Three Decks for GP Dallas

It’s crunch time. You’ve known this was coming. You had weeks to prepare. You had plans to put on pants, go to FNM, run the Modern gauntlet, and test for Grand Prix Dallas. Instead, you sat on your couch, binge-watched Friends and eating Cheetos off your own bare chest. Now you’re scrambling, wondering what to play, possibly trying to remember how the dredge mechanic works. Your entire collection of dreams and aspirations are laid out in front of you, slowly being crushed to death by an abnormally large infant dressed up in clown paint. Fear not, I did the work for you. Here are the three decks I would play if I was going to GP Dallas.

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Infect, by Trevor Holmes

Creatures (15)
Blighted Agent
Spellskite
Glistener Elf
Noble Hierarch
Dryad Arbor

Instants (23)
Become Immense
Blossoming Defense
Dismember
Might of Old Krosa
Mutagenic Growth
Spell Pierce
Vines of Vastwood

Sorceries (3)
Gitaxian Probe

Lands (19)
Inkmoth Nexus
Breeding Pool
Forest
Misty Rainforest
Pendelhaven
Windswept Heath
Wooded Foothills
Sideboard (15)
Dismember
Dispel
Kitchen Finks
Nature’s Claim
Spell Pierce
Twisted Image
Viridian Corrupter
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I am of the strong opinion that with the printing of Blossoming Defense, Infect is the best deck in Modern week to week. Without the anchor that was Apostle’s Blessing weighting it down, Infect can now steamroll through opposing removal with a plethora of both pump spells and protection effects. The level of consistency that Blossoming Defense brings to an already-consistent archetype is terrifying. We’ve seen Infect’s numbers rise considerably since the printing of Blossoming Defense, and the stage is set for Infect to take down GP Dallas. blossoming-defenseWith the rest of the format focused heavily on stopping Burn and Dredge (as seen from the SCG Milwaukee results we analyzed last week), I believe Infect is poised to pounce on an unsuspecting field and claim another trophy for the Infect clan.

If I was playing in GP Dallas, I would undoubtedly be sleeving up the above list. We’ve talked in the past about my bearish feelings on Distortion Strike, so I’ve cut them here for two maindeck copies of Spellskite. Distortion Strike is really only helping us get through with Glistener Elf, as Blighted Agent has unblockable already and Inkmoth Nexus has flying, which in a format devoid of Lingering Souls is pretty much pseudo-unblockable already. On rate alone, paying U for +1/+0 at sorcery speed is absolutely abysmal, even if we do get to cast it again for free the next turn. Sure, there are scenarios that exist where we have a Glistener Elf and no Pendelhaven/Noble Hierarch to pump it over opposing 1/1’s, but those situations are few enough that I would much rather hedge against Burn, the mirror, and a couple combo decks while giving myself even more protection against opposing removal.

Can you really point to enough situations where Distortion Strike won the game for you, where no other spell would have got you there? distortion strikeMaybe in an open field I would find myself going back to Distortion Strike against an unknown metagame, but on this weekend, one where I expect Infect to do very well, I’m jumping at the opportunity to next-level the mirror while also helping me against the field, albeit in a different way.

As for the board, Kitchen Finks as the transformational sideboard plan is nothing new as far as technology goes, but I’ve nevertheless fallen in love with it and would definitely be playing the full four. It’s possible that with Burn completely imploding on Day 2 of Milwaukee players choose to cut hate for the matchup in favor of extra points against Dredge (and maybe even against us), so the extra lifegain for the Burn matchup is much appreciated here. It’s fine against Infect, and even great against midrange decks like Jund and Junk that can terrorize us with their wealth of removal and Liliana of the Veil. I’m not expecting midrange to show up in large numbers here, but if there was ever a weekend for a nicely tuned midrange deck to take the format by storm, this would be it.

Jund, by Michael Cohran (1st, SCG IQ Memphis)

Creatures (13)
Dark Confidant
Scavenging Ooze
Tarmogoyf
Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet

Instants (10)
Abrupt Decay
Kolaghan’s Command
Lightning Bolt
Terminate

Planeswalkers (4)
Liliana of the Veil
Liliana, the Last Hope

Sorceries (9)
Collective Brutality
Inquisition of Kozilek
Maelstrom Pulse
Thoughtseize

Lands (24)
Forest
Swamp
Blackcleave Cliffs
Blood Crypt
Bloodstained Mire
Kessig Wolf Run
Overgrown Tomb
Raging Ravine
Stomping Ground
Twilight Mire
Verdant Catacombs
Wooded Foothills
Sideboard (15)
Engineered Explosives
Grafdigger’s Cage
Grim Lavamancer
Kitchen Finks
Ancient Grudge
Chandra, Torch of Defiance
Liliana, the Last Hope
Anger of the Gods
Collective Brutality
Damnation
Duress
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Speaking of midrange, this Jund list looks poised to attack a field that has gone without a top-performing midrange presense for far too long. Dredge is back, putting the most copies of any archetype into Day 2 at SCG Milwaukee, and this list seems ready to face Dredge all day long. Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet and three copies of Scavenging Ooze in the maindeck, Anger of the Godsalongside Grafdigger’s Cage and Anger of the Gods in the board, ensure that when Dredge’s creatures die against this deck, they’ll stay dead.

Liliana, the Last Hope still hasn’t convinced me that she is better than the classic Liliana of the Veil, but I very much like the ability to plus and kill an x/1 in this hyper-aggressive format. Infect and Affinity are full of x/1’s, and even Burn, Dredge and Delver have creatures that this ability can kill. Against other value strategies, buying back a Tarmogoyf can often put the game away, especially when we’re already stressing their removal with Kolaghan’s Command letting us replay Dark Confidant.

I find myself wanting to play more Kolaghan’s Command here, but we really can’t fit it in alongside the two copies of Maelstrom Pulse. Kolaghan’s Command would definitely help our Affinity matchup, which can sometimes be a toss-up, and we wouldn’t mind the extra value it gives us against other midrange decks, but Maelstrom Pulse just kills anything.

I think the format is a little too fast for Maelstrom Pulse right now, and I wouldn’t be playing it if we didn’t have Scavenging Ooze and Collective Brutality to gain some life and buy ourselves some time. But I am somewhat concerned that it might play as little more than an expensive Terminate in most cases. Maelstrom PulseStill, we already have so much removal that as long as we’re playing anything on three we should be fine, even if we’re not getting full value. The Maelstrom Pulse debate has gone back and forth between Jund players for so long that I leave it up to them to decide for themselves. I think it’s close enough you can do whatever you choose—just be aware that you shot yourself in the foot when you cut it and find yourself facing down Lingering Souls!

Really, though, this deck is just full of good cards doing good things like always, and Jund’s success on the weekend will come down to how well its draws line up against opposing strategies. Kitchen Finks in the board and Collective Brutality in the main are all good decisions that I agree with, and as long as Jund can beat up on Infect, Delver, Dredge, and Affinity while dodging Burn and Tron strategies, you should be more than fine.

Bant Eldrazi, by Jack Cooke (1st, SCG IQ Toronto)

Creatures (27)
Drowner of Hope
Eldrazi Displacer
Eldrazi Skyspawner
Matter Reshaper
Noble Hierarch
Reality Smasher
Thought-Knot Seer
Spellskite

Instants (5)
Dismember
Path to Exile

Sorceries (4)
Ancient Stirrings

Lands (24)
Forest
Plains
Breeding Pool
Brushland
Cavern of Souls
Eldrazi Temple
Ghost Quarter
Hallowed Fountain
Temple Garden
Windswept Heath
Yavimaya Coast
Sideboard (15)
Engineered Explosives
Grafdigger’s Cage
Eternal Witness
Rest in Peace
Stony Silence
Worship
Disdainful Stroke
Stubborn Denial
Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
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Bant Eldrazi is still, quietly, one of the best decks in the format, months after the banning of Eye of Ugin. Ancient Stirrings is just as much if not more unfair than before. With a ton of powerful, hard-hitting creatures with more gametext than you would imagine could fit on a piece of cardboard, every creature in the deck does something incidentally bad for the opponent. Eldrazi Temple and Noble Hierarch power them out quickly, and even to this day this archetype surprises me with both its consistency and velocity. Stubborn DenialThe deck is fast. It is powerful. And it is coming to kill you.

At this point the list has pretty much been “solved,” as far as the maindeck is concerned. Path to Exile, Ancient Stirrings and a bunch of dudes are really all it takes to put forth a strong game one. Post-board, Stubborn Denial is excellent against a variety of strategies (as even creature decks tend to get more spell-based post-board) and countering a removal spell aimed at our Thought-Knot Seer for one mana does, and always will, feel incredibly dirty. Running 3 Engineered Explosives is a bit much, but Affinity and Infect are two of the top-played decks and both can be difficult for this archetype, so I understand seeing them here. With three Engineered Explosives alongside Stony Silence and Worship, I don’t expect we’ll be having much trouble with Affinity at all.

Play the Elspeth, Sun’s Champion if you want. Six-drops are crazy in this format, but we’re already playing Drowner of Hope. I have nothing else to say on that subject.

Conclusion

Dredge, if you know how to play it, probably deserves to be in this list too, but it’s hard to tell how it will do in a field that’s undoubtedly preparing for it. It still put a ton of copies in Day 2 of Milwaukee, but failed to do well in the Top 8, so I’m inclined to believe that the deck is a bad decision in the face of certain hate. The three archetypes above are powerful, consistent, and should give you game against the field regardless of what shows up on Saturday. Good luck, and may all your dreams be memes.

Thanks for reading,

Trevor Holmes

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Twitter.com/7he4rchitect

Trevor started playing Magic in 2011. He plays primarily online and studies Architecture at UNCC. Recent paper Magic accomplishments include a 2015 Regional PTQ win qualifying for Pro Tour: Magic Origins and a Day Two performance at GP Charlotte. He also streams weekdays at twitch.tv/Architect_Gaming! Follow him at twitter.com/7he4rchitect and architectgaming.wordpress.com!

7 thoughts on “Three Decks for GP Dallas

  1. Please consider some supplemental evasion in your Infect list. This metagame is not “devoid of Lingering Souls”; Abzan is Tier 1 at the moment. You also don’t want a prolonged board stall against Affinity. The rate on Distortion Strike isn’t the best but it does bait people into throwing removal into protection + growth (we get to run eight of those now). Another possibility is Rancor. It has been in and out of lists for years now but Tom Ross felt it was worthwhile now with Blossoming Defense to defend the target. Some folks like Slip Through Space but I’d recommend against it unless you expect the format to slow down.

    1. Going under 4 Probes is 100% a mistake, the information the card provides, the card it draws and the fact that it is fuel for Become Immense is just too strong not too play 4 of. I also wholeheartedly disagree about cutting Distortion Strike. Abzan is real the deck, Affinity has lots of chump blocker and so does Dredge.

  2. The introductory paragraph to this article made me chuckle. Well done. As for the lists themselves…

    1. As others have noted above me, the meta has plenty of fliers, so cutting Distortion Strike is rather dangerous at the moment. What creatures do you fear so much that you feel you need Dismember in the main? Also note that the card is atrocious against Burn, which is a matchup where you need all the help you can get to begin with.

    2. Why is Kessig Wolf Run in your Jund list? Is it to keep a late Goyf from being chump-blocked? Because that feels rather marginal.

    3. Why is Elspeth, Sun’s Champion in your Eldrazi list over something like World Breaker? You can find it with Stirrings, cast it about as fast as Elspeth, and it more definitively answers removal-heavy matchups (which is what I assume you’d be siding in Elspeth for – this isn’t a control deck, after all).

  3. I can’t help smiling whenever one of the authors here talks about the awesomeness of Blossoming Defense as though it’s super obvious and everybody knows it’s the bee’s knees; when I’m pretty sure it was on this very site that during previews I read that it was overhyped and didn’t do enough and Vines/Blessing are better so it won’t find a home in Infect.

    Hee hee. 😀

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