Hello everyone! It’s sensei Kowalski here. Today I want to share with you my experience from Mythic Championship IV (Modern & Modern Horizons Draft)! I feel like I’ve learned a lot during a bootcamp with my team. Modern nowadays is way different from what it used to be a year ago, and graveyard matters a lot.
Adapting to this fact is really important, and I feel like many blue-white players just live in the past. Reading something like “UW has a 20% match up against Hogaak” is just heartbreaking for me, especially because I know that’s not true, but people are repeating this over and over again making a really bad look for my favorite Modern deck.
Today I’ll try to help you adapt to the new world, and teach you how to approach the most popular match ups!
My Decklist and Card Choices
2 《Hallowed Fountain》
4 《Flooded Strand》
1 《Prismatic Vista》
3 《Celestial Colonnade》
2 《Glacial Fortress》
3 《Field of Ruin》
1 《Geier Reach Sanitarium》
-Land (24)- 4 《Snapcaster Mage》
4 《Path to Exile》
2 《Surgical Extraction》
1 《Spell Pierce》
1 《Logic Knot》
1 《Mana Leak》
3 《Force of Negation》
1 《Timely Reinforcements》
2 《Cryptic Command》
2 《Supreme Verdict》
1 《Detention Sphere》
3 《Narset, Parter of Veils》
2 《Teferi, Time Raveler》
3 《Jace, the Mind Sculptor》
1 《Teferi, Hero of Dominaria》
I’ll start with explaining some unusual choices, to give you a better understanding of my build:
Format is very fast, and early turns matter the most. That’s why I have 5 planeswalkers for only 3 mana, and 3 Jaces, leaving only one card for 5 mana in my deck. With addition of 《Force of Negation》 you don’t need Teferi’s untap ability that much, and Jace helps you a lot with getting rid of dead cards like 《Surgical Extraction》 in some match ups, or 《Spell Pierce》 in the late game.
This is mostly a metagame call. 《Spell Pierce》 is better vs Hogaak, Mirror and UR Phoenix, which I expected to be three the most popular deck during MC IV, while 《Spell Snare》 being better vs Jund and 5C Humans mostly.
It’s a must have nowadays. Hogaak is a number one deck in Modern, and that’s not gonna change until they ban it, so we have to be ready. Surgical is also a big part of the reason why I’m playing 4x 《Snapcaster Mage》. There is no better follow-up for a free spell then Snapcaster flashing it back on turn two!
With format being so fast possibility to cheat on mana is very important. This choice combines well with playing 3x 《Jace, the Mind Sculptor》, as we can safely slam it on turn 4 and protect it, or in match ups, where FoN is useless, just shuffle it back to library.
2x 《Supreme Verdict》 (0x 《Wrath of God》)
With 3x 《Force of Negation》 it’s important to keep as many blue cards as possible in our deck. Obviously this kind of removal choice makes us worse vs 5C Humans, but as you can figure out above, I already decided to give up game one against them, and I don’t think having a mass removal with a different name will save us, while being a blue card might be a game changer in other match ups. WoG humbly waits in sideboard.
Great combo with 《Narset, Parter of Veils》. The way we often lose is getting smashed in the early game (both Geier and 《Field of Ruin》 won’t help), or we get flooded in the late game. Usually later in the game “draw → discard” effect is better for a control player, than for their opponent, so Geier protect us from losing to further scenario. The best trick with it is to activate it in opponent’s draw step, if they have only one card in hand, and we have Narset. With small Teferi on the battlefield is a hard lock!
Mythic Championship IV
During the event I played versus almost every single top tier Modern deck, going 8-2 total:
Below I’ll show you my sideboard plan for this event, and explain how you should approach the most important match ups. I really hope it’s gonna be useful for you, and helps you understand UW control better, but if you have any additional questions feel free to ask me on twitter, under a post with a link to this article. I’ll do my very best to answer every single one!
Match Ups Breakdown with My Sideboard Plan
Let’s start with the most important one. Hogaak is relatively new in Modern, and I think this is the place where the most misconceptions exist. First of all, THIS IS NOT A 20% MATCH UP! I agree that our game one is terrible, and the only way to steal the game is Surgical into Snapcaster. Postboard though, if we board correctly and understand the match up, we’re huge favorite.
It’s not a surprise that we have to take a defensive role. Hogaak is an aggressor, and we have to do our best to destroy their gameplan. There are two things we have to do in order to achieve our goal. Interrupt their graveyard synergies, and stop their cheap aggro plan.
The first is easy, and I believe everyone understands what to do. There are 《Surgical Extraction》, and 《Rest in Peace》 making a job done. If we do step one, we still have to take care of the battlefield. Usually there are some survivors still threatening our life total. The best way to deal with them with 《Rest in Peace》 in play is 《Timely Reinforcements》, six life usually means canceling two or three of their previous attacks. Basically everything that can block is good in that spot. 《Monastery Mentor》 makes blockers, Snapcaster trades with whatever forever, we just need to survive.
Two important notes from testing are “one Surgical is never enough” and “《Rest in Peace》 on the draw might be too slow”. If they have a good start on the play, it’s possible we will face more than 15 power on the board before we play our second land. That being said, the best case scenario is to draw one Surgical and one RIP every game. To max out our chance for that I think the correct approach is to have 3 Surgicals and 3 RIPs postboard. I thought about this during testing, but wasn’t confident enough that’s the right move, and in the end went with the community consensus with 4 enchantments. Moving forward I would advise for -1 RIP + 1 Surgical in SB.
Let’s talk about sideboard. People playing UW for a long time in Modern have rooted deeply in their minds “always board out Snapcaster, when you board in RIP”, and that might be the biggest mistake someone can make playing UW nowadays. If we stick RIP, all we need to do is to stop random 2/1s from attacking us. 2/1 flash vanilla guy is as good as 《Celestial Purge》 in that task, so his floor is not that low. It’s never a dead card, even if graveyards are empty. On the other hand, if we don’t draw our best weapon, or it gets discarded/destroyed we have to rely on Surgicals.
As you know, one is usually not enough, so we need another copy. What’s better than another copy of Extraction? Well, Extraction with a free 2/1 body attached to it! With 3 Surgicals, 3 Snapcasters, 3 RIPs, and 3 Purges I believe we’re far over 70% against Hogaak in postboard games, and even with very bad game one, the overall match up is so much better than everyone says.
This is an actively good match up, and also very skill demanding from both sides. In game one you should focus on dealing with every single threat, they don’t have that many. Surgical helps a lot, if you hit 《Arclight Phoenix》 it’s almost impossible to lose. 《Aria of Flame》 is the scariest card, but with 3 FoNs, 《Detention Sphere》, and baby Teferis we’re ready for that.
Postboard it gets more tricky, because all depends on what they have in their sideboard. If they’re ready for UW, with planeswalkers like 《Saheeli, Sublime Artificer》, Narset, or Jace, it might be a challenging match. If they stick with game one plan, just adding few more counterspells it should be very easy.
The biggest mistake I see my opponents are doing (even during the Mythic Championship) is keeping 《Thing in the Ice》 postboard. First of all, it’s embarrassing against 《Teferi, Time Raveler》 and Jace, but what’s more important, it actually helps us. When they flip TiTi you cast Snapcaster in response for the trigger, flashback your 《Path to Exile》 or whatever, and bring Snapcaster back to your hand. FREE VALUE!
UW Control Mirror
Game one is mostly all about who draws more dead cards. I think our version is quite good with 3x Jace, 2x Baby Teferi, 3x FoN, and 《Spell Pierce》 over 《Spell Snare》, but other people might have maindeck 《Vendilion Clique》 which is also very strong. The way you win is sticking and protecting your planeswalkers. Whoever starts snowballing with PW activations usually takes the control over the game.
As I warned you before, this is the place where I made sacrifices to improve other match ups, so game one is terrible. Our main plan is to get rid of 《Meddling Mage》s naming 《Supreme Verdict》, and clearing the board with our sweeper. Without public decklists it might be a little easier, as they might want to name 《Wrath of God》, or attack with Mage expecting 《Oust》 instead of 《Condemn》 in our list, so take that in mind while setting your game plan during early turns.
Postboard the idea is to kill whatever we can early and take control over the game with quick 《Monastery Mentor》. 《Vendilion Clique》 is very good versus 《Mantis Rider》, and helps us with setting our long term plan revealing secrets from opponent’s hand.
It’s all about card advantage, so cards like 《Force of Negation》 are not as good as you might think. Obviously countering 《Liliana of the Veil》 or 《Wrenn and Six》 is a nice thing to do, but spending two cards for that usually puts us in a worse spot than letting them resolve. 《Celestial Purge》 is our best card, as it answers everything, and I’m really happy we have 3 in the sideboard.
Don’t slam 《Monastery Mentor》 on turn three. It’s a late game card, that allows us to close the game, early should be all about countering their stuff, and answering permanents. We do have the best chance if we play the classic draw-go mode for the first 4-5 turns. 《Rest in Peace》 is not an all star here, but I like having one to shut down 《Tarmogoyf》 and Wrenn later in the game. As I said before, don’t play it on turn two (unless they have Wrenn, and you don’t have a counterspell), just try to make value out of 《Snapcaster Mage》s first.
Decent match up with our current build. 《Condemn》 is definitely better than 《Oust》. The games we win usually look the same way. Counter something in the early game, cast planeswalkers and protect them. Dealing 《Reality Smasher》 in their combat with 《Condemn》 is a huge upgrade. FoN makes a decent job with countering 《Chalice of the Void》 and 《Karn, the Great Creator》, so we can safely tap out for Jace or Narset. Tron is not as big deal as versus green version, so I don’t like to spend Surgical on a Tron piece. From my experience it’s better to save it for Karn, Smasher, or 《Thought-Knot Seer》 in game one, and then sideboard it out and forget about it.
This is my top 6 of the metagame right now. There are so many different decks in the format, and it’s impossible to cover every single one, but as I said, if you need help with any specific match up you have trouble with, feel free to ask me on twitter. I love helping people, and I’ve spent the last two weeks before the MC doing nothing but tuning UW in Modern, so don’t hesitate to ask!
Great work made during the weekend. Finished 13th #MythicChampionshipIV which was good enough for $6k and 24 mythic points + locking the team series final with hareruya sword! Now in taxi moving to a new hotel next to the beach. Time to relax after a week of hard work! UW is gas! pic.twitter.com/Mr8taeMcfA— Grzegorz 'Urlich' Kowalski (@urlichmtg) July 28, 2019
Thank you for reading!
Until next time,