July ’19 Brew Report, Pt. 1: Fun-Earth

July in brewing? More of the same. More copies of Unearth, to be sure. And more of what’s become known as Modern’s calling card: novel experiments bursting with hot tech. Today we’ll look at some of the month’s breakout strategies: Elemental tribal, White Weenie, and the return of old-school Miracle Grow.

Disentombed Again

Unearth continues to make waves in Modern, now as part of an Elemental-recurring engine.

BR Thunderkin, by SEROX (5-0)

Creatures (19)
Thunderkin Awakener
Dreadhorde Arcanist
Lightning Skelemental
Ball Lightning
Seasoned Pyromancer
Insolent Neonate
Young Pyromancer

Instants (8)
Dismember
Fatal Push
Kolaghan’s Command
Lightning Bolt

Sorceries (14)
Faithless Looting
Inquisition of Kozilek
Thoughtseize
Unearth

Lands (19)
Blackcleave Cliffs
Blood Crypt
Bloodstained Mire
Dragonskull Summit
Mountain
Scalding Tarn
Swamp
Sideboard (15)
Abrade
Engineered Explosives
Fulminator Mage
Leyline of the Void
Plague Engineer
Saheeli, Sublime Artificer
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BR Thunderkin represents a natural evolution from the BR Unearth lists we saw cropping up a few months ago. Such decks were already abusing the hard-hitting three-drop core of Seasoned Pyromancer, Lightning Skelemental, and Unearth, and were bound to integrate Thunderkin Awakener once M20 dropped. This build in particular closely resembles the June lists, but with Thunderkin seamlessly weaved in alongside a set of Ball Lightnings to draw extra value from the newcomer.

More streamlined builds are also appearing:

BR Thunderkin, by LANTTO (5-0)

Creatures (16)
Dreadhorde Arcanist
Lightning Skelemental
Seasoned Pyromancer
Thunderkin Awakener

Instants (8)
Fatal Push
Kolaghan’s Command
Lightning Bolt

Sorceries (16)
Faithless Looting
Inquisition of Kozilek
Thoughtseize
Unearth

Lands (20)
Arid Mesa
Blackcleave Cliffs
Blood Crypt
Bloodstained Mire
Fiery Islet
Marsh Flats
Scalding Tarn
Snow-Covered Mountain
Snow-Covered Swamp
Sunbaked Canyon
Verdant Catacombs
Sideboard (15)
Abrade
Collective Brutality
Fulminator Mage
Leyline of the Void
Liliana of the Veil
Plague Engineer
Shattering Spree
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This take on BR Thunderkin cuts right to the chase, Unearthing only the baddest creatures available and employing Thunderkin itself as a Skelemental machine. In a topdeck war, value chains can begin from any link—Dreadhorde flashes back Unearth which targets Thunderkin which reanimates Skelemental, and Seasoned Pyromancer digs pilots into a chain-starter, helping BR topdeck extremely well.

The Pyromancer-Skelemental-Unearth package isn’t exclusively relegated to Elemental shenanigans now that M20‘s been released, though. It’s also proven strong enough for the Hollow One deck, where it surfaced in a 5-0 before launching the deck back into metagame with a Challenge finish.

Another Crusade

One of Magic‘s oldest and most beloved archetypes, White Weenie has never had much success in Modern. We’ve even covered promising builds on Modern Nexus, only to see them retreat into the maelstrom. Now, the archetype is starting to rear its head in Modern, but not thanks to Force of Virtue, a card we’ve already seen splashed into Zoo to impressive effect. Rather, White Weenie owes its sudden relevance to a certain overlooked Elephant Cleric.

White Weenie, by INTERNETSURFER09 (5-0)

Creatures (37)
Countless Gears Renegade
Signal Pest
Steppe Lynx
Dryad Militant
Benalish Marshal
Boros Elite
Dauntless Bodyguard
Judge’s Familiar
Kytheon, Hero of Akros
Selfless Spirit
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Thalia, Heretic Cathar
Venerated Loxodon

Instants (3)
Path to Exile

Lands (20)
Arid Mesa
Flooded Strand
Marsh Flats
Plains
Windswept Heath
Sideboard (15)
Selfless Spirit
Burrenton Forge-Tender
Declaration in Stone
Leonin Relic-Warder
Rest in Peace
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White Weenie plays out a bunch of cheap, white beaters and hopes for the best. It’s no wonder Modern hasn’t been kind to the strategy. But things start to look up when the deck’s hopeful creatures tap to summon Venerated Loxodon.

The 4/4, besides providing sheer bulk itself, permanently grows an assault à la Thalia’s Lieutenant in Humans. As White Weenie goes wider, and faster, than Humans, Loxodon ends up adding much more power and toughness than the Soldier—especially considering mana doesn’t need to be spent on it. Pilots can instead empty the rest of their hand, then tap the team for Loxodon and set up a very rapid clock.

Kuldotha Weenie, by ERKS (5-0)

Creatures (22)
Memnite
Ornithopter
Signal Pest
Kytheon, Hero of Akros
Martyr’s Soul
Thraben Inspector
Venerated Loxodon

Artifacts (8)
Mishra’s Bauble
Mox Opal

Enchantments (7)
Force of Virtue
Legion’s Landing

Sorceries (6)
Kuldotha Rebirth
Servo Exhibition

Lands (17)
Blinkmoth Nexus
Darksteel Citadel
Inspiring Vantage
Plains
Spire of Industry
Sunbaked Canyon
Sideboard (15)
Experimental Frenzy
Galvanic Blast
Grafdigger’s Cage
Pithing Needle
Rest in Peace
Wear // Tear
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Kuldotha Weenie offers a novel take on the strategy by melding it with Kudoltha Rebirth, the card helming another of Modern’s age-old fringe decks. 0-mana artifacts, creatures or otherwise, pump out Loxodon even faster; in lieu of the Elepehant, Martyr’s Soul acts as a Tarmogoyf of sorts, offering an impressive body for little- to no-cost. With Martyr in the picture, players are less likely to wind up with dead Ornithopters and nothing to convoke for.

Growing Pains

For years, I called my thresh tempo decks “grow” decks. Not that they aimed to grow their creatures, per se—those creatures entered the battlefield large enough. The name came, rather, from the heritage of the threshold archetype, which once employed Quirion Dryad as its primary beater. Chaining cantrips and sequencing disruption, the original grow decks sought to attack each turn with a progressively larger creature until destabilized opponents were defeated.

Quirion Dryad is far from a playable Modern card; Tarmogoyf, its spiritual successor and cross-format supplanter, has made sure of that. But what if it started with an extra point of power? And had flash? And was blue? Gro-a-Tog-ers, never fear: to find out, Brineborn Cutthroat is here!

Jeskai Grow, by MRRAEB (5-0)

Creatures (12)
Brineborn Cutthroat
Snapcaster Mage
Spectral Sailor
Vendilion Clique

Instants (23)
Opt
Lightning Bolt
Lightning Helix
Path to Exile
Logic Knot
Cryptic Command
Force of Negation

Sorceries (2)
Serum Visions

Lands (23)
Celestial Colonnade
Flooded Strand
Hallowed Fountain
Island
Mountain
Plains
Sacred Foundry
Scalding Tarn
Steam Vents
Sulfur Falls
Sideboard (15)
Force of Negation
Disdainful Stroke
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Relic of Progenitus
Spell Pierce
Supreme Verdict
Surgical Extraction
Timely Reinforcements
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Jeskai Grow operates much like a Jeskai Tempo deck should, although Brineborn seems a fair improvement over other threats Jeskai has turned to in the past. It doesn’t require tapping out, unlike Geist of Saint Traft; it doesn’t carry a narrow casting window, as does Spell Queller. It also applies heaps of pressure if not dealt with. Another flash creature, Spectral Sailor, shows up here as a mana sink and card advantage engine.

Grixis Grow, by GALANATOR (5-0)

Creatures (8)
Snapcaster Mage
Brineborn Cutthroat

Instants (28)
Opt
Lightning Bolt
Fatal Push
Cast Down
Terminate
Logic Knot
Remand
Spell Pierce
Cryptic Command
Force of Negation
Kolaghan’s Command
Fact or Fiction
Surgical Extraction

Lands (24)
Blood Crypt
Creeping Tar Pit
Desolate Lighthouse
Island
Mountain
Polluted Delta
Scalding Tarn
Spirebluff Canal
Steam Vents
Sulfur Falls
Swamp
Watery Grave
Sideboard (15)
Force of Negation
Spell Pierce
Surgical Extraction
Engineered Explosives
Fry
Keranos, God of Storms
Plague Engineer
Ravenous Trap
Spell Snare
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Grixis Grow takes a leaner, slower approach, appearing closer on paper to the threat-light Gro-a-Tog decks of old. There’s resultantly more value here, from Fact or Fiction to Kolaghan’s Command, and less reach to close out the game with. Once opponents are exhausted of resources, Brineborn comes down and stands up tall to finish the game quick; it may also drain those resources in the early- to mid-game if allowed to flourish for long enough.

Temur Grow, by THEEXALTEDONE (5-0)

Creatures (11)
Huntmaster of the Fells
Brineborn Cutthroat
Snapcaster Mage

Instants (26)
Negate
Opt
Thought Scour
Lightning Bolt
Magmatic Sinkhole
Spell Snare
Archmage’s Charm
Pulse of Murasa
Cryptic Command

Lands (23)
Breeding Pool
Flooded Strand
Forest
Island
Misty Rainforest
Mountain
Polluted Delta
Scalding Tarn
Steam Vents
Stomping Ground
Sideboard (15)
Alpine Moon
Ancient Grudge
Anger of the Gods
Ashiok, Dream Render
Damping Sphere
Disdainful Stroke
Dispel
Fry
Tireless Tracker
Vedalken Shackles
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Last up is Temur Grow, which splashes not for Quirion Dryad or even Tarmogoyf, but for Huntmaster of the Fells! Long a pet card of mine, Huntmaster can take over creature matchups by himself, and at four copies is a highly reliable plan. Thought Scour is another instant-speed cantrip to support Brineborn, and this Temur shell funnels the extra binned cards into Magmatic Sinkhole, a card fast becoming the breakout removal spell of Modern Horizons.

One thing all these Brineborn decks have in common? Their reliance on red, or more specifically, on Lightning Bolt. There are few better instants in Magic, let alone in Modern. Being castable at any time and eminently flexible, Bolt is exactly the kind of card an aggro-control deck like Grow wants at its fingertips.

20 Brews a Day

Okay, 20 might be an exaggeration. But the fact stands that M20 and Modern Horizons have injected a metric ton of new blood into the format. Next week we’ll round out our July brew report with even more sweet tech from the MODO annals.

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