Noble Thoughts about Unified Modern

by Andreas Petersen on 20 November 2018, Tuesday

Andreas Petersen

In a couple of weeks I will travel to rainy England to participate in the Unified Modern Grand Prix in Liverpool. The last three competitive tournaments I played were Grand Prix Madrid last December (Unified Modern), Grand Prix Madrid (Team Trios Constructed) in March, and Pro Tour 25th Anniversary (Team Trios Constructed) in August. Other than that I mostly play Magic Online because of family commitments. I played Modern and had a great personal record at all of these events. I truly love the team aspect, so going to Liverpool this year felt like a no-brainer. Since I can't win a Team Grand Prix without team mates, I called two of the most powerful magicians I know and thankfully they accepted my proposition!

With the logistical details taken care of, let's take a look at some of the deck options for a Unified Modern tournament. When preparing for any Modern tournament, I've had great success by dividing the format into pillars, so that is the method I will be using in this article series. First up is Noble Hierarch, so let’s evaluate some decks that use it.

Option 1: Humans

Earlier this year, Humans was the most played deck in Modern because of its ability to disrupt the opponent while reducing their life total to zero blisteringly fast. Humans' popularity started to shrink a little bit after players started playing control decks with many removal spells rather than combo decks that Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and Meddling Mage could prey on. The printing of Militia Bugler in Core Set 2019 gave the deck a little more staying power facing off against removal spells, and the deck is now comfortably sitting in the top tier of Modern once again.

Strengths: If Thalia, Guardian of Thraben is good in the matchup, chances are that you are favored. Likewise, if Meddling Mage lets you shut down your opponent's strategy partially, let alone completely, you are probably winning. Storm and Ad Nauseam comes to mind.

Threats: Spot removal plus Snapcaster Mage out of Blue-Red based control decks spells bad news, and with the surge of graveyard-centric aggressive strategies, an uptick in Anger of the Gods would be tough news for Humans pilots in Liverpool.

Option 2: Spirits

Spirits went from a second-tier strategy to top-tier material with the printing of Supreme Phantom and was solidified by the top 4 finish at Grand Prix Prague by hometown hero Ondrej Strasky. The fact that you can actually cast colored spells that aren't creatures with your manabase gives you more flexibility and better sideboard options at the cost of speed compared to Humans. Collected Company lets you come back from the cards that traditionally beat a creature strategy and adds depth to the deck.

Strengths: Being able to run dedicated hate cards like Rest in PeaceStony Silence and counterspells allows your aggressive deck to transform into an effective disruptive deck post-sideboard in a lot of matchups.

Threats: Playing both Aether Vial and Noble Hierarch alongside 21 lands, your deck has a lot of bad topdecks meaning that mulligans and discard spells can punish you badly. That is the name of the game with these linear creature decks.

Option 3: Abzan Company

When you play mostly online (infinite combos aren't fun when pressing buttons), you tend to forget that Abzan Company is always present at paper tournaments. The deck runs little to no interaction and tries to execute its' own gameplan of gaining an infinite amount of life or drawing all of its' library to find the lethal Walking Ballista with infinite mana in the pool.

Strengths: I really love how Abzan Company can put combo pieces onto the table and leave up mana (or creatures to convoke) and threaten the infinite life combo leaving the opponent in a dilemma similar to what Splinter Twin did back in the day. Furthermore, the plan of playing bad creatures and activating Gavony Township should never be underestimated.

Threats: As it was the case for Humans, Anger of the Gods can easily be a three-for-one or better against Abzan Company. Matchups where life total doesn't matter, like Tron that has the ability to reset the game with Karn Liberated, or Infect that wins via poison counters, also present a huge threat.

These are my top three Noble Hierarch decks that I expect to face in Liverpool. If you have anything to add regarding the decks mentioned or even a fourth one, don't hesitate to share your information in the comments. See you next time where I will talk about which crossover cards to look out for when building main decks and sideboards in Unified Modern and take a look at three Faithless Looting-powered decks!

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

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