Learning From Four GP Copenhagen Decks

I didn’t get to tune in to GP Copenhagen this weekend, but from what I’ve seen of the Day 2 metagame, the Top 8/Top 16, and the archived coverage, it was summer Modern at its finest.  Last weekend, we were treated to GP Charlotte with Ad Nauseam in the Top 8 and Elves winning the whole event. A week later and thousands of miles away, we get Master of the Pearl Trident battling Scapeshift for the gold. Can you believe that just four months ago we had a field that was over 18% Abzan? Modern continues to mature towards a diverse and cyclical metagame, and few tournaments exemplified this better than GP Copenhagen.

Master of the Pearl Trident art

In yesterday’s article, I analyzed the GP Copenhagen Day 2 metagame, showing the event’s diversity relative to previous Modern tournaments. Today, I want to look at a few decks from the weekend and see what those decks teach us about Modern and the Grand Prix itself. Although it’s important to analyze quantitative datasets, as in yesterday’s article, it’s just as important to highlight case studies like the four individual decks in this article. These decks give us an in-depth, qualitative understanding of the format, playing off some of the broader data-driven themes I’ve talked about in previous metagame articles.

#1: Suicide Shadow – There’s Always Another Linear Deck

The first time I noticed Suicide Zoo/Suicide Shadow was in mid-February of this year while recording MTGO daily finishes. In the initial MTGS thread I created on it, I described the Death’s Shadow/Become Immense-powered strategy as “vicious”, “greedy”, and “suicidal”. All of those things are still true today and GP Copenhagen proved if a deck is vicious, greedy, and suicidal enough, it can make it all the way to the Top 16. Here’s Fabrizio Anteri’s Suicide Shadow deck that he piloted to a 14th place finish at Copenhagen:

Suicide Shadow, by Fabrizio Anteri (GP Copenhagen 2015, 14th place)

Creatures (20)
Death’s Shadow
Wild Nacatl
Kird Ape
Monastery Swiftspear
Street Wraith

Sorceries (8)
Gitaxian Probe

Instants (12)
Become Immense
Temur Battle Rage
Mutagenic Growth
Vines of Vastwood

Artifacts (4)
Mishra’s Bauble

Lands (16)
Verdant Catacombs
Bloodstained Mire
Wooded Foothills
Windswept Heath
Stomping Ground
Godless Shrine
Overgrown Tomb
Blood Crypt
Temple Garden
Sideboard (15)
Leyline of Sanctity
Stone Silence
Nihil Spellbomb
Ancient Grudge
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As a quick rundown on the deck, you are trying to stick 1-2 threats, preferably a Death’s Shadow, and then send it into the red zone for lethal along with pump spells. Because Shadow gets biggest when your life total is low, the deck is packed with self-damaging spells to cantrip and see if the coast is clear (Probe), pump your creatures (Growth), and disrupt your opponent (Thoughtseize). As with most linear decks, the deck is deceptively complicated and often plays like a puzzle: play the right pieces at the right time and you are rewarded. Play them wrong and you are sure to lose to your own life-loss or your lack of meaningful interaction. Frank Karsten wrote a brief walkthrough of the deck back in early June, which you can check out for more details on the deck.

Temur Battle RageSuicide Shadow may not have won the event or even made Top 8, but it was still one of the most significant decks at GP Copenhagen. Why? Because while everyone else was packing Blood Moon for Amulet Bloom, Rest in Peace for Grishoalbrand, and Fulminator Mage for Tron, Anteri was mauling people with 15/15 battle-raging Shadows. It would have been impossible, and quite frankly, paranoid and stupid, to prepare for his deck. In that sense, Suicide Shadow underscores one of the most important lessons of Modern: there is always another linear deck out there. These outliers may not constitute a large metagame share and you may not even run into one of then at your next tournament (especially a big one). But rest assured that somewhere on the floor there’s a guy playing his trusty tier 1 deck and getting flattened by Temur Battle Rage.

Once you understand the omnipresence of linear decks, there are a few steps you need to take to not be a victim of Become Immense or Hive Mind. The most important step is deck knowledge. Being able to identify a deck in the first two turns of the game is critical to succeeding in Modern. If your opponent goes turn one Bauble, fetchland, Probe, Nacatl, don’t be that stooge to crack fetchland into shockland and play Inquisition of Kozilek. And if you do, don’t get upset about an 80-20 matchup format when the Immense Nacatl swings for 9+ damage. Of course, sometimes knowledge isn’t enough, which brings us to the second step you should take to insulate yourself against linear decks: play good answers. On the one hand, this isn’t Legacy where we have access to some true catch-all police like Force of Will and Wasteland. On the other hand, we can’t sell our own police cards short. Merfolk was extremely successful at GP Copenhagen with Spreading Seas and Vapor Snag. The same goes for Grixis decks with Cryptic Command and Kolaghan’s Command. And sometimes, you need to get creative: Chord of Calling into Magus of the Moon is one of the least fair plays you can do in a fair deck (following Snapcaster into Kolagahan’s). Leverage these versatile answers and play decks that can support them and you will be well-positioned against that next linear deck no one else expected.

#2: Scapeshift – Blue Control Must Be Proactive

Modern is a format full of complainers. To some extent, Magic is a game full of complainers, but as someone who has been playing Modern since the beginning, I feel this is truer of Modern than most other formats. One of the most common complaints, apart from the usual ban-mania (#banarashincleric), is that Modern lacks “true” control decks, especially blue ones. It’s a shame that BGx decks get Abrupt Decay when blue control seems stuck on Mana Leak. But folks, they don’t call our format “Modern” for nothing: blue-based control (like practically every other aspect of Magic) has modernized and evolved since the days where Dark Ritual into Hypnotic Specter was gamebreaking. If you had any doubts, here’s Steve Hatto’s 2nd place Scapeshift list from GP Copenhagen:

Scapeshift, by Steve Hatto (GP Copenhagen 2015, 2nd place)

Instants (19)
Cryptic Command
Izzet Charm
Peer Through Depths

Sorceries (6)
Search for Tomorrow

Creatures (6)
Sakura-Tribe Elder
Snapcaster Mage

Lands (25)
Scalding Tarn
Flooded Grove
Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
Breeding Pool
Misty Rainforest
Stomping Ground
Steam Vents
Sideboard (15)
Engineered Explosives
Ancient Grudge
Anger of the Gods
Back to Nature
Inferno Titan
Creeping Corrosion
Vendilion Clique
Obstinate Baloth
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Blue-based control tends to take three different forms in Modern. The first are the “true”, traditional, draw-go style decks that we remember from the days of Stasis. The most common example of this in Modern is UWR Control which, as anyone who follows our Top Decks metagame page will know, isn’t exactly the most successful deck in the format (the deck currently has a 1.1% metagame share). It’s fine to have reactive elements in Modern but, as basically every GP in the past 6 months has attested, you can’t be completely reactive. You need to be doing something in Modern, which is why we don’t see decks like UWR Control in event Top 8s or Top 16s, but we do see decks like Hatto’s, Gerard Fabiano’s Sultai Control, or Patrick Chapin’s Grixis Control. A turn four Restoration Angel just isn’t very threatening.

Splinter TwinThat brings us right to the other two forms of Modern blue control: combo-control and clock-control. UR Twin and Scapeshift are the archetypical examples of the combo-control deck, with the Gurmag Angler-powered Grixis Control an example of the clock-oriented control strategies (you can also think of these as a protect-the-queen approach to control). In both cases, you are combining the reactive elements of blue control, typically countermagic and card draw, with the proactive elements of a quick combo win. Or, in the case of clock-control, a durable, hard-hitting threat. Those reactive elements allow you to stop an opponent from advancing their own gameplans. Meanwhile, the proactive ones force them to respect yours and let you win the game before they punch through your defenses. The results of such archetypes speak for themselves, with decks like Twin and Grixis Control tearing up the June metagame and the overly reactive ones like Blue Moon and UWR Control languishing in the depths of tier 2 or tier 3. Indeed, these purely reactive decks have a history of evolution towards proactive elements, as in Jeff Hoogland’s 7th place Temur Moon from SCG Baltimore or Shaun McLaren’s UWR Kiki Control.

Many of you are probably wondering why Scapeshift is teaching this lesson when a blue deck like Twin or Grixis Control seems a better fit. After all, Scapeshift is hardly the tier 1 monster it used to be, and its GP performance has been almost nonexistent in recent months. But that’s exactly why Scapeshift’s 2nd place finish at GP Copenhagen is so noteworthy. This deck was certainly not better-positioned than Twin, and yet it brought an experienced pilot to a Top 8 finish. To me, this speaks to the general power of reactive elements when combined with a proactive plan. Or, stated differently, Cryptic Command and Snapcaster Mage really are that good when paired with some kind of proactive element. Scapeshift suggests that it doesn’t even matter what kind of proactive plan you incorporate. As long as you are doing something your opponents must respect, the strong reactive elements can do their work. Grixis Control and UR Twin remain the best representatives of this approach, but if Scapeshift can do it, it suggests a lot of other strategies can do it too. Moving past GP Copenhagen, I expect to see more blue-control players internalize these lessons and add proactive elements to their control gameplan.

#3: Merfolk – Catchall Disruption is King

I like to think of Merfolk as a tier 2 version of Affinity. Like Affinity, the deck never really goes away and always has legs (fins?) even in the most inhospitable metagames. Also like Affinity, it’s the sort of synergy-driven aggro deck that is totally extinct in Legacy and often feels extinct in Modern. It certainly felt that way in the days before Collected Company. But unlike Affinity, Merfolk was probably on the bottom of people’s prediction lists for the winner of GP Copenhagen. And when the weekend was over, not only had Mefolk won the tournament but it had also sent two pilots to the Top 8. Here’s Przemek Knocinski’s GP Copenhagen-winning decklist:

Merfolk, by Przemek Knocinski (GP Copenhagen 2015, 1st place)

Creatures (25)
Master of the Pearl Trident
Lord of Atlantis
Master of Waves
Merrow Reejerey
Tidebinder Mage
Silvergill Adept

Instants (5)
Vapor Snag

Artifacts (6)
Relic of Progenitus
Æther Vial

Enchantments (4)
Spreading Seas

Lands (20)
10 Island
Wanderwine Hub
Minamo, School at Water’s Edge
Oboro, Palace in the Clouds
Cavern of Souls
Sideboard (15)
Master of Waves
Tidebinder Mage
Kira, Great Glass-Spinner
Spell Pierce
Tectonic Edge
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When I look at Merfolk’s win at Copenhagen, I don’t necessarily see the next big tier 1 aggro deck. Merfolk will always be a solid tier 2 player and may float into tier 1 every now and then, but this is no Burn or Affinity. Merfolk is a tiny bit too fair to compete with those decks on a regular basis, especially when the metagame shifts to punish fairer decks. So the takeaway here isn’t to buy out all the foil Cursecatchers because Merfolk is the next hot thing, or even that Merfolk is the best-positioned aggro deck in Modern (that’s probably Affinity). Instead, I want us to look at the Merfolk decklist and see why this particular strategy was so successful in a field that seemed to heavily favor Snapcaster decks, Bolt decks, linear decks, and really any deck that wasn’t a bunch of mono-blue Lords.

CursecatcherAlthough the redundant Lords are undoubtedly important to Merfolk’s success (and the main reason Merfolk remains the most viable tribal archetype in Modern), I don’t think these are the primary causes for Knocinski’s success. That honor belongs to his disruption. In a diverse format like Modern, versatile answers like Vapor Snag, Dismember, Relic of Progenitus, Spreading Seas, and the almighty Cursecatcher are invaluable. All of these cards serve two functions. First, each of those cards is highly relevant against at least two or three of the top-tier decks in the format. Snag and Dismember ruin Twin’s day just as much as they screw with Jund and Abzan. Seas puts the hurt on not only Tron, but also Jund and Affinity. Relic messes with Company, Griselbrand, anyone using Snapcaster or delve, and dozens of random graveyard-based decks. Even if you can’t predict your matchups, this kind of versatility keeps your answers relevant. The second reason these cards are so strong is that they both disrupt while also allowing Merfolk to advance its own gameplan. Blood Moon is great but it doesn’t cantrip. Seas does. Terminate kills a creature, but Dismember does the same for just one mana. Overall, Merfolk’s disruption is the perfect balance of versatile and efficient, which set it apart from other aggro decks at GP Copenhagen.

Looking past Copenhagen, Merfolk’s success should empower other players to try out versatile, catchall disruption spells in other decks. Jordan Boisvert’s Temur Delver build, as he’s discussed in articles on this site, is very much in that lineage: Simic Charm is easily one of the most versatile spells in the format, especially for just two mana. We see similar innovation around Kolaghan’s Command, an extremely versatile and efficient spell that we are only starting to abuse. Command could definitely find a home in Mardu or Rakdos midrange/aggro decks as players better understand its power. Another example of efficient catchall disruption is Flickerwisp, and it’s no coincidence Hans Christian Ljungquist rode the Elemental to a Top 8 finish with his Mono White Death and Taxes build. I expect to see more decks like Merfolk, Death and Taxes, and Temur Delver as the summer progresses and players build around versatile answers to handle a diverse metagame.

#4: Grixis Delver – Just Add Angler/Tasigur

Grixis Delver was one of the coolest decks to come out of the recent Modern offseason. As I talked about in my Grixis Delver history article a few months back, the deck was grassroots development at its finest. Players from across the Modern community independently tested, piloted, and refined the strategy in a variety of different events, with minimal (if any) input from pro players. But despite my love for the deck, I also acknowledge it’s probably the weakest of the three Grixis decks in Modern. Grixis Control is a real top-tier deck and Grixis Twin isn’t far behind. Grixis Delver, however, still suffers today from many of the same problems that it did months ago, including a hideous Burn matchup and vulnerability to Bolt in a Bolt-packed metagame. Even so, Branco Neirynck piloted his Grixis Delver list to a Top 8 finish at the GP: his list is shown below.

Grixis Delver, by Branco Neirynck (GP Charlotte 2015, 7th place)

Creatures (14)
Delver of Secrets
Young Pyromancer
Snapcaster Mage
Tasigur, the Golden Fang
Gurmag Angler

Sorceries (7)
Serum Visions
Gitaxian Probe

Instants (21)
Thought Scour
Lightning Bolt
Spell Snare
Mana Leak
Izzet Charm
Kolaghan’s Command

Lands (18)
Darkslick Shores
Scalding Tarn
Polluted Delta
Bloodstained Mire
Sulfur Falls
Steam Vents
Watery Grave
Blood Crypt
Sideboard (15)
Kolaghan’s Command
Magma Spray
Engineered Explosives
Izzet Staticaster
Vendilion Clique
Blood Moon
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Grixis Delver’s performance at GP Copenhagen reminds me a lot of Scapeshift’s. In both cases, the deck itself probably wasn’t optimal. But also in both those cases, there was an underlying strength which compensated for any weaknesses. For Scapeshift, this was the pairing of the reactive powerhouses of Command/Snapcaster alongside a proactive plan. For Grixis Delver, it’s not the strength’s of the deck’s namesake creature, but rather that of his supporting team: Gurmag Angler and Tasigur, the Golden Fang. Delver might not be the best-positioned creature in Modern, but Tasigur and Angler are so strong that you can practically pair them with anything and get results.

TasigurTasigur (and Angler, to a somewhat lesser extent) fundamentally changed Modern. I’m not quite at the point where I want to call them better than Tarmogoyf, but they definitely fill roles that Goyf can’t while still giving you the same basic body. Players always used to joke that you could just add Goyf to a deck to make it better, and although we saw a little bit of that in Yuusei Gotou’s Goyfinity deck back in GP Kobe 2014, this never really caught on in Modern. Some decks certainly relied on the green monster, especially Zoo and BGx decks, but there were plenty of creature-based green decks that avoided Goyf entirely. But this is increasingly not the case with Tasigur and Angler. Modern is becoming packed with decks that are sticking either/both creature into their deck just for some added muscle. We are also seeing a lot of previously tier 3 decks shoot up to tier 2 or even tier 1 mostly due to the strength of the delve creatures.

As with Scapeshift, I do not think Grixis Delver’s success speaks to the strength of Delver itself. I think it just underscores how strong Tasigur and Angler are in this metagame. Moving past GP Copenhagen, we should expect to see even more decks running these two creatures. We should also expect previously less competitive decks becoming more competitive with the addition of Tas/Angler, or at least using these cards to compensate for current weaknesses. For instance, Burn’s metagame share has dropped precipitously in the past month, but perhaps Tasigur can revitalize the deck by giving it recursion and a permanent body on the field. More obscure decks also stand to benefit from this card. Something like UB Control or, more realistically, Sultai Control could gain prominence on the backs of Tasigur and Angler. If you are a deckbuilder, you should look to see if Tasigur and Angler can improve your gameplan. There will certainly be times where they do not fit with your strategy. Creature-heavy decks, or Company-based decks, don’t have the basic synergies to enable quick delve. But for decks that do have those synergies (I’m rooting for UB Control!), Tasigur and Angler can give you newfound viability. As a player, this just means to expect lots of Tasigur and Angler in the coming months. Graveyard hate will become more relevant. So will removal that actually hits these cards (read: don’t run more than 2-3 Decay, and even 3 is pushing it). If you are unprepared for this and think something like Bolt or Decay is the catchall answer it used to be, expect to get beaten hard by the Sultai delvers.

Modern After GP Copenhagen

With GP Singapore coming up this weekend and the Modern PPTQ season kicking off shortly thereafter, summer Modern is nowhere near over. As you head into your Modern events, whether online, at your local store, or on even bigger stages, it’s important to keep in mind the lessons from GP Charlotte and GP Copenhagen. It’s also important to combine these more qualitative takeaways with the hard, quantitative data underlying the metagames. This dual approach will ensure that you have all the tools you need to make informed deck and card decisions over the summer and get to the top. GP Charlotte and GP Copenhagen have ushered in an exciting era of Modern and I’m excited to see how GP Singapore will feed into these developments.

(Also, we updated our Top Decks page and the metagame sidebar to reflect the post-GP Copenhagen format!)

11 thoughts on “Learning From Four GP Copenhagen Decks

  1. I’d be very intrigued to see some kind of helm of obedience style kill con printed into the modern format–there’s no hard graveyard removal in standard (not continuous at least, like RIP or leyline) and such a thing likely wouldn’t break standard, but it would open up an interesting metagame predator style of deck that could abuse all the graveyard dependence in modern by eschewing its own graveyard entirely in favor of using the lack of graveyards as a win con.

    1. That would be awesome. In that spirit, I tried a terrible Immortal Coil deck that exiled the graveyard with the usual suspects of Leyline/Relic/Spellbomb, donating the Coil with Bazaar Trader and Puca’s Mischief. Desperately needed Donate and the deck was pretty terrible, but boy it was a lot of fun!

  2. Solid write-up, though I have a few comments:

    1. I think what aggro deck is best positioned in the meta going forward is still up for some debate (with Burn, Affinity, Elves, and Merfolk all having at least some degree of validity to their claim), but I’m going to go ahead and side with Merfolk over Affinity and Elves given the popularity of Kolaghan’s Command. A 2-damage removal spell is less effective against Merfolk than against any of the other decks mentioned thanks to all of those Lords, and the “destroy target artifact” clause hits Affinity harder than virtually anyone else.

    2. Speaking of Lords, I am of the opinion that some Merfolk decks don’t quite carry enough (their overall creature counts feel low to me – 26+ is where I like to be as aggro). The universal disruption you mentioned is useful and it makes sure you can finish the job, but the global pump effects are the bedrock upon which the deck is built. Do you think some players will double down on this strategy and start including even more Lords (like Merfolk Sovereign) over disruption/utility cards in order to increase their consistency? It’s been working quite well for me, and you can always bring in disruption from the board if need be.

    3. Does the success of Grixis Control and the (relatively) lackluster results posted by Grixis Delver signal a potential shift toward the Temur brand of Delving? I think Jordan’s deck is quite good, and once he or someone else can figure out a couple of ways to make the BGx matchup at least palatable, it will be a consistent presence at tourneys. What say you?

    4. I wholeheartedly agree with your point that Blue control must be proactive, so I wanted to ask what you thought of Dragonlord Ojutai as a finisher in the Jeskai builds. It’s very likely you get at least one swing out of it, it gets you cards when you connect, and even when not hexproof, he dodges most varieties of removal (including the important ones in Bolt and Decay). Thoughts?

    1. I can’t tell you about Ojutai in a UWR Control-style deck, but he is a really good finisher in the Esper builds. The thing with UWR is that they don’t really need a finisher card in the first place, especially one at 5 mana. The Bolt-Helix-Snapcaster win condition is perfectly fine on it’s own and if the game goes late you have Colonnade(s). You can be a lot more efficient with your mana in those colours, just like Grixis is right now (ok maybe not on THAT level, but you get the idea). For that big of an investment in Modern you really have to get a lot of bang out of your buck and something that can get easily killed once it taps is not it (Terminate, Path, Cut, Dismember).

      If you want to be playing with a finisher, it has to be near impossible to remove and preferably end the game on the spot. Keranos has that function against the URx decks… or Uxx decks in general. I know, it’s not the greatest against the green decks or combo… but it’s just an example.

      Oh, and if you really want to be playing Ojutai, which is not the worse place to be, by all accounts, don’t forget to run Minamo.

        1. Again, I don’t think you need to… but it’s definitely possible. What used to be Batterskull can easily be Ojutai now, especially in a post-Kolaghan’s Command world. And Keranos has been historically run alongside our favourite battering ram as well. So yea, it’s definitely possible.

    2. Regarding #2, I think there is a careful balance between number of lords you run and your removal/permission package, as you do need to protect yourself from your opponent’s combo or a wipe effect.

      It does feel like 26 creatures is the sweet spot for the deck. However, Merfolk Sovereign doesn’t usually make the cut for me. The core of mono-blue Merfolk is the 8 2 mana lords, 4 Cursecatcher, 4 Silvergill Adepts, 4 aether vial, 4 spreading seas, and 20 lands (44 cards total). I usually like to include 4-6 pieces of disruption/permission, as you really do want some maindeck ways to interact with your opponent, particularly for a deck like Twin. So that leaves 10-12 flex slots. Usually I spend those on some combination of Merrow Reejerey (2-4), Master of Waves (2-4), Phantasmal Image (0-2), Tidebinder (0-4), depending on how much I feel like I need to free up slots in my sideboard), Kira (0-2), Spellskite (0-2), and going up to the full 6 disruption/permission (vapor snag, spell pierce, or dismember).

      Reejerey definitely feels like the 3rd best lord, as its effect can either help you ramp or do neat combat tricks like tap down a blocker or really tricky stuff like tap down an O-Stone, forcing your opponent to trigger it to wipe the board before your lord enters play, as we saw in the invitational. Once I’ve got 14-16 lords, throwing in a couple phantasmal images feels safe, as they are likely to have a good target.

      That leaves me with 10-16 lords if you count phantasmal image as a virtual lord. 10 lords is definitely on the light side, but on the other hand, if you’re slamming down a Master of Waves with 3-6 elementals by turn 4 and tapping down their Tarmogoyfs with Tidebinder that still packs quite a punch.

      Post sideboard, the lord count usually takes a hit, as I might have to take out some number of Phantasmal Images and Reejereys to become more responsive.

      1. I definitely agree with your assertions regarding what makes up the core of the Merfolk deck, but I just don’t think that Phantasmal Image is a good card in this spot removal-heavy meta. It’s too difficult to protect (Kira and Vapor Snag can’t save it, for example), and even something like Monastery Siege only delays the inevitable. I also don’t feel really compelled to save sideboard space by putting Tidebinders in my mainboard, and I don’t think that Kira or Spellskite contribute more than a real Lord does, since the whole point of tribal pump aggro is to reach a “critical mass” of size, and 16 real Lords do that better than 12 real Lords and 2-4 Images.

        My spin on the deck has 28 creatures (thanks to 4 Merfolk Sovereign and 4 Master of Waves), and it does very well even in the face of large amounts of spot removal, thanks to its Burn-esque redundancy. I’ve been debating adding Dismember to the mix, but frankly Vapor Snag has been able to do the job, and this improves my aggro mirror matchup, because I don’t deal myself any damage at all.

        1. Don’t just think of Phantasmal Image as lords 2-4. He’s far more versatile. Copy their Voice of Resurgence: now he can’t be removed without giving you a token. Copy Geist of St Traft: now you have a hexproof image. Copy Kitchen Finks: now you can gain life which merfolk couldn’t do on its own and you can recur him when he does top copy something else. PI i think is a key part of disruption: remove him or else, leaving your lords alone.

    3. 1. If I had to put in a longshot bet for aggro, I think it’s Affinity right now. There just aren’t a lot of top-tier decks that have white as a primary color anymore, which means the scariest sideboard hate isn’t really an issue. K-Command and Grudge are still everywhere, but Affinity is so resilient to those cards in practice (especially with the added Welding Jars we are seeing). The issue with Merfolk now is the same issue it’s had for years: the deck is just a little too fair. Affinity has these explosive turn 4 wins even through removal and the possibility for turn 3 wins with risky Ravager/Inkmoth shennanigans. Merfolk, however, is about as fair a turn 4 aggro deck as you can get, and it’s really more a turn 5-6 aggro deck when facing removal. Although it compensates for this with strong interaction, I still think the experienced Affinity pilots are best positioned to leverage their deck right now.

      2. I don’t think I’d add more lords, although I do like the shift to more Master of the Waves: that was a card many players derided in Modern Merfolk when it was first spoiled, and a few of us knew right away this was going to be a big hit. I do think we are going to see Merfolk decks stay heavy on their interactive, utility creatures (Cursecatcher, TIdebinder), and not sacrifice those slots for a more aggressive approach. Merfolk is too fair to go totally linear, so it needs those disruptive options.

      3. I love Jordan’s deck. If I thought it was a pile, I never would have let him post those articles, and i think he’s really onto something special and interesting with it. But if there’s any deck I don’t want to have a bad matchup against, it’s Jund/Abzan. And from what I’ve seen of testing the deck myself, his writeups, forum threads, and his GP experience, that deck has a REALLY bad Jund/Abzan matchup. Once that gets to at least 40-60 or 45-55, then the deck will be much better. I think it can definitely get there though, and the shift to Huntmaster in the board and Charm in the maindeck is a good step in that direction.

      4. Ojutai actually strikes me as a reactive threat, not a proactive one. You can’t tap out on turn 5 in Modern against a lot of decks, and he doesn’t have flash. That said, I absolutely love Teferi as a control vs. control threat. Dropped on turn 5 at EOT, that guy proactively closes out the game in a hurry. For UWR Control to get some viable proactive threats, I’d look to Geist again (UWR never had an issue with removing creatures), Lingering Souls (ala 4C Control), or just more V. Cliques.

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