October Brew Report, Pt. 1: Melting Pot

Why do I write a Brew Report every month? Because Modern is brimming with innovation every month! While many of the decks featured in this column may not go on to win a GP, or even to carve out a sustainable metagame share, they all performed well at least once; it’s not always a cakewalk to 5-0 a competitive online league in this knowledge-rewarding format. And that success, however brief, can often serve as a launching pad for further iterations. So let’s get down to business and see which tech slapped the hardest in October.

Lil’ Splashes

Of the many existing decks seamlessly integrating new tech, the following pair stood out to me most.

Gwixis Shadow, BENCHSUMMER (5-0)

Creatures (17)
Death’s Shadow
Giver of Runes
Ranger-Captain of Eos
Snapcaster Mage
Tidehollow Sculler

Planeswalkers (2)
The Royal Scions

Sorceries (8)
Inquisition of Kozilek
Thoughtseize
Unearth

Instants (13)
Dismember
Drown in the Loch
Fatal Push
Path to Exile
Temur Battle Rage
Thought Scour

Lands (20)
Arid Mesa
Blood Crypt
Godless Shrine
Hallowed Fountain
Marsh Flats
Plains
Polluted Delta
Silent Clearing
Steam Vents
Swamp
Watery Grave
Sideboard (15)
Ashiok, Dream Render
Celestial Purge
Ceremonious Rejection
Collective Brutality
Fulminator Mage
Geist of Saint Traft
Kaya’s Guile
Plague Engineer
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Gwixis Shadow gets its name from my own failed experiments in the color combination, in which I ran Delver of Secrets alongside Monastery Swiftspear and Lingering Souls. This Shadow list, though, doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel, nor does it seem to favor either the existing Grixis or Mardu Shadow decks over the other. Rather, it seamlessly integrates aspects of both.

Here’s Ranger-Captain of Eos, the Mardu all-star that tutors the deck’s namesake and turns Unearth into a heap of value; there’s Drown in the Loch and The Royal Scions, new and promising adoptions of Grixis. Tying it all together is Tidehollow Sculler, which increases hand disruption density to ensure the deck has ample disruption to stop opponents in their tracks and enough protection to push its own plays.

Faeburrow Reborn, NUKELAUNCH (5-0)

Creatures (16)
Faeburrow Elder
Birds of Paradise
Bloodbraid Elf
Niv-Mizzet Reborn
Tidehollow Sculler

Planeswalkers (6)
Oko, Thief of Crowns
Teferi, Time Raveler
The Royal Scions
Wrenn and Six

Artifacts (4)
Arcum’s Astrolabe

Instants (7)
Assassin’s Trophy
Kolaghan’s Command
Lightning Helix

Sorceries (4)
Bring to Light
Safewright Quest

Lands (23)
Breeding Pool
Irrigated Farmland
Overgrown Tomb
Pillar of the Paruns
Prismatic Vista
Sacred Foundry
Snow-Covered Forest
Snow-Covered Island
Snow-Covered Mountain
Snow-Covered Plains
Snow-Covered Swamp
Stomping Ground
Windswept Heath
Wooded Foothills
Sideboard (15)
Alpine Moon
Ashiok, Dream Render
Crumble to Dust
Dovin’s Veto
Fracturing Gust
Kambal, Consul of Allocation
Kaya’s Guile
Knight of Autumn
Lavinia, Azorius Renegade
Rest in Peace
Supreme Verdict
Unmoored Ego
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Faeburrow Reborn offers a novel take on the five-color Niv-Mizzet Reborn lists that have become commonplace in Modern since Arcum’s Astrolabe turned the color pie on its head.

My main qualm with that deck is that once up to ten cards are drawn with the Dragon, pilots sometimes have trouble casting everything in time to not lose; in other words, early-game clunk finds itself multiplied in the game’s later stages. Faeburrow Elder, while growing to impressive size itself, mitigates this problem by functioning as an Aether Vial of sorts; players can tap it for 2-5 mana and cast whatever they want, Dragons included. Difficult as planeswalkers are to remove, Faeburrow is likely to have many colors to draw from after players untap with it.

One Is Always Enough

Also significant this month were the mono-colored strategies putting up results with the help of some Throne goodies.

Mono-White Titan, FINCOWN (5-0)

Creatures (24)
Charming Prince
Wall of Omens
Thraben Inspector
Kami of False Hope
Flickerwisp
Ranger-Captain of Eos
Sun Titan

Artifacts (1)
Crucible of Worlds

Instants (7)
Brought Back
Path to Exile

Sorceries (4)
Winds of Abandon
Wrath of God

Lands (84)
Arid Mesa
Blast Zone
Emeria, the Sky Ruin
Field of Ruin
Flooded Strand
Marsh Flats
Prismatic Vista
Snow-Covered Plains
Windswept Heath
60 Cards
Sideboard (15)
Burrenton Forge-Tender
Cleansing Nova
Damping Sphere
Generous Gift
Ghost Quarter
Remorseful Cleric
Sorcerous Spyglass
Stony Silence
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During spoiler season, David doubted Charming Prince’s staple status in Blink, Humans, and Death & Taxes. Neither of us predicted the Noble would up and create his own archetype. Mono-White Titan combines a slew of restricted reanimation effects to get the most out of Prince and its ilk, which include the searchable, blinking-unfriendly Kami of False Hope as well as a full four pre-Princes in Wall of Omens. At the top of the curve rests Sun Titan, a recursive reborn effect that buries opponents in value.

Mono-Green Stompy, FLUFFYWOLF2 (5-0)

Creatures (30)
Pelt Collector
Experiment One
Hexdrinker
Noble Hierarch
Avatar of the Resolute
Strangleroot Geist
Steel Leaf Champion
Questing Beast

Instants (9)
Aspect of Hydra
Blossoming Defense
Vines of Vastwood

Lands (21)
13 Forest
Nurturing Peatland
Treetop Village
Waterlogged Grove
Sideboard (15)
Choke
Collector Ouphe
Damping Sphere
Dismember
Reclamation Sage
Scavenging Ooze
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Mono-Green Stompy has received a number of buffs in the last year: Pelt Collector increases the consistency of explosive starts, while Steel-Leaf Champion and Hexdrinker improve the late-game. Payoffs like Avatar of the Resolute remain constant. The deck’s newest addition comes in the form of Questing Beast, a value-charged beater even making waves in Jund. In a metagame full of cheap planeswalkers, including the ubiquitous Oko, powerful haste creatures are a deckbuilding godsend, and this one seems tailor-made for sniping the card type.

Midrange Never Dies

Nor does it apparently ever stop regrouping. These three decks employ the timeless “disrupt, then commit” strategy in ways we’ve seldom seen.

Bant Mentor, ALTNICCOLO (5-0)

Creatures (12)
Monastery Mentor
Ice-Fang Coatl
Snapcaster Mage

Planeswalkers (8)
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Oko, Thief of Crowns
Teferi, Time Raveler

Artifacts (4)
Arcum’s Astrolabe

Instants (12)
Force of Negation
Opt
Path to Exile

Sorceries (4)
Serum Visions

Lands (20)
Breeding Pool
Flooded Strand
Hallowed Fountain
Misty Rainforest
Prismatic Vista
Snow-Covered Forest
Snow-Covered Island
Snow-Covered Plains
Temple Garden
Sideboard (15)
Celestial Purge
Disdainful Stroke
Rest in Peace
Spell Queller
Supreme Verdict
Timely Reinforcements
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Speaking of cheap planeswalkers, Bant Mentor packs plenty; Oko aids the shard’s previously untenable trouble with creatures, for which they once only had Path to Exile, while Teferi, Time Raveler lets the deck untap, slam Mentor, and “go off” with an army-causing cantrip chain (Force of Negation also plays to this gameplan by fronting a turn’s worth of protection for the squishy creature). As for Jace, its role seems mainly to ensure a secondary win condition: should opponents answer the Mentor Plan A, they’ll still have the blue juggernaut’s card advantage waterfall to deal with.

The sideboard is jam-packed with effective answers, ranging from catch-all floodgates Rest in Peace and Damping Sphere to macro-archetype-hosers like Spell Queller and Supreme Verdict.

BUG Ninjas, CAVEDAN (5-0)

Creatures (24)
Faerie Seer
Gilded Goose
Birds of Paradise
Brazen Borrower
Ice-Fang Coatl
Ingenious Infiltrator
Spellstutter Sprite
Vendilion Clique

Planeswalkers (3)
Oko, Thief of Crowns

Enchantments (2)
Bitterblossom

Instants (9)
Cryptic Command
Drown in the Loch
Fatal Push
Force of Negation
Spell Snare

Lands (22)
Botanical Sanctum
Breeding Pool
Misty Rainforest
Overgrown Tomb
Polluted Delta
Prismatic Vista
Snow-Covered Forest
Snow-Covered Island
Snow-Covered Swamp
Verdant Catacombs
Watery Grave
Sideboard (15)
Drown in the Loch
Spell Snare
Assassin’s Trophy
Collective Brutality
Collector Ouphe
Damping Sphere
Disdainful Stroke
Grafdigger’s Cage
Plague Engineer
Surgical Extraction
Thoughtseize
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BUG Ninjas is yet another Oko-touter. The walker’s partner-in-crime, Gilded Goose, also makes an unlikely appearance for its synergy with the ninjutsu mechanic. BUG Ninjas is without a doubt the most creature-heavy I’ve ever seen the tribe get, and I have to admit I like where it’s headed. Only two Bitterblossoms? What’s to hate?

GRx Walker Moon, CAVEDAN (5-0)

Creatures (23)
Arbor Elf
Birds of Paradise
Tireless Tracker
Bonecrusher Giant
Glorybringer
Gruul Spellbreaker
Questing Beast
Stormbreath Dragon

Planeswalkers (8)
Domri, Anarch of Bolas
Kiora, Behemoth Beckoner
Oko, Thief of Crowns
The Royal Scions

Enchantments (6)
Blood Moon
Utopia Sprawl

Instants (2)
Lightning Bolt

Lands (21)
Breeding Pool
Misty Rainforest
Snow-Covered Forest
Snow-Covered Island
Snow-Covered Mountain
Steam Vents
Stomping Ground
Wooded Foothills
Sideboard (15)
Blood Moon
Abrade
Ancient Grudge
Anger of the Gods
Chameleon Colossus
Crumble to Dust
Grafdigger’s Cage
Obstinate Baloth
Scavenging Ooze
Shatterstorm
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CAVEDAN’s second straight list in this feature, GRx Walker Moon, also makes use of Oko. This deck is similar in construction to GRx Moon builds I’ve flag-flown for over the last however many years, but there’s no Tarmogoyf; rather, it goes all-in on the mana dork survivng, and replaces Goyf with Tireless Tracker. Blood Moon also has its numbers slashed, this time in favor of cheap planeswalkers. Resolving these a turn early indeed puts the game away versus many opponents.

Combo’s Other Twist

Modern’s combo decks seem to be enjoying the new cards as well.

Copy-Cat, SPIDERSPACE (5-0)

Creatures (12)
Felidar Guardian
Arbor Elf
Ice-Fang Coatl

Planeswalkers (13)
Karn, the Great Creator
Saheeli Rai
Teferi, Time Raveler
Wrenn and Six

Artifacts (4)
Arcum’s Astrolabe

Enchantments (8)
Oath of Nissa
Utopia Sprawl

Instants (3)
Once Upon a Time

Lands (20)
Breeding Pool
Hallowed Fountain
Misty Rainforest
Prismatic Vista
Snow-Covered Forest
Snow-Covered Island
Snow-Covered Mountain
Snow-Covered Plains
Steam Vents
Stomping Ground
Temple Garden
Tranquil Thicket
Sideboard (15)
Collector Ouphe
Damping Sphere
Engineered Explosives
Ensnaring Bridge
Knight of Autumn
Mycosynth Lattice
Pithing Needle
Thragtusk
Tormod’s Crypt
Veil of Summer
Wurmcoil Engine
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Copy-Cat has existed in Modern since its ban-addressed stint in Standard. But it’s never looked like this. Saheeli Rai now has plenty of company as a strategy-appropriate planeswalker; so much so, in fact, that Oko doesn’t even make the cut. Rather, it’s Karn, the Great Creator who comes out in numbers, offering a standalone Plan B to the combo dimension the deck is named for and giving players something to funnel their Arbor-Sprawl mana into.

Time Raveler also earns its stripes here by protecting the combo, as does Wrenn for helping build towards Felidar’s four-mana price tag. Ice Fang Coatl is also a significant upgrade for the deck; while it can be blinked for cards like Wall of Omens, the Snake plays double-duty as critical defensive against Modern’s huge creatures.

Lazav Urza, HAUBIDTRAN (5-0)

Creatures (12)
Lazav, the Multifarious
Emry, Lurker of the Loch
Urza, Lord High Artificer
Sai, Master Thopterist

Artifacts (31)
Arcum’s Astrolabe
Chromatic Sphere
Chromatic Star
Mox Amber
Mox Opal
Pithing Needle
Sword of the Meek
Thopter Foundry
Welding Jar
Wishclaw Talisman

Lands (17)
Darksteel Citadel
Polluted Delta
Snow-Covered Island
Snow-Covered Swamp
Spire of Industry
Watery Grave
Sideboard (15)
Ashiok, Dream Render
Collective Brutality
Damping Sphere
Fatal Push
Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas
Thoughtseize
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In “Dismantling the Bomb: How to Fight Urza,” David commented on the archetype’s different builds and their respective strenghts and weaknesses. One feature the decks shared was their inability to do anything with an Emry or Urza that wound up in the graveyard. Lazav Urza seeks to change that predicament with its namesake legend. Not only does Lazav turn on Mox Amber early in lieu of another creature and gently dig for combo pieces, the Shapeshifter can become a copy of any creature opponents have already killed or pilots have incidentally milled.

In the scope of David’s article, relying on Lazav further exposes Urza to graveyard hate, though I’d assume not to the extent of a full Goblin Engineer package.

Tempo Twin, KAHLUAH777 (5-0)

Creatures (16)
Brineborn Cutthroat
Snapcaster Mage
Pestermite
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
Brazen Borrower

Instants (22)
Cryptic Command
Force of Negation
Lightning Bolt
Magmatic Sinkhole
Opt
Peek
Remand
Spell Snare

Lands (22)
Cascade Bluffs
Fiery Islet
Island
Misty Rainforest
Mountain
Mystic Sanctuary
Scalding Tarn
Steam Vents
Sulfur Falls
Sideboard (15)
Force of Negation
Magmatic Sinkhole
Abrade
Anger of the Gods
Blood Moon
Crackling Drake
Spell Pierce
Vendilion Clique
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Rounding things out today is Tempo-Twin, an oldie-but-goodie declared dead after the banning of its namesake enchantment. Twin-in-spirit decks employing the Kiki-Exarch combination have cropped up in Modern from time to time since then, but they’ve always been on the metagame’s fringes, and they’ve never returned to packing Tarmogoyf to bolster the aggro-control plan.

This build of Tempo Twin also refuses to dip into green, but nonetheless ascribes to the older deck’s philosophy via Brineborn Cutthroat. Brineborn’s flash plays to the deck’s predilection for end-step threat deployment, but its counters clause doesn’t sacrifice the potential for bulk. Brazen Borrower makes yet another appearance in this dump, reinforcing its worth as a utility option, while Blood Moon and Crackling Drake provide secondary plans from the sideboard.

And the Month Rolls On

That does it for the first half of October, a month that features as diverse a set of Modern innovations as ever. Join me next week as we flesh out the rest of the decklists.

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