Modern, Aether Revolt Finance and a Proposed Team Tournament Structure

Feature Article from Craig Wescoe
Craig Wescoe
2/24/2017 11:01:00 AM
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This week I have three unrelated topics to share. The first is an update to the Mono-White Death and Taxes list I've been having success with in Modern recently, including adjustments to the metagame after this weekend's pair of Modern Grand Prix as well as some brief sideboard notes. Next is the result of my Finance Contest from last month's Financial Predictions for Aether Revolt article. Lastly, in an effort to better align Magic organized play at the most competitive level with that of mainstream esports I propose a detailed structure for a multi-format team tournament that aims to maximize both player enthusiasm and spectator interest.

Updated Modern Death and Taxes List

In light of the results from Grand Prix Vancouver and Grand Prix Brisbane this weekend, I made a few changes to the Death and Taxes list I played in the MOCS Playoff event last month. Here is my updated list.

I expect to see a lot more Death's Shadow Jund in the coming weeks, as well as more Dredge and more Lantern Control. Merfolk is also a deck that has proven its ability to compete with the top decks. In response to these metagame considerations, I added Mirran Crusader to the main deck and a third Rest in Peace to the sideboard. Mirran Crusader is great against Tarmogoyf and Death's Shadow while Rest in Peace is excellent against Tarmogoyf and Traverse the Ulvenwald and is also great against Dredge. Our sideboard is already good against Merfolk with Sunlance, Oblivion Ring and Leonin Relic-Warder. I don't know that I would eve bring in a fourth copy of Rest in Peace against Grixis or Death's Shadow decks, so it would really only be a bullet card against Dredge, so I think three copies is the right number. If you expect a lot of Dredge and not much Burn or Anger of the Gods, then you could replace a Burrenton Forge-Tender with the fourth Rest in Peace (or the first Grafdigger's Cage if you expect Melira combo). I think this list is pretty close to perfect though and it's what I would run if I were playing Modern tomorrow.

Brief Sideboard Guide

Some people last time asked for sideboard guidelines, so here they are. For more information about the deck, check out The Ultimate Guide to Death and Taxes.

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Store QTY Price  
Qs CardsnComics 1 $6.50
Magic City Gathering 2 $6.77
The Rogues Roost 1 $6.81
Yawgmoths Bargain 2 $6.99
Gooses Games 3 $6.99
Noble inc Gaming 2 $6.99
Shama Llama 2 $7.00

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Aether Vial and Thraben Inspector come out anytime Stony Silence comes in, which means against Affinity, G/x Tron and Lantern. Leonin Arbiter comes out against Affinity since they don't search and only have one basic land. Thalia can come out against anyone with a low spell count and is conveniently replaced by Oblivion Ring. Mirran Crusader is generally the first creature to come out against decks without green or black creatures or black removal, but it's a fine card to leave in if we have other stuff we'd rather take out. Flickerwisp can come out against decks with Lingering Souls or cards like Electrolyze where a one-toughness flyer is less than ideal. I often board out a Tectonic Edge when on the draw against decks that Tectonic Edge is not great against. Honor of the Pure can also come out liberally whenever the added toughness is not especially important to combat or to dodge specific removal spells.

Mid
Low
 Burrenton Forge-Tender
$0.98
$0.21
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Grandmaster Games 1 $0.57
Graveyard Games 8 $0.59
FortMax 1 $0.63
Ulrich and Helvas 3 $0.65
Tabletop Game Swap 1 $0.67
HankGoyf 2 $0.69
The Fantastic Store 1 $0.69

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Burrenton Forge-Tender comes in against anything red, but is primarily there to fight burn spells, Anger of the Gods, and effects like Pyroclasm, Whipflare or Firespout. Also comes in against Ad Nauseam. Sunlance is good against any small creature decks including Merfolk, Affinity, Naya Burn, Elves, etc. Rest in Peace comes in against Dredge, Grixis, Death's Shadow, and anything that relies heavily on the graveyard. We can bring in 1-2 copies against decks that only slightly use the graveyard since it doesn't hurt us at all. Leonin Relic-Warder is great against opposing Aether Vials (Merfolk/mirror), Affinity (mainly to stop Ghirapur Aether Grid but also because it can target anything in their deck), Ensnaring Bridge, or anything with artifacts and enchantments. Oblivion Ring is an all-purpose card, serving as additional removal and also an additional Disenchant effect against Ghirapur Aether Grid. You can also do tricks with Oblivion Ring and Leonin Relic-Warder with Aether Vial. By blinking either one with the ETB trigger on the stack, you get to basically exile two things for the price of one. You can do the same with Flickerwisp and Restoration Angel (though angel can't directly target Oblivion Ring).

Finance Contest Results

Last month I ran a contest. The rules were to pick the mythic and the non-mythic rare that I overlook in my Financial Predictions for Aether Revolt article. Immediately following the Pro Tour, I was to pick a winner, which I did and will discuss today in this section. As it turns out, most of my predictions were good. I correctly predicted the highest demand mythic in the set ( Heart of Kiran) would rise from $19, which it did to $25! This was evidently a bold prediction as about half the contestants wrongly doubted this pick. Another sleeper hit was my prediction that Herald of Anguish would rise from $4 – and it doubled to $8! My small ball sleeper mythic pick was Aetherwind Basker rising from $1, which it did to $1.50. Of the twelve mythics, I was only wrong about three. I said Ajani Unyeilding would rise in price from $9 and instead it dropped to $8. I said Mechanized Production would drop from $4 and instead it rose to $5. The winning mythic pick, however, was Paradox Engine, which I predicted would drop from $7 and instead it rose to $10. Overall my mythic predictions yielded a significant profit if followed though.

Mid
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 Paradox Engine
$8.99
$5.36
Store QTY Price  
Land Shark Cards 1 $5.36
Geek world online 2 $6.67
Gooses Games 1 $6.67
TD4W Games 2 $6.73
Salfish 1 $6.86
Eureka Emporium 2 $6.99
Foil AltArt Tokens 1 $7.00

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I predicted the majority of the non-mythic rares correctly as well. If I was wrong, it was usually only by a small percentage. The one card from the set that I was very wrong about, however, was Walking Ballista – and I knew it within days of the article's publication. I underestimated just how good it was with Winding Constrictor and that it would be played in Modern Tron, Legacy Eldrazi, and even Vintage decks based around Mishra's Workshop!

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 Walking Ballista
$12.02
$7.46
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JMacs Card Horde 1 $8.00
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ValhalGames 1 $9.40
Ajanis Offerings 1 $9.45
KrustyKrabs 1 $9.46
cardpunk 1 $9.49

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So the two winning cards were Paradox Engine and Walking Ballista. Unfortunately, nobody picked both of these together, so the next best guess was Walking Ballista and Mechanized Production. Michael Chui and Jonathan Gagne each picked these two and are therefore co-champions. For their prize, they will each receive a Foil Grand Prix Promo Progenitus along with some other swag.

I plan to run a similar contest in my Financial Predictions for Amonkhet article in April, so watch for that if you want to play!

Idea for Multi-format Team Tournament

Earlier this week, Corbin Hosler wrote an interesting article about what it would take for Magic to grow in popularity as an eSport and it got me thinking. Team competitions form a healthy balance with individual competitions. Each has advantages for unique branding and marketing opportunities. I agree with Corbin that the Pro Tour Team Series is a big step in the right direction. I also believe Team Grand Prix events are also a step in the right direction. I believe there is more unexplored territory and room for creativity when it comes to designing and structuring team tournaments though. I've been thinking about how to maximize both player enthusiasm and spectator interest and thereby strike a perfect balance from an organized play perspective. I don't know the ideal place to implement this tournament structure into the current organized play calendar, but I highly suspect most pros and fans of pro play would love for such an event to occur at least once each year. I don't know the specifics of how to make that happen or from where to pull the resources, but I think it would be a big hit for everyone if it happened somehow. It could be a Team Pro Tour, World Magic Cup, a separate Team Challenge, or all of the above if it exceeds expectations.

Here are the basics:

- Players register as a five-player team.

- Each player on the team plays a specific format (Legacy, Modern, Standard, Draft, and Sealed)

- 12 Rounds of pod play, forming new pods by record every three rounds, then cut to Top 8 teams for three final single elimination rounds to determine the winning team.

Here is a detailed outline of the proposed tournament structure:

Friday (Day Two)

Midnight: All deck lists are submitted for the three Constructed formats.

9:00 a.m.: All “Draft” players draft in pods of eight while the other four non-draft players from each team collectively build and register a single 40-card sealed deck out of a randomly assigned sealed pool of the current Sealed format.

9:30 a.m.: All five teammates join together to build the draft player's deck from the cards drafted.

10:00am Round 1: Teams are paired against each other within pod by record and each player on each team plays against the player on the opposite team assigned to the corresponding format.

11:30 a.m.: Round 2: Teams are paired against each other within pod by record and each player on each team plays against the player on the opposite team assigned to the corresponding format.

1:00 p.m.: Round 3: Teams are paired against each other within pod by record and each player on each team plays against the player on the opposite team assigned to the corresponding format.

2:30 p.m.: New pods are formed based on record (pods of 3-0 teams, 2-1 teams, 1-2 teams, etc.) and all “Draft” players draft in these pods of eight while the other four non-draft players from each team collectively build and register an individual sealed deck out of a randomly assigned sealed pool of the current Sealed format.

3:00 p.m.: All five teammates join together to build the draft player's deck from the cards drafted.

3:30 p.m.: Round 4: Teams are paired against each other within pod by record and each player on each team plays against the player on the opposite team assigned to the corresponding format.

5:00 p.m.: Round 5: Teams are paired against each other within pod by record and each player on each team plays against the player on the opposite team assigned to the corresponding format.

6:30 p.m.: Round 6: Teams are paired against each other within pod by record and each player on each team plays against the player on the opposite team assigned to the corresponding format.

All teams with nine match points (3-3 record) or better advance to Day Two.

Repeat same schedule for Day Two (Saturday), assigning pods by record and playing three rounds within pod, then forming new pods by record and playing three more rounds within pod.

Top 8 teams return for Sunday single elimination rounds

9:00 a.m.: All eight “Draft” players draft in a single pod of eight while the other four non-draft players from each team collectively build and register an individual sealed deck out of a randomly assigned sealed pool of the current Sealed format.

9:30 a.m.: All five teammates join together to build the draft player's deck from the cards drafted.

10:00 a.m.: Quarterfinal: Teams are paired against each other by record from the previous 12 rounds of pod play (1 seed team plays 8 seed, 2 plays 7, 3 plays 6, and 4 plays 5) and each player on each team plays against the player on the opposite team assigned to the corresponding format. All five team members on the higher seeded team choose whether to play or draw in their respective matches (this should be a big enough incentive and reward for finishing higher in the previous 12 rounds of pod play).

11:30 a.m.: Semifinal: Teams are paired against each other by seed (highest seeded team remaining plays against lowest seeded, and the two middle seeded teams play) and each player on each team plays against the player on the opposite team assigned to the corresponding format. All five team members on the higher seeded team choose whether to play or draw in their respective matches (for instance, if the two-seed, three-seed, five-seed, and eight-seed teams win the quarterfinal, then the two-seed gets the choice to play first against the eight-seed in the semifinal and the three-seed gets to choose to play first against the five-seed in the other semifinal.)

1:00 p.m.: Final: Last two remaining teams play against each other and each player on each team plays against the player on the opposite team assigned to the corresponding format. All five team members on the higher seeded team choose whether to play or draw in their respective matches.

Winning team is crowned the champion<.

Here is a brief recap (TLDR) of the proposed tournament structure:

Register as a five-player team which each member of the team assigned a specific format. The five formats are Legacy, Modern, Standard, Sealed, and Draft. Break into pods of eight, play three rounds within pod, paired by record, where each player on each team plays against the player on the opposing team in the corresponding format (i.e. Legacy vs Legacy, Draft vs Draft, Standard vs Standard, Sealed vs Sealed, and Modern vs Modern). Then form new pods of eight based on record and play three more rounds within pod, paired by record each round. Cut to Day Two at nine match points or better. Break into new pods based on record and play three more rounds within pod. Break into new pods and play three more rounds within pod. Cut to Top 8 as one final pod and play single elimination rounds on Sunday (Day Three) paired based on record where each member of higher seeded team chooses to play or draw in each round. Crown a winning team.

I don't know what the best method would be to qualify for the tournament or what the prize structure should be, but if it awards Pro Points (it should), offering $10K to each of the five players on the winning team should be sufficient incentive to get the pro players to show up, with prizes scaling down to Top 12 or Top 16 teams. Also for qualifying you could say each team needs to have a minimum of 100 (current) Pro Points combined among all five members. That basically means two platinum players or three golds can recruit any non-pro “specialists” or even friends they choose or they can team with other pros (as I'd imagine most would do). If we consider this a Team Pro Tour, the prizes could increase and another method could be used to qualify additional teams (somehow via a team PTQ structure?). This might make things overly complicated though, at least for the initial run. It might be best to just make this one of the payoffs for accruing pro points throughout the year. If we used this structure for the World Magic Cup, we could invite the top four players from each National Championship plus the highest Pro Point earner to captain the team. We could even make the National Championships a 15-round multi-format qualifying event that involves three rounds of Legacy, Standard, Modern, Sealed, and Draft. There are lots of options and room for tweaking, but I'm confident that this model would be successful for at least one tournament each year, regardless of the details surrounding where to fit it into the calendar.

I'm interested in hearing what others think of this idea. Does this sound like an exciting tournament to watch? What about to play in? It has something for everyone, whether you enjoy Limited, Modern, Legacy, or Standard. And it also makes the team dynamic more pronounced (win and lose together each round) and less forced than that of the more individualized structure of the current Pro Tour Team Series where you simply add up everyone's individual performances.

Craig Wescoe
@Brimaz4Life




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