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  • posted a message on [[Official]] New Modern Ban List Testing
    On the Gauntlet:

    Now that we've had a few major events to shake out the metagame with Born of the Gods and the recent changes to the banned list, I think its time to start talking about testing again and putting together a revised gauntlet.

    Pod, Affinity, Twin, and UWR Control are obviously Tier 1 strategies that should be included in a gauntlet of top decks. I'm not sure which Pod variant is the best to test with. Which lists for these decks do you feel are the most representative?

    Also Zoo, Jund, Faeries, Storm, Tron and Scapeshift seem to have a notable presence in the format - even if they aren't winning - as 'gotcha' checks that present very lopsided match ups and difficult to deal with scenarios. Should any of those decks (or even others) be included in a gauntlet of top decks? And if so, which lists?


    On testing:

    It seems to me that GGT is undisputed as the safest choice to come off the banned list, with minimal risk to creating any new decks and only providing a very mild boost to existing DredgeVine or Reanimator strategies.

    Instead, it seems the next most logical card to talk about is Ancestral Vision. It has never been a part of the format and was previously banned on account of its performance in Legacy - a trend which has almost completely tailed off with the exception of Shardless BUG, which abuses it in a capacity Modern likely cannot emulate. I believe AV should be the focus for now. Three major points of contention seem to be driving the debate, all of which can be answered by testing:

    (1) Would AV slot into existing Tier 1 strategies (like U/W/x Control) in addition to or in lieu of Sphinx's Rev?
    (2) Would any of the non-W U/x decks it could slot into (UB Faeries, Blue Moon, BUG?) be helped enough to become Tier 1?
    (3) Would the play style AV enables (slow grindy control) be oppressive? (<---this one is more qualitative, but actual impressions and match reports help)

    Also Stoneforge Mystic in the absence of Batterskull (in conjunction with Swords and Elbrus) has come up as a point of contention in the Modern Banned List discussion. If you are passionately for or against that one, I encourage you to draw up decklists, use transparent testing with your play group, and post results and impressions here to provide a frame of reference and some hard data. That discussion seems to have tailed off after GP Richmond, but if it pops up again, then looking at decklists and testing might help.


    Just a reminder: this is a place for setting up testing gauntlets, proposing and refining test decklists, and posting results of testing. Discussion of the theory-crafting behind bans should probably be reserved for the other discussion thread.
    Posted in: Modern Community
  • posted a message on [[Official]] Current Modern Banlist Discussion (2/2014 - 7/2014)
    Birthing Pod is worth watching. 50% of a Top8 is reason for concern, but not cause for bans until it shows its success can be sustained. The rash of Jund performances before BBE's banning proved that WotC considers Metagame share vs Top 16 performances at large events over time to assess dominance. Pod might be on the chopping block if it can match that performance. Its constant presence and slow march of progress reminds me a bit of Survival of the Fittest, though there are some obvious dissimilarities.

    Now that Jund is clearly no longer a dominant force in the metagame, I think its fair to suggest that BBE is a card which should be strongly considered for unbanning. One of Ponder and/or Preordain shouldn't be that far behind with the decline of UR Combo from 40% of the metagame at PT Philly down to where it is now, even if it would benefit Twin a bit. GGT was never a problem to begin with, so I'd love to see it unbanned.

    I'll be looking into testing Ancestral Vision, likely in a U/x/x control deck and UB Faeries. I think that's a more reasonable place to start than JTMS, SFM, Ponder, Preordain, etc at the moment. If you've done any testing with AV (regardless of being for or against its unban) I encourage you to post your lists and contribute in the Banned List Testing thread (found in my sig). Between PT Valencia and GP Richmond we've probably got enough data to start putting together a reasonable gauntlet and proposing test lists now.

    Over the past few pages, SFM with Swords and/or Elbrus has been a hot-button issue so discussing some decklists with Misty might be fun too, but personally I don't advocate for testing it at this time. There are more deserving cards to discuss first. But go ahead if its something you're passionate about.
    Posted in: Modern Archives
  • posted a message on [[Official]] Current Modern Banlist Discussion (2/2014 - 7/2014)
    Empty the warrens at least uses an attack step to kill, which gives more room to interact and find answers, even if it isn't necessarily any slower on its nut draw. Plus even if you manage to Empty the Warrens early, you'll need to give them a way to gain haste (e.g. goblin Bushwacker) or open yourself up to another turn for you opponent to find an answer, and that's usually the difference between a Turn 3 and Turn 4 kill. Fog, Echhoing Truth, Supreme Verdict, Drown in Sorrow, Bile Blight, Ghostly Prison, etc - lots of stuff would would be applicable - as well as the counterspells and discard that already would have slowed Storm's engine if it didn't use combat.

    Storm is probably fine right now for speed, and would probably still be ok with Seething Song or more cantrips back, especially with a potentially policing deck like Faeries in the mix. Its not some unbeatable monster...just fast for decks that aren't prepared for it. It has plenty of weaknesses to exploit, and it could still be further hindered by forcing it to use a less efficient stormer than Grapeshot. And you could probably kill one of its engine drivers (Past in Flames, Ascension or Electromancer) to make it less resilient and more susceptible to hate without killing the deck.
    Posted in: Modern Archives
  • posted a message on [[Official]] Current Modern Banlist Discussion (2/2014 - 7/2014)
    It's hard to say for sure because the new metagame is still young, but if Jund replaced Zoo after Nacatl was banned and Zoo is going to retake that space and push out Jund now that Nacatl is back, then I wouldn't mind seeing BBE and/or DRS back sooner rather than later. I think DRS was likely being overplayed pre-ban because it didn't really have any meaningful competition at 1-drop in the format. Now that Nacatl is back, it has some competition. Bring back Ponder or Preordain and Delver may be a thing again too.
    Posted in: Modern Archives
  • posted a message on [[Official]] Current Modern Banlist Discussion (2/2014 - 7/2014)
    Quote from ktkenshinx
    Patrick Chapin wrote a fairly long article for today in which he reflects on Modern and discusses some Modern ban options. There's a lot in the article (you have to be SCG Premium to read it), but there are a few quotes that are relevant to our banning discussion. In summary, Pat Chapin thinks Storm needs yet another ban:

    In the meantime, it is my assessment that Manamorphose should be banned in Modern. Storm was the best performing archetype at the Pro Tour, and the archetype is highly undesirable. One could argue that the quality of players playing Storm was on average higher, but top pros did not generally average much better than the mean at this event.


    Banning Manamorphose would greatly reduce the number of turn 3 kills, increase Storm's reliance on the graveyard (making it easier to interact with), and generally decrease its power level (hopefully enough to knock it down to tier 2). Pyromancer Ascension and Past in Flames are extremely powerful cards that are likely to continue to provide a backbone to some kind of combo deck, but given how fast the deck is, how difficult it is to interact with, and how unfun the deck is, it should not be the most dominate deck in the format.

    Yes, there's some more context to these quotes than I am giving (I don't want to post too much of the article so I am only quoting the most succinct pieces of it). But that's really the gist of Chapin's stance on Modern bannings now.

    I'm not going to dive too deep into his idea. I tend to like Chapin as a writer and player, but to be honest, I really hate his suggestions for Modern. He's had some really bad ones before and I get the sense he does it for press/views more than anything else. This is a particularly egregious example of it. Even analyzing the quote on its own merits independent of its writer, the banning of Manamorphose seems like a terrible idea for the format. Not only is it way, way, way too early to call for a ban on anything, but it perpetuates this ridiculous "ban first, ask questions later" mentality that has become synonymous with Modern. He even says so himself in the article - With less black discard around, combo decks get powerful. So instead of crying for a ban, why not let the metagame shift back towards black midrange or control?

    This format is quickly becoming the ban format and although it's overall popular, that banning precedent is a bad one for the future. Ultimately, I just wish people (pros included, apparently) would wait for metagame shifts, new cards, and new tech/decks before calling for something so final and public as a ban. On this forum, people do that because they either aren't thinking critically or because they want to be sensational. I imagine it's the same for major writers like Chapin and, in the end, that's not a direction that is healthy for our format.

    Could you please elaborate on why he thinks storm deserves another ban? Just because it performed well in the hands of a few of the best players in the world when no one was expected it to be viable? Or does he cite some on-camera turn 3 wins or something? Faeries did just as well day 2 but I don't see anyone worried about that yet...and in fact Faeries should be an excellent choice if you expect storm to be popular.

    I have to say it seems crazy to keep banning rituals. At this point if storm deserves another ban (and I don't think I it does) it makes much more sense to hit pyromancers Ascension, Past in Flames, or Grapeshot instead of rituals and/or cantrips. It's been said that insanity is doing the same things over and over again but expecting different results. So WotC would be nuts to try to hinder Storm by continuing to go after the rituals and can trips instead of he enabler (ascension, past in flames) or undercosted and likely broken Storm finishers (Grapeshot, etc).
    Posted in: Modern Archives
  • posted a message on [[Official]] Current Modern Banlist Discussion (2/2014 - 7/2014)
    Quote from NessOnett

    If something "Breaks"(this is the key word) the format, that is the only instance where a banning should occur. SDT broke timing constraints. Blazing Shoal broke infect. SFM broke Batterskull. This is why these are good bans. And bans like BBE and GGT(and formerly BB and Nacatl) are most assuredly not.

    I'd posit that Batterskull broke SFM.

    Misty made her competitive debut as a cute way to grab a Behemoth Sledge to race or a Basilisk Collar for Cunning Sparkmage shenanigans in Naya Zoo. Hardly broken.

    Then she started fetching singleton Umezawa's Jitte in Conley Woods' Bant brew. Also note, no swords of X and Y...not powerful enough. Also JTMS was hanging out with SFM and the world didn't end. Other than the Jitte, I could see this as a reasonable deck in Modern.

    Then with Mirrodin Besieged she started grabbing Sword of Feast and Famine in Standard. Powerful, and good enough to win PT Paris, but it wasn't the most played deck in the room and it had a pretty reasonable win percentage as far as PT winning decks go, but definitely good for a Standard deck.

    Misty only got absurd when Batterskull was printed, eventually going on to inspire a fistful of bannings in Modern, Extended, and Standard, all the while seeing widespread play in Legacy.

    Stoneforge Mystic is a cool card. I think Modern would be a better format with the card. But Batterskull would have to go, and Jitte shouldn't come back. WotC will likely never make the mistake of printing another equipment as good as those two ever again. In fact, with the initial banned list for Modern, Jitte bought it because SFM was the more fun card. And I don't know about you, but I've never looked down a Batterskull on the other side of the table and thought "this is really fun!"

    Posted in: Modern Archives
  • posted a message on [[Official]] Current Modern Banlist Discussion (2/2014 - 7/2014)
    Quote from Billiondegree
    Now that Bitterblossom and Nacatl are off the hook, and neither have broken the format, I suspect more unbans around the corner.

    Golgari Grave Troll

    Sword of the Meek

    Bloodbraid Elf

    The possibilities are many

    Ancestral Vision I hesitate to mention because UWR control would most likely slot it in and become even more powerful

    Same with Ponder/Preordain with [twin]/Storm

    I agree with GGT, MeekSword, and BBE, but I'm don't follow your logic on Ponder/Preordain or Ancestral Vision. Decks getting better isn't a negative unless they go from fair to warpingly dominating. On the balance I think it's probably fair to say that other decks that aren't competing right now (Delver, non-White U/x, Tezzerator, Faeries, etc) have more to gain from P/P or AV than the established top decks, which would means a more competitive and diverse metagame as a whole.

    I also doubt that UWR control would run AV over Sphinx's Rev. The incidental life gain and better late game topdecks that Sphinx's Rev represent are substantial compared to AV. UWR midrange might run AV over Sphinx's Rev, but that version of the deck hasn't fared as well so maybe it getting some help wouldn't be a bad thing. Grixis, BUG, and other under-represented Non-white U/x decks that don't really have a good card advantage option right now might play it too.

    Posted in: Modern Archives
  • posted a message on [[Official]] Current Modern Banlist Discussion (2/2014 - 7/2014)
    Quote from Valanarch

    I'm pretty sure that Jund was at around 35% of the metagame.

    Metagame stats for Jund preceding BBE's banning in Jan 2013
    GP Lyon - 21%
    GP Toronto - 25%
    GP Chicago - 35%*
    GP Bilbao - 15%

    *as of Round 8 - it appears WotC may have forgotten to publish the Day 1 & 2 metagame stats on the GP Chicago blog. Maybe its elsewhere on the site, but it appears from the Round 5-7 charts (which inconveniently don't have numbers) that Jund was likely less than 25% of the overall metagame, but had overachieved to make up a large percent of the Day 2 metagame.
    Posted in: Modern Archives
  • posted a message on [[Official]] Current Modern Banlist Discussion (2/2014 - 7/2014)
    The problem with Chrome Mox is that in a metagame where speed matters (which certainly applies to Modern) Chrome Mox becomes nearly an auto-include for about half the format. Take for example Worlds 2008. 39/84 (46%) of "winning" decks (4-2 or better) played Chrome Mox. PT Valencia 2007 saw 29/69 (42%) of Day 2 decks include Chrome Mox. I'm sure if you pull results from other Extended events in which Mox was legal, you'll find it consistently in a huge portion of the winning metagame.

    If we saw Bloodbraid Elf get banned when it was found in around 15-20% of the metagame, then surely ~40% metagame saturation is a level of dominance and warping that wouldn't be acceptable in Modern.

    PS - Jund was no longer dominant at this last Pro Tour and actually did quite badly. Perhaps unbanning Bloodbraid Elf is possible soon.
    Posted in: Modern Archives
  • posted a message on [[Official]] Current Modern Banlist Discussion (2/2014 - 7/2014)
    Quote from Wrduardo
    Undeniably that is true, but if you ban grapeshot you ban the purpose of playing the deck using actual storm. People would go back to straight pyromancer's ascension, which is a far less fun version of the deck to play.

    How would it kill without Grapeshot? Milling out with Thought Scour or searching for a singleton Banefire? That just seems bad. The Ascension version is even weaker to graveyard hate than the ritual storm decks. At least it has the advantage of enough free slots that it can play a few Mana Leaks, Spell Snares, Remands, and/or Echoing Truth. Not sure if that's a good trade off in the current metagame.
    Posted in: Modern Archives
  • posted a message on [[Official]] Current Modern Banlist Discussion (2/2014 - 7/2014)
    That's why I wouldn't mind seeing Grapeshot swap with some combination of cantrips and rituals on the banned list. Using Empty the Warrens' goblin tokens for the storm kill is (1) a turn slower due to summoning sickness and/or requires an extra card in Goblin Bushwacker, and (2) is interaction on the battlefield, not just the stack. Storm gets both more explosive and more fragile, and non-blue decks can hope to interact and still win instead of dying on the spot. Also add on benefits to Delver, blue control, and All-in strategies.

    Ban: Grapeshot
    Unban: Seething Song, Ponder, Preordain
    Posted in: Modern Archives
  • posted a message on [[Official]] Current Modern Banlist Discussion (2/2014 - 7/2014)
    Quote from Maligance
    @CrazyMike366: I was under the impression that Caw-Blade was the format even prior to Batterskull.

    Not that I can find. The only Pro level Standard events at the time were PT Paris (13.9%), GP Barcelona (35%), and GP Dallas (31%) which each had CawGo/Blade according to the percent I added in parentheses (caveat, there were other decks that had SFM, just those were listed as CawGo/Blade). It was the top deck at Dallas and Barcelona but it wasn't the crazy 70% that it was after Batterskull. Just the top deck among many. It won Paris (where it was a small part of the metagame) and Dallas (where it was the top deck) but it didn't win in Barcelona (despite the biggest chunk of the field).

    Stoneforge Mystic just happened to be the best card in what we know in retrospect as a format that didn't have a whole lot of alternatives. People indiscriminately jammed SFM/Batterskull/Jace into everything. People tried to combat it despite the lack of good tools - Exarch/Splinter Twin came out of that as a good option, and its doing well in Modern. We've got really powerful alternatives in Modern (especially without Batterskull) - Tarmogoyf, Snapcaster Mage, Dark Confidant, Lightning Bolt, etc - all in the same goodstuff class as Misty; they were insane in Standard, were temporarily dominant in other formats, then fell out of all but the decks they were intuitive in. Valakut isn't splashing for Dark Confidant, and Jund isn't splashing for Snapcaster Mages. Why would SFM be any different, especially if it requires additional slots for the equipment? Its not like every deck is going to give up 12% of their available maindeck slots for 4 Misty and 3 swords.

    Chrome Mox does speed everything up by a turn, at the cost of another card in hand plus needing to find your combo pieces. So long as it isn't making turn 3 Splinter Twin super consistent I think it'd be fine. They could easily build RUG twin right now and just play Bird of Paradise if they wanted that kind of effect, but speeding up the combo by a turn just isn't good enough. Even the decks that use Simian Spirit Guide to go off a turn sooner wouldn't care for it, though that's mostly because they only need a single extra mana on a single turn (rather than on back to back turns like twin).

    So what about the warping effect? Is it ok for 40+% of decks to run a card in a large format and its healthy? Can you provide links to another time Mox was legal in Extended that it didn't appear at a high frequency?

    Sword of the Meek ... Dark Depths

    What would Sword or Depths combo/control decks look like using the entire Modern card pool instead of just the subsets from the Extended seasons they were legal for? Could you provide lists? I haven't played them in Extended let alone tested them much in Modern.
    Posted in: Modern Archives
  • posted a message on [[Official]] Current Modern Banlist Discussion (2/2014 - 7/2014)
    Quote from Maligance

    I'd rather see them print a new, balanced version of SFM instead of unbanning it. You could easily print a card that is a 1/2 for 1W that tutors for an equipment and puts it into your hand when it enters the battlefield. Then just make it so you can tap the creature for 1 that can only be spent to cast or equip an equipment card. Perfectly reasonable, yet still very powerful. Not too good like SFM is.

    True. But I doubt there will ever be an equipment that breaks SFM as badly as what we've already seen. Batterskull was designed to push SFM as far as possible with living weapon (which we'll probably never see again, or at least not as pushed) and I doubt we'll ever see another equipment as warping as Jitte. The Swords of Opposite Things are just about the best we can realistically hope for. Caw-go started as a cheeky metagame deck for the 2010 World Championships, became a consistent 2-3-of Top8 contender with Sword of Feast and Famine, but it took Batterskull to make it a dominant and oppressive powerhouse. I'd posit that Sword of Feast and Famine as the best tool in Modern for SFM would be merely fair. Batterskull was what pushed a fun and interesting card into broken absurdity. We've seen lately that WotC wants to ban a card that pushes a deck over the top (BBE) rather than the core (Bob, Goyf, Lily), so if we follow that, we should be looking at a card that pushes it (Batterskull) rather than the core (SFM, Jace, AV etc).

    Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see just a Squire with Steelshaper's Gift and a conditional mana ability for equipment as you propose, but I frankly don't think its necessary. An enabler is only as scary as the thing its enabling. I've never thought: "great, you played Misty. I'm dead." Its always the Batterskull or Jitte she's forging into play that's gonna kill you. Keep Jitte banned and add Batterskull to the list and suddenly Misty is just good but not too good.

    Realistically I think AV is the next card to consider unbanning to push control a bit. I can see why they would not unban it at the same time as BB. So long as Fae doesn't dominate the format, I could see AV being a legitimate unban. If Fae ends up being super strong however, they wouldn't want to give it another potential tool.

    I agree with this. I don't see Fae being as dominant as it once was. It dominates in a metagame infested with fast combos and disruptable fast aggro but Modern just isn't there right now. I expect it to be just another good deck among many, albeit one that will reward correct deck building and tight play more than maybe any other in the format.

    I look forward to seeing AV unbanned someday. I wouldn't run it in my UWR deck (Sphinx's Rev is a better topdeck and the lifegain does matter) but I'd like it in any U/x without white (Grixis and BUG being top candidates).

    Chrome Mox and Sword of the Meek (or Dark Depths) I also think are perfectly safe to come off.....

    I have yet to be convinced that Chrome Mox would be good for the format, even if it would be fair. In every format where the speed has been relevant for fighting a fast deck (in the absence of a blowoff valve like Force of Will) we've seen Chrome Mox leave a dominant footprint on the format. Look at an elite Extended event like Worlds 2008 - 39/84 decks that were 4-2 or better (that's 46% of winning decks!) ran Chrome Mox in the mainboard between All-in Red and Dredge and the control, aggro, and ramp decks that were trying to fight them or race them.

    I think there's a very real argument for unbanning Chrome Mox if WotC completely abandons the Turn 4 Rule. But until that happens I just don't see it. The card speeds up the critical turn by one across the board, and that subtly warps the entire format around it.

    I'd really like to see more about why you think Dark Depths or Sword of the Meek would be good for the format, especially considering I was on Magic hiatus when they were dominating. Both of those have been banned in Extended for being oppressive and Modern's card pool isn't that much bigger than the historical Extended formats they dominated; also unfortunately many of the newer powerful cards that might be able to challenge those decks on level footing (SFM, JTMS, DRS etc) are banned, so I'm not sure the context and landscape of the format is different enough to justify the risk of letting them loose.

    Posted in: Modern Archives
  • posted a message on [[Official]] Current Modern Banlist Discussion (2/2014 - 7/2014)
    I'd eventually like to see the following changes. Eventually. They don't need to be the next update, but over the next couple years would be fine:


    Ancestral Vision
    Golgari Grave-troll
    Jace, The Mind Sculptor
    Seething Song
    Stoneforge Mystic

    That would leave the Banned list as follows:
    Artifact Lands
    Blazing Shoal
    Bloodbraid Elf*
    Chrome Mox
    Dark Depths*
    Deathrite Shaman*
    Dread Return
    Glimpse of Nature
    Green Sun's Zenith
    Mental Misstep
    Punishing Fire
    Rite of Flame
    Second Sunrise
    Sensei's Divining Top
    Sword of the Meek*
    Umezawa's Jitte
    *=On Deck to be unbanned but not right now

    1(B/W) - kill a creature or planeswalker, unless its controller pays N
    UU - Smother for Spells
    Something in between Wasteland and Tec Edge/Encroaching Waste
    Force Spike
    Something in between Crystal Ball and Sensei's Divining top.

    That would be a good start towards a more powerful and self-regulating format but not so far as the completely deregulated Modern where you're Misstepping Clamps and a game that ends on turn 2 or 3 isn't an unheard-of freak occurrence. Tempo, combo, control, aggro, ramp, midrange - they all should be in the mix with that banned list. I'm not sure if Dredge would come back with that (or if it should be in the format in the first place) but there could also be some reprints or banned list changes that could enable it without it being completely oppressive )looking at OverExtended as a model?)
    Posted in: Modern Archives
  • posted a message on [[Official]] Current Modern Banlist Discussion (2/2014 - 7/2014)
    Quote from bocephus

    I mentioned this before, Why would anyone want Modern to look like Old Extended when Old Extended was considered a failure by Wotc? To make Modern not fail, Wotc needs to make it different then Old Extended.

    I provided you a clear and concise explanation of why Old Extended was unpopular and ultimately failed here. I'll repost it just for you to read again. And to reiterate, Extended's failure had nothing to do with power level, gameplay, or particular interactions.

    Reasons why Extended was unpopular and ultimately died:
    • Rotation made it hard to keep decks together (stability)
    • High costs made Legacy - and later, Modern - a suitable alternative (card availability)
    • Rotations used to occur on a non-intuitive schedule (logistics)

    Reasons why Modern is different than Extended and will therefore not fail like Extended:
    • Modern doesn't rotate (stability)
    • WotC is committed to reprints (card availability)
    • Modern doesn't rotate (logistics)

    You keep suggesting that Old Extended was unpopular because of power level or gameplay. I see no evidence to suggest that's true. The burden of proof is on you to demonstrate your view, and the weight of the evidence needs to outweigh the evidence provided by WotC itself in their explanation of the change in rotation schedule. Unless you can do that, I'm going to start reporting it as spam every time you (or anyone else for that matter) uses the "Extended failed so Modern would too if [X]" line and [X] isn't explicitly related to reprint policy or rotation.
    Posted in: Modern Archives
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