Welcome to Modern Hero

After an incredible three-month journey we have sadly come to the end of our adventure. When Wizards announced the contents of the Modern Event Deck the response from the community was overwhelmingly negative. There were no fetch lands. There were no shock lands. There were no Bitterblossoms nor Thoughtseizes. Disappointment would be an understatement. For $75 what were people really getting? I intended to find out.

Throughout the series the most important thing was to stay true to the original mission. The goal was to find out if the Modern Event Deck was a viable way to play Modern on a budget. The budget I gave myself was $20 per week. This covered the entry into a weekly tournament at my LGS and left money to use to make incremental improvements to the deck. While it was often tempting to just dig into my own collection and add cards, the community deserved to know if their investment in the Modern Event Deck was worth it.

Three months later, after spending $75 on the deck, $120 in tournament entry fees, and $127 on improvements to the deck I think it is safe to say that the deck is playable and it can be modestly competitive. Over eight weeks of playing four-round events at my LGS I won 19 of 32 matches and 32 of 64 games. Almost a perfect record of winning half my matches. I only rarely felt that I could not win a match, usually against ‘Tron and Burn decks. Sometimes I felt like I was playing the best deck in the world, usually against Twin and Junk.

It’s been a lot of fun, and what follows here is my report from Grand Prix Boston-Worcester. After tuning my budget deck to the best of my ability for eight weeks, I took a trip with a few locals from Brooklyn up to Worcester to play on the big stage. For months people decried that the deck was okay but it could not win against the best of the best. This weekend we would find out just how good it could do on one of the biggest stages of Magic.

Last Week on Modern Hero

Last week we decided on the final changes to the deck. As an aside, please note that we were unable to obtain Sundering Growths and they were replaced by Disenchants. Here is the deck we took to Worcester:

March of the Multitudes

Creatures (3)
Hero of Bladehold
Tidehollow Sculler

Spells (34)
Honor of the Pure
Inquisition of Kozilek
Intangible Virtue
Lingering Souls
Path to Exile
Raise the Alarm
Sorin, Lord of Innistrad
Spectral Procession
Zealous Persecution
Lands (23)
Caves of Koilos
Godless Shrine
Isolated Chapel
Windbrisk Heights

Sideboard (15)
 Kor Firewalker
 Rest in Peace
Stony Silence
Suppression Field

Charity Auction

You can head over to eBay and check out our listing now! The bidding began at $0.99 and hopefully it’s risen since then. If not, then you should be the first to bid on this deck! You’ll get all 75 cards from the original deck including the packaging, the tokens, the spin-down and the sleeves (unopened). Also, you’ll get all the cards I’ve added along the way (including ones that are no longer in the deck like Torpor Orb). You can check the changelist or the listing to see the complete details. All of the proceeds (minus the eBay fees) will go to Gamers Helping Gamers, a charity that provides scholarships to members of the Magic community. Their board includes several well-known pro players including Jon Finkel, Chris Pikula, and Bob Maher, Jr. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. Bidding ends on Sunday, August 3rd a little after 8pm EST. Don’t miss out!

Stories from the Grand Prix


I drove up to Worcester on Friday morning with Matt, Kadar, Luis, and Sam. We piled into my fiancee’s Camry, grabbed some breakfast burritos, and hit the road. Three and a half hours later we were in the middle of Massachusetts checking into a Holiday Inn Express. I have to admit, I was impressed with the hotel room. Also, they had a sweet complimentary breakfast every day (see below).

After dropping off our bags we headed over to the venue. Matt, Kadar, and I scrubbed out of a free mini-masters but I got a Soul of Innistrad which I’d later include in a trade for a Windswept Heath, so I won that one. I then scoured the dealers for the last singles I needed for the Modern Event Deck while Matt and Kadar scrubbed out of a Modern grinder. We all went over to a mexican place across the street for lunch. When we got back I signed up for Grinder #24.

Round 1 – Ozzie with U/R Twin

If you’ve been following along for the past two months you should be able to guess how this match ended. My opponent was thoroughly disappointed but let’s be honest, everyone who gets knocked out of the first round of a Grand Prix Grinder is pretty sore. This match went to three games. In the second game he was able to beat me down with Vendilion Clique while I proceeded to get mana flooded. I was a bit worried about it, but in game three Suppression Fields were the champion of another close one.

Event Deck 1—Not Event Deck 0Draws 0

Round 2 – Joe with 8-Rack

Remember how bad my match-up against burn decks is and how I wish I could afford Leyline of Sanctity? Well, when my opponent opened up with The Rack I was doubly upset about not having those Leylines on my sideboard. What actually lost me this match was my complete obliviousness to this deck’s existence and the fact that it would have main-decked Ensnaring Bridges. I ran out some anthems and then got crushed by Bridges, even after I stole my opponent’s Liliana of the Veil with Sorin, Lord of Innistrad. Then I used Liliana’s ultimate to give my opponent Bridge or every other card in play. They kept Bridge and then drew lands for three turns. Some luck.

Event Deck 1—Not Event Deck 1Draws 0



Even though I went 1-1 in the grinder, I was happy with the changes to the deck. I was especially happy having added Sorin. Matt, Kadar, and I grabbed dinner from Uno’s and then went back to the site to spend a few rounds testing for the morning. With a fresh pack of sleeves and a fully filled-out deck registration form, I was ready to play in my first Grand Prix in over two years!

Round 1 – Will with Affinity

Round 1

After chatting up Jon Stern about playing Magic in a hockey arena, I met my first opponent for the day. Will was playing robots, which I feel is often a very even matchup for the event deck. What makes it less even is when they land an early Etched Champion. Will managed to do this in both  games. In game one, he quickly suited it up with Cranial Plating. That spelled an early demise for me. In game two he mulliganed, possibly to get the Champion, and proceeded to beat me down with it, combined with some Steel Overseers and Galvanic Blasts.

This certainly was not how I expected to start the day, but it is what it is.

Event Deck 0—Not Event Deck 1Draws 0

Round 2 – Raj with Kiki Pod

Round 2


Raj is actually a local gamer from Brooklyn who recognized me from Twenty Sided Store. In game one I only saw a few creatures in his deck. I saw Noble Hierarch, Voice of Resurgence, and Kitchen Finks. When I cast a Thoughtseize I also saw Chord of Calling and Restoration Angel. After a quick game one, I incorrectly put Raj on Melira Pod. He was in fact playing Kiki-Jiki Pod.

I made the mistake of sideboarding in Rest in Peace and Stony Silence when I should have brought in Suppression Field. Game two took about thirty minutes while Raj dug for his combo. He eventually found it and we were onto game three. The final game ended with a very strange situation. I had three copies of Suppression Field. Raj had me down to 16 life on the second turn of extra turns. He casts Chord of Calling and fetches Kiki-Jiki. He points at Kiki and his Resto Angel and I point at my triple Suppression Field. He sighs. I can’t kill him, and on his final turn he is only able to bring me down to 2 life. After we report the draw he realizes that if he tutored up Zealous Conscripts he may have won.

Event Deck 0—Not Event Deck 1Draws 1

Round 3 – Jamie with Domri Rade

Round 3

So now I have to win the next seven rounds in order to make day two. Not a great proposition. Jamie is playing a very strange brew featuring Domri Rade and Knight of the Reliquary. I don’t see the Knights in game one so I assume it’s a zoo deck. I win game one with an army of flying guys. In game two I get trounced by Spellskite protecting a huge Knight of the Religquary. Yikes.

For some unknown reason I don’t sideboard in Rest in Peace. Apparently I’m an idiot. Jamie beats my face in with a bunch of Knights and just like that I’m eliminated from contention. When I was a younger man and had my sights set on greater things I would have dropped right then and signed up for side events. But on this day I was Modern  Hero, and I would persevere. I was not going home without winning at least one match at a Grand Prix with the event deck.

Event Deck 0—Not Event Deck 2Draws 1

Round 4 – Aaron with 4-Color Gifts

After round three my phone died, so I wasn’t able to get a picture of Aaron. For the second straight round I was playing against a deck that featured Knight of the Reliquary. Aaron was on some kind of weird 4-color Gifts deck. I cast Thoughtseize on turn one and saw Elesh Norn, Gifts Ungiven, Lingering Souls, and Knight of the Reliquary. What the heck? I suppose this is what happens in the X-2-1 bracket!

I win game one thanks to spot removal clearing the way for my army of spirits. I sideboard in Rest in Peace, a mistake I would not make twice, and win game two without taking a single point of damage. I’ve finally done it. I’ve won a match at a Grand Prix with the Modern Event Deck. Let’s try to win some more.

Event Deck 1—Not Event Deck 2Draws 1

Round 5 – Matthew with RUG Twin


When Matthew sat down I introduced myself as a writer for Hipsters of the Coast. He said “are you that guy with the event deck?” I told him that I was and he told me that he was glad to be playing me, and that he knew my entire deck, but he was sad because he was playing a deck that I have a good matchup against. I opened with Inquisition of Kozilek and saw that he was playing RUG Twin. I smiled and rode the removal-train to a game one victory.

My sideboard against Twin is very strong. You’ve seen it. Suppression Field really shuts them down. Disenchant is an extra removal spell. It really isn’t a fair fight. Of course, in game two I saw none of that and we were on to game three. Things went much better for me in the final game. Matthew kept a fairly weak hand with Serum Visions, Remand, Pestermite, and Snapcaster Mage. I made him discard Remand and easily beat him down from 20 to 0. His dying wish was for this picture, his lucky deckbox sticker, to make it to the internet:

Round 5 deckbox

Event Deck 2—Not Event Deck 2Draws 1

Round 6 – Opponent Drop

Round 6

My round six opponent dropped after there was time to get him out of the system. So, I was given a free win for this match. While I was excited to be over .500, I was sad to do it in this fashion. I decided that with three rounds left to play, it was my duty to finish with a winning record.

Event Deck 3—Not Event Deck 2Draws 1

Round 7 – Ross with RUG Tempo

Round 7

Ross was under the impression that because the tournament had been split in half, some of the players who were x-2-1 would make it into day two. He was mistaken but I did not want to break his heart. He proceeded to break my back with some really solid draws from his RUG Tempo deck. In game one I lost to a lot of Lightning Bolt, Vendilion Clique, and Tarmogoyf action. In game two, Aaron did most of my work for me. He cast Gitaxian Probe, for two life, four times. He also took a lot of damage from fetch lands and shock lands. He practically handed me the game. He was less generous in game three and I was back to being 3-3-1, though only 2-3-1 in actual matches played.

Event Deck 3—Not Event Deck 3Draws 1

Round 8 – Matt with U/R Twin

My phone died again, so I don’t have an image of my round eight opponent. He’ll probably appreciate if I keep this short and sweet. He was playing Twin. You know how this story goes. In game two I didn’t take a single point of damage. I wish I could play Twin with this deck all the time. I would win a lot more Magic that way.

Event Deck 4—Not Event Deck 3Draws 1

Round 9 – Fred with 4-Color Gifts/Twin

round 9


Fred had the honor of being my opponent for the last match of sanctioned Magic I would ever play with the Modern Event Deck. In game one I used Thoughtseize to steal Gifts Ungiven from him. He also had Unburial Rites in his hand. There were also red spells like Electrolyze. It was a very strange deck that could win either via the graveyard or by just landing Twin combo. I had to bring in almost my entire sideboard. Rest in Peace and Suppression Field both seemed pretty good.

In game two, things dragged on for quite some time. I didn’t draw a lot of gas and Fred didn’t draw a win condition. Our final game, and the final game of Modern Hero, went to turns, and ultimately ended in a draw. I was happy with my performance. After starting 0-2-1, I finished 4-1-1. I went out to dinner with a few folks from Brooklyn and slept easy.

Event Deck 4—Not Event Deck 3Draws 2


On the final day of the Grand Prix, Matt, Kadar, and I scrubbed out of the Sunday Super Series Sealed event. We hung out for a while at the venue and eventually left for the greener pastures of New York City. I reflected on the journey from opening the event deck three months ago to playing out a Grand Prix with it. In the end we learned a lot of valuable lessons about the deck.

This deck is absolutely playable. I only added $120 to a deck that you can easily buy for $50 from many retailers. For $270 I got a deck that consistently put up an average amount of wins. In no way was I getting stomped by the format’s Tier 1 decks. In fact, one of them, Splinter Twin, can barely win against the event deck. $270 barely buys you the mana base for most Tier 1 decks. This deck is a steal for anyone looking to get into Modern on cheap.

More importantly, the deck went to a Grand Prix and did not finish 0-9 like some people would believe it should. Three match wins and two draws are nothing to scoff at. I wonder what would be possible if the deck was better tuned and if the pilot was more competent than me. I don’t think it would be out of the question to make it to day two of a Grand Prix or the top tables of a PTQ. If you want to be the person to improve it and try, please bid on the auction to win the deck. All of the money after fees will go to Gamers Helping Gamers.

This brings Modern Hero to a close. I hope you’ve all enjoyed the journey we’ve taken together. It saddens me to no longer be writing this series, but we have some more great projects in the works for you guys and gals. And I assure you, if Wizards ever has the gall to release a product like this again without providing any help on how the deck works, I’ll be there to pick back up the Modern Hero mantle.

Thanks everyone for all the support along the way. I couldn’t have done it without you.

Final Statistics

Money Spent on Deck: $75
Money Spent on Entry Fees: $140
Money Contributed to Improvements: $80
Money Earned from Cards Sold: $6
Tournament Winnings: $41
Money Spent on Improvements: $120.00
Remaining Budget for Improvements: $7.00
Total Expenses: $295
Total Winnings: $41
Cards Sold: $6
Net Expenses: $208

Overall match wins: 24-22-3 (.510)
Overall game wins: 47-43-3 (.505)

Vs. 4-Color Gifts: 1-0-1 (.667)/3-1-1 (.600)
Vs. 8-Rack: 0-1-0 (.000)/1-2-0 (.333)
Vs. Affinity: 2-1-0 (.667)/4-3-0 (.571)
Vs. BG Rock: 1-1-0 (.500)/3-2-0 (.600)
Vs. Domri Zoo: 0-1-0 (.000)/1-2-0 (.333)
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: 0-1-1 (.167)/1-3-1 (.200)
Vs. Melira Pod: 1-2-1 (.333)/5-5-1 (.485)
Vs. Merfolk: 2-2-0 (.500)/6-5-0 (.545)
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 Tempo: 0-1-0 (.000)/1-2-0 (.333)
Vs. RUG Twin: 3-1-0 (.750)/6-3-0 (.667)
Vs. RWU Control: 1-2-0 (.333)/4-6-0 (.400)
Vs. Splinter Twin(U/R): 4-0-0 (1.000)/8-3-0 (.727)
Vs. Storm Combo: 1-0-0 (1.000)/2-0-0 (1.000)

Change Log

Grand Prix Prep:

Week 8:

  • -1 Sword of Feast and Famine (MD)
  • +1 City of Brass (MD)

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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