[Official] State of Modern Thread (B&R 07/13/2020)

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Post by idSurge » 1 year ago

ktkenshinx wrote:
1 year ago
If Wizards bans Astrolabe, we're going back to a Modern where the only viable control deck is straight Azorius Control and the only viable midrange deck is straight Jund. Urza decks will probably still be fine, but we'll lose that spectrum of midrange/control options which currently slow down the format. That's not a great trade-off if Astrolabe's only violations are philosophical.
A good point, not something I had thought about (well other than UW being the only Control possible thanks to Veto and T3feri).
drmarkb wrote:
1 year ago
Anyone who thinks Veil should go but that Amulet, Urza, Tron lands are fine, or that Twin should be unbannned needs to get a grip, as you put it. Veil is an answer to an answer. Threats need banning., not the cards supporting them. Modern has a contingent of players who don't like to be told 'no', that includes people playing both threats and answers. Veil does nothing unless someone else does something. It wins zero games by itself. Make the threats weaker before looking at the support cards.
The problem with Veil, is not that it is an answer to an answer. The problem with Veil is that as far as 1cmc answers go, it is so comically pushed that to suggest equivalent spells in other colors should get one laughed out of any discussion.

Drop the Draw on the card, and we can talk. Put the cost at 2, and we can talk. As it stands, its a joke. Imagine a Negate for U that only hit Black and Red, and drew a card.

Fair and balanced?
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Post by drmarkb » 1 year ago

I think it should have cost 2 as well. It is stupidly pushed. I am not defending the card, I am saying there are bigger issues.
Edit, as it happens if every color had a nutty pushed reactive answer Veil would be less of an issue. I grew up with Gloom, Karna etc. As color hosers go they were brutal.

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Post by idSurge » 1 year ago

Yeah, same as OuaT, Stirrings, or whatever.

If everyone had equally powerful cards, well the format would be unrecognizable, but its pretty close to that now when you look back to Pre-Eldrazi.
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Post by Ym1r » 1 year ago

cfusionpm wrote:
1 year ago
Dunno where this specifically slots into the conversation, but it feels like "jund" is just being replaced with "pile of $50 mythics printed within the last year"
To be fair, Jund was the same during its first years of dominance. A pile of the best cards printed at the time in Bob, Lili, Tarmo, IoK, TS, Bolt, and was by far the most expensive deck running 8 fetches at a time where there was not access to allied fetches.
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Post by ktkenshinx » 1 year ago

Re: Veil
This is still an awful design that I want to go, but it has importantly not really led to the extinction of UB interaction. Jund remains viable in its own right and there's a slew of Ux Astrolabe decks running barrels of countermagic. As long as Veil isn't suppressing those options, it's less problematic in practice than it is in theory. I'm fine with it sticking around to coexist with all these viable U or B interactive decks.

Re: Legacy
This is primarily in response to drmarkb but secondarily addressing anyone who draws on a Modern/Legacy comparison. Legacy is one of those secretly, not-so-secretly broken formats that is totally solved but doesn't have the high-level support to show that brokenness. If this were a regular PT or GP format, we would see extreme levels of blue-based metagame warpage. Instead, mainstream Legacy plays out like FNM Modern, with an illusion of diversity due to the financial difficulty in switching decks, player emotional investment in strategies, and a positive, grassroots base that doesn't incentivize solved formats. Put Legacy on a PT stage and the diversity would look awful. Bans would definitely ensue.

But, you know what? THAT IS ALL OKAY. Legacy has a unique identity that appeals to its player base and to enfranchised, older Magic vets. We shouldn't twist that identity to make arguments about Modern balance. Modern can have major threat/answer imbalances separate from a Legacy comparison. Modern is supposed to be the diversity, play-what-you-want format. Legacy is NOT that format at all. Arguments about Modern's threats and answers need to be in the context of its own identity, not relative to Legacy´s.
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Post by metalmusic_4 » 1 year ago

I have no idea what they will do with modern tomorrow so I'll make no prediction. I do feel astrolabe is too good for just its mana fixing alone, but it draws a card too. This is the same problem veil has, it just does so much compared to its cost.

also...UNBAN BRIDGE FROM BELOW & TWIN!

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Post by The Fluff » 1 year ago

Tzoulis wrote:
1 year ago
The Fluff wrote:
1 year ago
saw that. But are these 4 color astrolabe decks using blood moon actually winning plenty of tournaments? we need some data first.
.

Not really, other than 3 color snow lists that is -that don't even run Blood Moon- but that doesn't stop people from overreacting.
thanks. I see.. good chance wotc won't touch the card.
cfusionpm wrote:
1 year ago
I would love nothing more than try this W6/Uro "Jeskai" deck, but wow is it prohibitively expensive to do so. Even online, that's like $700 span across 8 cards.

Uro is also used in Standard and Pioneer. Which drives up the price.
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Post by iTaLenTZ » 1 year ago

ktkenshinx wrote:
1 year ago
From a metagame perspective, what's wrong with a variety of different, unique 3C+ Astrolabe decks coexisting?
Astrolabe does more than just fundamentally breaking the colour pie by creating perfect manabases. It also fundamentally breaks the snow mechanic. Snow cards are more powerful relative to their cost because they only work/trigger with other snow permanents. This means you have to play many snow-basic lands so the trade off is that you get stronger cards per mana cost but it is harder to splash more colours but Astrolabe eliminates the trade off so playing snow now only comes with upsides.

It also draws a card so it synergises well with decks that only care about critical mass like Urza and it synergizes with T3eferi, Emry, sac and recur abilities etc.

All this for 1 mana. If that isn't completely overloaded and unbalanced than what is?

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Post by idSurge » 1 year ago

What is or is not overloaded, doing too much for too little, or unbalanced, is not relevant within the context of Modern.
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Post by Ed06288 » 1 year ago

e-tron is getting turn 3 tron a lot more often with OUAT in my experience. amulet gets a pretty big upgrade too. stuff like explore and ancient stirrings is not in the same league.

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Post by ktkenshinx » 1 year ago

iTaLenTZ wrote:
1 year ago
ktkenshinx wrote:
1 year ago
From a metagame perspective, what's wrong with a variety of different, unique 3C+ Astrolabe decks coexisting?
Astrolabe does more than just fundamentally breaking the colour pie by creating perfect manabases. It also fundamentally breaks the snow mechanic. Snow cards are more powerful relative to their cost because they only work/trigger with other snow permanents. This means you have to play many snow-basic lands so the trade off is that you get stronger cards per mana cost but it is harder to splash more colours but Astrolabe eliminates the trade off so playing snow now only comes with upsides.

It also draws a card so it synergises well with decks that only care about critical mass like Urza and it synergizes with T3eferi, Emry, sac and recur abilities etc.

All this for 1 mana. If that isn't completely overloaded and unbalanced than what is?
idSurge wrote:
1 year ago
What is or is not overloaded, doing too much for too little, or unbalanced, is not relevant within the context of Modern.
I gotta agree with idS here. Astrolabe is a philosophically offensive card. It does way too much for too little, and it's another badly designed 2019 misstep. I just am not even remotely convinced it's unhealthy for the Modern metagame. Powerful, nonrotating formats are packed with offensive, overloaded, and unbalanced design mistakes. That's been true for ages and we might even say these cards are some of the most defining staples of formats like Modern and Legacy. That's not a problem in its own right. It's only a problem if it leads to metagame issues or gameplay experience issues (more subjective but on the table with the Lattice ban). How does Astrolabe lead to either problem? From a metagame perspective, Astrolabe decks are strategically diverse, incorporating a variety of cards and gameplans that are primarily slower and grindier. From an experience issue, this slows down games, allows players to run a robust range of answers to diverse Modern threats, and opens up tons of 3C+ tweaks to Astrolabe shells. You also don't even have to play Astrolabe decks to play slower decks in Modern. Straight-up Azorius Stoneblade has posted respectable MTGO results, as has good old Jund.

If Astrolabe were removed, we'd likely see these decks remain viable but all the other Astrolabe strategies fade into Tier 2 or lower. Banning good cards/decks doesn't make bad cards/deck better. Those cards/decks are still bad and don't suddenly fill the void of a better, banned alternative. I don't think Wizards will risk, or should risk, Modern's current renaissance in slower, grindier, midrangey/controlling decks by banning a key piece of this diversity. The likeliest outcome of that ban is these strategies just die out and we go back to more players on less interactive, more linear decks like we've suffered through for the last few years.
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Post by idSurge » 1 year ago

You should write an article on this @ktkenshinx because its an angle I had missed.
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Post by ktkenshinx » 1 year ago

idSurge wrote:
1 year ago
You should write an article on this ktkenshinx because its an angle I had missed.
Yeah, it's an interesting point I hadn't considered myself until recently. Maybe worth an article in the long-term, but I'm holding off on writing anything until Wizards publishes this new article Forsythe promised us. I'll also look into a Fixing Modern piece about communication after Wizards drops this B&R decision.

Speaking of, here's what I'm thinking for tomorrow:


Scenario 1 (45%): 1-2 Pioneer bans only. In this scenario, Wizards is focusing entirely on Pioneer and is trying to fix significant format issues that might hamper its growth. Modern hasn't had any major paper events since the last B&R, and they might want to wait until the PT/GP come around before pulling the trigger on a ban. Unbans maybe possible but who knows; these are so hard to predict.

Scenario 2 (40%): 1-2 Pioneer bans, OUaT banned in Modern. In this scenario, Wizards takes a somewhat unprecedented step of proactively banning OUaT just based on MTGO data without any PT/GP results. That would be groundbreaking for Wizards R&D, but a safe step to protect Modern's public image in the upcoming PT/GP events over coming months. If Wizards does look at Modern in this B&R, OUaT feels like the only card that will be under serious scrutiny. It's a multi-format 2019 design mistake that doesn't make up the core identity of any deck. If you want to trim the power of some top ramp decks while not invalidating investments, it's a great target. A proactive, MTGO-driven ban approach would also signal another shift in format management.

Scenario 3 (5%): 1-2 Pioneer bans, OUaT plus other stuff (Astrolabe, Breach, ramp card, etc.) banned in Modern. If Wizards wants to totally upend Modern before the PT/GP season starts, this is the time to do it. I think this scenario is a LOT less likely than 1 and 2, but I suppose it is possible if Wizards is diving into a totally new paradigm for Modern management. If Wizards went this route, I'd expect a bunch of 2019/2020 errors to get hit simultaneously, but I also can't emphasize enough this is way less likely than 1 and 2.
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Post by Aazadan » 1 year ago

I would assume that in the case of scenarios 2 or 3 we would see some unbans as well.

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Post by idSurge » 1 year ago

I'm not sure there is anything worth unbanning, if all they ban is OuaT. Green Sun's maybe??

Personally, I'm in the 1-2 from Pioneer, and OuaT camp. I think at that point we see a potential meta game shake out that is sustainable until the next release screws us all over again.
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Post by ktkenshinx » 1 year ago

Aazadan wrote:
1 year ago
I would assume that in the case of scenarios 2 or 3 we would see some unbans as well.
idSurge wrote:
1 year ago
I'm not sure there is anything worth unbanning, if all they ban is OuaT. Green Sun's maybe??

Personally, I'm in the 1-2 from Pioneer, and OuaT camp. I think at that point we see a potential meta game shake out that is sustainable until the next release screws us all over again.
I just have no idea what drives Wizards' unban decisions. I still believe bans are mostly predictable, as are the "No changes" announcements. But unbans? It's all 8 balls to me. I think R&D is mostly happy with Modern right now, especially with the newfound strategic diversity in grindier strategies (ty Astrolabe and Urza), and would rather make surgical changes to the format than sweeping ones. An OUaT keeps the format fresh for upcoming PT/GP while also protecting against the disastrous optics of a ramp takeover on these stages. It also doesn't really render any of the big OUaT decks unplayable. If they make any Modern changes at all (a big if given the limitations of MTGO data lone with no paper support), I think it's just with OUaT and then waiting to see what shakes out by May/June.
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Post by drmarkb » 1 year ago

The obvious point to me Ktkenshinx is that Modern needs to not be a PT format, because it cannot have balance by itself. If Legacy is secretly broken with better answers, and I suspect there is some truth in that, Modern is perma-broken without them, so there is literally no hope. Maybe we should agitate for a better format, but give up on the idea of Modern as anything other than FNM, because if Legacy is secretly broken with illusionary diversity with all its answer tools, what hope can there ever be for a format with so few? None is the only logical answer, and that is seen when looking back over the past few years. I would welcome the absence of top Modern play. I don't think it will have the community support it needs to thrive at that level as it has an audience with wildly different ideas of what it wants, but you never know.

Interestingly Veil use has stabilised in Legacy, and decreased, I suspect the obviously busted new toy has found an equilibrium. Modern seems to be similar.

I am very unsure that Modern is a play what you want format. I want to play prison. That is a no no for them. Only Legacy gets to lock people out....
Last edited by drmarkb 1 year ago, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by Bearscape » 1 year ago

@ktkenshinx that Astrolabe take is a really damn good one. I've been saying Astrolabe should go for a while now but you are probably right that it is kind of a necessary evil.

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Post by drmarkb » 1 year ago

Price on twin has gone up. Normally people delisting copies as well as speccers, but keep an open mind.

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Post by Spsiegel1987 » 1 year ago

I didnt think of that. If astrolabe can basically make players say, "hey, let's play a good color 4c stuff and pack in all the best stuff in one fair deck", why is drs off the table? If you're going by that philosophy, you may as well let the good stuff 3 color decks play drs.

I am in no way advocating for drs, but I believe astrolabe is an atrociously designed card.

In multiple, decent sized events I see titan decks at the top tables and 4c reigning in everything else while conceding to the best deck.

I dont believe it'll happen today, but a ban of ouat and astrolabe, along with field would be fantastic.

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Post by Bearscape » 1 year ago

DRS is quite a lot better than Astrolabe, but I'm not really strictly opposed to unbanning it.

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Post by iTaLenTZ » 1 year ago

iTaLenTZ wrote:
1 year ago
I already thought about Astrolabe and I have to agree with Aazadan. If Urza and Oko get banned and Tron receives a significant nerf I already know which deck will rise to the top: 4c Astrolabe+W6 control. W6 alone is enough to bury any opposing midrange deck in CA while also shutting down any x/1 creature. Rest of the deck can be used to fight uninteractive strategies and aggro.
This is what I said 1 month ago and nobody believed me. If Astrolabe doesn't get banned today I am buying a playset of W6 and enjoy some free games.

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Post by Ym1r » 1 year ago

I find the compassion between DRS and Astrolabe COMPLETELY off base personally.

DRS does: i) color fixing, ii) mana ramping, iii) offers a way to deal with GY on the mainboard without sacrificing slots, iv) a continuous source of life gain which, against some decks, is basically card advantage, and v) a way to close out the game or put the pressure on in chunks of 2.

Astrolabe: i) replaces itself, and ii) provides mana fixing. That's it.

How is DRS more healthy or viable to have around than Astrolabe? Astrolabe doesn't let you land LoTV T2, which was a major issue with Jund at the time. Astrolabe doesn't ruin your Snapcaster, doesn't hose your aggressive strategy.

I think people have forgotten how absurdly powerful DRS is. There is a reason he was called a creature planeswalker.
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Post by ktkenshinx » 1 year ago

drmarkb wrote:
1 year ago
The obvious point to me Ktkenshinx is that Modern needs to not be a PT format, because it cannot have balance by itself. If Legacy is secretly broken with better answers, and I suspect there is some truth in that, Modern is perma-broken without them, so there is literally no hope. Maybe we should agitate for a better format, but give up on the idea of Modern as anything other than FNM, because if Legacy is secretly broken with illusionary diversity with all its answer tools, what hope can there ever be for a format with so few? None is the only logical answer, and that is seen when looking back over the past few years. I would welcome the absence of top Modern play. I don't think it will have the community support it needs to thrive at that level as it has an audience with wildly different ideas of what it wants, but you never know.
The Modern metagame would probably do better as a GP-only format with no PT support, but the Modern format seems to require Wizards attention to thrive. If Wizards withdraws PT support, it sends a very negative signal that hurts the format overall. This has definitely been the historical case, and I suspect it remains the case today, especially after a turbulent 2019. Thankfully, we've seen some Modern PT that were not totally busted and did not lead to bans. This is encouraging and suggests there are some states of the Modern metagame where the format isn't secretly solved. At the same time, you're correct that we need better answers and I think we'll continue to see them as BO1 Arena pressures rise.
I am very unsure that Modern is a play what you want format. I want to play prison. That is a no no for them. Only Legacy gets to lock people out....
Modern isn't literally a play ANYTHING you want format. There are some cards/effects that simply have not been printed since Modern's start point with 8th Edition and Mirrodin. To some extent, prison is one of those. At the same time, you can definitely play two very strong prison elements in Modern through Moon and Bridge. There is also a very decent top-tier Bridge deck in Grixis Whirza. We need to remember that Modern can be the diversity, play-what-you-want format at the FNM/local/MTGO level without being that way at the PT level. In my experience, anyone who loves a deck and is experienced with a deck can basically go infinite 3-2 on MTGO as long as the deck is doing some fundamentally powerful things. This does cover prison strategies, although you should not expect to win a GP with those kinds of decks.
gkourou wrote:
1 year ago
Early SCG regional data:

Amulet Titan: 8
Mono R Prowess: 8
Jund: 7
Snow variants: 7 (3 bant, 2 4c, 1 temur, 1 sultai]
Breach: 4
{....other decks, with lower showings}

Again, astrolabe and once seem like the two strongest cards in Modern. There are some e tron decks also.

I will repost in a couple of days
Astrolabe and OUaT are clearly defining cards, but again, they are fundamentally different in what they do to the format. Astrolabe has pushed a renaissance of grindy, slower decks that tend to be strategically diverse with distinct 75-card lists. OUaT is just a super buff at the fringes to a bunch of decks that don't need the card to be successful. Modern is allowed to have powerful, defining format pillars, and if Astrolabe becomes one of them that should be a net positive for Modern; the decks Astrolabe enables were not viable before Astrolabe was around. They would likely suck after it was hypothetically banned.

I'll also note it's important to mention Jund's showing at Regionals. This remains a very strong contender with consistent MTGO results even throughout the OUaT/ramp rise. If Jund and Astrolabe decks are both competitive, this suggests Modern is in an overall healthy spot.
drmarkb wrote:
1 year ago
Price on twin has gone up. Normally people delisting copies as well as speccers, but keep an open mind.
This is just par for the course at this point. Dealers don't really lose anything if Twin gets delisted and we can't purchase spec-copies, but they stand to lose a ton of money if speculators pull the copies out from under them. They also stand to lose reputation if they accidentally oversell Twin stock. Twin is definitely the "new SFM" in terms of its unban hype, which means we can't read into any of the pre-announcement sales figures. It might get unbanned in any announcement, but the sales figures are unlikely to reflect that in any given month.
gkourou wrote:
1 year ago
If Astrolabe is a necessary evil, so should Deathrite Shaman be. DRS literally solves too many of our problems: Dredge, breach decks, Storm and other nonsense gy based combos for all eternity. If labe is legal, literally unban DRS. Or ban astrolabe. WOTC chooses.
Spsiegel1987 wrote:
1 year ago
I didnt think of that. If astrolabe can basically make players say, "hey, let's play a good color 4c stuff and pack in all the best stuff in one fair deck", why is drs off the table? If you're going by that philosophy, you may as well let the good stuff 3 color decks play drs.

I am in no way advocating for drs, but I believe astrolabe is an atrociously designed card.
Bearscape wrote:
1 year ago
DRS is quite a lot better than Astrolabe, but I'm not really strictly opposed to unbanning it.
Ym1r wrote:
1 year ago
I find the compassion between DRS and Astrolabe COMPLETELY off base personally.

DRS does: i) color fixing, ii) mana ramping, iii) offers a way to deal with GY on the mainboard without sacrificing slots, iv) a continuous source of life gain which, against some decks, is basically card advantage, and v) a way to close out the game or put the pressure on in chunks of 2.

Astrolabe: i) replaces itself, and ii) provides mana fixing. That's it.

How is DRS more healthy or viable to have around than Astrolabe? Astrolabe doesn't let you land LoTV T2, which was a major issue with Jund at the time. Astrolabe doesn't ruin your Snapcaster, doesn't hose your aggressive strategy.

I think people have forgotten how absurdly powerful DRS is. There is a reason he was called a creature planeswalker.
On the one hand, I think DRS is less offensive than a lot of people think, and I think it's probably less powerful in Modern than in Legacy. On the other hand, there is a massive difference between color fixing and mana ramping. We need to be aware of that in the future.

Finally, I really want us to move past the notion of cards being bannable or problematic solely on the grounds of bad design. Bad, pushed, overloaded, and powerful designs define nonrotating formats. There is nothing inherently wrong with these cards as long as they are not a) dominating the metagame and/or b) leading to overall negative play experiences (subjective but important to note in the Lattice ban wake). Something like OUaT does contribute to negative play patterns by making linear, less interactive ramp decks even more prevalent than they would otherwise be; this is a regular Modern criticism the format needs to evolve beyond. OUaT also leads to metagame dominance issues where Amulet and OUaT strategies are likely "better" than competing options. Astrolabe may lead to the perception of metagame dominance issues in aggregate, but individually, it empowers grindy, slow decks that Modern needs more of. Those decks are also strategically distinct and we should shy away from grouping Simic Urza with Bant Snow Control. In that regard, even an offensively, badly designed card like Astrolabe might help the format and ultimately be a net gain for Modern.
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Post by idSurge » 1 year ago

Once is banned in Modern, Breach in Legacy.
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