Kumagoro42's picture
By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Mar 18 2021 1:00pm

 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 about 200 players or having otherwise relevance in the meta, ordered chronologically. Find the archetypes below. The pandemic is still reducing large events to a bare minimum, all taking place online.

 December 21: MTGO Modern Championship Qualifier
 Players: 277
 Winner: Gobo2009 with Izzet Aggro
 Top 8: Izzet Aggro, Sultai Control, 4-Color Ramp, Burn, Valakut, Gruul Utopia, 4-Color Ramp, Death's Shadow

 February 15: MTGO Modern Championship Qualifier
 Players: 188
 Winner: SpiderSpace with Valki Cascade
 Top 8: Valki Cascade, Valki Cascade, Infect, Valky Cascade, Dredge, Humans, Burn, Hatebears

 March 13: 2020 Magic Online Champions Showcase #2
 Players: 8
 Winner: Martin-Eric Gauthier with Heliod Life
 Top 8: Heliod Life, Bogle, Death's Shadow, Heliod Life, Puresteel Hammer, Rakdos Aggro, Izzet Aggro, Izzet Aggro

 March 14: 2020 Magic Online Champions Showcase #3
 Players: 8
 Winner: Jan-Moritz Merkel with Spirit Aggro
 Top 8: Spirit Aggro, Amulet Titan, Heliod Life, Heliod Life, Landless Spy, Izzet Aggro, UW Control, UW Control


 Already covered: 4-Color RampAd NauseamAffinity, Allosaurus Combo, Bant AggroBant ControlBogleBlue MoonBloomless Titan (aka Amulet Titan), Bridgevine (banned, update: Crabvine), BurnCollected Chord (aka Creatures Toolbox), Creatures Toolbox: Heliod (aka Heliod Life), Creatures Toolbox: Lurrus, Creatures Toolbox: YawgmothDeath's Shadow (update), Dredge (update), Eldrazi Aggro, Eldrazi & TaxesEldraTron, Elves, Equipment StormFaeriesGifts Control, Goblins, Green Devotion Prison (banned), Grixis Control, Gruul AggroGruul UtopiaHardened ModularHatebears, Hogaak DredgeHollow OneHumans, Infect, Instant Reanimator, Izzet Aggro (aka Izzet Delver), Izzet Phoenix (update), Izzet Pyromancer, Jeskai BreachJeskai MiraclesJund (also feat. Wrenn and Six), Junk, KCI (banned), Landless SpyLantern Control, LanternlessLiving EndMadcap Gruul, Mardu Pyromancer, Martyr LifeMerfolk, Nahiri Control, Naya Burn, Niv-Mizzet RebornPhoenix Deck Wins, Phoenix Wrenn and SixPonza (update), Pyro Prison, Rakdos AggroRakdos MidrangeRDW, Saheeli Evolution, Scapeshift ControlSelesnya Value, Simic FieldSkred Red, Spirit Aggro, StonebladeStorm, Temur ReclamationTezzeratorThe Rock, Titan BreachTokensTwinless Exarch, Urza EmryUrza FoodUrza Foundry (aka Whirza), Urza OutcomeUrzaTronUW ControlValakut (aka TitanShift), Valakut Control, Vannifar PodWalks, Winota Colossification, Yorion Control.

 Update: In one of the most massive sweeps in history, the February 15 banned and restricted announcement moved a record 16 cards in and out of the ban list across all kinds of non-Standard formats. Modern and Pioneer were the most affected, with five banned cards each. These bans don't actually respond to a specific metagame emergency, beyond the fact that the 4-Color Ramp lists we had seen emerge last season had Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath (which has been obliterated everywhere except for Legacy, Vintage and the Commander formats) as one of their centerpieces, Field of the Dead as one of their wincons, and Mystic Sanctuary as one of their value providers. The loss of all three of those makes this kind of "good stuff" ramp deck certainly weaker, but doesn't necessarily wipe it out of the meta.


 Similarly, the banning of Simian Spirit Guide (timed to coincide with its Time Spiral Remastered reprint) slows down several combo decks by taking away their surrogate Lotus Petal, but that won't completely stop any of them. It's just a movement toward a healthier lifestyle for the meta.


 What definitely looks like a surgical strike is the largely preemptive expulsion of Tibalt's Trickery. Let's face it: generally speaking, the chaos-flavored instant isn't such a great card; it's the type of odd "all-in" spell that's not consistent enough to influence a competitive format in a significant way, even when it's able to steal a match here and there. But Modern is where it's at its most dangerous, because cascade spells are already popular for strategies like Living End, so that warranted making sure Trickery would never rise in the meta. But speaking of cascade shenanigans, one list that briefly rose to prominence this winter was indeed Valki Cascade.


 It was yet another five-color build (the mana in Modern is now very close to Legacy's ease of access), and it had its big attraction in cascading into the planeswalker side of Valki, God of Lies. And if I'm talking in the past tense, it's because concurrently with the February bans, the cascade rules were amended, so that now the mechanic only allows for the free casting of a spell whose converted mana cost is less than the cascade spell's converted mana cost (or mana value, as we should soon get used to call it). This means no more turn-two Cosmic Impostors – also due to the departure of Simian Spirit Guide, while we're at it.

 Among all these earth tremors and flashes in the pan, the meta maintains its unmovable pillars, like UrzaTron, RDW, Izzet Aggro, and especially the unperishable Death's Shadow, currently focused on Jund colors for Hexdrinker and Temur Battle Rage, and incorporating Scourge of the Skyclaves as backup Shadow. At the same time, Creatures Toolbox lists mostly coalesced around the combo of Heliod, Sun-Crowned and Walking Ballista.


 Landless Spy, which has been eradicated from Pioneer with the banning of Balustrade Spy and Undercity Informer, is still alive in Modern, while one of new forces that have made themselves known this winter is a straightforward "artifacts matter" brew based around an apparently silly Equipment from Core Set 2020, Colossus Hammer.


 The cumbersome yet easy to drop contraption gets attached for free, ideally to an Ornithopter, via Sigarda's Aid or a metalcraft-enabled Puresteel Paladin. That's really all there is to the deck, but it can be surprisingly effective, consistent and lightning-fast, with echoes of the past glory of Affinity builds.



 Last revised: February 15, 2021 (banned: Field of the Dead, Mystic Sanctuary, Simian Spirit Guide, Tibalt's Trickery, Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath)

 Total banned cards: 46

 By Color: 

  • White: 1
  • Blue: 8 (of which 2 Simic)
  • Black: 4 (of which 2 Golgari)
  • Red: 8
  • Green: 11 (of which 2 Golgari, 2 Simic)
  • Colorless: 18 (of which 10 lands)
  • Multicolored: 4 (of which 2 Golgari, 2 Simic)

 By Type: 

  • Creature: 5
  • Land: 10
  • Artifact: 9
  • Enchantment: 2
  • Planeswalker: 1
  • Instant: 9
  • Sorcery: 10

 By Set:

  • Core Sets: 3 (of which 1 from 9th Edition, originally from Visions, 1 from Magic 2011, 1 from Core Set 2020)
  • Modern Horizons: 2
  • Mirrodin block: 12 (of which 9 from Mirrodin, 2 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: 4 (of which 2 from Time Spiral, 1 from Planar Chaos, 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: 5 (of which 1 from Scars of Mirrodin, 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: 5 (of which 3 from Throne of Eldraine, 1 from Theros Beyond Death, 1 from Kaldheim)

 See you in late spring, when we'll have visited Strixhaven, MTG's own Hogwarts!