Two major recent events are going to shake up the Modern format. The first was the announcement was that, as of Core Set 2020 prerelease (July 5), the London Mulligan is the law of the land The second, and most immediate, was the release of Modern Horizons. The injection of 254 new cards into the format is sure to create some interesting changes. With Modern MagicFests in July, August, and September, we need to consider how these changes are going to affect the format and plan how to respond.
The London Mulligan
The London Mulligan has been on people’s minds since it was first announced back in February. It effectively soften the effects of multiple mulligans. Under the current mulligan rule (known as the Vancouver Mulligan), every time you mulligan you draw one less card. Then you make a decision based on the cards you have, when you decide to keep a hand, you will Scry 1 (if you kept fewer than seven cards). For example, if you chose to mulligan once, you will draw 6 cards (if you keep) you will scry 1 (look at the top card of your deck then decide to keep it on top or place it at the bottom of your deck).
Under the new London Mulligan, you instead draw a seven-card hand each time you choose to mulligan and then choose one of those cards for each mulligan you’ve taken (for instance if you chose to mulligan 4 times you place 4 cards) and put them on the bottom of your deck. This is important because it reduces the chances of having a completely dead hand after successive mulligans. Each new hand gives you seven new cards, and you can cherry-pick the best possible mix of cards from the hand you keep. But getting more playable opening hands is just the beginning of this change.
Combo decks love the London Mulligan. You can safely mulligan more times in an effort to find your combo pieces. It can make reasonably consistent decks like Tron more dangerous. It can even make inconsistent decks like Narset Cannon, which has the potential for a turn one kill, viable enough to worry about.
The increased power of combo decks is somewhat balanced by an increased chance to find relevant sideboard cards to counter them. Leyline of Sanctity and Leyline of the Void get much more powerful if you can more consistently have them in your opening hand. Even slightly slower sideboard cards like Stony Silence and Hurkyl’s Recall are better if you increase your chances of finding them.
So how do we best take all of this into account when approaching the format? We’ll definitely want to be aware of the fact that combo decks are better, and we’ll want to pick a deck with some answers if someone tries to go off early. I’ve always been a fan of turn one Thoughtseize, and if combo decks occupy a larger portion of the meta, then I think it is an even better way to start. We’ll also want a deck that doesn’t just get wrecked by our opponents’ sideboard cards, which we will definitely be seeing.
Let’s keep all of that in mind while we talk about the other event.
Modern Horizons has brought a lot of new and interesting cards into Modern, from threats like Seasoned Pyromancer and Marit Lage’s Slumber to answers like Dead of Winter and Giver of Runes. Some existing archetypes have gotten new toys: Scale Up for Infect and Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis for Bridgevine. There’s also talk of new decks being built around cards like Astral Drift and Mirrodin Besieged.
So what do we need to talk about here? Everything, really. There are so many individual pieces to choose from that it is hard to know where to start. What we need is a context to put these cards in. Thankfully, we have the London Mulligan on the horizon, and the challenges that it presents can definitely be addressed with some of the cards here.
Force of Despair, Force of Negation, and Force of Vigor each do something potentially useful. I can see Despair and Vigor being sideboard cards in decks with those colors. Negation could be main deck material, though. It helps to counter things like Goryo’s Vengeance, Scale Up, and Aether Vial in the early game. It can handle the likes of Planeswalkers or Past In Flames in the mid-to-late game. All it asks is that we exile another Blue card from our hand. The biggest drawback is that we can’t use it as a free counter if our opponent tries to go off on our turn (I’m looking at you Grishoalbrand).
We’ve got a turn one Thoughtseize and a free counterspell. But what are we going to do with them?
Putting It All Together
When I first looked at these cards together, my first thought was to put them in a Faerie deck and go the control route. It isn’t a bad idea, but I’m thinking of a deck with some more heavy hitters. So, I looked through my old brews and I discovered a midrange deck with some control elements that would be perfect with some tweaks. It plays Thoughtseize and there should be enough Blue to allow for Force of Negation. It also happens to be in my favorite three-color combination: Sultai.
3 Scavenging Ooze
4 Snapcaster Mage
2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
2 Liliana, the Last Hope
2 Abrupt Decay
2 Collective Brutality
3 Fatal Push
4 Force of Negation
2 Inquisition of Kozilek
1 Maelstrom Pulse
2 Stubborn Denial
1 Breeding Pool
2 Creeping Tar Pit
2 Darkslick Shores
1 Misty Rainforest
2 Nurturing Peatland
2 Overgrown Tomb
3 Polluted Delta
4 Verdant Catacombs
1 Watery Grave
3 Ceremonious Rejection
3 Fulminator Mage
4 Leyline of the Void
2 Liliana of the Veil
2 Nature's Claim
You probably recognize the Green-Black skeleton that I built this on top of. It has midrange all-stars like Tarmogoyf and Liliana, the Last Hope. The addition of Blue brings Snapcaster Mage and Jace, the Mind Sculptor to the party. We have the ability to play out our threats and our hand disruption and leave up Force of Negation to protect ourselves. I even managed to fit in a couple of Nourishing Peatland, a new land in the unfinished Horizon Canopy cycle, for some card draw if we need it.
What are you planning to build in the new meta? What do you think of Sultai Midrange? Do you want to see that Faerie deck? Let me know in the comments or hit me up on Twitter (@BadMoonMTG)