R Koster's picture
By: R Koster, Rob Koster
Feb 23 2021 1:00pm

 I'm not going to bother denying it; I just haven't played Modern during the last few weeks. I faced the degeneracy once and was just completely off it. Fully assuming WotC would take months to fix their mess, I settled into the thought of just trying to do other stuff with my life. However, they came through like nobody's business.

Last Monday, we got this announcement:




I could not be happier with these bans. The format has been in a severe rut for months or perhaps even a year now caused by, well, mostly the four-color control value pile that has been dominating the format for a while now. But it wasn't just that deck that bothered most players.


The problem for most people was that the games were repetitive. All the blue decks were doing Cryptic Command locks with Mystic Sanctuary. Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath got played again and again, and again, and again. And it wasn't just that those patterns got repetitive. They were also in the best deck. So you kept running into it because people should play the best deck.


I want to mention that the community is not to blame for problems with all games being the same because of a deck being too consistent. It is not the players' job to make a format fun and interesting. If it were, we would have Reddit decide the banlist, and it would be 500 cards long and in a weekly rotation with Siege Rhino and Colossal Dreadmaw at the top of the power level.


Then I want to talk about the banning of Simian Spirit Guide. People are in a massive uproar over this, but come on. It's free mana that no one does a fair thing with. I'm sorry Ad Nauseam players; I regret to hear of your passing. But I'm glad that every other Simian Spirit Guide deck is gone.


Things that we are losing with the Simian Spirit Guide ban:



Oops, All spells


As Foretold

Ad Nauseam


Of those, I think As Foretold will survive perfectly fine but will take a turn longer to Restore Balance people. I'm happy about that, Restore Balance is not fun to play against. As Foretold It was the only ever Izzet control deck that I just hated playing against. I thought the intricacies of the deck were well-designed, and the idea behind it was unique. But just playing a game and then getting balanced a bunch sucked, and I was bored of it quickly. I do think this deck will survive, though. And I'm okay with that. I think this deck has a spot in the format. I'm just glad it got made a bit fairer and won't be discarding Spirit Guides to destroy my hand with Restore Balance anymore.


As I already mentioned, I regret losing Ad Nauseam. I played a bit of Inverter of Truth a while ago in Modern. I think that would be the first place to look to where to take the deck. I sincerely hope it comes back, though. It was just a special kind of wackiness for a particular type of people, and it just became the odd little ducking of the format to a lot of people.


For the rest of these; Neoform, Oops, and All-In-Red. It wasn't nice knowing you, please don't come back. Getting Turn 1 Blood Moon'd out of the game because you didn't know what you were playing against. Keeping your opening hand and dying before even playing your land or just being like, "welp, I didn't guess that I was against exactly this, so I'll go die now." It's a miserable experience, and I'm glad that WotC is trying to minimize the number of games where those kinds of things happen. It's just such a huge feel bad to go to something like FNM. Get got twice and have to wait for an hour for your next round. I have seen many a person head home instead. When a deck creates the effect of "I don't want to play anymore." I'll be glad when it's gone. I've also seen it happen that someone borrowed a deck to try the format for their first time, get paired into Neoform, and be like, well, this sucks. I don't want to play this again, never to be seen again.


Don't get me wrong, though. I don't mind combo being a thing, just not on turn 1. I don't mind Chalice of the Void or Blood Moon.  I love Blood Moon it's one of my favorite cards. Just not on turn 1. Modern shouldn't have those things on turn 1. Free spells and mana shouldn't be a thing in Modern, in my humble opinion. A good way to look at it for me is: "Would I enjoy playing this deck against a younger member of the family?" If no, it's probably not that great to be in the format. Once again, though, this is Wizard's responsibility. I blame no one for sleeving up legal cards ever.


Before you start about Force of Negation. Yes, I don't like that effect either. I started out thinking it was cool to have a free counterspell in Modern. But after having played against it for a year, I think the force cycle from Modern Horizons has been a net negative to the format. I don't even think the cycle is too good. I don't like the play patterns it creates for Modern. Force effects feel at home in Legacy. They feel off and forced in Modern. (For me, this is all very obviously my opinion.)


All in all, I'm glad that a bunch of FIRE designs got banned, and we got a rules change.


So, where does the format go from here?


Well, the first thing people always do when the format is in the shake-up is play Burn. I spent Monday night farming Burn and Prowess players playing Bogles, which is just a staple of the banday holiday festivities to me.


I expect Death's Shadow to make a comeback as well. The combination of pressure and disruption is still potent, and many people have missed playing the little 1/1 that could.


Reality Smasher and Thought-Knot Seer are things that I expect to see smashing my face in the near future. Eldrazi Tron got outclassed by all the Combo decks and the infinite Cryptic Command, but I fully expect it back now.


Simic decks are in the market for a new win condition. They could revert to Hydroid Krasis, but I wouldn't be surprised at all if they end up running Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. I also wouldn't be surprised if four-color snow is still a thing because of Omnath, Locus of Creation. I think the core of Growth Spiral and Ice-Fang Coatl with stuff is still compelling. Maybe they will find a few friends in Nexus of Fate and Wilderness Reclamation. I don't know where it will end, but I would be surprised if we end up without a playable Simic deck in Modern. And even if we do, we are just a few months away at most from Wizards printing another busted Simic card, so no worries there.


The most important thing I think will be reversed with this is a change that has silently been happening over the years. The gap between the tier 1 and tier 2 decks of the format has been slowly but surely widening to the point that I don't feel confident in saying that many of the tier 2 decks could easily take down a tournament at any time anymore.

This banlist update closes the gap in power level between the two. Taking a big chunk of power away from the top performers and removing some of the immediate pressure to survive for everyone, which results in people having more space to play tier 2 decks.


Final thing; the cascade rules are updated. I'm glad for it; Modern doesn't need a tier 0 deck.


Even though I can be very critical of Wizards, this time, I want to tell them that I think they did a great job.