Modern Tournament Report – What I saw, learnt, and played by Ru Macdonald

Modern Tournament Report – What I saw, learnt, and played by Ru Macdonald

Last weekend I attended my first Modern competition at Spellbound Games, Glasgow. The format is so much more powerful than Standard and I did not own a Tier.X deck.

I envisioned waves of Tarmogoyfs rumbling in backed up by an on-my-draw-step Vendilion Clique. Fortunately, these cards are pretty expensive so it was a little bit more diverse than that!


There were over 30 people there, with the following decks making an appearance:

  • Birthing Pod (Kiki and Melira)
  • Zoo
  • Affinity/Robots
  • Emrakul/Griselbrand Reanimator
  • Infect (Mono Black and Simic)
  • Storm
  • RUG control
  • Splintertwin
  • UWR control
  • Junk
  • Faeries
  • Dimir Control/Misthollow Griffin
  • U/W Heroic (a rogue brew)

These were what I saw through watching, playing and hearing about, though I am sure there were quite a few more.

Everyone was conscious of the Cat (Wild Nacatl) and how you need to have some main-deckable game against a 1mana 3/3. With Deathrite Shaman gone persist creatures such as Kitchen Finks get better, which is convenient as it does some overtime against Zoo.

The departure of the 1mana planeswalker also left Scavenging Ooze solely shouldering the mantle of ‘maindeck grave-hate’. I did not see any Living End decks, but I am confident they would have done well against the creature decks at least. Similarly, Dredge is solidly poised against control, should the meta swing more heavily in the ‘permission’ mages favour.

Thragtusk Banner

My Deck

Once upon a time…

Before Spellbound Games had a shop and store front, it was a small room in a street of warehouses in the south side of Glasgow. I remember drafting and playing Sealed for the first time here, but more importantly, the best Chicken Chips & Cheese ever from a local kebab shop. During a Timespiral Sealed I had both Whitemane Lion and Mangara of Coronder in my pool, and my friend Larry explained the synergy between these two.

Image (8)

These were early days for me, and it helped me understand how the ‘stack’ works a bit better. For those of you unaware of these two cards forbidden relationship, let me explain.

  • Activate Mangara of Corondor to exile target permanent of your opponents.
  • In response (Exile ability is still on the stack) you flash in Whitemane Lion.
  • Whitemane Lion resolves and you put his “Return a creature” trigger on to the stack, on top of the exile trigger.
  • This trigger resolves first and you dutifully return Mangara to your hand.
  • Then the exile trigger resolves and exiles the targeted permanent and… nope –  Mangara is gone! No exiling for him, he’s safe in your hand with a hot water bottle.

Not long after, I set about making a deck based around this form of abuse. I have an appreciation for ‘blink/flicker’  based mechanics as it essentially gives your creatures pseudo shroud for the best part, while gaining you incremental value.

I remember when the deck used to re-use Icatian Javelineers and reset the Vanishing timer on Calciderm. In time though, it became more tweaked and polished…and added green for Mystic Snake.

It is the most recent iteration of the deck that I decided to Modernize and bring to the tournament. I did not rate my chances too highly, but knew I would have a ton of fun with it.

Here it is then, my rogue brew “Bant Midrange with a pinch of Combo/Control”, or as I like to call it –


Snaketusk art

Arid Mesa
Breeding Pool
Glacial Fortress
Hallowed Fountain
Marsh Flats
Misty Rainforest
Scalding Tarn
Seachrome Coast
Temple Garden
Serum Visions
Path to Exile
Momentry Blink
Wall of Omens
Kitchen Finks
Court Hussar
Mystic Snake
Restoration Angel
Sun Titan
Supreme Verdict
Crystal Shard


Bant Charm
Glen Elendra Archmage
Kitchen Finks
Meddling Mage
Scavenging Ooze
Seht’s Tiger
Supreme Verdict
Timely Reinforcements

I must admit, there was a certain satisfaction as most people had to squint, un-recognizingly at the cards my deck had to offer. “Seht’s what? It does WHAT?

Wall of Omens was a change suggested to me just the day before. It had been Coiling Oracle but as my friend pointed out, Wall of Omens can block Wild Nacatl. Search for Tomorrow was also present (one of my favourite one drops) but was removed in favour of including all my Fetchlands and playing Serum Visons instead.

The idea here is to stay alive until a soft lock of being able to repeatedly cast Thragtusk and/or Mystic Snake is possible. Every creature in the deck has an ‘enters the battlefield’ trigger, making multi-format all-star Restoration Angel amazing as always.

Crystal Shard is slow but effective, allowing us to save our own creatures from removal and recast them for value. It also forces the opponent to have an extra mana up or have one of their creatures unsummon‘d.

Crystal ShardKitchen Finks is most effective against aggro (Zoo), but is generally solid against all decks. It puts pressure on Control decks, blocks twice against aggro decks while netting me life, and can be reset by a Restoration Angel so it can persist again.

Thragtusk combines with the multitude of flicker effects to form an army of 3/3 Beasts and keep my lifetotal safe. Due to the flickery nature of the deck, it can be pretty difficult to stop this interaction once the ball gets rolling.

Sun Titan does a fair amount here, returning Crystal Shard (no doubt destroyed by Qasali Pridemage), Kitchen Finks, Wall of Omens and Court Hussar. On the off chance that none of these are present, you can always return a Fetchland.

Although a Sun Titan returned Court Hussar will die upon entering the battlefield (due to not being cast with white mana) this is more of a combo than non-bo. I would far rather Ponder every turn than have a 1/3 at that point of the game.

I wish I had removed Sphinx’s Revelation from the deck, as it is a remnant of when the deck used to have a ramp element to it. I found myself boarding the card out for all matches but one.

Finally, Path to Exile is the best removal in Modern and if you are playing white, don’t leave the house without it!

The Games


This may as well have been Legacy for the state of his board on turn one. It went a little something like this:

Play Darksteel Citadel
Play Memnite and Mox Opal
Tap Darksteel Citadel to cast Springleaf Drum.
Use Springleaf Drum to tap Memnite to cast Vault Skirge.
Nazi IndianaTap Mox Opal for blue to cast Thoughtcast (for one!).
Play another Mox Opal (sacrificing the first one) and tap to cast another Vault Skirge.

Welcome to Modern! It felt like I’d just opened the Ark of the Covenant.

OKAY! Now it’s my turn sucka!

I play Scalding Tarn.


I got wrecked by this onslaught of small creatures creatures backed up by Arcbound Ravager and Blinkmoth Nexuss (nexi?). It made it all too clear than my sideboard was very poorly equiped to deal with combo, unfair decks and Affinity in general. Bant Charm did come in though, as you will soon learn that it did for every single game.


Fabled Hero

This gentleman had brewed his own, and while I commend that, it was nowhere near the necessary power level for Modern. I know, look who’s talking right? It was an aggressive Azorius Heroic deck that wanted to put auras on Fabled Hero and go to town.

Problem is, my deck is not very interactive. So when a creature is unblockable due to Aqueous Form and huge because of a fed Phalanx Leader, there’s not a lot I can do. I thought I had a good hand too, but things spiraled out of control way too fast.

I sideboarded in Bant Charms, Supreme Verdict and Seht’s Tigers. Fortunately for me, his deck was even more removal light than mine, in the sense that he had none. I knew my Tiger’s were going come in handy..

Game two and three involved me treating Seht’s Tiger like a bouncy castle whenever attacked. I increased my board presence inbetween these interactions till I had an overwhelming force both games. I would feel bad, but these are the kind of match-ups I put the Tiger in for!



After recognising my decks inability to deal with Evasive alpha strikers, I was not looking forward to this match up.

Game 1: He mulliganed into a peach of a hand and giggled. This can’t be good..

I did not have a Path to Exile in my opener, and in hindsight, should have mulliganed to try and find one. My opponent used a Blighted Agent with a couple of Rancor’s and a Might of Krosa to quickly make me feel all infected.

Laughing faceHe confided in me that his opener has 3x Rancor in it – we laughed about this together.

Game 2: I had a Path! And a Bant Charm! He on the other hand only had one threat this game.  Once it was disposed of he crumpled like a flattened sandwich.

Game 3: I brought in Meddling Mage and a couple of Negates for this one. I did not want to have my removal denied by a Simic Charm or Vines of Vastwood.

He mulliganed to 5 and kept a no-lander.

On turn two I played Meddling Mage and named Glistener Elf. After his next draw step, he had two of them in his hand. Needless to say, this game was not even close.



Game 1:

This matchup was against a player who I consider to be very good at magic. An aggressive draw of Noble Heirarchs and Voice of Resurgences had me thinking he was on a form of Zoo, till Birthing Pod came down.

I was starting to stabilise  from the early beats when he hit the Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker + Restoration Angel combo. Sayonara!

Game 2:

Guess what I sided in? Bant Charm! Along with Meddling Mage, Supreme Verdict, Glen Elendra Archmage, a Seht’s Tiger and the two Scavenging Ooze. The idea with the Tiger is that when Kiki+Restoration Angel went infinite, I could give myself protection from white when they attacked (Like having Gaea’s Blessing against a mill deck).

Birthing PodMy opponent played an on curve Birthing Pod, meaning he did not have the mana to use it immediately. This meant I did not lose card advantage when I Bant Charm‘d it at end of turn – did I say how much I love that card?

A Thrun, the Last Troll on his side caused a bit of a road block and I found myself lamenting how I removed my own one from my sideboard that very morning. There was also a moment when he used his own Glen Elendra Archmage to Negate a spell and I said “yeah” to the persist trigger.

I had a Scavenging Ooze on the battlefield…
Bad play like this is what makes me angry with myself if I lose, and feel undeserving if I win.

In the end though I was able to accrue a large team of Thragtusks + his 3/3 Beast friends and push through his defenses.

Game 3:

I knew we did not have much time left for the third round, which favoured his deck over mine. Pod just needs to draw Pods and/or their combo to insta-win, where I need to grind out an army over a course of multiple turns.

My opponent kept a hand that was totally reasonable, but never drew into any land for the best part of the early game. An aggressive draw from my deck of Scavenging Ooze, Kitchen Finks, Restoration Angel and Thragtusk got me the win.



Who let the dogs cats out?

It was Constance for this game, and the I knew the 1mana 3/3 was going to be a Constant pain. Get it? bah.

Game 1:

No turn one Wild Nacatl!! I felt like my chances had just doubled. After dropping a Wall of Omens on turn two I began to relax. However, her board started to fill up with Kird Ape, Voice of Resurgence and then a Tarmogofy. I managed to trade with the Voice, making my follow up Supreme Verdict a clean sweep.

I was then able to sit behind Mystic Snakes for a couple of turns before starting the Thragtusk breeding party. That many big creatures coupled with silly life gain led to a game one win for me.

Game 2:

Bant CharmYes, I sided in Bant Charm, amongst the other anti-aggro kind of cards I had hanging around on the Sideboard bench.  I had included Timely Reinforcements as a two of in my sideboard for this matchup specifically, though I did not find the space nor argument to side them in.

I wish I had though, as I got pulverized by a team of Lions, Cats, Apes and Oozes (Experiment One). I had Supreme Verdict in hand, but could not hit the fourth land. A top decked Serum Visions when I needed the fourth land made it all too clear that I should have replaced two of them with the Timely Reinforcements.

This was the Zoo I had been having nightmares about!

Game 3:

This went terrifyingly similar to the events of game 2, except the dying. She got me down to 1 life, at which I clawed and scraped my way back up to 15 life after landing Thragtusk after Thragtusk followed by a Momentary Blink. There was a game changed moment when I dropped a Tusk and had two mana up.

At end of turn she went to Lightning Helix the Tusk, and I could not have been happier to use my mana effectively and Momentry Blink the tusk. Unfortunately we ran out of time just as I was starting to create a threatening board presence backed up by a buoyant life total.

Hilariously though, our draw got us both into the top 8! We had been worried that it would have quite the opposite effect, which is why we did not think twice about playing it out. I think a few people are still a bit skeptical that it was not an intention draw..

3-1-1 (Swiss portion)


I was quite excited about this match-up actually, as it was against Faeries piloted by Peter Deane. I was curious to see what Bitterblossom would be like in the Modern world.

Although the first game was pretty long, it is very easy to summarise. For the early/mid game I got Thoughtseize‘d and Inquisition of Kozilek‘d while intermittently getting a spell countered by Cryptic Command.

On my side of the board, I was generating card advantage by constantly re-casting Court Hussar and getting in for a point or two of damage every turn. My deck has a bit of resilience to disruption, as Momentary Blink has flashback and Sun Titan can return all the permanents that cost less than 3.

After a grueling grinder of a game Peter started ticking up a Bitterblossom. He was down to 3 life and I was rather hoping he would die to it, when he cast Mistbind Clique during my upkeep – championing Bitterblossom.

This is an interaction I did not know about, and felt giddy at how cool and convenient it is. I responded by casting Restoration Angel to blink my Court Hussar, hoping to draw a Mystic Snake. I missed, and game one went to the wee winged critters. Painfully, I checked what the next card would have been…


It was a snake, thanks badgers. Mystic Snake was up next, and this is why you should never check the next card!

Game two was over far more quickly. A turn two Bitterblossom and a turn four Sower of Temptation stealing my Kitchen Finks was less than desirable. I was able to return Kitchen Finks to my hand the next turn with a Crystal Shard as he was tapped out, but I was pretty far behind by now. When he countered Glen Elendra Archmage I dutifully scooped and shook his hand.

Peter went on to make the finals but was beaten by Junk orchestrated by Richard Grint. Richard was so kind enough as to bestow me with the list he used to take the tournament down:


Verdant Catacombs
Marsh Flats
Overgrown Tomb
Temple Garden
Godless Shrine
Twilight Mire
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Treetop Village
Tectonic Edge
Inquisition of Kozilek
Dark Confidant
Abrupt Decay
Scavenging Ooze
Kitchen Finks
Lingering Souls
Liliana of the Veil
Garruk Wildspeaker
Maelstrom Pulse
Path to Exile


Aven Mindcensor
Kataki, War’s Wage
Stony Silence
Grafdigger’s Cage
Torpor Orb
Seal of Primordium
Thrun, the Last Troll

The future of Snaketusk

Snaketusk Future

I was surprised at how capable the deck was in most match-ups and want to try it again with my new found knowledge and a more hateful sideboard.

Wall of Omens – Does not safely block the cat like it was intended for due to the exalted trigger from Qasali Pridgemage or Noble Heirarch. This will likely become a 2-of or be dropped.

Serum Visions – A non-bo with all the Fetchlands I am running. On two different occasions I put a juicy card on top of my library, then entered auto-pilot and cracked a Scalding Tarn on my opponents end step. I would then draw a different card and have an onset of self-loathing for my sloppy-ness. Sleight of Hand will replace Serum Visions, and has the added bonus of being slightly better a hitting land drops.

Mystic Snake – Reduced to a 2-of and relegated to the sideboard. They came out for every single game except against control (Faeries).

Sphinx’s Revelation – Most likely gone completely for the same reasons as the snake.

Path to Exile – Amazing card. A lot of my opponents did not even have one basic land to search – tasty value! Either way, it was folly to not play this as a 4-of as it has game against every single deck except Storm (was not that prevalent).

Stony SilenceThe sideboard needs a serious overhaul also, as it was constructed off the cuff, rather than after heavy metagame research. The most simple way to tackle this is to consider what decks/cards I struggled against. Based on this, I think 1/2 Stony Silence will definitely be making a spot. A number of Spell Snare will also be added due to the massive number of powerful cards it deals with.

This was the first time I played with a deck containing all my Fetchlands, and it felt great. I never once  had mana problems, nor did I feel the pain of the life they cost. They are worth every penny!

The deck had a lot of keepable hands due to Serum Visions, Wall of Omens, Court Hussar and Fetchlands. Evident by my only having to mulligan twice for the whole day.

The deck is so much fun to play, and if you cut the Fetchlands then it is actually pretty cheap. If I were to play to win primarily then I would take UWR control, but piloting your own deck in a low stakes environment is what it is all about for me.

Thanks for reading folks, I hope you had as much fun as I did writing it.

Till next time nerds!


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