I have always considers myself an early adopter. I was the first kid I knew with a Game Boy in 1989, then I got a Turbo Graphix 16 (I’m still the only person that ever bought one of those), I was amongst the first of my friends to play Magic (albeit completely wrong) and I was the first to come back to the game after a long hiatus (I’ve done that 3 times). I was not however the first of my friends to jump on the Modern Bandwagon. That honor belongs to Li Xu. I wasn’t sold on spending loads of money of cardboard again, so I gingerly put my toes in the water.

My first deck was Merfolk. Play the lords, counter the spells and path the Tarmogoyf. It was Blue with a Splash of white and it was a solid beginner deck into the format. Then Return to Ravnica came out and I bought a case! I was invested into Magic Cards again. And Merfolk while good didn’t exploit the format the way I wanted to play it.

So, as my LGS was revving up for its Modern PTQ I traded and bought my way into Azorious SuperFriends. Jace AoT, Jace Beleran, Gideon Jura and Elspeth supported by RTR’s Azorious Charm and Detention Sphere I was determined to play Modern on my terms. Which was basically, playing Modern on not your terms. Countering everything and the finishing with a game winning play. At the PTQ I went 3-5. Not for lack or a good deck, but for lack of format knowledge.

I traded and bought into UWR Geist. Bolts and Helixes and good old Geist of Saint Traft, with Snapcasters and Restoration Angels to boot, and at times a Clique here or there. I got my Fetches over a few weeks and eventually completed my set of red Fetchlands.

But I still wasn’t playing the format the way I wanted to. I wanted to play the best deck the deck that shouldn’t be allowed but for one shining moments was. That’s when I bought Eggs. For a mere $150 I was able to procure all the cards I was missing for this extremely involved combo deck. I practiced until I needed to buy new sleeves and I got the deck down, I could go off at the last possible second or I could mise a turn three kill. I finally had a winning record at a Tuesday Night Modern tourney (which my LGS started doing weekly).

Then they banned Eggs. It was to be expected, I was upset but now that I had a taste of a broken deck I wanted to play something else that was equally as unfair. I started to build Gifts Ungiven, both versions UWR and Junk with Blue. I liked the Junk version much better than the UWR. So many powerful options, Deathrite Shaman, Life from the Loam, Unburial Rites, Elesh Norn, Iona, Terrastadon! Now I was playing Magic on my terms! Putting my opponent in situations that crippled his mind, and made him tank for minutes at a time. Then I started going to time:/. That was unacceptable.

So I built Storm after Jon Finkel did well with it at Portland. I learned that deck over the course of a few weeks and did ok with it. But my LGS was a hostile environment for a new Storm player. So much control, so many discard spells. But a strange thing started happening. I was winning through discard and Counter magic. Racking up 3-1s and then after going to time in the 2nd round I 3-0-1! It was a red letter day. That was the best I had done in Modern.

Then after months of going back and forth about which deck to play at Richmond, Gifts or Storm, I decided to try UR Faeries. Delver of Secrets into Serum Visions or SpellStutter Sprite and Vendilion Clique. The deck reminded me of Delver in Standard. Plenty of tempo plays backed with Lighting Bolt and Snapcaster Mage. I won a couple 3 round tourneys with it and now I was really confused.

I tried Gifts after the banning because I thought that replacing Deathrite Shamans with Birds was fine, but then I noticed something. This deck needs those like buggers. At least the Junk version did. The incidental life gain and pressure that elf put on my opponents was enough to win several games, with out him I just fold to UWR or worse I draw.

Sick of myself after that tourney I took apart Gifts and and rebuilt UWR Geist thinking to get under Control decks. To my shame, I played and lost to 2 Faeries decks and put the Geist away once more. With only 3 weeks left I had better stick to something or risk playing with a deck I haven’t practiced with enough.

I purchased a couple of cards I was missing for RB Burn and played a Tuesday Night. And something insane happened, I 4-0’d a Modern event. Standard I’d done, Sealed, Draft, and even Legacy, but not Modern. Burn wasn’t just good it was insane. No one was ready, I came through like a thief in the night and… well I Bumped! The Next Week I was able to go 3-1 losing only to a deck with Kitchen Finks and Loxodon Heirachs. So it was in my head to play Burn…

Until last Tuesday that was the plan. To punish Zoo and pod then hope to not get matched up against UWR. I could win after board but it would be a tough run. I knew the burn deck playing it for the final TNM wouldn’t teach me anything. And I still had Storm built the week before because I had lent it to Charles. So I sleeve up Jin Finkel’s list and threw in a couple of Zingers in the sideboard and played one last event before Richmond.

Dave McCoy on UWR Geist should be a really hard match up for me. I took Game 1 on turn 4 after a tap out for Geist. Game 2 my opponent went first and tapped out for a Rest in Peace on turn 2. I responded in kind the next turn by ritualing into Blood Moon. The game went long but eventually I drew an island and was able to bounce the RIP and activated two Pyromancer’s Ascension after that the game ended quickly.

In the second round I faced Elephant Pod by Bert Phillips. Game 1 went to me on turn 3. I was loving this build. The Thought Scours were insane! Game 2 I fizzle and ran out of Draw spells and over the course of a few turns Bert’s Finks pommeled me. Game 3 I once again rolled out strong, but this time I waited until the 4th turn to go off. The extra mana and card helped, Gitaxian Probe was the allstar though as I could see he had nothing to disrupt me if I waited one more turn.

Round 3, I faced off the mirror against Charles Hagamon. I won in two games but the second game was much much closer than it looked on paper. I fizzled out and could only make 16 goblins. Charles was almost able to go off and then next turn he was able to survive my attack for another turn. Swan Song out of the board really changes how you play this match.

I split the final round with Billy he was on Jund. Which has some very strong plays still. I wouldn’t discount that as a deck just yet. We played and he was able to take me down. Thoughtseize and Inquistion of Kozilek are very good cards. After playing the newer version of this deck and seeing how I could play against Pod and UWR I’ve decided that this will in fact be my choice for Richmond. Hopefully, I’ll pilot it well enough to make day two. That’s the goal at this GP, I’ve been preparing for this for a year, I know the match-ups and the decks, it’s time to make good.

Zac Clark, Durdle Magus

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