Modern – Thoughts About the Ban List, and Why Doran is Awesomeon August 31st, 2011
August 31, 2011
By: Jeremy Crawley
So I was supposed to start a Legacy column, and that obviously didn’t happen, so I just decided to write another article about Modern and Legacy. First I will start with Modern, and move on to Legacy.
Before I get to decks I wanted to talk about the Modern ban list a little bit. So this is a new format, which means there are a lot of exciting new ideas and possibilities that are floating around, massive card price speculation, and just general excitement. First off, you can play any card that was printed in a “new border set” (8th edition and further) except for the following list of cards:
- Ancestral Vision
- Ancient Den
- Chrome Mox
- Dark Depths
- Dread Return
- Glimpse of Nature
- Golgari Grave-Troll
- Great Furnace
- Jace, the Mind Sculptor
- Mental Misstep
- Seat of the Synod
- Sensei’s Divining Top
- Stoneforge Mystic
- Sword of the Meek
- Tree of Tales
- Umezawa’s Jitte
- Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
- Vault of Whispers
I think Wizards did a pretty good job with the banned list, except there are some choices I disagree with. The most obvious choice is definitely Skullclamp, as it’s even banned in Legacy. Sensei’s Divining Top makes sense because of the presence of Counterbalance as well as the fact it makes matches in large tournaments always go to max time. The next thing to really notice is that most of these cards are basically just the best cards that made certain decks too powerful. Most of these cards are basically the enablers of the best decks in Extended recently… Artifact Lands = Affinity; Bitterblossom/Ancestral Vision = Faeries; Chrome Mox/Dark Depths = Vampire Hexmage Combo; Sword of the Meek = Thopter Foundry combo; Stoneforge Mystic/Umezawa’s Jitte = WoTC doesn’t want CawBlade killing Modern too; Hypergenesis = probably the Hypergenesis deck; Glimpse of Nature = Combo Elves and Affinity to some extent; Valakut = one of the dumbest decks ever created (Scapeshift or Primeval Titan nonsense)
There are some choices here I don’t particularly agree with:
- Ancestral Vision/Mental Misstep: I can see banning Ancestral Vision because of power level, but I don’t think it’s necessary, especially with the banning of Mental Misstep. Decks need to be able to deal with a turn 1 Nacatl or Hierarch in my opinion, and there aren’t really options for control out there right now , especially if you’re on the draw. You can choose to not play blue which seems to be Wizard’s goal unless you like milling people. I particularly don’t want to accelerate my opponent into 3 lands with Path to Exile, nor do I really want to play Lightning Bolt because the color red is awful in general. Ancestral Visions would’ve given heavy-blue decks a good chance to recover from the initial Zoo/Affinity assault, rather than having to go one-for-one (save board sweepers) the entire game, as would our next candidate:
- Jace, the Mind Sculptor: I know he’s extremely good, but he isn’t broken. This isn’t Vintage. WotC obviously knows they shouldn’t have printed a card with this power level so their immediate solution is to of course to not let people play it, instead of doing good R&D in the first place.
- Stoneforge Mystic: With Jitte banned, I don’t think this should be banned. I think this is more of a “Let’s prevent Caw-Blade from happening again”
- Golgari Grave-Troll/Dread Return: I don’t get either of these… I mean maybe Dread Return? What is the difference in just using more Dredge 4 and 5 creatures? Is Dredge 6 that big of a deal? Most people that play Dredge are bad anyways so why worry about this deck?
A card that should absolutely be on the banned list:
- Emrakul: There is no reason this creature should be legal, especially with the Urzatron engine AND all the locust lands (Cloudpost and Glimmerpost). Casting a turn 4 or 5 Emrakul that is uncounterable is not even hard in this format, unless your opponent plays Blood Moon or throws your cards in a fire. Dealing with Kozilek or Ulamog is fine, but Emrakul…. Consuela would say “No Emrakul legal… No no no.”
So the deck I’m currently tooling with right now is Doran Rock. I’ve always wanted to play this deck and now I can.
4 Doran, the Siege Tower
1 Treefolk Harbinger
1 Gaddock Teeg
2 Kitchen Finks
4 Noble Hierarch
1 Thrun, the Last Troll
2 Qasali Pridemage
2 Inquisition of Kozilek
2 Maelstrom Pulse
2 Doom Blade
2 Path to Exile
1 Go for the Throat
1 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
3 Green Sun’s Zenith
4 Verdant Catacombs
3 Misty Rainforest
2 Marsh Flats
2 Overgrown Tomb
1 Temple Garden
1 Godless Shrine
1 Dryad Arbor
1 Reflecting Pool
2 Stirring Wildwood
Total (61) – I usually play 61 card decks. I don’t know why I just do.
I like rock decks because all you do is play cards that are just awesome. This is the deck I will be playing initially in sanctioned Modern tournaments. I don’t think it has a particularly incredible matchup against any deck, but I don’t think it has an auto lose matchup either, except burn, which please skip to matchup #8 for possibly SB options. First, here are some of the awesome things about this deck:
1) There are 7 ways to get Doran out on turn 2. That is awesome.
2) With an excellent opening 7, you can win on turn 4. That is awesome, especially when you outrace dumb decks like 12 Post or Hive Mind, and when they fetch for shock lands they lightning bolt themselves and make it easier for you.
3) With Green Sun’s Zenith you’re playing effectively playing 7 Dorans. Way awesome.
4) Spellskite + Doran. Unfair and it protects Doran. Definitely awesome.
5) This deck has a good matchup against Zoo and other creature-based aggro decks, which will be popular. Kitchen Finks is annoying, and typically all your creatures are bigger than them. Awesome.
6) 4 Tarmogoyfs. Probably the most awesome thing about this deck.
Two choices I made that people may question:
1) No Dark Confidant. I think people that know me can say if I choose to play green and black in the same deck, I will play 4 Dark Confidant and 4 Tarmogoyf. I originally had him in the deck, but took him out, and here’s why
- Modern is going to be a fast format, and Dark Confidant generates very good mid-game and excellent late-game card advantage, but there is no way to get him out on Turn 1, unlike Aggro-Loam or Junk in Legacy. You could play Simian Spirit Guide to accelerate to Dark Confidant, but if you do that you’re going to definitely be losing anyways, and should sell your Dark Confidants to buy an entire burn deck.
- There is going to be a lot of creature removal, so he is going to immediately die.
- Loss of life is relevant in this format, especially if you decide to go the 5 life Thoughtseize on turn 1.
- I originally subbed him out for 4 Tarmogoyfs because Goyf is the best human wizard, but I didn’t want to get immediately disqualified from every tournament I entered.
2) No Knight of the Reliquary
- Simply put he has been quite unimpressive in Modern. He can get Ghost Quarter or Tectonic Edge which would be helpful against 12-post, but he cannot get Wasteland, so he’s just a big dude that is mostly slower than other big dudes in this deck. I would also rather play Doran on turn 2 or 3 anyways.
- Also tried subbing in 4 more Goyfs for KoTR, but I couldn’t because of reason “D” above.
So for the sideboard of this deck I’m still deciding what I want to do, but below are cards I’m considering or will definitely go in the board for different matchups. By the way I got these by browsing MTGO daily tournament decklists.
My initial SB will probably be, but note the Gaddock Teeg in the main deck, which I still discuss in the SB:
2 Kitchen Finks
4 Sadistic Sacrament
2 Creeping Corrosion
2 Surgical Extraction
1 Dosan, the Falling Leaf
2 Doom Blade
Matchups and card discussion:
- Sadistic Sacrament – I think this may be the best way to fight this deck, with extra help from your discard spells to slow them down. Most lists I’ve seen (going from the MTGO daily results) are running 3 Eldrazi targets, with at least 1 Emrakul, and some number of Ulamogs/Kozileks. I imagine a turn 4 or 5 win needs to happen or you will inevitably lose to Emracheats.
- Ensnaring Bridge – Another decent card, but not spectacular by any means. It slows them down by not letting Primeval Titan attack, but once they are able to fetch up Ulamog you’re probably done, unless you draw two. Your Dorans and Spellskites can attack under the Ensnaring Bridge (win), but a quick win is still necessary.
- Gaddock Teeg – Stops Green Sun’s Zenith. Problem is that it also stops your Zenith’s. Still not a bad option.
- More Kitchen Finks – He soaks up your opponent’s Path to Exiles, clearing way for Doran, which is hard for them to get rid of, especially with Spellskite sitting there.
- Doom Blade/Deathmark – Probably Doom Blade because of the popularity of Affinity.
- Gaddock Teeg – Stops Boom/Bust shenanigans and stops Zenith, if they’re playing either.
- Creeping Corrosion – Destroying all artifacts is good in this matchup
- Nature’s Claim/Krosan Grip – Both awesome cards, and fill a more general slot than Creeping Corrosion. I haven’t really seen too many decks that consistently do well where a general answer like Grip or Claim is needed though.
- More Kitchen Finks – helps recover from the initial assault of tiny dudes and Signal Pest. Once you stabilize I would find it hard for Affinity to beat Doran, especially if they don’t play Disciple of the Vault, where you should be winning anyways because your opponent is dumb.
- This deck may continue to be somewhat popular until people realize it’s not good in Modern. I wouldn’t worry about this deck. Just board in more removal and Kitchen Finks. Things will get rough for them quickly if you land Doran turn 2 and they don’t have an answer.
5) Hive Mind
- Ethersworn Canonist – Shuts off their accelerants so they can only cast one dig spell a turn. Your discard spells should take care of the rest and shouldn’t be too hard to win.
- Duress – Good
- Gaddock Teeg – Can’t play Hive Mind… Probably good. If people start realize how good Disruption Shoal is in this format Teeg will get better.
6) Splinter Twin
- Gaddock Teeg – Can’t play Splinter Twin… also good. These decks are also playing Kiki-Jiki as well, which presents a problem. Just win before hand.
- Duress – Good
- Surgical Extraction – If you get rid of a Splinter Twin via hand disruption and extract it they basically lose. If they beat you still, depending on how many Kiki-Jikis they have, you should probably quit playing Magic or start playing 12-post.
7) Pyromancer’s Ascension
- Duress – Good
- Surgical Extraction – See above with Splinter Twin
- Dosan, the Falling Leaf – they play counterspells. He does not let them play counterspells
- Teeg – Stops Cryptic Command and Disrupting Shoal.
- Kitchen Finks- Life gain is good, but you probably lose anyways. Be prepared if your opponent sits down across from you with pink sleeves, or if they are drooling and/or mouth breathing. Pink sleeves signify that they think they’re crafty by not playing red sleeves to give their deck color choice away, but still need pink to remind what color they are playing, and need a similar color sleeve to remind them they need mountains because the colors match. Orange sleeves may also be another good indicator. You should just be proud you’re not playing Mono-red and have a brain, and probably didn’t have to borrow $20 from your mom to play in the tournament you’re in Don’t get mad and throw their 20-sided EDH dice they’re keeping your life total on across the room though, especially when you’re having to adjust your life total on it for them because they’re too dumb to count or just forget to. If you’re at the X-0 tables, try to push them for a deck check because they’ll have their deck in a fat pack box they carry their entire collection in, with cards from 4th Edition they found on the ground earlier mixed in with their sideboard. You’ll get a match win for that. Other possible wins include them playing either Chain Lightning or Fireblast from the Fire/Lightning deck because they heard any card with the new border is legal.
- Nature’s Claim – In case they play Blood Moon, which sucks for you. You should be able to Zenith out a Qasali before hand hopefully. Noble Hierarch helps tremendously with Blood Moon, but she will immediately die though sadly.
9) Any type of control:
- Teeg – Shuts off Cryptic Command, Gifts Ungiven, Damnation, Wrath/Day of Judgment, and Mystical Teachings
- Dosan, the Falling Leaf – They can’t play cards on your turn = good
- Additional hand disruption – Rip apart all the stuff they can play to kill Teeg or Dosan. This match shouldn’t be hard.
- Surgical Extraction – I would board in if they are using Life From the Loam for card advantage.
10) Any other type of combo
- Teeg, additional hand disruption, and most likely Surgical Extraction.
11) Other Zenith targets I’m considering: for SB
- Ohran Viper – I think this guy is awesome, especially as a Zenith target. I’d bring him in against Affinity if I put him in the SB. A Doran’d 3/3 with deathtouch and card advantage attached to him is neat.
- Cold-Eyed Selkie – This is for control and is fetchable via Zenith. Excellent with exalted, and should always get through because they have Islands. Once a control deck gets well-established, I will put one of these in my SB.
Overall I think Doran is an excellent deck choice for a mostly unknown metagame. I don’t really know why Doran decks aren’t creeping up on MTGO at all, but I’m hoping that it’s just because the deck is expensive to build. Every card is solid and if played correctly you should do fine. Please send me suggestions or post after the article if you think I missed something.
Thanks for reading,