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By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Aug 02 2018 11:00am
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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. It's been a year since the series began. Happy birthday, State of Modern!
 Let's start a new ride!


 Here's the latest Modern events with more than 200 players, ordered chronologically. Find the archetypes below. July has been a very busy month.

 July 1: Face to Face Modern Open+: Toronto
 Players: 226
 Winner: Adrian Malushaj with Ad Nauseam
 Top 8: Ad Nauseam, Hollow One, Mardu Pyromancer, UB Control, Affinity, Burn, Saheeli Evolution, Skred Red

 July 1: StarCityGames Modern Open: Atlanta
 Players: 712
 Winner: Zan Syed with Infect
 Top 8: Infect, Valakut, Hollow One, UrzaTron, KCI, UW Control, Burn, UrzaTron

 July 1: Grand Prix Barcelona 2018
 Players: 1547
 Winner: Matti Kuisma with Dredge
 Top 8: Dredge, KCI, Jeskai Control, Death's Shadow, Burn, UW Control, UW Control, UW Control

 July 8: Grand Prix São Paulo 2018
 Players: 1429
 Winner: José Echeverría with Mardu Pyromancer
 Top 8: Mardu Pyromancer, Jund, KCI, UrzaTron, Affinity, Bloomless Titan, Eldrazi Aggro, Mardu Pyromancer

 July 14: StarCityGames Team Constructed Open: Worcester (Team of three playing each a different format)
 Players: 270
 Winner: Jacob Saracino with Jeskai Control (teammates: Matthew Cotrupe playing Standard, Bryant Cook playing Legacy)
 Top 8: Jeskai Control, Storm, Hollow One, Bant, Burn, Jeskai Control, Jeskai Control, Affinity

Pictured: Cotrupe on the left, Saracino at the center, Cook on the right.

 July 15: StarCityGames Modern Classic: Worcester
 Players: 224
 Winner: Bryan Haak with Bogle
 Top 8: Bogle, Death's Shadow, EldraTron, Puresteel Combo, Affinity, Dredge, KCI, UW Control

 July 21: StarCityGames Team Constructed Open: Philadelphia (Team of three playing each a different format)
 Players: 247
 Winner: Kellen Pastore with UrzaTron (teammates: Steve Noga playing Standard, Daniel Barkon playing Legacy)
 Top 8: UrzaTron, UrzaTron, Jeskai Control, Storm, Bloomless Titan, Death's Shadow, Grixis Control, UW Control

Pictured: Barkon on the left, Pastore at the center, Noga on the right.

 July 21: MKM Series: Prague
 Players: 290
 Winner: Sebastian Larsson with Jund
 Top 8: Jund, Jund, Jund, Selesnya Value, Humans, Valakut, UrzaTron, UW Control

 July 28: StarCityGames Modern Open: Indianapolis
 Players: 948
 Winner: Michael Olson with Jund
 Top 8: Jund, Burn, Humans, UrzaTron, Affinity, Humans, Storm, Wizards

 July 29: StarCityGames Modern Classic: Indianapolis
 Players: 231
 Winner: John Tatian with Infect
 Top 8: Infect, Burn, Infect, KCI, Saheeli Evolution, Dredge, Ponza, Humans


 Already covered: Ad NauseamAffinity, BogleBlue MoonBloomless TitanBurnCollected Chord (aka Creatures Toolbox), Death's Shadow, DredgeEldrazi Aggro, EldraTron, Elves, Gifts ControlGrixis ControlHatebears, Hollow OneHumans, Infect, Instant Reanimator, JundJunk (aka The Rock), KCILantern Control, Living EndMadcap Gruul, Mardu Pyromancer, Martyr LifeMerfolk, Nahiri Control, PonzaRDW, Selesnya ValueStorm, Tezzerator, Twinless ExarchUrzaTronUW ControlValakut (aka TitanShift), Valakut Control, Walks.

 Update: Control is everywhere lately, almost feeling like the new bogeyman with a 12% share on the meta from the UW version alone, thanks in no small measure to that powerhouse that is Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, leaking directly from Standard into Modern.

 On the aggro side, Humans is in slight decline, while Hollow One is on the rise, and Jund is always ready to catch people by surprise, like that Top 3 triplet in Prague. Elsewhere, Infect and Dredge are still able to come on top of major events. But we're also seeing some new faces joining the fold of the archetypes worth of major event top placements: Saheeli Evolution, Skred Red, Puresteel Combo, and even a Wizard tribal. Some of these are influenced by Standard as well. Let's have a closer look at the first couple of these decks, next time we'll focus on the others.


 Price (online): $246.16

 Colors: Four-color Selesnya base (GW) with blue and red presence

 How does it work: Essentially a variant of the Creatures Toolbox family of deck, it centers around the Saheeli Rai/Felidar Guardian infinite combo that got itself banned in Standard last year. Rather than the random Collected Company or the slower Chord of Calling, the engine is here Eldritch Evolution, which is a good old Birthing Pod activation, except jumping ahead two curve spots rather than one. The deck uses it to leap from a CMC-2 creature, most likely Voice of Resurgence, to the Guardian or a silver bullet. Renegade Rallier and Reflector Mage are value creatures that double as evolution platforms for CMC 5 bullets like Acidic Slime and Glorybringer. Thalia's Lancers is an interesting tech to search for Saheeli (thanks to the new legendary rule affecting planeswalkers), while Oath of Nissa searches for both pieces of the combo, and also alleviates the strain on the mana base, considering both colors of the signature planeswalker are basically splashed. It's indeed a more creative (it involves a master inventor, after all!), faster yet riskier alternative to other toolbox combos like Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker/Restoration Angel, which sometimes is included as a backup plan. Coiling Oracle is also a solid alternative to Lotus Cobra, as it's a better candidate to being "evolved". As it happens with most toolbox decks, the customization factor is near endless, and the sideboards in particular take the form of deep-bench singleton beauties like the one above. A thorough primer of the archetype, complete with evaluation of its benefits, can be found here.

 Results: The deck has lurked on the outskirts of the meta since more than one year. Now it got two top-8 placements at major events in the same month. Up-and-coming?


 Price (online): $175.14

 Colors: Red

 How does it work: Who plays Standard these days knows all too well the sheer power of Chandra, Torch of Defiance (hi, Chandra!), Hazoret the Fervent and Glorybringer. This Modern version pairs those big red cannons with midrange monored staples like Koth of the Hammer and Stormbreath Dragon, and of course Blood Moon is a no-brainer in such a build. The namesake, though, is Skred, the cheapest, widest red removal ever printed if you're playing with a snow-covered mana base, which you are. There are some other cute techs in there, like (Squee, the Immortal) surviving the Anger of the Gods. Peculiar choices in the sideboard, too: Guttural Response against control, the unassuming Dragon's Claw against burn.

 Results: It made Top 8 in Toronto. It could be a fleeting Canadian anomaly, or it could be here to stay, at least at a lower tier.


 Last revised: February 12, 2018 (unbanned: Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Bloodbraid Elf)
 Next announcement: August 20, 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
  • Three-and-One Sets: 0

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


Great article, thanks. It by MichelleWong at Mon, 08/06/2018 - 08:17
MichelleWong's picture

Great article, thanks. It was interesting to read through all those Top 8s.

It's difficult to see how Ancient Stirrings is going to get banned in the near future given the current diversity of competitive decks. Wizards has all the data points though, so only they know if Tron and KCI are over-performing overall (% wins wise).

Well, I can tell you that out by Kumagoro42 at Mon, 08/06/2018 - 16:36
Kumagoro42's picture

Well, I can tell you that out of 893 decks that made Top 8 in competitive tournaments over the past two months, 39 were KCI (4% of the meta) and 65 were UrzaTron (7%, and some of these are even monoblue, so no Ancient Stirrings).
They're both on the rise (as silly as it is to say such a thing about Tron, which has been around and successful since the beginning of Modern history), but far from the most prominent presences in the meta. Teferi Control is more than the two of them combined.

Besides, I doubt they will touch Tron without a very good reason, as it's the one archetype that only exists in Modern, so sort of a protected species.

Wow, those figures are very by MichelleWong at Tue, 08/07/2018 - 06:01
MichelleWong's picture

Wow, those figures are very interesting. Ancient Stirrings is safer than I thought.

Shaheen Soorani said this week that "KCI is by leaps and bounds the best deck in Modern". That statement seems false if the figures you quoted are representative.

Decks that win often not by Kumagoro42 at Wed, 08/08/2018 - 06:59
Kumagoro42's picture

Decks that win often not necessarily are the "best" decks. It depends on what we mean by that adjective. Sometimes decks win a lot because they're played a lot, and they're played a lot because they're simpler to pilot. Complicate decks that require a lot of decisions and take a long time to win are stressful to play with, and this is a factor for pros in long tournaments. It's quite possible you lose one of your last rounds of the day simply because you're mentally exhausted by all the math and strategy and decision-making your deck requires.

Another factor is what players like better, which of course doesn't mean the same for everyone, and it might average based on different considerations than just the absolute strength of the deck. Those figures include semi-pro players ending top 8 in competitive MTGO leagues and who maybe chose simpler, familiar decks because they don't trust their chances with the newer, more complicated ones. Also, let's keep in mind MTGO punishes decks that eat a lot of clock time.

All this to say, maybe KCI *is* the best deck in the meta, when you take in considerations all the possible matchups and its overall odds at winning, and yet it's not the most played one, therefore it's not statistically the most winning one.

Noted by MichelleWong at Wed, 08/08/2018 - 05:57
MichelleWong's picture

Kindly noted, makes a lot of sense.

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