June ’19 Brew Report, Pt. 2: Out in Force

Last week, we began taking stock of the novel decks appearing in 5-0 dumps post-Modern Horizons. With a ban in the books and M20 entering the card pool, the coming weeks are sure to feature even more upheaval. But lots of new tech is already out in force. Perhaps June’s innovation bears signs of what’s to come.

Old Dogs, New Tricks

A number of midrange decks have benefited notably from Modern Horizons, and now stand only to improve without Hogaak combo forcing them to sideboard playsets of Leyline of the Void.

Temur Twin, by LOUISBACH (11th, Modern Premier #11905352)

Creatures (11)
Deceiver Exarch
Pestermite
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
Snapcaster Mage

Planeswalkers (6)
Wrenn and Six
Jace, the Mind Sculptor

Instants (14)
Lightning Bolt
Cryptic Command
Force of Negation
Remand
Spell Pierce
Spell Snare

Sorceries (5)
Serum Visions
Anger of the Gods

Lands (24)
Breeding Pool
Hinterland Harbor
Lonely Sandbar
Scalding Tarn
Misty Rainforest
Wooded Foothills
Raging Ravine
Spirebluff Canal
Steam Vents
Stomping Ground
Sulfur Falls
Island
Mountain
Sideboard (15)
Leyline of the Void
Tireless Tracker
Force of Negation
Engineered Explosives
Magmatic Sinkhole
Nature’s Claim
Pithing Needle
Pyroclasm
Surgical Extraction
Thragtusk
Weather the Storm
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Temur Twin embraces the midrange role uncomfortably forced onto Splinter Twin decks with the banning of their namesake enchantment. Rather than for Tarmogoyf, though, the deck adopts green for Wrenn and Six, a development I wholeheartedly approve of. Wrenn ensures pilots never miss another land drop, a critical benefit for a deck shooting to hard-cast a five-mana creature as early as possible. Raging Ravine and Lonely Sandbar give Wrenn some extra dimensions in terms of land recursion, and further diverts opposing resources, buffing Twin’s classical gameplan.

Hexdrinker Jund, by WILDABEAST49 (5-0)

Creatures (15)
Hexdrinker
Tarmogoyf
Dark Confidant
Grim Flayer
Seasoned Pyromancer

Planeswalkers (6)
Liliana of the Veil
Wrenn and Six

Instants (10)
Assassin’s Trophy
Fatal Push
Lightning Bolt

Sorceries (6)
Inquisition of Kozilek
Thoughtseize

Lands (23)
Verdant Catacombs
Bloodstained Mire
Blackcleave Cliffs
Overgrown Tomb
Stomping Ground
Blood Crypt
Blooming Marsh
Nurturing Peatland
Swamp
Forest
Mountain
Sideboard (15)
Cindervines
Collector Ouphe
Damping Sphere
Fulminator Mage
Leyline of the Void
Plague Engineer
Ravenous Trap
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Hexdrinker Jund is the most recent in a long string of BGx developments. Seasoned Pyromancer and Wrenn and Six have happily joined the Jund cast, and from the dumps seem to position Jund as the frontrunner among BGx decks.

Other lists are foregoing Hexdrinker, but the creature does seem potent in this shell—BGx has always struggled against faster decks it can’t adequately disrupt, namely Tron; the 2/1 lets them pressure those strategies from out the gate while scrambling to sequence interaction. In fair matchups, the creature maintains relevance as a mini-Progentius.

Mardu Pyromancer, by ALFREDITOMELIRA (5-0)

Creatures (11)
Yawgmoth, Thran Physician
Monastery Mentor
Young Pyromancer
Seasoned Pyromancer

Instants (12)
Abrade
Fatal Push
Kaya’s Guile
Lightning Bolt
Surgical Extraction

Sorceries (17)
Faithless Looting
Inquisition of Kozilek
Thoughtseize
Unearth
Lingering Souls

Lands (20)
Blackcleave Cliffs
Blood Crypt
Bloodstained Mire
Godless Shrine
Marsh Flats
Sacred Foundry
Swamp
Mountain
Sideboard (15)
Kaya’s Guile
Blood Moon
Dreadbore
Duress
Leyline of the Void
Plague Engineer
Wear // Tear
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Despite what they might be saying at the LGS, Mardu Pyromancer seems alive and well; this build has clocked multiple 5-0 finishes and Top 8ed a Modern Premier. It integrates Seasoned Pyromancer to flavorful results. On the strategic side, Monastery Mentor joins Young Pyromancer as copy number five. Unearth surfaces as a way to get back into the game after a token-maker is removed, and Yawgmoth, Thran Physician replaces Bedlam Reveler as top-end payoff.

The Cat’s Meow

Zoo decks also seem to be performing well online, with a range of GRx decks putting up numbers.

Vanilla Zoo, by LALAUWBA (5-0)

Creatures (26)
Wild Nacatl
Noble Hierarch
Hexdrinker
Tarmogoyf
Qasali Pridemage
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Ranger-Captain of Eos
Knight of Autumn
Bloodbraid Elf

Instants (12)
Path to Exile
Lightning Bolt
Lightning Helix

Lands (22)
Windswept Heath
Wooded Foothills
Arid Mesa
Sunbaked Canyon
Horizon Canopy
Razorverge Thicket
Copperline Gorge
Sacred Foundry
Stomping Ground
Temple Garden
Snow-Covered Forest
Snow-Covered Mountain
Snow-Covered Plains
Sideboard (15)
Ancient Grudge
Blood Moon
Boom // Bust
Chandra, Torch of Defiance
Choke
Declaration in Stone
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
Pillage
Rest in Peace
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Vanilla Zoo gets its name from its stock appearance—here’s a Zoo deck that looks exactly as I’d expect a Zoo deck to look in 2019. Joining the jungle ranks are Ranger-Captain of Eos and Hexdrinker, the latter searchable by the former. Ranger can also find Hierarch, for when exalted might help break a board or threaten lethal, or Nacatl, for when mana is tight. Bloodbraid Elf serves as board-widener extraordinaire, and is best when hitting Ranger.

Three-Drop Zoo, by CIMOS21 (5-0)

Creatures (30)
Woolly Thoctar
Noble Hierarch
Hexdrinker
Tarmogoyf
Collector Ouphe
Gruul Spellbreaker
Ranger-Captain of Eos
Bloodbraid Elf

Instants (8)
Lightning Bolt
Lightning Helix
Path to Exile

Lands (22)
Windswept Heath
Wooded Foothills
Sacred Foundry
Stomping Ground
Temple Garden
Inspiring Vantage
Razorverge Thicket
Copperline Gorge
Horizon Canopy
Sunbaked Canyon
Forest
Mountain
Plains
Sideboard (15)
Path to Exile
Damping Sphere
Knight of Autumn
Rest in Peace
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
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Three-Drop Zoo also employs the Ranger/Hexdrinker combination, as well as a slew of other three-drop plays—Gruul Spellbreaker I understand, the Ogre having surfaced even in GR Eldrazi, but Woolly Thoctar certainly strikes me as suspicious. And what does the 5/4 replace? None other than Zoo figurehead Wild Nacatl!

There may well be more to this build than its epic cascade hits, though, as H0LYDIVER has also enjoyed success with it. In any case, Collector Ouphe looks great as a mainboard answer to both Altar of Dementia and Thopter-Sword, breakout artifact plays post-Horizons.

Virtue Zoo, by HYBRID7 (5-0)

Creatures (24)
Loam Lion
Kird Ape
Wild Nacatl
Narnam Renegade
Experiment One
Squadron Hawk

Enchantments (4)
Force of Virtue

Instants (8)
Path to Exile
Lightning Bolt
Lightning Helix

Sorceries (4)
Light Up the Stage

Lands (20)
Windswept Heath
Wooded Foothills
Arid Mesa
Sacred Foundry
Stomping Ground
Temple Garden
Snow-Covered Forest
Snow-Covered Mountain
Snow-Covered Plains
Sideboard (15)
Path to Exile
Alpine Moon
Destructive Revelry
Ravenous Trap
Rest in Peace
Stony Silence
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Virtue Zoo is named for one of the most panned of its cycle, Force of Virtue. +1/+1 makes Wild Nacatl, Loam Lion, Kird Ape, and Narnam Renegade exquisitely difficult to remove in Modern, a format whose high-water mark is 3. The stat boost also improves Squadron Hawk, giving the deck aerial-presence-in-a-can. Light Up the Stage lets pilots fill back up on cheat threats, removal, and anthems.

GR Prowess, by MOUSTAFALLLO (5-0)

Creatures (15)
Monastery Swiftspear
Soul-Scar Mage
Dreadhorde Arcanist
Abbot of Keral Keep

Artifacts (4)
Mishra’s Bauble

Instants (15)
Become Immense
Blossoming Defense
Lightning Bolt
Mutagenic Growth

Sorceries (9)
Scale Up
Assault Strobe
Reckless Charge

Lands (17)
Scalding Tarn
Wooded Foothills
Stomping Ground
Copperline Gorge
Snow-Covered Mountain
Sideboard (15)
Ancient Grudge
Dragon’s Claw
Gut Shot
Leyline of the Void
Spellskite
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Trending away from the interactive side of the spectrum is GR Prowess, a deck not unlike Infect or Mono-Red Phoenix in its focus on blitzing opponents. This deck runs Dreadhorde Arcanist as a way to stack more prowess triggers, grow-’em-all via Scale Up, or just generate 12 extra power through Become Immense. MOUSTAFALLLO isn’t sleeping on Arcanist’s strength alongside Mutagenic Growth, which saves the fragile body from Lightning Bolt and also double-pumps using the creature’s ability.

Unearthing the Future

Despite my best efforts, Claim // Fame never saw much Modern play. But its older brother Unearth is making waves in the format. While it sometimes does less for the card investment—Claim // Fame can reanimate, pump, and give haste all at once—Unearth beats out the split card on versatility, targeting creatures with CMC up to 3 and cycling in the face of Rest in Peace (or just while no targets exist in the graveyard).

BR Unearth, by WILDABEAST49 (5-0)

Creatures (22)
Lightning Skelemental
Seasoned Pyromancer
Dreadhorde Arcanist
Bloodghast
Flamewake Phoenix
Gurmag Angler
Tasigur, the Golden Fang

Instants (8)
Fatal Push
Lightning Bolt

Sorceries (12)
Faithless Looting
Thoughtseize
Unearth

Lands (18)
Blackcleave Cliffs
Bloodstained Mire
Arid Mesa
Verdant Catacombs
Wooded Foothills
Polluted Delta
Blood Crypt
Mountain
Swamp
Sideboard (15)
By Force
Grim Lavamancer
Inquisition of Kozilek
Leyline of the Void
Liliana of the Veil
Ravenous Trap
Shenanigans
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BR Unearth is about as straightforward an Unearth deck possible, aiming to reanimate the most obvious targets for the sorcery: Lightning Skelemental and Seasoned Pyromancer. Dreadhorde Arcanist is also a bargain at one mana, and swinging with the Zombie lets pilots recast Unearth from the graveyard.

As for fueling the graveyard, only Faithless Looting makes an appearance, leading me to believe this deck could use some work on that front—dipping even deeper into graveyard payoffs like Bloodghast and Flamewake Phoenix seems especially precarious. Other builds have assuaged this qualm by diversifying their angles of attack, such as with Young Pyromancer.

Grixis Unearth, by TACOFARMER (5-0)

Creatures (17)
Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
Snapcaster Mage
Dreadhorde Arcanist
Lightning Skelemental
Seasoned Pyromancer
Fulminator Mage
Yawgmoth, Thran Physician

Instants (11)
Thought Scour
Lightning Bolt
Fatal Push
Kolaghan’s Command

Sorceries (12)
Faithless Looting
Inquisition of Kozilek
Unearth

Lands (20)
Polluted Delta
Blackcleave Cliffs
Blood Crypt
Steam Vents
Watery Grave
Spirebluff Canal
Darkslick Shores
Fiery Islet
Snow-Covered Island
Swamp
Sideboard (15)
Fulminator Mage
Collective Brutality
Deathmark
Engineered Explosives
Goblin Cratermaker
Plague Engineer
Surgical Extraction
Terminate
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Grixis Unearth does the strategy one better, splashing blue for more potent Unearth targets: Snapcaster Mage and Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. Both of these creatures keep the Unearth loops going, as does Dreadhorde Arcanist, letting Grixis establish a value snowball roll it down the hill. Joining Looting is Thought Scour, an effective graveyard enabler with so many good hits in the deck. In the face of graveyard hate, the deck has some backup plans; its red and black creatures do a fine job beating down an enemy hiding behind Rest in Peace.

BUG Unearth, by JONSPARROW (5-0)

Creatures (20)
Ice-Fang Coatl
Tarmogoyf
Hexdrinker
Scavenging Ooze
Snapcaster Mage
Plague Engineer

Planeswalkers (2)
Liliana of the Veil

Instants (5)
Assassin’s Trophy
Scarab Feast

Sorceries (11)
Collective Brutality
Inquisition of Kozilek
Maelstrom Pulse
Thoughtseize
Unearth

Lands (22)
Prismatic Vista
Misty Rainforest
Polluted Delta
Verdant Catacombs
Overgrown Tomb
Watery Grave
Breeding Pool
Creeping Tar Pit
Hissing Quagmire
Snow-Covered Forest
Snow-Covered Swamp
Snow-Covered Island
Sideboard (15)
Assassin’s Trophy
Ashiok, Dream Render
Dead of Winter
Fulminator Mage
Narset, Parter of Veils
Stubborn Denial
Surgical Extraction
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BUG Unearth ties together many midrange goodies from Modern Horizons. Leading the charge are Hexdrinker, an Unearth-targetable threat that grows to huge proportions in a deck looking to go long; Ice-Fang Coatl, an up-and-coming staple in decks that can swing the snow land requirement; and Plague Engineer, and oft-sideboarded haymaker in certain matchups that indeed looks great against Hogaakvine, especially in pairs. Covering for Engineer in the sideboard is Dead of Winter, which does an okay Toxic Deluge impersonation. Finally, in lieu of opposing interaction, Collective Brutality will fuel Unearth.

Esper Mentor, by STAINERSON (7th, Modern Premier #11898937)

Creatures (11)
Monastery Mentor
Snapcaster Mage
Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy

Planeswalkers (2)
Teferi, Time Raveler

Instants (15)
Opt
Fatal Push
Path to Exile
Force of Negation
Spell Pierce
Surgical Extraction

Sorceries (13)
Inquisition of Kozilek
Serum Visions
Thoughtseize
Unearth

Lands (19)
Polluted Delta
Flooded Strand
Hallowed Fountain
Watery Grave
Godless Shrine
Darkslick Shores
Island
Plains
Swamp
Sideboard (15)
Path to Exile
Spell Pierce
Celestial Purge
Collective Brutality
Engineered Explosives
Fulminator Mage
Narset, Parter of Veils
Stony Silence
Yixlid Jailer
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The idea of Esper Mentor has been floated around Modern for quite some time now, but the archetype itself rarely finds its footing. Unearth is a one-mana sorcery that recurs the expensive token generator once it’s been dealt with, perhaps promising to revitalize the deck.

Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy and Snapcaster Mage are other juicy Unearth targets in Esper colors, as well as Yixlid Jailer and Fulminator Mage from the sideboard. And Teferi, Time Raveler proves the perfect planeswalker to pair with Monastery Mentor—once it’s on the battlefield, pilots can Unearth their namesake threat and go to town creating prowess-boasting 1/1s without fear of enemy interruption.

A Whole New Modern

All these lists came from during Hogaakvine’s reign of terror, hence the many copies of Rest in Peace, Leyline of the Void, Surgical Extraction, and even Scarab Feast. I expect the more sustainable among them to chug right along with Bridge from Below banned, just with less hate in their arsenal. Modern should also open up enough to let in even more new brews now that decks have fewer parameters to respect online. It’s going to be an exciting month!

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