Modern Mistakes, Thought Processes and Conclusions by Ashley Knox

Modern Mistakes, Thought Processes and Conclusions by Ashley Knox

This season I’ve been battling a lot of Modern and learnt a lot through the mistakes that I’ve made, either not having the guts to bring the deck that I felt was correct, not playing the correct sideboard or simply being too late to finally come around to play the deck that was correct for me.

I started off with UR Delver before the hype, I felt it was a little underpowered in a lot of situations, but being able to play and be mostly unaffected by Blood Moon was good beats. I did also manage to come second in a GPT with the deck losing only to Affinity in the finals.

I chucked in a Bonesplitter after feeling that playing and equipping a Sword of X & Y whilst still being able to protect your threats was a little ambitious, making 3/1 Elementals off your Pyromancer seemed perfectly fine to me.

[Deck]4 Delver of Secrets
4 Young Pyromancer
3 Snapcaster Mage
2 Vendillion Clique
4 Gitaxian Probe
4 Sleight of hand
4 Remand
4 Manaleak
3 Spell Pierce
4 Lightning Bolt
1 Forked Bolt
1 Magma Jet
2 Vapor Snag
1 Spell Snare
1 Bonesplitter
4 Misty Rainforest
4 Scalding Tarn
4 Steam Vents
1 Desolate Lighthouse
2 Mountain
3 Island[/deck]

I liked the deck, Remand was awesome as a ">time walk effect, I felt that the ">Sleight of Hand was better than ">Serum Visions as I wanted to make sure I drew the right cards better versus certain decks. I also felt that the deck needed a threat in its open hand, and it had to be specifically either a Delver or a Pyromancer. It was fun but eventually I got bored of playing it, it hadn’t picked up popularity yet so no one was really pushing or refining the list and I didn’t have the time to do real hard testing with it. Most of the experience I got with it was at actual events.


I moved on to Skred next which I discussed in my previous article Skred’em Red Deck Tech (Modern Blood Moon). While it is a powerful deck, sadly I haven’t been brave enough to play it at any real events. I then moved on to BUG Delver, which felt like a really powerful… deck but you had to carefully manage your own life total while really aggressively trying to kill your opponent before they could do whatever broken nonsense they were trying to get up to.

[Deck]4 Delver of Secrets
4 Dark Confidant
4 Tarmogoyf
3 Snapcaster Mage
4 Serum Visions
4 Gitaxian Probe
3 Spell Pierce
3 Mana Leak
2 Remand
2 Mana Leak
3 Abrupt Decay
2 Thoughtseize
2 Inquisition of Kozilek
1 Duress
4 Verdant Catacombs
4 Misty Rainforest
4 Watery Grave
3 Breeding Pool
2 Island
1 Swamp
1 Forest[/deck]

Throughout all of this I had been looking at the decks I’d been playing against and was thinking each time, “If I was playing burn right now this match would be easy, but I can’t actually bring Burn to a tournament can I?”

Then I got to Milton Keynes, first round, bang. I’m playing against burn, ok I managed to somehow navigate the match into winning 2-0 as they got locked out by their own Eidolon of the Great Revel and they didn’t realise that they could have just unearthed their Hellspark Slementals and killed me for most of the game. That is probably when I came to a similar conclusion to Matt Sperling and Raph Levy; that this deck is scary, and if my opponent was taking the correct lines then I would be dead. If this list was refined, I’d be even deader.

I took this list to 2 separate PTQS and started off 4-0 and 3-1 respectively before facing decks like Amulet of Vigor and Slippery Boggle which I didn’t expect to be seeing in those brackets. I perhaps should have spent some more time testing but I don’t think I could have honestly dedicated any time to testing against decks I didn’t expect to see.

Any BG based deck was easy, Delver variants were fairly easy as you could play around the soft permission and they didn’t have enough threats to bother you, Tron was simply too slow against you. I felt like Affinity was a very 50/50 matchup which is basically fine as that is straight up the only good aggro deck in Modern.


I decided to go straight Mono-Red in the end, although I was experimenting with RB, RW, RWB and a 5 colour Tribal Flames nonsense that replaced the Zoo creatures in place of a high density of burn spells, some Goblin Guides and Snapcaster Mages to get the job done. Sure attacking with Wild Nacatl, Mutagenic Growth, Snapcaster Mage Snapcasting back the Mutagenic Growth is powerful, but when people are casting Abrupt Decay, Wall of Roots and Tarmogoyf you just feel sad.

I ended up going with the following and Grim Lavamancer was the all-around superstar.

Goblin Guide
Eidolon of the Great Revel
Hellspark Elemental
Grim Lavamancer
Lightning Bolt
Lava Spike
Rift Bolt
Molten Rain
Searing Blaze
Flames of the Blood Hand
Arid Mesa
Scalding Tarn
12 Mountain
Volcanic Fallout
Relic of Progenitus
Satyr Firedancer
Peak Eruption
Searing Blood
Smash to Smithereens

Now this is a deck I can get behind, I felt like the main deck Molten Rain was just a beating, and it really helped me shore up some matches against UWR, especially after sideboarding where you can basically chain the land destruction spells. It’s also no joke that you can destroy a Nexus in a pinch if you manage to attrition out your affinity opponent game one with an early Grim Lavamancer.

I did have one match where my opponent game one– not expecting to be playing against burn mid-way through a tournament –kept two lands, double Confidant and some hand disruption. I managed to Searing Blaze the Bobs and Molten Rained the Green mana source, and with no method of drawing cards he just couldn’t get back in the game before I managed to finish the job.

Burn decks do hold a stigma as being a rubbish deck that are for budget players only, and sure the deck is cheap but with some tight play you can just get there. If you play against UWR, BGX and slower combo/control decks like Tron you’re onto a winner.

I think going forward I would like to put more play into the Tribal Burn deck and the list basically writes itself.

Goblin Guide
Snapcaster Mage
Grim Lavamancer
Lightning Bolt
Lava Spike
Bump in the Night
Boros Charm
Lightning Helix
Tribal Flames
Arid Mesa
Misty Rainforest
Marsh Flats
Scalding Tarn
Sacred foundry
Stomping Ground
Blood Crypt
Hallowed fountain
Steam Vents

The manabase looks like a mess that I fiddled with from an actual Zoo list, cutting down on the green as it’s only necessary for Revelry in the board and a “Forest” to get the final point from Domain. I feel like you get so many amazing options for the sideboard that you could prepare for any metagame if you calculate correctly.

I don’t like Lightning Helix but it is probably necessary with this manabase, I did like Searing Blaze in the Skullcracks place however. Marsh Flats on my turn into my opp Bolting themselves to make a Bird of Paradise into me bolting them, untapping and Searing Blaze‘ing off the bird just felt like an absolute beating when people don’t know what deck you’re playing.

“Marsh flats huh? What’s he gunna do, Path my bird?”

Liverpool PTQ 2014

That’s enough from me for now, I’ll be seeing if I can push this deck a little further, but if it turns out to be a dead end then I’ll have to move onto something else.

In closing I’d like to congratulate my good friend Stewie Saxon on his first PTQ top 4 straight after a great record at the WMCQ (where his only loss was to the eventual winner David Inglis). Stewie has been putting a lot of work in this year, brewing and jamming games at our local shop. I’m glad that it’s all finally paying off!

Thanks for reading, it’s time for a rest,

Ashley Knox

The Grim Bloody Lavamancer

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