The storm ruined our back-to-back PTQ weekend, but the Modern didn’t stop. I headed to the store on Sunday for the first of a handful of Modern events as we prepared for the Twenty Sided PTQ. I had half-considered playing UWR, a deck that I was very fond of initially, but slowly grew apart from. The advantage of playing UWR in a meta like 20SS is that I’d easily crush any Burn decks I’d run into (and there’s always Burn), but I ultimately decided against it—both because I felt the deck is too soft to combo, and because I’d be running UW for the PTQ and wanted as many reps with it as possible.

Deck: UW Modern

Counts: 60 main / 15 sideboard

Creatures: 18
4 Snapcaster Mage
3 Geist of Saint Traft
2 Kitchen Finks
3 Vendilion Clique
4 Restoration Angel
2 Baneslayer Angel

Spells: 17
4 Path to Exile
4 Spell Snare
3 Mana Leak
2 Remand
2 Dismember
2 Cryptic Command

Lands: 25
4 Celestial Colonnade
1 Eiganjo Castle
2 Hallowed Fountain
4 Island
1 Marsh Flats
1 Moorland Haunt
1 Plains
3 Scalding Tarn
4 Seachrome Coast
4 Tectonic Edge

Sideboard: 15
2 Celestial Purge
1 Rest in Peace
2 Spellskite
3 Stony Silence
2 Aven Mindcensor
1 Kitchen Finks
2 Tempest of Light
2 Supreme Verdict

I went with Kitchen Finks over Blade Splicer for a couple of reasons. While Splicer is a beating when combined with Restoration Angel, it was mostly there as a speed bump for Jund. And while Jund isn’t exactly on the wane, it is certainly getting less popular. Finks is also a competent blocker, and the lifegain is huge against the UWR decks—or any aggressive deck, period.

As for the Mana Leak/Remand split, it was something I wanted to try out. There’s nothing wrong with running a full set of Leaks, but in the problem matchups for UW like Scapeshift and Tron (ones that out-mana you very quickly, thus making Leak obsolete), sometimes you just want to delay them for a turn while you’re killing them with Geist. It also feels amazing to counter a flashback spell with Remand, but those cases are few and far between.


Round 1: Sunny—Dredgevine
Game one wasn’t a game. Sunny mulled to six, played a Gravecrawler off of a Blackcleave Cliffs, and proceeded to do nothing else for the rest of the game as I Geisted him to death.

Game two was as a closer affair, as Sunny dumped a Stinkweed Imp immediately off of a turn one Faithless Looting, and set up the engine. I was able to minimize his development over the next few turns by Pathing away a Gravecrawler, stranding the other three in his graveyard. Sunny got a lot of mileage out of a couple of Bloodghasts until I played a Finks, stabilizing at 12 life. By then, Sunny’s library was starting to look like a draft deck, and it would only be a matter of time before he found his Vengevines.

Sunny eventually hit two Vengevines off of dredging a Golgari Thug, then played both the Thug and his Stinkweed Imp to get back the Vines. He came in with his team, but I was at a healthy enough life total (thanks to Finks and Angel) to make a few trades and survive the alpha. I untapped, Pathed his Imp, and sent in 10 damage in the air to win.

-2 Dismember, -2 Spell Snare
+2 Celestial Purge, +1 Rest in Peace, +1 Kitchen Finks

1-0 matches, 2-0 games.

Round 2: BrookBant
It was Brook’s first foray into the world of Modern. Being a lover of non-top-tier strategies, he came with his own Bant midrange brew. Turn two Geist and turn three Elspeth can get pretty scary, but luckily for me, Brook never got to live the dream. He did get to jump his Rhox War Monk a whole bunch of times and go up to 40-some life at one point, but he had no flyers on the defensive, allowing me to fight through two Elspeths with my Baneslayer. Things looked a little scary when he Bant Charmed my Baneslayer, leaving only a persisting Finks to deal with a Monk and a Hierarch, but I eventually started to draw gas, removed his threat, and won off of Geist and Angel.

-2 Spell Snare
+2 Spellskite

I wasn’t entirely sure what to board for the match, as I seemed pretty well suited already, but I suppose cutting down on Snares against a deck with only a few two-drops seems okay. Plus, Spellskite is a capable blocker for Rhox War Monk, and can draw removal.

Game two went pretty poorly for Brook, mulling down to six cards with no mana dorks. His turn three Mirran Crusader promptly ate a Path, and the basic he searched off of Path put him on four lands, which let me Tec Edge his Temple Garden to keep him off of green. He never recovered, and died to Finks beatdowns.

2-0 matches, 4-0 games.

Round 3: John—RG Tron
Good ol’ John Fung. We test this matchup a lot, enough for me to know that it’s an uphill battle. Like I mentioned before, Tron gets out of range of Mana Leak real quick, and a resolved Karn on turns three, four, or five is almost impossible to beat.

That said, they need to have it in the first place, and John didn’t for the first game. His mull to five on the draw was made even worse when I Snared his Sylvan Scrying, and a resolved Geist on the next turn spelled the end.

-2 Dismember, -1 Mana Leak, -2 Baneslayer Angel
+3 Stony Silence, +2 Aven Mindcensor

Game two was also a complete blowout, but this time with me on the receiving end. Despite being on the draw, things looked good for me with a T2 Stony Silence and T3 Geist, but John casually untapped, assembled Tron, and slammed down Karn Daddy. Karn exiled my Stony, which let John crack the egg he played on T1, filter for a red mana, and kill my Geist with a Pyroclasm. Just another day at the office. I hung in there for a few more turns, but with no real way to stop Karn, and with John quickly accelerating toward Emrakul mana, I scooped up my cards.

John would mull to five again in the third game, while I kept double fetchland, Seachrome Coast, double Geist, Resto and Cryptic. I drew and played Snap at the first available opportunity, then untapped and played Geist to keep the pressure up. I hit John down to 10 before he played Karn. I let it resolve instead of playing Cryptic, then saved the Snapcaster he tried to exile by flashing in Angel, which put him dead on board.

With quite a bit of luck, I was 3-0 matches, 6-1 games.

Round 4: Hugh—Rb Burn
Hugh was piloting Matt’s Burn deck. I dislike Burn and think it’s too inconsistent to be considered a good deck, but knew it’d be dumb of me to not respect its good draws. Not to mention, Hugh is a more than capable pilot and one of the best players at the store (he did win the store championship, after all). We decided on a split, but played it out for funsies. Hugh would take it in three close games. I didn’t see any Kitchen Finks or Spellskites in the entire match, though what really did it was a misplay on my part in game three. I was down to three life, and ambushed an attacking Goblin Guide and Grim Lavamancer. Instead of blocking the ‘Mancer, I chose to block the Guide, bringing me down to two life. Hugh attempted a Skullcrack for game, which I countered with Spell Snare, but with Skullcrack and Goblin Guide in the yard, I was dead if I let Hugh untap with Lavamancer. This forced me to bounce it with Cryptic during my main phase instead of playing Baneslayer.

As it turned out, Hugh had another Skullcrack, but if he didn’t, it would have been a complete punt on my part. I definitely need to avoid mistakes like these going into the PTQ.

Ultimately, it was 3-0-1 matches, 7-3 games.


Some observations: I did not miss Splicer at all. Finks was more than competent in that slot, and gained me some critical points to stay alive in G2 against Dredgevine. I wasn’t super impressed with Remand, as I didn’t get to counter anything Mana Leak couldn’t have, but I think they’re fine as they are for now. I could revert to the old configuration of four Leaks and a flex slot, but I have no idea what to put in there. I had a singleton Jace Beleren for a while, and he was great at drawing a whole bunch of cards on an uncontested board, but he is yet another three-drop in an already clogged slot. As it is, I’m perfectly happy running nine pieces of permission and six removal spells for those first couple of turns in which the deck forces me to land-go.

There is another Modern event this Sunday, and then it’s all eyes on the PTQ. Color me excited.

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