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By: Lord Erman, Nafiz Erman
Aug 16 2011 12:27pm
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Modern Talking
by Nafiz Erman

Hello dear readers and welcome back to Rogue Play. The newest format of Magic is finally and officially "official". Last week I started looking at the format, talking about the format and building decks for the format. But the recent announcement that came from WotC changed everything. If you aren't aware of that announcement by the way, please do check this link to Tom LaPille's article from last Friday.

What WotC did is simple actually: They created a "kill now, ask questions later" kind of a banlist just because Modern is now officially a PT format. And as stated in Mr. LaPille's article, the format of the next PT in Philadelphia will be Modern. WotC doesn't want this very first tournament of Modern to be "ruined" by the some specific cards and deck types, so just to be safe they put the most important components of those decks in the banlist.

Now first take at the current banlist and then we will talk about it a bit. 


I said "a list that doesn't make sense" because... uhm, really, it doesn't make any sense! I'm sure most of those cards will be unbanned in the future but for now, this is what we have. So in this first part of the article, I want to go over this list and tell you what I think about it.

1- The artifact lands: They were in the banlist for the Community Cup and they remain staying there. And I can understand that. I'm playing only Modern these days and one of the decks that people test heavily in the Tournament Practice Room is Affinity. And they do win a lot! Without the artifact lands, I must add. So this banning didn't kill Affinity as a deck type but it only prevented it from getting out of control. And I don't expect them to be unbanned in the future. 

2- Chrome Mox: At first this banning made a lot of sense. Hypergenesis was killing on turn two constantly so why give it a tool to kill on turn one, right? But now there is no Hypergenesis so this one might be unbanned in the future. Speaking of Hypergenesis...

3- Hypergenesis: I have nothing to add. It even had to be in the very first banlist. It was just too powerful for the format.

4- Ancestral Vision: Okay, what am I missing here? Which part of this card is broken? It's just an extremely fair card drawing spell. So this dear readers, was one of the reasons why I said "a list that doesn't make any sense". I can't believe that they banned this. I can't even imagine myself considering this card as a candidate for the banlist. There's nothing wrong with it.

5- Mental Misstep: Another card that should be unbanned immediately after the PT. Banning this one simply means that WotC wants us to play Kird Apes and Wild Nacatls in calm. But why? Why kill Control? It just doesn't make any sense!

Ancestral Vision
Truly broken... I suppose.

6- Sword of the Meek + Skullclamp: Now these two make sense. We all know what they are capable of, so Modern without these two will be a better format.

7- Umezawa's Jitte: While I understand why they banned it, I seriously believe that they should give this one a chance. Jitte is strong, that's for sure, but it isn't broken now as it used to be back in the day. I think Umezawa's Jitte deserves a chance.

8- Stoneforge Mystic: I still can't believe that WotC actually printed this card. They have all the knowledge and experience of the past and still can slip through this kind of cards. Did no one realized what they were doing? It's not just the swords, this card is nuts with everything! I mean, did no one there said "Hey, I just played Stoneforge and tutored for Argentum Armor and cheated it into play. Is this not wrong?"

Apparently no one said that. So yes, Stoneforge Mystic should be banned and stay banned.

9- Jace, the Mind Sculptor: WotC is making a huge mistake here. What led Jace to be banned in Standard was not himself but it was Stoneforge Mystic. Jace was in Standard before Scars of Mirrodin and while he was good, he was nowhere near being broken. Jund decks with Bloodbraid Elf was cutting him in half and I see no reason why the same should not happen in Modern.

I believe that Jace will be unbanned in time. He is good, he is powerful and he's the best planeswalker. But this format needs powerful cards too. Broken ones, such as the artifact lands and Stoneforge Mystic, should stay out. But Jace can stay. I'm sure we would see him very often if he were allowed, but I don't think he would break anything in half. Not without his partner in crime (that being Stoneforge Mystic of course).

10- Dark Depths + Glimpse of Nature: These I understand and I'm happy that they're gone.

11- Bitterblossom: This I don't understand and will NEVER understand. Dear readers, I'm playing Modern since weeks. And by experience I know that Faeries are good but they are nowhere near being that good, if you know what I mean. Because this isn't Standard we're talking about. This isn't Extended (RIP by the way). This is Modern and we have tons of options here and Faeries are just one of them. So I hope that WotC also sees this and unbans Bitterblossom. And hey; I want my  tokens deck back!!!

12- Sensei's Divining Top: I know why it's banned but that doesn't mean I can't feel bad about it.

13- Golgari Grave-Troll + Dread Return: I seriously can't believe that they banned these two and kept Bridge from Below in the format. Banning these two cards makes me believe that WotC knows very little (if nothing at all) about this deck type. Dredge as we know it, is so vicious because of Bridge from Below. So I expect those two cards to be unbanned after the PT.


14- Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle: Another banning that doesn't make any sense. Scapeshift decks are strong without doubt, but they are slow and it takes time to set up the whole game plan. And there are ways to deal with it. I'm also sure (or rather want to be sure) that WotC will unban Valakut after the PT.

So... these are what I think about the banlist. If I were the one making it, this would have been my personal list:

A more reasonable list
A List by Nafiz Erman
1 Stoneforge Mystic
1 cards

Other Spells
1 Chrome Mox
1 Hypergenesis
1 Restore Balance
1 Bridge from Below
1 Glimpse of Nature
1 Skullclamp
1 Sensei's Divining Top
1 Sword of the Meek
8 cards
1 Dark Depths
1 Vault of Whispers
1 Great Furnace
1 Seat of the Synod
1 Ancient Den
1 Tree of Tales
6 cards

Restore Balance


As you can see, I added Restore Balance to the list. I said above a couple of times that I'm spending all my time in the Tournament Practice Room playing Modern. And after the recent bannings, I'm seeing (and experiencing as well) a lot of turn three "Cascade into Restore Balance" kills. And by a lot, I mean A LOT!

So yes, it should be banned immediately. I don't think WotC should even wait for the PT for it. I understand that a turn three (or two even) Hypergenesis into a Chancellor of the Annex and Terastodon is too broken and Restore Balance is a bit fairer than that. But trust me, losing all your creatures and lands and enchantments on turn three is not something you can overcome easily.

So which brings us actually to the same point as before: All decks must pack Ethersworn Canonist or Chalice of the Void or Spell Pierce to deal with Cascade. Basically the same as before. So in my opinion nothing has changed. My sideboard is still the same; be it Hypergenesis or Restore Balance. I still pack both Spell Pierce and Chalice of the Void in my Control decks and Ethersworn Canonist in my Aggro decks.

So WotC should get this straight: They should either unban Hypergenesis (oh please don't!!) or ban Restore Balance too.



So enough ranting. What's banned is banned and now we have our card pool to build decks from. We can talk about that list after the PT and after we see what the professional players choose to play. So let's look at what we can play.

Here are the best decks I'm seeing very frequently in the TP Room at the moment:


Knight of the Reliquary Zoo is probably the best option in the format now. The mana base is excellent and the creature list is almost the same as in Legacy; meaning very powerful. The only problem is that there is no Sylvan Library in the format nor Chain Lightning. But Modern still has tons of great options to support its creatures. Char, Lightning Bolt, Rift Bolt, Lightning Helix are all legal, and I'm sure the Zoo player won't have any problems to finish his opponent.


Why complicate things when winning can be this easy? Goblin Guides, Hellspark Elementals and burn spells... you know the drill. This deck exists and it is being played, so you better keep that in mind when building your deck.

Goblin Guide


Neither the first banning nor the recent one "touched" this deck so it's quite possible to win whole events with the "folk of the sea". It's not as strong as in Legacy but I do play against it very often (meaning, it is there and is being played).

Lord of Atlantis


Cloudpost Last week I showed you the mono Green version of this deck. There is also the mono Blue version. And the  one. People also play Red and Blue in this deck. My recent personal testing shows that Twelve Posts is one of the most widely played decks in the format together with Zoo and Restore Balance decks. If you want to compete in the format, you must have a plan against this deck.


The artifact lands may be banned but that won't stop Affinity. Both the beatdown version and the Erayo version do exist and they are very deadly. I lost a lot of matches to Affinity even by now, so I know what I'm saying.

Erayo, Soratami Ascendant


Elvish Archdruid Oh yes, the boring Elves. The good news is that Glimpse of Nature is banned. The bad news is that this doesn't mean much. Elves are still Elves and there are still tons of nasty things you can do with them. I see lots of Elfball decks around but I do also see some decks with Red for some Bloodbraid Elf and Punishing Fire action. Oh and keep in mind that they play a full set of Boil in their sideboard as well (how cruel is that?!).


Restore Balance This is currently the deck to beat; at least in the TP Room. They play those Alara Reborn mana artifacts, suspend their Greater Gargadon and then cascade into Restore Balance on turn three. If you can somehow overcome that, they do it again. And again. And the final blow either comes from March of the Machines turning their mana artifacts into creatures, or from their Greater Gargadon. March of the Machines


Wrath of God The recent additions to the banlist surely made Aggro stronger but thankfully WotC didn't add Wrath of God to it. Which means that  Control still is strong a possibility. White has lots of very nice spot removal spells and Blue offers counterspells and card drawing. Alternatively people also play Caw Blade with Squadron Hawks and swords. It isn't the same as with Stoneforge Mystic but it is still a powerful choice nonetheless.


Ajani Vengeant The traditional  Control can always splash a third color for more options. Red gives Lightning Bolt, Lightning Helix and Ajani Vengeant. Green gives mana ramping. Black gives more removal and discard. And please do not forget that between the Ravnica lands and the Lorwyn hybrid lands, casting Ajani Vengeant after one Cryptic Command is absolutely not a problem at all. Esper Charm


I'm seeing this deck a lot in the TP Room. I don't know how it deals with Restore Balance decks but it is still a good deck and I must say that their Blood Moon is pretty effective against unprepared Twelve Posts players.

Pyromancer Ascension


Dragonstorm This is another deck I'm seeing a lot in the TP Room. The main list of it hasn't changed much since the time it was in Standard. So it's again Lotus Bloom into those Red mana ramp spells such as Pyretic Ritual and then a Dragonstorm with a storm count of four mostly. And those four copies reveal four Bogardan Hellkites. And if they are not enough, one of those Dragonstorms bring in a hasty Hellkite Charger and finish the opponent.


Many people play this deck but I don't think that it's the same powerful Jund we know anymore. Twelve Posts and Restore Balance are almost auto losses for Jund. This deck should immediately evolve or otherwise it will die.

Bloodbraid Elf

So yes, these are the main decks I'm seeing a lot in the Tournament Practice Room. But are these all? Of course not. The format has tons of other possibilities. Such as the knows Swans deck (with Seismic Assault). Or such as Rock midrange. Or Living End, Soul Sisters, Pickles or Exarch Twin decks. There are tons of other options out there but currently the players trying this format mainly play the decks I mentioned above.

So currently the meta in the TP Room is like this:

1- Zoo
2- Various Twelve Posts decks
3- Restore Balance
4- Various Affinity decks
5- Merfolk

As I said, I see lots of other decks too but these are the ones you should watch out and you should expect to play against.



Okay dear readers, that's all for this week. I'm sure you have lots of things to say about the banned list and I'm sure that you don't agree with most of the things I said. So let's talk about those things in the comments section. As I said above, this banned list is absolutely not the final one because it simply doesn't make any sense. Restore Balance should be in there and many other cards should be unbanned. But I guess all those things will happen after the PT in Philadelphia.


Modernization, Part II

Tom LaPille's article last Friday killed my actual Modernization, Part II article because it was about  tokens and that deck was using four copies of Bitterblossom. But it's okay, I always find stuff to talk about! So next week I will be back with more Modern information. I will play Modern the whole week in the TP Room and next week I will give you a more detailed report about what people play, what I personally play and so on.

So we'll see us next week.

Thanks for reading.

See you online
Nafiz Erman, aka Lord Erman



Some comments by Ivo at Tue, 08/16/2011 - 13:15
Ivo's picture

Chrome mox can not be played with the cascade-suspend combos! I don't think Mox actually needs to be banned and in Overextended many combo decks did not run it. It is actually fairly balanced due to the loss of 1 card, combo decks just tend to prefer rituals which give a mana boost that is larger even though it does not stick around. Mox was not banned in Overextended and the format was fine.

I think you are overreacting to Restore Balance. I do think it is much stronger than Living End as a "substitute" to Hypergenesis but I'm not sure it is unfair, and I doubt it is that much strong that it will be banned. That said, WotC should certainly NOT ban it before the PT. What they pulled off was already bad enough as a pseudo-emergency banning. I do think WotC missed it though, as it is relatively consistent on turn 3. This is one of the flaws of their rushed ban list, although personally I think Restore Balance can stay. Perhaps the best would be actually banning the instant 3 mana cascade spell, making the combo sorcery speed and unban Hypergenesis (the others are sorcery speed and one of them needs a creature to target as well).

Other than that I think you covered almost every deck possibility - perhaps Dredge could be mentioned in the run down as you are presenting options that may not work well enough as well, but you commented on Bridge not being banned in the other part of the article. And I think you may have wanted to emphasize Empty the Warrens and Grapeshot as real alternatives for storm combo (Grapeshot and Swath make an improvised sort of Tendrils).

I think Gifts Ungiven is going to be an important card for the format.
I disagree with aspects of your proposed ban list but perhaps I'll comment on that later.


A few things by toolazy2stand at Tue, 08/16/2011 - 15:41
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I think what Wizards is trying to do with this banned list is closer to Vintage/Legacy banned lists than to Ext/Std banned lists.

A banned list for Standard/Extended is created in response to problems, a banned list for Vintage/Legacy (eternal formats like Modern) are precautionary, so that's why the list is pretty long (and we could imagine unbannings to happen often, at least, to test the waters).

However, I also think Wizard's wants Modern to have its own identity, part of the problem of the more recent Extended (called Super Standard for a reason) is that they don't want Modern decks to be ported from other formats. That's why Bitterblossom is banned, that's why Valakut is banned.

Cards like Jace and Ancestral Visions, I think, are more to promote deck diversity (all blue decks will probably jam a large number of those cards before starting any decklist in general, I could be wrong but that seemed to be Wizards' reasoning).

What seems to be the priority is that Wizards wants to see decks they haven't seen before. I'm of a similar mindset- what excites me most about your metagame prediction is the Twelvepost deck because I've never heard of that deck before (it's probably too weak for Legacy and impossible to build in Extended) and those kinds of decks are more of what Wizards wants. In general I think people are being too pessimistic about these banned cards- you can't use them, okay. So start thinking, and start brewing.

Doesn't the Restore Balance by inneutral at Tue, 08/16/2011 - 17:28
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Doesn't the Restore Balance deck just lose to an early Ancient Grudge or Hurkyl's Recall? Seems like artifact hate is so powerful that CIPT artifact "lands" are just asking for a beating.

Reading your thoughts on the by LastSasquatch at Tue, 08/16/2011 - 18:06
LastSasquatch's picture

Reading your thoughts on the ban list makes me think you didn't read Lapille's article on the bannings for the Pro Tour. First of all, in addition to the community cup ban list, they banned any consistent turn 3 kills, which were the ones that you said made perfect sense. Then they banned mystic, which also makes sense, because it's broken.

He said that scapeshift was dominant, and you said it wasn't, so I've got nothing to go on there, just a differing of opinion.

Those were all the cards that were banned for being too powerful (note that doesn't include Jace). Then the reason they banned bitterblossom wasn't because of power, but because of public opinion. Modern, for this PT atleast, is supposed to be a fresh, fun, likable format, and too many people disliked playing against faeries in the past to risk having a large amount of the field be fae.

After all these bannings, no blue cards had been banned. If they were going to go through with the rest of the bannings, they had to make sure that blue control decks couldn't just jam the best blue cards and be the best deck in the room, so they banned good blue cards like Jace and visions, and then banned misstep rather than put so much pressure on the aggro decks right out of the gate.

The bannings weren't all due to overwhelming power, just because they wanted all new decks to come out of the pro tour, as what will hopefully be a fun exercise for a lot of people, and very very fun to watch. I for one am on the edge of my seat to see what kinds of decks people end up playing.

lastsasquatch you are right by seydaneen at Tue, 08/16/2011 - 20:19
seydaneen's picture

lastsasquatch you are right and that was one the most stupid arguments i ever heard from a wizards employee. the banning process was just a joke and tom showed many times in his previous articles that he does not know much about the competitive game (seriously)

You can't just make a new by char49d at Tue, 08/16/2011 - 19:03
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You can't just make a new fresh format when a meta already exists, all you do is take some decks out and leave others in. People had played with what is essentially this card pool for a long time, the decks are mostly known, it is only an exciting new experience if you have never played old Extended/Overextended.

I agree with your assessment on the ban list LE, although I would have liked to have seen SFM come out to play in a format with Bob and Goyf. I'm confident Jace, MM, BB and Ancestral will all be off the banned list eventually. Jitte will probably come off too, it is barely good enough for legacy these days.

Cards like BB are really not a problem, since not only is Fae not the best deck in the room, but extremely strong hate exists (Mirran Crusader, GSS, Volcanic Fallout).

This format is also sure to have some Ad-Nauseum combo deck with Angels Grace and whatever kill condition it feels like. Ditto there will be a Teachings port, although I don't know what the modern targets will be as I haven't played the card in quite some time.

i was hoping you'd elaborate by seydaneen at Tue, 08/16/2011 - 20:08
seydaneen's picture

i was hoping you'd elaborate more on 12 posts. After your article i started playing with the deck and i loved it. Great fun. However i think sideboard needs to be revised and i need some suggestions on how to play mirror games.

More on 12 Posts will come by Lord Erman at Wed, 08/17/2011 - 01:31
Lord Erman's picture

More on 12 Posts will come next week. But this time the mono Blue version.

And thanks for the comments everyone.


The mirror is extremely draw dependent by Ivo at Wed, 08/17/2011 - 06:05
Ivo's picture

That is sort of unavoidable but you can "tech out a bit" the maindeck and sideboard for it. But some games you just won't have a chance, and in others you auto-win. The Cloudpost really become insane. Green has huge bombs for the mirror in Primeval Titan (maindeckable) and Tooth becomes quite easy to cast, whereas blue has permission and can sideboard into Bribery or other options like Annex or Vedalken Plotter. Tectonic Edge or Ghost Quarter maindeck are probably a good idea.

12-post is extremely popular online so expect also to see more and more hate. I don't think it will be as popular in the PT but on the other hand I also don't think it will get totally hated out.

You say banning Mental by CottonRhetoric at Wed, 08/17/2011 - 07:37
CottonRhetoric's picture

You say banning Mental Misstep will kill control...
But wasn't control a viable archtype before Mental Misstep was printed? Couldn't it theoretically still be?

As I also said in the by Lord Erman at Wed, 08/17/2011 - 08:25
Lord Erman's picture

As I also said in the article, the meta in the TP Room currently is:

12 Posts
Restore Balance

Then I'm also seeing a lot of Hive Mind, RDW (very dangerous), Pyromancer Ascension, Jund and Dragonstrorm decks. There are also some Reanimator decks and Elves decks around. Oh and I should also mention Bant and Boros as well.

So as you see, no one is playing Control. No one! People do play counterspells in their decks of course, but that doesn't mean that they are playing Control decks (Blightning doesn't make Jund a discard deck).

Control may come back in time, especially in the form of some Mystical Teachings decks, but at the moment it is safe to call it a dead archetype.


So I jumped on the Modern by Raddman at Wed, 08/17/2011 - 09:07
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So I jumped on the Modern Bandwagon after a long promise to my Legacy format that I wouldn't become a cheating heart. I decided to buy the Dragonstorm stuff as it was my favorite deck from years back.

After several TP test runs, I gotta agree with you,Restore Balance is annoying and probably deserves the ban hammer. It is unfun to play against and I hardly doubt Wizards wants that kind of deck dominated a new format. I guess I could run Trickbind maindeck to counter the cascade effect or do as you suggested as well.

Either way, not sure Dragonstorm was the best purchase as so far it appears weak overall. Ignite Memories against an opponent holding Emrakul is pretty funny though.

Control decks always work by StealthBadger at Wed, 08/17/2011 - 09:15
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Control decks always work better in an established and relatively stable metagame. Before you know what other decks are about, you simply don't know what your control deck needs to pack answers to.

I'm sure control of some form will appear by the pro-tour (if wafo-tapa wasn't banned, i'd stake my kingdom on mystical teachings!).

If zoo and 12-post are the by StealthBadger at Wed, 08/17/2011 - 10:01
StealthBadger's picture

If zoo and 12-post are the two most popular decks, surely it's time to be trying out G/B death cloud?!

Haha, the cascade mechanic is by char49d at Wed, 08/17/2011 - 10:26
char49d's picture

Haha, the cascade mechanic is so hopelessly broken when combined with TSP suspend cards. Why they even thought to print a "fixed" balance is beyond me. At least with Ancestral Visions, you have to choose, counterspells or cascade.

I always wanted a metagame with 4 Nix in the sideboard.

Just run Chalice instead :) by Ivo at Fri, 08/19/2011 - 16:41
Ivo's picture

I doubt that Nix gets played over Chalice! It costs you less to cast than Nix and is proactive. You will often be able to play it for more than zero to good effect against other decks (cast it for one against combo decks and they lose some of their rituals and Ponder / Preordain), whereas Nix is quite narrow. Granted, Nix may sometimes save you against Hive Mind (when they only have one Pact) whereas Chalice will probably only disable their Pact of Negation used in "defense mode".


No love for lark? Or is it by Paul Leicht at Wed, 08/17/2011 - 12:25
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No love for lark? Or is it hidden?