01/05/2012 TD: "Early Solutions in Modern"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Top Decks article, which goes live Thursday morning on magicthegathering.com.
I left MTG right after Fallen Empires and I've only just started playing again shortly after the start of Innistrad, so maybe I'm missing something obvious, but what is the reason for the Arid Mesas and Scalding Tarns in iammrjojo's Lava Spike deck?

There are no Plains or Islands, even in his sideboard and I don't see any spells or effects that are activated off of him taking damage, so why not just play 20 Mountains instead of 12 Mountains and 4 each of the sac lands? At best he can confuse his opponent into *thinking* that he's playing off-color cards, but I doubt that's worth the 1 life, especially since they are unlikely to be fooled for long or change their own play much even if they are.

So, am I missing something?
I left MTG right after Fallen Empires and I've only just started playing again shortly after the start of Innistrad, so maybe I'm missing something obvious, but what is the reason for the Arid Mesas and Scalding Tarns in iammrjojo's Lava Spike deck?

There are no Plains or Islands, even in his sideboard and I don't see any spells or effects that are activated off of him taking damage, so why not just play 20 Mountains instead of 12 Mountains and 4 each of the sac lands? At best he can confuse his opponent into *thinking* that he's playing off-color cards, but I doubt that's worth the 1 life, especially since they are unlikely to be fooled for long or change their own play much even if they are.

So, am I missing something?



The most important reason is Grim Lavamancer. Paying 1 life is well worth being halfway towards 2 extra damage. 

A less important reason is deck thinning. Decks like that don't need more than 3 or so lands, so every land they draw afterwards is a dead card. By fetching another basic out of your deck, you very slightly decreased the chance of drawing a land on your subsequent draws.

For bonus, there is Searing Blaze in his sideboard, which means you can get landfall on your opponent's turn.  
The most important reason is Grim Lavamancer. Paying 1 life is well worth being halfway towards 2 extra damage. 

A less important reason is deck thinning. Decks like that don't need more than 3 or so lands, so every land they draw afterwards is a dead card. By fetching another basic out of your deck, you very slightly decreased the chance of drawing a land on your subsequent draws.

For bonus, there is Searing Blaze in his sideboard, which means you can get landfall on your opponent's turn.  



Thanks for pointing those things out.
Great article, yeah it seems like its going to be tough to come up with a good viable control deck, since the format is so fast. It would be helpful if control had a way to deal with the aggresive early threats- something along the lines of daze or force of will, or is that too powerful?
Maybe unbanning something like mental misstep would give control a better edge against aggro? Even unbanning ancestral vision might give control more of a chance- or on second thought, it might just make people splash blue in non control decks. It could also possibly have too great of an effect on decks that already utilize those existing colors, I.e storm or deceiver exarch. Potentially doing more harm than good. But idk, I guess well just have to wait and see to find out the right tools control needs to be viable again. Modern still feels like a very lively and interesting format regardless
I've seen almost every one of these combo decks on Magic Online (the exception being the Hive Mind deck, and I've only seen variations of the Martyr and kitchenfink decks). All the rest are copied by players looking to win really fast, and it's incredibly boring.

One of the best parts of Magic is deck building. It's awesome to strategize how to accomplish something and then make it happen, but the other half of Magic is playing the game. There is an opponent sitting across from you wanting the same enjoyment out of the game that you do. While it's fun to laugh gleefully (occasionally, and maybe all the time for some) at playing a Pact and having your opponent be forced to copy it, inevitably losing the next turn, it makes that opponent question why they should bother playing. In other words, once I see a combo working and I have no answer (and most combos operate on the idea that there isn't an answer), my further actions are irrelevant.

Imagine a game of baseball in which the team at bat always hit homeruns, and their opponents have no chance to catch the ball. Naturally, we have an answer to everything: just strike them out every time, then they can't hit a homerun. Unfortunately, in Magic, that usually means something out of the ordinary is going on, such as a person looking to pull off a combo not drawing the right cards, even on multiple mulligans. They just concede. I didn't really win though, I didn't even get to play. (The baseball equivalent there is that each player at bat is a new game. Sometimes you strike out, but when you don't, you hit a homerun, every time.)

That's the flaw in "combo" decks or decks that want to end the game as quickly as possible (not all decks do). I suppose this might be more of an observation of online play than offline. People seem to think there is a scorecard somewhere, that winning as many games as possible in as quickest time as possible (no matter how) actually means something. It doesn't. These combo decks posted fall into that category. They teach players that they don't have to think: they just have to copy a deck and hopefully win in a few turns if the deck "works" as intended. I would argue that they are not even playing the game, let alone their opponent.
I've seen almost every one of these combo decks on Magic Online (the exception being the Hive Mind deck, and I've only seen variations of the Martyr and kitchenfink decks). All the rest are copied by players looking to win really fast, and it's incredibly boring.

One of the best parts of Magic is deck building. It's awesome to strategize how to accomplish something and then make it happen, but the other half of Magic is playing the game. There is an opponent sitting across from you wanting the same enjoyment out of the game that you do. While it's fun to laugh gleefully (occasionally, and maybe all the time for some) at playing a Pact and having your opponent be forced to copy it, inevitably losing the next turn, it makes that opponent question why they should bother playing. In other words, once I see a combo working and I have no answer (and most combos operate on the idea that there isn't an answer), my further actions are irrelevant.

Imagine a game of baseball in which the team at bat always hit homeruns, and their opponents have no chance to catch the ball. Naturally, we have an answer to everything: just strike them out every time, then they can't hit a homerun. Unfortunately, in Magic, that usually means something out of the ordinary is going on, such as a person looking to pull off a combo not drawing the right cards, even on multiple mulligans. They just concede. I didn't really win though, I didn't even get to play. (The baseball equivalent there is that each player at bat is a new game. Sometimes you strike out, but when you don't, you hit a homerun, every time.)

That's the flaw in "combo" decks or decks that want to end the game as quickly as possible (not all decks do). I suppose this might be more of an observation of online play than offline. People seem to think there is a scorecard somewhere, that winning as many games as possible in as quickest time as possible (no matter how) actually means something. It doesn't. These combo decks posted fall into that category. They teach players that they don't have to think: they just have to copy a deck and hopefully win in a few turns if the deck "works" as intended. I would argue that they are not even playing the game, let alone their opponent.



Actually it can mean something. If you win a tournament that way, you win prizes. That's why we have a banlist. To make sure the most powerful decks, which people need te be running if it's a serious event, are actually fun to play. If those uninteractive combo decks dominate the field, Wizards needs to do something about it. 

At the moment however, the Modern meta seems to be pretty balanced and open.  
this is why i hate modern. all the decks are non interactive combo decks.
That token deck looks sweet!

Consider banning gitaxian probe, it doesn't seem like it will do much besides combos
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card: [c]cardname[/c]-> [c]Vampire Nighthawk[/c] -> Vampire Nighthawk
"Hey guy's, here are the decks you should consider for Modern."

Don't mention Jund.

Trollface. 
I'm not seeing people's concern about decks that aren't interactive. Some decks are just like that, just as some control decks interact every turn by countering everything you play. On the opposite end of that spectrum, though, you have decks that do nothing no matter what you do until they piece thier combo together. While these two extremes do exist, I don't understand why so many people yearn to play all thier games of Magic with and against decks that lie in the middle ground. 

Is WotC in the business of helping people make friends? Is that what they get money for, or is it selling cards and at least providing cards to play with and an opportunity for competition by providing different formats and various ways for people to play? This is Magic, not eHarmony.com.

Not that I'm all about playing decks that avoid interaction until my opponent suddenly loses, but I do appreciate those decks for what they are and I do enjoy playing with and/or against them here and there. They aren't something that everyone should hate and avoid, but rather a part of the game that should be appreciated like any other part of the game.  

Orzhova Witness

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How;s a 2 drop 1/2, Flying broken? What am I missing?
You're missing it because *turns Storm Crows sideways* all your base are belong to Chuck Norris and every other overused meme ever.
I'm not seeing people's concern about decks that aren't interactive. Some decks are just like that, just as some control decks interact every turn by countering everything you play. On the opposite end of that spectrum, though, you have decks that do nothing no matter what you do until they piece thier combo together. While these two extremes do exist, I don't understand why so many people yearn to play all thier games of Magic with and against decks that lie in the middle ground. 

Is WotC in the business of helping people make friends? Is that what they get money for, or is it selling cards and at least providing cards to play with and an opportunity for competition by providing different formats and various ways for people to play? This is Magic, not eHarmony.com.

Not that I'm all about playing decks that avoid interaction until my opponent suddenly loses, but I do appreciate those decks for what they are and I do enjoy playing with and/or against them here and there. They aren't something that everyone should hate and avoid, but rather a part of the game that should be appreciated like any other part of the game.  



WotC is in the business of bringing people enjoyment. They can't just sell cards and call it a day. If people don't like it, they won't be back for repeat business and WotC will go out of business very soon. If catering to people that yearn to play all their games of Magic with and against decks that lie in the middle ground is what's making them the most money, that's what they'll do.  

As MaRo always says, Magic is a thousand different games. They have to balance all those ways against each other. "an opportunity for competition by providing different formats and various ways for people to play" is just one of those ways, not the crux of Magic as a whole. 

Also, "should be appreciated"? Or "should hate and avoid" for that matter. Taste is subjective, so neither. 

You could roll in poo or live in a plastic bubble. Is it that weird people opt to be in the middle ground most of the time?