Once again I came very close to missing the Pro Tour, but with one of my last chances, I managed to get on board and will be at Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch in Atlanta on the wings of Jund. I’m not in love with Modern, but I needed to play it this time in order to Top 8 an RPTQ in Rome—not an easy thing to do, since RPTQs in Italy are always 150+ players, and because people in Italy love playing Modern—they are prepared, and they know what they do.
I needed to test, and I needed to find a deck list that I was comfortable with. I started my testing very early, since the last time I played a Modern event with more than 5 rounds was PT Fate Reforged. I tried a few decks and I’ll explain why I discarded them in order to choose my deck for this event.
- UR Twin: After BBD’s 2nd place finish at GP Oklahoma City, I started playing UR Twin on MTGO and at local events. The deck wasn’t difficult to play but the hate my opponents had was always too much, and between Rending Volley, Torpor Orb, and the amount of BGx decks around, I felt like it wasn’t the right deck for the tournament.
- Merfolk: Harbinger of the Tides is certainly a great Magic card, but the precarious matchup against Affinity and Jund made me dislike this choice.
- Jund: Too many combo decks around, and the deck can’t answer them all. (We’ll get to this later.)
- Lantern Control: I read quite a lot about the deck, spent 100 tix on MTGO to buy Ensnaring Bridge, but then never won a game. I guess I needed way more preparation and brain power to play this deck.
- Scapeshift with Bring to Light: Even if you have more copies of Scapeshift in your deck now, this deck is still slow and clunky. The rising popularity of Burn made me discard this deck quite easily.
- Naya Company: My buddy Cammilluzzi was winning all the local Italian tournaments with it, and he highly recommended it to me, but I kept losing to Merfolk, Scapeshift, and all the unfair decks. Big Zoo isn’t ready for Modern yet in my opinion.
- Naya Zoo Burn: Atarka’s Command is certainly a busted Magic card in this deck, but it’s still a burn deck, with all its weaknesses. The idea of playing Burn wasn’t fitting in my head, and even though I had a good win percentage on MTGO I chose not to play this deck.
Now what? I failed with every deck I tried! I was destined to lose this RPTQ. On Thursday night, though, my friend Enrico Baldrati reminded me of my past—I only play Jund in every format, and Jund is still a deck. Even if it is a reactive strategy and not proactive, Jund is still solid and I knew what to do. At 2 a.m. he helped me tune the deck list and repeatedly told me: “Go ask Reid Duke! You know him, and he’s the Jund master!” I know the feeling when people keep asking you about formats that you don’t care about, and I didn’t want to be one of those, but in the end Alexander Hayne convinced me, and this is what Reid answered:
He asked for the metagame info, I gave him what I roughly knew about the Italian meta, and he said that it was a great field for Jund and sent me the deck list he recommended.
Enrico and I tuned it a little bit more since he was playing a couple of cards that I disliked, but I’ll get to that later though. When you think about what makes for a great personality and great player, remember that Reid Duke will always be on top of his game, he’s just everything I want to become in my Magical experience—a true master when playing, incredibly humble when discussing plays, and super helpful when needed.
I will always be Reid Duke’s #1 fan, and I hope one day to team up with him for some events.
Sentiments aside, it’s time to show you the deck list I Top 8’d the RPTQ with:
Italy RPTQ Top 8
There were 158 players at the Rome RPTQ, and it’s time someone said something about this system and how, once again, Americans are favored to qualify for Pro Tours over Europeans, starting with the fact that there’s roughly 1 GP per week in the U.S., while, after Brussels, I’ll have to wait until MARCH for another one in my country!
The USA has way more RPTQs than Europe, and some of them are so little that even with a 4-2 record, you’re able to reach the Top 8, while in Italy 2 people needed 7-1 to get the ticket for Atlanta.
I’ll give you this simple example from the last RPTQ season:
The field was infested with Abzan and Jund. I saw just 1 Tron deck in the hall, and Affinity players quickly disappeared from the top tables after the first few rounds, probably due to the fact that the last WMCQ in Italy had 5 Affinity decks in the Top 8. I played, in order:
- Affinity 2-1
- Abzan Company 2-0
- Naya Company 2-0
- Grixis Twin 2-1
- Abzan 2-1
- RW Burn 2-1
- Jund 0-2 (I wasn’t able to draw because I was the only player at 6-0 due to thousands of draws)
I finished the Swiss in 6th place, and unfortunately Giada Remia wasn’t able to make it, coming in 9th at 6-1-1…
The list Reid Duke gave to me had a different mana base from the one I submitted, here are the changes and why I preferred mine:
I loved the 2 Forests—fetching for a basic is great since there are many decks that attack your life total, and often you’d search for the second Forest to have more green mana untapped for Scavenging Ooze, to cast Kitchen Finks, or to play around Blood Moon better. I’ve always been in love with Treetop Village, but because I decided to play a 2nd Forest I couldn’t run the Treetop as well.
In addition to that, I changed another card from the deck list Reid sent me. He was playing only 2 Terminate and 1 Huntmaster of the Fells. I really dislike Huntmaster now that Jund and Grixis both play Kolaghan’s Command, I really recommend against playing it. I saw some people playing Pia and Kirin Nalaar. I haven’t tested it at all, but it seemed very underpowered, as was Olivia Voldaren. I could see myself not running any 4-drops and playing 1 Kitchen Finks maindeck, since I was boarding it in every time.
The sideboard was the most difficult part—so many decisions, so many options, and if you have any questions I’ll answer just like Brad Nelson answered me: “Please do what makes you happy. Modern is too tough for people to agree.” This statement is so true, I don’t expect you to run my 75 and call it a day, you need to think about your metagame, which cards you like, and how you would sideboard against the top 5 decks you expect to play against.
The only change I made to Reid’s sideboard was -1 Slaughter Pact +1 Abrupt Decay. I’m not in love with Slaughter Pact—it’s worse than Decay against the mirror, Twin, Affinity, and Blood Moon. I guess it’s a surprise effect, but that’s it. I was in love with Night of Soul’s Betrayal, but Reid told me that he wasn’t boarding out Dark Confidant against Affinity, in addition to boarding in Grim Lavamancher, so 2 Shatterstorm and 1 Ancient Grudge were enough.
Liliana is of course great, mostly on the play against their turn-2 creature, but it’s not good in the late game against a deck with 3 Kitchen Finks. Some players love to board in Fulminator Mages. I don’t. They aren’t that good and Stone Rain isn’t what you want in a matchup arriving on turn 10 or later, because usually the matchup devolves into a top-deck war. Don’t argue about leaving in Thoughtseize, it’s just wrong.
I’ve boarded out Dark Confidant since the beginning of time with this deck, but Reid told me to keep them because you want to draw your key cards in order to win the game, and it doesn’t matter if you lose around 5 life in the process.
This is a good matchup for you, mostly in game 1. Game 2 is an attrition game and Liliana of the Veil is key. My plan for game 2 is to grind them out, making them use their Lightning Bolts and Electrolyze on my face because there aren’t any other targets, and we just gain back life with Kitchen Finks. Dark Confidant never survives, and as I said we need to turn their Lightning Bolts into Lava Spikes. Keranos, God of Storms is tough to beat if we don’t have a board, but Tarmogoyf provides that, and Thoughtseize can take it away.
Bear in mind that UR versions have Blood Moon post-sideboard, and that they might leave in a couple of Splinter Twin to combo you out if you are unprepared. Grixis and Temur versions instead always board out the combo, and don’t usually board in Blood Moon—but if you can, fetch for a Swamp and a Forest for extra safety.
The sideboard plan is pretty simply here, and the game plan as well. Try not to take too much damage from your lands and their creatures. Usually you win the games where they draw too many creatures and reactive spells (Searing Blaze, Path to Exile, Deflecting Palm). Liliana of the Veil is great, and Tarmogoyf is your best card—who would have thought?
People say it’s a bad matchup, but both Simone Giovannetti and I won our win-and-in against Burn—the matchup is way closer than people think.
I won’t get deeper with matchups, because there are dozens of decks in Modern and it’s impossible to cover them all. I will be siding out Dark Confidant quite often against decks that play Lightning Bolt, but that doesn’t mean it’s a weak card for this deck. You just have to be good enough not to die by your own Confidant.
Have fun in your next Modern event, and remember that Jund is a lifestyle!