By: Zack Hall
Good choices for May’s Titanium Challenge event.
The fifth event in the Titanium Series hosted by TJ Collectibles is coming up and like all the rest it’s going to be a Singles Modern Event. The monthly events have ranged from the mid forties to the mid seventies in attendance, while the quarterly Titanium Plus Weekend has two events (both Modern) which drew a combined 300 players. What have sufficient data now to start to draw conclusions about the state of Modern in our area. In this article I hope to describe some of the tendencies we’ve seen from month to month, focusing on the general trends of the 6 Titanium events we have to work off of.
In my mind there are a few different Moderns that exist. There’s the perfectly balanced Modern metagame, with a few decks taking up about 10% of the metagame – think variants of Death’s Shadow Aggro, Valakut, and Burn. Then there would be a handful of decks with varying degrees of win percentages based on things like the ease with which they’re hated out and how good players are at fighting them.
There’s the MTGO metagame which has a preponderance of decks like UR Storm and Ad Naseum as well as lots of people attempting some strange combo deck – think Krark-Clan Ironworks Eggs – that they’d never think to go at a high stakes, live action tournament.
Then of course there’s the metagame that exists on paper. In real life, when a player has to set aside their entire Saturday and pay a Misty Rainforest’s worth of entry fee, usually that player wants to play something more solid. A tendency that I’ve seen our players display is wanting to have control of their own destiny. This means lots of players playing decks filled with very fair cards like Knight of the Reliquary and Kolaghan’s Command. When we sleeve up our decks with Noble Hierarchs, Thoughtseizes, and Knights of the Reliquary, we convince ourselves that luck plays less of a factor in our games than if we run a linear strategy like one involving Angel’s Grace and Lightning Storm.
However, players defaulting towards these midrangy cards and strategies can be used to our advantage in deciding what deck to choose. Tons of Thoughtseizes and Inquisitions are being played right now in addition to oodles of Eidolons and Kolaghan’s. These cards make it difficult to play decks that rely on single cards or narrow gameplans. As much as I love Lantern Control, I think it would be one of the worst decks to sleeve up for this weekend. Too much hate and too broad of decks to fight in terms of threat density. Another example might be UR Storm – weak to exactly the kinds of decks that show up at Titanium Challenge tournaments.
So this begs the question – what should we be sleeving up in a perfect universe? Well, for one I wouldn’t be looking to play a hyperaggressive combo deck. Something like Goryo’s Vengeance or UR Storm are just too narrow and vulnerable. One of their biggest strengths is that they outpace the slower, more consistent combination decks which can prey on the midrange decks present at the event. I would be comfortable registering a combo deck like Valakut Titan or Dredge Saturday though. These decks have play against the policeman of the format, Burn while remaining resilient enough to be able to fight through the hate that the midrange decks are forced to play to disrupt combo.
If combo isn’t your style, classic Spreading Seas UW control is a great choice, though I don’t think most anyone has run this deck in a Titanium event. Blue Nahiri decks with the Emrakul endgame show up at every event, but killing with Celestial Colonnade is a drag for most. Still, if you can play this deck anywhere close to its maximum equity it has to be a great choice.
If you want midrange, I’m not sure what to tell you. I don’t have the on-the-ground expertise in the midrange mirrors that I’d need to make that call. Something with Death’s Shadows and Kolaghan’s Command has to be good. I’d start there and build whatever shell best fits your style and card availability. Some cards that I’m bullish on right now include: Dispel, Stubborn Denial, Anger of the Gods, and Leyline of Sanctity. One thing I’d go a little lighter on might be directed artifact hate in the sideboard – Lantern is poorly positioned and Artifact Aggro is at its nadir here in the Northeastern US.
Join us on Saturday to see if my predictions are even close to accurate. If you have an interesting deck or sideboard choices, hit me up on Facebook before the event or come see me at TJs and we can do a deck tech! Thanks for reading my metagame advice and I hope to see you at TJ Collectibles this Saturday May 6th at 11am!