Getting Into Modern For Beginners, by Nathan Dennis

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

Getting Into Modern For Beginners

Modern season is coming and a lot of people are wanting to try out the format for the first time. I see a lot of questions being asked about what deck they should build and how much does it cost to get into Modern.

In this article I will go through a good break down of the format for you, and offer up some tips to help you get into this wonderful format.

First lets talk about the decks in the format, I won’t mention them all because there are a lot, I will just talk about them briefly.


First up we have:

Splinter Twin

4 [card]Deceiver Exarch[/card]
1 [card]Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker[/card]
2 [card]Pestermite[/card]
3 [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card]
2 [card]Vendilion Clique[/card]
2 [card]Flame Slash[/card]
1 [card]Gitaxian Probe[/card]
4 [card]Serum Visions[/card]
2 [card]Cryptic Command[/card]
2 [card]Dispel[/card]
1 [card]Electrolyze[/card]
4 [card]Lightning Bolt[/card]
1 [card]Peek[/card]
4 [card]Remand[/card]
4 [card]Splinter Twin[/card]
1 [card]Desolate Lighthouse[/card]
5 [card]Island[/card]
4 [card]Misty Rainforest[/card]
1 [card]Mountain[/card]
4 [card]Scalding Tarn[/card]
3 [card]Steam Vents[/card]
1 [card]Stomping Ground[/card]
4 [card]Sulfur Falls[/card]


2 [card]Ancient Grudge[/card]
1 [card]Anger of the Gods[/card]
2 [card]Batterskull[/card]
3 [card]Blood Moon[/card]
1 [card]Keranos, God of Storms[/card]
3 [card]Pact of Negation[/card]
1 [card]Sowing Salt[/card]
1 [card]Swan Song[/card]
1 [card]Threads of Disloyalty[/card]

[card]Splinter Twin[/card] is one of the best archetypes in the format. I say ‘archetype’ because there is not just one [card]Splinter Twin[/card] deck; there are a few different variants, but I’ll save those for a different time.

[card]Splinter Twin[/card] decks can win in one of three ways:

The first is to enchant a creature that has the ability to un-tap a permanent upon entering the battlefield. The most common choices are [card]Deceiver Exarch[/card], [card]Pestermite[/card] and occasionally [card]Zealous Conscripts[/card]. With the creature enchanted you make a copy of it and then with the triggered ability of the copy you un-tap the enchanted creature, thus being able to copy again and again and again… you get the idea.

The second win condition is pretty much the same as before but you use [card]Kiki Jiki, Mirror Breaker[/card] to copy one of the above creatures. Same effect happens and you can make a million copies of a creature and swing for the win.

Another creature that works with Kiki Jiki is [card]Restoration Angel[/card]. [card]Restoration Angel[/card] has the ability to exile a target creature then return that creature back into play (aka “[card]flicker[/card]”) when it enters the battlefield. So when you copy it with Kiki Jiki you can target Kiki with the “flicker” ability. Kiki comes back upon the ability resolving and since he has haste you can make another copy of [card]Restoration Angel[/card], and you repeat the process.

The third is just to burn and attack your opponent with [card]Lightning Bolt[/card]s, [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card] and [card]Vendilion Clique[/card]s. Trust me, the damage can really add quickly. I have lost many games to Bolt > Snapcaster > Bolt then being beaten to death by the 2/1.

See, isn’t Modern a fun format.


Melira Pod

The next deck is Melira Pod, which is also a combo deck, and while there is a version that runs a combo with Kiki Jiki I mentioned above I am going to show you the normal version.

[deck]4 Birds of Paradise
1 Eternal Witness
4 Kitchen Finks
1 Linvala, Keeper of Silence
1 Melira, Sylvok Outcast
1 Murderous Redcap
3 Noble Hierarch
1 Orzhov Pontiff
1 Qasali Pridemage
1 Ranger of Eos
1 Restoration Angel
1 Reveillark
1 Scavenging Ooze
1 Shriekmaw
1 Sin Collector
1 Spellskite
1 Viscera Seer
3 Voice of Resurgence
1 Wall of Roots
2 Abrupt Decay
2 Chord of Calling
4 Birthing Pod
2 Forest
3 Gavony Township
1 Godless Shrine
4 Marsh Flats
2 Overgrown Tomb
1 Plains
3 Razorverge Thicket
1 Swamp
2 Temple Garden
4 Verdant Catacombs[/deck]


[deck]1 Scavenging Ooze
1 Abrupt Decay
1 Aven Mindcensor
1 Eidolon of Rhetoric
1 Entomber Exarch
1 Harmonic Sliver
1 Kataki, War’s Wage
1 Obstinate Baloth
1 Path to Exile
1 Slaughter Pact
4 Thoughtseize
1 Thrun, the Last Troll[/deck]

Thats a lot of one-off cards huh? This is what makes Melira Pod such a fantastic deck; the ability to tutor for a card that will help you the most in whatever situation you find yourself in.

How does it work though? Well Melira Pod has a few win conditions, the first and most simple is to beat down your opponent. With cards like [card]Restoration Angel[/card], Linvala and [card]Gavony Township[/card] you will find yourself winning a lot of games just by attacking with big creatures.

The more complicated way of winning is by getting a board of [card]Melira, Sylvok Outcast[/card], [card]Sylvok Outcast[/card] + [card]Kitchen Finks[/card]/[card]Murderous Redcap[/card] + a repeatable sacrifice outlet. With Melira in play you can sacrifice either [card]Kitchen Finks[/card] or [card]Murderous Redcap[/card] multiple times because they cannot get -1-1 Counters placed on them. You can either gain a million life, or deal a million damage.



The final deck I will be showing you is one of the best aggro decks in the format, Affinity.

[deck]4 Arcbound Ravager
2 Master of Etherium
3 Memnite
4 Ornithopter
4 Signal Pest
4 Steel Overseer
4 Vault Skirge
4 Galvanic Blast
2 Shrapnel Blast
4 Darksteel Citadel
4 Cranial Plating
4 Mox Opal
4 Springleaf Drum
4 Blinkmoth Nexus
4 Glimmervoid
4 Inkmoth Nexus
1 Mountain[/deck]


[deck]2 Ancient Grudge
1 Choke
1 Dismember
2 Etched Champion
2 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Gut Shot
1 Rule of Law
2 Spellskite
2 Wear & Tear
1 Whipflare[/deck]

Honestly I have never played with this deck and have very little experience playing against it because when it wins; it wins VERY quickly. Play your hand turn 1-2 and then just beat your opponents down. It consistently wins on turn 4 with either 20 damage or 11 poison.


How to get into Modern

Those are (what I consider) to be the best three archetypes in Modern, but enough about that how do you even get into this format?

Before choosing a deck think about what type of deck you like playing. If you like aggro then you can look into Affinity, Zoo or Merfolk. Midrange has Jund or GB Rock. Control decks include UWR Control, Blue Moon. Combo decks have Splinter Twin, Pod, Scapeshift and quite a few others.

I suggest looking at websites like MTG Goldfish to see what different decks there are and go from there. Proxy the lists you like the look of and have fun, you don’t want to go through the hassle of building a deck and then finding out you just don’t like playing with it.

It is true that Modern is a very expensive format to play in competitively, and a lot of decks cost well over £1000. It is scary for new players to spend that much on a deck, but what you need to remember is you don’t need to buy Splinter Twin, or Melira Pod in one go. You can slowly get the cards you need over a period of time.

Modern is a ‘Non-Rotating Format’ and you could get cards now that will still be used a year from now. I see a lot of people ask what deck they should buy to get into Modern and one of the answers is always to get a budget deck, such as Soul Sisters, Red Deck Wins, etc. If you want one of these decks and you are happy knowing that they aren’t going to win any major tournaments then go for it. In fact I myself started with Soul Sisters and it was a great deck to take to FNM, but that’s where the competitiveness ends.

The main problem with these kinds of decks is that once you get it you cannot build something else easily. Cards used in Soul Sisters are not used in any other decks; the same applies to RDW and Infect. If you want to change your deck you are going have to get more cards, and that often includes more expensive cards. However, if you started off by wanting to build something that is good, but can be improved over time with investments, then I would suggest something like Melira Pod.

The shell of Pod is not that expensive (considering the format and how good it is). At its core you need the following cards:

[deck]4 Birthing Pod
1 Melira, Sylvok Outcast
1 Visera Seer
3 Kitchen Finks
1 Murderous Redcap[/deck]

A lot of the single cards in the list above are really cheap; [card]Qasali Pridemage[/card], [card]Sin Collector[/card], [card]Spike Feeder[/card], etc. Then you’ll want some kind of removal, normally its either [card]Path to Exile[/card] or [card]Abrupt Decay[/card].

Over time you can start to pick up cards that will help the deck and this is what can make the overall cost of the deck quite high. The mana base often has a multitude of Shock Lands and Fetch Lands, while in the main deck [card]Voice of Resurgence[/card], [card]Linvala, Keeper of Secrets[/card] and [card]Noble Hierarch[/card] help the deck tremendously but carry a hefty price tag.

I am not one of those guys that is going to tell you to ‘Net Deck’ or to play a certain deck, I just want to show people that there is a middle ground between budget decks and tier 1 decks. There are so many decks in Modern that are viable and there are different types of decks winning tournaments every week.

It may seem like a huge leap to take, but once you start to get into the format and see the variety of decks available to you it will get you excited and you’ll want to learn more.

I hope this has helped some of you in some way, and if you have any questions then don’t hesitate to ask in the comments.

Till next time,

Nathan Dennis

Getting Into Modern For Beginners, by Nathan Dennis
Modern season is coming and a lot of people are wanting to try out the format for the first time. I see a lot of questions being asked about what deck they should build and how much does it cost to get into Modern.

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