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By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Oct 03 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. September has been a slower month for Modern compared to July and August, as only three major events took place.

 September 4: MTGO Modern PTQ
 Players: 291
 Winner: wordy333 with Dredge
 Top 8: Dredge, EldraTron, Blue Moon, RDW, Bloomless Titan, Death's Shadow Grixis, EldraTron, Junk

 September 16: MKM Series Modern: Hamburg
 Players: 386
 Winner: Jonas Nieke with Affinity
 Top 8: Affinity, Death's Shadow (Esper), Valakut, Death's Shadow (Esper), Naya Toolbox, Merfolk, EldraTron, Death's Shadow Jund

 September 16: StarCityGames Modern Open: Louisville
 Players: 636
 Winner: Harlan Firer with UWr Midrange
 Top 8: UWr Midrange, UWr Midrange, 8-Rack, Jund, Death's Shadow Grixis, Death's Shadow (4 colors), Eldrazi Hatebears, Storm


 Already covered: Affinity, BurnCollected Chord (aka Creatures Toolbox), Death's ShadowEldrazi Aggro, EldraTron, Hatebears, StormUW ControlValakut (aka TitanShift).

 Update: Death's Shadow is still going strong, marking the territory at every major event and even generating a few variants: next to the established Grixis version, which essentially splashed red for maindeck Terminate and Kolaghan's Command (sometimes Temur Battle Rage, to seal the deal in a single Shadow's attack), we're now seeing the emergence of both an Esper flavor, using white for Path to Exile and Lingering Souls, and a Jund permutation, where the aggressiveness of the blue-black core is enhanced via Tarmogoyf, while Traverse the Ulvenwald speeds up the proceedings.

 Meanwhile, Hatebears joined forces with Eldrazi Aggro, creating a mashup where the Hatebears shell (Aether Vial + Path to Exile + creatures that disrupt the opponent's gameplan) is populated by a selection of the best Eldrazi from BFZ block, in collaboration with mainstay classics like Leonin Arbiter, Flickerwisp and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, with a black splash added for Dark Confidant and Tidehollow Sculler.

 UW/UWr Control also reworked itself into a more aggressive variant with a reduced presence of control elements to make room for Geist of Saint Traft, Spell Queller (which still has a control function) and good old Lightning Bolt.

 Finally, the Creatures Toolbox family of decks is trying things both old and new, bringing back the Kiki-Jiki/Restoration Angel endgame, but also experimenting with Eldritch Evolution in lieu of Collected Company, which makes me especially happy because Eldritch Evolution is nothing less than a single Birthing Pod activation (except it goes up two stations on the curve, so you have to make different calculations). The Pod is back in business!

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

 Price (online): $769.64

 Colors: Abzan (WBG)

 How does it work: Junk, also known as The Rock, is the generic name of an old BG midrange super-archetype that keeps showing up across the formats. It's about using black's disruption and fast removal to survive long enough to storm the board with some big finisher. Over time, green became black's best friend in the execution of this plan due to Golgari giving birth to superior removal spells like Maelstrom Pulse and Abrupt Decay, and green creatures becoming extremely efficient like Tarmogoyf or multi-purpose like Scavenging Ooze, both of which are signature elements of the archetype. Of course the deck is a perfect home for Liliana of the Veil (one of several, of course), and a white splash was eventually added in order to upgrade Obstinate Baloth and Thragtusk to Siege Rhino and get access to Modern staples Path to Exile and Lingering Souls. The overall strategy is very simple: you just target permanents with your spot removals, or prevent them from happening via your discard suite, Liliana works towards both of those goals, and in the end your Goyfs and Rhinos will hopefully swing for lethal. It's a very interactive deck with built-in answers to almost everything. Among the latest additions, Grim Flayer was a natural candidate because he sets up Tarmogoyf (other than himself), combos with Lingering Souls, and generally cleans up your draw.

 Results: It's not overwhelming or anything, but it's there. Despite the sheer quantity of high-profile cards, making for some of the more expensive in the format (which is ironic, given the archetype's name), Junk might not be swift and reactive enough to keep pace with some of the more explosive lists.

 Price (online): $638.14 

 Colors: Golgari (BG)

 How does it work: Modern's own prison deck! Lantern Control was first devised in 2012 and managed to create a niche for itself that's been growing ever since. It's possibly the most skill-intensive deck in the meta and plays like a sort of puzzle: the key is the namesake Lantern of Insight, a previously obscure card from the original Mirrodin block that allows you to have the information necessary about the opponent's next draw in order to use your mill rocks (Codex Shredder, Ghoulcaller's Bell, Pyxis of Pandemonium) to essentially fateseal the opponent, locking them out of the game by negating access to any relevant components of their deck. It's clearly a tricky proposition, but it can be as rewarding for the Lantern player as it is frustrating for the opponent when it works out. MTGSalvation has a very exhaustive primer for the deck, and Piotr Głogowski himself (kanister on MTGO) has written an article on Reddit about his experiences as one of the most successful Lantern players.

 Results: Głogowski's Top 8 placement at Grand Prix Birmingham has just renewed the interest for Lantern Control, an established tier-2 deck that could aspire to do great in the meta, albeit it might be hindered by its own complexity.

 Price (online): $209.92 

 Colors: Everything but white

 How does it work: The crown prince of all the decks that use the graveyard as a resource, Dredge has been constantly around in all existing formats since the moment the mechanic was introduced in the original Ravnica block. Its Modern iteration has been deemed too dangerous therefore nerfed since the format's inception, losing Dread Return and Golgari Grave-Troll (the latter enjoyed a 2-year probation period between January 2015 and January 2017, when was sent to confinement again). The Troll's absence is not as problematic for the archetype, given the many good dredge cards that remain available, like Stinkweed Imp and Life from the Loam; but the lack of Dread Return means the deck isn't able to set up any splashy endgame, let alone go manaless. This results in a battleplan where Narcomoeba actually has to swing for damage, along with fellow revenants like Bloodghast and Prized Amalgam, with Scourge Devil boosting an alpha strike. And red is the color of self-discard these days, in the form of Faithless Looting, Cathartic Reunion, and even Insolent Neonate.

 Results: It's not the major force that it would be if given free rein, but it keeps being trusted by its devoted aficionados, and is still able to achieve the occasional 1st place.

 Price (online): $429.35 

 Colors: Izzet (UR)

 How does it work: Blue Moon is the name of a wide family of blue-based control decks that use Blood Moon to disrupt the opponent's mana base. Their endgame is variable, and originally Vedalken Shackles was a fixed feature. This version borrows the Through the Breach into Emrakul, the Aeons Torn package from decks that are more dedicated to make that happen (probably involving Goryo's Vengeance and some fetcher), and it doesn't even run a full playset of Blood Moon.

 Results: The entire archetype is a meta-call against greedy mana bases. As such, it's bound to occasionally shine, although it doesn't rank among the most popular or successful control builds.

 Price (online): $273.86 

 Colors: Simic (UG), with a red splash for activations and sideboard only

 How does it work: As the name implies, Bloomless Titan is what's left of the dreaded Bloom Titan (aka Amulet Bloom, aka Amulet Titan) after Summer Bloom was banned in January 2016. It's a ramp deck that exploits the interaction between Amulet of Vigor and the bounce lands to generate large amount of mana. With Summer Bloom as an enabler, the deck was able to cast Primeval Titan on turn 2; all the second-tier replacements for Bloom (Azusa, Lost But Seeking, Explore, Sakura-Tribe Scout) are not as fast, although still capable to drop a Titan soon enough, then have it immediately fetch both Slayers' Stronghold and Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion, which the Amulet will then untap, thus allowing the Titan to swing right away for 16 trampling damage. Another popular version uses Hive Mind and either Summoner's Pact or Pact of Negation as a finishing move. The deck also features an elaborate fetching network, with Ancient Stirrings searching for the Amulet, the Pact summoning the Titan, and Tolaria West transmuting into the Pact.

 Results: It's been nerfed, but it's still scary, even if it's not played as much as it was during its heyday.


 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!