Ancient Thoughts about Unified Modern

by Andreas Petersen on 07 December 2018, Friday

Andreas Petersen

Welcome back to the third and final part of my Grand Prix Liverpool preparation. When this article gets published, I'm almost on my way to rainy England to compete alongside two great players - not to mention great friends. Before I get to my top 3 Ancient Stirrings-powered decks, I will, as promised, give you a few tips about playing an actual Unified Modern tournament.

Good luck to our opponents at Grand Prix Liverpool.

How to play the format: Put the ”team” in ”Team Unified”

Communication is key

Communicating during the actual games can be a little tricky. If you're all speaking the same language, and it's not English, you can be a little more liberal, but if you have to speak English, you should limit talking as much as possible. However, decisions like mulligans or game-deciding moves are fine to discuss openly because you really want to get them right.

You’re in it together

When I made the finals of the Team Trios Grand Prix back in Spring with Michael Bonde and Thomas Enevoldsen, I regret one thing. I had no idea about Standard (same is true if your team mate is playing a deck you are no expert at), so if my match finished quickly, a few times I would leave the table instead of sticking around as moral support. I suggest sticking around and overall show that you trust your teammates' ability to do well. You can show this either verbally or with body language, and I know I will not make that mistake again.

Trust in your team

While you are spectating what could be the deciding game, don't feel like you have to interact to feel like you're contributing. Your team mate will have a context from the previous game(s) that you don't have, so let them play and explain afterwards if something was unintuitive for you. Remember the saying "speech is silver, silence is golden".

The record doesn’t tell the whole story

In a team tournament it is extremely important to know that you win and lose as a team. During the Unified Modern Grand Prix last December I did well individually, but we didn't bring very good decks to the tournament, and my teammates lost a lot because of it. I would jokingly tell other players that I was carrying the team and how I wish this was an individual Grand Prix. Even though I played with two very close friends who knew I was joking, I don't think this behavior is very good in the long run. The reality was that we all failed during our preparation for picking bad decks and not practicing enough - I was only "lucky" that I got to play my favorite archetype and was awarded some great matchups and draws at the actual tournament. This is true in most (e)sports where the scoreboard never tells the whole story.

Now, let's see what the best cantrip in Modern means for my three most anticipated matchups this weekend!

Mono Green Tron: Karn’s flavor of the month

Tron has been relevant in Modern for a long time, and Andrea Mengucci's favorite deck is still lurking in the bushes ready to strike on an unprepared metagame. Tron is strong against fair decks that takes a little while to win the game, Blue-White Control and various Liliana of the Veil decks are great examples, and struggles against super fast decks due to the lack of interaction available. Historically we've seen splashes of almost all colors, mainly for cheap interaction like white for Path to Exile and Rest in Peace, black for Fatal Push and Thoughtseize, and red for Pyroclasm. These days, Mono-Green with a bunch of basic Forests is the industry standard.

Krark-Clan Ironworks: The best pile of bad cards ever

I'm always very impressed when "puzzle" decks like this come to life. I remember I had similar feelings with Amulet Bloom and Lantern Control. It's truly remarkable that players are creative enough to put that amount of, in a vacuum, bad cards together and make a top tier deck from it. My experience is that these decks are not for everyone whether it's the style or complexity that divides the pack. This also means, no matter how powerful the deck might be, that the metagame share is never super high, so that's definitely important to remember. While this deck is strong against decks with little interaction and weak to decks with a lot of hate, I feel you can really push up the win rate the more competent you are with the deck. While this is true for all decks of course, there is not much you can do vs. a pile of lifegain or graveyard hate if you are playing Burn or Dredge. Funny story, for Pro Tour 25th Anniversary I chose to play Titanshift and knew that a lot of great players would be playing KCI. I had a horrible matchup and chose to add four copies of Slaughter Games to the sideboard in order to try and "race" them. I was rewarded with a 2-0 (+ one unfinished match against Ben Stark where I had turn 3 Slaughter Games on the draw - have to ask him if he had the turn three kill) record against the deck.

Hardened Scales Affinity: No Platings required anymore

Matt Nass created another monster with this one, and Cranial Plating-wielding builds of Affinity are basically obsolete at this point. A lot of the same strengths still apply while the weaknesses are now fewer. While KCI emphasizes rewarding the pilot for learning the deck inside out, Scales will test the opponent's math abilities thanks to Arcbound RavagerArcbound Ravager and Hardened Scales lets you win out of nowhere via Inkmoth Nexus or Walking Ballista, so make sure you take the deck seriously even though you have a high life total. Having a 2-drop that needs to get killed on the spot in Steel Overseer and great grindy tools for the late game is a rare combination. That makes the deck tough to play, plan and sideboard against. I expect Hardened Scales to be in a lot of teams' lineups.

That'll do it for my Grand Prix Liverpool preview! After the tournament I will collect some thoughts and write a piece about the weekend. If you see me at the event, feel free to come say hello. And best of luck if you're attending! 

This article was written by Andreas Petersen in a media collaboration with

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