At first glance, Kaldheim seemed to be a nice addition to Modern.
Giving decks like a Jund a way to Cascade into Valki, God of Lies with Bloodbraid Elf, and using the Cascade rules to cast Tibalt, Cosmic Imposter for free. *This would soon change
However, the deck that emerged would be much stronger.
With the core of the Uro Omnath deck, playing eight Cascade spells (4 Ardent Plea and 4 Violent Outburst), and fast mana in Simian Spirit Guide and Gemstone Cavern. This became the Cascade Soup deck that would dominate online Modern play, casting a 7 mana Planeswalker in Tibalt, Cosmic Imposter as early as turn 1 with the help of 2 Simian Spirit Guides, a Violent Outburst and a land.
It looked something like this:
This deck, along with the year-long dominance of Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath, led to a huge shake-up in the Banned and Restricted announcement on February 15th. Leading to the banning of 5 cards:
Along with the rules change to the Cascade mechanic: now the card cast with Cascade can’t cost more than the original spell, so no more Cascading into Tibalt, Cosmic Imposter.
This is a huge shake-up to the format, banning the problematic cards from Kaldheim and cards that dominated the past year in Modern, banning 3 cards from the dominating Uro Omnath deck.
If you played with or against this deck, you can attest to its power. A collection of the strongest cards in Modern that played a midrange and control strategy.
The Uro Omnath partnership was able to mitigate the early game damage an aggressive deck could deal and Escaping Uro in the late game beat out other value-based and midrange strategies.
The deck competed with combo decks with the inclusion of counterspells: Force of Negation and Cryptic Command. In case you missed it, Cryptic Command, Mystic Sanctuary and card draw engine also creates a soft counterspell lock.
Simian Spirit Guide was also hit with a ban, a common enabler for combo decks like Belcher, Oops All Spells, Ad Nauseum and RW Prison decks. This felt similar to the banning of Faithless Looting, with decks that rely on the card losing a lot of its power due to a strong deck abusing the card.
Well, what does Modern look like now?
The format feels a lot more diversified now, with decks that could not beat Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath and Field of the Dead coming out of the woodwork.
Decks I believe are winners from the Banned and Restricted announcement are UW Control, Stoneblade, Burn, UR Blitz, Tron, Dredge and Jund. It really feels like a throwback to Modern a few years ago.
Modern, in its current state, is quite open. You are able to bring any Modern deck to a tournament and games should be reasonably balanced.
Speaking of tournaments, I played in the Good Games Championship Qualifier at Chatswood last week. Qualifying with UR Blitz, the deck I first wrote an article about.
Here is what I played:
2 Gut Shot
The list here looks very similar to previous versions, with a majority of decks choosing to play no copies of Bedlam Reveler in the main deck, I’ve elected to play one over a Mutagenic Growth as a midgame refuel on spells.
Minor discrepancies between UR Blitz lists often involve the choice of spells. First between Wild Slash and Burst Lightning and between Opt and Serum Visions.
Wild Slash and Burst Lightning essentially do the same thing: deal 2 damage.
So it really comes down to which scenario is more likely.
For Burst Lightning that is reaching 5 mana to Kick the spell and deal that additional 2 damage and for Wild Slash it is about being able to trigger Ferocious and the likelihood of an opponent trying to prevent damage, either through a spell or more likely with a creature which has Protection from Red.
If a card like Auriok Champion or Kor Firewalker is prevalent in your local Modern scene, Wild Slash is likely to be better. As they will block one of your attack creatures, triggering Ferocious on Wild Slash means that Protection from Red will no longer be able to prevent the combat damage assigned to it, hence, destroying the problematic creature.
Opt and Serum Visions are the other discrepancy amongst UR Blitz lists. I’ve gone with Opt in my deck as I believe the Instant speed to defensively protect your Prowess creatures from burn spells is quite valuable, as well as being able to draw a spell on offense, with the Scry before the draw. However there are merits to Serum Visions, it is better at setting up the next two turns. Playing it on turn 1 can set up a turn 2 Stormwing Entity, which is often bad news for most decks in the format.
If you can’t decide between the spells, you can play a split of the spells and work out which spell you prefer.
Have Uro Omnath cards you’re unsure what to do with now that Uro is banned? Luckily, the pieces of the deck are still quite strong, with many different configurations going around, the core of the deck slots into many shells.
I’ve seen variants incorporate the Scapeshift and Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle package playing Bring to Light which can find Scapeshift or “cheat in” a Tibalt, Cosmic Imposter as that interaction remains unchanged.
The deck that caught my attention is a Control deck that features Nahiri, the Harbinger and Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. This is essentially the Jeskai Nahiri deck of old, now splashing Green for Wrenn and Six and Omnath, Locus of Creation. The game plan is simple, control the board and let Nahiri tick up and ultimate, finding and attacking with an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn.
Here’s the deck:
About the author
Kuang Wu has played Magic since the original Zendikar set. Qualifying for both Player’s Tours in 2020 and finishing 10th at Grand Prix Brisbane in 2017. He primarily plays Modern at Good Games Central and Town Hall.
You can follow him @kuangfupanda on Twitter.