Green-Black/X (Gbx): Flipping Coins into Wins in Modern

by Tad Macaraeg

Modern is a format that requires you to be proactive in order to optimally defeat your opponents. Very few controlling or reactive archetypes have proven to be successful in the history of the format, though the new UW and Jeskai flavors have had some recent success. If you’re a fan of removal spells and feeling in control of the game, what’s your path to victory? Sleeve up one of the most versatile and powerful decks in the game, a deck that I’m at least 50% to play in any given modern event: Green-Black Midrange.

Green-Black decks in modern are decks that rely on discard and grinding small advantages through 2-for-1s with cards like Liliana of the Veil, Dark Confidant, Lingering Souls, or Kolaghan’s Command to eventually just out card your opponents. Your card quality is generally high and most of your cards serve to disrupt your opponent’s game plan, but you have a couple of natural enemies in Tron variants and the top of your opponents’ library. My personal best finish playing Jund came at GP DFW in 2016 where I went 13-2, good for 9th place. The choices you make on your third color depend on what decks you want to beat and whether or not Path to Exile is strong in the format.

The GBx shell tends to contain the following cards between it’s maindeck and sideboard:

4 Inquisition of Kozilek
4 Liliana of the Veil
2 Liliana the Last hope

4 Tarmogoyf
3-4 Fatal Push
2-3 Thoughtseize
2-3 Collective Brutality
1-2 Kitchen Finks
3-4 Fulminator Mage
0-1 Damnation
24-25 Lands

One of the hardest decisions when playing Gbx is deciding what third color you want to play along with Black and Green. Of course, back when we had deathrite shaman in modern, you could simply play all four. Today, however, we have to choose between Red and White for our third color.

Jund: Green-Black-Red gives you access to the following cards:

Lightning Bolt
Terminate
Kolaghan’s Command
Ancient Grudge
Anger of the Gods
Bloodbraid Elf
Huntmaster of the Fells
Pia and Kiran Nalaar
Chandra Torch of Defiance
Blood Moon
Raging Ravine (this is a land but still)

Abzan: Green-Black-White adding white gives you access to the following:

Siege Rhino
Path to Exile
Lingering Souls
Stony Silence
Celestial Purge
Leyline of Sanctity
Gideon of the Trials
Gideon Ally of Zendikar
Shambling Vent (this is a land but still)

The advantage of Jund over Abzan is you have more reach and you don’t have to give your opponents lands with Path to Exile. The recently unbanned Bloodbraid Elf also makes this flavor of GBx significantly more explosive since you can gain a ton of advantage by cascading into powerful spells like Liliana of the Veil and Tarmogoyf. Abzan, however, gives you extra points in the mirror and access to powerful white sideboard cards. Stony Silence is a very strong sideboard card and being able to slam it against Affinity or KCI is great. You should probably not play Grim Flayers in a version that isn’t playing Lingering Souls.

If I were to take a guess at a build for the Pat’s PPTQ on July 28th it would be the following:

2 Treetop Village
3 Raging Ravine
4 Blackcleave Cliffs
1 Blooming Marsh
2 Swamp
1 Forest
2 Overgrown Tomb
1 Blood Crypt
1 Stomping Ground
4 Verdant Catacombs
3 Bloodstained Mire
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Fatal Push
4 Liliana of the Veil
4 Inquisition of Kozilek
2 Thoughtseize
1 Liliana, the Last Hope
4 Bloodbraid Elf
1 Terminate
4 Tarmogoyf
2 Scavenging Ooze
4 Dark Confidant
1 Maelstrom Pulse
1 Abrupt Decay
1 Tireless Tracker
1 Collective Brutality

Sideboard
1 Choke
3 Fulminator Mage
2 Kitchen Finks
3 Leyline of the Void
2 Ancient Grudge
1 Liliana, the Last Hope
1 Grim Lavamancer
2 Collective Brutality

Thanks for reading! Are there any cards I missed? Comment below if you’re sleeving up Gbx for your next event, and let us know which color you’re splashing to attack the format.

Bonus Content! Other G/B/X card options:

2 Scavenging Ooze
1-3 Abrupt Decay
1-2 Maelstrom Pulse
0-2 Damping Sphere
1-2 Grafdigger’s Cage
0-1 Night of Souls’ Betrayal
0-3 Ravenous Trap
0-1 Choke
0-1 Thrun the Last Troll
0-1 Spellskite
0-1 Back to Nature
0-2 Nihil Spellbomb
0-4 Leyline of the Void
0-4 Dark Confidant
0-4 Tireless Tracker
0-4 Grim Flayer
0-4 Traverse the Ulvenwald
0-1 Tasigur the Golden Fang