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By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Mar 06 2019 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.

 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.

 February 3: StarCityGames Team Constructed Open: Baltimore (team of three playing each a different format)
 Players: 287
 Winner: Ryan Overturf with Izzet Phoenix (teammates: Jacob Hagen playing Standard, Liz Lynn playing Legacy) – interview here
 Top 8: Izzet Phoenix, Phoenix Deck Wins, Death's Shadow, Bloomless Titan, Death's Shadow, Dredge, UrzaTron, Burn

Pictures: Lynn on the left, Overturf at the center, Hagen on the right.

 February 9: NRG Championship Trial: Milwaukee
 Players: 247
 Winner: Michael Yeakey with Humans
 Top 8: Humans, Spirit Aggro, Bogle, Izzet Phoenix, Dredge, Death's Shadow, Burn, Spirit Aggro

 February 10: StarCityGames Modern Classic: Dallas
 Players: 244
 Winner: Patrick Claggett with Humans
 Top 8: Humans, EldraTron, Dredge, Valakut, Burn, UrzaTron, Dredge, Phoenix Deck Wins

 February 10: Circuito LigaMagic 12 at Frei Caneca, São Paulo
 Players: 215
 Winner: Matheus Akio Yanagiura with Valakut
 Top 8: Valakut, Death's Shadow, Burn, Mardu Phoenix, Eldrazi & Taxes, Hardened Modular, Izzet Phoenix, Izzet Phoenix

 February 10: Grand Prix Toronto 2019
 Players: 1317
 Winner: Michael Rapp with Death's Shadow
 Top 8: Death's Shadow, Lanternless, Izzet Phoenix, Valakut, Dredge, Izzet Phoenix, The Rock, The Rock

 February 18: MTGO Modern Finals
 Players: 293
 Winner: LalauWBA with Death's Shadow
 Top 8: Death's Shadow, Hollow One, Dredge, Dredge, Dredge, Dredge, Pyro Prison, Lanternless

 February 25: MTGO Modern Finals
 Players: ≃200
 Winner: Diceshake with Affinity
 Top 8: Affinity, Burn, Izzet Phoenix, Lanternless, Bloomless Titan, Dredge, Phoenix Deck Wins, Humans


 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 Aggro, Izzet PhoenixIzzet PyromancerJeskai MiraclesJundJunk, KCI (banned), Lantern Control, LanternlessLiving EndMadcap Gruul, Mardu Pyromancer, Martyr LifeMerfolk, Nahiri Control, Phoenix Deck WinsPonzaRDW, Saheeli EvolutionSelesnya Value, Skred Red, Spirit AggroStorm, Tezzerator, The RockTwinless ExarchUrzaTronUW ControlValakut (aka TitanShift), Valakut Control, Vannifar PodWalks.

 Update: Before delving into the meta, the big news that arrived at the very end of the month, on February 28th, was the announcement of the very first set that will bypass Standard by starting its legality from Modern onward (or backward, depending on how you look at the other Eternal Formats).

 Scheduled for release on June 14 (one day earlier on MTGO, but of course not at all on Arena), and appropriately called Modern Horizons, it'll be a 254-card draftable set composed by a mix of new cards and reprints, but the latter will still be all cards that weren't part of the Modern pool so far. Those who revel in speculations immediately went nuts, with people imagining Modern inheriting all kind of Legacy and Vintage broken stuff that most definitely will NOT be in Modern Horizons. I mean, you just have to look at the Modern ban list, guys: any reprint will need to have a power level consistent with that list; they won't bring cards into the format only to be forced to ban them three months later. And they won't let Modern have Force of Will, Wasteland or the original duals, what would be the point in turning it into Legacy? This said, I can see some of the cards from the supplemental products as the safest bets. For instance, Dack Fayden's power level is nothing too esoteric for Modern, but being originally released within Conspiracy precluded him to be part of the format. A hint of his possible presence in Modern Horizons is the fact that he was recently reprinted as a borderless Masterpiece card found in the special Ravnica Allegiance Mythic Edition booster box. Similarly, previous incarnations of planeswalkers or Legendaries that are active in the current storyline but initially came out in supplemental products, like Kaya, Ghost Assassin, might well show up in Modern Horizons. (This adds fuel to my dream that the fight against Bolas in War of the Spark will ultimately be resolved by Aminatou just popping up and placidly willing him out of existence).


 If we lack any confirmation about the type of reprints we should expect, we have been spoiled two of the new cards instead, and they both look sweet, implying a theme that links directly to the history of the game.


 Serra is here! And she does create her Angels for you! Also a neat Worship emblem, i.e. a Worship that the opponent can't interact with, and it's already online the turn after Serra drops, if you want. She seems cool, but that one-drop Cabal Therapy on legs is definitely scary. It might have finally come the time for Bitterblossom to shine again!

 Regardless, I think Modern Horizons will shake the format quite a bit, and the concept itself is a game-changer of unknown resonance. Is this the replacement for the discontinued Masters sets? I can see at least one Modern-related product per year (the three-letter code MH1 seems to suggest it's not a one-and-done deal), fulfilling a double function: reprinting chase cards for everyone while specifically tweaking Modern, making sure it'll stay fresh and relevant.

 And boy, it needs that right now, because the meta in February has followed up on January's trend, and it's not an Arclight Phoenix-shaped crater. Sure, major events are still won by old classics like Valakut and Affinity, but if you put together all the Izzet Phoenix lists and all the Phoenix Deck Wins and RDW lists, that amounts to almost 20% of the meta! That's pretty crazy, considering all these decks incorporate techs that come directly from current Standard. Nobody realized that a Lightning Bolt with a spectacle clause is, well, pretty much Lightning Bolt all over again?


 Humans are beaten, Spirits are shattered, and only Death's Shadow saw a resurgence because it plays well against an aggressive deck that lowers its life total, while it wasn't a good matchup against the decks the Phoenix pushed down. Will this require an intervention? It might be too early to tell, and I'm almost positive the March 11 announcement won't change anything, with the DCI biding its time until War of the Spark and possibly Modern Horizons will reshape the meta. Still, there are those who ask for the banning of Faithless Looting.

 Here's a Phoenix-less quasi-RDW list with Cindervines in the sideboard. I've got the impression the latest Standard sets, and especially GRN and RNA, have impacted Modern more than usual.


 And for something completely different, a couple of things that are lurking on the outskirts of the meta, but still scored at least one major Top 8 placement nonetheless. Unsurprisingly, both survive the onslaught by desperately trying to stop the opponent's plan. Eldrazi & Taxes is Eldrazi Aggro with more Hatebear elements.


 Pyro Prison is the most interesting and more relentlessly punitive build of this kind. Its maindecked doom triplet of Blood Moon, Chalice of the Void and Ensnaring Bridge (plus other stuff along these lines from the sideboard) is nicely counterpointed by value red creatures like both Goblin Rabblemaster and its little brother (Legion Warboss). Also interesting is the fair use of Storm-like techs like the Rituals and Simian Spirit Guide just to accelerate into prison pieces and threats.


 Last revised: January 21, 2019 (banned: Krark-Clan Ironworks)
 Next announcement: March 11, 2019

 Total banned cards: 34

 By Color: 

  • White: 2
  • Blue: 6
  • Black: 2 (of which 1 Golgari)
  • Red: 5
  • Green: 7 (of which 1 Golgari)
  • Colorless: 13
  • Multicolored: 1 (of which 1 Golgari)

 By Type: 

  • Creature: 3
  • Land: 8
  • Artifact: 6
  • 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: 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: 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!