Falcon Fly By: Lean Mean Black Green Machine

Hey everyone!

The Falcon is back with some modern action. If you have read any of my articles at this point you would know of my love for all things Jund. That love can fluctuate between Red and White depending on how I feel and how the meta is shaping up, but at the base of both of these decks are the two primary colors of Black and Green.

The decks skeleton and primary function come from the Black/Green base. The bells and whistles come from the third color. I’ll take some time explaining the positives of both colors and then I will go over why I believe that two colors is currently better.

RED

TerminateLightning BoltKolaghan’s CommandRaging RavineShatterstorm
Ancient GrudgeChandra, Torch of DefianceHuntmaster of the Fells

The biggest things we lose from not playing red in my opinion are Terminate and Raging Ravine. Both of those cards are the most powerful things you can be doing in these colors. One of the best man lands ever printed and one of the best removal spells. The snowball effect of Raging Ravine being able to win the game on its own is great. And having a Terminate in hand gives you the comfort of being able to deal with anything.

The sideboard cards are versatile and you have some powerful card advantage effects in Huntmaster of the Fells and Kolaghan’s Command. And the cards are very efficient for what they do.

WHITE

Path to ExileLingering SoulsSiege RhinoGideon, Ally of ZendikarStony Silence

Gideon and Siege Rhino aren’t exactly mainstays in Abzan decks. They come and go, but If I were to sign up to an event playing this combination I would auto include those cards. Path to Exile is another in the line of efficient removal spells. Takes care of just about everything at the low low price of your opponent getting a basic land. Between this and Fatal Push you have very efficient removal spells allowing you to cast two spells in one turn very early. Siege Rhino and Gideon are some of the best top end threats. Both gaining value upon entering (Drain and gain from Rhino and a 2/2 Knight token from Gideon) and both are hard to deal with.

Lingering Souls is the single best card in this color combination. It’s built in card advantage, a clock that can win the game, four flying chump blockers, and discard fodder for your Liliana of the Veil and Collective Brutality.

Out of the sideboard we lose Stony Silence, Timely Reinforcements, and Rest in Peace. All of these cards absolutely hose their competition and are great to see. Shambling Vent out of the land base is another card worth mentioning because of the lifegain and activation cost.

THE COST

That can be summed up in a few words. We lose consistency in the mana base and it costs us life for our lands to enter untapped when we need them. Do we have access to all of our colors? How much life are we spending for the first three turns of the game trying to cast a spell each turn? Also we don’t have that much room for colorless lands. Especially if we are playing Siege Rhino.

THE ANSWER

Just Black and Green baby!

For reference here is the list I ran to little success at Syracuse and to great success at a PPTQ.

You might read little success at the big event and say that maybe it’s not the best list. But when I say luck wasn’t on my side, TRUST ME.

I opened with a hand game 3 against affinity on the play with:

Verdant CatacombsMarsh FlatsFatal PushDark ConfidantAbrupt Decay
Maelstrom PulseFulminator Mage

And I lost….I even drew my sideboard copy of Creeping Corrosion. So yeah, not a great day. But in my defense I got a free ride, room, and we ended up getting free Renaissance Fair tickets, (shout out to my boy Jamal,) so I really won that weekend secretly.

Fast forward to the PPTQ, we ended up in a top 8 position on the draw versus Green White elves with the Devoted Druid combo. We had a strong tournament and I played a variety of decks. I played against G/R tron and if I could have drawn a 3rd land we could have had some game versus a turn 4 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. That’s very difficult to say when you’re playing any form of a Black Green variant. With the mainboard land destruction, sideboard Fulminator Mage/Surgical Extraction, and 3 Maelstrom Pulses you have the ability to deal with various permanents and remove them from the game completely.

What I love about the land base, along with the ability to play Tectonic Edge and Ghost Quarter, are the manlands. Treetop Village only costs you two mana to activate and it’s a 3/3 with Trample. Trample works very well with all of your removal spells. If they try double blocking you can remove one and trample over the other. Hissing Quagmire on the other hand costs a little more and is a little smaller. But the upside is that it taps for both of your colors and has deathtouch. Which in a world of Tarmogoyfs, Death’s Shadows, Gurmag Anglers, Tasigur, the Golden Fangs, and Primeval Titans, it attacks planeswalkers and can block and trade with just about everything.

Another positive in this list is that with all the life you can save with your hyper efficient manabase you can afford to play another Thoughtseize over the 4th Inquisition of Kozilek.

The biggest question I still ask myself is about Go for the Throat. It fits the role we need it to, but there is some merit to Victim of Night and Murderous Cut.

Tireless Tracker is also great. 100% recommend you try it. And we get fetchlands!

The one mistake I made is thinking of the PPTQ as a smaller version of the Open. I should have added some Flaying Tendrils to my sideboard. I was floating the idea even before Syracuse and should have pulled the trigger. But there are a few flex options for this deck still. Eternal Witness, Traverse the Ulvenwald, Grim Flayer, Garruk Wildspeaker, and some mainboard/sideboard fluctuations.

I personally enjoy this list and very much recommend it to anyone looking to PPTQ this season. A buddy of mine borrowed this list and has been doing extremely well with it. His friend has also picked it up and went to the finals of a PPTQ.

If you have any questions please feel free to ask. Good luck at your next event!

As always, Stay humble and stay hungry.

Falcon Out.

Weekly Ward S2 Ep. 11 – Teamwork makes the dream work!

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This week on the Weekly Ward. Dan Ward and Kevin Jones talk about GP recap along with the future of GP getting into the nuts and bolts of it. They also talk about “The Teamwork makes the Dreamwork” Find out more about what this is all about in this weeks episode!

Green/Black Energy Rocks!

Back in my day G/B was lucky to scrape enough cards together to make one standard deck. In this current format, however, there are three distinct sub-archetypes: Aggressive Energy, Delirium, and Midrange. After tinkering around with all three versions and countless tweaks to each list, I finally settled on Energy as not only the most powerful, but also the most enjoyable to play. It definitely has the most potential for a “nut draw” out of any of the G/B variants, and often times a Winding Constrictor into any of the various +1/+1 token producers is just game. For being on the aggressive side the deck has a surprising amount of staying power if the game goes long and this is what really drew me in.

This past weekend I decided to sleeve this archetype up for a local PPTQ, and spoiler alert, I was able to take it down. This was extremely reassuring to me as I Have the RPTQ coming up, and the tweaks I had made to the “standard” list going around all played out well. I’m most likely going to run my same list back again, which is listed below.

Winding Constrictor - Aether Revolt

Winding Constrictor – Aether Revolt

Now I’ll quickly go over my changes, and my thought process behind them. First off, I decided to cut down to 2 Longtusk Cub, and replace them with 2 Gonti, Lord of Luxury. Longtusk Cub can lead to some of the most powerful starts, but in the late game its often a fairly bad top deck, and not particularly impressive in the mirror outside of turn 2. Gonti on the other hand is a house in the mirror, providing a must deal with body due to its deathtouch, as well as providing a free card to use later on. With the prevalence of the G/B mirrors this felt like a no brainer to me.

The other main change I made was to include 3 Nissa, Voice of Zendikar in the main deck over the more common 2 Aethersphere Harvester and an extra removal spell. I was never particularly impressed with Harvester outside of the Mardu matchup, where as Nissa is great in the mirror and versus control. There are very few ways to efficiently deal with planeswalkers in the format and she seemingly does it all. Her plus gums up the board in creature mirrors buying you time to assemble your forces or can threaten ultimate on a stable board. Her minus is also a huge game especially if you have out a Winding Constrictor, allowing your forces to immediately outclass your opponent’s. Against the control decks she also proves herself worthy by allowing you to deploy a threat that is difficult to deal with, and doesn’t lose to Wrath. Overall I’ve been very happy with her and could possibly even see adding the 4th copy.

Now for everyone’s favorite part of deck-tech style articles is the sideboarding guide. This deck does a great job post board at converting itself to matchups against whatever is thrown at it, with solid plans against Mardu, G/B mirrors, and various flavors of control.

Mardu Vehicles:

Out:
2x Gonti, Lord of Luxury
3x Nissa, Voice of Zendikar
2x Longtusk Cub

In:
2x Grasp of Darkness
2x Natural Obsolescence
2x Aethersphere Harvester
1x Murder

Jeskai Control/Saheeli

Out:
4x Fatal Push
2x Gonti, Lord of Luxury
2x Longtusk Cub

In:
3x Transgress the Mind
1x Lifecrafter’s Bestiary
2x Tireless Tracker
2x Ob Nixilis Reignited

G/B Mirrors

Out:
2x Longtusk Cub
1x Verduruous Gearkhulk
3x Glint-Sleeve Siphoner

In:
2x Grasp of Darkness
2x Tireless tracker
2x Ob Nixilis Reignited

4 color Saheeli

Out:
2x Gonti, Lord of Luxury
2x Fatal Push

In:
3x Transgress the Mind
1x Murder

That should just about cover all of the matchups you would expect to face in any competitive tournament or on MTGO. When facing a rogue deck, or brew just keep sideboarding to a minimum and try to curve out. Usually Gonti, Cub, and Fatal Push are the cards to look to if you’re having trouble narrowing the cuts down. Anyway, hope you enjoyed, and good luck to anyone sleeving the deck up in the coming weeks. I think it’s a great choice. Until next time!

MTGO: Mitchapalooza
Twitter: @Maxmitchell3000
Twitch: Maxmitchell3001

Falcon Fly By: Everyday I’m Jundin’ EM

the-falcon-fa

Hey Everyone!

I am back! What a weekend we had. Full of magic, misfortune, and just a plain old good time. I have a few things to talk about so I hope you will join me on this journey.

LAST WEEKEND
This is the Grixis deck I piloted to a sub par record at a PPTQ:

All of you might look at this list and think a lot of things. Probably like:
“Why are there no counterspells mainboard?”
“Where are your Tasigur, the Golden Fang’s and Gurmag Anglers?”
“Is Liliana, the Last Hope better than Liliana of the Veil?”
“What does River of Tears even do?”

Let me tell you, those are some really valid questions. I personally don’t like moderns suite of counter magic. The Delve creatures hurt your Jace, Snapcaster, and Bedlam Reveler so the conclusion was those cards over the black delve spells. YES! A large resounding yes. Last hope is so much better in this deck because the amount of recursion in your deck is outrageous. You have Jace, Lily, Snapcaster, Kolaghan’s Command, Shriekmaw, Thought Scour, and Bedlam Reveler. River of Tears makes you cry every time you play it. Its one of those odd lands that makes you work for it.

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THIS PAST WEEKEND

I’m writing this the Monday after all of this happened. But I had a great weekend of jamming all of my favorite modern cards. To those of you who know me that means I played Jund. I love other modern decks. The decks that are viable to me are awesome but nothing comes close to Jund. I played in a PPTQ on Saturday with more than 33 people and I ended up in the top 8 piloting Bard Narsons (Brad Nelson) Jund deck he posted recently. Abzan having the edge in the mirror was something that I was thinking about the entire time of what deck to pick for this weekend. When Brad posted this list and put up the claims that Jund was still better than Abzan I knew what I needed to do.

JUST PLAY JUND.
When in doubt Jund em out.
Jund’s out, Guns out.
Junday, Junday, Junday

So I decided to test Brad’s list at the PPTQ. I made a few changes to the sideboard because there were 0 ways to beat Burn and that’s not the way to win a PPTQ. I ended up playing against Burn and the changes I made were correct. I was 4-1-1 after the swiss. My only loss coming to the mirror where my opponent was much more prepared for it than I was.

In the top 8 I found myself matched up against Bryan Gottlieb. For anyone who doesn’t know him he was someone that was regularly on the pro tour even just recently. I had seen him playing Jund himself and knew this was going to be a close one. I hit him with a discard spell turn 1 and saw no red lands and a Lingering Souls. Slightly confused I took a spell and passed the turn back. I played a turn 2 Dark Confidant and he untaps, mulls over his land drop for a second, then he plays a Blackcleave Cliffs and Terminates my Bob. Neither of which I saw from the T1 discard (I was on the play). Lingering Souls Jund? That had my interest piqued. I remember Jacob Wilson’s list from the MOCS. I found some lists and spoke to some friends about it and we agreed that it was the best list to be on for the WMCQ on Sunday.

My WMCQ report is simply that the deck was a fantastic choice, but I played only slightly above average and it was entirely on me that I ended up going 6-3. I am sad that I wasn’t able to compete for the top 8, but I am not all that sad that I didn’t win. I truly believe that I am not someone who should be representing the US at the World Magic Cup and my play that day reflected that. Congratulations to Daniel Ward for his top 8 finish and a big wholehearted congrats to Kevin “the Daddy” Jones for winning the event. It is always fantastic to see your friends do well at events and I believe the social media uproar after Kevin’s victory made it all worth it. Kevin missed his flight to Orlando. Then he goes and wins the WMCQ. It was destiny ladies and gentlemen, nothing could stop the newly crowned “American Daddy” congrats and good luck Kevin, I know you will do us all proud. #makeAmericaDaddyagain

The return trip was probably the most fantastic part of the whole thing (minus the Kevin Jones social media posts of course). Driving back to Albany to drop most of our passengers off, we ended up running out of gas. Our driver started pulling off to the side of the road and we all assumed there was an exit coming up. Okay, no big deal, right? He says, “We’re out of gas!” I look dashboard and the gas gauge is on “E”. That is usually the spot on the gauge where your car is telling you, “Hey buddy, it’s time to start thinking about fueling up.” So we all thought he was joking and played along by raising our phones with the gas station locator app. To which he responds with, “No, we’re like foot to the floor out of gas.” It ended up being a great time and we made the best out of it. Only losing an hour and a good chunk of money, we got back on the road giving our driver his fair share of ridicule.

Overall it was a fantastic weekend and I would run my list back in a heartbeat. I ended the weekend 10-4-1 which is a pretty good record when you look at it. Here is the list I played to 6-3 at the WMCQ:

This list was great and I would fully advocate running it. You are much softer to Blood Moon but with Grim Flayer you are able to get through your deck quicker and find your basics or answers to the card. I am 100% on the Grim Flayer train after playing him over the weekend. I cannot say which camp I currently reside in when we start taking Dark Confidant into the mix, but hopefully I can find the happy medium I am dreaming of.

Thanks for reading and good luck at the prerelease this weekend!

Stay humble and hungry
~Falcon~

Falcon Fly By: Modern Musings

the-falcon-fa

Hey Everyone!

Its been a while since my last article. I’ve had some things going on recently and it has made it tough to regularly attend events or write articles. But I am making a comeback and I will be regularly producing content! You will be seeing content from me twice a month and I hope that you enjoy what I bring for you!

It’s currently modern season for the Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifiers. I wanted to take some time and write about a few things I’ve been focusing on while I am planning on attending some PPTQs as well as the WMCQ in Nanuet NY in mid September.

Modern is a format that rewards what you know quite a bit. The format is very diverse and at any given tournament you will see more decks than you could ever prepare for. But it is also a meta game format where certain strategies will be less effective on certain weekends. We saw the numbers of decks like Abzan Company and Bogles go down because of Dredge and Jund respectively. The hate people were bringing for Dredge negatively affected Company and Jund being as strong and popular as it is pushed Bogles back.

The other factor when considering the meta game at any given tournament is how expensive modern is and how easily accessible the cards are. At a single tournament Abzan Company could be wildly unplayable. But there will be someone at an open with the deck. Why? Because its their Modern deck. Its what they have access to. You can only borrow so many cards from someone. It gets harder when that person is attending the tournament as well. I know this very well because anytime I play Tarmogoyf I am borrowing it from a friend. It hasn’t happened at a large tournament yet, but if we were both to play legacy I would have to give him back the Goyfs. So card availability is very real in this format.

Tarmogoyf

Tarmogoyf – Modern Masters

For those who know me I am a Jund mage. Thoughtseize into Tarmogoyf is like waking up and having my morning cup of coffee. Something that I always do, but still puts my mind at ease. Kind of sad because I don’t own my own Goyfs. I don’t rely on the meta game matchups as much because it’s just about a 45% chance to win. Knowing I have a chance in every single matchup is a great feeling. Playing burn against Birthing Pod back in the day was not that. You were not even remotely favored. Every little move you made was “should I do this? Or leave up mana for skullcrack?” 90% of the time it was skullcrack.

The decks I am considering for the WMCQ, which is the most important event on my current schedule, are Burn (not sure if Naya or just RW), Grixis, and Jund.

Looking at them on paper none of them have a good burn matchup. And if we look at the most recent large modern tournament results you will see Lava Spikes all over the place. So going into my testing I’m considering decks that have bad matchups vs. an easy to acquire deck that has had good results lately. It is a tough decision, but what makes me hopeful is:

  • That in the next few weeks people will bring their hate and start pushing burn back a bit.
  • Getting lucky vs. that deck. Burns best draws are sometimes unbeatable.
  • The stigma behing playing “that deck.” Many people dislike decks like Burn, Naya Blitz, and Boss Sligh. They believe that they are the I don’t have to think and get easy win decks.
  • This is more like 3.5 but I know many grinders and high skill players that don’t want to leave the fate of their tournament in the hands of a deck like burn.

I’m saying all of these things and yet I’m considering a deck like burn myself. Why is that? Well in any tournament you attend how great is it to have byes? I’ll answer for you. Its phenomenal, you just get free wins. So what part of free wins do we dislike so much? People refuse to play these decks because of the stigma associated with them…. Me? I like free wins. Oh, your deck is easy and pilots itself? That’s fine, please pilot yourself to signing the slip 2-0 in my favor. Do I sign up for this with the knowledge that I will be unable to control some rounds in my tournament? Yes, but if this was a free win deck that came with controlling a tournament, then wouldn’t everyone play it?

Every deck comes with a consequence when choosing it and that’s where the knowledge of your deck gives you and edge. I know and love Jund, it gives me a chance in all matchups. I love Burn’s free wins even in bad matchups. I like the power and consistency of Grixis on paper even though I’ve never played the deck, so over the next two weeks I’m going to be testing all of these decks and seeing what I feel like is the best choice for this tournament.

It seems that a lot of the pros decided that Abzan was the best flavor of Jund for the World Championship. Abzan is very strong and has some great hate cards such as Rest in Peace, Stony Silence, and Anafenza, the Foremost. I have always disliked the mana in that deck, but with the new enemy fastlands in Kaladesh, that deck will get much better. I personally like Jund better. Lightning Bolt is quite the card and is a 4 of in each of the decks I’m considering. Lightning Bolt into Tarmogoyf is both an aggressive strat and a controlling one. Bolt, Snapcaster Mage, flashing back Lightning Bolt is the same. Its 6 damage plus a 2/1 or its destroy 3 target creatures.

After having spent some time looking up results and deciding on what deck I believe suits me the best currently I am leaning towards Jund and Grixis. I believe that Burn will be a decent deck but I am hoping that people start packing some real hate and the Burn players start feeling the “heat.” I really like the way this Grixis list looks on paper and how it can 2 for 1 better than Jund. But we will see where I end up by the time my next article comes out. Just know that I am currently playing Liliana, the Last Hope. More than one, something like three. I always said that I liked the card in Grixis best. It just plays so well with Snapcaster Mage, Tasigur, and Gurmag Angler. The plus 1 doing so well against Spirit Tokens and the plethora of 1 toughness creatures takes so much pressure off of your spot removal and in my current testing is running very smoothly.

To wrap up I would just like to let everyone know that at the end of the day Magic is a game. So we should have fun with it! Thanks everyone for taking the time to read this and I will make sure to share my final list with everyone after the tournament!

As always, stay humble and stay hungry
~Falcon~