Unlocked Insider: So Your Deck Got Banned – Transitioning on a Budget

Mike-Lanigan QS Magic the Gathering MTG

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This past Friday, we were all shocked to see the Banned & Restricted list spoiled three days early. Here I was all set up to profit from the announcement on Monday and then all of a sudden my plans were thrown into disarray. Not everyone knew the new banned cards had been leaked and the internet was staggering to react to the situation. There were many Magic finance opportunities.

For many players though, their thoughts were surrounded by depression and letdown to see their deck was no longer legal in Modern.

When I announced the alleged bannings at the prerelease I was running, there was some excitement due to Summer Bloom getting the axe, but most of us were just in shock at the Splinter Twin banning. At first, I thought the spoiler was fake because Twin getting banned seemed so unbelievable.

What surprised me the most though was a friend of mine nearly brought to tears at the news of no more Twinning in Modern. He started his journey into Modern by building this deck and just as he finished acquiring all the cards, it was no longer legal. What a crushing blow. This article is dedicated to him and other players out there in a similar situation.

So Your Deck Got Banned, Now What?

Not everyone out there has access to the whole Modern card pool to build decks from. Even with access to my shop’s buying power and inventory, I only have most of the viable decks. For many players, especially those with less than five years’ experience, their only foothold in the format is the one deck they have built. So when cards like Splinter Twin, or Treasure Cruise before it, get banned, some players have no viable deck left to play.

Some players’ first reaction to a banned card is to sell the rest of their cards and stick to Standard and Limited. Modern is hard to break into and switching decks is a big deal. With so many cards increasing in value lately, it’s easy to see that the barrier to entry is still quite high.

Take Eldrazi Black for example. That was a budget deck up until a couple weeks ago. Now that players are accepting it as a real part of the metagame, the deck has increased dramatically in value. I can’t even say doubled because it's well above that figure.

While you do have the option of selling out of the format, that’s not the route I would suggest. In fact, if you had Splinter Twin or Amulet Bloom built, you already have some format staples in hand with which to jump into another archetype.

Let's look at what your options are for transitioning without breaking the bank so you can continue to play the amazing, beloved format that is Modern.

Converting Twin

The last version of Twin that did well was the fourth place deck at Star City Charlotte.

Our starting point is this deck. You may have a different version of Twin built, but it should resemble this list. Obviously we won’t be playing any Deceiver Exarchs or Splinter Twins, but you probably don’t want to run Keranos, God of Storms either and unless you own Blood Moons, you likely won’t want to invest in those immediately.

The main thing I want to recommend to everyone is, if possible, not to sell the cards you acquire for Modern. Those cards you cut from your deck to build a new one, set them aside and keep them to use for something else later. Wizards may decide to unban Splinter Twin and you don’t need the meager amount of money you’d get by selling them.

Now that we have a pile of red and blue cards, we need a direction to go with our new deck. Let’s start out with Delver.

Alright, so as you can see, we have a great start if our goal is to own this deck. The mana base is all there and you can continue to use whichever fetches you own. Most of the spells are there and we need to focus on obtaining creatures. Luckily some of these acquisitions are easy-to-find Standard cards and you may even own them already!

Here’s the full list of what you would need.

Total: $64.25

If you own none of the cards needed to transform your Twin deck into a Delver deck, it would cost you a little over $60. As far as constructed decks go, that is a small price to pay for a competitive deck.

The other great part about this switch is that as a Twin player, you are already used to playing a tempo strategy. One of the main ways Twin used to win was to threaten the combo while keeping pressure on the opponent with small flyers, and then finish them off with Lightning Bolts from the hand and/or flashed back with Snapcaster Mage. Now, with Delver of Secrets // Insectile Aberration, you're much better at executing this strategy and it becomes your main game plan.

Maybe you aren’t interested in playing an aggressive tempo deck and want to stick to more of a combo deck. Well, you’re in luck because that’s easy to pull off as well.

If combo is what you like, Storm may be the perfect switch for you. There is no Plan B like there was with Twin, but Plan A is harder to disrupt.

Again, you already have a great start towards building this deck. Here’s what you would need to be able to play Storm.

Total: $99

If you want to be storming people out with Grapeshot triggers, you will need a bit more of an investment. $100 isn’t a tremendous amount if you have a collection to leverage or you have some of these cards already. I would say that Twin was a terrible match up for Storm as well so you should be better suited in the metagame now than you were before. That is likely the same for Delver as well.

Both of these decks are reasonable archetypes to play in Modern. The key is to get a working deck first, and then follow that up with changes to suit your play style. In addition, make sure to tailor your sideboard to your local metagame. Use the example sideboards above, but you can always keep some of the cards you used in your Twin board because they will still be good.

Converting Amulet Bloom

If you were playing Amulet Bloom, I think you're in a much worse position than the Twin players. There were definitely more Twin players and the Amulet players should have seen this coming. We all thought Amulet of Vigor was going to be banned the last couple of times it was on the chopping block so the fact that it got cut now is no surprise.

In any case, if this was your deck of choice, you'll still be looking to transition to something new. Let's take a look at a typical version of the pre-banning Amulet Bloom shell.

The first thing to note about this deck is that it played some unique cards that are legal in the format. Sure Primeval Titan is great, but it doesn't have that many applications in other established decks. Maybe there is another deck that can utilize Amulet of Vigor, for example, but it's not a known quantity currently.

It’s going to take a lot more work to transform this deck into something else usable. Hopefully the players who owned this deck were already working on a backup plan so this banning wasn’t a slap in the face like it was to some Twin players.

Let’s start by trying to salvage the current deck. After all, Amulet of Vigor itself didn’t get banned, so we can still try to play this deck, it will just be less powerful and less consistent. Here’s a version we could try.

You may have to look closely to see my changes because there aren’t many. Obviously we need to remove four Summer Bloom, but we don’t necessarily need to ditch an already powerful strategy. We already play Azusa, Lost but Seeking; let’s just max out on her to be able to get more lands in play quickly. Playing four lets us get around a removal spell as well as draw her more consistently.

As for the other two Blooms, I think we should test out Explore. That may not be good enough and we may just want two more Sleight of Hand to slim down the deck even more, but Explore is certainly the kind of effect this deck is looking for. The question is whether it’s good enough.

With so few changes, it seems like this deck can survive, albeit at a lower tier. That is exactly what Wizards was going for with this banning. I would suggest testing out some proxied copies of Azusa before running out and spending $60 on a couple more.

If you're keen on letting the Amulet deck die, never fear---I have a plan for a transition. You may not like it, but it does rely on Primeval Titan.

You may notice there's not much in common between R/G Breach and Amulet. If you want to make this transition, you need a whole new deck minus the Primeval Titans and that’s a whopping $500! My thought process here is that most of the cards are in Standard, or from the previous Standard. So, those should either be owned already or would be easily obtained. Yes, this will be a harder build than porting Twin, but it’s definitely possible.

This brings up a great point that I wanted to make in this article. Don’t sell your rotating Standard cards that are playable in Modern! Look at Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth for example. That card was just printed in M15 and while it was in Standard it dropped to $5. Players probably sold theirs for less than that to buylists around rotation.

Now, that land has shot up to $20! Most of us in the finance community have been sitting on these lands for this purpose, but this situation will arise again, maybe even this season.

One card of note is Pia and Kiran Nalaar. I’ve highlighted this card multiple times as a pick-up and you can still get it for under $5. Doing that now rather than later is advisable.

This is also a great example of a card you wouldn’t want to get rid of when it rotates. If you start following this method, then you will have a growing Modern collection to build from when you want to play a new deck or when something you love gets banned.

Maybe a clunky Through the Breach deck doesn't interest you, either because it costs a lot to build or because you don’t think it’s great in the metagame. (Keep in mind, I'm not necessarily recommending these decks as the best strategy to win the Pro Tour, but rather as a way to continue playing Modern.) My next suggestion is Scapeshift.

If you’ve seen the $50 price tag on Scapeshifts, you know that I don’t make this recommendation lightly. I do think this deck is great right now and it definitely gets better with the banned cards removed from the format. Once you have the deck’s namesake along with Cryptic Commands ($25 each), the rest gets easier.

If you're unwilling to obtain a huge chunk of expensive cards then this project may not be for you. Hopefully you've been following the advice of all the writers on staff here, though, and we're making you some money to support these investments.


If you don’t have a Modern deck yet and want to get into the format, start getting the Standard cards that are staple crossovers, like the fetches. Once you have those, I’d recommend getting shock lands to go with them. Mana is usually a huge chunk of the expense when it comes to Modern decks. If you can get that out of the way, you free yourself up to build a lot more things.

Hopefully today I’ve provided some steps for making Modern more accessible and shown you how to turn your old deck into something new. Sometimes it’s easier, like porting Twin to Delver or Storm, and other times it’s harder like with Amulet, but they should both be doable with some ingenuity and dedication.

Until next time,
Unleash the Force of the Gatewatch!

Mike Lanigan
MtgJedi on Twitter

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