Three Modern Decks to Play After the Bans
- Marin Magda
Last week, five more cards have been banned from Modern in one of the biggest announcements in recent memory. This caused quite a stir, killing some strategies and making others (even) better. Which decks can we expect to see rise to the top now? We can quickly come up with at least three!
The reign of Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath has finally come to an end. Banning arguably the most broken Giant in the game closed down one abysmal chapter of Modern history. However, Wizards of the Coast didn't stop there. Apparently, they decided that unfair decks have ruled Modern for too long, so February 15 entered the history books as the date of one of the biggest ban announcements of all time.
While nobody really expected the Simian Spirit Guide ban, nobody seems to be sad about it either. During its lifespan, the Ape appeared again and again in decks of varying degrees of unfairness, from Grishoalbrand to Neobrand to Belcher to the recent cascade constructs. Even Ad Nauseam, which was not broken by any means, was fairly noninteractive. The same goes for the Tibalt's Trickery decks that sought to cheat an early Emrakul, the Aeons Torn onto the stack. The ban hammer struck Trickery as well, albeit a bit more preemptively in this case.
Speaking of Tibalt, the new one is finally useless again due to an expected change to the cascade mechanic. Cascade now cares about the mana value of the resulting spell and not just about the card's mana value. This leaves Bring to Light as the only realistic means of cheating on Tibalt's cost.
We can also say goodbye to some of the format's most powerful lands. Field of the Dead and Mystic Sanctuary have been banned due to creating noninteractive game states too often. Titan and non-Azorius Control probably won't see as much play anymore now. But here's which decks probably will. I believe that the following are due for a spike, even though some of them were doing fine in the previous meta as well.
Consider this as more of an entry for decks that primarily rely on red in general. I was heavily inclined to list Izzet Prowess rather than Burn, but since the former did great even before the bans, I've decided to focus on Boros Burn. It also put up some decent results beforehand, helping me win a tournament ahead of Uro's ban, but it's now about to see some changes for the better.
The main improvement is it doesn't have to start a full playset of Skullcrack anymore. With Uro around, four Skullcracks were a must, taking away precious space from Skewer the Critics, Searing Blaze, and/or Lightning Helix. When we still lived in fear of the Nature's Wrath, I grudgingly cut one of each and went down to nineteen lands. Right now, though, everyone is back to full playsets of the mentioned cards, relying on the classic 28 noncreature spells and twenty lands. I would suggest including a single Skullcrack or even Shard Volley in place of Fiery Islet, but that's sort of exaggerating. This is what a Burn list looks like right now:
|Blippo995's Boros Burn, Modern League 5-0, February 16|
The departure of Uro isn't the only reason why I like the state of Burn, mind you. Although not quite ideal, I also like its Prowess matchup, as it's usually able to keep the opposing creatures at bay. Hammer Time, another deck that I recently covered, should also kneel before it, as it relies on its speed more than protecting its creatures. Death's Shadow is one of the matchups where skill level truly matters on both sides, but another cause for optimism. Finally, all of these decks—Prowess, Hammer Time, and (Rakdos) Shadow alike—are bound to claim a bigger metagame share in the wake of the bannings. With Burn, you'll probably lose to bad draws more often than to bad matchups, as there are not many left.
Although it's not been heavily played for a while, I would like to point out to the possible return of an old Modern favorite. Since it is favored against most of the decks that I have mentioned thus far, I think that not only will Jund finally be back, but also be here to stay. Sure, it folds against Monogreen Tron, but with so many aggressive decks on top of the new Modern meta, it's questionable whether Tron has what it takes to fully shine again.
Jund is known as a strategy that has a fifty-fifty shot against nearly all other decks, save for a few horrendous matchups. However, do you know what those bad matchups, other than Tron variants, are? Or have been? That's right, Uro and Titan decks, the former gone, the latter much weaker. Even though Amulet Titan is well capable of winning without Field of the Dead, I think that the Field ban will, at the very least, discourage non-Titan players from joining this particular club.
|Golgarburr's Jund, Modern League 5-0, February 19|
As you may already notice, there is not a single Boil in the sideboard. Since Mystic Sanctuary is no more, it's safe to assume a decrease in the overall Island count in decks. This, along with the weakening of Titan decks that might use Dryad of the Ilysian Grove, takes away the need for Boil, but not Ashiok, Dream Render. It's good against a multitude of decks, not just those running Primeval Titan. As a deck that has a shot against most others, this change might further give Jund the slight push that it needed so badly.
Chalice of the Void decks should do better now, which is why I want to include Eldrazi Tron to wrap up today's trifecta. With so many fair midrange decks, big mana decks are, in theory, bound to benefit. However, Titan took a hit with the Field of the Dead ban, while Monogreen Tron is about to have a very bad time with all those red decks.
For these reasons, along with the Uro ban, I believe E Tron to become viable again. Since Uro was the only suspect for this deck's sudden downfall after being more than relevant for over a year, I fully expect the Eldrazi to return to form. Even if you don't manage to slam down the Chalice on turn two, you can still outpace other decks with a turn two Thought-Knot Seer or a turn three Reality Smasher.
If I were to base an entire list on the assumption of an aggressive meta, here's how I would do it. Even if you're not an Eldrazi Tron player, you can see that this functions as a toolbox deck of sorts and can easily be tweaked to account for changes in the environment. The deck has more flex slots than meets the eye, so if you're not facing that much aggro, you can always play two Caverns or kick out that Trinisphere. You also don't need turn three Tron with this one, yet you can still have an insane opener. It's no Monogreen Tron, but you can mulligan somewhat aggressively with it nonetheless, which is another thing that I like about the deck.
The meta will be so diverse now that the above three barely scratch the surface on the tip of the proverbial iceberg. As already stated, Izzet Prowess will continue to be an absolute force to be reckoned with, and so should Rakdos and Jund Death's Shadow variants. Hammer Time, Heliod Company, and Death and Taxes remain untouched, while Azorius Control should now be strictly better positioned. Skyclave Apparition is one amazing card, so Spirits will probably remain the tribal deck to beat rather than Humans because of its synergy. Finally, Monogreen Tron and Golgari Elves are decks that also greatly benefit from the bans, but their destiny entirely depends on the exact trajectory the metagame takes. Since that is something that we can't just predict like that, I'd keep an eye on them, but doubt they will do as well as the rest of the decks mentioned here.
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