Hey everyone! Welcome to another Modern Musings! This week we are going to be talking about Monday’s bombshell announcement and how it might impact Modern, despite the fact that Standard was the only format they’ve announced bans for as of yet.
(Like Jace, I don’t always like where the clues point)
I’m always looking to the future to try and predict what Modern is going to look like weeks, months, or sometimes (very rarely) even years from now. This is because it can benefit me financially and also allows me to hand out those sweet, sweet “I told you so’s” to the naysayers when I’m right. You can do this roughly three ways:
First you can look at individual cards or mechanics and figure out how much better they are going to get based on how well they scale with bigger card pools. Scapeshift is a perfect example of this. When it was first printed, it was a dollar rare. But you know that a card like this only gets more and more powerful as more sets come out, because more lands are always going to be printed. Now Scapeshift is hovering around $50. Compare this to a card like the recently banned Attune with Aether; it can only get basic lands, something that is fairly static. It also gives you energy, and unless they explicitly print more energy cards, it’s a mechanic that’s going to have a stale power level. This is opposed to something like metalcraft or storm which instead of becoming stale, age like fine wine.
Second you can look to what deck archetypes are most likely to profit as time goes on, as well as the general archetypal trends (aggro, midrange, control, combo). Looking at deck archetypes we can probably deduce that Storm will continue to get better, while a deck like Ad Nauseam is much less likely to improve. The reason being is that every time that a cantrip is printed, Storm becomes a little more consistent as it can reasonably cast several finisher spells to win the game. Ad Nauseam suffers from the fact that it basically must always cast, well, Ad Nauseam. If we look at aggro decks, it’s probably better to put stock in Humans more than other tribal decks as there are new humans printed every set, while Merfolk, Elves, and Eldrazi all usually have to wait for a themed set to see significant printings.
The third, and most topical to current events in magic, is direct intervention by Wizards of the Coast. By direct intervention, I mean that cards are banned or unbanned by Wizards to try to shape the format more to their liking. This is a popular one to discuss in Modern as everyone has their opinions on what should or shouldn’t be on the ban list. But it seems to me that judging the way that Wizards has been handling standard, this will become one of the defacto ways Wizards balances Modern as well.
(Wizards attempting to balance standard)
In case you missed it, on Monday Wizards of the Coast had a banned and restricted announcement in which they banned Attune with Aether, Rogue Refiner, Rampaging Ferocidon, and Ramunap Ruins. They followed this announcement with what I thought was a reasonable argument backed with sufficient evidence to back up their claims. To summarize, the win percentage of Ramunap Red was too high and energy decks were the staple for far too long. It’s the ban on energy, though, that I think is the more interesting one. I think that this ban marks a significant shift in Wizards ban criterion. While the energy decks boasted good win rates, they were reasonable for a dominant deck in Standard, and in the past Wizards has done nothing about more dominant decks (Mono Black Devotion, Siege Rhino decks, Collected Company decks). So to me this means that Standard attendance must have taken a huge hit.
But more relevant to us Modern-folk, at the end of the banning announcement was this little tidbit:
“Finally, we will have another banned and restricted announcement next month on February 12. The timing of this announcement makes it ideal to consider changes based on the results of Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan, and thus will more than likely focus on Modern. However, it also is right before Grand Prix Lyon, which is Modern. As such, the paper effective date of that announcement, if we should change anything, will be February 23, so as not to disrupt anyone traveling to that event.”
Ominous. Now it could just be that they didn’t want to scare people off from Grand Prix Lyon, thus pissing off all the tournament organizers, but this sounds suspiciously like they think they are going to have to ban something in Modern. And if that is their plan, then pushing back the date that the banning would take effect in paper Magic as some kind of peace offering makes sense. It seems to me that they are prepared to ban something, but the question is do they have a particular card in mind? Or are they just resigned to the fact that they are probably going to have to ban something? Either way, changes to the ban list seem likely. All I can hope for is that they finally unban Bloodbraid Elf.
As always, let me know what you think in the comments, and see you next week!