Grand Prix Vancouver is just around the corner, and all of Alberta has been abuzz as everyone begins to plan for their pilgrimage to the West Coast. The Face to Face Games Edmonton 3k this past Saturday provided the ideal testing ground for the upcoming Modern Grand Prix, giving the 142 attendees their first look at what the bold new world of Modern had in store for them, with the addition of Fatal Push and the recent bannings of [card]Gitaxian Probe[/card] and [card]Golgari Grave-Troll[/card].
I had been testing a Naya Valakut – [card]Primeval Titan[/card] – [card]Through the Breach[/card] deck (names for these lists vary), and this event was exactly what I needed to see how I felt about playing this list for an entire day, against some of Alberta’s toughest competition. The RG Titan Breach shell is incredibly powerful (Thien Nguyen wrote a primer on a similar list on ManaDeprived.com a few months back that I would highly recommend). The addition of [card]Through the Breach[/card] allows you to ‘combo’ win by ramping into a [card]Through the Breach[/card] with 4-5 mountains in play, playing a [card]Primeval Titan[/card] with haste which gives you two [card]Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle[/card] when he enters, and two mountains on the attack (bringing your total mountain count to 6-7) triggering Valakut 4 times. That plus the 6 damage that [card]Primeval Titan[/card] is cracking in for brings the amount of damage that you’re dealing up to 18 – so all they need to have done is crack a couple of fetch lands or a shock land once in the last four turns, and you’re golden!
The list I had been testing splashes white for [card]Nahiri, the Harbinger[/card], as well as a few key sideboard cards. I’d been finding that the addition of Nahiri as well as the one-ofs in [card]Scapeshift[/card] and Emrakul (which can be put on the battlefield from Nahiri’s ultimate as well as [card]Through the Breach[/card]) allow you to attack your opponents from a variety of angles, and make it harder for them to sideboard effectively against you. However, I was wanting to test these changes out at a larger event, and the Face to Face Edmonton 3k presented the perfect opportunity.
Nayahiri Breach – Chantelle Campbell
4 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
4 Wooded Foothills
2 Bloodstained Mire
3 Stomping Ground
2 Sacred Foundry
2 Cinder Glade
4 Primeval Titan
4 Sakura Tribe Elder
1 Obstinate Baloth
1 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
3 Simian Spirit Guide
2 Nahiri, the Harbinger
2 Oath of Nissa
2 Summoners Pact
4 Search for Tomorrow
2 Lightning Bolt
3 Anger of the Gods
4 Through the Breach
3 Crumble to Dust
3 Chalice of the Void
2 Stony Silence
2 Rest in Peace
2 Blessed Alliance
1 Reclamation Sage
After the bans and introduction of Fatal Push, my motley crew of playtesters believed that Tron, Ad Nauseum and Grixis Control would be well positioned – their two worst matchups in Infect and [card]Death’s Shadow[/card] aggro had taken a hit with the banning of [card]Gitaxian Probe[/card]. We also believed we would see a resurgence of Affinity and Burn to replace the aggressive decks that were no longer viable. It was with those decks in mind that I tailored my mainboard and sideboard – 3 [card]Anger of the Gods[/card] in the main to shore up hyper aggressive creature-based matchups, land destruction in the board for Tron, [card]Shatterstorm[/card]s for Affinity and Chalices for burn and Ad Nauseum!
Going forward I may cut the one-of [card]Obstinate Baloth[/card] for a [card]Prismatic Omen[/card]. [card]Obstinate Baloth[/card] is incredibly well positioned against decks with tons of discard – notably [card]Liliana of the Veil[/card] (Jund and Junk, predominately), but on Saturday those decks seemed few and far between. [card]Prismatic Omen[/card] helps stem the tide against [card]Blood Moon[/card] decks, which I believe will see a spike in popularity as Tron becomes better positioned. I believe it would also assist in shoring up land-destruction tactics such as [card]Fulminator Mage[/card], where they often go for your green sources, as well as helping to smooth the mana for the white splash I’d been testing.
I came up against a wide variety of decks over the eight rounds of this event. Aside from the mirror match against my significant other in the first round (how does that even happen?!), I saw Tron, Grixis Control, [card]Scapeshift[/card], and Affinity. I also played against Abzan Collective Company three times at the top tables!
My only loss in the Swiss came in round 3 against teammate Brett Steele, who was able to quickly combo off in game one with [card]Melira, Sylvok Outcast[/card], [card]Kitchen Finks[/card], [card]Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit[/card], and [card]Viscera Seer[/card] – not only gaining infinite life, but making his team infinitely large with Anafenza bolster triggers. While I had resolved a [card]Nahiri, the Harbinger[/card], and had the option of exiling the tapped Anafenza, I chose instead to discard and draw towards another Anger. I had not seen the Melira that meant that his creatures could also grow infinitely tall, and had hoped that if I could wipe the board, even if he had gained infinite life, by looping Emrakul I would eventually mill him out (an arduous but often successful game plan). Game two he boarded into what seemed to be a never-ending amount of [card]Tidehollow Sculler[/card]s (the one that he Chorded for in response to my [card]Through the Breach[/card] was particularly painful). His systematic picking-apart of my hand – even through an [card]Anger of the Gods[/card] – was enough to keep me away from applying any pressure, while still being able to defeat me before I could create inevitability through [card]Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle[/card].
Luckily, I fared better in my other two matches against Abzan [card]Collected Company[/card] – one of them in the top 8! Neither of my other Abzan opponents boarded into a similar hand-destroying game plan, and I was able to clear their boards with sweepers before either combo-ing off with Titan and [card]Through the Breach[/card], or gaining enough momentum with Valakuts to pick off any creatures they ran out and eventually deal lethal.
The Tron variant I played against was also quite interesting – Mono-Black! As I mulliganed in game three I was presented with the option to keep a hand with two Valakuts and a couple other lands. I had been Ghost Quartered in our previous games, and while I had not seen a [card]Surgical Extraction[/card] in the second game, I suspected he had brought one in from the board. While I was most concerned about this line from my opponent, I believed that if I could get down both Valakuts while he set up his early turns, I would be able to negate being blown out by [card]Surgical Extraction[/card] – I was on the play as I had lost game two, and my diabolical plan worked as he played out Tron lands on turn one and two. I was able to ride the pair of Valakuts to a turn four [card]Through the Breach[/card] victory!
It was a clean cut to the top 8 and I drew in the last round, finishing the swiss at 6-1-1. The top 8 of this event was incredibly diverse. Aside from my Titan Breach, there was Grixis Control, Abzan [card]Collected Company[/card], Burn, Affinity, Bant Eldrazi, GW Tron, Ad Nauseum, and Bant Eldrazi. This seems to be a relatively accurate representation of the decks seen at the top tables, and (luckily for me) pretty close to what I had predicted. After drawing incredibly well to take down Abzan [card]Collected Company[/card] in two quick games in the quarterfinals, I came up against the eighth-round opponent that I had intentionally drawn with, Josh Knitter on Affinity. He ended up winning in three, largely due to bringing in [card]Blood Moon[/card]s post-board, and some unfortunate mulligans from my Titan Breach deck.
After taking a loss in game one, a mulligan to five in game two made for a rough time – only saved by a top-decked [card]Shatterstorm[/card]. In game three after a mulligan to six I was staring down at a hand with two [card]Stony Silence[/card] and no fetch lands or white sources. Maybe I should have mulliganed, but any fetch land or Farseek off the top would have made this hand glorious, and even without a white source I was still able to do some ramping. A quick Blood Moon from Josh threw all my schemes out the window, leaving me stranded with no basic forests, and opening the door for him to chip away at my life total, eventually dealing lethal and clearing the path for him to advance to the finals. Josh faced off against Graham Hryniuk wielding Bant Eldrazi in the finals, and huge congratulations to Graham for taking down the event!
Is the white splash I had been toying with incorrect? Is [card]Prismatic Omen[/card] the answer? I’m not sure. I still feel that the white splash has won me more games than it has lost, and I appreciate the wide variety of silver bullets it can give me out of the board (a [card]Rest in Peace[/card] did wonders for me against a pesky Grixis opponent in an early round). More than anything, after this event I feel confident in my team’s metagame predictions, and am comfortable in understanding the roles that this deck can fill in the new Modern. I felt well positioned against most of the decks I faced, and am hopeful that a similar list will perform well in Vancouver! I would recommend Titan Breach to anyone considering picking it up. If you have a good understanding of your role in any given match (when to be the aggressor, what outs you’re playing to), this deck will reward you. In the new meta, it feels like you can fight your way through any deck (except for maybe Ad Nauseum). Will it be well-positioned for Vancouver or the next Face to Face Open? I’m incredibly excited to find out.