Modern Preparation for GP Barcelona (P2)

by Simon Nielsen on 19 July 2018, Thursday

Simon Nielsen


Modern Preparation for GP Barcelona (P2)

Continuing from my article yesterday, I continued to explore other possible choices which I was comfortable to bring to Barcelona.


Step 4: "I guess I'll just have to go back to good, ol' Valakut."

My tournament was drawing dangerously close, and I had given up on finding something new, as I did not have enough time to test. Since my Top 8 at Grand Prix Birmingham (Modern) in August, I've liked Red-Green Valakut and know the deck well. And when looking at the top 5 decks of the metagame, the worst matchup was Humans at 50/50. 

My version wasn't running the widely adopted Bloodbraid Elfs. That one isn't even that likely to hit a ramp spell, and frequently the body is just a chump-blocker or something a control player can easily dispatch. Instead, I've had success with a couple of Solemn Simulacrums. It guarantees a ramp, chump blocks super well, and digs you towards a pay-off spell.

So I was contempt with just settling for Valakut. But I'd better run through a couple of leagues to shake off the rust.

2-3, 1-3, 2-3 were my results.

And it felt awful! I did meet a lot more bad matchups than I expected, but I was even losing the good ones. It just seemed like the deck did not have a power level that matches the current power level of Modern. It was right when we had Eldrazi Tron and Jund decks seeing lots of play, but now I had a hard time believing the deck was ever good. 

What a sad farewell. I hope to one day reunite with you, my dear Valakuts. But for now, you're not doing it for me.

Step 5: "At least there is always Humans…"


The day I had to leave for the airport, I was still without a good deck. I knew I had access to a Humans deck, so I figured I'd have to pick it up. But I suspected that the metagame would be too hostile for a Humans player.

So I played in a league.

And I went 1-3.

People were getting me left and right with lots of removals, Grim Lavamancer and sweepers. I was running out of options, thinking of just going back to KCI and hoping that I could miraculous grow proficient enough with the deck in the two days of live testing I had in Barcelona before the GP. No matter what, I wouldn't end up with many reps with my final deck choice.

Step 6: "Tron it is!"

Best as I was considering if it was worth it to catch a 7 am flight just to go 2-3 drop in the Grand Prix, I saw that Michael Bonde was looking for Tron cards. I asked him for a list, and apparently, he had been grinding heaps with the deck and arrived at a very streamlined Mono-Green version with Karn, Scion of Urza in the sideboard.


Karn, Scion of Urza Karn Liberated

I figured that I knew Tron would be a Tier 1 deck and it couldn't be the worst just to pick up and try to learn with some warm-up games on Thursday and Friday. My friend had been urging me to play Tron for this entire process, but I thought the deck was not at its best given KCI, Infect and the increased hate I expected. 

Bonde's list had 3 Relic of Progenitus main deck initially, but I thought that removal spells might have greater impact, especially since they turned out to be more important than Relic against Hollow One.

This is what I registered:


I ended up battling my way to an 11-4 finish through a murderous row of hard-fought close matches. This was good enough for a Top 64 finish and 2 Pro Points that put me slightly further in the lead of the Danish captaincy race!

I'm very grateful for the people who took their time to play matches with me in the days leading up to the GP. This helped me know how to mulligan and sideboard in a bunch of different match-ups.

I was surprised with how easy it is for Tron to just battle straight through hate pieces. Especially when you bring in Karn, Scion of Urza and removal spells in place of most of the expensive planeswalkers and just have a gameplan that does not involve getting Tron together ever. When you just play a slightly clunky midrange deck, their Damping Spheres look really embarrassing. 


While I am delighted with how the event turned out, I feel fortunate to have ended up there given how terrible my preparation was. I suspect that the reason I was losing so much online was that I kept switching decks (it didn't help that I also played some suboptimal decks along the way).

The best approach might have just been to bite hard and keep jamming with Krark-Clan Ironworks until I had to fly out. Louis Deltour did this, said he lost so much in testing, yet he still managed to finish 2nd in the Grand Prix. 

Or at least as soon as I decided I could not play Krark-Clan Ironworks, I should have just picked a reasonable tier 1 deck and just ran with that one instead of trying out a metagame call. During the tournament, I only met 1 of the top five decks in the format. (I met Humans once, no Tron, UW Control, Hollow One or Mardu Pyromancer). Metagaming in Modern Grand Prix just doesn't make much sense. Better to just pick one of the known top decks, at least when time gets slim. 

Hopefully, I will have adapted to these experienced come the next Modern Grand Prix in August and September. But if history has taught us anything, I might have learned nothing.


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