Deep Analysis – Back in Black

Beware, Bolas has returned…

Pardon my absence.  I’ve been preparing for the visit to flexibility.

Modern has been an interesting format lately.  In the past year, there has been multiple bannings which has shifted the metagame a couple of times.  The biggest change after the recent bannings has been a shift back to the darkest color of magic.

With the release of Aether Revolt, Fatal Push moved into the top 3 one mana removal spells in Modern with Path to Exile and Lightning Bolt.  That has shifted many decks to go Back in Black:

Let’s investigate this shift.

Sultai, Grixis, and Jund are all back in to full form and all three decks made Top 8 of a Regional with each list.

Below is Alex Perez’s Sultai Delver that Top 8’d one of the SCG Regional:

4 Fatal Push
3 Mana Leak
4 Serum Visions
1 Murderous Cut
2 Stubborn Denial
3 Abrupt Decay 
2 Shadow of Doubt
1 Go for the Throat
4 Inquisition of Kozilek 
1 Spell Snare
2 Thoughtseize

3 Grim Flayer
2 Tasigur, the Golden Fang
2 Snapcaster Mage
4 Delver of Secrets
4 Tarmogoyf

1 Breeding Pool
1 Misty Rainforest 
1 Verdant Catacombs
1 Overgrown Tomb
2 Watery Grave
1 Darkslick Shores 
2 Blooming Marsh
4 Polluted Delta
1 Flooded Strand
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Forest
1 Swamp
1 Island

1 Lost Legacy
1 Collective Brutality
2 Feed the Clan
1 Golgari Charm
1 Grafdigger's Cage
1 Surgical Extraction
1 Creeping Corrosion
1 Nihil Spellbomb
2 Dispel
1 Ravenous Trap
2 Vampiric Link
1 Engineered Explosives

Sultai is not one that we see as often in Modern but this list looks quite interesting.  Grim Flayer really helps Delver consistency flip.

Tron has shifted from Mono Blue to Red/Green to Green/White over the last year.  Now, it’s moved over to G/B.  Regionals recently happened and we saw the shift.  Below is Michael Gray’s 5th place list from the SCG Regionals:

2 Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
2 Wurmcoil Engine
2 World Breaker

2 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
4 Karn Liberated

4 Ancient Stirrings
4 Fatal Push
2 Collective Brutality
4 Sylvan Scrying

4 Expedition Map
4 Chromatic Star
3 Oblivion Stone
4 Chromatic Sphere

2 Blooming Marsh
1 Razorverge Thicket
1 Sanctum of Ugin
1 Ghost Quarter
1 Forest
1 Llanowar Wastes
4 Urza's Mine
4 Urza's Tower
4 Urza's Power Plant

1 Collective Brutality
3 Warping Wail
3 Rest in Peace
2 Thragtusk
3 Nature's Claim
3 Thoughtseize

Path has been removed for Fatal Push as its targeted removal spell of choice.  While this deck doesn’t have Fetchlands to trigger Revolt, it has many other ways to do so, helping to maximizing the new mechanic.  Collective Brutality was also added for some flexibility.

Let’s take a deck a bit more off the beaten path.  This black red deck was piloted by Logan Pressley to a Top 8 finish at an SCG Regional:

4 Pack Rat
4 Goblin Rabblemaster
4 Dark Confidant 

4 Fatal Push
1 Collective Brutality
2 Kolaghan's Command
4 Inquisition of Kozilek
2 Thoughtseize
4 Terminate
4 Lightning Bolt

3 Blood Moon
1 Liliana of the Veil

4 Polluted Delta
2 Blood Crypt
4 Bloodstained Mire
4 Blackcleave Cliffs
1 Mountain
3 Swamp
2 Marsh Flats
3 Mutavault

1 Collective Brutality
2 Crumble to Dust
2 Anger of the Gods
1 Grafdigger's Cage
2 Surgical Extraction
1 Phyrexian Revoker
1 Damnation
2 Sudden Shock
1 Grim Lavamancer
2 Duress

I’m as surprised to see this deck top 8 a Modern Regional.  That’s right, someone brewed up a Pack Rat deck.   What year is this?  2012?  Still 12 powerful creatures and an F ton of removal still works.

Another deck that was a bit of a surprise was from Benjamin Tarnowski who brought this little gem to a Top 8 finish at SCG Regionals:

4 The Rack
4 Shrieking Affliction
4 Liliana of the Veil 

4 Fatal Push
4 Collective Brutality
4 Inquisition of Kozilek
4 Raven's Crime
4 Thoughtseize
4 Smallpox

16 Swamp
4 Mutavault 
4 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth 

1 Flaying Tendrils
2 Dismember
1 Ratchet Bomb
1 Damnation
4 Leyline of the Void
4 Dark Confidant
1 Pithing Needle
1 Night of Souls' Betrayal

8 Rack is back again and bringing the heat.  Fatal Push and Collective Brutality really helped the deck and made it more competitive.

So with this shift back toward black thanks to Fatal Push, how do you fight it?

Simple.  If you want a way to push back against the revolt, go big again.

Several people brought that strategy to SCG Regional events to combat the new removal spell.

Several decks to look at include Tron, Titan Breach, Amulet Titan, and Grishoalbrand.

Next Week

I’ll be back to posting on a weekly basis again, so come back next week when I discuss why pushing Modern is better for Magic’s long term health than their current plan.

@Nicol_Bolas_ on Twitter


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