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I may be late to the party on this one, but hear me out.
To the shock of literally no one they banned Summer Bloom. Yet, Amulet of Vigor lives to fight another day. Perhaps with Asusa, Lost but Seeking or Explore there is a Hive Mind shell still worth playing, but without the free turn two win the deck certainly seems less appealing.
Very few saw the second ban coming. Splinter Twin is no longer modern legal. This has some serious implications. People keep talking about why Twin was banned and are caught up in the financial hullabaloo or what wizards was thinking. I'm much more invested and interested in getting a grasp of the format before the first major events.
Assumption One: Twin's good matchups will be the first thing people gravitate towards.
Tron, Affinity, and to some extent the Eldrazi Temple decks are the obvious choices. Without a consistent combo-control shell like Twin was, these decks are more appealing than ever. If there is no fear of dying to the control deck with mana up, people will just jam their un-counterable threats into open Islands all day.
Less obvious choices include things like Eggs, Delver of Secrets and Geist of Saint Traft decks. The latter two wanted to play a tempo role against almost every deck; Provide a clock- disrupt accordingly. The problem was that Twin could play card for card with them and never needed to be up on board to win a game. Without Splinter Twin legal, the control decks of the format need to win on board, or with something like Keranos, God of Storms, Vedalken Shackles or Batterskull. Exactly the sorcery speed type things Delver or Geist decks want their opponents to try and resolve through their disruption.
Assumption Two: People hate tron, and want to beat it rather than join it.
Decks like Infect, Burn, Ad Nauseam, GriselCannon, Zoo, and Affinity have an arguably good Tron matchup. These would be the easy choices when people want to beat Tron. Going under the deck is the easiest way to get through them without simply comboing them out.
Assumption Three: If people are playing land based midrange/ramp decks and hyper aggressive decks, Tarmogoyf or Remand will be sub par choices.
Ok, this one is a little bit of a stretch, but I do think there is some merit to the assumption. Very similar to the statement above, If people play Tron, Affinity, and Burn, then Jund or Grixis control aren't the most optimal choices. Sure they can win those matchups with a little luck and enough side-boarding, but keep in mind that everyone gets to skimp on their twin hate. Those Rending Volleys, Torpor Orbs, Slaughter Pacts, Dampening Matrixes, etc... are all easy cuts from sideboards at the moment. Jund and the Control decks get splash hated on via all the Fulminator Mage, Blood Moon, Negates and what not people will be supporting more of.
Conclusion One: The format is about to get a whole lot more aggressive.
If its the case that Tron is the new format overlord, then Overgrown Tomb decks will fade into the shadows, and Infect, Burn, Affinity and Tron's general bad matchups will surface. Trying to go over Tron is not a reliable game plan, leaving only the option to go under, or combo them out. As with life, this is cyclical. The rise of infect and Burn will lead to anti-aggro builds of Jund/Abzan given time.
Conclusion Two: Each deck will be lowering their curve.
As the format progresses, advancing a game plan sooner will likely be the way decks want to be built. Especially if they need to interact with most decks on earlier turns. Playing Kitchen Finks on three into Obstinate Baloth on four is good against burn sure, but Tron and Infect will stomp that game plan.
So what is a brewer to do? If People will still be playing decks all over the spectrum even after the banning, I believe the answer is and always has been:
That's right, the card I've been advocating for weeks has gotten even better! The difference this time is that a Blood Moon shell may not be the right home. Which begs the question, what is the right home for a soft-locking artifact? There are plenty of decks that cannot afford to play Chalice on one at any point in the game because of the way they are/needs to be constructed. Here are a few options that can be constructed differently:
UW Emeria Titan
This deck has put up occasional results on MTGO and the random Regional event, but has never broken through to be a great deck. Perhaps it's still not time, but outside of Path to Exile, this deck doesn't lose anything by playing Chalice of the Void. Now, it seems like a big loss not having Snapcasters and Path to Exiles, you're asking for trouble against a lot of decks with things like Kitchen Finks or Voice of Resurgence. Hopefully with Wall of Omens and Kitchen Finks of our own there is enough to stall before Sun Titan hits to make them irrelevant.
This deck could even play Trinket Mage with a package involving Spellbombs or Hangarback Walker in addition to the Chalice of the Void. That may be worse than simply playing a gifts package. Lets Look at an actual Trinket Mage deck:
UB Trinket Tezz
Chalice and Pithing Needle don't play along that nicely, but the 1-of Trinket Mage target is likely worth it. It alone can give game against Tron and its many activated abilities. The full set of Mox Opal allows for some nutty draws involving early planeswalkers and empty hands for Ensnaring Bridge purposes. If Kolaghan's Command isn't a prevalent thing, Tezzeret might be able to break into tier one status. Even if Kolaghan's Command decks exist, it's possible grinding them out with planeswalkers is a viable strategy. It is also worth noting that this deck is certainly weak to Stony Silence, though it doesn't outright fold to it.
Tezzeret decks in general do a few things very well. Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas will often read suspend 1: Win the game- an effect that isn't to be ignored. Nor is Tezzeret the Seeker's ability to tutor up Ensnaring Bridge while multiple Nephalia Drownyard ends the game. This isn't the most controlling build of the deck possible, but it should have enough staying power to be a contender against a metagame of everyone trying to hate on Tron, though it is admittedly weak to Tron itself.
Earlier in this article, I pseudo-denounced Blood Moon. Even so, the card still has a role to play in quite a few match ups. Against Tron for example, it can slow them down enough to clock them properly. Against Jund and Abzan lists, it can still lead to free wins. However, against Eldrazi ramp decks, it may not be relevant enough if they simply cast their spells for their intended costs. A turn five Blight Herder still clogs up the board enough to be annoying. Attacking their lands seems like the most obvious way to interact with them, but that doesn't necessarily need to come from Blood Moon. Something like G/W Hate bears could likely be the answer, but that conversely doesn't have a bye against Tron.
New 8 Rack
The lack of Wrench Mind is notable, but with every deck in the expected meta having artifacts the card seems sub par. Attacking lands with Ghost Quarter, Tectonic Edge, and Small Pox may just be good enough to keep the Eldrazi deck off enough mana to cast Oblivion Sower off the top. Preventing them from getting things started allows this deck to Raven's Crime them out of the game.
This deck is quite weak to Chalice of the Void, but before people catch on it may be just the deck to punish some of the land based ramp decks. Plus, this deck has a reasonable Aggro match up and can reliably beat quite a few format outliers by simply resolving an Ensnaring Bridge.
If you are looking for some hot pickups post ban, I'd look for either Tezzeret, as neither has moved price was is quite some time. As with most bannings, people will likely be looking to unearth some of their old favorite archetypes.
That's all for this week, but tell me what you think. Are my assumptions and conclusions correct? Do you think Tron will be our new format overlord? Or will Infect, Burn and Affinity keep its numbers reasonable?
Thanks for reading!
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