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By: The Milk Man, Michael Mulcahy
Feb 25 2015 1:00pm
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The recent success of Splinter Twin at both the Pro Tour and at GP Vancouver has seen another chorus of people calling for the banning of the card. So this raises the question - "Should Splinter Twin be banned?"

The first semi-competitive deck that I built when I started playing Magic was a Nivix Cyclops combo deck in Innistrad/Return to Ravnica Standard, I really liked the playstyle and the possibility of just untapping and winning. The departure of Artful Dodge and other Flashback favourites weakened the deck to an unplayable level. When I branched out to Modern, Splinter Twin was naturally the most attractive archetype due to being a (vastly more) powerful projection of my aforementioned favourite deck archetype, as well as the financial benefit of having some of the cards - Sulfur Falls, Steam Vents, Izzet Charm, Counterflux, Dispel etc.

Splinter Twin is a much loved deck, being a competitive archetype that has been around since extended, as well as seeing a brief (accidental) return in Standard. Like other non-rotating formats (some people don't like the term 'eternal'), Modern has many players that end up with a strong affection, appreciation and association with specific archetypes, who will end up playing the same deck regardless of how good or bad it is in the current meta.

Deceiver Exarch Pestermite  Splinter Twin  Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker

For me this deck is Splinter Twin. Although I have dabbled with other Modern decks, Twin is the deck I always go back to. When I started playing with Splinter Twin, Jund/BGx was the top dog in the format - this made Splinter Twin the top underdog. Twin has a naturally bad matchup vs BGx as their mainboard cards and strategies are quite effective against Splinter Twin. In my previous article I discussed the impact of the both Treasure Cruise and the updates to the banned and restricted list - how it affected the meta and financial implications as a result of the changes. One of the things that I really liked about the pre-banned Treasure Cruise meta was that it allowed new decks and otherwise 'tier 2' decks to move up in the meta and finally have their turn in the spotlight. A consequence of this was that there were a lot of individuals were upset about Treasure Cruise and of those some were upset because their pet deck was no longer competitive. Some may accuse me of being in the same position 'defending' Splinter Twin from being the likely first cab off the rank for the next Modern Banned and Restricted changes. However there are many reasons why Splinter Twin should stay.


The 'Turn 4' policy.

I would like to be directed to the original source, as I am not sure where it was mentioned first, but it has been repeated many times that Wizards aren't comfortable with decks that consistently break the 'turn 4' rule for Modern - this seems to be where Wizards are comfortable or happy with the format. Aside from forcing janky ramp strategies, Splinter Twin is safe from this unwritten rule that is often espoused when people are discussing the banning of decks on the basis of being too fast. If there is a deck that should be hampered by breaking the 'Turn 4 rule', it would not be Splinter Twin, the finger should be pointed to Amulet of Vigor. Not only did it top 8 the PT with a really low proportion of the field, Sam Black just missed out on top 8 after agreeing to draw with housemate Justin Cohen and rolling the dice in the final round of Pro tour Fate Reforged.

Alexander Hayne and Stephen Speck both landed Primeval Titans in the top 8 of GP Vancouver with some spectacular displays of power, speed and synergy. In particular, Stephen Speck had one round where he had a turn 1 Titan on the play and his opponent just scooped, before even being able to play a card. Speck then followed it up the next game by having a turn 1 Hive Mind win, THROUGH a Spell Snared Summer Bloom. Although this is something that has a crazy low percentage of having the perfect 6 or 7 cards in hand, but a turn 1 win is not possible in any other deck that can also grind through 10 or 12 turn games. Amulet of Vigor is the real deal. Maybe it is also the card that needs to go to slow the rest of the deck down enough for other decks to have a chance? Or maybe not, maybe this is exactly what Richard Garfield intended.

Amulet of Vigor  Simic Growth Chamber  Primeval Titan  Summer Bloom


The PVDDR/Ari Lax/Matt Sperling conversation. 

There has been a series of articles and conversations by the above mentioned Magic Pros that is based on PV's original article about Modern being either a bad format or a bad PT format (both of which I completely disagree with, but that is another article). PV's main point was that there are too many linear aggro and combo strategies that dont have broad answers, like the Force of Wills and Dazes of Legacy and Vintage. There were suggestions of increasing the sideboard size, unbanning of some objectively powerful cards and other possibilities, but it seemed like PV was one of the people who I spoke of earlier, whose pet deck is no longer competitive. This may very well not be the case, as it is pointed out that cards like Rest in Peace, Ancient Grudge and Dragon's Claw are so important to hit out of the sideboard against the linear aggro and combo decks that failing to find them creates a large handicap for yourself.

The problem that exists with this assertion is that these answers are so narrow, numerous and necessary that it leaves players in a position where they basically have to either concede sideboard slots to a particular archetype, having only 1 or 2 answers to each deck or conceding the sideboard slots to these deck archetypes completely to have a more favourable matchup against a particular singular archetype. Although I agree that PV has a point about the strain on the sideboard, Josh Utter-Leyton made the point that this is a feature of the format, not a failure. If Abzan midrange and Jeskai Control were able to have 30 sideboard slots, what decks would be able to beat them in games 2 or 3? It would be the death of the linear strategies and combo decks, which would certainly not be in the best interests of the format. We already have Midrange:The Gathering - it is called Standard. For those who havent read the discussion, the offenders in this case are Burn (normally Naya colours, but can include blue and or black as well), UG Infect, and Affinity. The combo decks that also fall under this category currently would be Splinter Twin and Amulet of Vigor.

Others have stated that the banning of fetchlands would reign in the powerful and greedy decks. Although this would probably speed up the play time of matches (by reducing shuffling) it would further increase the relative power of the linear aggro and combo decks. There is another way that players can improve their matchup versus the linear aggro and combo decks without the need of Wizards to change the format - expect it!


Expect it!

Instead of being forced to rely on the narrow sideboard strategies as has been discussed by PVDDR and other Magic personalities, there is the option of compromising on broad options, which do exist in Modern, its just that they're not as good as the options are in Legacy and Vintage. Being prepared for Splinter Twin, by both identifying the archetype early on while playing against it and giving yourself the opportunity to have an answer to it. Splinter Twin does not have the redundancy to be truly oppressive, so interrupting the combo once or twice is often enough to swing the game in your favour. Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker is the next best 'Splinter Twin', but it is so far from being a competitor that 99% of decks run zero copies of Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker.

The thing that most people hate about Splinter Twin is not that it can play out like a control deck and beat you down with a lone Deceiver Exarch on turn 35, but that on turn 3 or 4 there is a possibility that if you tap out, at the end of the turn a flash creature will enter the battlefield, untap and cast Splinter Twin, instantly winning the match. It is very important to at least give yourself the opportunity to address this problem in the deckbuilding stage, so that when you have decided that Splinter Twin is the deck that you are up against you are prepared for it.

Here are some broad options that are more than maindeck-able in the current Modern meta, that broadly deal with all of the linear decks and combo decks, while still being great against the 'fair' decks.

Inquisition of Kozilek Abrupt Decay Lightning Bolt Path to Exile

These 4 cards are probably the most efficient and broad solutions to the linear aggro and combo strategies. Looking at Splinter Twin in particular these are all ideal, but there are many other solutions too. The problem that I have with people claiming that Splinter Twin is this oppressive, overbearing, format warping card/deck being in need of a banning is that the combo can be very easily interrupted. As far as maindeck options go, there are a finite number of efficient answers that are broad enough to be wise choices in a game where there are tight limitations and scarce space and resources. Aside from the large volume of things that only kill Pestermite, there is the above 4 pictured spells, and then there are a tonne of other options. I have broken this down in to Reactive and Proactive solutions.

Reactive Options:

I would like to firstly give special mention to the Charm cycles. The Charms in particular are a brilliant answer for two reasons - each of the ones pictured below can deal with the Splinter Twin combo in some way, but more importantly they are powerful and versatile spells in their own right. Dimir Charm might not be as powerful as Terminate, but it can also counter a Wrath of God or Thoughtseize. Dimir Charm can also give you card selection - for yourself when you are desperate or know exactly what you need and it can be used to mess with your opponent's draws. The Charms might often be an easy cut when sideboarding, replacing them with a more powerful or focused spell, but the versatility alone of these spells should warrant at least one slot in your 60. Note that Rakdos Charm can't stop the combo, but there is a good chance (more so in paper than online) that you will be able to use the Splinter Twin combo against themselves by surprising them and killing them instead.

Dimir Charm Golgari Charm  Orzhov Charm Izzet Charm

Rakdos Charm

Sultai Charm  Jeskai Charm  Mardu Charm Temur Charm

Bant Charm  Esper Charm  Grixis Charm  Naya Charm

Dawn Charm  Midnight Charm

The Destruction Spells - pretty simple and straight forward - kill the creatures before they can combo off. All of these are at instant speed, which is paramount to breaking up the combo when all of the creatures have flash and will likely dodge any sorcery speed removal.

Slaughter Pact Doom Blade Vendetta  Go for the Throat  

Smother  Terror  Ultimate Price Victim of Night

Terminate Putrefy   Rapid Hybridization

Beast Within

Negative Toughness spells, these particular spells effectively do the same thing as the destroy spells as they will also remove the creatures from the battlefield and break up the combo

Grasp of Darkness Dismember  Sudden Death

Spells that force your opponent to sacrifice a creature will also have a high probability of destroying the combo due to Splinter Twin decks usually having a low creature count in the deck and a low creature count if there is an early combo kill

Devour Flesh    Crackling Doom


Countering the ability that Splinter Twin grants Pestermite/Deceiver Exarch is another way to stall the combo. This can buy you time to find an answer or use a sorcery speed solution in your own turn

Trickbind  Squelch


You can bounce the Pestermite or Deceiver Exarch in response to them casting Splinter Twin, countering the Splinter Twin as it is being cast

Vapor Snag Unsummon Echoing Truth Cyclonic Rift 

Simic Charm  Far/Away  Snapback  Boomerang


Kill the Pestermite or Deceiver Exarch with burn

Galvanic Blast  Lightning Axe  Harvest Pyre

Counter the Splinter Twin enchantment when they attempt to cast it

Disrupting Shoal Condescend Spell Pierce Stubborn Denial

Swan Song Syncopate  Countersquall Deprive

Remand  Logic Knot  Mana Leak Negate

Counterflux Pact of Negation  Spell Burst  


Exile a part of the combo to disrupt and stop it

Last Breath Dispatch


Make the Pestermite or Deceiver Exarch an invalid target for Splinter Twin

Vines of Vastwood  Veil of Secrecy  Stave Off

 There is a even a card that can interrupt the combo on three different fronts

Cryptic Command

Then there are more proactive strategies:

Pithing Needle  Torpor Orb  Damping Matrix  Oblivion Stone

Suppression Field  Runed Halo  Blind Obedience  Ghostly Prison

Aura of Silence  Nevermore  Seal of Primordium  Declaration of Naught

There are spells that you can use to proactively remove Splinter Twin from the game, turning off the combo permanently

Slaughter Games Surgical Extraction  Extirpate  Scour


There are also creatures that can shut down the combo, these have a similar impact to the proactive strategies above 

Spellskite Linvala, Keeper of Silence Qasali Pridemage Auriok Champion



Further to this there are weaker strategies like fog effects, to buy you a turn. This is only really relevant if you have the pressure to win on the crack back, have a sorcery speed removal such as Supreme Verdict to follow it up, or some other such plan to stop the combo or win on your turn

Silence Angel's Grace Ethereal Haze  Holy Day

Fog Darkness Aetherize

Similarly there are spells to tap the creatures, which is best done in response to casting Splinter Twin & will mean that the combo cannot go off that turn.

Gigadrowse  Blustersquall  Dream's Grip

Splinter Twins own creature suite is quite good at this too

Pestermite  Deceiver Exarch

There may even be an argument to mainboard some of your sideboard cards especially in the case of the more versatile options, as many decks use artifacts and enchantments meaning that cards like this might be warranted if you're scared to death of a turn 4 Splinter Twin, Cranial Plating equipped Etched Champion or hate losing to Eidolon of the Great Revel or Gladecover Scout

Krosan Grip Sundering Growth Nature's Claim Wear/Tear

Destructive Revelry

The combination of Pestermite and Deceiver Exarch has another interesting weakness. Spells or abilities that give '-1/-1' at instant speed nullify the combo, by either killing the Pestermites or reducing the horde of Deceiver Exarchs power to Zero, rendering the combo useless and buying you another turn.

Zealous Persecution Bile Blight  Echoing Decay

 There are also static & proactive options that can be used to the same effect:

Illness in the Ranks  Curse of Death's Hold  


That basically covers the more efficient strategies to combat the 'almighty' Splinter Twin, which brings us back to our original question - "Should Splinter Twin be banned?" The answer to that is pretty clear - there are over 100 very playable cards I listed above that can interact with the combo alone, as well as other more non-interactive strategies - beating Splinter Twin before turn 4 or just playing cards that mean you can't lose the game...

Platinum Angel  Angel's Grace

 Let me know your thoughts on the card, deck and format - if you think it should go and why or if you agree that the case for banning Splinter Twin is pretty underpowered

- The Milk Man


Nice Work by Plainswalker83 at Wed, 02/25/2015 - 13:25
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Splinter Twin does not need to be banned. These past 2 big results just shows us people really aren't respecting the deck. It in no way even needs to combo off to win. There are plenty of cards that prey on it and you pointed out pretty much all of them. I for one actually enjoy the modern format and like that are a ton of decks to play and still room to brew and play rogue strategies.

The Turn 4 rule is expressly by olaw at Wed, 02/25/2015 - 14:49
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The Turn 4 rule is expressly stated by Tom LaPille here as a rule of thumb they used in making the original banned list for the format:
I know it's also been mentioned at other points by various members of Wizards.

I don't think Splinter Twin is likely to be banned. I can understand people saying that with it winning the Pro Tour and the last Modern GP but I don't think a ban is really warranted. As you say there are a lot of ways to interact with the combo and although losing on Turn 4 sucks there are plenty of available answers. Also, given the Turn 4 rule it would be very strange to ban something that very clearly fits within that paradigm.

If it would be banned for anything it would probably for being too versatile and being able to fit very easily into a URx Control shell - without too much card commitment. However, I think calls for a Twin ban are a bit alarmist.

Thank you for the link by The Milk Man at Thu, 02/26/2015 - 00:09
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Thanks for the link and the response. I knew I had seen it on a mother site article, but navigating the mothership is like trying to beat game 1 Splinter Twin with RG Tron

No need to ban Twin at all. by CalmLittleBuddy at Wed, 02/25/2015 - 15:48
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No need to ban Twin at all. Twin is a fragile combo. It's not like when Jeskai Ascendancy could go off even through removal and disruption.

I hope no one at Wizards is actually considering this. If they do, then the Banned and Restricted list should be called the "Whatever Wins Is Toast" list. Twin will not dominate like Birthing Pod did, because Twin has a lot of bad match ups.

I'm not knocking the deck. I love the deck! I'm just saying it's not any more likely to win an event than Jund or Junk or Affinity is. It's another good to great deck. Banning Twin would basically be saying "Play Creature Decks OR ELSE!"

Great article BTW.

nice article. I've thought by Joe Fiorini at Wed, 02/25/2015 - 18:18
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nice article.

I've thought about getting back into modern. if splinter twin got banned, I wouldn't rejoin just based on principle, I don't have the deck or anything.

What has happened is that DCI bans have made players that get salty over a deck that beats them often, they expect that they can cry and provoke a ban. At least that's how it seems.

Particularly after the pod by Paul Leicht at Wed, 02/25/2015 - 18:37
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Particularly after the pod ban.

Correct me if I am wrong, but by Rerepete at Wed, 02/25/2015 - 19:13
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Correct me if I am wrong, but Qasali Prodemage and other enchanment detruction won't work. Can't they just go off in response to the destruction trigger?

You pop it in response to the by Procrastination at Wed, 02/25/2015 - 19:16
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You pop it in response to the first activation.

Twin is pretty busted since by MrWishyWashy at Wed, 02/25/2015 - 19:42
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Twin is pretty busted since it warps the whole format around having to play removal spells and having to always keep mana open. However, banning Twin would not be a great idea. We already learned that banning a busted card like Birthing Pod doesnt help a format. Modern is going on a slope now to where everything that wins will just get banned, which is a terrible long term solution to a format.

Wizards needs to stop fucking around and just print a set thats exclusively legal to Modern and all other eternal formats in order to have some checks and balances to the format. Printing cards only through standard is what is making Modern a painful format to play. Legacy gets commander decks and other exclusive products like Conspiracy, Planechase, etc. Modern needs the same things.

They should just reprint alot of the Legacy staples that arent on the reserved list in Modern. People might say that would make Modern just an inferior Legacy, but if Wizards doesnt want to kill the reserved list, then there isnt going to be a Legacy someday anyway. With the way Legacy prices are, Legacy is basically nonexistent to alot of people.

If I walk into a room knowing by Joe Fiorini at Wed, 02/25/2015 - 20:37
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If I walk into a room knowing that I won't face splinter twin, that's not going to make me decide to not pack any removal in my deck.

You have to play removal of some sort in almost every game of magic anywhere. Twin doesn't force me to play removal any more or any less than infect, zoo, gbx, whatever.

Infinite combos are essentially broken by nature. I don't think that makes them always overpowering. Many times, yes, they are.

One thing I've learned from losing to a turn one blood moon or grislebrand, losing a game fast doez feel bad at times. But losing slowly really isn't any different, it just gives you the illusion that you had a chance to win.
If we all start to think of losing The game on turns one through four like pulling off a bandaid quickly instead of slowly peeling it off, then maybe we as players can gain more perspective on the issue.

Ban amulet though. Card is off the chain yo. Jk

double post by MrWishyWashy at Wed, 02/25/2015 - 21:40
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sorry double post

Twin does force you to play by MrWishyWashy at Wed, 02/25/2015 - 21:36
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Twin does force you to play certain kinds of removal since if not you automatically lose the game on the spot. Again other decks you can use creatures to defend your life total, while against twin you cant. That is the main issue with combo in Modern in general. You can play all the dudes you want, but most of them are just dead cards when your opponent can twin or scapeshift you out of the game. The first time I started playing Modern and someone Twin'ed me I was so confused in how in the hell that combo was even legal. All it took them was playing two cards while I was tapped out and the game was already over. I had 20 life, 5 cards in hand, developed my board nicely, and then my opponent did nothing but just play 2 cards and you die. Not sure in what universe does that make any sense.

Experienced players obviously know how to deal with Twin, but if your new to Modern and dont know about Twin, you opponent will win with next to no effort. At least in Legacy most decks are equipped to deal with anything due to Force of Will. It doesnt matter what stupid combo your opponent is running there since I can just murder you with a counter spell. In Modern your just SoL most of the time. I dont get why Wizards hasnt considered reprinting Force of Will for modern. Would make the format a bit balanced as whole and would stop them from having to ban so many cards.

While I understand your by Paul Leicht at Thu, 02/26/2015 - 06:59
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While I understand your consternation over the combo there are plenty of unfair combos to go around. What sets twin apart is its consistency. And it may be the case that with Pod out of the picture to keep these kinds of decks from auto winning, Twin is in a better position than most to take advantage because it is a quickish combo that can go off more than once.

Storm is slow now (right?)...

Amulet is faster but fragile (god I love the combo but am sad it went from being something I played in Tribal Wars Legacy to a REAL modern deck. And honestly it probably is the most broken of the bunch since it can end the game turn 1-2 fairly well if you get the nut draw.)

I agree that Twin warps the format but so does scapeshift, afinity, amulet, storm (though very little now I suppose), and a dozen other unfair decks. That was Paolo's point in his article. The premise of which I don't agree with. That Modern needs changing. I don't feel it does.

Also, back to the new player syndrome for a second because a thought occurs that should not be ignored. Players entering a non-rotating format such as Modern have to know what's in store.

And it is an assumption I'll just go ahead and make that anyone entering a tournament format that doesn't do their research has no business in that format.

Honestly it takes a few hours at most to get a pretty complete picture of what modern is like by reviewing past grand prix and pro tours.

And a few hours watching others play the format will give you details you might miss in the overarching picture.

As the author suggests there are a myriad of methods of defending against Twin that also work nicely against any number of other popular decks. You don't need to guess to know that Abrupt Decay hits most of the vilest cards in the format. Path takes out most creatures and what Path doesn't there are a dozen or so playable sweepers to choose from.

The only question is what kind of deck are you playing? Are you going to be playing something "fair"? Surely even the fairest of decks run removal and of great variety.

Hehe I remember the first time I played a Kikimite deck (the original combo) in Cas Play Cas Decks the 2nd or 3rd match (it was old extended format I think) the fellow I was playing hit my board with a hail storm after I finished making a bunch of pestermites copies and attacked with them. I was a little mad because he had that in his deck not for my combo (it was not played at all at the time) Just to deal with weenies in general.

But that is the nature of magic. Sometimes you lose to something and then you learn from it. THAT isn't a reason to ban stuff. Though I imagine the anger generated by losing so unexpectedly could very well make one wish for an instaban.

My point is, the answers already exist in the format. I am very wrathful that they banned pod since as a casual player, that wiped out a dozen weird variations on the theme for me, in the format. Decks totally nonviable for tourneys but fun ideas nonetheless. Bad WotC bad! Bansticks should be used sparingly!

I don't agree that the format needs a big blue answer in the form of FoW in order to keep it sane.

"Twin does force you to play by MarcosPMA at Thu, 02/26/2015 - 07:54
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"Twin does force you to play certain kinds of removal since if not you automatically lose the game on the spot. Again other decks you can use creatures to defend your life total, while against twin you cant."

Well first of all, the Twin player has to have it. Sometimes they don't have it. Sometimes they have 1 card but not both, or sometimes they have both, or sometimes they don't have it at all! Twin doesn't make you play any maindeck removal spell that you wouldn't play anyway. You might sideboard a narrow card just for Twin, but generally your removal suite should be flexible enough that it's not completely dead in most creature based matchups.

Twin is a deck with a creature card and an enchantment card. Both die to removal. If you destroy one or the other, they don't have the combo. I'm fine with Twin as a combo deck because I know I have outs to it. I can put Abrupt Decay or Path to Exile in my deck and those cards are just fine outside the Twin matchup. I can counter the EOT Exarch/Pestermite. I can just win before they do. I can win on turn 1 with Amulet Bloom. I can storm for lethal on turn 4 on the play. I can Thoughtseize/Inquisition them and take the combo away.

"Experienced players obviously know how to deal with Twin, but if your new to Modern and dont know about Twin, you opponent will win with next to no effort. At least in Legacy most decks are equipped to deal with anything due to Force of Will"

But..if you're new to Legacy how would you know what to counter? If you're new to Legacy what good is Force of Will if you don't know what the key combo pieces are? I remember playing against Legacy Elves knowing very little about the format and having removal spells in my hand but not knowing what creature I needed to kill. Do I kill the Deathrite Shaman? Or the Nettle Sentinel? What about that Elvish Visionary? That card doesn't even see play in Standard!

You can't make the argument that Twin wins against new players because any combo deck will win against new players, and you certainly can't say Force is the answer because you can't counter what you don't know will win!

And NO, Force doesn't just beat combo in Legacy. It can beat some very linear, all-in combo decks, but not every deck folds to Force. If every combo folded to Force, why would anybody play those decks?

Force isn't the answer to Modern. Twin decks will always Probe/Peek you before going for it, and will only go for it if they can beat counters/removal, Storm will still beat you with Past in Flames even if you counter Ascension, Infect will still kill you with Inkmoth Nexus beats, Abzan will just take your Force, and Affinity will still force you to have a Wrath as opposed to a counterspell.

Force of Will beats every by MrWishyWashy at Thu, 02/26/2015 - 14:34
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Force of Will beats every combo in Legacy except in two scenarios.

A) the combo doesnt care about Force of Will (ex; storm and dredge)
B) The combo plays force of will itself (Reanimator, Show and Tell, etc.)

It doesnt really take a genius to know what to Force of Will in Legacy. Your obviously not going to Force of Will a Deathrite Shaman since thats not going to flat out kill you, but a Natural Order probably will.

Force of Will keeps things nice and fair. Do you see Twin played in Legacy? No you don't, since theres too many ways of disrupting the combo in that format. Modern needs something like that unless you want a format to where your going to have an annual banning every year. There obviously cant just be force of will either. The format would need things like Daze, Flusterstorm, and better cantrips so we can find all these counters (like Brainstorm, Ponder, Preordain).

Something just has to give. People cant have their cake and eat it. You cant have a format to where you dont want all of these cards, but at the same time expect there to be some balance with the current card pool since every banning Modern has had so far has lead to nowhere. Banning something every single year is also another terrible idea since at that point Modern is just a glorified Standard with hidden rotation.

what about a combo deck that by Joe Fiorini at Thu, 02/26/2015 - 15:34
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what about a combo deck that plays: Thoughtseize, Cabal Therapy, Duress, Gitaxian Probe to look for a clear path, Spell Pierce to counter the Force, Daze, the list is huge.

I have exactly four Force in my Shardless Bug deck, and I still worry about combo decks.

It's a good card though for sure.

Are you referring to Storm by MrWishyWashy at Thu, 02/26/2015 - 16:08
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Are you referring to Storm decks? Storm can only really be beaten by things like Mindbreak Trap or Flusterstorm or something like Chalice/Prisonish effects. Regular counterspells dont do much against it. Plus the Storm decks in Modern arent the same in Legacy, the Modern versions have to lean on Pyromancers Ascension most of the time while the Legacy versions have tons of cantrips and rituals to get going.

Force of Will would just be one piece of the puzzle to fixing Modern. There has to be way more interactive spells to allow combo in Modern. The only other route to balance Modern would be to kill combo all together, which is something that many people would not be in favor of.

I thoughtseized and surgical by Joe Fiorini at Thu, 02/26/2015 - 16:49
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I thoughtseized and surgical extractioned a dude's infernal tutor the other day, while after beating with goyf and stifling as many fetches as I could. I didn't need my force. but i do board in flusterstorm as well.

Some guy had a grixis omnitell deck that had discard in it. So it's a thing I suppose.

I don't play anything else anymore, so I'm usually referring to legacy, yes.

Splinter Twin for the Win! by Fred1160 at Wed, 02/25/2015 - 20:43
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You have to have some kind of combo deck in Modern. If you kill off Twin what do you have left for combo in Modern? They've nerfed storm. I guess it leaves Pyromancer Ascension decks for combo (no thanks).
Twin is not invincible.

I agree that there should be a way to introduce Legacy cards directly into the Modern pool. If WOTC really wants Modern to succeed they will have to get around this problem sooner rather than later.

As for Legacy, I don't think it's sustainable with the reserved list in place. I've heard a lot of people talk about how they are opposed to counterfeit cards and yet also think that counterfeit cards may be the only way to save the format. Kind of a "if Wizards won't reprint them let the Chinese do it" sort of situation.

I sure hope Wizards hasn't painted themselves into a corner where we have to hope that Chinese counterfeiters can save Legacy. That just sounds insane.

There is no need to ban by Procrastination at Wed, 02/25/2015 - 23:30
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There is no need to ban Splinter Twin. The deck was kept in check during the entire PTQ season last summer (and arguably the existence of Modern.) Most Twin lists barely touch any Khans cards at all, so it's not like Twin has gained anything that pushes it over the top now. Pod didn't prey upon Twin either, so that's not it. Twin almost completely vanished over the fall too, showing that a harsh enough meta can easily displace the deck.

I really enjoyed the spirit of this article, but I did have some minor criticisms:

Using the full sized pictures over and over was a bit of a visual overload. The large chunks of them were aggravating to scroll through and actually made me pay less attention to what was in the groupings. I think this article was not well suited for that presentation. I don't think the thumbnails would have worked either. It would have worked fine with the listing of the cards names under groupings, with large groupings possibly being displayed in a 3-Column Table so that the list wasn't stretching awkwardly down the page. That would have provided you some more room to talk about things without flooding us with images.

While I know you were trying to show a variety of cards, you might have been a little too generous with cards that cost 4+ mana or cards that don't actually address the problem well enough. A lot of these cards will do something, but you probably overstated a good bit of them.

Plus, in all of those pictures, I don't see Combust anywhere, and next to Abrupt Decay, Combust is THE card that keeps Twin in check. (Well, Okay, Dismember, but after that...)

Still nice job!

- Gio

Thanks for the reply by The Milk Man at Wed, 02/25/2015 - 23:32
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Thank you for the feedback. I had tested the article with lists and thumbs, and found that the actual cards were better as an encyclopedia of answers for people who wanted a suggestion for a solution. Filling space wasn't really a concern of mine - I just wanted to get my thoughts down on paper, even though this article is a fair bit shorter than my others.

The reason why I didn't include Combust is not because it isn't the best anti-twin card, but because it is exactly the sort of narrow sideboard card that is complained about, and that I was trying to avoid. All of the other cards listed are broad enough to be useful the main board in a majority of matches in the right deck archetype.

Other fine sideboard cards like Celestial Purge were also not included for the same reason.

Combust also kills Siege by Procrastination at Thu, 02/26/2015 - 00:09
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Combust also kills Siege Rhino, Restoration Angel, Blighted Agent, smallish Master of Etherium, most of the Merfolk, most of W/x D&T, Celestial Colonnade, Snapcaster, Clique, the other faeries and more.

In the matchups where it's useful, it's a "better" Flame Slash.

Also, in a format that is being crowded with Liliana of the Veil, Tasigur, Splinter Twin, Blood Moon and others, is Celestial Purge really that narrow?

I didn't get to read the particular articles, but are these more flexible sideboard cards the ones the Pro's are complaining about? I assumed they were talking about cards specifically for the extremely Linear Strategies, such as Affinity or Storm, not cards that can actually be used in multiple match ups?

Honestly, several of the other cards you mentioned are much more narrow then either of those two cards. I think you need to clearly define what narrow means with some additional context.

I agree - its true that by The Milk Man at Thu, 02/26/2015 - 03:52
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I agree - its true that Combust, Celestial Purge and other colour specific cards have creeped up in relatvie value in the current meta. I run a Combust or 2 in the sideboard of my Twin deck too - mainly for the mirror match, but it comes in for many other matches too.

The main reason why it is relegated to the sideboard is that in the matchups where you *need* creature removal early on, Combust is often a dead card in hand - Infect, Affinity, Burn etc, where a less powerful but more flexible card like (Izzet Charm) is much more welcome.

There may be a case to to mainboard your sideboard cards if the meta warrants it, as I have stated in this article.

The sideboard cards that the pros are complaining about are cards like Stony Silence that are really narrow in their application, but are practically required against Affinity, Eggs etc.

Which cards have I mentioned that you think are more narrow?

Before I start, I do want to by Procrastination at Thu, 02/26/2015 - 22:00
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Before I start, I do want to say that I always encourage people to try new cards and new ideas. I also realize that some of these cards could operate better in specific shells. I'm not doing this to tear down ideas, just to help cut away some of the less desirable ones. If folks want to try them out, they absolutely should.

I'm also going to treat this as "Twin has the nuts" because we are seeing our "trump cards", so let's expect "the worst".

I'll try to give quick explanations, but it's mostly cards either being more narrow than they appear, or because they actually aren't as useful in enough match ups.

Scour - only hits enchantments, costs four (prohibitive in the Bogle matchup)
Midnight Charm - minimal true flexibility in the format
Silence - Are you blind throwing it at them during the upkeep after they have cast a mite/exarch? Quite the gamble...
Unsummon - only if I need Vapor Snag 5+, but who needs that?
Harvest Pyre - less decks now pitch 4 cards to the yard fast enough to be reliable
Logic Knot - Similar problem as above with a little more wiggle room
Spell Burst - takes 4 or 5 mana, so only useful on the play, if you don't miss land drops
Veil of Secrecy - Nice find, but less flexible than almost every bounce or counter spell.
The Fog variants - You live a turn, but now you are relying on a second card to get the business done or you lose 1 turn later. Pointless without a very good clock of your own.
Surgical Extraction/Extirpate - These are "win more". You had to strip away or kill a piece in the first place, otherwise these do nothing.
Blustersquall/Dreams Grip - more temporary fixes
Curse of Death's Hold - 5 mana is much too slow
Platinum Angel/O-stone - TRON ONLY narrowness

I want to make special mention of Pithing Needle/Runed Halo/Phyrexian Revoker (not shown) - These cards seem great on the surface, BUT, a good Twin player shouldn't reveal the kill creature until it's too late for you to react. You can't afford to hold them and you only have a 50/50 chance at naming the right card. Flexible? YES. Great against Twin? Sadly, no. (Now, if they sb things like Lavamancer, Jace or Shackles...)

Some of the other cards are certainly not optimal choices, but like I said, I enjoy the spirit of the piece.

Do I wish that everybody could afford flexible 35 credit Spellskite? Sure. On the other hand, I'm glad that if Twin is our main concern, that the Pennybot has strong answers like Combust to help us at the very least.

- Gio

I probably could have made by The Milk Man at Fri, 02/27/2015 - 03:07
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I probably could have made that clearer that the suggestions were not for all archetypes i.e Surgical Extraction and Extirpate seem narrow and situational in a Junk deck, but are mainboardable answers for someone who is playing 8Rack

Necropost by The Milk Man at Sat, 01/16/2016 - 01:09
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10 Months on, nothing in the deck has really changed, but now the ban is looking very likely