This past weekend, Magic’s most popular format was on the minds of grinders, causals, and FNM heroes alike nationwide. With SCG’s Regional series being played across the country, we got a wealth of information regarding the current meta.
Let’s take a look at the numbers:
As we can see, Modern is as diverse still as ever with 37 different decks making Top 8’s. Humans still takes its claim at the top of the meta game with 12%. What interests me most about this graph is that nearly all of these decks at one time have been at the top of the meta game. It shows how quickly modern changes.
I would also infer it indicates how “healthy” the format is. I use quotes here because I’m not sure if it really is as healthy as it seems. How do you define healthy? That is a matter of opinion; I define it as interactive magic that lasts longer than three or four turns per game. Of the above listed decks, how many are actually interested in interaction? I would consider Death’s Shadow (borderline), Spirits, Jund, G/B, U/W control, Mardu Pyromancer, Jeskai and Abzan as interactive. That’s 34% (some variance due to not counting the one-of decks) of interactive decks. Or, in other terms, 66% of these decks do not want to interact with their opponent.
I’m very vocal in my area about my dislike for the Modern format. If I wanted to play solitaire, I would stay at home to do it. Unfortunately, I don’t see this trend changing. With the printing of new sets every season, there is always plenty of potential to make a deck faster, as well as the birth of new combos that previously didn’t exist. If your argument is “they also print more answers,” you’re wrong. Remember when Assassin’s Trophy was spoiled? It was going to be a complete gamer changer, format warping, and nothing was going to stop the G/B gods’ return to the heavens. According to our data, the G/B variants made up 11% of the best performing decks at Regionals. For comparison’s sake, he brand new archetype created by Archlight Phoenix alone represented 7% of the meta. Less heralded Guilds of Ravnica cards like Tajic, Legion’s Edge and Creeping Chill provided a boon to the already established Humans and Dredge decks, respectively.
Some brews have also thundered into high profile events using new pieces (none of which are answers answers). Impervious Greatwurm won a Modern Challenge, Ral, Izzet viceroy was in a U/R Pyromaster Ascension combo deck that top 16’d a GP, and Crackling Drake is being added into Blue Moon variants. I see this trend continuing and eventually pushing all fair and interactive decks out of the format. I believe that Modern will eventually devolve into extreme aggro and combo, and if you aren’t doing either of those you will be wrong. Heck, I’d argue that if you’re not doing these things now, you’re already wrong.
Sideboarding is another issue in Modern. With this many unique archetypes, how can you prepare a deck to win if you have absolutely no way of covering all your bases? From a competitive stand point, I (obviously) don’t like Modern. Not only do you have to be the best solitaire player, but you also have to hope you win the match-up lottery. Some matches in Modern are unwinnable and I don’t think competing in a lottery is the best thing for tournament Magic. Players should need to use their skills to win, not casting Blood Moon and hoping it locks your opponent out of the game, or having your Cavern of Souls cast every card in your deck while also making them uncounterable.
I hope you enjoyed my return article to Top Deck Productions. If you disagree with my thoughts on Modern, feel free to destroy me in the comments below!