See what I did there? With the title… pretty clever right? Read on for more puns, I promise if you keep fishing you’ll find ’em.

I like Modern in theory.  It’s reuse of older cards but limited card pool means that new cards still affect the format (giving me a bit of trading value for decks I may what to build) while allowing players that have been playing for a few years to use their older cards.  It’s kind of a perfect format because the tier one decks run between $600- $1200.  Sure that’s a hefty price tag (mostly from Fetch Lands and Shocks) but this means a few things:

Play is much more important than cards.  Everyone’s searching for a few cards here and there.  I feel like until we all finish a couple decks (my theory is that to play well vs a deck you must play it well and know how it loses) it’s a format that’s gonna be hardest to dominate in.

You can play a solid deck that’s not exactly Tier 1.  Modern is an innovator’s format.  There are a ton of questions in Modern that decks ask.  “Can you stop this combo?” or “Can you deal with my ridiculously efficient cast of creatures?” or my favorite question “Are you playing islands?”

That said, my deck cost me a little less than $100, since I already had the Hallowed Fountains.  Merfolk is not a Tier 1 deck but still it’s got the elements of a deck that I like to play. It combines the aggressive speed of a beatdown deck with the “No Way Jose!” style of a control deck.  It’s kind of like Delver in that respect.

Looks like 20ss is moving its Modern/Legacy tourney schedule to twice a month alternating each week!  This is great news because I built a Merfolk deck a few months ago and have been wanting to put it in the water for a baptism of sorts for a bit.  My last modern performance was lackluster at 1-3.  So I was anxious to do better and maybe take home some of those coveted 20ss season points.

I walk in and Matt Jones is chatting with Luis, he looks like he has something up his sleeve.  I recall the words Hate Bears and Kibler being thrown around.  Suppose I can deal with some  2/2s for 2.  I buy some new sleeves and put my deck together.

75 cards, 15 sideboard
5 Island
4 Wanderwine Hub
4 Cavern of Souls
4 Seachrome Coast
4 Hallowed Fountain

21 lands

2 Coralhelm Commander
4 Merrow Reejerey
4 Silvergill Adept
4 Lord of Atlantis
2 Sygg, River Guide
4 Cursecatcher
4 Master of the Pearl Trident

24 creatures

4 Mana Leak
4 Path to Exile
3 Spell Pierce
4 Æther Vial

15 other spells

2 Phantasmal Image
1 Spell Pierce
1 Witchbane Orb
2 Pithing Needle
1 Thada Adel, Acquisitor
2 Grafdigger’s Cage
4 Spreading Seas
1 Torpor Orb
1 Stony Silence

15 sideboard cards

The plan is pretty much straight forward, nothing crazy here.  Play Merfolk. Make them huge. Kill opponent.  With the occasional stop of counter magic to stop key elements of my plan from being killed.  Aether Vial gives me massive tempo if I drop it turn one.  It’s not the thinking man’s deck, and if my opponent plays with Islands, he’s at a huge disadvantage.  The Modern format is rife with decks that have shaky mana bases, so the Spreading Seas in the sideboard can disrupt a manabase as well as neuter a man land, while netting me a card. Pithing Needle vs Tron, Witchbane Orb vs Burn, Torpor Orb vs Pod, and Stony Silence to give me a chance vs Robots.  I recently took out a few of the Merfolk to add more countermagic to the deck. I’m excited to see how this build does against the ever shifting 20ss meta.

Li comes in and we test some standard.  He’s got a new deck, with some pretty rad twists.  I’m not gonna spoil it for him.  Surprise is your largest ally in Standard and he’s rocking a rogue deck.  Looks pretty fun!  We play a couple games and pairings go up.

Right before the tourney started I lent a deck to newcomer to the store but old school Legacy vet Caleb.  The current G/W Humans deck seems like it could do well in Modern.  Caleb hands me a Bazaar of Baghdad and Timetwister to watch while he uses the deck.

Round One – Seth W/R burn

Seth wins the die roll and gam one is tough. He’s killing my dudes the instant they hit the board.  I counter here and there and get through with small amounts of damage.  He’s busy dealing with my creatures and then he drops a Temple Bell.  I like this card.  I can see how in a deck with tons of cheap spells you can easily assault your opponent well before he has a chance to play his threats.  Another Temple Bell comes down.  I’m running for the border (whoops wrong Bell) and assuming there’s some kind of massive hit coming.  Spell Pierce in hand and two Cursecatcher in play along with 4 untapped mana I decide to hold threats and swing with my Silvergill and CC’s.  Seth activates both Temple Bells I draw into more counter magic then he plays a card I’ve never seen: Runeflare Trap – I have like 8 cards in hand.  I Mana Leak successfully and he shows me enough burn to more than kill me without the Cursecatchers and Mana Leak.  Thankfully, I have them.

Game two is much different with the same results.  I side in a Witchbane Orb and play it on turn four.  Seth scoops.  That feels terrible.  Witchbane Orb just hoses his deck.  It’s not even a fun game.  That’s likely a thing in modern.  Some decks can just be shutdown by the right sideboard cards.  I feel bad, but I’m pretty happy I put the Orb in this morning.  I’m done pretty quick and opt for a caffeine break.  Round Two goes up shorter after I retur.

Games 2-0. Match 1-0.

Round Two – Sean U/R … G? Delver

I don’t recall seeing any green in Sean’s deck but I think he played with a Misty Rainforest so I couldn’t be sure.  Game one starts with Sean’s turn one Delver of Secrets and I go into post traumatic shock. I do not miss Delver as a Standard archetype.  I play an Island, go. Delver doesnt flip and Sean plays another land.  The next turn I play a Lord it dies to burn, I groan.  Delver flips and the beatings ensue.  The rest of the game Delver and Goblin guide mangle my life score as I fumble on land (even with the help of the guide) Sean takes game one handily.  I side in Witchbane Orb and a Spell Pierce and note that he only had out two land in game one.  So I side in Spreading Seas to maybe cut off this red.

Game two goes better for me when he forgets I have Sygg in play and he wastes a bolt on him. Still I barely manage to take the race as his two flipped Delvers are looking at me like I’m dinner.  Game three it turns out that Fish is in fact on the menu and he burns me out and runs into me with Golbin Guide then Delver.  I Clone a Guide as a chump to save me but I knew he had the burn to stop that plan.  Sean takes it 2-1 and I think of how many nights I cried myself to sleep then had nightmares of being attacked by Insectile Aberrations.

Games 3-2. Match 1-1.

Round 3 – Jess Soul Sister

Jess has become a sort of arch nemesis in modern for me.  The last tourney I played her in round 2 or 3 and she thrashed me with U/W – the same deck Li plays.  Normally that’s a good match up for me as the deck plays Island.  This week Jess is on the Soul Sisters plan.  Soul Sisters is a white deck that gains massive amounts of life and then beats you with little dudes.  Her little dudes fly, my little dudes Islandwalk.  Game one she tops out around 48 life before burying me in the ground at 0.  Her Squadron Hawks gain her one for four value and I only have so many answers. An anthem effect seals it.  Game two she keeps a one lander and doesn’t draw any others for a while. Additionally I Spreading Seas her land, making mana a problem for her.  It’s a laughable way to use the card but it’s working so I go with it.  She tries to Path her dude for land and I counter the Path.  A few turns later I end up Pathing the creature and then Spreading Seas her fetched land.  She eventually scoops.

It turns out that Jess got paired down this match and I’m already out of the contention this tourney for store points.  I decide to play the next game but I’m gonna scoop to her as I want as many Team HOTC players in there as we can get.  I’ve got nothing to gain (aside from a couple packs) from a win as I’m at like 757 Planeswalker Points and I’m not going to get the other 650 points I need for a third bye in the next few days.  Moot point though, Jess STOMPS me into the ground ending with her life total in the high 30’s before it’s quite obvious that Jess doesn’t need me to scoop to her she’s just gonna beat me the old fashioned way with Humans and Avatars.

Games 4-4. Match 1-2.

Round 4 Caleb W/G Humans from Standard

Round 4 is bittersweet.  Caleb (the guy I lent the deck to) has to play me.  Honestly, I’m thinking that the Humans deck might take it.  That thing is a beast at times and a good draw can kill me before I know what’s up.  I end up taking both games though in what is very uneventful Magic.  Modern decks should beat Standard decks for the most part.  Sygg, shuts him down for attacks and he never gets the green mana he needs for Mayor and Rancor.  Caleb is looking forward to putting together his own Modern deck and trading Power to folks to get the deck he’s looking for. PRETTY FREAKING COOL.  I give him back his cards and I get my deck.

6-4. Match 2-2.

Pretty solid day for Merfolk.  I won more than I lost.  The tweaks helped, but the more I play the more I want a Tier 1 deck.  Maybe something with Vengevines and Bloodghasts.  I dig Modern’s variance as far as decks are concerned.  I’ll tell you one thing I saw a cat piloting EGGs.  NO THANKS.  I miss the days when combos were three cards with synergy built into the deck.  REPRINT REPLENISH!  But I think I’ll definitely be sticking to the fair decks, Jund seems good but I’d rather play with something thats not being played by EVERYONE.  There was another Merfolk player at the tourney.  The tide is changing and with the next set introducing Simic there might be some good merfolk for this deck.  Can you say BANTfolk?  Looks like I’ve been asked to start working on Sundays again, so my Modern practice will have to take a back seat to Standard, which is still my favorite format. I think I’m sold on my deck choice for Atlantic City, now I just need to work on tweaks and sideboard.  Are you going to AC?  What deck are you playing?

Still getting modern kicks,


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