Tournament Report – Playing Modern Burn

Burn Image

I’ve never played a single sanctioned match of Modern. The only time I feel like a competent Magic player is when I’m playing Limited and even then, I’m only just slightly competent. I’m not a serious Magic player, I very rarely travel to play in Grands Prix and I’ve never made it to the Top 8 of a PTQ. So, why invest money into building a competitive deck that I will use maybe twice before it becomes obsolete? This is what I thought to myself before the stores where I play Magic began to really push Modern. Some of the stores had even made their Friday Night Magic format MODERN! Instead of LIMITED? Blasphemy.

I finally caved. It was about time that I tried playing some Modern. I wanted to play Mono-Red because I had a bunch of Mountains that were already in sleeves. I Googled some decklists, took what I liked and dropped what I didn’t understand (which was quite a bit). Then I shipped my decklist to, Kathryn, who responded – here.

Southern Ontario Magic Society
The Southern Ontario Magic Society

Despite her analysis, I decided to pilot this thing at a tournament anyway. The Southern Ontario Magic Society is running an AMAZING series of Modern Tournaments at Seneca College all summer and since I finally built a Modern deck I would be able to check one of them out. My good buddy, Andrian, fancies himself a bit of a Modern Master and he attends these tournaments frequently. I had to borrow the Arid Mesas and Scalding Tarns from him and, since he was playing Robots, he had plenty to spare.

Arriving at Seneca College, we were amazed by the tournament play area: people were going to have a LOT of room to cast their spells and tap their lands. When I walked up to the judges table and asked to register, they told me, “We would love to be able to do that. Unfortunately, we cannot as we have hit capacity. We mentioned on our website and Facebook that people should pre-register.”

Thanks for reading everybody and make sure to pre-register before going to your next tournament!!!



…IS HOW THIS VERY WELL COULD HAVE ENDED. Luckily for me, the tournament organizers decided to run a real HIGH-STAKES, “Oops, I forgot to pre-register” side event. The event had 14 players and a prize pool of $450 in store credit at Worlds Collide. With an entry-fee of $30, that was an INSANE deal. One of the best payouts I’ve ever seen for a Magic tournament and I had to sign-up.

Round 1 – Adam playing Classic Jund

The Junds?

Adam was on some sort of Jund build; it might have even been THE Jund deck. I don’t know. People could be playing anything in this format. He was playing green, red and black and he had Tarmogoyfs, Lightning Bolts and Lilianas of the Veil. That’s “the Junds,” right?  I hit him with a turn 3 Molten Rain on his Blackcleave Cliffs. He missed a third land drop and said that it stung. I then went on to cast enough burn spells to deal him 15 points of damage (he took 2 hits off one of my Goblin Guides and he took 1 point of damage off of a fetchland, I believe.)

The second game was more of the same except I believe he took a mulligan and then was stuck on two lands. I was as well, but my deck had zero problems running off of two lands as most of my gas only cost a single R. Having 13 cards that are essentially Lightning Bolt makes it easy to just play 20 lands and keep drawing cards you can play. In this game, my opponent hit me with Inquisition of Kozilek 3 times, but I just kept drawing Lava Spikes, Boros Charms, Lightning Bolts and Rift Bolts. My first ever sanctioned Modern match was a WIN!

Record: 1-0

Round 2 – Hakim playing U/W/R American Control.

This Stupid Thing!
This Stupid Thing!

Hakim was playing what looked to me like a control deck, which I thought I would have a pretty good match against. I was stuck on land with my opener. I had a fetch, grabbed an untapped Sacred Foundry and played a Vexing Devil. He did not pay four life and on his turn he Path to Exile’d it. This turned out great for me. It was the only other land I needed as I was able to play a couple Rakdos Cacklers for a few points of damage. He eventually was able to block a Cackler with a Restoration Angel, but he tapped out to do so and when he did I was able to cast every spell in my hand which was all burn to the dome.

In game two he was stuck on three lands with no white sources. He played a Spellskite. Was I supposed to know that was coming? Do I board in Smash to Smithereens in this situation? How many Smash to Smithereens do I board in for up to 4 Spellskites? These questions will all go unanswered. I ended up just playing a lot of dudes and forcing him to redirect a burn spell into his Spellskite after he blocked one of my creatures, killing the troublesome artifact. After the game was over he revealed a card he boarded in against me. It was a Leyline of Sanctity that was stranded in his hand due to his lack of white mana. I did not know this card existed. I will add Wear/Tear to my deck for future tournaments because that Leyline seems completely unbeatable.

Guess I lose?!?!
Guess I lose?!?!

Record: 2-0

Round 3 –Zookeeper Dave

Kinda like this.
Kinda like this.

I actually know Dave. He’s a good guy, but a bit of a ringer in this tournament. He’s been known to take down a box or two when he plays Modern GP side events. I got to see his deck earlier in the day when we were just hanging out. He was playing Zoo, which generally consists of small, but efficient G/W/R creatures. He was also running a couple Planeswalkers: Chandra, Pyromancer and Ajani Vengeant.

Game 1 was a pretty juicy meatball as he opened up by cracking a fetchland into an untapped shockland and played Wild Nacatl. I responded with a Goblin Guide and he opted to trade. He didn’t have much to follow-up the Nacatl and I had a grip full of burn.

I boarded in the Molten Rain again because I love that card and it makes me feel all warm and squishy in my guts. I took out the Cacklers because his creatures just completely outclass them and I couldn’t even chump with them in a race scenario.

Game 2 started exactly like the first one. He played the Wild Nacatl off of a fetch and a shock. Then I played Goblin Guide, but this time he didn’t make the trade and I got him to 15. I only had a Sacred Foundry in play, but I looked at my hand and saw Boros Charm, Rift Bolt, 2x Lava Spike, Molten Rain and a Skullcrack. That’s 18 points of burn. All I could think was that I just had to get to it. At worst I stop attacking with Goblin Guide and block for a turn to buy some time to play out all these sweet spells. Being very cautious of his life total, Dave played a shockland tapped and passed the turn. That’s when I made the super slick play of attacking with my Goblin Guide right into his 3/3 Wild Nacatl because I forgot that he had two shocklands in play which made it a 3/3. Even better, he drew a land off of my Goblin Guide before blocking and killing it.


People were watching. I was embarrassed. When something like that happens it’s important not to tilt. Just keep composed and make better plays going forward. It was the worst mistake I’ve made in years and I make a LOT of mistakes every time I play Magic. Luckily, it didn’t cost me and I was able to race his creatures with my burn spells eventually drawing enough land to play out my hand.

Record: 3-0

Great movie. On this day, I lived it.
Great movie. On this day, I lived it.

After round three I double-drew into a top 4 prize split. We each got $112.50 in store credit at World’s Collide which had more than enough fun things to spend the prize pool on. I was able to foil out an Ancestral Visions for my Cube as well as grab a bunch of other things I wanted.

Even though my deck and its pilot were not the best, I was able to play three matches and not lose a single game. Modern wasn’t as intimidating as I first thought. Since this is Modern PTQ season I think I might just try to continue to run hot at some more events in the city and I suggest that you do, too. Just make sure you think twice before you swing…seriously.

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