I think Modern has easily become my favorite format. Similar to legacy I get a deep card pool to brew decks with, but unlike legacy I don’t have to worry about dying on turns one or two. My LGS has a weekly 10 card proxy modern event so I’ve been able to get in a good deal of play time with lots of different ideas.

The deck I ended up playing at GP Kansas City has gone by many different names, UR Fae, UR Delver, UR Counter-Burn… The list goes on! Personally, I prefer to call it “X/1s and Lightning Bolts”. Naming conventions aside you can find the deck list for the UR Tempo deck I played to a 16th place finish here.


1  Faerie Conclave
5  Island
3  Misty Rainforest
1  Mountain
4  Mutavault
4  Scalding Tarn
3  Steam Vents
1  Sulfur Falls

22 lands

4  Delver of Secrets
4  Snapcaster Mage
4  Spellstutter Sprite
3  Vendilion Clique

15 creatures

2  Burst Lightning
2  Electrolyze
4  Lightning Bolt
4  Mana Leak
2  Pillar of Flame
4  Remand
3  Spell Snare
2  Telling Time

23 other spells


3  Blood Moon
2  Dismember
3  Magma Spray
1  Negate
1  Spell Pierce
1  Spellskite
2  Spreading Seas
2  Threads of Disloyalty

15 sideboard cards

I’ve been playing this deck in various forms since GP Chicago last November (where I finished 71st on breakers – ick!) and during the previous modern PTQ season. I plan to write a full primer talking about the various card selection this deck has available to it later this weekend. For today, I present an event report from GP Kansas City!

Rounds 1-3: Byes

Round 4 – Yes Pod
When you see a Birthing Pod come down sometimes it isn’t always clear whether you are facing off against Melira or Kiki pod. For my first round playing in KC I play against a mash up of the two decks my friends and I have been referring to as “Yes” pod.

After losing the die roll I draw my opening seven and quickly send it back – a lone Mutavault is not very good for casting red and blue spells. Sadly my six also contains only a single land, this time a Steam Vents, and I tank for a moment. Do I keep a sketchy six in my first game of the event? No. I came here to play good magic and that is what I am going to try my hardest to do.

I shuffle up again and go down to five, while making a joke about possibly forgetting to register lands. My five is fine, three spells + two lands is a snap-keep at five cards. My opponent leads with a mana dork and I feel slightly relieved – pod is a good match up. So even if I start off down a game I can pull this one out.

My deck however was not going to let drop my first game of the event. I drew a third land and then all gas for the duration of the game. I take down game one off of my mull to five and soon after win the second game as well.

4 – 0

Round 5 – Melira Pod
I was lucky enough to have my second match of the weekend be a favorable one as well – Melira pod. I had a good start that involved killing his turn one mana dork, followed up by a turn two delver. On my turn three I responded to my delver trigger with a telling time – and I whiffed! My Delver of Secrets then did his best Wandering One impression for the duration of the game (another 9 turns or so).
My delver misbehaving combined with some spicy card selection lead to a Varolz stealing the game. Hint: When your options are Remand the card you can’t deal with or hard counter it – don’t chose to Remand when they can cast it again in the same turn.

After Shaking off my misplay from game one, I had a strong start game two. An early Delver flip combined with a few Lightning Bolts quickly clocked my opponent.

In our third game I was blessed with no land in 7 and no land in 6. Sighing as I went to five yet again, while my opponent kept seven, I drew the following hand:
• Magma Spray
• Dismember
• Mountain
• Telling Time
• Spellsutter Sprite
There is no doubt in my mind a five with two removal spells I could cast was better than my average four. I kept and hoped for the best. Naturally my first two draw steps were fetch lands.

Dismembering a Deathrite Shamanand Magma Spraying a bird later my opponent’s own land light hand failed to get past its second land drop right away. Telling time found me some gas and I was able to steal another game with only five cards in my opening hand.

5 – 0

Round 6 – UWR Giest
UWR in general is about a 50/50 match up for our UR list. This metric very much depends on the skill of both pilots though. Every game there are piles of decisions and plenty of chances for both players to make mistakes. The most important thing for the UR player to remember is that in this matchup we are effectively a burn deck. Sending your bolts to their face is a perfectly valid game plan. The other thing to remember is that their end game is far more impressive than ours. This means that the longer the game goes, the less likely we are to win.

Our edge in this matchup comes from two sources. The first is our lower curve. Our deck tops out at 3 CMC, while they are often trying to cast Batterskulls and Cryptic Commands. This means that we are at a huge advantage when they stumble at 3-4 lands, while we can easily win with only three lands on the table. The second place we find advantage is Blood Moon. Their mana base is hypergreedy with lots of non-basics. Generally resolving a Blood Moon means you are going to win the game.

I won this match in two.

6 – 0

Round 7 – Melira Pod
If I had the option to play against pod all day with the UR deck I would take it in a heartbeat. I manage to not make any glaring mistakes and take this round down in two fairly uninteresting games.

7 – 0

Round 8 – Robert Berni with UR Twin
The fact that we hadn’t gotten to hotel until almost 1am the previous night caught up with me this round. Twin is normally a good match up for this deck, but even with that being true there are a lot of decisions you make and plenty of room to mess up. I poorly sequenced a number of spells in both games and got crushed in two games.

Robert played very well and went on to 9-0 day one and then made it all the way to the top 4 on Sunday. Congrats Robert!

7 – 1


Round 9 – Matthias Hunt with Scapeshift
It is the last round of day one and I get paired against someone I know – Matthias Hunt. For those that don’t know Matthias, he is a pro player that commentates now and then on the SCG Circuit. He knows what I am playing and I know what he is playing. We both sit down at the table knowing this is a good match up for my deck.

I win the die roll, but end up mulliganing to six. I keep a hand that some of the better players I know would classify as “loose”:

• Fetch Land
• Delver
• 2x Spell Snare
• Remand
• Other card costing 2+ mana
I opt to bolt myself by finding and Steam Vents and playing my Delver of Secrets. Matthias plays a land and passes back. Thankfully my Delver of Secrets decides he would much rather be a flying Wild Nactal than a Wandering One this game and flips off of a Mana Leak on my second turn.

“That gives me flash backs to standards past.”

Matthias commented as I flipped my little blue man over and attacked for three. I pass back, missing my second land drop. Matthias unsurprising kept a hand with more than one land in it. He drops an island and then during my upkeep attempts to Izzet Charm my Insectile Aberration. I catch his Charm with the first of my Spell Snares and continue with my turn – still no second land.

I didn’t hit my second land drop until my sixth turn. After getting in with my Aberration for the fifth time I closed the game out with a pair of Lightning Bolts.

I was firmly in control of game two the entire way. I caught a couple of Pyroclasms with Spell Snares and beat down with my little blue men.

8 -1

Round 10 – UWR Control
Remember how I mentioned this match up leaves a lot of room for both players to make mistakes? Well, I made more than a couple mistakes this match. In games 1 and 3 I foolishly tried committing too many treats to the board and got blown out by Electrolyzes both times. These games went long and I was unable to close them out effectively.

Game two I stole with a Blood Moon

8 – 2

Round 11 – David Bruno with UWR Giest
After playing this round I am fairly certain the Giest version of the UWR deck is a better match up for UR than the more controlling version of the deck. Their desire to try and slam a Giest on turn three often works out in our favor.

This was easily one of the most fun matches I played all weekend. There was a ton of back and forth in three very interactive games. David was a nice guy and a sharp player (he made top 4 at GP Huston as well).

9 – 2

Round 12 – RG Aggro
This is the RG agro deck that also finished in the top 16 of the GP. I sat next to him in the previous round, so I know what he is playing. I kept a decent seven in game one, but lost the die roll and got run over by Kird Ape into double Burning Tree Emissary + Goyf.

In game two he hit three lands into all gas while I made my first seven land drops.

9 – 3

Round 13 – RG Tron
This is one of those match ups that is favorable if I draw the right half of my deck. Spell Snares and Remands are much better against Sylvan Scryings and Karns then Pillar of Flames and Burst Lightnings are.

My opponent has a slow start and I am able to get them down to five life before they mostly stabilize with a Pyroclasm and a Karn. A misplay on my part combined with some tight play from my opponent (main deck Nature’s Claim on his own artifact!) meant I came up two points of damage short of winning.

In games two and three my poorly positioned removal spells turn into extra counter magic, Spreading Seas and Blood Moons. I am able to successfully take down both games two and three.

10 – 3

Round 14 – Wilf-Leaf Liege Junk
For those not familiar, Wilt-Leaf Junk is a deck that was pioneered by Brian Kibler last year. It is one of the fairest decks Modern has to offer, featuring Loxodon Smiter, Thalia, Lingering Souls and now Voice of Resurgence. To put it lightly – this is a hard nightmare match up for my UR list. In game one I struggled for a while, punted by missing my opponent’s exalted trigger, and then eventually died to a massive army of Souls hopped up by a Township and a Wilt-Leaf Liege.

In game two my turn one Delver of Secrets flipped on turn two to a Lightning Bolt and the game closed out quickly a few Remands later.

In game three I am forced to mulligan down to five cards for the third time this event to find more than a single mana source. While I am more than a little annoyed I know I can still win this match up. You see post board I have three Blood Moons in my deck. Even though I am playing against another two color deck I know they play very, very few basic lands.

Things go almost exactly as planned. On turn three my opponent plays a Loxodon Smiter off of a forest and two non-basic lands. I promptly Dismember it on his end step. On my third turn I fetch my second basic Island and slam my Blood Moon. My opponent played a tapped mountain (or a Stirring Wildwood depends on the board state) for his turn and passed back. I stuck a Vendilion Clique and rode it to victory. The only spell my opponent played for the duration of the game was a Path to Exile I Remanded twice.

Blood Moon is a heck of a magic card.

11 – 3

Round 15 – Intentional Draw
After looking at the standings after round 14 I see that I have the best tie breakers of all the X – 3s. I also note that people who are X – 2 – 1 go all the way down to 12th place. This means even with a win I will be out of top 8 range. Being conservative that means my options for this round are:

• Win and be top 12
• Draw and be top 32
• Lose and be top 64
I decided I’d rather lock myself for $400, instead of playing for $600 with the chance of losing and only getting $200.

Just enough other people also chose to draw though – so I ended up sneaking into 16th place (for $100 more and an extra pro-point) instead of just being top 32 like I expected.

Wrap Up
All in all I was very happy with my deck choice for this event. It was fairly well positioned and I knew the ins and outs of all the matchups I played. I think in large formats like Modern/Legacy playing a deck you know well will get you farther than playing the deck that is “the best” any day of the week.

Hope you enjoyed reading and keep an eye out for my deck primer later this weekend. I’m off to (hopefully) break M14 standard before the SCG Invitational in Somerset later this month.

~Jeff Hoogland