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By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Apr 04 2018 12:00pm
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 Hello and welcome back to the State of Modern, our monthly rendez-vous with all things Modern, including big tournament reports, the decklists and prices for the archetypes that are currently the most successful in the meta, and an up-to-date ban list. If you never tried your hand at Modern, this is the right place to know everything you need to know in order to begin; and if you're already into it, it can still be a good way to make sure you know everything that's happening in the format. And by the way, if you seek a nice free online tournament, I run Modern Times every Thursday at 7:00 PM UTC.

 The series archive is here.
 Let's start a new ride!


 THE BIG EVENTS

 Here's the latest Modern events with more than 200 players, ordered chronologically. A ton of big events this past month. The first one is an exception, being the 2017 Magic Online Championship, which only had 24 players in the final stage but it's an important event nonetheless.

 March 4: Magic Online Championship, Renton (Wizards of the Coast Headquarters)
 Players: 24
 Winner: Dmitriy Butakov with Bogle
 Top 4: Bogle, Jund, Grixis Control, Jund

 March 4: StarCityGames Modern Classic: Worcester
 Players: 400
 Winner: Jordan Boisvert with Eldrazi Aggro
 Top 8: Eldrazi Aggro, Storm, 4-color Pyromancer, Affinity, Bogle, Bloomless Titan, Eldrazi Aggro, Grixis Control

 March 11: Grand Prix Madrid 2018: Team Trios: (Team of three playing each a different format)
 Players: 354
 Winner: Ben Jones with Death's Shadow (teammates: Christoph Green playing Standard, Charles Eliatamby playing Legacy)
 Top 8: Death's Shadow, Valakut, Jund, Jund, Eldrazi Aggro, Hollow One, Jund, UrzaTron

Pictured: Jones at the center, Green on the left, Eliatamby on the right.

 March 11: StarCityGames Modern Open: Dallas
 Players: 405
 Winner: Andrew Wolbers with Ponza
 Top 8: Ponza, Storm, Infect, Storm, UrzaTron, EldraTron, Jund, UW Control

 March 18: Grand Prix Phoenix 2018
 Players: 1334
 Winner: Steve Locke with Humans
 Top 8: Humans, Jund, Collected Chord (Knightfall), KCI, Hatebears (Selesnya), Valakut Control, UrzaTron, Eldrazi Aggro (Gruul)

 March 24: StarCityGames Team Constructed Open: Cincinnati (Team of three playing each a different format)
 Players: 341
 Winner: Matt Hoey with Storm (teammates: Andrew Tenjum playing Standard, Joe Bernal playing Legacy)
 Top 8: Storm, Burn, Bloomless Titan, Storm, Ad Nauseam, Blue Moon, Humans, Jund

Pictured: Hoey on the left, Bernal at the center, Tenjum on the right.

 March 25: StarCityGames Modern Classic: Cincinnati
 Players: 303
 Winner: Ben Clift with Elves
 Top 8: Elves, Affinity, UWr Control, UW Control, Bogle, Bloomless Titan, Death's Shadow, Valakut

 March 25: Grand Prix Kyoto 2018: Team Trios (Team of three playing each a different format)
 Players: 757
 Winner: Yūsuke Matsubara with Affinity (teammates: Ryūichi Yamamoto playing Standard, Kazuki Takamura playing Legacy)
 Top 4: Affinity, Humans, UW Control, Walks

 March 26: MTGO Modern PTQ
 Players: 391
 Winner: CharLy with Humans
 Top 8: Humans, UrzaTron, Collected Chord, Humans, Ad Nauseam, Hatebears, Living End, Storm


 THE MODERN META

 Already covered: Ad NauseamAffinity, BogleBlue MoonBloomless TitanBurnCollected Chord (aka Creatures Toolbox), Death's Shadow, DredgeEldrazi Aggro, EldraTron, ElvesHatebears, Hollow One, Instant ReanimatorHumans, Infect, JundJunk (aka The Rock), KCILantern Control, Madcap GruulMerfolk, Nahiri ControlRDWStorm, Twinless ExarchUrzaTronUW ControlValakut (aka TitanShift).

 Update: It finally happened: Death's Shadow is not the leading deck of the meta anymore, with fellow aggro archetypes Humans and Eldrazi Aggro placing more lists in the Top 8 during the past two months (55 and 54 vs 52), and UrzaTron becoming the new major force overall with 69 placements, equal to 7% of the meta (and it's even possible mtgtop8.com is missing some EldraTron build in this count).

 But the big news here is that the newly introduced bogeyman Jace, the Mind Sculptor didn't break the format after all. In fact, his most obvious home, UW Control, experienced a downturn since his arrival, and the more immediate consequence of Big Jace's presence in the meta seems to be the resurgence of a Grixis Control archetype. Within the 64 decks that placed at the top of the 9 major events of the month, only 27 copies of Big Jace have been played, distributed this way:

  • 9 copies within four UW Control decks;
  • 6 copies within two Grixis Control decks;
  • 3 copies in a Blue Moon deck;
  • 3 copies in a Walks deck;
  • 2 copies in Knightfall deck;
  • 2 copies in a Bloomless Titan deck (while two other instances of the archetype didn't bother including him);
  • and 2 copies in a Valakut Control deck, which is possibly the less expected place where he showed up.

 Things have been different for the other unbanned card from last month, instead, which brought the most explosive develoment of the month: Jund is back, baby! And with a vengeance, too, because it's been by far March's most consistently placed archetype, with eight Top 8 placements, though never as a first place. Of course Bloodbraid Elf is featured in full playset capacity in each single case. And she's also showing up elsewhere, like in a variant of Eldrazi Aggro that took on the Gruul colors almost entirely to be able to secure the services of everyone's favorite Berserker Elf.

 Other successful archetypes of the month: Storm got 6 placements (of which one first place), Humans 5 placements (with two first places), the same as UrzaTron/EldraTron; UW Control and Eldrazi Aggro both scored 4 placements, with the latter including one first place.

 While we wait for the next ban announcement on April 16 (which was meant as a fail-safe in case the recent unbans would backfire, which they didn't), let's have a look at some more decks from the current meta.


 Price (online): $485.22 

 Colors: Gruul (RG)

 How does it work: Land Destruction is a very old concept in Magic, and it has always been there. Or at least since 1997, when Brian Kowal first came up with the name "Ponza", which apparently is a kind of calzone (why do pros so often name decks after food?). The idea being that the deck can be break down into "crust" (the lands), "meat" (the creatures), "sauce" (the land destruction) and "vegetables" (the ramp). Twenty years later, it's still like that, even if the land destruction in Modern is not Sinkhole and Strip Mine, which is the reason why Modern Ponza is far from being a tier-1 deck. The plan is simple, though; you try and gain tempo by killing the opponent's mana sources, or least disrupt them via Blood Moon. And you have a ramp system to accelerate into your LD spells, then into your finishers, chief of which is Inferno Titan.

 Results:  As said, it's not a key component of the meta or anything. But hey, getting first place at one 400-player SCG Open is nothing to sneeze at!


 Price (online): $766.95 

 Colors: Grixis (UBR)

 How does it work: For some reason, the advent of Jace, the Mind Sculptor in Modern didn't (yet) propel UW Control into meta dominance (if anything, it lost some steam this month) as much as it triggered a major surge of the Grixis variant, which is an even more straightforward archetype: kill stuff, counter stuff, disrupt with Thoughtseize and Inquisition of Kozilek, and dig for more with Search for Azcanta and of course our Big Jace. It lacks the reliable board sweeping of Supreme Verdict, but Creeping Tar Pit is a perfectly cromulent replacement for Celestial Colonnade.

 Results:  This new incarnation has already two Top 8 placements in major events under its belt, and the number seems destined to increase.


 Price (online): $436.20 

 Colors: All but black

 How does it work: Of all the places Big Jace showed up in his first month of legality, this is definitely the weirdest. It's basically the merge of a Valakut deck with a control build. The Valakut side is relegated to plan B, or even merely turned into more control elements, since there's only a limited number of Mountains and just a couple of Valakuts and Scapeshift. The most interesting aspect is the presence of Bring to Light, supported by the fact that the deck is four colors, and not just splashes: there are cards asking for double or triple blue, double white, and double green (maindeck red is less demanding, but the sideboard features several cards with double red symbols). Bring to Light mainly functions as a tutor for Scapeshift, but there's a bit of a toolbox that includes a singleton maindeck Supreme Verdict, and other silver bullets on the side like Anger of the Gods, Crumble to Dust and Shatterstorm, and even a Madcap Experiment/Platinum Emperion package.

 Results: It's hard to tell if this will consolidate into an actual sub-archetype, or it's just a fleeting experiment.


 THE MODERN BAN LIST

 Last revised: February 12, 2018 (unbanned: Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Bloodbraid Elf)
 Next announcement: April 16, 2018

 Total banned cards: 33

 By Color: 

  • White: 2
  • Blue: 6
  • Black: 2 (of which 1 Golgari)
  • Red: 5
  • Green: 7 (of which 1 Golgari)
  • Colorless: 12
  • Multicolored: 1 (of which 1 Golgari)

 By Type: 

  • Creature: 3
  • Land: 8
  • Artifact: 5
  • Enchantment: 1
  • Planeswalker: 0
  • Instant: 7
  • Sorcery: 9

 By Set:

  • Core Sets: 2 (of which 1 from 9th Edition, originally from Visions, and 1 from Magic 2011)
  • Mirrodin block: 10 (of which 9 from Mirrodin, 1 from Darksteel)
  • Kamigawa block: 4 (of which 2 from Champions of Kamigawa, 2 from Betrayers of Kamigawa)
  • Ravnica block: 1 (from Ravnica)
  • Ice Age block: 2 (both from Coldsnap)
  • Time Spiral block: 2 (both from Time Spiral)
  • Lorwyn block: 1 (from Lorwyn)
  • Alara block: 0
  • Zendikar block: 4 (of which 1 from Zendikar, 2 from Worldwake, 1 from Rise of the Eldrazi)
  • Scars of Mirrodin block: 4 (of which 1 from Mirrodin Besieged, 3 from New Phyrexia)
  • Innistrad block: 0
  • Return to Ravnica block: 1 (from Return to Ravnica)
  • Theros block: 0
  • Khans of Tarkir block: 2 (both from Khans of Tarkir)
  • Battle for Zendikar block: 0
  • Shadows over Innistrad block: 0
  • Kaladesh block: 0
  • Amonkhet block: 0
  • Ixalan block: 0

 See you next month, when we'll keep exploring the Modern meta. In the meantime, don't be ancient, play Modern!