I wish I had a tournament report to go with this post today, but due to factors outside of my control I didn’t get a chance to make it out to play Modern. But in the meantime, I’ve been tweaking my UW build.  Here’s the list, as a reminder:

3 Kitchen Finks
1 Phantasmal Image
3 Restoration Angel
2 Snapcaster Mage
2 Sun Titan
2 Vendilion Clique
2 Wall of Omens
1 Blind Obedience
4 Cryptic Command
1 Detention Sphere
2 Jace Beleren
2 Mana Leak
4 Path to Exile
3 Spell Snare
1 Sphinx’s Revelation
2 Supreme Verdict
4 Celestial Colonnade
4 Ghost Quarter
4 Glacial Fortress
4 Hallowed Fountain
2 Island
2 Mystic Gate
1 Plains
4 Seachrome Coast
1 Blind Obedience
1 Celestial Purge
1 Detention Sphere
1 Dismember
2 Mana Leak
2 Negate
1 Ratchet Bomb
1 Snapcaster Mage
2 Spellskite
2 Stony Silence
1 Wall of Omen

Specifically, I wanted to try out Ghost Quarter in the Tectonic Edge slot. Now, common wisdom is that Tec Edge is a better card, but I am not sure if that’s true in a Path to Exile deck. While I’m not going the full Death and Taxes route with Mindcensors and Arbiters, it still seems like we’re currently playing in a Modern format where basic lands are at an all-time low, and where one of the most explosive decks can combo off of three lands. Since you’re already playing Path to Exile in a typical UW Titan list, adding in Ghost Quarter seems like you’re potentially in a position to exhaust their basic lands before the basic land clauses of either card turn into too much of a disadvantage.

Plus, Ghost Quarter plays a lot better with Sun Titan. Tec Edge is a worse card with Sun Titan because there’s a point you hit when you are out of valid targets. Maybe you’ve knocked them down to three lands, or maybe they’re left with only basics, but either way you can’t always keep looping the card with Sun Titan to deprive your opponent of hope. Plus, Tec Edge costs mana, which means when you hit six mana and cast your Titan, you can’t immediately use Tec Edge to bomb a land. With Ghost Quarter, though, a free activation means that it’s always good to go, and its ability to target basic lands means you can leave an opponent with literally no land through your typical Sun Titan loop. Now, against most decks you’ll kill them first, but there are decks like Soul Sisters out there, and you have to play the long game against that deck. With four Paths, two maindeck Snapcasters, and four Ghost Quarters, that’s a full ten of their 14 basics pulled out of their deck before you even start the recursion.

The deck I really wanted Ghost Quarter against, though, was Tribal Zoo. That deck is bonkers fast, and the ability to do a tremendous amount of damage to the dome with Might of Alara and Tribal Flames means you can’t sit back and think you’re safe once you’ve stabilized a little. It is a deck in which the basic land types of their lands matters, and that only runs a single basic land. Ghost Quarter helps in two ways. One, you have to hold up less mana to take out their lands to keep them off the full domain. Two, you can take them off significant domain before they hit four lands, which is occasionally really important since they can threaten four points off two lands alone. Being able to take one of those lands out of the equation can buy you some time to find a more permanent solution.

Anyway, even though I didn’t get a chance to make it out to Tuesday Night Modern at the Twenty Sided Store this week, I jammed a few test games against combo (specifically Reanimator combo) and Tribal Zoo. The deck performed admirably. Reanimator doesn’t have a fair match-up against the UW counter suite, and Blind Obedience just beats that deck. Dana thought she saw a way around it, but turns out Fury of the Horde is a terribly worded card, and it won’t untap your board if they came into play that way. Zoo was a more interactive matchup. It’s such a fast race that they can blow you out of the water before turn four. It makes figuring out what to keep a nightmare, because hands that would be good against any other aggro strategy are often too slow for that blazing deck. Still, if you do get a hand with Wall of Omens and Kitchen Finks and Path to Exile it’s a pretty solid match-up.

And the Ghost Quarters performed well in this preliminary testing. I was able to completely shut off the combo deck by slamming a Sun Titan and then taking away three of my opponent’s five lands. The next test is to try this change out in a tournament environment; lucky for me, I am about to head out to Pittsburgh for the Grand Prix, and there are almost always side events to rock. Wish me luck!

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