I’ve received a tremendous amount of positive feedback about my last Top 8 Modern Decks Series, so I figured I’d use the winter holidays to write another series. With the next Modern Pro Tour coming up, the format is even more interesting.
Up until Oath of the Gatewatch’s prerelease weekend, I will break down UR Twin against various popular Modern decks to give you better insight into how each matchup should be played, sideboarded, and built for.
I chose UR Twin since it’s by far my favorite deck, even after trying every other 3-color variant. Even though most of the plans and scenarios I’m going to write about will strictly concern the blue/red version, I will tell you when I believe another variant would be better in a certain matchup and why. I mostly love the 2-color version because it makes the mana and the combo much smoother, essentially giving you a better matchup against most of the nonsense combos, which are usually tier 2 and 3 decks but account for much more than you think when the tier 1 decks average less than 50% of any field.
I will be using a deck list aggregate from all the cards I consider reasonable to play. It’ll be easier to demonstrate which cards can be brought in and out, no matter which UR Twin 75 you decide to play (I left out Spell Pierce since I don’t have enough experience with it):
UR Twin Aggregate
UR Twin Mirror
This is a matchup where making your land drops is crucial—there will be counter wars and the best way to win them is by having more mana than your opponent, since there are no easy ways to kill a Deceiver Exarch, and only Remand (and to some extent Cryptic Command) can counter Splinter Twin. An opposing Deceiver Exarch or Pestermite can wreck your day, delaying your combo for one turn and possibly combo’ing you back. I like to be extremely patient, make my land drops, and eventually find Vendilion Clique or Peek to get an idea of whether I can fire off the combo or not. Similarly, having one of those in the early game against an answer-light draw can lead to a quick win.
Get the most out of your Remands by protecting your own spells and hard countering a flashbacked spell (via Snapcaster Mage).
Be aggressive with your Lightning Bolts. There aren’t many targets for them and shoot the first Snapcaster you see. Same goes for your own Snapcasters—you don’t want to flashback Serum Visions when tapping 3 mana at sorcery speed is too dangerous, so you’ll be left with not much else to do but flash back Bolts.
Options for Sideboarding
Those are all the cards I can see myself ever boarding out and in. The numbers differ from opponent to opponent, so pay close attention to their style. If they tend to disrespect the combo, you would probably keep a 3rd Splinter Twin, etc.
One of the best innovations I’ve seen so far in the mirror is Cavern of Souls. If you can resolve Keranos, God of Storms and not die to their combo immediately, you are in great shape. With that being said, my go-to game plan these days is to hopefully get to see their hand—if the coast is clear, jam Keranos and ride it. If they have answers, then I would simply try to have them fight over a card I play at the end of their turn, so that they are tapped out and I can resolve the God of Storms.
I used to play a 3rd Vendilion Clique in the sideboard for the mirror as it’s one of the best cards, unfortunately there’s no room for it anymore. I board in Ancient Grudge only if I have a reason to think they have a minimum of 2 targets, usually a mix of Batterskull, Spellskite, and Vedalken Shackles, but we don’t see these anymore, Kolaghan’s Command scared them away.
Grixis Twin, Jeskai Twin, and Temur Twin
These are technically all unfavorable matchups, considering their clunkier mana base isn’t an issue in a matchup like this. From Tasigur, Golden Fang to Kolaghan’s Command, to Restoration Angel to Tarmogoyf, they each have access to a threat we can’t efficiently kill, while executing the same game plan as us.
Preboard I try not to drag them into a long game since they clearly have an edge once their mana is developed.
Spell Snare is your best option to get rid of Tarmogoyf, value them highly. Against Grixis Twin, use Remand to slow down Tasigurs, and Dispel their Kolaghan’s Commands. Jeskai Twin is the matchup I have the least information about mainly because when it used to be played a few years ago, I was piloting “All-In Twin,” which was a completely different deck than UR Twin. I would assume that Celestial Colonnade isn’t even that good, they can’t afford to tap so much mana in their main phase. Path to Exile deals with Deceiver Exarch, but the extra land you get is going to have an impact. Restoration Angel seems like hands-down the best card here, I recommend having at least one Rending Volley in your sideboard.
Options for Sideboarding
I usually try to get them with Blood Moon if they are not playing cautiously, they have fewer basic Islands than you do so even if it doesn’t screw them completely, it will at least give you an edge in the counter wars.
Even though my list of cards to board in is extensive, I would try to be the guy who tries to combo in these matchups, and Blood Moon plays well in that scenario. Consider keeping the 3rd Splinter Twin and the 3rd Dispel to protect the combo if you don’t think you’ll be able to win a long game.
Explosives is strictly for Tarmo Twin and Roast doesn’t come in against Jeskai, and if you have 1 copy main, board it out. Spellskite is loose against Kolaghan’s Command and Tarmogoyf, I would only play it versus Jeskai.
Usually Grim Lavamancer isn’t great, but you’ll need it to team up with a Lightning Bolt to kill Tasigur, Tarmogoyf, and Restoration Angel. In this case, if you aim for a longer game, I would keep a 3rd Lightning Bolt, 4th Snapcaster Mage, and most certainly Twisted Image.
Thank you for reading, and see you next week as I cover another matchup!