Turns out, Wizards can be quite and quickly responsive to the wishes of the community. One week after announcing that all four Pro Tours next year will be Standard (and that there would consequently not be any Modern Pro Tours, much to this author’s chagrin), Wizards announced the return of the Modern Pro Tour! Additionally, on Friday, Wizards acknowledged the awkward launch of their new website and fixed many problems with it.

It’s refreshing that Wizards is being open and forthcoming about both their missteps and their fixes. I feel like it’s something I’m unaccustomed to from Wizards (not including of Mark Rosewater’s amazing tumblr, Blogatog, which I cannot recommend highly enough). Granted, perhaps I’m overly bitter about the last year of Magic Online or overly concerned with smaller potatoes like the Emmara Tandris/Voice of Resurgence kerfuffle. Still, it’s nice to see the company being clearly sensitive to the wishes of the community and the needs of the game. Hats off to you, Wizards, and thank you for returning my favorite Pro Tour.

Bogbrew Witch

Given the return of the Modern Pro Tour, we can expect that the best of the best will continue to both play Modern and do their best to break the format. As for the current state of the format, Grand Prix Boston, the most recent major Modern tournament, demonstrated that Melira Pod and Splinter Twin are not the be-all, end-all of Modern, with neither deck being represented in the top eight. Blue Moon and Infect made a huge resurgence alongside format pillars Robots and BG Rock (which took the title, playing white for Lingering Souls, Stirring Wildwood and sideboard cards).

As for this author, I’ve been running Geist of Saint Traft decks for over a year. I love UWR Geist, make no mistake, but it just doesn’t perform well against BG decks—which are both very popular and very good at the moment. While I still plan to play and tinker with UWR, I’m also excited at the prospect of doing something something different and potentially crazy. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you… random Modern deck ideas!

Puresteel Paladin

I love Sword of Fire and Ice (it’s repeatable card advantage and board control), Sword of Feast and Famine (brutal for and against control decks), and Sword of War and Peace (also known as Sword of Protection from [almost] all removal) and am eager to make an equipment-heavy deck. Squadron Hawk, Lingering Souls, and Moorland Haunt (cheap, evasive threats that resist removal) play very well with equipment. However, what if we went a bit bigger and played even more equipment?

In a deck full of cheap equipment and artifacts, Puresteel Paladin can become a card advantage machine. It can combine with Auriok Steelshaper to produce prodigious amounts of mana (by discounting equip costs or making them free).

The question is: what equipment does a Puresteel Paladin/Auriok Steelshaper deck rely upon? The Mirrodin Swords are good enough on their own that they don’t need to cantrip or be made cheaper. Bonesplitter/Cranial Plating/Mask of Memory likely aren’t strong enough on their own, and require a live Paladin (a tall order in removal-rife Modern) to cantrip and justify their inclusion. Batterskull is amazing and would benefit from a cost reduction, but is probably too slow to play more than one of in this aggressive white shell. We could play a bunch of one-of cheap equipment and Trinket Mage/Steelshaper’s Gift to find the right pieces when we need them, but absent powerful tutor targets like Skullclamp, there may not be enough “right pieces” for the paladin presently.

Grand Architect

Grand Architect has always promised to be a sweet engine for an artifact ramp deck, enabling a Wurmcoil Engine as early as turn three. Grand Architect works beautifully with Treasure Mage to find ramp targets like Sundering Titan, Myr Battlesphere, and Wurmcoil Engine. Unfortunately, with only four copies of the architect available to a deck, there simply wasn’t enough of an engine to build the deck (leaving monoblue Tron the only blue-based artifact ramp deck in Modern). That is, until Chief Engineer was printed.

Chief Engineer and Grand Architect both reward players for having an ample number of early-game creatures. Obviously, the Architect produces more explosive starts, but the Engineer comes down a turn sooner, has a very similar effect, and can produce mana with non-blue creatures. Such a deck would likely feature at least some cheaper artifact creatures like Solemn Simulacrum, and Chief Engineer can tap Simulacrum to produce the same amount of mana as Grand Architect without requiring blue mana.

The options for ramp targets in such a deck are plentiful— obvious inclusions are mentioned above, though folks could go more controlling with Batterskull and Platinum Angel, more value-based with Staff of Nin and Steel Hellkite, or more insanely ambitious with Blightsteel Colossus. Treasure Mage is an obvious inclusion since it produces mana with both engines and can tutor up the most relevant 6+ drop at any point.

The big question is what cheap (blue) creatures should fill out the deck? We could use il-Kor" data-card-name="Looter il-Kor">Looter il-Kor and Enclave Cryptologist to help find the right pieces, but they die to every removal spell and already tap themselves. We could use Cursecatcher and Judge’s Familiar to stall our opponents, except they don’t do anything to advance our game plan (and can’t stop Splinter Twin or Birthing Pod). We could use Sapphire Myr to produce mana, but then why not use artifacts like Coldsteel Heart or Talisman of Progress that don’t die to creature removal. What is the missing piece of the deck?

Champion of the Parish

I’ve got more ideas for brews (like Lotus Cobra/Grave Titan and Champion of the Parish/human aggro), but that’s all the time we’ve got for today.

I’d like to hear what you think. How do you feel about Wizard’s sudden turnaround on the Modern Pro Tour? Do you think you know what my Modern deck ideas are missing? Do you have your own nonstandard decklist that you’d like to share? I’m happy to discuss it all in the comments below. And as always, thanks for reading.

—Zachary Barash

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Zachary Barash has been playing Magic on and off since 1994. He loves Limited and drafts every available format (including several that aren’t entirely meant to be drafted). He’s a proud Cube owner and performer, improvising entire musicals every week with his team, Petting Zoo. Zach has an obsession with Indian food that borders on being unhealthy.

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