It’s that time… No, you can keep your pants on this time. Today we’re going to do a health check on the modern format. There have been some exciting changes recently with the unbanning of Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Bloodbraid Elf and the release of Dominaria. Did these changes have an impact on the format? Let’s take a look.
By now the consensus is that Humans is the best deck in modern. Any tournament that you enter will certainly be filled with these synergistic flesh bags. But really, how wide is the gap between the “best” deck and the rest of the field? Well… the numbers say that the gap isn’t that wide and it’s closing by the minute. We may actually be in for a bit of a shift here. Including the competitive modern league results as well as the most recent major modern events, Humans has gone 5-0 or won exactly 0 times. That’s out of 42 possible. Not exactly the result you’d expect to see for the most popular deck in the format.
So if humans aren’t winning everything and taking over, what is? Out of those 42 events, there were 26 unique decks and again, no Humans. The best part is that the representation shows that you can literally play, and win, with whatever style suits you best. Like control? Good news, Jeskai, Lantern, Esper, Blue-white, and Blue-black Control… All on the list of winners. Prefer to get tribal? Elves and Merfolk got it done. Feeling aggressive? White Weenie, Black-Red Hollow One, Burn, Infect, and Affinity… They will soothe that itch. Finding yourself feeling blah and need something to help you get back into the groove? How about that sweet midrange medicine? Grixis Death’s Shadow put up the best results over this period, and they have company with Black-Green, Abzan, and Mardu Pyromancer. All of this and multiple combo decks make the list. Are you feeling better yet?
Not only are there a lot of decks, but there continues to be a tremendous amount of innovation happening with the release of the new set. Damping Sphere was the most popular addition to a lot of decks. This 2 mana artifact had a major impact as it serves a great utility role against the combo decks and the always present Tron. But that wasn’t the only card to pop up in lists. The unsurprising addition of Karn, Scion of Urza was in there. But there were some really surprising finds in these lists. None more surprising than this list that played Impulse… Not that sweet blue spell, but this green one from Dominaria.
Other notable additions were Marwyn, the Nurturer, Merfolk Trickster, and Shalai, Voice of Plenty. The most exciting news out of modern, in my opinion, is that Jace the Mind Sculptor has gotten the boot by a 5 mana planeswalker… Well, sort of. Teferi, Hero of Dominaria the newest force in both Standard and Modern. Most of the control lists that play blue and white have opted for this powerful walker due to his ability to draw cards while untapping lands to fuel those counterspells and untap the flipped Search for Azcanta. I’m not sure that anyone saw a Jace unban leading to him being unseated by Teferi. I expect a lot more change to come to the blue decks as they figure out how to push Teferi’s ability.
Whew, this felt like a full physical and lucky for us, there’s no giant bill for this visit. Dominaria had a nice impact on modern and brought some new twists to some existing decks. The modern metagame is all over the place and there has never been a more challenging time that I can remember to get down to 15 sideboard cards for all of them. I would expect that the list of decks will start to slowly narrow themselves down and the variants of each archetype figure out which can best handle the challenges of the format. But until that happens I encourage everyone to sleeve up the 75 that makes you smile. Because we all know that a game of magic is truly the best medicine.