Kumagoro42's picture
By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Jun 04 2019 11:00am

 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. It also includes the finals of the MOCS, which took place at Wizards of the Coast headquarters in Seattle, with a $200,000 prize purse. Very slow month, overall. Find the archetypes below.

 May 19: 2018 Magic Online Championship Series Finals
 Players: 24 (full list here, two MPL members took part: Autumn Burchett and Márcio Carvalho)
 Winner: Mattia Oneto (Italy) with Izzet Phoenix
 Top 4: Izzet Phoenix, UrzaTron (Kenji Egashira, Japan), Humans (Márcio Carvalho, Portugal), Instant Reanimator (Bernardo Torres)

 May 26: StarCityGames Modern Open: Louisville
 Players: 706
 Winner: Oliver Tomajko with Dredge
 Top 8: Dredge, Izzet Phoenix, Dredge, Valakut, Amulet Titan, Humans, Humans, UW Control

 May 28: MTGO Modern MCQ
 Players: 285
 Winner: katoriarch123 with UW Control
 Top 8: UW Control, Allosaurus Combo, Dredge, UW Control, UW Control, Living End, Dredge, Burn


 Already covered: Ad NauseamAffinity, BogleBlue MoonBloomless Titan (aka Amulet Titan), BridgevineBurnCollected Chord (aka Creatures Toolbox), Death's Shadow, DredgeEldrazi Aggro, Eldrazi & TaxesEldraTron, Elves, FaeriesGifts ControlGrixis Control, Hardened ModularHatebears, Hollow OneHumans, Infect, Instant Reanimator, Izzet Aggro (aka Izzet Delver), Izzet Phoenix (update), Izzet PyromancerJeskai MiraclesJundJunk, KCI (banned), Lantern Control, LanternlessLiving EndMadcap Gruul, Mardu Pyromancer, Martyr LifeMerfolk, Nahiri Control, Naya BurnPhoenix Deck WinsPonza, Pyro PrisonRDW, Saheeli EvolutionSelesnya Value, Skred Red, Spirit AggroStorm, TezzeratorThe Rock, Titan BreachTokensTwinless ExarchUrzaTronUW ControlValakut (aka TitanShift), Valakut Control, Vannifar PodWalks.

 Update: The state of the meta appears stable on the surface, but there's a lot of boiling bubbles underneath, in the form of the influence from the many impactful War of the Spark cards – and of course that's only bound to increase with the release of Modern Horizons, which will probably shake the Modern meta quite violently, as it's meant to do.


 It's not just UW Control acquiring a lot of new toys like Dovin's Veto, Narset, Parter of Veils and of course Teferi, Time Raveler, all powerful cards that are contributing to return the archetype to absolute dominance in the control area. The May 20 Banned and Restricted Announcement came and went without a single change to the Modern format, but it included a final note about the potential threats that are lurking around the corners of the WAR-based meta. Quoting directly from what Ian Duke wrote:

We're aware of some concern about combos in Modern based around War of the Spark cards, such as Neoform plus Allosaurus Rider; Ugin's Conjurant plus Celestial Kirin; and Karn, the Great Creator plus Mycosynth Lattice. We've been monitoring the play rates and win rates of these decks and, so far, don't see cause for alarm. With the release of Modern Horizons and Mythic Championship IV right around the corner, we'll continue to observe the evolution of the Modern metagame.

 Truth is, there are not enough data at the moment to confirm or deny the impact of the mentioned combos. Both Conjurant/Kirin and Karn/Lattice lead to prison decks through mana denial: Conjurant is a zero-cost Spirit, turning Kirin's trigger into Armageddon; and if everything's an artifact, then the Great Creator's static ability prevents the opponent from using their lands.


 It's always fascinating to witness new cards suddenly weaponizing obscure, semi-forgotten old cards, possibly cards that nobody ever dreamed of playing competitively, like the Kirin. But nothing in this regard beats the third emerged combo, which centers around this completely unassuming, incredibly janky dude from Coldsnap:

 Here's what happened: Neoform clearly looked like a powerful spell, offering the chance of a clean, turn-two Birthing Pod activation, which is faster than the Pod itself ever went. In the effort to find the best way to abuse this opportunity, deck builders sought out the cheapest creature with the highest casting cost to Neoform as soon as possible – and landed on this otherwise irrelevant seven-mana dork that you can cast for zero. Which means you can drop Allosaurus Rider on turn one, play land, cash the green mana from Chancellor of the Tangle (which is one of the cards you used to cast the Rider, by the way), or exile a Simian Spirit Guide and cast Manamorphose, then cast Neoform, sac the Rider, fetch Griselbrand.


 Then what? Well, isn't a 8/8 lifelink flier on turn one enough already? No, of course it's not, that one dies to Path to Exile. So what about drawing 14 cards, pitching Autochthon Wurm or other Chancellors and other Riders to Nourishing Shoal, thus getting the life needed to draw the entire library? From there you just exile all the Guides, cast all the Manamorphoses and play Laboratory Maniac (followed by the last Manamorphose), or just throw all the lands at the opponent's face with Lightning Storm. Either way, it's game over.


 Oh yeah, this is a potential turn-one win in Modern. Which is a huge, gigantic no-no. It remains to be seen how much consistent will the deck be, although it appears consistent enough from the gameplay demonstration you can witness in this video by Belgian streamer LegenVD.

 LegenVD's list is slightly different from the one matsugan piloted to second place in a Modern MCQ on MTGO (the best of four Top 8 results from the deck in the past two weeks at the moment of writing). Both feature Eldritch Evolution as a backup to Neoform and Summoner's Pact to find the Rider, but matsugan's doesn't include the Lightning Storm wincon, instead relying on Street Wraith as the surefire final draw to seal the deal once the Maniac is online. It also misses a nice tech in Samut's Sprint capitalizing on Griselbrand's lifegain to keep going, while at the same time reducing the required amount of lethal damage from the Storm.


 Of course the deck will appreciate the help of the London mulligan (to keep mulling for 7 increases the chance of an explosive first hand containing a Chancellor, Neoform and a way to drop the Rider), which will be officially implemented with the release of Core Set 2020. We'll see what happens then, and which other degerate combos will arise from Modern Horizons, but we can be sure that consistent turn-one or turn-two wins will not be tolerated in Modern, as part of the format's inherent design. At that point, banning an otherwise inconsequential card like Allosaurus Rider would be certainly preferable than banning a great tool like Neoform.


 Last revised: January 21, 2019 (banned: Krark-Clan Ironworks)
 Next announcement: July 8, 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!