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The 9 Spiciest Modern Decklists from Pro Tour The Lord of the Rings

July 28, 2023
Frank Karsten

In total, 269 Modern decklists were submitted for Pro Tour The Lord of The Rings, but some stand out more than others. The spiciest ones use innovative combinations of cards, represent a novel archetype, or do something that no one saw coming. In this article, we'll take a closer look at the nine Modern decks that stood out to me the most. Most of them leverage new cards from The Lord of The Rings: Tales of Middle-earth™, and all of them have a chance of winning the Pro Tour.

Team members Luis Scott-Vargas, Sam Pardee, and Eli Kassis all saw the potential for Samwise Gamgee in a combo shell, and they brought their build to the Pro Tour.

617052 Cauldron Familiar Viscera Seer

If you control Samwise Gamgee, Cauldron Familiar, Viscera Seer, and a Food, then you can sacrifice the Familiar, bring it back, create a Food, and loop for infinite drains. It's basically breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, luncheon, afternoon tea, dinner, and supper! This combo is reminiscent of the old Visera Seer + Melira, Sylvok Outcast + Kitchen Finks loops, except two of the combo pieces cost only one mana, making it easier to assemble with the help of Ranger-Captain of Eos. In addition, Collected Company and Chord of Calling increase consistency.

With Chord of Calling to tutor creatures at will, Yawgmoth, Thran Physician is a standout inclusion. There are no undying creatures in their list, but Yawgmoth can replace Viscera Seer as a sacrifice outlet for the Samwise Gamgee, and he can provide tons of value by sacrificing the Armies created by Orcish Bowmasters. As such, this deck merges the best creature combos into a single formidable list.

Most Samwise Gamgee Combo lists rely on Ranger-Captain of Eos to assemble the pieces (and to stop Living End or Crashing Footfalls from being cast in response to a cascade spell). Yuya Hosokawa, who qualified at the Regional Championship in Japan, took the archetype in a different direction.

Academy Manufactor 522227 Lonis, Cryptozoologist

Like Samwise Gamgee, Lonis, Cryptozoologist creates an artifact token whenever a nontoken creature enters the battlefield. Academy Manufactor turns that into a trio of tokens, and if you also control Chatterfang, Squirrel General, then you'll also create three Squirrel tokens. The amount of cardboard created can quickly get out of hand, so get your tokens ready!

Chatterfang and Academy Manufactor also double as a sacrifice outlet for the infinite combo. If you control these creatures along with Samwise Gamgee or Lonis, Cryptozoologist, then a single Cauldron Familiar entering the battlefield will create a Clue, Food, Treasure, and three Squirrels. You then sacrifice the Treasure and a Squirrel to activate Chatterfang's ability, giving Cauldron Familiar +1/-1. After it dies, you return it from the graveyard, and loop for infinite drains. The synergies are endless!

Samuel Chang is the only Pro Tour competitor who registered main deck Flame of Anor—an exciting new card from The Lord of The Rings: Tales of Middle-earth™—which synergizes particularly well with Snapcaster Mage.

617076 617033 Snapcaster Mage

The deck plays a control strategy that tries to capitalize on an attrition-based flash game, using Lightning Bolt and Counterspell to disrupt the opponent before reloading with The One Ring. Its strategy is pretty similar to Dimir Control, one of the breakout decks from the tournament, as Izzet Control also exploits Lórien Revealed to enable Subtlety and Force of Negation.

A key reason to use red over black is Flame of Anor, which provides a flexible choice between card advantage and creature removal. But if you control Snapcaster Mage as you cast the spell, then you get to do both, turning it into an amazing deal for three mana. This powerful synergy gives the deck a stronger end-game than Izzet Murktide, and it's great to see the potential Bolt-Snap-Bolt sequence from the days of yore again.

Modern veterans will readily recognize the ability of Scapeshift to search for Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle and six Mountains, roasting your opponent for 18 damage. But the white splash used by Christoph Schlom and James Arthur, who brought different builds of Naya Scapeshift, offers a novel take on the archetype.

Scapeshift Reprieve 574504

The core strategy centers around reaching seven or eight lands, at which point you could cast Scapeshift or Wish for the game-winning sorcery. Yet rather than going all-out on mana ramp to get there as quickly as possible, this build uses The One Ring as a mid-game bridge, along with interactive white cards to buy additional time.

Schlom's version splashes for Leyline Binding, which can be cast for a single mana when you control Dryad of the Ilysian Grove, and Reprieve, which is an awesome addition from the newest set. It disrupts the opponent, gets you closer to your win condition, and can be useful if a counterwar erupts over the game-winning sorcery. In the past, Scapeshift decks have sometimes splashed blue for Remand, but blue has no equivalent for Prismatic Ending or Leyline Binding (which is used by James Arthur). Moreover, Reprieve is an upgrade because it doesn't actually counter the card, thereby sidestepping the ability of an opposing Delighted Halfling. As a result, there is a lot of potential in this Naya Scapeshift build.

Ian Birrell and Tamás Glied brought a mono-color midrange deck that I dubbed "Mono-Black Grief". It emerged online in recent weeks, and two players believed it was well-positioned enough to bring to the Pro Tour.

522163 Malakir Rebirth Field of Ruin

The ideal turn one for this new archetype is to evoke Grief and return it to the battlefield with Malakir Rebirth. This yields a 3/2 menace with two discards attached. Although Feign Death or Undying Malice do this even better, the versatility of having a tapped land is more important when you don't have Fury as an additional evoke creature, so Malakir Rebirth is played in greater numbers in this mono-black deck.

Without any red cards, the deck has room for The One Ring and Sheoldred, the Apocalypse, which combine into a life-gaining card-draw engine with no drawbacks. The mono-color mana base enables Field of Ruin and Demolition Field, providing great counterplay to the rise of Mono-Green Tron at the Pro Tour. All in all, Mono-Black Grief is a fascinating new addition to the Modern landscape, and it's one of the few decks that makes good use of both Orcish Bowmasters and The One Ring.

Two months ago, Marco Vassallo won the Magic Online Champions Showcase with a spicy Five-Color Reanimator brew, earning him a qualification to the Pro Tour. Although no one else registered Goryo's Vengeance, he retained faith in the strategy and registered it for the Pro Tour, with a few updates.

602726 456695 463956

The deck's game plan revolves around Atraxa, Grand Unifier and Griselbrand, which are put into the graveyard with Tainted Indulgence, Shadow Prophecy, or Fable of the Mirror-Breaker. Once there, the legends can be reanimated with Goryo's Vengeance, allowing them to provide a massive lifelink swing and a fresh grip of cards. Ideally, you then blink the reanimated legend with Ephemerate, and since it returns as a new game object, you won't have to exile it at end of turn. Ephemerate also has excellent synergy with Grief, providing a lot of disruption if you can cast both spells on turn one.

A new addition from The Lord of The Rings: Tales of Middle-earth™ is Orcish Bowmasters, which replaced Thoughtseize in the flex slots. It's not only a strong card by itself, especially in combination with Ephemerate, but it's also one of the best answers to an opposing Orcish Bowmasters. Drawing cards with Griselbrand is a dangerous prospect when your opponent controls Orcish Bowmasters, so in search of answers, the orcs from Mordor also invaded Five-Color Reanimator.

Pro Tour March of the Machine Top 8 competitor Yiwen Chen may not be relying on new cards from The Lord of The Rings, but he brought one of the spiciest decks in the field, featuring a grand total of zero land cards.

Balustrade Spy Vengevine Crippling Chill

The deck uses modal double-faced spell/land cards and various artifacts to generate mana, which is used to cast Balustrade Spy or Undercity Informer. When their abilities are put on the stack, you can say "Oops! All Spells" and put your entire library into your graveyard. Four Creeping Chills will trigger to deal 12 total damage to your opponent, but we're only getting started.

Narcomoeba will also return to the battlefield, bringing three copies of Sword of the Meek with it. The equipment allow you to cast Salvage Titan as the second creature of the turn, returning four Vengevines to the battlefield. They can then swing in for a lethal attack. If you accidentally drew some of the pieces, then you can use Phantasmagorian to put them into the graveyard. It's an awesome deck to see in action, showing the depth of possibilities in Modern.

Two players brought Urza ThopterSword to the Pro Tour: Agustin Colombo and Robert Graves. Their versions differ, but Robert Graves's list with the red splash stand out.

598945 Thopter Foundry 489972

The deck's game plan revolves around assembling the three-card infinite combo of Urza, Lord High Artificer; Thopter Foundry; and Sword of the Meek. After sacrificing Sword of the Meek to Thopter Foundry, the created Thopter token brings back the Sword, and Urza can tap both the Thopter and the Sword for mana. By looping this over and over, you can generate infinite tapped tokens, infinite life, and infinite mana, which sinks into infinite Urza activations to guarantee the win.

For consistency, the list uses Goblin Engineer to put Sword of the Meek into the graveyard. The addition of The One Ring fits perfectly, since Thopter Foundry and Goblin Engineer are excellent ways to sacrifice The One Ring at will. When the burden of drawing too many cards becomes too great, The One Ring is easily sacrificed for some value. In addition, The One Ring boosts the Construct tokens created by Urza, Lord High Artificer and Urza's Saga. All in all, this is yet another great home for the legendary artifact.

Finally, I wanted to highlight the deck choice of the reigning Pro Tour champion and World champion: Nathan Steuer. He and several other members of Team Handshake have all settled on Mono-Green Tron, which may not be the spiciest choice in the room, but their build features several card choices that distinguish it from "stock" versions. Most notably, in slots traditionally occupied by Sanctum of Ugin and Chromatic Star, they use two copies of Urza's Saga and three copies of Dismember.

Urza's Mine Urza's Power Plant Urza's Tower

The deck's game plan revolves around the "Urzatron"–Urza's Mine, Urza's Power Plant, and Urza's Tower—which can cast powerful cards like Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger ahead of time. With the help of Ancient Stirrings, Sylvan Scrying, and Expedition Map, it's easy to find all three lands. Urza's Saga can fetch Expedition Map, turning it into another consistency piece. Meanwhile, Dismember is castable off colorless lands in the early game and can keep the board clear.

The introduction of The One Ring has been a major boost for Mono-Green Tron. It slots seamlessly into a deck that generates loads of colorless mana and desires to bridge towards a powerful late game. Indeed, buying an extra turn is particularly valuable when your land drops tap for two or three mana. And when The One Ring decks like Four-Color Omnath are dominating the format, Mono-Green Tron is well-positioned because Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger can over the top of opposing Rings while Karn, the Great Creator prevents them from being activated in the first place. As a result of these developments, Mono-Green Tron rose to an 8.9% of the Pro Tour metagame, and Steuer's well-tuned build could put him in a great spot to continue his amazing streak of top finishes.

In conclusion, if you were looking for a fun new Modern deck to try out, then give one of these ten decks a try! They might be the key to victory at Pro Tour The Lord of The Rings, and you may be able to see them in action on the livestream over the weekend.

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