Modern Testing – Wisdom Fae Under The Bridge with Graeme McIntyre

Wisdom Fae Under The Bridge – The Impact of the Growth of Magic the Gathering for UK PTQ Grinders

Wisdom Fae Under the Bridge – Getting Started in Modern Testing


The Manchester PTQ didn’t go as well as I had hoped. At the time I was particularly disappointed, as I thought my pool was more than sufficient to the task, although in retrospect I lost to Detention Sphere taking out two Wayfaring Temples, and Collective Blessing in games two and three against Duncan Tang, and Vitu-ghazi Guildmage in games two and three against Mick Edwards, all of which are very good cards, and my deck was light on removal.

I guess Armada Wurm, double Wayfaring Temple, Deadbridge Goliath, Vitu-ghazi Guildmage and Korozda Guildmage just wasn’t enough!

Still, I played Duncan Tang, Bradley Barclay, James Love and Mick Edwards as four out of my five opponents, which feels like a reasonably tough PTQ, and I did get to see Greg Shanks progress to the final of the tournament, which was really nice to see.


I had a pretty tough time of it in this format last year, being very consistently crushed. I played Zoo in one PTQ, and got crushed because it couldn’t cope with the wide range of combo decks in the field and then blue black Delver in two more events, both of which I was also crushed in. By the end, I regretted having not chosen a proactive strategy and simply rolling the dice like everyone else, because the limited number of people I was working with (Ross Jenkins, Bradley Barclay and myself) was simply not enough to cover the width of the format, and as such building a control deck was close to impossible; we simply couldn’t get enough accurate information upon which to build the deck.

This year, I’m working with a larger group of people largely as a result of my poor performance last year. To begin with, we will be testing a wide range of decks against Jund, to see which – if any – decks consistently beat or hold their own against it. This deck is in many respects doing what I was hoping to do last year (e.g. have a good game against most decks, and avoid being ruined by people’s sideboard cards), and while that doesn’t make it particularly good in and of itself, it will represent in large numbers at most PTQs.

The additions of Deathrite shaman is very strong, shoring the decks combo matches up a little (being able to remove cards in their graveyard will be a very important function), managing other people’s It also allows the deck to splash [card]Lingering Souls">Tarmogoyf[card] (and as such gaining ground against the other midrange decks) and providing more good draws (through the acceleration the card provides in combination with the sac lands).

It also allows the deck to splash [card]Lingering Souls, a highly problematic card, which makes Delver of Secrets, Geist of Saint Traft and Squadron hawk all substantially worse. Abrupt decay – a great card all on its own – is pretty much just the icing on the cake. This deck should play be a central component of everyone’s gauntlet for modern.


Pyromancer Ascension

Pyromancer Ascension is another important deck in the format, with the ability to kill opponents on turn 3 occasionally, and regularly on turn 4. This deck has gained Goblin Electromancer who is functionally very close to a Ruby Medallion and [/card]Sapphire Medallion[/card] combined, which is certainly pretty exciting.

It suffers from being a creature in an otherwise creatureless deck, but the raw power it offers is very difficult to pass up. Often the tempo loss involved in killing the goblin will give the Ascension player the extra turn required to combo off, anyway. It’s pretty cheap to build, so naturally very common in online daily events, but it is also a real deck worth taking seriously.

Misty Rainforest
Scalding Tarn
Shivan Reef
Steam Vents
Goblin Electromancer
3 Desperate Ravings
4 Desperate Ritual
Gitaxian Probe
Increasing Vengeance
Past in Flames
Pyretic Ritual
Pyromancer Ascension
Seething Song
Serum Visions
Sleight of Hand

R/G Tron

Red Green Tron is a deck which is doing pretty well in modo dailies, utilizing a wide range of cheap cantrip artifacts which filter for coloured mana to both mitigate for the 13 colourless land the deck plays, and providing a limited degree of search at the same time.

I must confess to a lack of knowledge in regard to this deck, which has in previous incarnations always played blue for card draw and counter magic; I must say I don’t really see strength of this deck over other combo decks in the format. However, it is doing pretty well, nd should be a consideration. It’s also why you’ll see the odd sowing salts in people’s sideboards.

Eye of Ugin
Ghost Quarter
Grove of the Burnwillows
Temple Garden
Urza’s Mine
Urza’s Power Plant
Urza’s Tower
Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
Wurmcoil Engine
Ancient Stirrings
Chromatic Sphere
4 Chromatic Star
Expedition Map
Karn Liberated
1 Mindslaver
Oblivion Stone
4 Pyroclasm
Relic of Progenitus
Sylvan Scrying


Affinity is still a real deck and should be part of everyone’s gauntlet if for no other reason than it racks up so many wins because people don’t bother with appropriate sideboard cards, or just play a couple of ancient grudge and assume it’s an auto win.

That’s simply not the case. Decks differ in regard to their coloured spells (red for burn spells like Shrapnel Blast and Galvanic Blast, or blue for Master of Etherium and Thoughtcast), but all contain a density of artefact creatures which combine to be more than the sum of their parts. This deck is pretty vulnerable to spell snare, which counters a lot of its major threats.

Blinkmoth Nexus
Darksteel Citadel
Inkmoth Nexus
Arcbound Ravager
Master of Etherium
4 Memnite
Signal Pest
Steel Overseer
Vault Skirge
Cranial Plating
Mox Opal
Springleaf Drum
Welding Jar


I was pretty surprised to see it, but there are decks which plan on putting 10 poision counters on their opponent, by casting Giant Growth on Glistener Elf and friends. I expect this deck will decline as the format progresses and people have played against it a bit because the deck has virtually no disruption other than vines of vastwood, and there are some excellent removal spells in the format (although the list I’m suggesting has more disruption, this is atypical; I’d build this list because it will make encourage playing round the disruption, instead of getting blown out).

Once people learn to take it seriously, and click to the idea that the deck can kill you on turn 3 without much trouble if it’s left to its own devices this deck will probably decline. That said my expectations of the deck are based on my own failure to fully take it seriously, so maybe it’s going to be around forever. Cards like engineered explosives and ratchet bombwill punish this deck hard.

Breeding Pool
Dryad Arbor
Inkmoth Nexus
1 Island
Misty Rainforest
Temple Garden
Verdant Catacombs
Blighted Agent
Glistener Elf
Ichorclaw Myr
Noble Hierarch
Apostle’s Blessing
2 Gitaxian Probe
Might of Old Krosa
Ranger’s Guile
Spell Pierce
Sylvan Scrying
Vines of Vastwood

U/W Midrange 

U/W Midrange is the deck with counterspells I would start with. The does reasonably well on modo, casts Cryptic Command and Geist of Saint Traft, and doesn’t really suffer to any particular sideboard cards. Naturally this is the deck I’m playing on modo atm. It seems solid enough, and I’m generally very happy to see a steam vents on turn one, do OK against Jund, but struggle against poison.

4Snapcaster Mage
4 Geist of Saint Traft
3 Vendilion Clique
4 Restoration Angel
4 Mana Leak
4 Spell Snare
4 Path to Exile
3 Cryptic Command
2 Dismember
2 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
4 Celestial Colonnade
4 Ceachrome Coast
3 Hallowed Fountain
1 Steam Vents
3 Tectonic Edge
4 Scalding Tarn
1 Eiganjo Castle
1 Plains
5 Island



Finally, I would build Burn. This deck is really dull to play with, and frustrating to play against, but it is also cheap, and probably has a reasonable Jund match up. The way to look at this deck is as a combo deck that simply tries to cast 7 spells over the course of a game, sometimes less. It’s not realistic to expect your deck to be able to beat it or disrupt it sufficiently before it has dealt 20 *that* consistently. This deck is often dismissed because a chimp could play it, but this is not a good reason to dismiss it.

Arid Mesa
Scalding Tarn
Teetering Peaks
Goblin Guide
Grim Lavamancer
Hellspark Elemental
Keldon Marauders
Spark Elemental
Vexing Devil
Flames of the Blood Hand
Lava Spike
Lightning Bolt
Rift Bolt
Searing Blaze
Shard Volley


It is worth noting that this is just what I would start with. The format is huge; on the way home from Sheffield we counted 28 different decks that were worth considering in the format. I think these decks form the core of the metagame at the moment however, so it’s a good idea to get going with them first, then in a couple of weeks, once you have worked out how these decks interact, consider what deck you might like to play and run it up against these.

That’s it for this week!




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Graeme McIntyre
I've been playing magic since the end of Rath Block, and I've been a tournament regular since Invasion Block. I started studying for a PhD in Sociology at University of Leicester in 2017. I was born In Scotland, but moved to Nottingham three years ago, seeking new oppertunities both academic and magical. I play regularly with David Inglis, Alastair Rees and Neil Rigby. I've been on 5 Pro Tours the 2016 English World Cup Team, and Scottish 2003 European Championship Team, but what I really bring to the table is experience. I've played 136 Pro Tour Qualifiers, 18 Grand Prixs, 11 National Championships, 13 World Magic Cup Qualifers, 51 Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifiers and more little tournaments than I can remember. More than anything else, my articles are intended to convey the lessons of this lived experience. Likes - robust decks, be they control, midrange, beatdown or combo. Cryptic Commands, Kird Apes and Abzan Charms. Dislikes - decks that draw hot and cold. Urza's Tower, Life From the Loam and Taigam's Scheming.