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By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Nov 06 2018 11:00am
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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. And by the way, if you seek a nice free online tournament, I run Modern Times every Thursday at 7:00 PM UTC.

 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. After a big September in terms of major events, October has slowed down a bit.

 October 6: StarCityGames Team Constructed Open: Columbus (team of three playing each a different format)
 Players: 273
 Winner: Lukas Parson with Humans (teammates: Eric Shoopman playing Standard, Victor Logan playing Legacy) 
 Top 8: Humans, Burn, Jeskai Miracles, UrzaTron, Elves, Hollow One, Jeskai Control, Mardu Pyromancer

Pictured: Logan on the left, Parson at the center, Shoopman on the right.

 October 20: StarCityGames Modern Open: Dallas
 Players: 683
 Winner: Peter Hollman with Death's Shadow
 Top 8: Death's Shadow, Dredge, Dredge, UrzaTron, Humans, Humans, Humans, Infect

 October 27: StarCityGames Modern Open: Charlotte
 Players: 450
 Winner: Will Pulliam with Bloomless Titan
 Top 8: Bloomless Titan, Bloomless Titan, UW Control, Valakut, Spirit Aggro, Jund, Izzet Pyromancer, Storm


 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, Jeskai MiraclesJundJunk (aka The Rock), KCILantern Control, Living EndMadcap Gruul, Mardu Pyromancer, Martyr LifeMerfolk, Nahiri Control, PonzaRDW, Saheeli EvolutionSelesnya Value, Skred Red, Spirit AggroStorm, Tezzerator, Twinless ExarchUrzaTronUW ControlValakut (aka TitanShift), Valakut Control, Walks.

 Update: Not much changed in the Modern meta since the last time, with Humans and Spirits still prospering, though RDW is currently the meta leader, both overall and in the aggro sector, despite not having placements in any major tournaments this month. Death's Shadow has managed one major win after some time, and Bloomless Titan had one mirror match final, but UW Control and UrzaTron maintain their hold on the control side, while Dredge had a strong comeback in the combo area – and this time in its classic form, not Bridgevine.

 I thought it could be useful to look at the lists of this month's Top 8 decks to see which of the most recent cards these archetypes have incorporated, with "recent" meaning cards released in the past two years. Thanks to two different paradigm shifts, between September 2016 and September 2018 we've seen nine sets distributed between five blocks and one core set: Kaladesh, Amonkhet, Ixalan, Dominaria, Core Set 2019, Guilds of Ravnica. Have some of these new cards impacted Modern? Let's find out.

 In the 4 Humans lists, we found:

  • 16 copies of both Unclaimed Territory and (Kitesail Freeboter) from Ixalan, all maindecked: the latter is early disruption plus a flying body to pump, the former is the key to play four- or five-colored tribal decks, reaching critical mass in addition to Ancient Ziggurat and Cavern of Souls;
  • 9 copies of Knight of Autumn from Guilds of Ravnica (all side), as a versatile, multi-purpose sideboard card, despite being off-tribe;
  • 4 copies of Militia Bugler from Core Set 2019 (three main, one side): card advantage that leaves a solid body behind;
  • 3 copies of Tajic, Legion's Edge from Guilds of Ravnica (all main), adding his hasty mentoring to the deck's arsenal of aggression;
  • 2 copies of Dire Fleet Daredevil from Rivals of Ixalan (all side);
  • 1 copy of Kambal, Consul of Allocation from Kaladesh (side), to use against Burn, Storm, Pyromancer and the likes;
  • 1 copy of Damping Sphere from Dominaria (side), a card actually designed for Modern, to fight both Tron and Storm in one single package.


 In the 2 UrzaTron lists, we found:

  • 6 copies of Walking Ballista from Aether Revolt (main), one of the most powerful cards of these past two years.

 In the 2 Dredge lists, we found:

  • 8 copies of Cathartic Reunion from Kaladesh (main), complementing Faithless Looting in the reworked, Jund-colored Dredge builds we see these days;
  • 7 copies of Creeping Chill from Guilds of Ravnica (main), a cool new way for Dredge decks to cause an incidental 6-point life swing;
  • 2 copies of Assassin's Trophy from Guilds of Ravnica (side), a powerful removal tool which is however impacting Standard and Modern less than expected.


 In the 2 Bloomless Titan lists, we found:


 The single Burn list only included 4 copies of Inspiring Vantage from Kaladesh for its white splash.

 The single Hollow One list is based around a recent card to begin with, the titular Hollow One from Hour of Devastation, of which it maindecks 4 copies, while also featuring 4 maindecked copies of Flameblade Adept from Amonkhet and 2 copies of Fatal Push from Aether Revolt on the side.


 The single Elves list incorporated a single, fetchable Vizier of Remedies from Amonkhet to combo with Devoted Druid, and then Walking Ballista as one possible payoff. In the sideboard we see some other new cards appear: 2 copies of Knight of Autumn, 1 copy each of the defensive Shalai, Voice of Plenty from Dominaria and Shapers' Sanctuary from Ixalan. We'd probably see the same choices made for other Collected Company / Chord of Calling decks, of which this was merely a tribal variant with Ezuri, Renegade Leader as secondary wincon.


 The Death's Shadow list had 4 copies of Fatal Push (two main, two side) and 2 copies of (Assassin's Trophy) (side).

 The Infect list only took advantage of 3 copies of the excellent Blossoming Defense from Kaladesh, backing up Vines of Vastwood.

 The Spirit Aggro list is mostly an Innistrad-based affair but was actually projected into the highest echelons of the meta by the printing of Supreme Phantom in Core Set 2019, which became an auto-include playset for the archetype. This one also used a couple Botanical Sanctum to better splash for (Collective Company) and Noble Hierarch. On the side: the ubiquitous Knight of Autumn (2 copies) and Damping Sphere (1 copy).

 The Valakut list had 1 copy of Sweltering Suns from Amonkhet main, then 3 copies of Damping Sphere, 1 Abrade, 1 Hour of Devastation and 1 Carnage Tyrant on the side.


 The Jund list is the one who best received Assassin's Trophy with 3 maindecked copies, plus 3 copies of Fatal Push (of which one on the side).

 The Storm list welcomed a full playset of Baral, Chief of Compliance from Aether Revolt as a natural enabler, plus a couple copies of Abrade on the side.

 Of the remaining 5 Control (or control-ish) lists:


 The last mentioned build looked interesting enough to warrant a specific focus.


 Price (online): $243.78

 Colors: Izzet (UR)

 How does it work: By renouncing black, Izzet Pyromancer becomes less interactive than its Mardu version, losing all the discard suite and focusing more on the instant- and sorcery-assisted beatdown. Delver of Secrets is clearly the star of this kind of strategies, along with classic Vendilion Clique, Snapcaster Mage and Grim Lavamancer, but the deck has also found a new tool in Nimble Obstructionist, which can either work as a three-powered flash flyer for 3, or as a cantrip Stifle. And it's a Wizard, like every other creature mentioned so far (but unlike Young Pyromancer himself, unfortunately), so it's a good occasion to double on the Lightning Bolt quota via Wizard's Lightning, while also adding Adeliz, the Cinder Wind as a lord. A stealth tribal deck.

 Results: Delver decks have clearly been around for quite some time in a form or another, but this 8-bolt version feels galvanizing enough and just showed up in the Top 8 at a SCG event with 450 players. We'll see where it'll go from there, even if its Mardu cousin will probably remain the more popular build. However, if one wants to take the Izzet route in Modern without necessarily liking Storm with all of its required math, this is a pretty effective way to go.


 Last revised: February 12, 2018 (unbanned: Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Bloodbraid Elf)
 Next announcement: November 26, 2018

 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!