Modern Nexus posted a MN metagame update
, but I really dislike its presentation. I have no idea why David is claiming Lurrus is on the donwswing, or really making any positive claims about Lurrus when it's 46% of the format and now at 51.9% (!) of the top-tier decks. He also did this weird thing where he put the "Other" category over the top deck as if to underscore you can still play other decks in Modern. He also never aggregated the weeks, so instead of a big 4-5 week metagame picture with a large N we have a bunch of small N pictures from week to week. I think that's an interesting approach... if you ultimately aggregated everything. Overall, I've never seen a metagame update presented this way and it feels a little misleading. David's a smart guy so I'm sure he had reasons for this presentation; I just think it does not actually tell the Modern story right now.
Here's our current N=803 top-tier:
MTGO MODERN META 04/18 - 05/19
: 9.7% (78
: 9.6% (77
: 8.1% (65
4. Amulet Titan
: 4.9% (39
5. Devoted Devastation
: 4.7% (38
: 4.5% (36
7. Bant Snow Control
: 3.7% (30
8. Temur Urza
: 3.7% (30
: 3.5% (28
10. Eldrazi Tron
: 3.1% (25
11. Hardened Scales
: 2.9% (23
12. Ad Nauseam
: 2.6% (21
13. Mono G Tron
: 1.9% (15
14. The Rock
: 1.9% (15
: 1.9% (15
16. Grixis Delver
: 1.6% (13
17. 5C Niv
: 1.6% (13
18. Azorius Control
: 1.6% (13
19. 4C Uro Snow Control
: 1.5% (12
: 1.4% (11
This is a metagame that Lurrus is unequivocally dominating. 4 of our top 5 decks are Lurrus decks. Rx Aggro (Burn/Prowess) makes up 19.3% of the format, which is literally higher than URx Delver in the 1.5 months prior to its ban (17.4%). Beyond Lurrus, companions are still hyper-dominant. Every Tier 1 deck but Amulet Titan is a companion deck. There are still some lower tier decks which don't use companions (ramp and some combo, also the surprising Humans), but it's really just companions all the way down. To emphasize that point, here's the table:
71% (!!) of top-tier decks use companions. That's way up from our last meta update where it was "just" 66%. In that regard, I agree with David's conclusion that companions as a whole are a problem, but a) want to restate it much more strongly because they are a BIG problem, b) want to emphasize Lurrus is not just a "better" companion but a singular problem on its own (51% of top-tier being Lurrus decks is unacceptable), and c) need people to realize Lurrus is overwhelmingly helping a few decks and not leading to an overall renaissance in diversity. Early on, it appeared Lurrus was actually helping other strategies like weird Ux control decks, Grixis Delver, Shadow variants, The Rock, and others. By the end of Week 4, however, it's clear Lurrus is really just helping Burn, Prowess, Jund, and Devastation. All the other decks are losing points from week to week as people realize they are just worse versions of existing decks. Even Shadow decks collectively make up just 2.2% across all color combinations.
All of this points to big changes happening in the next month. Hopefully sooner, but almost certainly by mid-June. I just don't know what those changes will be because there are a ton of options with varying likelihoods.
Scenario 1: Ban Lurrus
There's virtually no Modern scenario where Lurrus emerges unscathed. The cat is broken and has broken the format. It is just way too prevalent and leads to hyper-repetitive gameplay in a format that is supposed to be diverse and open to lots of decks. In this targeted scenario, Wizards keeps companion the way it is but just gets rid of Lurrus (As they did in Vintage and Legacy). I actually think this is unlikely because the combination of all competitive Constructed formats suggests it's not just one companion that's broken, but the mechanic as a whole. Side note: why it took Wizards so long to realize this is beyond me when the online community determined this in about an hour, but that's another problem for another post.
Scenario 2: Ban Lurrus and Yorion
In this scenario, you still don't hit the overall mechanic because the remaining companions are legitimately more restrictive. You just hit the worst two offenders and let every other deck maintain its little companion edge. This would also match the Legacy model, but still might not go all the way. I think this is a little likelier than just a Lurrus ban, because Wizards historically gets ahead of the next broken deck with a ban. Yorion would undoubtedly rise to Lurrus shares (at least, OUaT shares) if Lurrus went away.
Scenario 3: Ban Lurrus and/or Yorion as a companion
Don't change the mechanic at all and allow people to use these interesting critters in maindecks, just not as companions. This is sort of a half measure that doesn't address potential companion takeovers elsewhere, but it's actually better than scenarios 1 and 2 because you at least allow players to keep their cards. It also fits Wizards profit motive in that players now may need to buy additional copies, and it generally preserves pack value in their new set.
I acknowledge these scenarios are possible, but Wizards is definitely considering a mechanical change to companions (see their B&R article). I don't think they would have published that quote in the article without genuinely believing that change was a real possibility. This means they are thinking bigger than just single-card bans.
Scenario 4: Change the mechanic, no bans
There are lots of ways to change the mechanic to make it a little less busted. Two possible examples include:
a. Draw hand, put N+1 to the bottom where N is times mulliganed, add companion to hand.
b. Draw hand at N-1 cards where N is times mulliganed. No extra card seen and put on the bottom, because comps are already an edge.
Scenario 5: Change the mechanic, ban Lurrus and/or Yorion anyway
Here, you both change the mechanic to prevent other companions from being a future problem (I'm sure Wizards has more coming), and then you ban the worst offenders just to be safe. This prevents formats from collapsing if the mechanical change is still too weak to prevent a Lurrus/Yorion takeover.
Scenario 6: ban the companion mechanic in certain Constructed formats
In this final option, you just write off the companion mechanic in certain formats and leave it in others. I think this is the least likely of the mechanical-level changes because Wizards probably wants to salvage their brainchild and has a number of different tools to do that.
Overall, I really don't know exactly what will happen. I'm just confident we'll see one of these scenarios, or a materially similar scenario, in the next month. Hopefully sooner.