Well, a lot of shit went down this past weekend at Pro Tour Shadows Over Innistrad. Wizards decided to once again cut the Modern Pro Tour while also throwing out there that they were dramatically lowering the appearance fees for platinum pros. In short, I don’t personally like either of these announcements, but given the huge amount of discussion already being had, I’d like to focus my article on something positive, SCG Modern States.

While we may no longer enjoy Modern at the highest level, it’s good to see the format continue to expand across local and regional tournaments. I have been critical of StarCity in the past—given their propensity to print questionable content and sidestep diversity issues—I do appreciate the fact that they continually run large scale Modern events and that we have two back to back Modern Opens and a Modern Grand Prix to look forward to in the upcoming weeks.

As of writing this article, only the first wave of results from the SCG Modern States are available. Still, the results are promising and there is plenty to talk about. So without further ado, here’s a spreadsheet with the results from eight of Modern States tournaments:

SCG States Modern

We have 64 decklists from eight events, with 30 unique archetypes represented. Burn was the most represented deck with six top eight appearances, two of which were first place finishes. Honestly, this is not surprising to me given that the deck is relatively forgiving of pilot error and not too expensive to build. While I don’t enjoy playing Burn, or playing against it for that matter, I like the way in which Burn polices much of the format. You need to either be faster or have the ability to interact with cheap creatures and a volley of burn spells. Burn is linear and beatable but efficient at punishing bad draws and durdly game plans. I never mind playing against burn, or losing to it for that matter, because everything it does seems inherently fair.

After Burn, Infect was the most represented deck with five copies which is also fine by me. Once again, interaction is the name of the game, and every deck should be able to answer creature threats despite Infect having some truly busted draws. Zoo, Abzan, URx Delver, and Affinity make up the next tier with four showings in various top eights. This is interesting to me in that it perhaps suggests at a resurgence of Delver strategies, which had been on the decline since Treasure Cruise was banned, and the notion that Abzan, not Jund, is the GBx deck of choice. We round out the top decks with three appearances each by Merfolk, Melira Company, Scapeshift, and Jeskai Control. I’m happy to see various flavors of Jeskai Control back in contention at the top tables as it’s the closest thing we have to a traditional control shell in Modern.

Aside from the top showings, we also have some spice sprinkled throughout the eight tournaments. In Dartmouth, Nova Scotia a Dredgevine deck and a Pili-Pala Combo (!) list made top eight. In Manchester, New Hampshire a WG Humans deck could be found at the top tables.

Craig Slauenwhite's Dregevine

Creatures (26)
Golgari Grave-Troll
Grim Lavamancer
Gurmag Angler
Insolent Neonate
Lotleth Troll
Satyr Wayfinder
Lands (21)
Blackcleave Cliffs
Blood Crypt
Bloodstained Mire
Ghost Quarter
Overgrown Tomb
Stomping Ground
Wooded Foothills

Spells (13)
Abrupt Decay
Gnaw to the Bone
Lightning Axe
Murderous Cut
Faithless Looting
Life from the Loam

Sideboard (15)
Ancient Grudge
Gnaw to the Bone
Ghost Quarter

The biggest story here seems to be that Craig’s list runs three copies of Insolent Neonate, a card I haven’t seen outside of SOI Limited. Neonate does a lot here though, it’s a one drop that allows you to discard a dredge outlet and then immediately dredge with the ability. Furthermore, the fact that it’s a cheap creature means even when you draw it later in the game, you’re likely to bring Vengevine into play alongside it and a Gravecrawler/Angler/Lavamancer. Not that Dredgevine was a popular archetype to begin with, but it’s good to see the Vine lists making an appearance as most pilots online have switched to the Zombie Infestation/Squee/Vengeful Pharaoh version of the deck instead.

Ok, so Dredgevine is sweet, but when was the last time you’ve seen the Pili-Pala combo anywhere the top tables of a competitive REL event?

Tim Goodine's Pili-Pala

Creatures (22)
Eternal Witness
Grand Architect
Hornet Queen
Spawnsire of Ulamog
Wall of Roots
Courser of Kruphix
Lands (23)
Breeding Pool
Cavern of Souls
Flooded Grove
Ghost Quarter
Hinterland Harbor
Lumbering Falls
Misty Rainforest

Spells (15)
Aether Vial
Blue Sun’s Zenith
Chord of Calling
Cryptic Command

Sideboard (15)
Engineered Explosives
Relic of Progenitus
Hornet Nest
Kitchen Finks
Obstinate Baloth
Reclamation Sage
Void Grafter
Hurkyl’s Recall
Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger

For those unfamiliar with the Shadowmoor common, Pili-Pala creates infinite mana alongside Grand Architect. After you’ve created infinite mana you can either Blue Sun’s Zenith the opponent for a million or Chord of Calling up a Spawnshire of Ulamog and bring in Emrakul and Ulamog in from the sideboard. This deck is unspeakably sweet even if it has some super clunky draws. Having never played the deck, I would shave down the Cryptic Commands and the Blue Sun’s Zeniths, perhaps for a set of Collected Company. While the creature count is a little low for Company to be optimal, it puts in both pieces of the combo at instant speed, can rebuy discarded pieces of the combo via Eternal Witness, and at worst puts in a Spellskite and/or a Courser of Kruphix.

The last rogue list I wanted to talk about is Elliot Witten’s WG Humans deck.

Elliot Witten's WG Humans

Creatures (28)
Champion of the Parish
Eternal Witness
Experiment One
Hada Freeblade
Kazandu Blademaster
Lantern Scout
Mayor of Avabruck
Thalia’s Lieutenant
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben

Land (20)
Cavern of Souls
Flooded Strand
Gavony Township
Sunpetal Grove
Temple Garden
Windswept Heath
Wooded Foothills

Spells (12)
Aether Vial
Hardened Scales
Path to Exile
Sideboard (15)
Grafdigger’s Cage
Kor Firewalker
Rest in Peace
Stony Silence
Apostle’s Blessing
Dromoka’s Command
Kataki, War’s Wage
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben

Hardened Scales? A Human/Ally tribal theme? This deck looks awesome. I had been trying to brew a Humans list in Modern for a while, but got stuck on adding red for Burning-Tree Emissary/Grim Lavamancer. Elliot’s list is just WG, which allows him to play a copy of Gavony Township without taxing the mana too much. 20 cards in the deck care about +1/+1 tokens which accounts for the Hardened Scales and the fact that there are so many allies means that the single Lantern Scout should be able to swing any race.

While we may not see anymore Modern Pro Tours its good to see that on the local level, Modern is strong and diverse with new technology being developed all the time. While we have several top tier decks making up much of the tournament top eights, the few rogue lists peppered in are endlessly exciting for a Johnny like me. Unfortunately, I have to spend the next few weekends playing Standard, but will be back here each week to analyze all of the sweet Modern tournaments happening the next few weekends.

In terms of Magic, Shawn Massak is a Modern enthusiast, with a penchant for tier two decks, counterspells, and pre Eighth Edition frames. In terms of life, Shawn lives in Brighton, MA where he works as an employment coordinator for people with disabilities, plays guitar in an indie-pop band, and spends his free time reading comics, complaining about pro-wrestling, and wishing his apartment allowed dogs as pets.

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