Faithless Thoughts about Unified Modern

by Andreas Petersen on 23 November 2018, Friday

Andreas Petersen

Last time I promised you all to provide a list of crossover cards for Unified Modern. By that I mean cards that overlap between decks, making your deck lineup invalid. Sometimes you have to find another deck and sometimes you can work around it.

At Grand Prix Madrid last December, I knew I wanted to play a variant of Titanshift while Thomas Enevoldsen wanted to play a Snapcaster MageLightning Bolt deck. I got around that problem by splashing white for Path to Exile (which was arguably even better at the time because of a smattering of Death's Shadows in the metagame) to a great result. That's just one example of how you can work around the deckbuilding restrictions of Unified Modern. Here is a list of the most common crossover cards and some of the decks they see play in.

Lightning Bolt

Burn, Hollow One, Jeskai Control, Jund and Mardu Midrange, R/x Phoenix and the sideboard of Storm and Krark-Clan Ironworks. Lightning Bolt is mandatory in these decks, except KCI where I think you can get away with Galvanic Blast in your sideboard.

Path to Exile

Blue-White Control, Spirits, Martyr and Bogles. Path is very hard to replace, so I wouldn't recommend an alternative for any of these decks.

Sideboards of Tron, Humans, Hardened Scales and Infect. Not having access to Dismember shouldn't be the reason to discard any of these decks in the same lineup. It's a nice tool to have, but not a needed one.


Black midrange decks and the sideboards of Dredge, Hollow One and Tron splashing black. In the sideboard of Dredge, you can replace Thoughtseize with Duress without too much trouble, although you of course would prefer the ability to take out creatures at the cost of 2 life.

Nature's Claim

Sideboard of Dredge, Tron, Krark-Clan Ironworks, Infect, Hardened Scales, Titanshift. Without many copies of Spellskite in the metagame, Infect doesn't have to run Nature's Claim these days, and Titanshift can find an alternative between Ancient Grudge, Reclamation SageBeast Within or the spicy Broken Bond.

As you can see, it's the cheap interaction that sees play across multiple decks. This means that Unified Modern will be a little more proactive compared to your normal metagame. So let’s talk about a card that powers several proactive decks in the format!

Faithless Looting


After the release of Guilds of Ravnica, Dredge came back with a vengeance after the printing of Creeping Chill. This card in combination with Conflagrate allows the deck to goldfish very quickly without needing to attack with creatures. Dredge won the Magic Online PTQ recently after beating Blue-White Control with three maindeck (!) copies of Rest in Peace.

Strengths: The game one win percentage is through the roof. This puts a lot of pressure on the opponent to find the needed hate to win games two and three. As I very well know from playing against Dredge in Vintage, that can be a tall order for any deck.

Threats: The obvious power and recent results produced by Dredge mean it has a target on its head going into Grand Prix Liverpool. I expect almost all sideboards to contain graveyard hate, and if you can present Dredge with one of these pieces early in the game, you have the advantage.

Hollow One

What started out as a gimmick deck quickly established itself as a top-tier strategy. Top players like Mike Sigrist and Martin Juza have played the deck to great results, and the consensus best list is very defined at this time. Hollow One pressures the opponent with resilient threats and is capable of unbeatable nut draws.

Strengths: The possible draws of the deck are very different. Sometimes Flamewake Adept and Hollow One will beat opposing graveyard hate. Sometimes Lightning Bolt and Ancient Grudge look silly when you grind them out with vampires and phoenixes from the graveyard.

Threats: Matchup-wise this tournament is going to be a little different for Hollow One pilots. They will face fewer BG/x and Snapcaster Mage + Lightning Bolt decks than usual and more unfair strategies in general. Thus they have to work for their money this time around. The full playset of Terminus in Blue-White Control maindecks doesn't help either.

Red-Blue Arclight Phoenix

Aaah, yes. Another new graveyard deck that has yet to cement its tier one status, but it certainly has potential. I like the Thing in the Ice version because it's better against Anger of the Gods, but maybe the Mono-Red version ends up being better. Thing in the Ice allows you to win without access to your graveyard. Let's be honest, an 8-mana Bedlam Reveler is unlikely to get the job done. Thing in the Ice can also be fantastic against board-oriented decks like Hardened Scales, Humans and Spirits.

Strengths: Being a new deck is always an advantage because the opponent is less likely to have much experience facing your deck. They might mulligan or sideboard incorrectly, make a mistake in any scenario or underestimate the deck's ability to cast enough spells to return a hasty phoenix to the battlefield.

Threats: Compared to Hollow One, I don't like the deck's backup plan if the opponent has Leyline of the Void in their opening hand or Rest in Peace for turn two. On the other hand, the deck is much better against hate like Grafdigger's Cage because it doesn't touch Reveler. One-shot effects like Relic of Progenitus and Tormod's Crypt are also weaker here, so Phoenix-slinging competitors will cross their fingers to face those in Liverpool.

Thank you so much for reading this far. Next time I will go over some general tips for the tournament itself and complete the holy trinity of Unified pillars with decks featuring the best cantrip in Modern!

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

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