Identity Crisis

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Hey, everyone, it’s been awhile.

For the past few months, I’ve been having an identity crisis with Modern. As the writer of half a dozen articles on Zoo for this very website, saying that I’m considering not playing Zoo now sounds like insanity, but I feel like I have settled down with the deck. I know all of its lines and I can always find the one I need and once I had that mastered I got bored. My play became sloppy and I was not focusing on my matches as much as I should have been. I was going through the motions but I wasn’t getting the enjoyment from the deck that I once did. I needed a change.

Where I Started

Of course, when I think about Modern my first inclination is to play a big Zoo list. I initially started off with my traditional three-color Naya list as well as working through a five-color Tribal Flames list featuring Siege Rhino and Geist of Saint Traft. For those who don’t know me, I despise Siege Rhino and I feel that if it is allowed to run rampant, then Bloodbraid Elf needs to come back to the format. That is an argument for a different article, though.


Lingering Souls ended up being too oppressive against the lists I was playing in local IQs and PPTQs, and I found if I changed my deck to make those matchups better, I would be too slow most of the time to fight decks like Tron, Scapeshift, and Splinter Twin. It was time to close down the Zoo.

Lets Watch The Pro Tour

While I was going through this process I was lucky to have some strong results from Pro Tour Fate Reforged to look at. I always take Modern pro tour results with a grain of salt, as the metagame can sometimes become inbred. I immediately latched onto what could be considered an inbred meta deck in Little-Kid Junk, which Jacob Wilson made top eight with and was built by Team Channel Face to Balls (Face to Face Games and Channel Fireball Prime worked together for the tournament).

Through testing I found the deck was pretty strong against the Modern metagame but I realized I wasn’t having fun. Wilt-Leaf Liege and Loxodon Smiter are some of my favorite cards but the deck didn’t grind the long games in a way I enjoy and it didn’t have some of the explosive opening I have grown to love with Wild Nacatl. I decided to shelve the deck and try something a little more off the beaten path.


Playing an Old Favorite

One of my friends, when I first met him, was casting an insanely powerful card-advantage engine known as Gifts Ungiven. I had been looking for a way to ignite the fun of Modern for me, and this felt right up my alley.

Casting Gifts for Life from the Loam, Raven’s Crime, Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, and either Ghost Quarter or Tectonic Edge, as well as ending games before they had even begun by casting Gifts for Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite and Unburial Rites was fun, but the mana base felt too inconsistent and it always felt like an uphill battle unless I could resolve Gifts to take control of the game.


My Final Decision… For Now

After testing those decks, I decided I wanted to be more aggressive and more explosive. I have played with a few Zoo lists using Steppe Lynx and other hyper-aggressive creatures, but those lists were too explosive to the point they would sometimes explode on you and give you no hope of winning.

I realized I owned all the expensive cards for Infect, so I decided to give it a shot. All I can say is this deck is bonkers. I have only played two events with it so far, and although they haven’t been the most successful, I have ended each tournament with a positive record and I feel most of the deck’s losses come from mulligan decisions. I find it amusing that a deck I used to prey upon with my Zoo list is now the deck that I am battling with, but I think it is one of the best decks in the format right now and I feel like I can win with it whenever I sit down across from my opponents.


For those interested, here is my current Infect list:

I plan to start writing more frequently, and my next article will discuss some of the factors that lead to my current deck selection. Until next time, get out there and go have fun playing Modern.

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Max Perlmutter

Zookeeper at Ajani and Garruk's horde of monstrous creatures.
I am a competitive Magic player located in Philadelphia. I specialize in the Modern format and play aggressive strategies for the most part in constructed. In limited I have an affinity for awful tempo decks and the durdliest control decks (RIP FKK Sultai Control). I hope through my writing I can help us all improve as people and as players in the Magic community.
Max Perlmutter

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