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By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Nov 14 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.

 October 5: StarCityGames Team Constructed Open: Philadelphia (team of three playing each a different format)
 Players: 264
 Winner: Matthew Dilks with Amulet Titan (teammates: Daryl Ayers playing Legacy, Jon Rosum playing Standard)
 Top 8: Amulet Titan, Urza Outcome, Urza Outcome, Whirza, Affinity, Urza Outcome, UrzaTron, Valakut

Pictured: Rosum on the left, Dilks in the middle, Ayers on the right.

 October 6: StarCityGames Modern Classic: Philadelphia
 Players: 243
 Winner: Zachary Fowler with Amulet Titan
 Top 8: Amulet Titan, EldraTron, Burn, Equipment Storm, Eldrazi Aggro, Infect, RDW, UrzaTron

 October 12: StarCityGames Modern Open: Indianapolis
 Players: 591
 Winner: Drake Sasser with Storm
 Top 8: Storm, Amulet Titan, Amulet Titan, Burn, Death's Shadow, Dredge, Eldrazi Aggro, Jeskai Ascendancy

 October 19: NRG Series Regionals: Chicago
 Players: 227
 Winner: Noah Huizinga with UrzaTron
 Top 8: UrzaTron, Blue Moon, Amulet Titan, Infect, Amulet Titan, Crabvine, Dredge, Jund

 October 21: MTGO Modern PTQ
 Players: 289
 Winner: Ajani89 with Amulet Titan
 Top 8: Amulet Titan, Jund, Death's Shadow, EldraTron, Burn, Dredge, Eldrazi Aggro, Urza Food

 October 26: StarCityGames Modern Open: Atlanta
 Players: 443
 Winner: John Holland with Death's Shadow
 Top 8: Death's Shadow, Urza Food, Urza Food, Urza Food, Amulet Titan, Creatures Toolbox, Urza Food


 Already covered: Ad NauseamAffinity, Allosaurus ComboBogleBlue MoonBloomless Titan (aka Amulet Titan), Bridgevine (banned), BurnCollected Chord (aka Creatures Toolbox), Death's Shadow, Dredge (update), Eldrazi Aggro, Eldrazi & TaxesEldraTron, Elves, FaeriesGifts 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 Foundry (aka Whirza), UrzaTronUW ControlValakut (aka TitanShift), Valakut Control, Vannifar PodWalks.

 Update: The last banned and restricted announcement dealt with issues in Standard and Pauper, but left Modern alone. The format is still recovering from the earthquake of Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis's summer banning, and it's in search of a new king. On top of that, there's the specter of Pioneer looming large now, threatening to take away Modern's status as Magic's non-rotating darling format. Is Modern starting to show all the degeneracy accumulated throughout its now 16 years worth of sets?

 Looking at the meta adjustments in October, at first we see a few established archetypes staking a claim to supremacy in the power vacuum left by Hogaak Dredge and, to some extent, by the Arclight Phoenix decks that have simultaneously found themselves orphaned of Faithless Looting. Amulet Titan is one of those grizzled veterans that are rising to the occasion, with top placements in each of last month's major events, including an impressive triplet of first places. Its consistency is clearly the winning factor here, compared to fancier combo lists that ultimately proved to be just passing fads (remember when Allosaurus Combo was all the rage? Yeah, those 15 minutes have passed fast). Amulet decks mostly appear in tried and tested configurations, with only Field of the Dead to spice up a little their gameplan with a secondary wincon, and of course the inevitable inclusion of Throne of Eldraine's most impactful card, Once Upon a Time.

 Throne of Eldraine didn't just introduce us to a reliable card selector, though; it created a much more problematic monster. That's right, Oko, Thief of Crowns is making his presence felt in Modern too. It all stems from variants of Urza, Lord High Artificer decks that introduced a more unassuming, artifact-related ELD card, Emry, Lurker of the Loch, dropping the Thopter Foundry plan entirely in favor of a more combo-oriented build with Paradoxical Outcome.


 Emry might be lurking under the surface of her loch, but take a look at what's lurking in the sideboard of these lists.


 It took pro builders very little to realize that Oko's Food tokens are artifacts, which plays very smoothly into any plan featuring Urza and Emry. Plus, you might have heard, Oko is a really strong three-mana walker. And so Urza Food was born, going back to the Whirza setup. 


 These lists don't actually have a fancy name yet, they're mostly recorded as "Urza Oko", which is unspeakably bland, or "Simic Urza", which is factually incorrect. Like all Oko-based decks, they're becoming extremely popular, and most notably took over the Top 8 of SCG Atlanta, where they were featured in half the slots, although in the end good ole Death's Shadow was the winner.

 Is Oko, freshly banned from Arena Brawl, destined to become a nightmare everywhere he shows up? Does he need to be stopped? It's undeniable that, in hindsight, his design was too pushed, though I completely subscribe to the line of thought that encourages pushed designs, even those that end up requiring a ban, since the alternative is a game becoming progressively more dull and unchallenging. Also, having played with and against Oko in Standard, his meta-warping effect isn't as an intrinsic factor as it is, for instance, in the case of Teferi, Time Raveler, which I still consider a much worse design (shutting down instant speed entirely brings much direr consequences for a meta, and games with a Teferi on the battlefield are much less dynamic). We'll see what's going to happen in Standard later this month, but I think Modern is fully equipped to tackle Oko, and worse.


 The Modern meta is still in flux, so the stranger things are crawling out of the shadows. For instance, decks exploiting Puresteel Paladin have been constantly around, but rarely popped up in any major Top 8 ranking. And pairing the old Paladin from New Phyrexia with the functionally equivalent Sram, Senior Edificer from Aether Revolt and the obscure Retract from Darksteel engenders a crazy five-color equipment-based storm deck.


 And what about the aquatic evolution of the dearly departed Bridgevine, using Hedron Crab and Merfolk Secretkeeper as very fast self-mill enablers? (Of course Oko's there, too.)


 Last revised: August 26, 2019 (banned: Faithless Looting, Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis; unbanned: Stoneforge Mystic)
 Next announcement: November 18, 2019

 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 month, when we'll keep exploring the Modern meta. In the meantime, don't be ancient, play Modern!