With the recent banning of Treasure Cruise, Dig Through Time, and Birthing Pod in Modern the format has opened up a lot, and WotC has continued to the trend of unbanning another potentially strong card. While Bitterblossom ended up not having a major impact, time will tell if Golgari Grave-Troll will do better. I wonder how long until we get Stoneforge Mystic and Jace, the Mind Sculptor as well. Anyone, anyone? No?
If you weren't aware there is going to be a Modern Pro Tour in Washington DC this weekend, so I thought I'd break down what you can expect to see by looking at what decks have been doing well lately. These decks represent the combined Top 8 of the last two Modern SCG Premier IQs, and a few that I've tossed in that I expect to make an appearance.
The Black, Green, and X shell has been around for a while. For a time, Jund was the most popular and "best" deck in Modern, but the banning of Bloodbraid Elf and Deathrite Shaman took it down a notch. The core of these decks is to play the best creatures with the best removal and just enough discard to keep the combo match-up from being too aweful. If you can curve turn one discard, into Tarmogoyf, Liliana of the Veil, and top it off with Siege Rhino, that's a really powerful sequence that's going to put most match-up under a ton of pressure.
Despite the fact that every player is usually packing some form of dedicated sideboard hate for Affinity, it remains one of the more popular and plentiful decks in the Modern metagame. With its dual nature as an aggro deck with combo elements, Affinity's explosive starts demands you have your sideboard hate and it has most likely ran you over in game one. Plan A is to play a bunch of artifacts, that all interact with or power up each other. The deck is actually much more complicated to pilot than initial appearances, though pretty much anyone can win with its nut draws. There are a lot of lackluster pieces that fuel the engine and knowing what hands to mulligan is paramount to success.
Part of the Amulet Combos success has been its relatively unknown quality. Even if folks are aware of the deck's existence, few probably understand it enough to know how to properly fight it. At its simplest, the deck is looking to abuse the interactions of bouncelands Simic Growth Chamber and Amulet of Vigor to make a lot of mana very quickly. Once it's made tons of mana the decks kill condition is either to cast Primeval Titan which gets you more untapped lands in play because of Amulet of Vigor and kill with a specific sequence of utility lands. Or the more fun route, is to get a Hive Mind in play. The deck is already really interested in protecting itself and finding its pieces so Summoner's Pact and Pact of Negation are in the list. Cast a bunch of those and your opponent is forced to copy them, losing the game because they either can't make the color or just don't have enough mana.
The deck might have been hit too hard by the banning of Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time to recover, but there's some next-leveling that could occur by bringing a deck that might be thought dead. There are a few ways that the deck can be built, but essentially they are all looking to abuse Jeskai Ascendancy, mana dorks, and cheap spells to generate a lot of mana and make their creatures gigantic. From there you can either attack them for lethal or Glittering Wish a Blood from your sideboard.