3 Formats, 9 Decks—What I Like for Grand Prix Santa Clara: Modern

Getting your team on the same page as to what decks to play in each format of GP Santa Clara may prove a challenge. I’m unsure what format I’ll be playing as of yet, and for this reason I’ve thought a bit about each format and which decks are viable. I’m going to share what I think the best three decks are to register in each format for GP Santa Clara. Last time, I covered Standard, and this time I’ll dive into Modern. Check back later for Legacy.

3) B/G Tron

Seth Manfield, Top 8 at GP OKC

Currently, Tron in its many forms might be public enemy number one. The deck is consistent at putting a powerful planeswalker or creature into play early, and has an abundance of ways to clean up the battlefield with Oblivion Stone and Ugin, the Spirit Dragon backed up by Ancient Stirrings to find what it needs. It’s hard to beat a deck like this by picking apart their hand with Thoughtseizes and Inquisition of Kozilek, as it plays off the top quite well.

The way you beat this deck is by putting a fast clock on it and beating them before they can set up. Fatal Push does a reasonable job at slowing down creature decks, but it’s likely not enough to make bad matchups good ones. Access to black does improve bad matchups though, and stealing a match or two in a tournament can go a long way. Tron is a natural foil to most fair decks and I personally like the game plan of the deck better than that R/G Valakut archetypes because the deck is better at interacting with opponents.

Seth Manfield said it best: “If you can’t beat them, join them.” This is a solid choice for the event and a deck I expect to gain in popularity after its success at GP OKC.

2) Storm

Bolov0, 11th place at Modern Challenge

So in all honesty, the reason I have Storm at number two isn’t because I’ve played it a lot and think it’s great—it’s because I’ve noticed while testing that I’m almost never happy to be paired against it with any of the decks I play. The deck is powerful and fast, and has game against almost every deck. While decks like Tron and Scapeshift will surely see an uptick in play, Storm is a great way to go right through these decks while also not being too bad anywhere else. The biggest downside of Storm is that you can interact with it in almost every way. Creature removal, hand disruption, counter magic, and even graveyard hate all slow this deck down, so your “free wins” are few and far between.

The Pieces of the Puzzle sideboard plan works well against decks trying to fight with 1-for-1s, and can even battle through graveyard hate. The deck’s results speak for it and it’s on my list of decks to test thoroughly as it’s well positioned and powerful enough to warrant consideration. This version of the deck was played by Bolov0 a.k.a. Thiago Saporito in a Modern Challenge last weekend. It’s pretty stock other than that it includes a main-deck Empty the Warrens, which can steal some wins—just getting 8 or 10 Goblin tokens can do the trick. I’m not sure it’s right to have the main-deck Empty, but it’s worth a try.

1) Grixis Death’s Shadow

Mike Sigrist

I think the rumors of Death’s Shadow’s demise are vastly overstated. The deck has game against almost every deck in Modern, and the deck I fear getting paired against most is Jeskai Control. With the rise of big mana decks, Jeskai decks should be on the decline and I feel pretty comfortable with Grixis Death’s Shadow against Tron decks and Scapeshift. Those matchups aren’t byes or anything, but like a typical Jund deck, I feel I’m a small favorite after sideboarding in these matchups among many others.

Building the deck well will take some time, but here’s the list I’d consider running if the event were tomorrow. I posted an almost identical list in a prior article, and all I’m doing here is cutting a graveyard hate card in Nihil Spellbomb for an additional card against big mana decks—the second Disdainful Stroke. I also like Ari Lax’s idea of adding the third Gurmag Angler for the second Tasigur, the Golden Fang, as it’s come up before where I couldn’t play my second threat because it’s a second Tasigur and I also don’t want to be activating into a second Tasigur. These things are small and don’t come up often, but I think the upside of an extra power against the downside of one more delve mana is pretty close that it tips the scales. If I were playing the tournament tomorrow, this is within a card or two of what I’d register in Modern.

Next comes the hard part: Legacy. Check back later in the week when I offer the three decks I’d recommend for the deepest format in the event!


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