Kumagoro42's picture
By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Jan 09 2020 12:00pm

 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!


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

 December 10: MTGO Modern PTQ
 Players: 246
 Winner: Ouranos139 with Amulet Titan
 Top 8: Amulet Titan, Dredge, EldraTron, Jund, EldraTron, EldraTron, EldraTron, Gruul Deck Wins

 December 13: StarCityGames Players' Championship (played across three formats, Standard, Modern and Legacy)
 Players: 16 (from a year-long selection)
 Winner: Oliver Tomajko with Urza Food
 Top 8: Urza Food, Urza Food, Creatures Toolbox, Creatures Toolbox, Urza Food, Bant Aggro, Creatures Toolbox, Amulet Titan

 December 15: Hareruya's The Last Sun 2019
 Players: 227
 Winner: YĆ«ki Matsumoto with Urza Food
 Top 8: Urza Food, Bant Control, Prowess Deck Wins, Urza Food, Elves, Infect, Urza Food, UrzaTron

Pictured: Matsumoto winning Grand Prix Chiba 2015.


 Already covered: Ad NauseamAffinity, Allosaurus Combo, Bant ControlBogleBlue MoonBloomless Titan (aka Amulet Titan), Bridgevine (banned, update: Crabvine), BurnCollected Chord (aka Creatures Toolbox), Death's Shadow, Dredge (update), Eldrazi Aggro, Eldrazi & TaxesEldraTron, Elves, Equipment StormFaeriesGifts Control, GoblinsGrixis Control, Hardened ModularHatebears, Hogaak DredgeHollow OneHumans, Infect, Instant Reanimator, Izzet Aggro (aka Izzet Delver), Izzet Phoenix (update), Izzet PyromancerJeskai MiraclesJund (also feat. Wrenn and Six), Junk, KCI (banned), Lantern Control, LanternlessLiving EndMadcap Gruul, Mardu Pyromancer, Martyr LifeMerfolk, Nahiri Control, Naya BurnPhoenix Deck Wins, Phoenix Wrenn and SixPonza (update), Pyro Prison, Rakdos MidrangeRDW, Saheeli EvolutionSelesnya Value, Skred Red, Spirit Aggro, StonebladeStorm, TezzeratorThe Rock, Titan BreachTokensTwinless Exarch, Urza FoodUrza Foundry (aka Whirza), Urza OutcomeUrzaTronUW ControlValakut (aka TitanShift), Valakut Control, Vannifar PodWalks.

 Update: Is the end near? Only two months after its announcement, Pioneer is all the rage, while Modern already appears to be dwindling. There were only two events crossing the 200-player mark in December, which isn't a doomsday indicator per se (there were still a sizable number with more than 100 players), but it's one third of the quantity we had one year ago.

 We know Pioneer has all but killed Legacy by now, with StarCityGames ceasing support to the old, run down format in favor of the fresh-faced trailblazer. Modern is still heavily supported (we even had a dedicated product last year, though we later found out it wasn't supposed to directly reference Modern in its name), but if Modern will become "the new Legacy", it could just mean trading brain death for a long, dreamless coma.

 I, for one, am conflicted. I like the idea of starting anew with a more restricted format where less broken things happen – let's be honest, Modern is approaching Legacy level of brokenness fast, and Modern Horizons actually made things worse, sort of turbocharging the meta in a way that didn't always lead to the most fun developments (Hogaak PTSD is a real thing). Pioneer revisits the feeling Modern players experienced in 2011: the idea that non-rotating Magic didn't need to be the prerogative of enfranchised players with a collection that can be sold to buy a small apartment.


Pictured, right to left: $7.00, $1.60, $6.00, $2,000.00.

 At the same time, while I don't mind a format where the best fetch land is Fabled Passage, I enjoy the smooth structure of Modern, where you could immediately tell if a card is legal in the format by just looking at the frame (give or take a few relevant Time Spiral "Timeshifted" cards). They could have replicated the same approach by linking Pioneer to the M15 frame, but they chose to extend its reach further back instead, and I don't love how this means I have to double check what cards were reprinted where. It's a trivial issue for sure, but it makes Pioneer a bit less Mel-friendly.

 But we're still talking about Modern in these articles, so we must report on the latest meta, which is mostly the same as it's been after Throne of Eldraine, possibly even more radicalized. As arguably the last widely played format where Oko, Thief of Crowns is allowed citizenship, Modern is employing the trickster's services more and more. We saw how that shaped Bant Control last month, and the same concept gets applied to more aggro-oriented builds, featuring Stoneforge Mystic and her usual equipment.


 For the rest, the dominant decks either run Urza, Lord High Artificer or its namesake land triplet, the latter often in conjunction with Karn, the Great Creator and the ultimate prison combo involving Mycosynth Lattice. Death's Shadow keeps being a major force, as it's been all year. The most recent lists added a certain blue-green planeswalker.


 As we had already noted, the second part of 2019 revitalized the Creatures Toolbox decks, which now access their library using Eladamri's Call from Modern Horizons, Finale of Devastation from War of the Spark, and Once Upon a Time from Throne of Eldraine. While also running a full playset of Oko, of course.


 Post-rotation Standard influenced Modern more than it usually does, and we've started to see decks where Primeval Titan goes search for Field of the Dead. Oko is there, ça va sans dire.


 Looking for something spicier? What about a Niv-Mizzet Reborn list? You know, almost Singleton, one card for every Guild? Wanna bet who's the Simic representative there?



 Let's then have a look at the final 2019 standings in Modern. According to MTGTop8.com, which records 8056 lists as having achieved a Top 8 result over the course of last year, the ten most successful archetypes were as follows (note that some of these entries might collate variants).

  1. The tried and tested Red Deck Wins with 589 placements.
  2. The controversial Dredge with 580 placements, which include those achieved during the Hogaak Hell era.
  3. The faded away Phoenix Deck Wins with 548 placements; remember when (Arclight Phoenix) was completely ruling Modern?
  4. The imperishable UrzaTron with 503 placements (it would rank much higher if EldraTron was counted here).
  5. The always solid UW Control with 440 placements.
  6. The Death's Shadow sensation with 426 placements.
  7. The leader of the tribal department, Humans, with 407 placements.
  8. The other major tribal force, Eldrazi, with 403 placements, including the EldraTron shell.
  9. The Urza family of decks, which only came into existence after June but still managed to score 398 placements.
  10. The good old Jund with 318 placements.

 Honorable mentions for Amulet Titan (260 placements) and Valakut (213 placements).




 Last revised: August 26, 2019 (banned: Faithless Looting, Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis; unbanned: Stoneforge Mystic

 Total banned cards: 36

 By Color: 

  • White: 1
  • Blue: 6
  • Black: 4 (of which 2 Golgari)
  • Red: 6
  • Green: 8 (of which 2 Golgari)
  • Colorless: 13
  • Multicolored: 1 (of which 1 Golgari)

 By Type: 

  • Creature: 3
  • Land: 8
  • Artifact: 6
  • Enchantment: 2
  • Planeswalker: 0
  • Instant: 7
  • Sorcery: 10

 By Set:

  • Core Sets: 2 (of which 1 from 9th Edition, originally from Visions, and 1 from Magic 2011)
  • Modern Horizons: 1
  • Mirrodin block: 11 (of which 9 from Mirrodin, 1 from Darksteel, 1 from Fifth Dawn)
  • 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: 3 (of which 2 from Time Spiral, 1 from Future Sight)
  • Lorwyn block: 1 (from Lorwyn)
  • Alara block: 0
  • Zendikar block: 3 (of which 1 from Zendikar, 1 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: 1 (of which 1 from Dark Ascension)
  • 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 time, when we'll keep exploring the Modern meta. In the meantime, don't abandon Modern just yet!