A Brave New World
Today saw the most recent banned/restricted update for Magic, which can be found here. Wizards has come out and proclaimed that Treasure Cruise shall be no more in any format outside of Standard, which depending on who you asked was expected. Modern got even more of a shakeup than just that, however, with the additional bans of Dig Through Time and Birthing Pod, while Golgari Grave-Troll is no longer banned.
Many who know me realize that I am a huge fan of the Modern format and have always been an advocate that more people should look into playing it. Today’s changes don’t change my advocacy in the least and I still feel that Modern is a great format for all of the reasons it was a great format in the past (unless, of course, you only want to play Birthing Pod). The biggest downfall of this change is that it hurts the cheapest competitive deck in the format, which in turn will make it harder to buy into the format on the cheap. There are, however, still plenty of affordable options (although none as powerful as Delver of Secrets).
I actually think that this change will help diversify the format and make more archetypes viable, and overall be a huge boon for the format after the initial shock of Birthing Pod being banned wears off. Aggressive strategies will be more viable without being policed by Pod decks gaining life off of Kitchen Finks and Siege Rhino, so we can expect to see more burn and zoo around. Junk becomes the new “best” midrange deck in the format and we may even see Jund (or 4 color) make a resurgence. Without having to fight through Treasure Cruise control decks should also have an easier time in the format.
Outside of Birthing Pod decks, the other decks I feel take a hit here are Delver of Secrets, Jeskai Ascendancy, Splinter Twin and Scapeshift. Mostly this is due to the loss of Dig Through Time making the combo decks more consistent combined with the fact that aggro will end up being better overall. The Delver of Secrets decks lost out on the ability to refuel, but they also get to cut their weakest cards in Thought Scour, plus they also had Monastery Swiftspear as a huge boon to their deck (not to mention that we may end up having Monastery Mentor show up in some decks). While these decks may seem to have taken a hit, until we see how the new meta turns out it’s actually possible they could be some of the stronger options available.
I think this is a very exciting time for Modern as a format, though I am sad to see these 3 cards go away. Personally I would rather have seen more cards removed from the banned list, but I can certainly understand why these changes were made. These changes aren’t effective on Magic Online until 1/28/2015 so it may take some time before we really start to see how things shake out in the end, but the Modern Pro Tour which starts on 2/6/2015 should be very interesting to watch. If you have the itch to try out this new Modern format, there is a Modern Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifier that I will be head judging on 1/31/2015 down in Worcester, MA, or you can check with your local store to see if they have any Modern events coming up soon.