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

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Ym1r
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Post by Ym1r » 1 year ago

Although admittedly I haven't played modern (or magic) in a couple of months due to work, I have been following most of the results, and I will attempt a take, and please correct me if I am wrong.

I think modern, at this point, and in a sort time period after MH, has moved from a wide open format with a ton of tier 1,5 decks, to a much more distilled and clear format. Not saying this in a negative way, mind you, just making the observation, that the metagame is currently very clear and predictable. Hogaak, Humans, Phoenix, Eldrazi Tron, Jund, UW control, and Tron are by and far the current best decks, while other decks don't seem to have much of a competitive edge (with the exception of the Urza artifact deck that is still up and coming). This is a very different environment than we had before War of the Spark and MH.

At the same time, these decks have been proven the best in their respective archetypes, and there is no real reason to play anything outside of them.
Hogaak is clearly the best GY deck (if not the best deck in modern).
Humans is the best disruptive/flood aggro deck, and there is no reason to play say, Merfolk, Zoo, or aggro elves.
Jund is the best midrange deck due to the printing of W6 and the new Pyromancer, and there is no reason to play the Rock, Abzan, Grixis midrange, or even Mardu midrange (which seems to be the most popular tier 2 midrange deck).
UW control is so far away than any other control deck it's not even funny (Jeskai is a worse UW, Grixis is sadly borderline unplayable, Faeries is completely unplayable, Sultai tried but failed).
Tron and ETron are the best big mana decks.
Phoenix has taken over the comboish UR archetype pushing out decks either on the control front (Blue Moon) or the combo front (storm).

Now, again, I don't necessarily find this a negative thing. People in these forums have been asking for a predictable metagame for years. It seems to me that currently we are there, in a metagame with clear Tier 1 decks, and Tier 2 and below are currently struggling to keep up. Thoughts?
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Post by The Fluff » 1 year ago

Ym1r wrote:
1 year ago
Tron and ETron are the best big mana decks.
Surprised that E-Tron managed to make a comeback. I thought Humans already killed it off sometime ago. :omg:
I guess it somehow sticks to the lore that it's difficult to get rid of the eldrazi.
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Post by ktkenshinx » 1 year ago

robertleva wrote:
1 year ago
I could have been more clear on my reasoning but I stand by the statement. The post I was replying to was warpign tourney data to make it seem "perfectly fine" for Hogaak to be doing Hogaak things using logic like:
"We freak out when Pros decide to warp a meta to have 1 deck hold roughly 20% share on day 1. Meaning, you have 4 chances out of 5 to NOT play against it right? "
Yeah, no. That's not how statistics work.
I agree with RL on both points. MC4 data showed an unambiguously broken metagame that Hogaak warped by almost all measures. No amount of data massaging changes that fact. My article on this is still pending edits, but in summary, Hogaak overperformed every other deck by metrics and degrees not seen since Eldrazi Winter.

As for the statistics point, RL is completely correct. In a 15 round event, here are the probabilities that you play a deck with 20% metagame share exactly N times over the course of the event (assuming a stable 20% share into Day 2, which we know Hogaak exceeded):

0 times: 3.5%
1 time: 13.2%
2 times: 23.1%
3 times: 25%
4 times: 18.8%
5 times: 10.3%
6 times: 4.3%
7+ times: 1.8%

Basically, you have a 60% chance of facing Hogaak at least 3 times in a 15 round event and an 83% of playing against Hogaak at least twice. Compare that distribution to your odds of playing a deck with a customary, top-tier 10% of the metagame:

0 times: 20.6%
1 time: 34.3%
2 times: 26.7%
3 times: 12.9%
4 times: 4.3%
5 times: 1%
6 times: 0.2%
7+ times: 0%

This deck has half of Hogaak's share, but your chances of playing it 3+ times in a 15 round event are only 18.4%. You have a 20% chance of playing that deck 0 times, and 55% of players will play against it 0 times or 1 times all tournament. That's why 10% metagame share decks just aren't that dominant and don't require too much counter-preparation. Hogaak-style 20%+ decks, however, are virtual inevitabilities.
FoodChainGoblins wrote:
1 year ago
idSurge wrote:
1 year ago
I don't agree they hit the wrong piece though. The aim should always be to have the deck remain at an appropriate power level.

I want everyone to get to keep their deck, as having 'your' deck taken from you, is easily the worst experience I've had in the 30 years I've been a gamer.
I understand what you're saying. Before Bridge from Below was banned, I was telling people that Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis is the correct ban if turn 2 Hogaak is unacceptable without the milling plan. I didn't know for sure if turn 2 Hogaak is acceptable since it can be Pathed or killed very few other ways, but maybe Modern's power level is okay with that? It turns out it isn't okay with that, just like I thought. Putting that much power onto the field that early is not good for Modern, at that low a cost. The meta nowadays revolves around 3-4 main board graveyard hate pieces with 4 Leyline of the Void in every single sideboard. Is that healthy?
As you said, Wizards thought Hogaak was appropriate. They figured decks could handle that kind of pressure with conventional removal and disruption. They were simply wrong. I will again emphasize that the majority of authors/pros initially did not think this ban missed the mark. It took extra testing and games to figure it out. I cited a number of high profile sources on this topic in a previous post. It's easy to look at a ban in hindsight and talk about how obviously right/wrong it was, but this was one where I'm willing to say Wizards just made the same mistake almost everyone else did.
Ym1r wrote:
1 year ago
Although admittedly I haven't played modern (or magic) in a couple of months due to work, I have been following most of the results, and I will attempt a take, and please correct me if I am wrong.

I think modern, at this point, and in a sort time period after MH, has moved from a wide open format with a ton of tier 1,5 decks, to a much more distilled and clear format. Not saying this in a negative way, mind you, just making the observation, that the metagame is currently very clear and predictable. Hogaak, Humans, Phoenix, Eldrazi Tron, Jund, UW control, and Tron are by and far the current best decks, while other decks don't seem to have much of a competitive edge (with the exception of the Urza artifact deck that is still up and coming). This is a very different environment than we had before War of the Spark and MH.
It's true that Modern has a current top-tier, and I agree with all those decks (Except, as GK said, you need to add Urza; it's definitely top-tier). This is absolutely not any different from previous Modern eras. Modern has always had a relatively crystalized top-tier making up something around 60%-75% of the expected top metagame. That's been true since 2014. And yet, you still have random outliers T8ing major events today, just as we always had. Recent examples from 8+ round events in just the last two weeks include Mono R Phoenix, Amulet Titan, Merfolk, Izzet Prison, Dredge, Titanshift, BR Goblins, and Esper Control. I suspect outside of Hogaak, Modern is just as diverse as ever. It's easy to look at any period of Modern history while we're living it and lament some overall reduction in diversity or crystalization towards a few top decks. That is rarely the case outside of dominant, broken eras. And even in this current period of Hogaak warpage, we're still seeing that diversity.
Now, again, I don't necessarily find this a negative thing. People in these forums have been asking for a predictable metagame for years. It seems to me that currently we are there, in a metagame with clear Tier 1 decks, and Tier 2 and below are currently struggling to keep up. Thoughts?
I also don't view this as a negative thing (see above), just as I don't view it in such stark terms as you framed it. There are tons of viable Tier 2 decks, certainly at the < 8-9 round level (which is probably the overwhelming majority of Modern events), and even at the GP level. I suspect the spread is no different than we used to see in 2014-2015, just based on a cursory memory of my Modern Nexus articles.

That said, I do think Modern decks are actively putting themselves at a disadvantage if they aren't built around the following Modern pillars: Mox Opal, Ancient Stirrings, Faithless Looting, Serum Visions/Opt, Thougthseize/Inquisition of Kozilek, Aether Vial/Noble Hierarch. Eldrazi Tron gets away without these pillars using a combination of curve-cheating Temple/Urzatron plus Chalice. I'm not sure if Bolt is on this list either. You can probably get away with some deviations from this list if you include lots of 1-mana effects that cheat on mana, the curve, and/or resources.

All considered, I have no problem with a format where you have at least six pillar groups plus weirdo Eldrazi Tron. That's a totally healthy non-rotating format by any measure.
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Post by Ym1r » 1 year ago

ktkenshinx wrote:
1 year ago


That said, I do think Modern decks are actively putting themselves at a disadvantage if they aren't built around the following Modern pillars: Mox Opal, Ancient Stirrings, Faithless Looting, Serum Visions/Opt, Thougthseize/Inquisition of Kozilek, Aether Vial/Noble Hierarch. Eldrazi Tron gets away without these pillars using a combination of curve-cheating Temple/Urzatron plus Chalice. I'm not sure if Bolt is on this list either. You can probably get away with some deviations from this list if you include lots of 1-mana effects that cheat on mana, the curve, and/or resources.
(in the interest of space, not going to quote your entire post). I generally agree with what you are saying and, as I said, not being too active recently, I am very willing to accept your assessments on the metagame outside Hogaak.

The only point I would like to make here is regarding the pillars you have described. I agree with all of them but one, the serum visions/opt. All other pillars either enable or are enabled by a strategy, Mox Opal by artifacts, Stirrings by colorless decks, Looting by GY decks, TS/IoK by small amounts of efficient threats, and Vial/Noble by low cost creatures.

SV/Opt, however, do facilitate some strategies, but are not necessarily the pieces that hold them together always. In that, I am mostly looking towards control rather than Phoenix. In the case of Phoenix, yes SV/Opt are crucial, but in reality, it is Looting that enables the strategy. When it comes to control, and the absolute dominance of UW Control, it's not the SV/Opt package that holds it together. It's the PW package, plus the fact that it can play a low cost exile effect. Path to exile is SO important to UW control I can't even begin to describe it. I would argue that one of the main reasons that Grixis or Faeries are not viable is because they don't have Path to Exile. There are, of course, some other factors to it, but Path is just SO important. BGx can get away with playing R instead of W, because it has a different way of attacking the board, and can get away with not playing an exile effect. But the efficiency of PtE over any other removal is so significant, that other control decks can't keep up. It really isn't about T3f3ri or t5f5ri (although of course important). Path gives an edge over grixis in some of the worst MUs (Tron and ETron being able to deal with large threats) and sometimes even against GY strategies G1.

So I would suggest, that alongside the pillars you described, PtE plays an important role and needs to be in there.
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Post by ktkenshinx » 1 year ago

Ym1r wrote:
1 year ago
ktkenshinx wrote:
1 year ago


That said, I do think Modern decks are actively putting themselves at a disadvantage if they aren't built around the following Modern pillars: Mox Opal, Ancient Stirrings, Faithless Looting, Serum Visions/Opt, Thougthseize/Inquisition of Kozilek, Aether Vial/Noble Hierarch. Eldrazi Tron gets away without these pillars using a combination of curve-cheating Temple/Urzatron plus Chalice. I'm not sure if Bolt is on this list either. You can probably get away with some deviations from this list if you include lots of 1-mana effects that cheat on mana, the curve, and/or resources.
(in the interest of space, not going to quote your entire post). I generally agree with what you are saying and, as I said, not being too active recently, I am very willing to accept your assessments on the metagame outside Hogaak.

The only point I would like to make here is regarding the pillars you have described. I agree with all of them but one, the serum visions/opt. All other pillars either enable or are enabled by a strategy, Mox Opal by artifacts, Stirrings by colorless decks, Looting by GY decks, TS/IoK by small amounts of efficient threats, and Vial/Noble by low cost creatures.

SV/Opt, however, do facilitate some strategies, but are not necessarily the pieces that hold them together always. In that, I am mostly looking towards control rather than Phoenix. In the case of Phoenix, yes SV/Opt are crucial, but in reality, it is Looting that enables the strategy. When it comes to control, and the absolute dominance of UW Control, it's not the SV/Opt package that holds it together. It's the PW package, plus the fact that it can play a low cost exile effect. Path to exile is SO important to UW control I can't even begin to describe it. I would argue that one of the main reasons that Grixis or Faeries are not viable is because they don't have Path to Exile. There are, of course, some other factors to it, but Path is just SO important. BGx can get away with playing R instead of W, because it has a different way of attacking the board, and can get away with not playing an exile effect. But the efficiency of PtE over any other removal is so significant, that other control decks can't keep up. It really isn't about T3f3ri or t5f5ri (although of course important). Path gives an edge over grixis in some of the worst MUs (Tron and ETron being able to deal with large threats) and sometimes even against GY strategies G1.

So I would suggest, that alongside the pillars you described, PtE plays an important role and needs to be in there.
Interesting take. I agree SV/Opt are the least decisive pillars I described, and most decks using them seem to be leveraging other cards for success. Izzet Phoenix is clearly a Looting deck more than just a blue cantrip deck. UW Control is clearly a walker/removal deck in the same way. I don't feel it's quite accurate saying Path alone is a pillar (not saying you said that; just addressing a potential viewpoint) because it's so much narrower than all the other listed pillars. Everything else is either mana acceleration/ramping, dig/draw, or a universal answer. But it's very possible SV/Opt is not a sufficient package in its own right and needs other elements to be good. Path could be one such element.
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Post by Albegas » 1 year ago

I think another take is that UW has no true pillar. Rather, it and other control decks look to gather the tools needed to attack decks based on the true pillars. If you think about it, all the other cards mentioned fuel proactive strategies, which UW control is not, or at least not to the extent that other decks are. Thus it seems off to me to say that any one card is the foundation of reactive control decks when the tools run can change at the drop of a hat depending on the meta. So while it is true that almost all decks run Serum Visions, it seems less like a pillar and more like a tool to find the true "pillar", which is whatever half of your deck you need to keep your opponent from winning

Or, another take is that Jace and/or Teferi, HoD are the true pillars of control now. While they are more recent additions than the other pillars, the only successful control decks for a while now have focused on setting up the board state to safely land them. Granted, it's a bit backwards when compared to the other pillars, but as mentioned before, the other pillars are the backbone of proactive strategies, not reactive ones, so it would stand to reason that reactive decks' pillars would function differently from the other pillars

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Post by iTaLenTZ » 1 year ago

The Fluff wrote:
1 year ago
Ym1r wrote:
1 year ago
Tron and ETron are the best big mana decks.
Surprised that E-Tron managed to make a comeback. I thought Humans already killed it off sometime ago. :omg:
I guess it somehow sticks to the lore that it's difficult to get rid of the eldrazi.
Tron got a huge buff with the London mulligan rule. Its really easy to draw into natural Tron and the new Karn is also much better.

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Post by cfusionpm » 1 year ago

As someone who has exclusively played SV/Opt decks for the entirety of my time in Modern, nobody plays these cards because they like them. They play them because they have to. Because the decks are filled with otherwise objectively weak and narrow cards that need to be sifted through in order to find good or relevant cards. And as those decks get better and better tools, cantrips like SV/Opt get cut. The only other reason to keep more than the bare minimum is if they can otherwise be abused (like the Mentor builds of UW, and of course Phoneix and other spells-matter decks).

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Post by motleyslayer » 1 year ago

I'm gonna try and avoid going into an actual tournament report as this isn't the place for it but I'm gonna share a few things I observed from an MCQ in Toronto on Saturday.

(1). Hogaak was there but I dodged it all day. This is probably because even though I ended 5-3, I started 0-2 so they were probably just at higher table all day. My buddy said he played it twice and lost both times. It put at least 1 player in the top 8.

(2) I'm pretty sure there were similar levels of mono red phoenix and ur phoenix in the room but I could be wrong. I still think UR could be better but correct me if I'm wrong in regards to this

(3) In addition to thopter sword/Urza decks wanting snow lands/permanents, I saw a few other snow type decks. my second loss was to a 5c snow deck using Niv-Mizzet reborn and had a bunch of utility cards for each 2 colour combinations. I saw another snow deck around but didn't get a look at it to saw much. are snow decks the real deal?

(4) this one is me being late to the party but whatever happened to amulet titan decks? They're not as popular anymore

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Post by metalmusic_4 » 1 year ago

I've played Amulet titan in the past and it is not as consistent as hogaak. If you are looking for an aggro / combo kind of deck hogaak is just better IMO. The pheonix decks fit into that model too.

Motleyslayer, thanks for the observations from the MCQ. Good job on the 5-3 record, that is better than mine was.

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Post by cfusionpm » 1 year ago

More hot takes from CFB: https://www.channelfireball.com/article ... th-hogaak/

Basically, "Ban Faithless Looting and Allosaurus Rider along with Hogaak. Hogaak is inevitable, Rider wins too fast too often, and Looting does too much for too low a cost."

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Post by motleyslayer » 1 year ago

I feel that my observations were probably what people would expect. 5-3 is good since started off 0-2

One thing I've always been told about Amulet Titan was it was hard to play, so some people I know at least gave up on it

I've never played Hogaak and don't know anyone who does play it so I can't say how hard it is to play but it's certainly pushed other decks out of the format because how good it is

Rider and Hogaak would be interesting bans but I'm still on the fence about looting

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Post by FoodChainGoblins » 1 year ago

motleyslayer wrote:
1 year ago
Rider and Hogaak would be interesting bans but I'm still on the fence about looting
It's hard for me to back up with results yet, but in my opinion, Rider does certainly need to be banned. The deck can win on turn 1 and 2 way too often (I'm not mentioning turn 3 since that's "acceptable" now). The actual win rate of the deck is nothing to be afraid of, but beating someone before they play a single card even 9% of the time is unacceptable to me. (and I am playing the deck myself)

It won't get banned now because Hogaak is in the crosshairs right now. I mean, the card Hogaak got Bridge from Below banned (Stitcher's Supplier, Altar of Dementia, and Carrion Feeder helped too). But it should see something down the road. If Wizards thinks that Modern automatically becomes this interactive format when Hogaak is banned, they have another thing coming to them, lol. It would just take out a Tier 0.5 deck. It does nothing to the Druid Combo, Infect, Neoform, Mono Red Phoenix, etc. of the world.
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Post by cfusionpm » 1 year ago

FoodChainGoblins wrote:
1 year ago
If Wizards thinks that Modern automatically becomes this interactive format when Hogaak is banned, they have another thing coming to them, lol.
Remember when people said with a straight face that banning KCI would make the format slower, healthier, and more interactive?

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Post by ktkenshinx » 1 year ago

cfusionpm wrote:
1 year ago
More hot takes from CFB: https://www.channelfireball.com/article ... th-hogaak/

Basically, "Ban Faithless Looting and Allosaurus Rider along with Hogaak. Hogaak is inevitable, Rider wins too fast too often, and Looting does too much for too low a cost."
FoodChainGoblins wrote:
1 year ago
motleyslayer wrote:
1 year ago
Rider and Hogaak would be interesting bans but I'm still on the fence about looting
It's hard for me to back up with results yet, but in my opinion, Rider does certainly need to be banned. The deck can win on turn 1 and 2 way too often (I'm not mentioning turn 3 since that's "acceptable" now). The actual win rate of the deck is nothing to be afraid of, but beating someone before they play a single card even 9% of the time is unacceptable to me. (and I am playing the deck myself)

It won't get banned now because Hogaak is in the crosshairs right now. I mean, the card Hogaak got Bridge from Below banned (Stitcher's Supplier, Altar of Dementia, and Carrion Feeder helped too). But it should see something down the road. If Wizards thinks that Modern automatically becomes this interactive format when Hogaak is banned, they have another thing coming to them, lol. It would just take out a Tier 0.5 deck. It does nothing to the Druid Combo, Infect, Neoform, Mono Red Phoenix, etc. of the world.
Most of these ban topics are either all but inevitable (Hogaak) or tired and misaligned with Wizards' stated goals to the best of our knowledge (Looting). Rider is a more interesting question because it hits a super specific deck with zero splash damage. Currently, I've seen nothing to suggest Neobrand is top-tier or consistent. I've seen people claim the deck is very consistent, but I've seen few noteworthy results by the deck itself. That suggests to me it's probably not as consistent in practice as people claim. It reminds me of when I recorded a 40%+ T2-T3 win percentage in real MTGO League games with Cheeri0s and an overall 70%ish win percentage (can't find the spreadsheet right now and I forget the actual numbers). Of course, Cheeri0s isn't nearly as broken as my private hundreds of MTGO games suggest, which underscores the limitations of that kind of data. I suspect Neobrand is in a similar boat.

As for format interactivity, I don't think anyone is capable of predicting how the format will look post-Hogaak. We basically have no idea what WAR/MH/M20 Modern looks like because Hogaak is casting such a large shadow. And by the time Hogaak dies (as it likely will if its performance continues), we'll have Eldraine right around the corner. We have no clue what that format will look like.
cfusionpm wrote:
1 year ago
FoodChainGoblins wrote:
1 year ago
If Wizards thinks that Modern automatically becomes this interactive format when Hogaak is banned, they have another thing coming to them, lol.
Remember when people said with a straight face that banning KCI would make the format slower, healthier, and more interactive?
I don't think that was ever the argument. From my understanding and memory, the argument behind banning KCI was that it was the best deck in Modern. People also cited logistical issues, archaic rules interactions, and overall GP performance / win rates. I don't recall a significant argument that KCI's ban was for interactivity. It was very narrowly to remove a deck that was heads and shoulders better than every other deck.
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Post by FoodChainGoblins » 1 year ago

Plenty of people did say that Modern would be more interactive after the KCI ban. I thought it would be, if ever so slightly. I didn't think it would change enough for some people's tastes, but I did think it would be more interactive and I was not alone. KCI pushed a lot of interactive decks out because it beat them and the way to beat KCI was to be quicker.

I don't think that KCI won any more than UR Phoenix at the time to be honest. Sure, better players like Matt Nass, Eli Kassis, and their buddies went over to the KCI train, so better players win more matches in Modern usually. But I don't think that KCI itself won more than 53% or so of its matches. Maybe I'm wrong? I mean, if those players played Hardened Scales, they would have a higher win percentage than all of the mtgnexus members playing Hogaak right now. I know I talk about the feel of the lack of play skill meaning much in Modern, but with such a disparity in play skill, better players playing the best or top 5 deck will win quite often. That's just the truth of it.

*It's similar to right now. Hogaak pushes out several interactive decks, even if Humans and UW Control actually are slightly positive vs. it. So how do you beat them? Go quicker. Neoform, Hardened Scales, Storm, Devoted Combo, Cheerios, Mono Red Phoenix … all of these can win by turn 3.
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Post by AvalonAurora » 1 year ago

The idea of Hogaak having a positive matchup vs. control actually made me think of something. Maybe there is a problem with more consistent mulligan rules, in that they damage the balance of the control vs. combo vs. aggro cycle. Making all decks more consistent seems like it should give control the answers to combo, but honestly, the answers _should_ in a proper format, generally be versatile enough to be there already, and it's more mana use as the limiter. Aggro's advantage against control boils down to being able to go under it because it is more consistent, even if control answers some of it's stuff, aggro still has more of the same in their hand, and it's all low mana cost. But if combo increases in consistency, even if the other decks do the same, combo basically loses it's disadvantage, while the other decks don't gain as much, relatively speaking, and it break the cycle, being faster than combo and able to go under control more often than it should in a balanced metagame.

It makes me think WotC might have to go back on mulligan rules if the data pares out that it favors fast combo just enough to break the metagame, or perhaps needing to print more reliable and diverse answers and card draw for control and extras for more reliable aggro decks and ban some of the combo bits from combo decks that have too many ways to win to the point they become consistent enough to act like aggro decks and win early through control, rather than primarily pulling their early wins against fellow control decks and against aggro decks.

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Post by Bearscape » 1 year ago

cfusionpm wrote:
1 year ago
More hot takes from CFB: https://www.channelfireball.com/article ... th-hogaak/

Basically, "Ban Faithless Looting and Allosaurus Rider along with Hogaak. Hogaak is inevitable, Rider wins too fast too often, and Looting does too much for too low a cost."
I'd be very glad if this happened. Hogaak is basically inevitable, Rider isn't really oppressive but it just makes for miserable magic. And although RnD basically stated last ban update that they do not plan on banning Looting, they are straight up wrong about it.

Banning Looting would not kill all graveyard strategies. Cathartic Reunion, Chart a Course and Tormenting Voice are all comparable but obviously weaker effects. On top of that, the closer a graveyard deck leans towards being fair, the less they would suffer from having to switch to a cmc2 enabler. Arclight Phoenix would stil be a tier 1 deck without Looting, whilst Goryoshoal would suffer greatly from being slowed down a turn. If you want to promote interactive magic, there are no downsides to banning Faithless Looting.

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Post by Arkmer » 1 year ago

AvalonAurora wrote:
1 year ago
The idea of Hogaak having a positive matchup vs. control actually made me think of something. Maybe there is a problem with more consistent mulligan rules, in that they damage the balance of the control vs. combo vs. aggro cycle. Making all decks more consistent seems like it should give control the answers to combo, but honestly, the answers _should_ in a proper format, generally be versatile enough to be there already, and it's more mana use as the limiter. Aggro's advantage against control boils down to being able to go under it because it is more consistent, even if control answers some of it's stuff, aggro still has more of the same in their hand, and it's all low mana cost. But if combo increases in consistency, even if the other decks do the same, combo basically loses it's disadvantage, while the other decks don't gain as much, relatively speaking, and it break the cycle, being faster than combo and able to go under control more often than it should in a balanced metagame.

It makes me think WotC might have to go back on mulligan rules if the data pares out that it favors fast combo just enough to break the metagame, or perhaps needing to print more reliable and diverse answers and card draw for control and extras for more reliable aggro decks and ban some of the combo bits from combo decks that have too many ways to win to the point they become consistent enough to act like aggro decks and win early through control, rather than primarily pulling their early wins against fellow control decks and against aggro decks.
It's an interesting thought but if we assume your idea is true then it's easy to balance back towards even by printing better things to react with in control lists. It's just a matter of seeing what is lagging in the meta and actively printing things to help it. The issue that some of us have brought up, that I don't think there is much disagreement over, is that reactive answers are far behind the power of proactive threats.

I do like the new mulligan rule. I think it prevents some non-games where you just spiral into a hole with no lands and fewer cards. Like I said in the previous paragraph, if it really is helping some deck styles more than others, then WotC needs to recognize this and balance it with new cards.
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Post by tronix » 1 year ago

trying to keep up with the convo. yeah id posit that pros/grinders do a lot to drive the perception of the format or what the 'meta' is at any given point. its a pretty vague assertion though and can elicit a bit of the 'chicken and the egg' conundrum. was kci dominant because skilled players/teams made it their weapon of choice, or was it the deck having something that let those players leverage their prowess? likely both, but to unknown degrees.

in the most recent years the landscape of the game and how players digest what is going on in the format is notably different than it was 3-4+ years ago. i know that plenty of competitively inclined players speak of their casual disdain for modern, but this is quite different than how it used to be where there were so few high profile modern tournaments a year that multi-format pros simply did not dedicate much time to exploring or innovating because it wasnt an efficient use of their time. i don't think its a stretch to claim that decks such as pod and twin drew as much attention as they did because of how easy they were to default to given their flexible nature. similarly if you go back further close to the creation of the format decks such as zoo with nacatl were highly popular because it was a powerful level 1 aggro deck, albeit uninspired. SCG putting more support behind modern, and more modern GPs a year (as well as pro-tours), and how it changed the nature of the format frequently go understated. of course that is not to say the turbulent 'meta' can be solely attributed to this, since bans flattening the power spectrum, emphasizing newly discovered cards/decks, also did a lot of work.

personally im cool with a deck like neoform being around. decks more in the vein of 'pure' combo have been and are underrepresented in modern. they can also play a role in checking decks playing quickly to the board in lieu of interaction. the problem that can arise, as it was with kci, is that decks are too resilient, too adaptive, all while hosting high powered draws that can steal games before they get off the ground. kci sported fast kills but could also trade resources effectively. from what ive seen neoform has a mean goldfish, but is fragile without much staying power; which seems more than reasonable.

not to digress too much, but i think there is something to be said for the role the 'turn 4 rule' plays in defining the scope of modern. for better or worse its an arbitrarily set safeguard while also being a bottleneck forcing decks to battle it out in a few condensed turns (more often than not). id even posit this is partially why games feel as quick as they do.

as for re: 'pillars'

SV/opt aren't pillars. unless we are defining the category as 'name cards in each color that see a good amount of play'; in which case that is portraying a rather distorted picture of 'balance'.

when i think of 'pillar' type cards, especially as it pertains to format 'balance', im thinking of marquee components that drive strategies and archetypes, with 'pillars' setting themselves apart from the rest of the pack in their efficiency or scope of the effect. control has its set of pieces powerful enough to leverage, and likewise for spell spamming decks. SV and opt are important to be sure, but hardly pivotal or the main attraction for any blue spell slinging archetype.

perhaps it would be more useful to identify the various axes of play and break down the core cards associated with each. im assuming the goal of such an exercise would be to highlight some discrepancy in available options or identify what might be missing. otherwise itd seem like youre saying the format is adequately balanced on said 'pillars', which based on what i am observing i would disagree with.
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Post by FoodChainGoblins » 1 year ago

gkourou wrote:
1 year ago
@FoodChainGoblins , from the data gathered neither humans nor uw control is positive against hogaak. Hogaak has a sightly favourable matchup vs them. Will cite relevant data later.

On KCI vs Phoenix, we also have data showing it won more than phoenix available. Data aside, it was a better deck overall with less bad matchups. This means, Matt nass and co. could probably produce those extremely good results only with one deck and no other, KCI. Thats why it was a deck that if you did play it almost perfectly, you had a better chance to win a GP than with all of the other decks.
This speaks volumes to me. I tested Humans vs. Bridge Vine for weeks and weeks. I tested mostly by playing against myself and partially in tournaments. This was with Bridge from Below. I wanted to figure out how to beat Humans with Hogaak. After a while, I gave up on the matchup, as short of a nut draw by Hogaak, I wasn't beating Humans. They can take a lot of damage before getting their creatures super huge and Reflector Mage/Deputy of Detention can be a pain when there is no sacrifice outlet. Not to mention, just naming "Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis" with a turn 2 Meddling Mage on the play already puts Bridge Vine at a disadvantage. I know there's Lightning Axes, Assassin's Trophies, and occasionally Fatal Pushes, but it's extremely hard to find these in a timely manner. This was before the ban. I don't know if Hogaak got better after the ban or not (I have a Dredge playing friend who said it got better and he 4-1s or 5-0s dailies all the time since the banning), but I personally would lean toward it getting much worse. (it has been my experience so far) If what you're saying is true, I am either an amazing Hogaak player or the worst Humans player in the history of the game (pretty embarrassing considering many games are just cast creatures and kill).

Vs. Control. I shouldn't let my experience at the 81 person tournament I won with Bridge Vine, but UW Control was the only deck that beat me that day (0-2). It was a butt whooping as well, even if he did draw the nuts. But it's more than that. I've tested UW Control, both the planeswalker heavy list and the ScM/Cryptic Command heavy lists, and they both have extremely good game vs. Hogaak. You would think that after siding, it would by more even with 4 Thoughtseize and some Trophies, but UW gains even more (RIP, Celestial Purge X 2 :o , Timely Reinforcements) and they get to dump potentially terrible countermagic. I would be surprised to see any current Hogaak player say that they actively want to face UW Control.

Regarding KCI and Phoenix, there is not much of a point in me arguing about it - it's gone and it's not coming back. I just wanted to confirm cpfusion's statement that "many said the meta would be more interactive if KCI left." He was spot on in that. Many people here said that. I am one of them. I even thought it would be more interactive. You can't play interactive vs. KCI for the most part - you have to be quicker than it. That's how you beat it...at least that was my reasoning for thinking the meta would be more interactive if it was banned.

*Tronix - You say that you are okay with Neoform being around. I am a Neoform player. This is what I see in games.

-Game 1 for Neoform. They are on the play. They mulligan to 6 cards. They keep and reveal a Chancellor of the Tangle. The turn 1 do Neoform to get Griselbrand, Nourishing Shoal X 4 to go through their deck, and then draw cards on an empty library with Laboratory Maniac in play.
Game 2 the Neoform player keeps on 7 cards, missing Neoform or Eldritch Evolution to combo off and win. They Serum Visions turn 1 and scry to the bottom after their opponent does something. Seven turns later, the Neoform player is dead. They never found the "1 turn Birthing Pod."
Game 3 the Neoform player keeps on 6 cards and has a turn 2 kill. If they had Chancellor, they could kill turn 1. The opponent mulled to 5 and does turn 1 Grafdigger's Cage. The Neoform player tries to find Oxidize or Dissenter's Deliverance, but doesn't find them, so they lose. The other player literally puts some poor creatures out (they had a bad draw too due to mulling deep) and win on turn 9.

Do you think this is acceptable for Modern? I played Neoform at a MCQ on Sunday and many rounds were similar to this. Most Magic players don't enjoy this and seeing KCI get so much hate for being less than 8% of the meta shows that hate is and can be a reason (there is always another justification, but at least PART of the reason) to ban a card.
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Post by ktkenshinx » 1 year ago

FoodChainGoblins wrote:
1 year ago
I don't think that KCI won any more than UR Phoenix at the time to be honest. Sure, better players like Matt Nass, Eli Kassis, and their buddies went over to the KCI train, so better players win more matches in Modern usually. But I don't think that KCI itself won more than 53% or so of its matches. Maybe I'm wrong? I mean, if those players played Hardened Scales, they would have a higher win percentage than all of the mtgnexus members playing Hogaak right now. I know I talk about the feel of the lack of play skill meaning much in Modern, but with such a disparity in play skill, better players playing the best or top 5 deck will win quite often. That's just the truth of it.
KCI had the a better MWP than Hogaak in an N=469 sample of GP-level data: 58%. That's absolutely insane and is not a function of chance or player skill. Coupled with its outrageous conversion to T8, the deck was a hands-down best deck on a level we haven't seen in a long time. It was simply broken; the only thing limiting its dominance was the perception of difficult play lines (we can debate whether or not they were/were not).
*It's similar to right now. Hogaak pushes out several interactive decks, even if Humans and UW Control actually are slightly positive vs. it. So how do you beat them? Go quicker. Neoform, Hardened Scales, Storm, Devoted Combo, Cheerios, Mono Red Phoenix … all of these can win by turn 3.
Currently, you are absolutely right the best way to beat Hogaak is to present an unbeatable line, but not necessarily to go quicker. Urza ThopterSword does this through Bridge and the Thopter combo, which doesn't necessarily "win" before T3 or even T4. Other decks do it by winning outright with a combo finish. It's definitely true that banning Hogaak will make those decks worse, as it will improve strategies like UW Control which are abjectly horrible against Hogaak.

On the topic of matchups, Humans appears about even with Hogaak and maybe slightly favorable; it's 30-37 against Hogaak at combined MC4 and SCG results (27-34 for just MC4). Of course, the margin of error around that estimate could see Humans as either a decisive favorite (35-65) or Hogaak as a slight favorite (55-45), so I'm satisfied saying Humans is probably even with Hogaaak or maybe slightly favorite. By contrast, UW Control is definitely a huge underdog: 18-44 (28%) with a high-end of the confidence interval at 40%. It's unquestionably unfavored. I suspected this is because, as PVDDR explained, Hogaak is a huge G1 favorite and then just needs to win one of the two sideboarded games to steal the match and secure a high MMWP.
AvalonAurora wrote:
1 year ago
It makes me think WotC might have to go back on mulligan rules if the data pares out that it favors fast combo just enough to break the metagame, or perhaps needing to print more reliable and diverse answers and card draw for control and extras for more reliable aggro decks and ban some of the combo bits from combo decks that have too many ways to win to the point they become consistent enough to act like aggro decks and win early through control, rather than primarily pulling their early wins against fellow control decks and against aggro decks.
I'd say there's virtually no chance Wizards rolls back the mulligan rule. They might, and should, print better control tools. FoN was a good start in this direction and pairs really well with both the mulligan rule and the open decklist format of the MC, but Wizards needs more similar cards. Wizards is also not going to ban little combo bits here and there because control doesn't have the ideal matchup some players want. That's not how bans work. Wizards bans legitimate format problems through a series of relatively predictable metrics. They don't use nip-and-tuck bans to tweak matchups.
Bearscape wrote:
1 year ago
Banning Looting would not kill all graveyard strategies. Cathartic Reunion, Chart a Course and Tormenting Voice are all comparable but obviously weaker effects. On top of that, the closer a graveyard deck leans towards being fair, the less they would suffer from having to switch to a cmc2 enabler. Arclight Phoenix would stil be a tier 1 deck without Looting, whilst Goryoshoal would suffer greatly from being slowed down a turn. If you want to promote interactive magic, there are no downsides to banning Faithless Looting.
I agree banning Looting definitely promotes a certain definition of interactive Magic, i.e. people who want more Humans, Jund, and UW Control. But a) this has uncertain metagame impacts (I suspect Tron would get a LOT better), and b) I don't think Wizards wants to promote that specific definition of interactivity at the expense of a ban. They care about diversity in Modern. This couldn't be clearer. They believe Looting promotes a wide variety of GY decks that would otherwise be bad without it; interactivity is not a piece of that calculation.

As for your suggestion about Looting replacements, there are MASSIVE differences between CMC 1 and CMC 2 enablers, not to mention the flashback ability. It's absolutely disingenuous to suggest something like Izzet Phoenix would be Tier 1 off CMC 2 enablers that lacked flashback. That's why Glimpse of Nature Elves would be busted but Beck // Call Elves is garbage. Or why Counterspell would be amazing and Cancel variants are almost universally unplayable. Those extra costs matter. I'm fine with arguing for a Looting ban on the merits that Looting is breaking the metagame (but that's a case that needs to built on its own). I don't think we can plausibly make a case that Looting has easy replacements in the CMC two enablers that aren't even direct comparisons because they lack flashback. Maybe we're okay with the GY decks dying out, even if Wizards probably isn't, but we shouldn't pretend the Looting replacements will keep top-tier GY decks at their same tier.
tronix wrote:
1 year ago
SV/opt aren't pillars. unless we are defining the category as 'name cards in each color that see a good amount of play'; in which case that is portraying a rather distorted picture of 'balance'.

when i think of 'pillar' type cards, especially as it pertains to format 'balance', im thinking of marquee components that drive strategies and archetypes, with 'pillars' setting themselves apart from the rest of the pack in their efficiency or scope of the effect. control has its set of pieces powerful enough to leverage, and likewise for spell spamming decks. SV and opt are important to be sure, but hardly pivotal or the main attraction for any blue spell slinging archetype.
I read an argument earlier that the true blue pillars are things like T3feri and T5feri, not SV/Opt. Or Path. Or maybe some combination. I'm not sure about this issue because one of the other top-tier blue decks uses Looting alongside blue cantrips (Izzet Phoenix), and the other blue deck only uses 2-3 copies if they use any, instead relying on Opal and other artifact synergies (Urza's). I wonder where that leaves UW Control, unquestionably a top-tier deck, in terms of pillars. Is it just a strong deck on its own synergies? Or are there certain pillars which other decks could use that make UW Control work?
FoodChainGoblins wrote:
1 year ago
*Tronix - You say that you are okay with Neoform being around. I am a Neoform player. This is what I see in games.

-Game 1 for Neoform. They are on the play. They mulligan to 6 cards. They keep and reveal a Chancellor of the Tangle. The turn 1 do Neoform to get Griselbrand, Nourishing Shoal X 4 to go through their deck, and then draw cards on an empty library with Laboratory Maniac in play.
Game 2 the Neoform player keeps on 7 cards, missing Neoform or Eldritch Evolution to combo off and win. They Serum Visions turn 1 and scry to the bottom after their opponent does something. Seven turns later, the Neoform player is dead. They never found the "1 turn Birthing Pod."
Game 3 the Neoform player keeps on 6 cards and has a turn 2 kill. If they had Chancellor, they could kill turn 1. The opponent mulled to 5 and does turn 1 Grafdigger's Cage. The Neoform player tries to find Oxidize or Dissenter's Deliverance, but doesn't find them, so they lose. The other player literally puts some poor creatures out (they had a bad draw too due to mulling deep) and win on turn 9.

Do you think this is acceptable for Modern? I played Neoform at a MCQ on Sunday and many rounds were similar to this. Most Magic players don't enjoy this and seeing KCI get so much hate for being less than 8% of the meta shows that hate is and can be a reason (there is always another justification, but at least PART of the reason) to ban a card.
I don't see any issue with niche combo decks doing unpleasant things. It's just a matter of how frequently they are appearing and winning. The play patterns of fast Legacy combo are even worse in a vacuum, but Legacy has better generic answers to prevent those decks from appearing and winning a lot. The goldfish scenario of a deck is irrelevant. So is the negative play experience where one player has the answer vs. the other player posing the question. All that matters is if the deck promoting this gameplay does so on a large scale and is winning lots of games with it. I've seen no tournament data to suggest this deck is broken. It reminds me of the panicmongering about Grishoalbrand, a deck that many called for bans on due to negative, fast play patterns, but that has done very little in the grand scheme of Modern. Until we get some significant data points about the deck being more than a meme, I see no problem with it.

For reference, here are significant tournament performances for Neobrand since April in decreasing order of relevance:

1. 14th at GP Barcelona
2. Various MTGO Premier finishes: three @ 7-1, one @ 7-2, one @ 6-2 (_Matsugan was the pilot for three of those)
3. Various MTGO Challenge finishes: two @ 6-1, one @ 6-2
4. Zero 6-4 or better MC4 performances out of five pilots (obviously influenced by Limited but still unimpressive)

Then there are a bunch of Leagues and SCG IQs on top of that. It's not a convincing performance sample. Until we see some significant performance increases from the deck, it's simply not bannable because it makes for a "bad" game of Magic in the few times you see it. There are hundreds of such play experiences and dozens of such decks, none of which lead to bans.
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Post by motleyslayer » 1 year ago

That's really interesting that he's admitting that now, I think that could hint at intentions of banning Gaak anytime soon

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Post by FoodChainGoblins » 1 year ago

ktkenshinx wrote:
1 year ago
I don't see any issue with niche combo decks doing unpleasant things. It's just a matter of how frequently they are appearing and winning. The play patterns of fast Legacy combo are even worse in a vacuum, but Legacy has better generic answers to prevent those decks from appearing and winning a lot. The goldfish scenario of a deck is irrelevant. So is the negative play experience where one player has the answer vs. the other player posing the question. All that matters is if the deck promoting this gameplay does so on a large scale and is winning lots of games with it. I've seen no tournament data to suggest this deck is broken. It reminds me of the panicmongering about Grishoalbrand, a deck that many called for bans on due to negative, fast play patterns, but that has done very little in the grand scheme of Modern. Until we get some significant data points about the deck being more than a meme, I see no problem with it.

For reference, here are significant tournament performances for Neobrand since April in decreasing order of relevance:

1. 14th at GP Barcelona
2. Various MTGO Premier finishes: three @ 7-1, one @ 7-2, one @ 6-2 (_Matsugan was the pilot for three of those)
3. Various MTGO Challenge finishes: two @ 6-1, one @ 6-2
4. Zero 6-4 or better MC4 performances out of five pilots (obviously influenced by Limited but still unimpressive)

Then there are a bunch of Leagues and SCG IQs on top of that. It's not a convincing performance sample. Until we see some significant performance increases from the deck, it's simply not bannable because it makes for a "bad" game of Magic in the few times you see it. There are hundreds of such play experiences and dozens of such decks, none of which lead to bans.
I don't really want to go on too much, as I actively want the deck to be legal and will continue to play it as one of my decks until it's not. But there is hardly anything in Legacy that creates these types of experiences. Why? BR Reanimator can have the nuts of winning the die roll, revealing a Chancellor of the Annex, and then getting a turn 1 Griselbrand and possibly more. But that is pretty rare and in a format where Force of Will is super common, plays like that will be successful a lot less often than Modern where it's only Force of Negation on turn 0. A Blue player could even Force of Will the turn 1 Griselbrand (Reanimate, etc.), let the Chancellor trigger counter it (or multiple Chancellor triggers), then Force of Will again. That is much more likely on turn 1 in Legacy than 1 Force of Negation on turn 1 in Modern. Storm can win on turn 1 as well, but it's extremely hard without Gitaxian Probe in my opinion. Belcher and no land Dredge can have it too, but are sooo weak to variance and … Force of Will again. That card!

Regardless of what we like to imagine, play experiences do influence bans in Modern. There has been no completely strict rule that has stayed the same since 2011. When someone doesn't play anything before losing, they don't enjoy it. Sure, Modern is filled with unpleasant experiences, but how about a hand where you have interaction on turn 1, but you don't actually make it to turn 1? Matsugan and Finalnub (I told him about the new site, so he will be here soon) are 2 of the best Neoform players out there. It would be interesting to see more Combo friendly Pro Players pick up the deck. Finalnub has showed me stats based on over 200 matches on MTGO.

Turn 1 - about 9%, Turn 2 - about 21%, Turn 3 - about 20%.
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Post by Arkmer » 1 year ago

ktkenshinx wrote:
1 year ago
tronix wrote:
1 year ago
SV/opt aren't pillars. unless we are defining the category as 'name cards in each color that see a good amount of play'; in which case that is portraying a rather distorted picture of 'balance'.

when i think of 'pillar' type cards, especially as it pertains to format 'balance', im thinking of marquee components that drive strategies and archetypes, with 'pillars' setting themselves apart from the rest of the pack in their efficiency or scope of the effect. control has its set of pieces powerful enough to leverage, and likewise for spell spamming decks. SV and opt are important to be sure, but hardly pivotal or the main attraction for any blue spell slinging archetype.
I read an argument earlier that the true blue pillars are things like T3feri and T5feri, not SV/Opt. Or Path. Or maybe some combination. I'm not sure about this issue because one of the other top-tier blue decks uses Looting alongside blue cantrips (Izzet Phoenix), and the other blue deck only uses 2-3 copies if they use any, instead relying on Opal and other artifact synergies (Urza's). I wonder where that leaves UW Control, unquestionably a top-tier deck, in terms of pillars. Is it just a strong deck on its own synergies? Or are there certain pillars which other decks could use that make UW Control work?
Are we going with pillars of each color or pillars of each archetype? I really don't think colors works at all. It makes sense to be archetype based because you see more overlap in archetypes than in color usage. Maybe I'm misreading but the jump from T3feri to Izzet Phoenix has me relatively perplexed.

I think it was CF who earlier said in reference to control something like "no one enjoys playing SV or Opt", and I can certainly agree to that. Deck sift is great and all, but, again referencing CF's earlier post that I should go find, if we had more removal like Path we'd be cutting SV and Opt. Maybe not entirely, but in some number.

I would also say that the walkers referenced aren't really pillars either, they haven't really been around long enough to have earned that title, nor do they really prop the deck up as hard as the removal often brought to the table. Path, Cryptic, and Verdict have been seeing play in control since they were printed. (Verdict just supplanting Wrath.) They've been buying time and keeping things safe far longer and far better than our new walker overlords. I think the deck unravels much more when you damage the removal package than when you damage the walker package. You could put so many other things in those walker slots, but nothing replaces the top removal and counters. I would say that the prevalent removal has been the pillar of control for a long time.
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