R Koster's picture
By: R Koster, Rob Koster
Mar 18 2020 12:00pm

Recently I've had a lot of time to play Magic, and I don't enjoy where Pioneer is at right now. I mean, just play UB Inverter in that format or an Aggro deck that beats it. I was playing Inverter, but I'm just bored to tears of the mirror at this point that I decided that I would hop back into Modern after months of barely playing the format.

I would lie if I said that I hadn't loved it. It feels like it's an entirely different format now compared to when I left. It certainly still has its good and bad sides, but I just figured that I would check up on the format and see what's going on.

Last week Once Upon a Time got banned in Modern, and for a good reason. The card was everywhere, I still weep tears of salt for the fun decks that got nerfed back to where they are supposed to be in power level, but I'm glad something at least got done about Amulet Titan. Although I still feel it's very on top of the metagame.

Speaking about a metagame, there are a few decks that I have very consistently seen popping up during my last week in which I played 15 leagues, which Boils down to 75 matches.

The decks I have been seeing the most are Amulet Titan, Snow-Control, Whirza, Eldrazi Tron, and Ponza. Yeah, I'm not even kidding. I've played against Ponza at least once a day every day this last week, which is something I didn't expect at all ever to happen. And can't say that I'm having fun getting Pillage played on my lands a ton. But the deck is fine, not my cup of tea, but fine.

I've said it before, and I'll repeat it. I think the Amulet Titan decks are just a bit too good. Not by a lot, but the combination of being able to get fast Primeval Titan and grind you out with Field of the Dead and just plow through everything you are doing just feels like it is too much. I think it's only kept in balance by the snow decks, also being just a small bit too good. My opinion on the format is that if you aren't playing either Primeval Titan or Arcum's Astrolabe, you need a very good reason for that.

So why do I mention Arcum's Astrolabe as being too good? Just look at this:

Looked at the decklist? So you see the Archmage's Charm? Then look at the Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath. If we look up the numbers, those require a respective 20 blue sources and 16 green sources in the deck. So yeah, that's fine. We can handle that. There are some white cards in there as well. Well, three-color decks are a thing in Modern that's all fine. Now, look at the sideboard. There are Ashioks and Spheres and some Leylines and wait what? Blood Moon? What in the world? Yeah, these snow decks are all running Blood Moon, or a lot of them at least are. But wait, Rob, aren't they the thing Blood Moon is designed to punish? And to that, I will tell you that, yes, yes, it is.

So there is my problem with Arcum's Astrolabe. The mana is just too good, and it could become a problem. I'm conflicted about these decks. On the one hand, the mana bases are just incredibly pushed and running Blood Moon in a four-color deck that masquerades as a Bant control deck should not be able to just basically splash for 3 Blood Moon because it feels like it.

On the other hand, I've played a ton of these snow control decks, and they are an absolute delight to play, and other non-snow decks seem to be doing fine so far. But the snow decks have raised some red flags in my head.

Something else that I'm getting paired into a ton is EldraziTron, but with Once Upon a Time gone, that deck seems fine to me. So no worries there.

What I am missing, though, is just straight up Aggro decks. I've barely been matched into anything like zoo, burn, or prowess. Those decks feel extinct because they can't deal with an Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath. I'm guessing they are still out there, but definitely on an all-time low.

On the other hand, something that makes me happy is that I haven't been paired into Dredge all week, which is fantastic. I think the deck is fine and should be legal as is, I just hate playing against it. (Creeping Chill) is still stupid. The Ox of Agonas tech is real though. I didn't get paired into it myself, but I saw it on the Youtubes and man that cards plows through your deck with a hurry. Color me impressed, I might actually try playing the deck once.

People are also just playing their usual stuff. I got paired into a 5c Niv-Mizzet deck today while I was playing Izzet Delver. I'm sorry, opponent, I am, but I had a blast playing my all fast efficient interaction deck against your deck that tries to resolve a Sorcery speed five drop.

The Delver of Secrets deck I've been playing has been doing very well. It has a reasonable Snow-Control matchup and gets to play 3 Blood Moon of its own for Amulet Titan. And it makes sense that this deck is becoming better as time goes on, just like in Legacy the format is just becoming faster and more brutal, taking away the more slow and durdly decks that just prey on the Delver decks. Some of them are still around, but most of the Midrange decks aren't real contenders in Modern anymore, all of them being replaced by Control and Aggro decks that just grind them out. Besides that, the bigger card pool brings more sweet glass-cannon combo's. I mean, I got to play my 15 counterspells delver deck against Neoform for the first time today. So I had fun in my league.

I fully expect Delver of Secrets to become more of a real thing, the longer the format goes on. It's just a Blue Moon deck with pressure, and let's be real, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Pressure still just is king in Modern. Don't know what to do or how to play a matchup? Just killing your opponent is always a good play.

I played a bit of the Whirza decks as well, I've tried the Grixis and the UB versions but don't know which one I liked more. I did enjoy Emry, Lurker of the Loch chaining together a bunch of Mishra's Bauble together though, drawing two cards every turn for no mana is tremendous and something I recommend to everyone to try before you die. I couldn't tell you which version is better, but the power level is there. They feel like better Splinter Twin decks trying to go for the Thopter Foundry and Sword of the Meek combo together with Urza, Lord High Artificer. I'm not used to playing the artifacts decks, though, but I will be diving under the Ensnaring Bridge again for sure.

The format is terrific right now for the first time in a long time. It has its flaws. But I would recommend just diving in and getting down and dirty in a Modern that feels fairer than ever.