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By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Feb 28 2018 1:00pm
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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!


 Here's the latest Modern events with more than 200 players, ordered chronologically. February has been a hot month! (But we start with an event from the end of January that we didn't cover the last time).

 January 28: StarCityGames Modern Classic: Philadelphia
 Players: 325
 Winner: Ross Merriam with Humans
 Top 8: Humans, Twin Foretold Vengeance, Creatures Toolbox, Storm, Affinity, Mono Red Control, Dredge, EldraTron

 February 3: Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan: Bilbao
 Players: 464
 Winner: Luis Salvatto with Lantern Control
 Top 8: Lantern Control, Mardu Pyromancer, Hollow One, Izzet Pyromancer, Abzan, Humans, Humans, Traverse Shadow

 February 11: Grand Prix Toronto 2018
 Players: 1679
 Winner: Dan Ward with Bogles
 Top 8: Bogle, Burn, Instant Reanimator, UWr Control, Affinity, Burn, Elves, Traverse Shadow

 February 18: StarCityGames Modern Open: Indianapolis
 Players: 1060
 Winner: Brennan DeCandio with Death's Shadow
 Top 8: Death's Shadow, EldraTron, Hatebears, UWr Control, EldraTron, Elves, Death's Shadow, UW Control

 February 18: StarCityGames Modern Classic: Indianapolis
 Players: 211
 Winner: Greg Williams with Nahiri Control
 Top 8: Nahiri Control, Temur Aggro, Death's Shadow, UW Control, Ad Nauseam, Affinity, Dredge, Elves

 February 18: Grand Prix Lyon 2018
 Players: 2058
 Winner: Grzegorz Kowalski with Eldrazi Aggro
 Top 8: Eldrazi Aggro, Abzan, UrzaTron, UrzaTron, Abzan, UWr Control, UrzaTron, UrzaTron


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

 Update: Of course the insanely huge news of the month (and that's still an understatement!) is the unbanning of Jace, the Mind Sculptor and, to a lesser extent, Bloodbraid Elf.


 The Coming of Big Jace has been controversial to say the least; "the sky is falling" has been uttered, and we had all the typical doomsday reactions. It's certainly a cumbersome presence. But one thing must be said: it was never part of Modern (the format started with Big Jace already in the ban list), so we don't have data about the performance there. We'll have to wait and see, but of course every deck running even a tiny amount of blue is probably going to play it. For UW(r) Control, which is already one of the most consistent decks in the meta, won't even be a question. Big Jace might even define new archetypes, but I think it's going to be a fixed feature of every control deck. It's easily the most powerful midrange card in the format, and one of the most powerful blue cards.

 As for the fierce Elf lady, she had a home five years ago (she was banned in February 2013, when Modern had existed for only a year and a half); and now she's going to coming back to that very home: Jund. Since its 2012 dominance, Jund has lost two key pieces in Bloodbraid Elf and Deathrite Shaman, but it survived in mid- to low tiers of the meta. Now it's getting back the Elf. We'll see what happens. Of course it's too early to really tell, since the unbans only became effective on February 19 (February 14 on MTGO), and, by design, there haven't been major events yet. We can see some early experiments in MTGO leagues where the cascading Elf showed up in a variety of lists, even where she doesn't seem to fit particularly well, like Eldrazi Aggro (where she's incompatible with Ancient Stirrings) or Creatures Toolbox (where she's a nonbo with Collected Company). Ponza, aka Gruul Landloss, might be a better home, but I bet we'll mostly see her in Jund, quite naturally reclaiming the slots that her replacement Goblin Rabblemaster had taken.

 While we wait for the big impact of the unbans to shake things up, elsewhere in the meta this past month things have looked good for Tron decks, which were able to score seven Top 8 placements in major events, of which four at once in the same one, Grand Prix Lyon. As mentioned, UW Control keeps placing consistently across the tournaments, with or without a red splash, while Death's Shadow is still king of the meta, winning SCG Indianapolis, and basking in the success of its late variant, which adds green for Tarmogoyf, Abrupt Decay and Traverse the Ulvenwald, since delirium is very easy to attain in a Shadow build (by the way, I wish the "Suicide Zoo" moniker stuck, it's such a better name for the archetype).

 Humans, Elves and Robots didn't lose steam, while a few of February's large events saw surprise wins of decks that didn't otherwise place elsewhere, like Lantern Control, Nahiri Control, and Bogle.

 Let's feature some of these unsung heroes (I realize I never featured Abzan, but honestly, it's mostly Jund with some white cards in place of the red cards; it does play a bit differently, though. If Jund Reborn didn't push it out of the meta, maybe I'll talk about it next month).

 Price (online): $313.56 

 Colors: Selesnya (GW)

 How does it work: Bogle, also known as Bogles or (more matter-of-factly) Aura Hexproof, is an old customer in Modern, always lurking on the outskirts of the meta, ready to strike some major blow when you least expect it, and as suddenly as it wins games. Mechanically, it's similar to Infect, in that it's about powering up one little creature, turning it into a gargantuan attacker. Infect's advantage is that it only needs to deal 10 damage to take the game home; Bogle's advantage comes from its creatures, either the namesake Slippery Bogle or the more seductive Gladecover Scout, benefiting from hexproof. Which means Path to Exile is never an answer to them (of course Blessed Alliance is). Also, Bogle deals in auras, not pump spells, so it's less aleatory; and some of the auras, like Daybreak Coronet, are very powerful, while those with totem armor provides a further layer of protection. It's ultimately a one-trick pony, but it might prove hard to face, while Kor Spiritdancer and Horizon Canopy ensures a solid degree of card selection. The list has been stable in a long while, the latest addition being Shadows over Innistrad's Gryff's Boon.

 Results: It just won a 1,600-player Grand Prix. Always be wary of Bogle.

 Price (online): $430.46 

 Colors: Rakdos (BR), a few green cards aren't actually cast

 How does it work: Just like in any reanimator deck, you dump big guys into the graveyard (in this case using red looters like Faithless Looting and Cathartic Reunion, or black multipurpose spell Collective Brutality), then you bring them back onto the battlefield, if only for one turn. The titular instant reanimator are both from Kamigawa block, and pretty obscure at first; each of them has a specific reanimation target, with Goryo's Vengeance asking for legendary creatures, therefore having Griselbrand as the most natural fit (by the time the big Demon's gone, you'll have a ton of fresh cards in hand, to try and do it all over again); and Through the Breach is just perfect with Worldspine Wurm, because it doesn't exile its target, so your giant Wurm is going to leave three medium Wurms behind. Nourishing Shoal is a secondary combo with the Wurm, to buy the deck enough time against aggro. And Borborygmos is a backup target for pretty much every other combo card.

 Results: It doesn't own a big share of the meta right now, but it's a solid combo deck capable of the occasional exploit. I particularly like a version named Twin Foretold Vengeance (recently runner-up at SCG Philadelphia) that combines the Goryo's Vengeance/Griselbrand combo with both Kiki-Jiki/Deceiver Exarch and As Foretold/Living End. Sort of a Combo Fair!

 Price (online): $471.81 

 Colors: Boros (WR)

 How does it work: As the name suggests, Nahiri Control is a control deck with Nahiri, the Harbinger's ultimate as main wincon, paired with Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. The deck packs a wide number of white and red control elements, and especially Blood Moon and Chalice of the Void to try and stop the opponent, while fellow Planeswalkers Chandra, Torch of Defiance and Gideon of the Trials provide assistance and alternate means to win the game, along with Batterskull.

 Results: It's simple, but can be effective. It requires some skills to make the right decisions at the right time.


 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!