1/18 Banned & Restricted Announcement Early

So apparently the 1/18 banned and restricted announcement ended up going out early, due to a MTGO beta leak.

For the full article you can click here. I am not going to cover the pauper change as that is basically a MTGO only format, but here are the changes for modern.

  1. Summer Bloom has been banned.
  2. Splinter Twin has been banned.

Yeah, no unbans at all which surprises and saddens me. The Twin ban was a bit out of left field and sets a somewhat worrisome precedent as far as bans are concerned going forward. In the past the bans for “format dominance” or for the sake of diversity were targeted at decks that were showing 20%+ of the meta. Twin was, as of the most recent math done on Modern Nexus, was only about ~11.5% of the meta between all 3 archetypes combined. The concern raised by many is that now any deck that does well should be fearful of a ban. This is a very legitimate concern, as the precedent set over the past few years is that a tier 1 deck has been banned every January prior to the modern pro tour. The banning of Twin was, in my opinion, completely unnecessary and overall very bad for the format.

Though I guess now we can set blue up as equally bad to white as far as how much different colors see play in modern. Twin was the blue deck. And the hope that some form of blue control deck will get better with the banning of twin is just ludicrous. Scapeshift does have room to potentially grow, but cards like Snapcaster Mage and Cryptic Command have become so much less good as they just don’t have a deck they fit into anymore. The one thing that would’ve given blue a chance is if either Sword of the Meek or Ancestral Vision were allowed into the format.

However this is not the death of the format. Yes, there will be fear in regards to a player’s favorite deck being banned because it does too well. Going forward, however, modern will still be a diverse and healthy format. Combo decks will still be a thing, with a good mix of midrange/combo decks (Kiki-Chord, Abzan Company) and pure combo (Grishoalbrand, Ad Nauseam, Scapeshfift). Aggro remains unchanged, even better perhaps, due to the removal of twin which was often a difficult matchup. Many think that ramp decks (Tron, Eldrazi) will be hugely problematic going forward, which I think is a legitimate concern as twin was the best and most prevalent Blood Moon deck in the format. These decks will likely be targeted heavily with sideboard hate, which may start to get spread super thin….

As far as bloom is concerned, it’s quite possible that a new version will take shape and be playable. The deck will not be quite as good, but something along the following may have legs (this is a rough draft with zero testing).

Creatures (8)
Azusa, Lost but Seeking
Primeval Titan

Spells (25)
Amulet of Vigor
Hive Mind
Pact of Negation
Slaughter Pact
Summoner’s Pact
Ancient Stirrings
Serum Visions
Sleight of Hand
Lands (27)
Boros Garrison
Cavern of Souls
Gemstone Mine
Golgari Rot Farm
Gruul Turf
Khalni Garden
Mana Confluence
Radiant Fountain
Selesnya Sanctuary
Simic Growth Chamber
Slayers’ Stronghold
Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion
Temple of Mystery
Tolaria West

Yes, I took our the Blooms for 2 more copies of Azusa and some filtering. But that may still be fine, especially as hate starts to move away from the deck. Azusa is much less good due to how additional land drops work now. The change also slows the deck down by a full turn, but I believe turn 2 kills are still possible with double or triple Amulet of Vigor. At the very least it will make for a good Hypothetically Modern article as we check out Exploration at some point.

While modern may not be the happiest place right now, it is the format that we have. Hopefully WotC will see and address the concerns of modern players and assuage their fears of ban mania. In the mean time I hope that players are still coming out for modern events, of which we have a few coming up soon.

Chris Wendelboe

Chris is a level 2 judge from Ashland, New Hampshire. He enjoys Scapeshift, modern, and putting on the best events possible.