Welcome to Modern Hero

Where do I even begin? This is a question many Magic players ask themselves when they get ready to play a new format for the first time. Wizards of the Coast has attempted to help you answer this question. They have created the Modern Event Deck. This B/W Tokens mid-range deck costs $75, a reasonable price compared to the hundreds of dollars required to play a deck with Scalding Tarn, Misty Rainforest, Tarmogoyf, or Dark Confidant. But, is it even worth the investment?

That’s where Modern Hero comes in. I’m going to buy the Modern Event Deck and put it to the test. Here’s what you need to know:

  • I will be using the actual event deck purchased from my local game store
  • Every week I will enter a four-round Modern tournament hosted at my LGS for a $10 entry fee
  • After each tournament I will post a report on the deck’s performance that week
  • The tournament reports will end with a poll for voting on improvements to the deck
  • A budget of $10/week will be used for making the improvements
  • Any prizes I win at my LGS will also be used to make improvements
  • After 8 weeks of testing, I will play the deck at Grand Prix Boston/Worcester
  • Once all is said and done, post-GP Boston, we will be auctioning off the final deck for charity

The total budget for this project is $275 which includes the $75 event deck, nine weeks of tournament entry ($80), nine weeks of improvements ($80) and the $40 entry fee to Grand Prix Boston/Worcester. You’ll get to follow along week-by-week and see the improvements and help direct the changes made to the deck. In the end, we’ll have a community-built deck to be proud of.

Last Week on Modern Hero

When we last left off, I had a sub-par week in which the Modern Event Deck was finally introduced to the Birthing Pod monstrosity not once, not twice, but three times out of four rounds! The consensus vote at the end of the week was that this tokens deck needs Thoughtseize if it’s going to compete.

Modern Hero - Week 2 Upgrades

  • Save 100% ($15) for Thoughtseize (44%, 272 Votes)
  • Save 66% ($10) for Thoughtseize and spend up to 33% ($5) on minor upgrades (37%, 229 Votes)
  • Save 50% ($7.50) for Thoughtseize and spend up to 50% ($7.50) on minor upgrades (11%, 67 Votes)
  • Forget Thoughtseize. When are you gonna buy some Godless Shrines? (4%, 22 Votes)
  • Spend up to 100% ($15) on minor upgrades (3%, 19 Votes)
  • Save 33% ($5) for Thoughtseize and spend up to 66% ($10) on minor upgrades (1%, 8 Votes)

Total Voters: 617

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After week two I was left with $15 in the budget for advancing the deck. For week three I added another $10 bringing us up to $25. Also, many of you encouraged me to trade the more valuable cards out of the deck that I wouldn’t be using, namely Elspeth, Knight-Errant. I wasn’t comfortable getting a random amount of trade value, since not everyone is as skilled at trading. So I decided to add the buylist value of the card to my budget. This would mean that if I wanted to put Elspeth back in the deck at some point, I would need to “re-acquire” her. This added another $6 bringing us up to $31 for improvements. But, there was one more issue to resolve…

Modern Hero - What to do With Donations?

  • Accept them as goodwill and a representation of the community helping new players. (39%, 249 Votes)
  • Accept them but still count them against the improvement budget. (34%, 216 Votes)
  • Don't accept donations because they hurt the legitimacy of the project. (26%, 163 Votes)
  • Don't accept donations for another reason. (0%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 631

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Everyone was almost evenly split on this debate. Strong cases can be made for all of the options presented. Ultimately I am going to select a compromise between the first two options. I will take the Thoughtseize donation and count 66% of it against the improvement budget. My LGS gets $16 for Thoughtseize, so I picked up two of them for $26.50 against the budget. I immediately put them in the maindeck for Shrine of Loyal Legions. Don’t get me wrong, Shrine is a good card and can be abused in this deck. However, I was frequently side-boarding them. So, out they go. With the remaining $5.50 I wanted something to bolster the sideboard. A redditor suggested Suppression Field and I picked up two copies for $1.50 each. We were now left with $2.50 in the budget and an updated deck.

March of the Multitudes

Creatures (6)
Hero of Bladehold
Soul Warden
Tidehollow Sculler

Spells (30)
Honor of the Pure
Inquisition of Kozilek
Intangible Virtue
Lingering Souls
Path to Exile
Raise the Alarm
Spectral Procession
Sword of Feast and Famine
Zealous Persecution
Lands (24)
Caves of Koilos
City of Brass
Isolated Chapel
Vault of the Archangel
Windbrisk Heights

Sideboard (15)
Burrenton Forge-Tender
Ghost Quarter
Kataki, War’s Wage
Relic of Progenitus
Suppression Field

Four Rounds of Modern

Round 1 – Robert with Jund

Round 1

You may know Rob if you’ve read his Melira Pod primers on this very website. I kept a hand of six and Rob lead with a Blackcleave Cliffs. I was surprised that he was playing Jund and he explained that he was unhappy with his performance at a recent PTQ with Melira Pod. He ran out Tarmogoyf and then Liliana of the Veil. I tried to stabilize with Hero of Bladehold but I never saw enough anthem effects to keep my team alive from Rob’s mass-removal effects like Golgari Charm. I eventually died to ‘goyf when I got mana-flooded and we moved onto game two.

  • +2 Burrenton Forge-Tender
  • +2 Duress
  • +2 Dismember
  • -1 Hero of Bladehold
  • -3 Zealous Persecution
  • -2 Soul Warden

In game two I opened up with a Swamp and Thoughtseize. Rob had kept a hand of six and I saw Jund Charm, Forest, 2x Verdant Catacombs, and 2x Raging Ravine. You can probably guess but I won that game. Rob was not happy about keeping those six cards and he should have known better against a deck with so many Duress effects. In game three I opened with Inquisition of Kozilek and saw a lot more gas from Rob. I was also holding Thoughtseize in my hand. Rob had lead out with a Forest, and here’s what I saw:

  • Thrun, the Last Troll
  • Courser of Kruphix
  • Liliana of the Veil
  • Dark Confidant
  • Dark Confidant
  • Scavenging Ooze
  • Blackcleave Cliffs

Not exactly the best options for me. I could take one of the Confidants but he had another one to run out on turn two anyways. I decided to go for the cards that had the potential to do the most harm to me. I took Liliana with the Inquisition and on the next turn I took Thrun with Thoughtseize. Rob said he would have taken one of the Confidants but I felt that I could handle Dark Confidant. Thrun and Liliana are much harder to deal with once they’re in play. Rob ended up winning anyways when I stalled on three land allowing him to make mostly fair trades for my spells.

Event Deck 0—Not Event Deck 1Draws 0

Round 2 – Nate with Mono-Blue ‘Tron

Round 2

Nate told me he had only been playing his deck for a short time and that this was his first tournament piloting it. I asked him what it was and he said Mono-Blue ‘Tron. I sighed. Hoping that my new Thoughtsieze goodness would help I shuffled up and kept a very aggressive hand of six cards. Within four turns I had Nate to -5 life. Nice job Modern Event Deck. Oh wait, there’s one problem. Nate’s gameplan was as follows:

  1. Urza’s Tower, Expedition Map
  2. Urza’s Mine, Crack Expedition Map for Urza’s Power Plant
  3. Urza’s Power Plant, Platinum Angel

I guess I should have mulliganed until I saw Thoughtseize, but that seemed like a poor plan with only two in the deck. I figured I’d get one of my three copies of Path to Exile eventually. I died to Mindslaver lock with Nate at -34 life.

  • -2 Zealous Persecution
  • -2 Soul Warden
  • -2 City of Brass
  • +2 Ghost Quarter
  • +2 Duress
  • +2 Dismember

I kept a decently aggressive hand and used Tidehollow Scullers to try to keep Nate off of his counter-magic allowing me to eventually Dismember his Platinum Angel. I managed to produce a lot of tokens but Nate had a lot of blockers including Wurmcoil Engine. We reached an impasse where I could not get any damage through and he eventually was able to cast Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. I survived the first Eldrazi attack, but not the second.

This game was defined by my ability to draw half the land in my deck. A similar phenomenon occurred in game three of the previous round. I started wondering if 24 was simply too much land for a deck with only a single card costing four mana. Without the fixing of Godless Shrine and Marsh Flats perhaps it was necessary, but I was getting sick of never drawing gas in the late game.

Event Deck 0—Not Event Deck 2Draws 0

Round 3 – Joe with Jund

Round 3

Joe was very fun to play against and was in very good spirits despite us both having started on two match losses. The first two games of this match were not terribly exciting. The Event Deck has a very strong game against Jund (though you wouldn’t know it from round one). I opened with Thoughtseize and then Raise the Alarm.  Joe had an Inquisition of Kozilek but I had enough anthems to power through a quick win.

  • Sideboard plan identical to Round 1

Game two did not go according to plan at all. I ended up paying four life to Dismember a Tarmogoyf at the end of Joe’s second turn. Joe had gone to 17 life to play that ‘Goyf so it felt like a fair trade. Lingering Souls put a couple 2/2 flyers into play but Joe had a couple copies of Drown in Sorrow to put an end to my fun. He built up another ‘Goyf and Scavenging Ooze to send us to game three.

Game three went about as poorly for me as possible. I kept a very aggressive hand and even brought Joe down to 4 life before eventually losing to my own idiocy. Here were the first half-dozen cards or so that Joe had:

  • Thoughtseize
  • Inquisition of Kozilek
  • Golgari Charm
  • Liliana of the Veil
  • Drown in Sorrow
  • Maelstrom Pulse

He was able to keep me from absolutely wrecking him. I managed to almost stabilize the game, but between Liliana and board sweepers I couldn’t keep enough creatures around to prevent him from ending me with a pair of Tarmogoyfs.

Event Deck 0—Not Event Deck 3Draws 0

Round 4 – Kenny with U/R Twin

Round 4

For the first time in a month I was out of prize contention before the final round. So it was with a bit of relief that I sat down to play Kenny. This was Kenny’s first ever sanctioned Magic tournament. A few friends had recently gotten him into the game and he decided to pursue Modern instead of Standard. He told me it seemed like a better idea to invest in cards he could play with for a longer time. He was playing U/R Twin, so I assumed Kenny is a Johnny-type. I used Thoughtseize in the first game to see Remand, Lightning Bolt, Vendilion Clique, Splinter Twin, Electrolyze and a land.

I took Splinter Twin, which in retrospect I think was a mistake. I have a lot of maindeck answers to Twin in the form of Zealous Persecution, Soul Warden, and Path to Exile. Kenny was able to use the Clique to get those answers out of my hand and eventually draw another copy of his combo.

  • +2 Suppression Field
  • +2 Duress
  • +2 Dismember
  • -2 City of Brass
  • -1 Hero of Bladehold
  • -1 Sword of Feast and Famine
  • -1 Intangible Virtue
  • -1 Tidehollow Sculler

Like I said earlier I was sick of drawing too many lands, so I boarded out City of Brass for non-land cards. A bit of a risk but it worked out. Now, at this point you’re all going to roll your eyes because the way I won the next game was 100% because Kenny was new to Magic. I played Thoughtseize on Turn 1 seeing Splinter Twin, triple Deceiver Exarch, Desolate Lighthouse, and two fetch lands. I took the Twin and passed the turn. Kenny played Misty Rainforest and passed back. I followed up with Suppression Field and Kenny did not activate his fetch-land in response. It’s a hard lesson to learn, and I hope Kenny doesn’t think less of me for not explaining the interaction to him before Suppression Field resolved. I’m sure plenty of you in the comments will call me out for this. I’m okay with that.

I won game three with both copies of Suppression Field in play (this time without abusing Kenny’s lack of understanding about how it works). The little white enchantment from Ravnica is absolutely brutal against Splinter Twin, no matter how skilled the pilot is.

Event Deck 1—Not Event Deck 3Draws 0

Wrap Up

I’m not happy about finishing the night 1-3-0. I’m not happy about losing two matches to Jund, a deck I should rightfully have a better matchup against. I’m okay losing to Mono-Blue Tron. That’s a really tough matchup for the event deck. Ultimately I think a few valuable lessons were learned this week:

  • The deck may not need 24 lands to function. I will be paying more attention to mana flooding and screw to see if I can tweak that number going forwards.
  • At the request of a redditor last week, I kept track of how much damage I took to Cities and Caves this week. It was no more than 5 damage in a single game, not counting my ‘Tron opponent using my City of Brass to kill me while under Mindslaver lock. It’s a significant amount of damage, but it isn’t costing me games.
  • I need to be much more careful about over-extending against Jund. This easily cost me my round three match with Joe. Another two Thoughtseize effects may help more, but ultimately it’s on me to make sure I’m not in a position where he can wipe my board and I can’t immediately put two or three more dudes back into play.
  • The deck needs a third and fourth copy of Thoughtseize more than it needs main-deck copies of Soul Warden
  • Suppression Field is an absolute beating. I want a third one for the sideboard.

Next Time on Modern Hero

With $2.50 left in the budget and another $10 coming next week we won’t have enough money for another Thoughtseize ($16). I want to have enough money for the third copy in two weeks which means we can spend $6.50 this week, and have $16 the following week for another Thoughtseize. For this week then, I’m going to experiment with the mana-base and cut two lands from the deck. Below you’ll find a whopping three polls! In the first one please vote for two lands to pull from the deck. In the second one please vote for two cards from the sideboard that have performed well to replace them. Finally, vote on the two new sideboard cards you want to see the most within a $6.50 budget.

Also next week we’ll have an interview with Ben Hayes, the designer of the Modern Event Deck. You won’t want to miss out on that, trust me.

Which Two Lands Should We Remove From the Deck?

View Results

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Which Two Sideboard Cards Should We Add to the Deck?

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Which Two New Cards Should We Add to the Sideboard?

View Results

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Both polls close on Tuesday at 4:00PM EST.


Money Spent on Deck: $75
Money Spent on Entry Fees: $30
Money Spent on Improvements: $6
Budget for Improvements: $2.50
Tournament Winnings: $1

Total Expenses: $111
Total Winnings: $1
Net Expenses: $110

Overall match wins: 7-10-1 (.407)
Overall game wins: 14-20-1 (.433)
Match wins vs. HotC writers: 2-1-0 (.667)
Game wins vs. HotC writers: 4-3-0 (.571)

Vs. Affinity: 1-0-0 (1.000)/2-1-0 (.667)
Vs. Faeries: 1-0-0 (1.000)/2-0-0 (1.000)
Vs. Jund: 1-2-0 (0.333)/4-5-0 (.444)
Vs. Kiki Pod: 0-1-0 (0.000)/0-2-0 (0.000)
Vs. Melira Pod: 0-1-1 (0.000)/2-3-1 (0.333)
Vs. Mono-U Tron: 0-2-0 (.000)/0-4-0 (.000)
Vs. UW Tron: 0-1-0 (.000)/0-2-0 (.000)
Vs. RUG Twin: 0-1-0 (.000)/0-2-0 (.000)
Vs. RWU Control: 0-1-0 (.000)/1-2-0 (.333)
Vs. Splinter Twin: 2-0-0 (1.000)/4-2-0 (.667)
Vs. Storm Combo: 1-0-0 (1.000)/2-0-0 (1.000)

Change Log

Week 2:

  • +1 Hero of Bladehold (MD)
  • -1 Elspeth, Knight-Errant (MD)

Week 3:

  • +2 Thoughtseize (MD)
  • +2 Suppression Field (SB)
  • -2 Shrine of Loyal Legions (MD)
  • -1 Duress (SB)
  • -1 Kataki, War’s Wage (SB)

Rich Stein is a former amateur Magic player turned Magic journalist. He came very close to making day two of several Grand Prix tournaments before metaphorically hanging up his playmat. He now returns to the table to sling spells in the guise of investigative journalism. You can also check out his weekly news column: What We Learned, which appears on Mondays on this very site.

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