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, eight weeks of tournament entry ($80), eight 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

Last week we ran into some of our rougher opponents in U/W ‘Tron and Mono-Red Burn. The former has the ability to win almost outright by resolving Gifts Ungiven while the latter is exceptionally fast and makes it very difficult to stabilize our mid-range strategy. With only two weeks left to improve the deck before GP Worcester we need to address this final challenge.

Modern Hero - Week 7 Upgrades

  • Go big or go home and try to save up for Leyline of Sanctity (45%, 257 Votes)
  • Finish improving the mana by swapping out Caves of Koilos for Godless Shrines (30%, 172 Votes)
  • Make some changes to the main deck such as Brimaz or Pack Rats (25%, 143 Votes)

Total Voters: 572

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45% of you want to see the deck succeed against these threats and voted for Leyline of Sanctity. This is a lofty goal, but after six weeks of tuning the deck I think we’re up for it. We obviously want four copies of Leyline to maximize the likelihood of it being in our opening hand. However, at $20 each that’s a steep order. For now though, we’re going to cross our fingers and work hard to finish 4-0 and 3-1 in the final two weeks of our journey.

March of the Multitudes

Creatures (4)
Hero of Bladehold
Tidehollow Sculler

Spells (34)
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 (22)
Caves of Koilos
Godless Shrine
Isolated Chapel
Windbrisk Heights

Sideboard (15)
Burrenton Forge-Tender
Ghost Quarter
Relic of Progenitus
Stony Silence
Suppression Field
Torpor Orb

Four Rounds of Modern

Round 1 – Mohammed with Jund

Round 1

My opening seven for the first game was about as good as this deck can produce. I had three lands, Thoughtseize, Raise the Alarm, Spectral Procession, and Intangible Virtue. My opponent mulliganed to six cards, and then to five cards. While he was pile shuffling for his five-card hand I counted his cards. I observed only 59 cards. When he presented the deck to me, I counted for myself and sure enough, only 59 cards. I called a judge and Mohammed explained he had just put the deck together before the tournament. A game loss was assessed.

For game two, Moe put a sideboard card into his deck to bring it up to 60 cards. He opened with Thoughtseize taking my only token producer. A turn two Tarmogoyf and turn three Liliana of the Veil along with some Abrupt Decays resulted in a loss for me in game two. I wasn’t too concerned as I’ve had a lot of success against Jund in the past.

In game two it was my turn to open on Thoughtseize and I saw Tarmogoyf, Slaughter Pact, Inquisition of Kozilek, Lightning Bolt, and Chandra. I took Chandra and when he cast Inquisition he ran into Lingering Souls, Spectral Procession, and Dismember. He took the removal spell and passed the turn. I drew another Thoughtseize and took ‘goyf away from him. He ended up dealing a lot of direct damage to me with Lightning Bolts but my army of flying spirits won the game.

Event Deck 1—Not Event Deck 0Draws 0

Round 2 – Lirek with U/W Control

Round 2

Game one against Lirek’s control deck was a tough one for me as I mulliganed down to five cards. I’ve had some solid keeps at five before but this was not one of them. I stalled on two lands, both of which were Caves of Koilos, and pinged myself a few times. Lirek was able to beat me down with Angels and Snapcasters for the win.

Control is usually a decent matchup for me, or midrange decks in general. I opened with Inquisition of Kozilek and saw three copies of Cryptic Command. Yikes. Luckily for me, I was able to pull a Snapcaster Mage out of his hand. Lirek didn’t have much other disruption and once he was done tapping down my side with C.C. his life total went from 18 to 8 to dead. In the final game Lirek had a decent number of Restoration Angels and Snapcaster Mages but I was able to clear a path with some timely Path to Exiles.

Event Deck 2—Not Event Deck 0Draws 0

Round 3 – Robert with Melira Pod

Round 3

If you’ve been following along then you know this is the third time in the series I’ve played against Rob. We split the first two matches so we were excited to see who would take the third meeting. Rob had previously been playing Jund but was now playing Melira Pod, a fact that was revealed when a friend shouted at him “which color sleeves is your Melira Pod deck in?” and Rob looked at the deck he was shuffling and affirmed that color. We shuffled up and drew our opening hands at which point Rob, who is a stand-up guy, called over the judge to inform him he had forgotten to de-sideboard after round two. Another game loss in our favor.

Rob took care of business and we shuffled up for game two. Rob had a turn two Voice of Resurgence and I played a turn two Tidehollow Sculler and saw Misty Rainforest, Aven Mindcensor, Chord of Calling, and three lands. Not really caring about the Mindcensor I took the Chord and then played out an army of flying spirits. Rob never found Birthing Pod or another Chord and I won pretty easily.

Event Deck 3—Not Event Deck 0Draws 0

Round 4 – Will with Mono-U ‘Tron

Round 4

I was thrilled to be sitting at 3-0, guaranteed at least $20 in store credit. I knew it would be a lot of work if I wanted to add Leyline of Sanctity to the deck so I was hoping for my luck to keep running with a decent round four pairing. It did not as I was paired against Will playing ‘Tron. Will was excited because he knew the odds were stacked in his favor. He was even more excited because of how much he hated the picture I took of him way back in week one and he wanted a new one.

Well the joke’s on you Will! I forgot to take a new picture so here’s the awful picture from week one!

Anyways, Will got mana-screwed in game one, stuck on two lands for a while, and I was able to beat him down pretty rapidly. Maybe luck was still on my side…

Ideally  I would have a more focused sideboard plan against ‘Tron but I really don’t. In games two and three I was able to Ghost Quarter a ‘Tron piece but Will easily replaced it either with Thirst for Knowledge or Expedition Map. In game two, Will toyed with me by casting out Wurmcoil Engine and Sundering Titan and another Wurmcoil Engine, all of which I dealt with, before finishing me off with Mindslaver. In game three, he just ramped up right to Mindslaver.


Event Deck 3—Not Event Deck 1Draws 0

Lessons Learned

Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. Of course, there are lessons to be learned when two of our opponents end up with game losses. These situations are totally avoidable at any level of competition and I know both my opponents were kicking themselves for making such simple mistakes. The lesson learned here is to be patient and aware. Always count our deck out before presenting to an opponent. Always check our sideboard before presenting to an opponent. Two simple tasks prior to every game will help avoid unnecessary losses.

The other lesson we continue to learn is that we have a lot of trouble against ‘Tron decks. The line of play whereby we try to use Ghost Quarter or Tectonic Edge to destroy their lands is not as effective as one would hope. Thanks to Exploration Map and plenty of draw mechanics they can recover from that rapidly. Leyline of Sanctity is likely one of the most effective ways to shut them down. Stony Silence also helps. They run Repeal, but they can only cast so many copies to deal with our answers. Wurmcoil Engine is a non-threat. It’s really Mindslaver or Gifts Ungiven that is the problem.

The final lesson we learned this week was that 22 lands is too few and we need to go back to 23. We originally felt that 24 was too many, and I still believe that to be true. As such, we will need to add one of the City of Brass cards back to the deck and take out something from the main deck. Please vote below to decide.

Next Time on Modern Hero

So we need some options for dealing with ‘Tron decks. Here is a collection of effective sideboard strategies against ‘Tron:

  • Land Destruction to prevent them from building up mana
  • Graveyard Hate to prevent them from recurring artifacts or using Unburial Rites
  • Leyline of Sanctity effects to prevent them from using Mindslaver and Gifts Ungiven
  • Hand Disruption to prevent them from casting anything effective
  • Make our own spells uncounter-able and power through their stupid deck
  • Pithing Needle/Stony Silence effects to stop them from using Mindslaver

That’s a lot of options but it translates into the poll below. Carefully choose the two best options in your own mind and we’ll go from there in the final week of Modern Hero. The deck is almost ready for GP Worcester but until it has a solid sideboard strategy against ‘Tron we’re just not there yet.

Modern Hero - How to deal with 'Tron?

  • Protection Package: Leyline of Sanctity or True Believer (34%, 158 Votes)
  • Land Destruction: Ghost Quarter or Tectonic Edge (23%, 107 Votes)
  • Null Rods: Stony Silence or Pithing Needle or Phyrexian Revoker (21%, 101 Votes)
  • Graveyard Hate: Leyline of the Void or Grafdigger's Cage or Relic of Progenitus (10%, 49 Votes)
  • Discard Package: Duress or Raven's Crime (9%, 40 Votes)
  • Counter-Proof: Boseiju, Who Shelters All (3%, 15 Votes)

Total Voters: 384

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Modern Hero - What to take out for Land #23

  • Sword of Feast and Famine (47%, 178 Votes)
  • Zealous Persecution (14%, 51 Votes)
  • Intangible Virtue (9%, 34 Votes)
  • Tidehollow Sculler (9%, 32 Votes)
  • Dismember (9%, 32 Votes)
  • Honor of the Pure (6%, 22 Votes)
  • Hero of Bladehold (5%, 20 Votes)
  • Path to Exile (2%, 7 Votes)

Total Voters: 376

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Polls close on Tuesday at 4pm!


Money Spent on Deck: $75
Money Spent on Entry Fees: $70
Money Contributed to Improvements: $70
Money Earned from Cards Sold: $6
Tournament Winnings: $41
Money Spent on Improvements: $87.00
Remaining Budget for Improvements: $40.00

Total Expenses: $215
Total Winnings: $41
Cards Sold: $6
Net Expenses: $168

Overall match wins: 17-16-1 (.500)
Overall game wins: 26-26-1 (.500)
Match wins vs. HotC writers: 2-1-0 (.667)
Game wins vs. HotC writers: 4-3-0 (.571)

Vs. Affinity: 2-0-0 (1.000)/4-1-0 (.800)
Vs. BG Rock: 1-1-0 (.500)/3-2-0 (.600)
Vs. Faeries: 1-0-0 (1.000)/2-0-0 (1.000)
Vs. Jund: 4-1-0 (.800)/9-5-0 (.643)
Vs. Kiki Pod: 0-1-0 (.000)/0-2-0 (.000)
Vs. Melira Pod: 1-2-1 (.333)/5-5-1 (.485)
Vs. Merfolk: 1-1-0 (.500)/3-2-0 (.600)
Vs. Mono-R Burn: 0-2-0 (.000)/1-4-0 (.200)
Vs. Mono-U Tron: 0-3-0 (.000)/1-6-0 (.143)
Vs. UW Control: 1-0-0 (.100)/2-1-0 (.667)
Vs. UW Tron: 0-2-0 (.000)/1-4-0 (.200)
Vs. RUG Twin: 1-1-0 (.500)/2-2-0 (.500)
Vs. RWU Control: 1-1-0 (.000)/3-2-0 (.600)
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 7:

  • No Changes

Week 6:

  • +1 Godless Shrine (MD)
  • -1 City of Brass (MD)

Week 5:

  • +2 Thoughtseize (MD)
  • +1 City of Brass (MD)
  • -2 Soul Warden (MD)
  • -1 Vault of the Archangel

Week 4:

  • +2 Dismember (MD)
  • +2 Stony Silence (SB)
  • -2 City of Brass (MD)
  • -2 Dismember (SB)

Week 3:

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

Week 2:

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

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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