Hey dudes, it has been a while. Too long. I am sitting at my desk here in hot and humid Charlotte, North Carolina, testing for this upcoming weekend’s SCG Open. The format of the Main Event is Modern; as I indicated a few months back in an article, I am fairly new to the modern scene. I first built Eldrazi and Taxes, and found that to be too much for a new player in the format. I also personally feel the deck isn’t well positioned against the other decks in the meta.
I moved onto Esper Walker Control for a while. I was in the long process of collecting the cards I needed when someone sent me a list for Grixis Death’s Shadow. This list immediately inspired me. Most of the value in the deck lay in the cards that overlapped with Esper, and Modern Masters 2017 hit just in time for me to acquire Snapcaster Mages at a decent price.
To be honest, I had no idea how broken Death’s Shadow was. I had just wanted to play the card for a long time. When I first saw it on coverage during the last Modern Pro Tour, I thought it was a cool way to play magic. Sadly, at the time the flavor of Death’s Shadow Aggro was a JUND version that ran Tarmogoyf’s. I did not own a full playset of Goyfs, and didn’t have the income to afford them either. I refuse to play a gutted version of a deck because I do not own the cards; if I am playing competitively I will only play a fully optimized list. When the Grixis list appeared, and I already had a chunk of the cards, I was in love.
I have been playing this deck and changing and tweaking the list to suit my needs for nearly 3 months. My current list can be found here. I have gone from 0-2 dropping to repeatedly cashing in at various local events. I have been bouncing around different locations and venues to get a feel for different metagames. I feel I have successfully hit the recommendation for playing any high-level Modern event: I am now comfortable and familiar with this deck. I can play under stressful circumstances, and/or after a long day of Magic, and still navigate. It just so happens that this list is arguably one of the best decks in Modern right now, and has a very good placement to do well at events like the Open.
With everything I have just discussed, it sounds like a slam dunk to register Shadow for Saturday. But, sadly, I am still undecided. In February I read an article Cedric Phillips wrote about Revolt Zoo. I love this list because it showcases some new cards, including Narnam Renegade and Hidden Herbalist. And I’ve always been fascinated by Wild Nacatl and Goblin Guide, despite never owing/playing with them. This list is hyper aggressive: I have actually drawn the god hand twice while testing. The opening hand of any Fetchland, at least 1 Burning-tree Emissary, any combination of 2 additional Emissaries or Hidden Herbalist, Reckless Bushwhacker and a Simian Spirit Guide. By playing the fetch, and exiling Simian Spirit Guide for mana, you set a chain reaction that allows you to play 3 2/2 creatures and then Surge in a Reckless Bushwhacker giving everyone haste, and swinging for 11 on turn 1. There are not many decks that can recover after taking that big of a hit on the first turn. I know this is a rare occurrence, but other similar openers are fun and pretty impressive when they fire.
In no way am I claiming that this is a better choice for regular play then the Shadow list. However, I may actually decide to register Revolt Zoo. It would allow me to have lightning-fast rounds, with time between to actually get food, and chillax. Believe it or not, this is important when possibly looking at 9 rounds of play. That amount of time is exhausting for professional players; we know I am far from their caliber. The thought of playing a grindy control deck for that long makes me tired just sitting here, drinking a beer and writing.
I have also accepted the fact that I will likely be done by early afternoon on Saturday (as I drop from the tournament in shame, because I am still new to Modern). If I actually thought I had a solid chance at Day 2, I would be registering Death’s Shadow without a second guess. Chances are, there will be side events where I can play the deck I didn’t register for the Main Event. And Sunday will also be a great time to unveil my take on RW Humans in Standard. Yeah, I did it again. I refuse to let my Thalia’s Lietenants go without being played. Exert is cool with Always Watching, and I just refuse to stop trying to make the human tribal thing work.
If you are going to be at SCG Charlotte, drop me a line! We can meet up for a beverage of your choice (and your purchase).
Jeremy aka “Strictly Average” is an ‘average’ guy with ‘average’ plans. He is the creator and overboss of Strictly Average Gaming, which includes the Patreon group and StrictlyAverageMTG.com