Grand Prix Liverpool brought a Team Unified Modern tournament to England last weekend. This is as local as it’s going to get for me until Pro Tour/Magic Fest London next April. Although these large events may be drying up in England if the recent schedule is anything to go by, you have to make an effort to go when the opportunity arises. Modern and Two-Headed Giant are two of my favorite formats; so when these two combine in a way where I get to play Modern with my friends, it is a huge bonus.

Team Unified Modern is a format that consists of three team members all playing decks and cards that are legal within the Modern format. The drawback is that players can’t play the same cards as their teammates, with the exception of basic lands. As a result, you have to be smart in what to play and prepare for any potential overlap that may occur.

For this event, I teamed with Hipsters of the Coast writer Dan Roberts and XtremeTrades store owner, Nick Taylor. Our goal for the weekend was to have fun regardless of what happened in the tournament halls. Preparing for an event such as this one isn’t easy, so it took us a while to settle on decks we were happy to play. We decided on myself representing Bant Spirits, Daniel on Dredge, and Nick on Amulet Titan. This roster came about thanks to the printing of Creeping Chill, as this card has morphed the format massively. Since Guilds of Ravnica’s release, Dredge has become a serious contender. As a result, Dan was very keen to play Dredge over his original choice, Hardened Affinity. We think this was the correct move—this isn’t to say Hardened Affinity is terrible, but Dredge has longevity, and its awful matchups became better with Creeping Chill.

With Dan locked in on Dredge, Nick was initially locked-in with U/W Control early on in testing until the rise of Dredge. Resulting in the meta shifting as U/W and Jeskai Control decks becoming on the downswing as the format was becoming too degenerate, making these Control decks too fair and too slow. So going back to the drawing board, the options were Bridgevine and Storm until Nick listened to the First Strike Podcast, where the focus is competitive Magic. Edgar Magalhaes was a guest on the show talking about Amulet Titan which piqued Nicks’ interest. After some short practice with the deck, Nick locked in on the deck and resulting in Amulet Titan being his favourite Modern deck currently. So with Dan and Nick locking in their decks, this left me with plenty of options.

An Aether Vial deck was my top choice. Primarily I had access white, which I felt was necessary given the power of Stony Silence and Rest in Peace. So I settled on Bant Spirits over Five-Color Humans with the simple reasoning that Bant Spirits has one of the best sideboards in Modern currently. For a Team Unified event, you want to have a broad sideboard given the various decks you may come up against. Stony Silence and Rest in Peace tick plenty of boxes already, and having the addition of Thalia, Guardian of Thraben felt great too.

I also felt Bant Spirits had the best interaction in a format that was lacking it, and coupled with evasive fliers it was an easy choice overall. Besides, I played plenty of Bant Company in old Standard, so it felt like the best fit for my playstyle. With the event drawing closer, we were mindful of the Banned & Restricted List update a week before the event, so we had backups as insurance in case anything got banned. We respected that Ancient Stirrings and/or Faithless Looting could suffer the ban, so our reserves were Storm, Affinity, and Bant Spirits. Although we were confident that nothing was going to be banned, we prepared for it.

My list came from Kat Light‘s recent SCG Roanoke Invitational list with some minor changes to the land base due to crossover and access to fetches. I didn’t play Cavern of Souls for reasons stated below, which led me to replace Caverns with Hallowed Fountain instead. I was very pleased with this list, and Rattlechains felt great in every game I played it—especially as many of my matchups were against two-for-one decks.

Emma's Bant Spirits—GP Liverpool Team Unified Modern

Creatures (30)
Noble Hierarch
Birds of Paradise
Supreme Phantom
Drogskol Captian
Mausoleum Wanderer
Spell Queller
Reflector Mage
Phantasmal Image
Selfless Spirit

Spells (9)
Aether Vial
Collected Company
Path to Exile
Lands (21)
Botanical Sanctum
Temple Garden
Breeding Pool
Horizon Canopy
Hallowed Fountain
Windswept Heath
Flooded Strand
Misty Rainforest
Moorland Haunt

Sideboard (15)
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Knight of Autumn
Detention Sphere
Disdainful Stroke
Rest in Peace
Stony Silence
Geist of Saint Traft

Dan’s list came from Sodeq who is one of the best Dredge players around. The only change we made was removing Gemstone Mine for an additional City of Brass. We felt it was paramount that Amulet Titan had the correct land base as it was essential to Nick’s gameplan, hence why I didn’t play Cavern of Souls in my Bant Spirits list. No Leyline of the Void may seem an odd exclusion, but it would take up many sideboard slots with a set of Nature’s Claim in there already. Besides, Dredge has decent matchups against other graveyard decks in the format.

Dan's Dredge—GP Liverpool Team Unified Modern

Creatures (22)
Prized Amalgam
Creeping Chill
Stinkweed Imp
Golgari Thug

Spells (19)
Faithless Looting
Cathartic Reunion
Life from the Loam
Lands (19)
Copperline Gorge
City of Brass
Stomping Ground
Blood Crypt
Bloodstained Mire
Wooded Foothills

Sideboard (15)
Nature’s Claim
Ancient Grudge
Abrupt Decay
Lightning Axe
Stain the Mind

Nick’s list originally came from Will Pulliam‘s SCG Charlotte-winning deck. However, there were some last-minute changes with the inclusion of Trinket Mage in response to the creature-heavy metagame. The addition of Trinket Mage is an excellent one: having the ability to tutor for Walking Ballista, Engineered Explosives, and Amulet of Vigor is essential as transmuting Tolaria West isn’t enough at times. This redundancy of tutor effects allows Amulet Titan to out-grind the opponent even more.

Nick's Amulet Titan—GP Liverpool Team Unified Modern

Creatures (17)
Primeval Titan
Azusa, Lost but Seeking
Sakura-Tribe Scout
Skyshround Ranger
Trinket Mage
Walking Ballista

Spells (14)
Engineered Explosives
Amulet of Vigor
Ancient Stirrings
Summoner’s Pact
Pact of Negation
Lands (29)
Simic Growth Chamber
Gruul Turf
Boros Garrison
Grove of the Burnwillows
Ghost Quarter
Bojuka Bog
Slayers’ Stronghold
Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion
Gemstone Mine
Tolaria West
Radiant Fountain
Khalni Garden
Cavern of Souls

Sideboard (15)
Spell Pierce
Engineered Explosives
Academy Ruins
Ruric Thar, the Unbowed
Hornet Queen
Reclamation Sage
Tormod’s Crypt
Relic of Progenitus
Ramunap Excavator

We felt our choices were excellent and had decent success leading up to this point, so we felt pretty prepared for the grand prix. Coming into the weekend, we expected a common trend of Aether Vial, Faithless Looting, and Ancient Stirrings making up the teams. These cards are the lynchpins of the format at present, giving access to some powerful and degenerate combinations—we went by this in our choices too.

Overall we finished at 3-3 on day one with a draw in the last round; and with the draw achieving nothing, we decided to concede to allow our opponents another shot at making day two. In mine and Dan’s games, we played against six different decks, which surprised us. However, Nick came up against three Affinity decks with one being the traditional kind.

Grand Prix Liverpool reinforced my love for Modern and Team events. Although we didn’t get to day two, we had a blast nonetheless. We capped the weekend off with some 2HG Guilds of Ravnica Sealed and Ultimate Masters Drafts before heading back home.

Modern is in a great spot, and there’s plenty on offer currently as looking at the Top 4 of the event confirms this. Even though Ironworks Combo was the most represented with three copies, there were in total ten different decks in the Top 4. So congrats to Marcelino Freeman (Bogles), Dagoberto Silva (Ironworks Combo), and Daniel Becerra (Grixis Shadow) on taking down the event. I hope to see more Modern MagicFests in 2019!

Emma resides in Suffolk, England and started playing Magic back in 2014 when Khans of Tarkir first hit the shelves. She dabbled in Standard for a while then shifted into Modern, in particular playing Eldrazi Tron and Commander where she has found her home. Follow her on Twitter @emmmzyne to join in on the conversation!

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