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By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Sep 05 2018 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. Find the archetypes below.

 August 19: Eternal Weekend Asia 2018
 Players: 434
 Winner: Takaya Shōichi with Selesnya Value
 Top 8: Selesnya Value, Humans, Humans, Jund, Burn, Dredge, Selesnya Value, UrzaTron

 August 25: StarCityGames Modern Open: Baltimore
 Players: 563
 Winner: Steven Borakove with Spirit Aggro
 Top 8: Spirit Aggro, UrzaTron, Burn, UWr Control, Dredge, UW Control, Humans, Hollow One

 August 26: Grand Prix Prague 2018
 Players: 2015
 Winner: Lauri Pispa with Hardened Modular
 Top 8: Hardened Modular, Humans, Spirit Aggro, KCI, Humans, UWr Control, Spirit Aggro, Infect


 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, Saheeli EvolutionSelesnya Value, Skred RedStorm, Tezzerator, Twinless ExarchUrzaTronUW ControlValakut (aka TitanShift), Valakut Control, Walks.

 Update: In the heart of summer, Humans remained the best aggro deck in the meta, Death's Shadow fell out of fashion some more, and Jund didn't build up the steam people were expecting back when Bloodbraid Elf was unbanned. On the control front, UW Control is still the deck to beat, while KCI has risen to the top of the combo contingent. And of course the August 20 announcement saw no changes to the Modern format (or any other, for that matter).

 But the bigger news are: the tribal Spirit Aggro build being suddenly a thing, almost out of the blue (no pun intended), to the point of already amounting to 3% of the meta, with major placements through the month; and the very large Grand Prix Prague being conquered by a deck using Hardened Scales with counter-friendly artifact creatures (so tentatively dubbed Hardened Modular), a build that was discussed plenty as of late, but still had to put itself under the spotlight in such a big manner.


 We still had left to feature Puresteel Paladin combo and Wizards tribal from last month, but they were both nowhere to be found in August, so let's wait for those to at least score another good result, and in the meantime let's focus on the new winning kids on the block.


 Price (online): $727.53

 Colors: Mostly colorless, some green for key elements

 How does it work: By generating a lot of +1/+1 counters for Walking Ballista and Hangarback Walker. The curve is extremely short, nominally topping at two mana, and Mox Opal ensures a lightning fast start. The signatures XX artifacts are cast for cheap, then made bigger by Hardened Scales, Steel Overseer, Animation Module and the semi-forgotten Throne of Geth (remember proliferate?), then saved by Welding Jar or eaten by Arcbound Ravager, as a different way to avoid losing those precious, precious counters. The deck is actually filled with tricks like that, with Phyrexia's Core and Evolutionary Leap as other ways to kill a modular creature or a Walker to put your hands on those migrating counters or evasive Thopters, in turn eager to be boosted (in a classic affinity move, the same goes for the Nexus lands, of course). Arcbound Worker provides another cheap target for the +1/+1 shenanigans, good food for the Ravager, and perfect material for the Leap (you'll easily reveal something better). Ancient Stirrings keeps the whole thing together by finding pretty much anything you want, even more than in Tron builds.

 Results: Well, it just won a 2000-player big tournament. Beginning of an era?


 Price (online): $451.60

 Colors: Azorius (UW) or Bant (UGW)

 How does it work: It's simply a linear build, of the kind that must include Mutavault and invites Aether Vial to speed up the tribal development, because you want a lot of Spirits on the board at the same time. It's all been triggered with the printing of Supreme Phantom in M19, a new tribal lord to doubled down on Drogskol Captain, while being even quicker and more resilient than its Dark Ascension counterpart. Around these two coalesced a group of defensive and control-ish ghosts, mostly from Shadows over Innistrad block: Mausoleum Wanderer, Rattlechains, Selfless Spirit and Spell Queller, all making hard to stop the spectral parade, which of course has Geist of Saint Traft as a not-so-secret weapon, not to mention curve-topper. The extreme velocity with which this deck builds up its inevitability is enhanced by Phantasmal Image duplicating the lords and, in the popular version that splashes green for further speed, by Noble Hierarch and Collected Company.

 Results: It's starting to build a consistent presence in the meta. August alone saw it achieve one first place and two other Top 8 placements in major events.


 Last revised: February 12, 2018 (unbanned: Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Bloodbraid Elf)
 Next announcement: October 1, 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!