If you want to master deckbuilding in Modern, you’ll need to master Modern sideboard construction. Players tend to be primarily focused on main decks, but it’s important to understand that most of the games of Magic you’ll play in a tournament setting will be sideboard games. It’s also important to understand that while sideboard construction is incredibly important for tournament success in every format, Modern is a particularly difficult format to craft sideboards for. This difficulty stems from the fact that Modern sideboard plans reward two different skill sets that are tricky to balance.
These skill sets are:
- Format experience: Modern is a format with a long history. Dozens and dozens of decks have ebbed and flowed in and out of prominence in the metagame over the years. Experience playing with and against these decks is immensely valuable when playing tournaments. The abilities to recognize play patterns, build good habits and navigate difficult board states are all obtained through experience. These habits you build are unfortunately at odds with the second skill set that Modern rewards.
- Flexibility and innovation: Modern is a format where the metagame evolves quickly, and being able to stay on top of things and capitalize on format changes is a great way to find success. Figuring out the best sideboard cards quickly, being willing to try new and potentially powerful things and creative deckbuilding are all valuable skills to have.
Experienced players can develop narrow mindsets about deck construction, and that can stifle their flexibility and innovation. Conversely, some players are too eager to innovate and try new things, and this can lead to shaky deck building without the foundation of format experience. Balancing these two skill sets is the key to good deck construction.
With these concepts in mind, I’m writing this guide to help you construct your Modern sideboard. This won’t be an exhaustive guide of course, since Modern is such a vast and complicated format. Instead, this article is intended to provide perspective, build on your skills as a deckbuilder, impart knowledge and help you think creatively about Modern sideboard construction