Hope Eternal—Getting Serious

 All this month the Twenty Sided Store has been having modern events in light of the PTQ they’re hosting this weekend. I’ve gone 2-2 at the last two events with decks that, if I am being honest, are not exactly tier one. I wrote about my travails with Infect last week, and on Sunday I busted out my good old Soul Sisters brew. Now, Soul Sisters isn’t a bad deck, per se. It has some amazingly fast starts, and it can quickly put a game out of an opponent’s reach. I particularly liked the inclusion of Blind Obedience in my most recent version, since top-decking a one-drop in the late game is a lot better when you can add a couple of points of swing to it, while not having to worry about getting your attackers blown out by Restoration Angels or Moorland Haunt tokens. So here’s my list:

Creatures
Soul Warden
Soul’s Attendant
Serra Ascendant
Ajani’s Pridemate
Squadron Hawk
Ranger of Eos
Martyr of Sands

Spells
Spectral Procession
Blind Obedience
Path to Exile

Land
Flagstones of Trokair
Windbrisk Heights
Tectonic Edge
Mistveil Plains
14 Plains

Sideboard
Suppression Field
Kor Firewalker
Blind Obedience
Stony Silence
Grafdigger’s Cage
Disenchant
Surgical Extraction
Elspeth, Knight Errant

It’s not that the deck is bad!  It’s just… inconsistent. It doesn’t mulligan particularly well, and moreso than many decks it’s reliant on having a strong opening hand to get to the end. Now, there are a lot of strong opening hands, but I mulliganed a lot more than usual. Maybe it was just bad luck, but I kept getting hands with too much or too little land, and either one of those outcomes is death for a deck that wants to commit to the board quickly and with some serious pressure.

Round 1: Brook, Bant Brew

Brook was playing a solid Bant list that had an explosive start game one: a mana dork into a turn-two Geist of St Traft. I kept a hand with a Soul Sister, a Serra Ascendant, a Ranger, and some lands, and it was not a strong keep. In the dark, I thought it was likely I would draw into action, and could get away with slamming a Ranger and getting my life total back up, but Geist gives the deck some troubles, and the clock it presents is so fast. Game two I exploded out of the gates with a solid hand and before long I was at 30 life with a Serra Ascendant, and the game ended quickly. Game three I drew a seven with six lands, a six with one land and a bunch of three- and four-drops, a five with no lands, and ended up with about the best possible four-card hand: Soul Sister, Plains, two Pridemates. All I had to do was draw a land, any land, and I would be in the game. I did not draw the land, and Brook again finished me with an early Geist.

0-1 in matches, 1-2 in games

Round 2: Li, UW

Li got his day off to a rough start, and I didn’t help. UW has trouble with Soul Sisters if they’re not running a version with Wrath effects, and his version seemed more tempo- than control-oriented. Game one Li did 34 points of damage to me and I still won the game at 27 life, largely on the back of Blind Obedience. The card is solid, extorting the heck out of UW even if they counter your spells, and also having ancillary benefits like keeping a fresh Baneslayer Angel from blocking, and thus costing the UW player at least five extra life. Game two was worse for Li, since I had an early Martyr to turn on multiple Serra Ascendants, and they made short work of him.

1-1 in matches, 3-2 in games

Round 3: Larry, Jund Control

Again, my deck’s poor mulligans left me to hang. Game one I mulled into a great hand and managed to get my Serra Ascendants online through incremental advantage. Game two I lost to double Goyf, which is one of the main reasons to play Jund even after Bloodbraid got banned. Tarmogoyf is a serious card, and in multiples they’re really hard for a deck that’s not running Pulse or Explosives to beat. Game three I kept a strong one-land hand, having been tired of throwing back hands all day and reckoning it was a lot better than most of the sixes and fives I’d been forced to keep. Eventually I drew into the land I needed, but by the time I did, Larry had basically put the game away, what with his two Huntmaster of the Fells, one of which managed to flip before I could kill it. The card seems like a good replacement for Bloodbraid, since it provides a better source of life-gain than Kitchen Finks, and can put a game away on its own if your opponent can’t deal with it. (I couldn’t.)

1-2 in matches, 4-4 in games

Round 4: Zac, UW Superfriends

It was the final round, so Zac and I split the two packs going into the game. This was good, since after we played two games he had to run off to work, so he scooped to me. It was an interesting series of games though. Game one he took handily, since he was playing Jace, Architect of Thought. I had not been expecting that card, and it was the only time all day I wished my Blind Obediences were Honor of the Pure. Perhaps unsurprisingly, giving a deck like Soul Sisters a blanket -1/-0 on attack works out very poorly for the Soul Sisters player. Game two I had the nut draw of Serra Ascendant into a cracked Martyr, swinging for six points of lifelinked damage on turn two. I think I could have won game three, but again, I don’t know that for sure given how much I had to mulligan that day.

2-2 in matches, 5-5 in games

For the second Modern tournament in a row I ended with a 2-2 record, with my second win in the final round. It’s not where I want to be in general, and it’s specifically not how I want to be performing at the PTQ. So I think it’s time I bite the bullet and go back to Jund. In particular, I’ve been eyeing the list that won the MTGO Premiere tournament the other dayBloodhall Ooze is exactly the type of card I enjoy playing with, and I tend to like Deathrite Shaman decks. But the most interesting aspect of the deck may be its lone four-drop: Ghor-Clan Rampager. I tested with the deck some the other night, and the card was a really solid role-player. When you need it to be, it’s a creature, but most of the time it’s a pseudo-overrun/removal spell, winning Tarmogoyf trades and getting through to kill your opponent or knock off a planeswalker when they’re shields up. It’s funny, but I think the banning of Bloodbraid might be good for Modern Jund in the long run. Now there is a greater diversity of decks that fall under the umbrella, and you’ve got more options to tweak the deck to your individual play style now that Bloodbraid isn’t demanding a strict set of supporting cards (which I think we can all agree it usually did). Any archetype that can support a more controlling version with a bunch of four-drops and a faster version that plays a lot more one- and two-drop creatures is a healthy one, and we can thank Bloodbraid for just going away.

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  1. […] versions of Jund Aggro and Big Naya to TNM and FNM, and recorded some Modern MTGO Kiki-Pod testing. Jess Stirba piloted Soul Sisters at the weekend Modern tournament, while Li Xu ran into some trouble against Tron and […]



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