Out with one broken deck, and in with another. In case you missed it, this past weekend Harlan Firer continued to redeem his free pass to the top 8 registering Urza Whir in Modern, picking up his third top 8 and first win with the deck on the SCG Tour.

Urza, Lord High Artificer has given a lot of power to the old combo of Sword of the Meek and Thopter Foundry, allowing the player to gain infinite life, make infinite thopters, infinite blue mana, and cast their whole deck with Urza’s ability. The deck has a lot going on beyond that too.

Four-Color Whirza, by Harlan Firer

Creatures (7)
Goblin Engineer
Urza, Lord High Artificer

Spells (5)
Galvanic Blast
Whir of Invention

Artifacts (28)
Thopter Foundry
Sword of the Meek
Mox Opal
Mishra’s Bauble
Arcum’s Astrolabe
Chromatic Star
Welding Jar
Pyrite Spellbomb
Nihil Spellbomb
Pithing Needle
Ichor Wellspring
Mystic Forge
Ensnaring Bridge
Lands (20)
Polluted Delta
Scalding Tarn
Spire of Industry
Breeding Pool
Steam Vents
Watery Grave
Inventors’ Fair
Snow-Covered Island
Snow-Covered Mountain
Snow-Covered Swamp

Sideboard (15)
Assassin’s Trophy
Ceremonious Rejection
Damping Sphere
Fatal Push
Collective Brutality
Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas

With many strategies in Modern, it’s fairly straight forward how to improve the matchup. Stinkweed Imps getting a little too dredgy? Pack more graveyard hate. Lava Spikes coming at your face? Pack some life gain.

Whirza isn’t quite as simple though. At its core, Whirza effectively attacks on three main axes:

  1. The Thopter Sword combo. While going infinite with Urza will almost always be good enough to seal the deal, sometimes you have to go to manual mode and actually tap your lands to make thopters.
  2. The Midrange plan. This axis is especially noticeable post board. You sideboard in hate, while the Urza player can side in discard, removal, counterspells and planeswalkers as needed. Not to mention the Urza Construct tokens that can get pretty beefy.
  3. The prison plan. So you’ve stopped your Urza opponent from comboing and beating you down, now you need to win the game yourself. Can you beat that Ensnaring Bridge and Welding Jar? What about the Nihil Spellbomb and Goblin Engineer?

For your deck to have a good Whirza matchup, you need to be able to confidently say you can beat all three og these axes.

Big Mana Decks

When you’re not drawing like a god like Harlan Firer did in the semifinals, Valakut is one of the worst matchups Urza could reasonably face in a tournament right now. The matchup is effectively a race—they have no interaction outside of a couple discard spells and the occasional Witchbane Orb.

Valakut will usually give them until turn five at the latest before it casts Primeval Titan or a lethal Scapeshift. Urza has until then to assemble all three pieces of their combo through Reclamation Sages and Force of Vigors.

Tron can be rough for many of the same reasons. The deck is very consistent at assembling Tron, and all of its payoff cards sans Wurmcoil are nightmares. If that wasn’t enough, you can also add a one-sided Stony Silence in Karn, the Great Creator.

I think Tron with Karn, the Great Creator and a sideboard to handle the high amount of Burn decks could be very good in the coming weekends.

Spell-Based Combo Decks

I know it’s been quite a while since many of you have seen a copy, but Grapeshot is still a Modern-legal Magic card. With Hogaak gone, this deck is looking to make a comeback.

The big issue with this matchup is that all of Urza’s best interaction comes in the form of artifacts. While Grafdigger’s Cage, Damping Sphere, Nihil Spellbomb, and Witchbane Orb can buy them some turns, its only a matter of time before the Storm player finds Rebuild.

Cheerios and Ad Nauseam, while slightly less prevalent, are two other spell-based combo decks with a great Urza matchup.

Honorable Mentions

If beating Urza is your goal, Valakut, Great Creator Tron, and Storm are the top three decks I would consider. There are quite a few other decks with decent Urza matchups, but they come up short in a few too many areas for my liking.

Devoted Druid

My biggest issue with this deck is that its countermeasures almost purely revolve around creatures. Post-sideboard, the Urza deck can have access to ten or more removal spells, requiring you to lean heavily on Giver of Runes. Urza also has access to Pithing Needle for Devoted Druid, which turns the deck into an embarrassing midrange pile.


You Lava Spike your opponent’s face, and you do that fairly consistently. However, sometimes that isn’t good enough. Especially on the draw, the incidental lifegain of sacrificing a few artifacts to Thopter Foundry can buy enough time to turn the corner. That’s of course ignoring their nut draws, where they go infinite as early as turn three.

There are many other matchups that I could analyze, but they can all be summed up by the three questions I asked earlier. How are you beating the Thopter Sword combo? How are you beating the midrange plan of Urza constructs and Tezzeret? Finally, how are you winning the game through Ensnaring Bridges, Pithing Needles, and other prison pieces?

I’m following the old proverb “if you can’t beat them, join them” and sleeving up Urza myself. How will you be addressing this new powerhouse in Modern?

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