcensor.
The maindeck discard was not too great. Although I found myself not wanting it in three of my matchups this is not necessarily a fault with the deck, but it does mean that I might not want the full set of Tidehollow Sculler in the maindeck, rather only have 2 or something, which would free up 2 more slots for perhaps more token cards. I would first like to hopefully play against a deck like Tron or Splinter Twin and see how the discard fares against them before making a decision on the Scullers. But until then, they’ll stay where they are.
So there we have it. I hope this has provided a little insight into this new addition to the Modern gauntlet. If anyone else is testing Modern on Magic Online, I would be very grateful if you’d like to play some games to help me test different matchups with this build. Similarly, if anyone has any thoughts about the deck that they’d like to put forward then I would greatly appreciate feedback. Similarly, if I’ve outlined a play which you disagree with I would also like to hear about it, since it helps me to learn where I may have gone wrong.
I would like to update this article in the near future and show how the deck has developed before the PTQs. For anyone wanting to know, I will be acting as a floor judge at the London PTQ on the 24th of March and will be playing in the Cardiff PTQ on the 31st, so I shall see you all then!