Modern Upheaval: Some Post-Ban Brews

Happy Wednesday everyone!

I’ll be brief: I’m sad about the bans, but not because I played Pod or Delver. I enjoyed playing against both of those decks because I was 50/50 in the first and favorable in the second. I personally don’t think the latter was oppressive, but oh well.

The point is that it happened. It has been an awkward week since because all Daily Event results posted have been totally uninteresting. No new tech matters until the bans take effect. All I can do is speculate what will be good in the time to come.

In order to do so, first I look at the cards that benefit the most from the bans. Here is a list in no particular order.

Cards that win from the bannings

1) [c]Arcbound Ravager[/c]: Already he lead one of the most consistent online pack-winners, and now he has gained simply by not being gutted with the bannings. Gone are the concerns of easy access to [c]Orzhov Pontiff[/c], [c]Linvala, Keeper of Silence[/c], and even [c]Murderous Redcap[/c] to ruin Affinity’s day. Gone are the blowouts from [c]Forked Bolt[/c]. Historically at the top of the Modern heap with Twin and Pod, now he shares the throne with one less ruler and a lot more openings. Affinity will stunt the emergence of many decks during this time of uncertainty simply because it is a fast and consistent aggro deck.

2) [c]Splinter Twin[/c]: Even though [c]Dig Through Time[/c] seemed to be tailor-made for Twin combo, the deck lost its primary predator in U/R Delver. Unfortunately after untapping with [c]Delver of Secrets[/c], [c]Young Pyromancer[/c], or [c]Monastery Swiftspear[/c] in play, the Delver player was free to interact a turn or two sooner than the Twin deck was. Now that their power level has been nuked, Twin will likely restore its place in the big three.

So the question we ask ourselves is, what will take Pod’s place as the third oppressive and common match? One of the following are the answers I find most likely:

3) [c]Liliana of the Veil[/c]: Lily’s first two effects were garbage against Delver. The +1 effect read “Turn one card in your opponent’s hand into a [c]Lotus Petal[/c],” and the second read “Your opponent loses a minute amount of value from their [c]Young Pyromancer[/c].” Similarly, against Pod, your opponent used their board and their library moreso than their hand, and so many of their creatures didn’t mind being sacrificed. In fact, it was their purpose. Now, though, she and the decks to which she belongs are ready for a return. Like many others, I expect Junk and Jund to be powerful forces in the near future. What’s more: former [c]Birthing Pod[/c] players own most of the cards and know how to play with [c]Abrupt Decay[/c] and the like.

4) [c]Scapeshift[/c]: Similar to [c]Splinter Twin[/c], its critical turn is a bit later than Delver’s was, and similar to Twin, the ways to interact with it are unreliable. [c]Scapeshift[/c]-centered decks may emerge as the third big contender in Pod’s place.

5) [c]Karn Liberated[/c]: Tron was a solid choice in a meta with a lot of [c]Birthing Pod[/c] and [c]Splinter Twin[/c]. Similarly, it will be a force in a meta that simply replaces Pod with Junk.

So what gains as a result of these gains?

I think you all know me by now well enough to say that rather than picking up the next best thing during changes like this, I’m curious to know what is really good against the next best thing. I think many of you are right there with me. It is obvious that players are scrambling for cards immune to [c]Abrupt Decay[/c]; here are some of the price spikes today:

  • [c]Sower of Temptation[/c]
  • [c]Thrun, the Last Troll[/c]
  • [c]Phyrexian Obliterator[/c]
  • [c]Sword of Feast and Famine[/c]
  • [c]Baneslayer Angel[/c]
  • [c]Thundermaw Hellkite[/c]

This prices come from

Each of the creatures in the above list cost 4 or more and are very effective finishers (or thieves of finishers) for a variety of decks. The Sword provides protection to decay, even if it does not protect itself, and it creates a beater that cannot be blocked by [c]Tarmogoyf[/c] and [c]Siege Rhino[/c].

Brew #1

While brewing for the upcoming Modern, I ask myself a few questions: What isn’t going to get crushed by either ability of [c]Liliana of the Veil[/c]? What doesn’t die to [c]Abrupt Decay[/c]? What can disrupt [c]Splinter Twin[/c] and keep Affinity in check? My gut reaction is Orzhov Tokens.

Just like Lily’s +1 ability, Tokens’ suite of discard spells were mocked by [c]Treasure Cruise[/c]. While [c]Zealous Persecution[/c] was a solid answer to [c]Young Pyromancer[/c], in general the deck traded one removal spell for each of the opponent’s threats one at a time, so [c]Treasure Cruise[/c] hurt Tokens’ ability to stop the opponent from winning.

Now, though, Tokens has all the answers. [c]Zealous Persecution[/c] can wreck Affinity’s board, [c]Inquisition of Kozilek[/c] and [c]Thoughtseize[/c] easily disrupt the turn 4 combo decks, and the deck can keep up with Junk and Jund while flying over the top of them for the win.

What I’m most excited about with Tokens, though, is the inclusion of [c]Monastery Mentor[/c]. Can there be a more apt home for the new [c]Young Pyromancer[/c] than a deck that is composed primarily of non-creature spells that produce creatures and pump tokens?

Here is my draft for post-Ban, post-Fate Reforged Orzhov Tokens.

[d title=”Drinkard Tokens (Modern)”]
4 Godless Shrine
2 Isolated Chapel
4 Marsh Flats
6 Plains
2 Vault of the Archangel
3 Windbrisk Heights
2 Windswept Heath

3 Monastery Mentor

Other Spells
4 Honor of the Pure
4 Inquisition of Kozilek
2 Intangible Virtue
4 Lingering Souls
1 Murderous Cut
4 Path to Exile
1 Phyrexian Arena
4 Raise the Alarm
2 Sorin, Solemn Visitor
3 Spectral Procession
2 Thoughtseize
3 Zealous Persecution

1 Disenchant
2 Kor Firewalker
3 Mirran Crusader
2 Rest in Peace
2 Stain the Mind
2 Stony Silence
1 Sundering Growth
1 Utter End
1 Zealous Persecution[/d]

This deck has the burden of proof placed upon it that it can answer what the opponent does, since cards like [c]Honor of the Pure[/c] and [c]Raise the Alarm[/c] are a bit underwhelming alone. Still, when its pieces come together, the pace of its disruption, removal, and overpowering swarm are forces impossible to answer.

Brew #2

I keep making the argument that [c]Become Immense[/c] was better than [c]Treasure Cruise[/c] in Burn decks. In Burn, [c]Treasure Cruise[/c] can be huge and draw three Bolts. It also can draw two lands and a [c]Goblin Guide[/c] well after your creatures have become irrelevant. It can draw [c]Eidolon of the Great Revel[/c] when your opponent’s hand is empty. Your opponent could have a [c]Leyline of Sanctity[/c] in play. I have enjoyed playing Burn with the best [c]Lightning Bolt[/c] around ([c]Wild Nacatl[/c]) and the superior [c]Treasure Cruise[/c] in Burn decks.

Now that [c]Treasure Cruise[/c] is banned, other delve cards are getting an honest look, and I am tempted to shoe-horn [c]Become Immense[/c] into a U/R Delver deck. Besides the success I’ve had with [c]Become Immense[/c], I think that the evasion from [c]Delver of Secrets[/c] and the sheer numbers of attackers with [c]Young Pyromancer[/c] and the surprise [c]Monastery Swiftspear[/c] attack-you-for-8 play makes Delver a natural home for the new and improved [c]Revenge of the Hunted[/c]. Here is my first crack at the concept:

[d title=”Drinkard RUG Delver (Modern)”]
2 Breeding Pool
3 Island
4 Misty Rainforest
1 Mountain
3 Polluted Delta
2 Steam Vents
3 Wooded Foothills

4 Delver of Secrets
4 Monastery Swiftspear
1 Snapcaster Mage
4 Young Pyromancer

Other Spells
3 Become Immense
1 Burst Lightning
2 Forked Bolt
4 Gitaxian Probe
1 Izzet Charm
4 Lightning Bolt
1 Mutagenic Growth
4 Serum Visions
3 Spell Pierce
3 Thought Scour
3 Vapor Snag

2 Blood Moon
1 Dismember
1 Dispel
2 Flash Freeze
1 Forked Bolt
2 Hibernation
1 Izzet Staticaster
1 Mutagenic Growth
1 Negate
2 Smash to Smithereens
1 Spell Pierce[/d]

This deck is a lot more geared around the strategy of playing stuff on your turn. I wonder if [c]Kiln Fiend[/c] even belongs in here, to help beat the Tron decks you will face. Do I think [c]Become Immense[/c] is as solid here as it is in Naya or as [c]Treasure Cruise[/c] once was? Certainly not, but I do think you will get some free wins from it often enough.

There will be a lot of contention for the third spot at the head of the Modern metagame. Who knows, maybe even Affinity or Twin will get pushed out in all of the commotion. Personally, I think everyone’s testing should include Junk, Tron, Twin, Scapeshift, Bogles, Burn, and Affinity before entering into a Daily Event. It wouldn’t hurt to be sure you have game against [c]Amulet of Vigor[/c], [c]Lord of Atlantis[/c], and [c]Through The Breach[/c], either.

Hope you’re all equipped, that you’ve got some good luck, and that you’re having fun.