Ten Decks to Fight Modern's Big Mana Strategies

by Zen Takahashi on 27 December 2017, Wednesday

Zen Takahashi

Ten Decks to Fight Modern's Big Mana Strategies 

Hello everybody!

Over the last couple of weeks, we have seen a big surge in the popularity of Big Mana strategies in Modern – specifically Tron and Titan Shift. These decks have become prevalent on Magic Online, and outright dominated GP Oklahoma City a few weeks ago, where the finals was a Titan Shift mirror match, while there were three Tron decks in the Top 8, with a further three more in the Top 16. 

Today, I will be going over the key ways to beat Big Mana strategies, as well as ten decks that I believe are now well positioned to fight them. I believe there are three key ways to beat Big Mana strategies; go under them, go over the top of them or have a lot of land destruction.



Going Under
 

Going under Tron and Titan Shift is not as easy as it looks, as they are both consistent turn four or five decks. However, they also do not have too much disruption, so any deck that is consistently a turn faster than them are well positioned against these decks. 

Burn

 

My fellow teammate Andrea Mengucci has been hot on Burn recently, and with the rise in popularity of these Big Mana decks and the decline in life gain spells, it definitely does look well positioned now. Burn is good against decks like Tron and Titan Shift as it is usually a turn faster than them, and it is also consistent as almost every card in the deck serves a similar role – so it does not need to draw a certain combination of cards to win, rather just any six or seven spells and enough lands to cast them. 

 

Boros Charm Goblin Guide


Infect


Infect is remarkably consistent at winning on turn three or four, and can threaten to win as early as turn two. Although Gitaxian Probe was a big loss for the deck, the card is not actually that necessary against these Big Mana decks, as they few disruption spells, so you usually know what you need to play around. 

The disruption they do have, which are notably Fatal Push in Tron and Lightning Bolt in Titan Shift, are not actually that good against Infect – especially now that they have the full playset of both Vines of Vastwood and Blossoming Defence. Since Infect is much faster than these decks, they can afford to take their time and make sure that they have a counter to the disruption spells their opponent may have, which makes it very hard for these decks to beat them. 

 

Glistener Elf Inkmoth Nexus


Blue-Red Storm


I recently competed in a local Team Unified Modern event where my teammate Jason Chung played Blue-Red Storm, and I was thoroughly impressed with the deck. It seems like he was consistently winning on turn three, and at the latest on turn four. 

While Relic of Progenitus does feature in the main deck of Tron and most Titan Shift lists, the card is not as problematic for UR Storm as I initially thought, as they can fight through it by chaining multiple Grapeshots and not rely on Past in Flames. Since these Big Mana decks are not that fast, the Storm player usually has the time to set this up, which makes it hard to race or disrupt Blue-Red Storm. 

 

Baral, Chief of Compliance Goblin Electromancer


Ad Nauseam


Ad Nauseam has largely fallen off the map, as Blue-Red Storm has taken over the throne for being the better spells-based combo deck. However, since UR Storm and Dredge keeps putting up results, I suspect we will see more graveyard hate being played. If that happens, then Ad Nauseam may become better positioned than Blue0Red Storm again. 

In fact, Ad Nauseam is actually better positioned than UR Storm against these Big Mana decks, as none of its disruption is effective against it – Relic of Progenitus does nothing, while their removal is dead as Ad Nauseam does not have any creatures except Laboratory Maniac which is just a supplementary win condition to Lightning Storm

 

Ad Nauseam Angel's Grace


Going Over the Top

It is not easy to go over the top of Tron and Titan Shift, but if you are able to, then you should be well positioned against them. However, going over the top of these decks will involve a large amount of resources, which means your deck will either lack disruption as it is limited in space, or you will have to have ways to buy time. 



Amulet Titan

 

Amulet Titan is also a Big Mana strategy, but it sacrifices disruption for further explosiveness. This makes it well positioned against other Big Mana decks, as it is faster than them, while its win condition of Primeval Titan with Slayer's Stronghold and Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion can set up a one-hit kill which goes over the top of anything that Tron or Titan Shift can do by turn three or four. 

 

Amulet of Vigor Primeval Titan


Enduring Ideal


Enduring Ideal is well positioned against these Big Mana decks as it has a copious amount of powerful disruption spells such as Runed Halo, Blood Moon, Suppression Field and Leyline of Sanctity. While a single copy of any of these cards can be beaten, a combination of them is considerably hard to fight through. 

Eventually, the deck will find its namesake card, and it will be game over as a resolved Enduring Ideal will be close to unbeatable. 

Enduring Ideal


Land Destruction

As Tron and Titan Shift rely on lands to win the game, land destruction is naturally good against them. However, one of the biggest strengths of these decks is that, unlike other linear decks, most of its cards serve similar roles to one another and are easily replicable – which makes it decent at fighting through disruption. 

Even if you destroy a certain Urza land, the Tron player still has Ancient Stirrings, Sylvan Scrying and Expedition Map to find it again, while a single ramp spell from Titan Shift can undo the land you just destroyed. 


Therefore, you want to try back up your land destruction with a clock to pressure them so you limit the time they have to rebuild, or have so much land destruction that you cause too much damage for them to recover back from it. 




Blue-Red Breach

 

Blue-Red Breach has been gaining popularity on Magic Online recently, and one of the big reasons behind that is its good matchup against the Big Mana decks. Between Blood Moon and Spreading Seas, the deck is able to attack the opponent's manabase effectively, while Remand and Cryptic Command can stop any key spells from resolving. 

Moreover, the deck presents a threatening and quick kill in the form of Through the Breach plus Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, and with so many cantrips in the deck, it is usually not an issue for the deck to find the pair by turn five. For these Big Mana decks, fighting through the land destruction and counterspells is possible, but the threat of the combo provides them with limited time, which makes it much more difficult. 

Through the Breach Emrakul, the Aeons Torn


Red-Green Land Destruction

 

Red-Green Land Destruction is another deck that has been gaining traction on Magic Online, and I expect it will soon become popular in real life as well. Unlike Blue-Red Breach, which tries to beat Big Mana decks with some land destruction followed by pressure, this deck instead focuses on just trying to destroy as many lands as possible so that it is too hard for the opponent to recover from it. 

Between Blood Moon, Stone Rain, Mwonvuli Acid-Moss and Beast Within, the deck has thirteen main deck land destruction spells! In addition to that, the deck also has resilient threats in the form of Stormbreath DragonInferno Titan and Platinum Emperion. This deck simply has too much disruption for these Big Mana decks to realistically recoup back from it. 

 

Stone Rain Mwonvuli Acid-Moss


Living End

 

Living End has traditionally been good against the Big Mana decks, as the combination of Fulminator Mage and Beast Within gives the deck six main deck land destruction effects. In addition, it is able to recur the Fulminator Mages with Living End – which is eminently hard to recover from. It even has Simian Spirit Guide to cast a land destruction spell on turn two if it needs to. 

Due to the large number of cycling cards the deck has, it is also consistent at finding the cards it needs, and hence seldom fails to Execute its gameplan. However, the deck is quite vulnerable to Relic of Progenitus, so if the Tron or Titan Shift player can start with one, then they may have a chance – but otherwise the matchup is tough for them. 

 

Living End Fulminator Mage


Esper Mill

 

I recently played against this Esper Mill deck while I was on Tron, and the matchup felt horrible. Esper Mill is a lot like Burn – most of its cards are one dimensional and serve the sole person of just milling the opponent. Instead of using burn spells to get your opponent's life to zero, you use mill spells to get your opponent's library to zero. 

The deck's clock is surprisingly fast, and it can usually mill its opponent out by turn four to six – especially against these Big Mana decks where they search their library often, which turns on Archive Trap. It is especially good against Titan Shift, as you will usually mill enough Mountains so that they cannot combo off, while against Tron, if you have a Surgical Extraction you can stop them from assembling their lands, which will provide you with more than enough time to mill them out before they can cast any relevant threat. 

 

Hedron Crab Glimpse the Unthinkable


I hope you enjoyed this article as I went over the three key ways to beat the Big Mana strategies in Modern – specifically Tron and Titan Shift, and ten decks that I believe are now well positioned due to this shift in the metagame. 

Personally, I have been playing Tron for the last two weeks, but I suspect there will be an increase in the popularity of some of the decks I outlined today, so it is now time for me to move on as well. Next week, I will be back with more Modern content, as I continue to explore the format in preparation for Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan! 


Until next time!

Zen Takahashi
@mtgzen on Twitter 




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