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By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Nov 01 2017 12:00pm
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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.

 October 15: StarCityGames Modern Open: Charlotte
 Players: 538
 Winner: Paul Muller with Storm
 Top 8: Storm, Affinity, Death's Shadow (UBR), Storm, Affinity, Ponza, Company Land, Merfolk

 October 22: StarCityGames Modern Classic: Cincinnati
 Players: 206
 Winner: Pieter Tubergen with Affinity
 Top 8: Affinity, Affinity, Nahiri Control, Burn, Garruk Ramp, EldraTron, EldraTron, Infect

 October 22: StarCityGames Modern Open: Cincinnati
 Players: 773
 Winner: Collins Mullen with Humans
 Top 8: Humans, Storm, Collected Chord, Merfolk, Affinity, Eldrazi Taxes, Hatebears, Infect


 Already covered: Affinity, Blue MoonBloomless TitanBurnCollected Chord (aka Creatures Toolbox), Death's Shadow, DredgeEldrazi Aggro, EldraTron, Hatebears, Junk, Lantern ControlStormUW ControlValakut (aka TitanShift).

 Update: This month Affinity and Storm got stronger, while Death's Shadow's big moment on the spotlight seems to have faded a little. Smart aggro decks thrive, including the already mentioned mashup of Eldrazi Aggro and Hatebears/Death & Taxes, plus several flavors of linear tribal builds like Humans, Merfolk, and Elves.

 Infect is making a minor comeback, while Collected Company appears to be a mainstay of the format, an engine capable of generating always new builds, like the land-based version where Ghost Quarter and Horizon Canopy get re-played again and again by Ramunap Excavator, and capitalized by all kinds of "lands matter" creatures in Company range: Courser of Kruphix, Knight of the Reliquary, and Tireless Tracker.

 Ponza, which is a 20-year-old deck that never entirely went away, made its occasional presence felt in a major event this month. It's sort of a predator deck, always lurking in the dark, ready to strike. We'll talk about it in more detail if it shows up again; in the meantime, a thoroughly assembled primer is available here.

 Here's some more top decks in the current meta.

 Price (online): $323.13 

 Colors: White base with splashes of every other color

 How does it work: Human is the tribe that ends all tribes. With more than two thousand individual cards, Human is the most frequent type in the game after creature and instant (yes, there are more Humans than sorceries and artifacts). And they enjoy both major interactions with each other and an unparalleled range of available effects. White weenie has historically been the way to go with Human decks, but after the release of Unclaimed Territory, the multicolor tribal lands have reached critical mass, with Ancient Ziggurat finally finding a competitive home and Cavern of Souls getting one reason more to shine. This means Modern Humans is able to ignore the color of the tribal members, running the full gamut without a worry. White is still at the core of the build, with the two Thalia iterations providing disruption to both creature- and noncreature-based opponents, while her Lieutenant makes for a scary aggro spearhead, along with his pal Champion of the Parish. The rest is all-star Humans across the mana wheel: more tribal and nontribal pumping with Mayor of Avabruck and Noble Hierarch, powerful disruption with Meddling Mage, Reflector Mage and Kitesail Freebooter, and just sheer aggro efficiency with the 3-colored Mantis Rider. Just add Aether Vial and swing responsibly.

 Results: Less explosive than Merfolk, but always a serious presence in the meta, the most recent major 1st place now firmly under its belt, a possible signal that Ixalan might have just taken the build to the next level.

 Price (online): $310.74 

 Colors: Simic (UG)

 How does it work: Merfolk, aka Fish, is the noblest, most impactful tribal deck across all formats, dating back since the sheer number of lords was enough to coalesce into a strong linear build. As a inherently blue archetype, it occasionally saw splashes of other colors, mostly for sideboard or consistency purposes. But with Ixalan, the sea is not just blue anymore: I wasn't sure of that myself, but it looks like those odd green Merfolks have gained a place in the main team, at least where Modern is concerned, thanks to the aggressive value of adding a 2-powered one-drop in the form of Kumena's Speaker, and potentially a 3-powered two-drop in the form of Merfolk Branchwalker (something that's bound to happen more often than not in a deck with 19 lands). A singleton Kopala, Warden of Waves is also there, not as a proper lord, due to its lacking of pumping capabilities, but as a tribal addition to Kira, Great Glass-Spinner's protective shield. The deck remains a triumph of board state boiling up to inevitability through tribal interactions, with Spreading Seas as tech to both thin your deck and exploit Lord of Atlantis and Master of the Pearl Trident's bonus evasion.

 Results: As long as they'll keep printing fast, deadly Merfolks, the deck will never cease to collect its fair share of top placements. And probably even if they won't print any more of those.

 Price (online): $176.00 

 Colors: Esper (WUB) with a red splash

 How does it work: A hard combo deck, it entirely revolves around finding and casting the titular spell, thus drawing the entire deck, while surviving thanks to Phyrexian Unlife and/or Angel's Grace; at that point, you can exile your Simian Spirit Guides, cast Lightning Storm and discard enough land to have the damage be lethal. Alternatively, you can win by casting Laboratory Maniac with an empty library. It's a slow yet surprisingly consistent plan, able to repel the opponent's assaults with the very tools it uses to win, like Angel's Grace turning an early Pact of Negation into Force of Will, making this the only archetype in Modern that's able to counter spells while tapped out.

 Results: It's not tier-1, but it's a popular combo build, with a steady streak of impressive accomplishments to its name.


 Last revised: January 9, 2017 (out: Gitaxian Probe, Golgari Grave-Troll)

 Total banned cards: 35

 By Color: 

  • White: 2
  • Blue: 7
  • Black: 2 (of which 1 Golgari)
  • Red: 6 (of which 1 Gruul)
  • Green: 8 (of which 1 Golgari, 1 Gruul)
  • Colorless: 12
  • Multicolored: 2 (of which 1 Golgari, 1 Gruul)

 By Type: 

  • Creature: 4
  • Land: 8
  • Artifact: 5
  • Enchantment: 1
  • Planeswalker: 1
  • 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: 1 (from Alara Reborn)
  • Zendikar block: 5 (of which 1 from Zendikar, 3 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!