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By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Feb 08 2019 1:00pm
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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.

 January 5: StarCityGames Team Modern Open: Columbus
 Players: 373
 Winner: Abe Corrigan with KCI, Luke Feeney with Spirit Aggro, Ethan Gaieski with Hollow One
 Top 4: KCI/Spirit Aggro/Hollow One, Death's Shadow/KCI/Izzet Phoenix, Spirit Aggro/Izzet Phoenix/Izzet Phoenix, Bloomless Titan/Bloomless Titan/Bloomless Titan

Pictured: Corrigan on the left, Gaieski at the center, Feeney on the right.

 January 6: StarCityGames Modern Classic: Columbus
 Players: 277
 Winner: Andrew VonDeylen with Mardu Pyromancer
 Top 8: Mardu Pyromancer, Humans, Burn, Death's Shadow, Burn, Burn, Humans, Spirit Aggro

 January 6: Grand Prix Oakland 2019
 Players: 1140
 Winner: Eli Kassis with Izzet Phoenix
 Top 8: Izzet Phoenix, KCI, UW Control, KCI, Valakut, Hardened Modular, KCI, KCI

 January 7: MTGO Modern Finals
 Players: N/A
 Winner: Oderus Urungus with UrzaTron
 Top 8: UrzaTron, UrzaTron, Storm, Death's Shadow, Izzet Phoenix, Twinless Exarch, KCI, Death's Shadow

 January 12: NRG $5000 Championship Trial: Palatine, IL
 Players: 201
 Winner: Simon Kamerow with Eldrazi Aggro
 Top 8: Eldrazi Aggro, Valakut, Death's Shadow, Spirit Aggro, Bloomless Titan, KCI, Storm, Grixis Control

 January 13: StarCityGames Modern Classic: Worcester
 Players: 224
 Winner: Frank Skarren with Izzet Phoenix
 Top 8: Izzet Phoenix, Burn, Death's Shadow, Valakut, Affinity Death's Shadow, Death's Shadow, Hatebears

 January 13: StarcityGames Modern Open: Worcester
 Players: 895
 Winner: Domic Harvey with Bloomless Titan
 Top 8: Bloomless Titan, Izzet Phoenix, Izzet Phoenix, Izzet Phoenix, Jeskai Control, Death's Shadow, Death's Shadow, Burn

 January 27: StarCityGames Modern Classic: Indianapolis
 Players: 260
 Winner: Kyle Peters with Dredge
 Top 8: Dredge, UW Control, Izzet Phoenix, Lanternless, Bloomless Titan, Burn, Izzet Phoenix, Lanternless


 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, Walks.

 Update: The Ban Hammer strikes!

 Almost a year after the last time the Modern ban list was revised (with the unbanning of Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Bloodbraid Elf on February 12, 2018), Mirrodin does it again. The oldest block in the meta, responsible from one third of the current banned cards in Modern, has added one more offender on its behalf: Krark-Clan Ironworks. The official statement explains how the KCI archetype was not particularly dominant in the meta, due to the inherent difficulty in executing its battle plan, especially over at MTGO. However, things would change drastically when considering only the upper echelon of the Grand Prix level of pro play, as rather eloquently exemplified by half of the Top 8 spots secured by KCI decks in Grand Prix Oakland.

 Still, that same Grand Prix had a different list at the topmost place, and even in an installment where we have to report on how a whole archetype was removed from the meta, the big news of the month is that Izzet Phoenix decks, which already seemed the most up-and-coming the last time we checked, have now taken over the meta, and quite violently so. If we put the last two months of data for Izzet Deck Wins together with Red Deck Wins archetypes, which often include (Arclight Phoenix) strategies as well, we get to almost one fifth of the entire competitive Modern meta. Spirits hold their ground, but Humans are in retreat, utterly defeated by an aggro plan that includes early board control and Blood Moon to nullify their greedy mana base.


 While this feels like the right moment to note how little the unbannings of February 2018 ended up affecting the meta (Jund survives at the middle of the road, but it's not a major force right now and hasn't been one over the year; and Jace, the Mind Sculptor lost his slots in UW Control to (Teferi, Hero of Dominaria)), we're left wondering what the KCI players will do now. What viable archetype will appeal to them? Lantern Control is still a thing in the meta, as is Hardened Modular, just to name two combo (or combo-ish) decks that exploit artifacts.

 As a final homage to a convoluted but fascinating archetype that might have been a bit too cerebral and time-intensive to live on, here's the final KCI list to win a tournament, the very day its banning was announced.


 Now we should wait for Ravnica Allegiance to bring forth some new developments in the meta. Here's a possible one: will (Prime Speaker Vannifar) revitalize Creatures Toolbox back to Birthing Pod levels? I, for one, really hope so. And some Vannifar lists are already showing up.


 Vannifar was clearly designed as a way to reintroduce the Pod into Modern in a safer form, but she's powerful enough on her own. Sure, she's fragile, being a creature (though at least she's bolt-proof), but her card type offers advantages too. For one, it's awfully easy to untap her and activate her ability again. Here's a chain you definitely couldn't do with one Pod in a single turn:

  1. Tap Vannifar, turn any two-drop into Bounding Krasis, untap Vannifar.
  2. Tap Vannifar, turn the Krasis into Breaching Hippocamp, untap Vannifar.
  3. Tap Vannifar, turn the Hippocamp into Zealous Conscripts, untap Vannifar.
  4. Tap Vannifar, turn the Conscripts into Woodland Bellower, fetch another Krasis, untap Vannifar.
  5. Tap Vannifar, turn the Krasis into Restoration Angel, blink the Bellower, fetch a third Krasis, untap Vannifar.
  6. Tap Vannifar, turn the Angel into Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, go infinite with the surviving Krasis.

 Long live the beautiful Ooze!


 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!