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Poring Over Pittsburgh

While 3 copies of Twin Top 8’d GP Pittsburgh, the overall results were diverse and interesting. We didn’t get any crazy new archetypes, but we did see some new technology.

Much of the innovation in Eternal formats comes from new cards impacting established decks. Sometimes, a card can give a shock to a failing archetype, resuscitating it back to viability.

GR ScapeShift

by Thien Nguyen

RG Scape isn’t anything new, going back to Standard and old Extended. It waxes and wanes and the Dig Through Time meta was definitely a waning period, and it’s interesting to see it Top 8.

Commune with Lava is the real innovation here over past iterations of the deck, and the card looks real strong. It’s a mana sink, it threatens to end the game, and it can be cast on your opponent’s turn to draw out counters and tap them down.

RG Scape doesn’t have the filtering of the blue versions, and runs Primeval Titan so that it doesn’t have to find Scapeshift every game. Now, Commune with Lava helps shore up that weakness even further.

UWR Twin

by Alex Bianchi

This list is impressive, and you don’t settle on a 1-of Wall of Omens without putting in the time. Wall is one of the reasons the deck was developed for Modern originally, but that was back when Zoo was more of a factor in the metagame and a 0/4 body was consistently useful.

One of the biggest upsides to Wall is that it adds “draw a card” onto future Restoration Angels, but you only need 1 copy in play for that. Occasionally, it’s a target for your own Path to Exiles (especially in the face of Blood Moon), or Splinter Twins. Twinning Wall of Omens is most useful in control matchups. If opponents kill the Wall in response (as they should), then you break even on cards while burning through one of their removal spells.

Still, the body isn’t as useful as it used to be. As a cantrip it’s a bit clunkier than Serum Visions, and by running a single copy Alex ensures he won’t be drawing multiples.

There are a couple interesting additions, technology-wise, since I last touched the deck. Elspeth, Sun’s Champion has seen Modern play before as a trump against Junk and Jund, but I hadn’t thought about it in this deck. Pia and Kiran Nalaar makes sense with the grindy game plan, and it’s a great blink target for Restoration Angel.

Many question the inclusion of white in Twin, especially with the black splash offering Terminate instead of Path to Exile as well as Kolaghan’s Command to help grind. However, black doesn’t have good anti-red options post-board, it doesn’t have Restoration Angel (which always overperforms here), or Celestial Colonade (a Bolt-proof alternate win condition), and black lacks a good hoser for the Burn matchup.

The only slot I’m not thrilled with is the pair of Timely Reinforcements over cards like Lightning Helix and Rest for the Weary. At 2 mana and instant speed, they’re much more possible to resolve around Atarka’s Command and are easier to Snapcaster back.

Grixis Control

by Corey Burkhart

One of the more frequent questions I hear about Grixis Delver is “what do you think about Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy?” The problem with Jace in Delver is that Delver itself requires a critical mass of spells to function. Since it’s a deck that needs to apply pressure, the few non-spell slots are best served as more threats that also take advantage of a high spell count, and while Jace impacts the board he’s definitely not a threat.

Here, we have more time to durdle. Jace doesn’t compete with Snapcaster because we want 4 of both.

While the shell could support more delve threats, Corey kept it to a minimum because he didn’t have the slots, didn’t like Gurmag Angler, or didn’t want to interfere with Jace flipping.

Pia and Kiran Nalar a.k.a. red Lingering Souls is getting some main-deck love, and I could see upping the count to 2.

UB Faeries

by Anthony Huynh

Faeries is another interesting one. I don’t know all of its matchups, but in general it does well against combo and gets dusted by Burn.

One of the reasons that Faeries never took off in Modern is that Lingering Souls matches up well against Bitterblossom since it doesn’t cost life and does more off the top. While Lingering Souls hasn’t been as format-defining as in the past, Pia and Kiran is on the way up, and that’s a reason to shy away for the near future.

Or to put it in more general terms, the more ways my opponents have to spit 1/1 value flyers into play, the less I want to play a deck with 3 Vendilion Cliques.

Although, at least Pia and Kiran can get countered or Thoughtseized, and it is only half the tokens, so maybe it’s less of a deal.

Jund

by Julian Wildes

“Julian’s Jund” just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?

This is a deck that could play Huntmaster of the Fells, and indeed has a copy in the sideboard, but chooses to play Pia and Kiran instead.

Other Jund lists in the Top 32 played Kitchen Finks, Olivia Voldaren, and Tasigur, the Golden Fang instead of Pia, and it seems like a flex slot for “insert value creature here.”

On Magic TV last week I talked a bit about Blood Moon in the sideboard of Jund, which has trouble with Tron, Scapeshift, and Amulet. Often, you can stall a few turns with discard, but you don’t kill fast enough to stop the opponent from drawing out of it, and Blood Moon helps bridge the gap.

Here, we have a tuned example of that idea in action. It’s worth pointing out because it’s a nonintuitive decision, since Blood Moon is usually considered good against Jund and shuts off the manlands, and it’s similar to running Rest in Peace in the sideboard of Snapcaster Mage decks. Sure you hit yourself, but the opponent should be hurting far worse.

Living Twin

by Mark Morrison

I love seeing this deck do well. “I’ll take my combo with a side of more combo, thanks.”

Living Twin’s origins are a bit murky, with “somewhere on the internet” being the best I can track down, but it was popularized by our own LSV!

On paper it looks janky, but there are a few nice synergies going on. The cycling creatures churn through the deck and help put the combo together, and the Twin combo forces the opponent to hold up mana and keep in spot removal.

Hate that hits one half of the combo completely misses the other half. Living End doesn’t care about Spellskite, and Twin doesn’t care about Scavenging Ooze. With their powers combined, you’re resilient to a lot of different forms of disruption.

The risk is that you draw too much of the wrong half of your deck in the wrong situation, and drawing into multiple Splinter Twins seems even worse than normal.

The deck has a few interesting targets for Splinter Twin that might come up over a long tournament. Fulminator Mage strips a land every turn, Brindle Boar wrecks Burn, or Architects of Will essentially fateseals opponents out of a game.

Discussion

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