Making It In Modern: Dominarian Domination

Hello and welcome to another installment of Making It In Modern!  I want to thank everyone who responded to my last article with constructive feedback and well thought out rebuttals.  That was exactly what I was looking for from the article and I greatly appreciated the discussions!  This week though, I want to talk about something a little more cut and dry.  With the release of Dominaria, we received three new Planeswalkers to test and brew around in all the various formats that we play.  In recent sets, we may see a single Planeswalker making a marginal impact in Modern, but with Dominaria, it looks like we got two that are making a splash.  Let’s take a look at what makes Karn, Scion of Urza and his time bending friend Teferi, Hero of Dominaria good cards in Modern!

Before we jump into the analysis, I want to go over two Planeswalkers from recent sets that have appeared in Modern briefly, and see why they made it there.  The first card I want to look at Chandra, Torch of Defiance.  Chandra, without mana ramp comes down on turn four with four loyalty and can immediately protect herself.  The -3 deals 4 damage to a creature, usually destroying the creature. the second +1 ability adds two red to the mana pool and you can use that mana to protect Chandra with a creature or removal spell.  The first +1 ability can either give you card advantage of an extra card to cast or end up shocking the opponent.  If Chandra can ultimate with the -7 ability, the game is pretty much over with a token dealing 5 damage to an opponent or creature for every spell you cast.  Chandra has a place in Modern because she can provide needed card advantage and can protect herself to stay on the battlefield for the long haul.  The decks typically using Chandra usually have other ways to protect her as well.  The next card to go over is Liliana, the Last Hope. Liliana comes down faster than Chandra, three mana for a three loyalty Planeswalker.  She can also protect herself right away with the +1 ability giving an opposing creature -2/-1.  The -2 ability allows you to rebuy a creature from the graveyard and fill it for synergistic graveyard based decks.  The ultimate, -7, gives you an emblem that will grind the opponent out with zombie tokens entering every turn, in larger volume each turn.  Overall, Liliana is able to make it because she is able to protect herself, like Chandra.  She also is very synergistic in certain graveyard based decks, and has a game winning ultimate.  It is very important to either be able to protect your Planeswalkers when they come down or they have to make a huge impact when they enter, as we will see with the two Planeswalkers in question.

Karn, Scion of Urza

I can’t really stop at Modern talking about how much Karn is played, Karn is also seeing play in Legacy and Vintage as well.  Karn, Scion of Urza obviously has synergy with artifact based decks, being able to -2 to create a construct with power and toughness equal to the number of artifacts you control.  You can make some big beaters with Karn to close pressure your opponent with this ability in the right artifact based shells.  The best abilities that Karn has though, would be the +1 and -1 card advantage abilities.  Karn gives some much-needed card advantage to some decks that would be desperate for it otherwise.  The +1 exiles two cards and your opponent picks one to put in your hand, while the other card gets a silver counter on it and stays exiled.  The -1 ability allows you to get a card exiled with a silver counter to your hand.  Karn gives you the ability to dig deeper and eventually grind the opponent out with the card advantage it provides.  Let’s take a look at the most prominent home where he has been residing taken from a 5-0 MTGO Competitive League by Shadow_PT

Affinity

Creatures

4 Arcbound Ravager

2 Etched Champion

2 Memnite

4 Ornithopter

4 Signal Pest

4 Steel Overseer

4 Vault Skirge

Spells

4 Galvanic Blast

4 Cranial Plating

4 Mox Opal

4 Springleaf Drum

1 Welding Jar

2 Karn, Scion of Urza

Lands

4 Darksteel Citadel

4 Blinkmoth Nexus

4 Inkmoth Nexus

1 Mountain

4 Spire of Industry

Sideboard

2 Etched Champion

1 Ancient Grudge

1 Damping Sphere

2 Dispatch

2 Ghirapur Aether Grid

2 Rest in Peace

2 Spell Pierce

2 Thoughtseize

1 Wear/Tear

As you can see in this list, it’s basically a stock Affinity list with the additions of two Karns in the main deck.  The Karns are best in this deck with the cards first two abilities, for sure.  The one issue that I had when I was playing Affinity before Karn was printed, was that the only way I could fill up my hand again after playing it out over the first couple of turns was a single Sea Gate Wreckage in my main deck.  I had thought about testing out a Thoughtcast or two to help out, but then Karn was spoiled.  Karn gives you a repeatable dig through your library in Affinity if the game goes later because of the pressure put on the opponent earlier with the go wide creature strategy of the deck.  Karn can easily be protected to, if need be by those creatures.  In any deck that Karn can stay on the battlefield through any means, he will bury your opponent in card advantage.  There are two other points that make Karn so good that are a part of its card design.  The first glaring advantage is that Karn is a colorless Planeswalker with great abilities.  This allows just about any deck to be able to slot him in with no color restrictive problems.  The other design advantage Karn has is his starting loyalty.  a four mana Planeswalker with a starting loyalty at five is already pretty good.  on the first turn it is played, you will more often than not use his +1 ability leaving him at six loyalty by the end of the turn.  six loyalty is quite frankly a lot of loyalty to be able to kill him in one turn.  This alone proves that he can protect himself most of the time with just high loyalty.  Karn is quite good and we have seen him make an entrance into Modern in the last couple of weeks, and I can’t wait to see where he will end up next!

Teferi, Hero of Dominaria

Teferi, Hero of Dominaria is the second Planeswalker from Dominaria to make an appearance in Modern.  I can’t lie, I did not expect to be writing about Teferi in Modern at all.  At first glance, I didn’t take Teferi as more than a serious threat in Standard, but I was wrong.  Just today, Teferi was a two of in three of the top 16 decks in the Star City Games Minneapolis Open, all Jeskai Control decks.  Here is the second place list from today by Jonathan Rossum.

Jeskai Control

Creatures

4 Snapcaster Mage

Spells

2 Teferi, Hero of Dominaria

4 Cryptic Command

2 Electrolyze

3 Lightning Bolt

3 Lightning Helix

3 Logic Knot

1 Negate

4 Path to Exile

1 Secure the Wastes

2 Search for Azcanta

4 Serum Visions

2 Supreme Verdict

Lands

3 Island

1 Mountain

1 Plains

3 Celestial Colonnade

2 Field of Ruin

4 Flooded Strand

1 Glacial Fortress

2 Hallowed Fountain

1 Sacred Foundry

4 Scalding Tarn

2 Steam Vents

1 Sulfur Falls

Sideboard

1 Engineered Explosives

2 Runed Halo

2 Celestial Purge

1 Ceremonious Rejection

1 Disdainful Stroke

2 Dispel

1 Negate

1 Wear/Tear

2 Vendilion Clique

1 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion

1 Timely Reinforcements

Showing up in three Jeskai decks that were all in the top 16 is no fluke, Teferi is a powerhouse when he hits the battlefield.  His first ability +1, draws you a card, then at the end step you untap two lands.  This effectively gives you a Planeswalker and a card in hand for only three mana if he is cast on turn five.  Having two open mana with a deck full of relevant removal spells and counter spells at two mana or less allows Teferi to be protected, or gives you the ability to cast a burn spell on your opponents turn directly to the dome.  Teferi is very safe to tap out for unlike Jace, the Mind Sculptor simply because having open mana after Teferi’s +1 ability gives you the ability to hold up protection for what the opponent might be able to do.  Teferi’s -3 can put any nonland permanent into its owner’s library third from the top, which is useful in bouncing problematic creatures or other nonland threats.  This ability can also be used in fringe situations being able to bounce your stuff to protect them or just to rebuy Snapcaster Mages.  Teferi’s ultimate, -8 for an emblem that exiles a permanent every time you draw a card is definitely a game ending play.  Teferi doesn’t start out with the best mana to loyalty ratio at five mana to four loyalty, but it isn’t that big of a deal because of how impactful Teferi’s abilities are.  I was pleasantly shocked by what Teferi can do in Modern, and I want to see how far he can go in the meta.

Wrap Up

Anyway, thats all I have for this week!  These two Planeswalkers look like they have found a firm footing in Modern and I see them being very playable for the foreseeable future.  What do you think?  Are Karn and Teferi headed for a great showing in Modern for a long time or are they just flashes in the pan?  Let me know what you think by following me on Twitter @T2TKS.  You can also follow @MTGDeckTechs and don’t forget to give us a like on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MTGDeckTechs/.  Thank you all for giving this a read, and I will see you all next week!

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Jason Stoops

Jason Stoops

Jason has been playing Magic: the Gathering for 20 years off and on. Jason first took to the game competitively in 2009, when Zendikar released and after a hiatus from 2012-2015, he came back for good when Battle for Zendikar released. Jason mainly plays Modern and Pauper and is an avid fan of green based midrange decks and other combo decks. He has two PPTQ top 4s on his list of achievements. You can follow Jason on Twitter- @T2TKS

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