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By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Jan 08 2019 5:14pm
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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.

 The series archive is here.
 Let's start a new ride!


 THE BIG EVENTS

 Here's the latest Modern events with at least 200 players, ordered chronologically. Find the archetypes below.

 December 1: StarCityGames Modern Open: Baltimore
 Players: 580
 Winner: Ross Merriam with Izzet Phoenix
 Top 8: Izzet Phoenix, Phoenix Deck Wins, UW Control, Death's Shadow, Jund, Jeskai Control, Jeskai Control, KCI

 December 8: Grand Prix Portland 2018
 Players: 1812
 Winner: Tyler Putnam with Death's Shadow
 Top 8: Death's Shadow, The Rock, Izzet Phoenix, Storm, Creatures Toolbox, Elves, Izzet Phoenix, UB Control

 December 15: Monthly Modern Masters Finals 2018
 Players: 210
 Winner: Shotaro Ibushi with Junk
 Top 8: Junk, Lanternless, Merfolk, The Rock, Spirit Aggro, UB Control, UW Control, Valakut

 December 16: Hareruya Event
 Players: 252
 Winner: Hayashi Masataka with Hardened Modular
 Top 8: Hardened Modular, Hardened Modular, The Rock, Storm, 8 Rack, Bloomless Titan, Dredge, Valakut

 December 16: MTGO Modern Regional PTQ
 Players: 266
 Winner: Txepi with Izzet Phoenix
 Top 8: Izzet Phoenix, Dredge, Dredge, Living End, Burn, Hollow One, Death's Shadow, Humans

 December 31: MTGO Modern Finals
 Players: 344
 Winner: WhiTe TsaR with Izzet Phoenix
 Top 8: Izzet Phoenix, Burn, Death's Shadow, UR Control, UR Aggro, Izzet Phoenix, Hardened Modular, Storm


 THE MODERN META

 Already covered: Ad NauseamAffinity, BogleBlue MoonBloomless Titan, BridgevineBurnCollected Chord (aka Creatures Toolbox), Death's Shadow, DredgeEldrazi Aggro, EldraTron, Elves, Gifts ControlGrixis Control, Hardened ModularHatebears, Hollow OneHumans, Infect, Instant Reanimator, Izzet PyromancerJeskai MiraclesJundJunk, KCILantern Control, Living EndMadcap Gruul, Mardu Pyromancer, Martyr LifeMerfolk, Nahiri Control, PonzaRDW, Saheeli EvolutionSelesnya Value, Skred Red, Spirit AggroStorm, Tezzerator, The RockTwinless ExarchUrzaTronUW ControlValakut (aka TitanShift), Valakut Control, Walks.

 Update: Happy New Year, Modern! December results speak of the latest trend in the meta, with Humans taking a dive in favor of Spirits, but also making room for the new emerging force: Izzet decks. Specifically, decks built around surprise Standard wonder Arclight Phoenix have been colonizing the high rankings of a lot of major events at the end of the year, getting all the way to the top in several occasions.

 Elsewhere, Death's Shadow is having a bit of a resurgence, while good ole The Rock is the most up-and-coming control deck right now. But let's give a closer look to all the shapes Izzet decks are taking at the beginning of the new year, plus something else entirely.

 

 Price (online): $364.24

 So, Arclight Phoenix asks two things of its player: to cast three instants or sorceries in the same turn, and to be in the graveyard when it happens. In order to fulfill the first request, the deck runs only 18 lands (six of which are fetch lands, thinning the deck further) with a ton of one-mana spells, and some of these, like Faithless Looting, work towards dumping as many Phoenices as possible into the graveyard. In fact, only two noncreature spells in the whole deck cost more than one mana (if this build will keep winning, expect Chalice of the Void's price to spike), at least if we exclude Manamorphose, which in truth requires two mana but doesn't actually affect your tempo, and it's directly borrowed from another Izzet deck that tries to cast a frantically high number of spells in the same turn: Storm, of course. Indeed, there is something Storm-y in this deck, but it also plays a lot like a Young Pyromancer build, except more explosive. The Phoenix's companions all care about the large mass of instants and sorceries being cast, and that's especially true for another Guilds of Ravnica card, Crackling Drake, which provides a bit of late game reach.

 

 Price (online): $178.24

 Okay, this is not actually an Izzet deck, since it's monored, but it could be easily seen as a "blueless" Phoenix list. It's the cross-breed between the deck above and a traditional RDW list, the kind that runs Monastery Swiftspear as an early threat and Bedlam Reveler as a finisher. In this, you mostly awake the Phoenix from her slumber by casting cheap burn spells, in an attempt to get to dealing 20 damage to the opponent's dome as fast as possible. The number of pure red self-discard spells get amped up to 8 with the addition of Tormenting Voice (the other deck ran a couple of Lightning Axes, but that's more of a mix between a control element and self-discard, it can't be relied upon to set up a Phoenix in the early turns). There's a few noteworthy interactions like "the madness Lighnting Bolt", i.e. Fiery Temper, and an obscure retrace card like Flame Jab, while Gut Shot is in both decks the cheapest way to add to the Phoenix count while still doing something potentially board-impacting. Guilds of Ravnica proves once again a very red-friendly set with Risk Factor, which gives the opponent a very difficult choice to make: either taking 4 damage now, which might be risky, or letting you draw three cards, which probably means even more damage later. And it's a jump-start card, so you can easily discard it along with the Phoenices, or else casting it twice, for double the headache.

 

 Price (online): $184.50

 The current Izzet trend also rekindled its more control-oriented forms, like this Delver of Secrets deck where you keep the opponent's battlefield at bay or attacks their life total thanks to your nine Lightning Bolts, and then win on the wings of your three-powered flyers: the transformed Delver, Vendilion Clique, and Nimble Obstructionist, the latter doubling as a control element in a pinch. The graveyard is exploited via direct recursion, which is Snapcaster Mage and Grim Lavamancer's classic job.

 

 Price (online): $355.47

 And now for something completely different, a Lantern Control deck without Lantern of Insight. So it's just Whir of Invention and a ton of all-purpose artifacts, with the Thopter Foundry/Sword of the Meek combo as win condition. It's less byzantine, faster and easier to play.


 THE MODERN BAN LIST

 Last revised: February 12, 2018 (unbanned: Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Bloodbraid Elf)
 Next announcement: January 21, 2019

 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!