The Rise of Uro in Modern

Jacob Nagro

Jacob Nagro

Introduction

Once Upon a Time

Originally, I was intending on writing this article about 《Once Upon a Time》 and how I thought it deserved to be seeing even more play than it already was in Modern. I decided to postpone my article until I saw the Banned and Restricted List update, and now I’m glad I did. I’m happy with 《Once Upon a Time》 being banned, I thought Amulet Titan and Eldrazi Tron were a bit too good compared to the rest of the field, and I also thought it was a little ridiculous that it was worth splashing just for 《Once Upon a Time》.

Finding The Best Shell with Uro

Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath

So now I’m going to write about what I believe is the new best thing to be doing in Modern, which is finding the best home for 《Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath》. Recently Uro has been dominating Modern, and almost exclusively with 《Cryptic Command》 and 《Mystic Sanctuary》 alongside. Recently Yuta Takahashi won a Modern Challenge with a Bant Control deck featuring, Uro, and the next day McWinSauce won the Modern PTQ with the same 75.

Bant Control

Teferi, Hero of DominariaArcum's AstrolabeIce-Fang CoatlVeil of Summer

Right now I would assume this is the deck to beat in Modern. Since 《Teferi, Hero of Dominaria》 was printed, UW Control has been a top tier deck in Modern, and since Dominaria this deck has gained another 7 different maindeck cards and 5 different sideboard cards, totaling 29 cards across the 75. While lots of Modern decks likely look similar, that’s a lot of gained power from recent sets for a deck that was already one of the best decks in Modern beforehand.

Wilderness ReclamationNexus of Fate

So while I would recommend Bant Control as a strong choice for an upcoming tournament, I still think there might be a lot of power left to explore with Uro. Recently I’ve been trying to pair Uro with the combination of 《Wilderness Reclamation》 and 《Nexus of Fate》. In general I think Nexus is an underexplored part of Modern, and Uro plays extremely well alongside it, as it’s a resilient threat that generates value each extra turn you take.

Nexus Uro – Simic

Recently, Allen Wu went 5-0 in a Modern League with his take on a Nexus deck, which was the beginning of my inspiration to explore the archetype myself.

On top of that another teammate of mine, Collin Rountree, won the Dallas Star City Games Regional event with his own take on Temur Nexus.

Nexus Uro – Temur

Collin’s version is a lot closer to a fair game plan than I’d like. While it’s possible that cards like 《Ice-Fang Coatl》 and 《Wrenn and Six》 are providing too much power to give up, I’ve recently been exploring trying to make my version as streamlined and unfair as possible. So my list is a lot closer to what Allen had started with, but I’ve really tried to streamline the deck towards winning with Nexus.

My Current List

Thought-Knot SeerPrimeval TitanMonastery SwiftspearBloodbraid Elf

My takeaway from a list like this is that I’m really polarizing my win rate based on the types of decks I play against. My deck is quite good at being a Nexus deck, and it has the speed with minimal interaction from 《Cryptic Command》 to feel quite favorable against things like Eldrazi Tron or 《Primeval Titan》 decks, and then can leverage Uro and 《Aether Gust》 to be favored against Prowess, which fortunately for me have been a quite a large portion of the metagame in leagues right now. I also feel pretty fine against most grindy matchups, given I have access to plenty of grindy tools myself, and if I resolve 《Wilderness Reclamation》 I suddenly have a huge mana advantage that I can easily leverage to victory. I have noticed however that my two worst matchups seem to be Humans, and decks featuring 《Teferi, Time Raveler》.

Thalia, Guardian of ThrabenTeferi, Time Raveler

The Humans matchup is brutally punishing for not having much interaction for 《Thalia, Guardian of Thraben》, 《Kitesail Freebooter》, and 《Meddling Mage》. Right now Humans hasn’t seemed too popular, so I have basically continued to not respect it in deckbuilding and plan on avoiding it. Being soft to Teferi’s static ability is obviously quite problematic, given I believe Bant Control is the best deck in Modern right now. I’ve tried a lot of tools to help combat it, and I think I like where I’m at right now, though given Bant Control is quite costly to build online, I don’t face it too often in leagues.

Card Choices

4 《Thought Scour》 in the Maindeck

Thought Scour

4

I think the biggest change I’ve made to the deck is the inclusion of 《Thought Scour》 as my cantrip of choice. While I do believe 《Arcum’s Astrolabe》 would be important if you were to branch out into a 3rd color, I think the upside of being 2 colors with 《Thought Scour》 is amazing. I find myself transforming 《Search for Azcanta》 incredibly fast, frequently as early as turn 4. As well as always having plenty of fuel for Uro, and occasionally getting to skip the part where I have to spend 3 mana on an 《Explore》 to cast it from my hand. Also as a Nexus deck, there is some value to just reducing your total library size faster to be able to chain Nexuses off as soon as possible, which is also something I’ve been able to do on turn 4 in a surprising amount of my games.

2 《Blast Zone》 in the Maindeck

Blast Zone

2

The next notable inclusion is having a couple copies of 《Blast Zone》. I basically just stole this from Standard and Pioneer Nexus decklists as an answer to Teferi or other problematic permanents. While playing non-《Island》 lands gets in the way of 《Mystic Sanctuary》, having 27 lands still frequently gives you a lot of options when sequencing your lands, so it’s usually not an issue. 《Blast Zone》 being an uncounterable, hard to interact with removal spell that plays extremely well with 《Wilderness Reclamation》 is just incredibly powerful, and I’ve even considered sideboarding more copies.

2 《Nissa, Who Shakes the World》 in the Sideboard

Nissa, Who Shakes the World

2

《Nissa, Who Shakes the World》 is my sideboard flex spot at the moment. Nissa accomplishes two major tasks for the deck, the first is being an alternate threat that doesn’t use my graveyard. Right now my deck is somewhat vulnerable to graveyard hate, but I didn’t want to add more direct answers to cards like 《Rest in Peace》 or 《Leyline of the Void》, because I already had the 《Blast Zone》s and 《Cryptic Command》s to assist with that. The second task is helping to deal with Teferi and 《Ashiok, Dream Render》. Not only does Nissa help deal with Teferi by providing 3/3s to attack with, but she also just gives you access to a decent amount of mana to let you potentially go off with an activate Azcanta and chain a few Nexuses while you pull far enough ahead to overcome the Teferi with the creatures. I’ve tried 《Display of Dominance》 in this flex spot before, but I’ve come to really like Nissa now.

4 《Aether Gust》 in the Sideboard

Aether Gust

4

The last card I want to talk about is 《Aether Gust》. While it’s become somewhat obvious that 《Mystical Dispute》 and 《Veil of Summer》 are great Modern sideboard cards, 《Aether Gust》 is quickly joining that list. It’s likely just a result of the metagame having so many 《Primeval Titan》 decks and Prowess decks, but the fact that Gust is amazing against both of those, and a card like 《Flashfreeze》 likely wouldn’t be good enough to warrant having against either of them, just goes to show how much more powerful Gust actually is. I’ve also found a lot of other spots that I’ve enjoyed having Gust, such as the 《Devoted Druid》 matchup, where Gusting a Druid on their draw step can buy you an incredibly amount of time to be safe from getting comboed.

Fighting Uro

While it’s pretty obvious that Uro is a rather graveyard intensive card and graveyard hate would be good against it, I think it’s important to think about what the decks featuring Uro are also trying to accomplish. A lot of them have access to a lot of value generation, and something like 《Rest in Peace》 in a long drawn out game might not accomplish what you’re hoping for. Personally I think the best tools for fighting Uro are specifically 《Relic of Progenitus》, 《Nihil Spellbomb》, and 《Soul-Guide Lantern》.

Relic of ProgenitusNihil SpellbombSoul-Guide Lantern

These cards still offer the ability to disrupt an Uro from Escaping, without costing you a real card’s worth of value to do so. They also are easily maindeckable and also have the upside of being an artifact that some decks might highly value.

Uroza

Emry, Lurker of the LochUrza, Lord High ArtificerSoul-Guide Lantern

This Uro-Urza deck has been popping up a lot and I think there is a pretty high chance I would pick this deck with some maindeck copies of 《Soul-Guide Lantern》 to play in Modern events coming up. Uro plays absolutely amazingly with 《Emry, Lurker of the Loch》‘s incidental self mill, and in general this deck is still doing a lot of the powerful things that other Uro decks are doing. I also just think graveyard hate is pretty well positioned in Modern overall right now, as a lot of players are leaning on 《Ashiok, Dream Render》 to function as graveyard hate. I think Ashiok is a little too inefficient against dedicated graveyard decks like Dredge or 《Vengevine》, so I expect those decks to also be on the rise, as people aren’t actually playing much with 《Rest in Peace》 of 《Leyline of the Void》.


Meddling MageGifts Ungiven

Beyond playing with the right graveyard hate cards, I think another way to fight these Uro decks might be to play a strong proactive deck that isn’t too popular right now. The first decks that come to mind are Humans or Storm, as you present a quick win a lot of the time, and these Uro decks can realistically only be equipped to beat so many archetypes. It’s common advice in Modern to play the best deck that no one else is playing, and I think that holds even more true when the decks people are playing are featuring a lot of reactive elements.

Conclusion

Mystic Sanctuary

I’ve enjoyed the power level of Uro as I continue to find homes for it. I think Modern is self correcting enough that it shouldn’t be a problematic card that needs to be banned, but is simply just another of the many pillars of the format. It seems like right now Modern is in a pretty good place, and games actually have a lot of play to them. I think this is mostly in part to 《Mystic Sanctuary》 bringing control decks up to the top of the format again.

Oko, Thief of CrownsMox Opal

I know it can be irritating to watch Modern be taken over by cards only printed in the last year, but personally I enjoy the shake-up. I even sort of like it when something like 《Oko, Thief of Crowns》 squeaks through and we can play with a card that’s powerful enough to become the new best card in Modern. I think the thing I dislike the most about recent Modern changes is the banning of 《Mox Opal》. While that was certainly one of the best cards in the format, I think banning it effectively banned a lot of other cards in the format, such as 《Arcbound Ravager》. I think the tools to fight 《Mox Opal》 decks were better than ever when they banned it, and there are plenty of other decks gaining lots of power in Modern as new cards get printed anyways.

Birthing PodSplinter Twin

I would like to see more unbannings to go along with the era of powerful Magic cards being printed, especially because there seems to just be a precedent that unbanning cards in all formats is fine. This means that if something like 《Birthing Pod》 or 《Splinter Twin》 ended up being too powerful still, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see them banned again.


I’m excited to see what Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths brings at this point, and recently I’ve been more focused on Magic than ever, so hopefully as the previews begin I’ll be able to share anything sweet I come up with quickly. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me on Twitter @JacobNagro as always. Thanks for reading.

Jacob Nagro (Twitter / Twitch)

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Jacob Nagro

Jacob Nagro Jacob Nagro is a pro player from United States. His first appearance was GP Denver 2016 where he made top 8 with UW Flash. He keeps trying hard and his effort was paid off as the Silver Level Pro in the 2016-2017 season. He played a spicy RB Bridgevine deck featuring Greater Gargadon and Bloodghast at the Pro Tour 25th Anniversary. His team went 7th place and he became a Gold Level Pro with the impressive record. Read more articles by Jacob Nagro