The True Danger of the Splinter Twin Ban

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By now you've read at least a dozen articles, a hundred tweets, and a thousand forum posts about the January 18th banlist update. The response to Splinter Twin's banning is likely to surpass the reaction to all previous Modern ban announcements combined, as the community rages, celebrates, and grieves for for months to come. I for one am feeling no better today than in my Saturday article on the banning, and I expect this won't change for much of 2016. Many others share my general sentiment but I believe most of their anger and fear is misplaced. A Twinless Modern metagame doesn't worry me, especially in the long-term where Twin's death opens up a lot of space for new cards. A Modern format where the DCI bans Splinter Twin before a Pro Tour, however, is a much more worrisome prospect.


It's no secret Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch was a major factor, even if not the deciding factor, in Splinter Twin's banning. Aaron Forsythe tweeted it on at least two separate occasions over the weekend, former Modern mastermind Tom LaPille predicted this in a 2015 interview, and numerous articles (e.g. MTG Goldfish and The Meadery) have also remarked on the relationship between this ban and the Pro Tour. Was it the sole factor? No: both the update and Forsythe's tweets suggest other elements were at play. But it was certainly a critical decider in Twin's demise, enough that Forsythe tweeted suggestively about it all weekend, and enough that most authors seem to agree on its importance.

Today, I'm not going to discuss the existence of that relationship or the relative weights of different factors. Nor will I talk too much about that wretched Summer Bloom and its much-deserved ban. Instead, I am going to talk about the metagame implications and format consequences of Twin's removal. One of those shouldn't worry you at all. The other should cause deep uncertainty and anxiety.


The Good: Metagame Implications

Most Modern consumers are freaking out about the metagame consequences of this ban. As unhappy as I am with the Twin side of the update, I can't join the masses in this assessment. I believe the Modern metagame will remain quite healthy in the mid-term and long-run, even if it goes through some initial growing pains as it rebuilds without the URx Twin pillar.

The URx Twin collective was an integral policing force in Modern, setting a speed limit on the format and forcing other decks to pack interaction Arcbound Ravageror flat-out lose on turn four. Losing Twin could point to a devolution into a linear arms-race, where players scrape for the fastest and least-interactive turn two or turn three win without worrying about Deceiver Exarch gumming up their plans. Immediate beneficiaries include Affinity, RG Tron, Bogles, Ad Nauseam, Suicide Death's Shadow Zoo, Infect, and a horde of similar strategies which appear poised to dominate Modern. Affinity in particular looks to disproportionately profit from this banning: if the deck could maintain 10%-12% shares with Twin in the format, imagine what it will do after! Could this linear-dominance play out in the short-term, namely during Pr Tour Oath of the Gatewatch? Certainly. Is it likely to be sustained into the summer and beyond? I am betting against it.

Kiki JikiFrom a Stage 1 metagame perspective, there are plenty of decks which can take Twin's place to combat the Stage 0 linear strategies. This includes Scapeshift and Jeskai Control, particularly the more proactive Kiki-Jiki, Mirrorbreaker/Restoration Angel Jeskai strategies we saw during Shaun McLaren's run at Grand Prix Minneapolis 2014. These kinds of decks are, for the most part, worse than Twin but still very powerful at reining in non-interactive foes. Canny players will turn to them in the ban's immediate aftermath to gain an edge in a metagame that might be too polarized away from interaction. Those linear decks might also work against each other, cannibalizing each other's shares instead of rising up as a bloc. For example, Tron improves with Twin's departure, but gets worse with an inevitable Infect rise.

More importantly, the historical context of Modern tends to arc towards balance in the absence of truly broken decks. We saw a 25%-30% Abzan metagame during Pro Tour Fate Reforged, which gradually gave way to Grixis, siege rhinoJund, Tron, and a host of other decks emerging to restore format equilibrium. We saw the June metagame normalize around fair Grixis and Jund decks when everyone panicked about Tron and Bloom. In the last months of 2015, we saw a balanced vanguard of format regulars police a disturbingly linear October metagame. Twin was undoubtedly a factor in all that regulation, but as long as we find 1-2 decks to take Twin's role, it suggests the metagame itself isn't inherently broken and incapable of self-correction. Moreover, Twin had nothing to do with the Abzan decline, which further points to the metagame being able to make adjustments around other strategies. We've also seen Jund survive two bannings and emerge as a consistent Tier 1 contender, and we've seen Modern recover after the Birthing Pod ban into its healthiest metagames since its founding. The Pod mages even got a Tier 2 replacement in Collected Company Abzan decks, which could bode well for Twin expats looking into Jeskai Kiki Control or Blue Moon.

All of this has me cautiously optimistic for the 2016 metagame itself: the arguments in favor of self-regulation are at least as strong as, and probably stronger than, those about a linear takeover.

Worried about the future of Modern's much-lauded diversity? Get out there and start brewing! Or just sling your favorite deck with some sideboard changes and trust in the format's arc towards balance.

The Bad: Format Implications

I'm genuinely excited to see the metagame's evolution with Splinter Twin out of the picture. The same cannot be said about my prognosis for Modern as a format. Before we get any deeper into that sentiment, no, Modern is not dying. No, Modern is unlikely to become a failed Extended 2.0. No, Wizards is not trying to kill Modern. These panic-mongering stances are no better than the ban mania we saw all last year. Nor is it better than the inevitable ban mania that will roar even louder in 2016. I urge players to adopt more measured views on how Twin's banning is likely to help and hurt Modern in the future. If nothing else, I'm sure the upcoming Pro Tour will be the most-watched of its kind to-date, and that will be largely due to the ban and interest in a post-Twin Modern.

Splinter TwinUnfortunately, these possible gains do not minimize the likely costs of a Twin banning. As I said in my Saturday article, as I and others observed in the comments of that article, and as many other Moderners discussed all weekend, this ban suggests a scenario most of us rightly fear: Modern has become a rotating format. In this new Modern, cards (not sets) get "rotated" out of the format as part of Wizards' plan to ensure format diversity and to shake things up at an annual Pro Tour. Although those cards may have been bannable independently of Pro Tour pressures (and other money-making demands), the Pro Tour rotation forces Wizards' hand and expedites the banning before the metagame can naturally police an offending deck. The end result could be the leading Tier 1 deck suffering an annual ban solely to ensure a more interesting Pro Tour.

Wizards has not outwardly stated this as a format or banlist goal, even though Forsythe's comments on Twitter are suggestive. That said, the mere possibility of this situation is enough to cause a major problem for Modern. The reality of this situation would, of course, be worse still.

Birthing PodFrom 2013 until 2016, Wizards has brought the ban axe down on a Tier 1 deck in every January update. Taken individually, each of those cards (especially Deathrite Shaman, Birthing Pod, the delve sorceries) had significant quantitative and qualitative evidence underlying their banning. Taken together, however, it's hard for a new or veteran Modern player not to identify a pattern. This is true even if no actual pattern exists! Even if I didn't write this article to acknowledge these possibilities, Modern players across the world would still process these announcements, particularly the Twin banning, as a signal that Wizards is imposing artificial rotations to spice up a Pro Tour and coverage-heavy format.

Why would such an explicit, implicit, or simply imagined policy be a problem for Modern players? As I wrote in Saturday's piece, Modern was promised as "the nonrotating format without the card availability issues of Legacy". It was not promised as "the semi-rotating format without the card availability issues of Legacy, where decks can be banned not because they are necessarily unhealthy but because they make coverage a bit more boring". Modern players process this as a betrayal of a fundamental promise at Modern's core. This is true both for the Modern diehards who would stick around even if Lightning Bolt got banned (I, however, would not), and true of those newcomers who want a nonrotating format but don't want their investment jeopardized to an annual ban update.

TarmogoyfI admit that the concept of a "betrayal" may be a bit strongly worded with respect to this announcement. But from reading comments across the internet, even by high-level players who have been critical of Modern in the past, it's the term that most readily comes to mind. I also admit this isn't the most quantitative argument I've made on this site, and I've had a few Modern/Magic friends ask me if I found these kinds of viewpoints to be unsupportable or unprofessional. I do not. I believe the overwhelming majority of Moderners feel this way as well, and although the metagame as a whole will likely be fine, format faith has been shaken. I also believe it's important to acknowledge the discomfort this update has caused players and our readers, and articles like this aim to be in dialogue with that. Honestly, this discomfort is not misplaced. It will be hard to defend against ban mania in the coming year with this banning fresh in our minds. Maybe Wizards really would ban Tarmogoyf just to shake up a Pro Tour.

Thankfully, Wizards can fix this through communication. If Wizards more clearly articulates their goals for Modern, we won't be left scouring Google to find tidbits of information on their esoteric ways. If Wizards did a monthly Modern check-in, we wouldn't have to ask leading questions all over Twitter just to get some clarity about a decision or the format's direction. Looking back to last year, if we had known that supporting the 2016 Modern Pro Tour would lead to a Splinter Twin ban, or just increase the likelihood of a ban period, I'm betting most people wouldn't have supported it at all. This communication gap does not inspire long-term format confidence and has gone from a strange Modern oddity to a real problem in light of this banning.

I believe this will be a good year for Modern as more players jump into the format. But I also believe, even though I have no controlled experiment to prove it yet, that Modern's growth will be less than it would have been with no Twin banning. Player confidence in Modern has been undermined, and I suspect this will undercut the format's potential, even if it won't destroy the format altogether.

Life After the Splinter Twin Banning

Metagame and format consequences aside, there are plenty of other possibilities which can rise from Twin's ashes. Ancestral Vision and Stoneforge Mystic look a lot safer now than they did a month ago. Jace, the Mind Sculptor too, even though we still have a pricing issue for that banlist inmate. We might also see Counterspell and other blue cards enter Modern now that Twin isn't around to abuse them, which could improve the format's health and diversity over time. There is no indication that Twin's banning was caused by these possibilities, but it's impossible to deny that they are now on the table as options.

Ancestral VisionSadly, these silver linings and Modern's metagame resilience don't detract from the update's blow to our collective confidence. They don't draw my attention away from the possibility that Modern really is becoming (or has always been?) a rotating format, where Wizards induces change through high-profile bans. Other players share this feeling and I am disappointed Wizards has put us in that position, or at least done nothing to dissuade us from that opinion. Maybe we'll see some clarification in the coming weeks or months, and I hold out hope for better Modern management. Until that happens, however, I'm nervous about what this means for next year and our time, money, and emotional investments into decks.

I want to apologize to everyone for not responding to all your Saturday comments individually. It's hard to get back to everyone with all the banlist buzz, but know I'm reading your thoughts and have you all in mind in articles like this. Let me know in the comments what you think about the update, today's piece, the future of Modern and Modern Pro Tours, the metagame, price volatility as a result of the ban, and really anything else you want to get off your chest. All of those topics could make great follow-up stories, and I'd love to talk more in the comments.

81 thoughts on “The True Danger of the Splinter Twin Ban

  1. I agree the meta and the format will survive and thrive moving forward. I don’t believe the sky is falling and that there is a real possibility that a blue based control strategy can emerge as a top tier contender now that just jamming in the combo isn’t the best option.

    I think what is really needed is a special annual Modern PT that is outside of the new standard rotation schedule. A fifth PT. This would allow the marketing aspects of the regular 4 PTs to focus on the new sets and have an annual high level Modern PT to showcase the strength of the chosen non-rotating (I know, I know) format. Without being tied to a new set release the pressure would be less to ban in order to shake up the format, there could be a ‘modern season’ with PTQs and Modern GP results feeding into invites. The winner gets cash, platinum, and invite to World’s as ‘modern master’ and we would get to see modern experts play our format with good coverage (I know,I know) and knowledge that our format is supported at the highest levels. The draft rounds could even be the most recent Modern Masters set and every second year could highlight modern not just in limited but a constructed spectacle. I think this is doable but lots of work but am encouraged since Helene replied my tweet with a brief version of this idea by saying “I’m listening”

    1. That would be a great idea. It would reduce some of the pressures around a Pro Tour while still giving Modern a place to shine. I’d love to see something like this happen.

    2. I suspect that Wizards would like to have more PT’s and possibly even a better prize pool, but Hasbro has been struggling for years and Wizards is the most consistently profitable subsidiary. Thus they’ve been squeezing Wizards’ operating budget to stay solvent. This was backed up by earnings reports several years ago during the recession though I haven’t seen any from the last 2 years.

  2. It’s funny how I approach my modern cards collection as I just put there any playable cards regardless of what deck they fit. It counts for staples across particular color as well as niche deck parts. Seems like making several decks at once is the best way to make sure you always have something playable in the format.

    And, hey, is it really that necessary to have modern pro tour once in a year for this kind of troubles. If it really is the case though. Communication with Wizards was not that clear in the last days.

    1. My fear is that without a PT level event and the coverage, hype, new decks/tunings, and involvement of the best players (if the money and perks are there they will play) the format will wither and fade. For those that live in large centres etc. This won’t happen as fast but many of us live in smaller, more geographically isolated locations and having the format be supported at the highest levels is what allows the format to draw in new players and make the effort worth it.

      I also just love watching Modern played by the best on coverage. By far my favourite format to watch. With no PT there will end up less GP which will trickle down to store level soon enough I fear.

  3. Holding out for better modern management? It seems to me that wizards is managing modern the way that they want it to be, ya know, the format they created. Just because we get attached to a certain deck or archetype doesn’t mean we have to throw tantrums because it is being phased out of a format that has so many options available to us. Pod players had it done to them and jund has been attacked twice now. We move on. I owned a complete splinter deck full of foils and am perfectly fine with this change since it means i get to explore and find a new deck that i can learn to love and enjoy in a great, hopefully healthy format.

    As a side, just because there are cards being banned does not mean the format is rotating. The same exact sets that have been always been in modern are still here. If the format were rotating, death rite and bbe would be coming back every once in awhile, or pod, or treasure cruise. When that starts happening, call it rotating if you want. Till then, we have simply lost consistency in a tier 1 deck (since the combo is still available to anyone who is willing to try it) and hopefully give birth to more viable strategies in modern.

    1. the problem is that they sold the format on different principles… there are people who feel a little betrayed for a reason…

      the format was already developing new strategies with or without a ban and you saw that in lantern, kikichord, hatebears, eldrazi… i mean it was really diverse this year in terms of high placing new decks… and anyone who was paying attention could tell you that it’s been relatively healthy compared to past years….

    2. I would strongly argue most players aren’t throwing a tantrum. They are genuinely dissatisfied with a decision. I didn’t see nearly this kind of unhappiness with the bans in previous years, which was partly because those bans had better data supporting them, and partly because they felt more independent in relation to the Pro Tour. The metagame is still going to be healthy in the long-run, but I (and others) no longer think Wizards manages the banlist based on metagame health alone. I think there are non-metagame considerations at play, which is not what was promised when Modern was founded and not what was stated in their ban updates.

      Rotation just means new sets and strategies, along with a new metagame. Standard rotates, even though cards from an old set don’t come back in a new cycle: it’s just being used in the same way Wizards uses it to describe those Standard “changes”/”shifts”. We haven’t just lost a Tier 1 deck. We had Wizards ban a format pillar and then admit a major reason for that ban was the timing of the Pro Tour and not just metagame factors. That’s a major confidence shaker .

    3. Rotating….as in the way standard rotates… I think you’re using the word the wrong way.

      And the way wizards has been banning staples once a year just prior to the PT definitely does feel like a forced rotation.

  4. Please stop saying that modern is becoming a “rotating” format, there are better ways to put it. Making the comparison to the rotation in standard is unfair, and so is stating that any banlist change is a “rotation”. By your logic modern has always been a rotating format, so what’s the big deal? I won’t argue as to whether you’re right or not about the health of the format but just the way you interlace your opinions about it makes you seem personally sour about the banning, and kind of discredits the kind of reporting that generally goes on here. They seem like awkwardly veiled hints that wizards is ruining their format, even if you explicitly state that you believe otherwise.

    1. In this case, the “big deal” is that Forysthe has explicitly acknowledged this ban as being influenced by the Pro Tour alone and not just by metagame factors. That’s a major shift from the last times a format pillar got banned. The previous banned cards were also much more offensive while in Modern, commanding much higher metagame shares than Twin was. All of this points to Wizards making ban decisions not based on metagame considerations, which is what most people believe they do, but rather just to spice up coverage. That’s not an awkwardly veiled hint. That’s an accusation of mismanagement, and I’m happy to admit to that.

      As for “ruining the format”, Wizards can mismanage something without ruining it. I’m definitely accusing them of making a mistake. That doesn’t mean the format is dying, or that they are ruining it. It’s simply calling out a misstep.

      1. Going to go out on a limb here: This ban is a good thing. The view to the contrary is short-sighted.

        “In this case, the “big deal” is that Forysthe has explicitly acknowledged this ban as being influenced by the Pro Tour alone and not just by metagame factors.”

        Though this may not be incorrect, to use it as a sticking point is a little silly. It was stated that there is more pressure on the format because of the Pro Tour. Of course its a factor. Why would anyone want to tune in to watch the same format that never changes? Wait – there it is. Wizards wants people to tune in… why? After all who’s the big winner from a Pro Tour anyway?

        WE are the winners. The Community. We win when people are excited about the Pro Tour and tune into it. Sure, Wizards gets some benefit, but they’re doing just fine, and their shareholders are fat and happy. But excitement about the Pro Tour over a format that was getting a little stale? Not soft Oreo stale, but questionable tortilla chip stale. Who wins? WE WIN.

        This ban is a good thing.

        The precedent that they have set isn’t that its a rotating format, but that they will remove a deck that they find makes the format “stale,” so to speak, once a year. This makes me want to play more modern, not less. This gets me excited about a “new” format, that 99% of the cards I own are still good in. This IS NOT rotation. If it was, 25%+ of the cards I owned would no longer be good. I don’t need to buy any more lands, crack any new packs, get a new play set of Thoughtseize. No. I can use nearly all of what I have, be challenged to learn something new, adapt, and improve. Because now myself and so many others are out there brewing, excited to try something new, a little scared to bring something untested to an FNM, daydreaming about being the one who comes up with the next combo, completely uncomfortable (in a good way) with our new deck.

        This ban is a good thing.

        Oh, and I’m going to watch the Modern Pro Tour this year for the first time because – guess what? – I’m excited about Modern as a format again. Most people don’t like change, and I can relate to that. And that will probably be apparent for a while. But I’m not losing any sleep over it. Tomorrow is a new day, and maybe my BR tempo build will finally have the legs it needs. (I will miss the MU though, it was always fun).

        1. Sorry, I have to step in here and point out that you are wrong:

          ” It was stated that there is more pressure on the format because of the Pro Tour. Of course its a factor. Why would anyone want to tune in to watch the same format that never changes?”

          That’s just not true. Bx Eldrazi is a new deck that emerged without WotC doing anything besides printing new cards. The Pro Tour would have been a blast even without the Twin ban.

          Bx Eldrazi is the proof that the banning is unneeded and therefore does more bad than good.

          1. Just because something is unnecessary, does not make it bad.

            Cake is unnecessary. I refuse to call cake a bad thing. But it is completely superfluous 99% of the time. But cake still does more good than bad even though it is unnecessary. I know that cake is not a Magic card, but your logic surrounding unnecessary=bad is the same as my logic surrounding cake.

  5. I really think the best thing that could happen for Moderns health, both in the short term, and long term, in removal of the Modern PT, but with more Modern GPs. I say this as someone who fought for the Modern PT. We, as Modern fans, wanted a PT to show case Modern as it was, but instead the PT seems to demand some sort of format shake up. This isn’t good for people whom want to, or already have, invested in Modern. Fear for deck bannings will be at an all time high, the secondary market is going to be worse than ever, and none of this is good for new players thinking about getting in.

    We feared that loosing a PT would end in a drop of support from WotC, but if this can be remedied by more GPs, it’s what I, and I think, many other Modern players would prefer.

    1. Totally agree. I’d be fine if there was a high-level Modern event outside of the coverage, like a Modern Cup or something, but otherwise it should stick with GPs if bannings are part of the PT package. No one knew bannings would come with PT support, which is where the sense of betrayal comes from, or at least a feeling that communication was mishandled.

  6. I’m a father of a little girl, and in two months I’ll be father again. I’d always been a huge fan of modern, and an advocate of it in our LGS: I played it everytime I could. I accepted every ban, some of them favorably, some obtorto collo, but the format was always my favourite one. Though, I quit modern now, and mtg in general, because I can’t trust a company that treat players, our time, our money, our efforts, as we’ve infinite of them. I personally don’t, so I’m perfectly in line with your thought, Sheridan, it’s not the ban of Splinter Twin per se, is the underlying fear of wasted time/money/energies, which scares me.

    And with two little kids I don’t want to get fooled by anyone, WotC and DCI in primis.


    1. I am also very nervous about the message this sends, and the communication issues that continue to surround the banlist and Modern as a format. The Pro Tour influence really sours me to Modern, as does Wizards’ handling of that influence and discussion of how it plays out.

  7. it remains to be seen how healthy a format is going to be with the absence of blue.. although white might pick up some of that slack… i’m not as hopeful as Sheridan… and i don’t think there are viable control strategies… scapeshift has tough aggro matchups as well as incidental backlash against tron and eldrazi land hate… and jeskai control has long been forgotten because of it’s slow game that can’t keep up against any of the tier 1 decks now….

    my theory has always been that twin was propping up an already weak color… and i think the meta is going to be a lot like the aug/sept 2015 metas only more heavily skewed towards aggro… and i don’t think Grixis control is up to the task to keep anything at bay especially with it’s horrible horrible Bx Eldrazi matchup amongst others…

    1. I’m a tiny bit nervous that Twin really was the integral format pillar we needed, but I’m holding out hope (for now) that other decks can take its place. If not, I’ll be the first to admit I was wrong and look back at the data to see where we went astray and what comes next.

  8. First, I agree that the post-Twin meta is far from decided. I find myself cautiously optimistic for the future. I can’t begin to number the amount of times I’ve suggested an unbanning or a reprint or even a new card idea to people only to have them tell me that it would be too helpful for Twin. As long as WotC is willing to give us some new and exciting toys to play with I am actually kind of excited to see Twin gone. Also yeah Bloom is banned hooray. However, the implications of the ban are another matter entirely.

    A lot of people might hate to hear this, but now that we’re a few years deep into the Modern “rotation” system, I have to say that it reminds me a lot of how Konami handles the Yu-Gi-Oh! metagame.

    For those of you who are unaware, YGO does not have an actual “rotation system.” Instead, they publish a banned and restricted list every so often (3-4 times a year, I think) that tends to neuter the top decks in the meta and force players to buy into new archetypes when new sets release.

    Now, Modern’s bans aren’t as rapid or heavy handed as YGO’s, but the principles are strikingly similar. YGO’s B&R system coupled with the game’s insane power creep and pay-to-win deckbuilding style are what drove me to MTG, and to Modern. It scares me to see my beloved game begin to morph into the thing I hate.

    I play Tron. I’ve played Tron since I first started playing Modern back in 2013. I’ve always warned people against ban paranoia. Now I find myself subject to that very thing. At least they won’t ban me out of my T2 Grixis baby. Well, not soon anyway.

    I want to see Modern removed from the Pro Tour if this fear is the price we have to pay.

    Though, I do see a potential silver lining here. With Twin gone WotC may very well be willing to give Modern better blue toys. A fresh cantrip here, a stronger counterspell there. If they do, I’d love to see Modern blossom into something more than it is. Everyone warns against “Legacy-lite,” but I’m not sure that’s a bad thing? I don’t think we’ll ever see things like FoW or Brainstorm (which is fine), but there’s nothing wrong with giving everyone stronger ways to interact. There’s nothing wrong with police cards keeping linearity and combo down a bit. With Twin gone, I think the format can start receiving these kinds of tools.

  9. “If nothing else, I’m sure the upcoming Pro Tour will be the most-watched of its kind to-date, and that will be largely due to the ban and interest in a post-Twin Modern.”

    You’re probably right. It has, however, sent me in the opposite direction. Since I have given up this format, and sold my cards, I haven’t the slightest interest in watching this PT, which is something I usually don’t miss. The bitter taste in my mouth is still too fresh to stomach it.

  10. People of Modern- the worst thing we can do is give in to hysteria. Just look at things objectively. Yes, some hard truths about our favorite format were learned this weekend. But they shouldn’t surprise you, and the format is better off now that the majority understands how Wizards operates the banned list.

    For any doubters out there- it’s pretty much proven by now that Wizards bans explicitly for the PT (Forsythe may be telling the truth, there may be other reasons, but none of them matter. Trust me.) One of the major complaints about the Modern format was that aggressive, linear decks dominate the format. By removing Modern’s only true reactive (I hesitate to call it “control” because Magic players love to argue semantics as though it somehow changes things) tier one blue deck from the format, Wizards has pushed the format even further in that direction.

    This is not a sane ban in any sense of the word. It will push proactive strategies of all kinds (Burn, Zoo, Affinity, etc.) while reactive strategies (BGx, Blue Moon, and…that’s about it?), which simply lack the tools to compete in this metagame, suffer further. There’s just no way this ban would’ve happened without a Modern PT, and we all need to accept that as gospel.

    Please, everyone, just recognize that shakeup bans are the reality. This is the overwhelming consensus opinion now across the board. When I posted about this on MTGSalvation back in November, calling attention to Tom LaPille’s statements on the Masters of Modern podcast (which is now constantly tweeted/written about by the Modern community) I was laughed at by those who said a Twin ban was impossible.

    But acceptance is only the first step. If Modern players want things to change, they need to be vocal about it. Wizards reinstated the Modern PT because of community outcry, if we’re vocal enough we could get it removed as a Pro Tour format. Then we (the players at lower levels) could keep our decks together for a longer period of time, without the fear that the format will somehow be “solved.”

    Furthermore, instead of trying to justify the ban by pointing at metagame shares, Top 8s, or whatever, we should be up-front with newcomers to the format. Whether you like it or not, the reality is that if you play a Tier 1 deck, it is in the crosshairs for a banning because of the Pro Tour. People should be told this before they invest in the format. In a few years, I predict Modern will lose some combination of Cranial Plating, Eldrazi Temple, and Liliana of the Veil (and maybe even a Tron piece if the Eldrazi deck isn’t a strict upgrade). It doesn’t matter whether Affinity “surges” now that Twin is gone. It already meets the criteria for a banning. So does every other tier 1 deck in the format.

    People who try to justify this banning are kidding themselves. Aaron Forsythe wasn’t “implying” that shakeup bans were a thing. He flat-out stated it. So did LaPille in April. Did he say there were other reasons? Of course. But he didn’t share any others, and considering people spend thousands of dollars on this game, you’d think it would be good PR for him to tell us what they were if they mattered at all. He didn’t, and they don’t.

    Tell people this stuff, guys. The writing’s been on the wall, in as explicit a way as they can say it, since April 2015.

    I own a foiled out Jund deck. You can bet that if, come next January (or January 2018, more likely) the Eldrazi decks are gone and Jund is a prominent tier 1 contender in Modern, regardless of how much it actually wins I’m selling it ASAP. But I pay very close attention to Modern and am fortunate enough own a deck that has a high resell value. These shakeup bans will continue to catch people less well-informed (or just new) off guard if we don’t, as a community, band together and call these bans what they are.

    TL;DR: Unless community outcry is so strong that they kill the Modern Pro Tour, shakeup bans will keep happening. But people can mitigate their financial (and emotional) losses by investing in a stable, tier 2 deck (think B/W Tokens, Taking Turns or something similar) that has no chance of ever getting banned out. Most of all, if we don’t give in to “ban hysteria” we can help newcomers learn what “bannings” really mean in Modern. Denial is no longer helpful. Acceptance, followed by action, will change the format for the better.

    1. Thanks for this thoughtful and interesting response. Great to read reactions like this by our audience and fellow Moderners. I think acceptance is certainly one strategy we can adopt in regards to these bans, but I also don’t think it’s the best one. I would rather we all make it clear to Wizards that we, the Modern base, are dissatisfied with their handling of the banlist and the communication around format management and banlist decisions. Is everyone? Definitely not, but enough people are that Wizards should know this and confront it. Maybe they do nothing, in which case Modern players can choose to respond however they want. But maybe Wizards does make small, or larger, changes based on the community’s reaction.

      Until Wizards gives clear indication that this is the way of the future, I don’t want to accept a nonrotating format where the Tier 2 deck is the safe investment because the Tier 1 contenders are all in ban danger. This is a huge artificial metagame pressure that makes our emotional investments riskier and, I believe, runs contrary to the spirit that was present at the founding of the format. I would much rather we speak out strongly against shakeup bans and then only accept it if given no other choice. That is certainly what I will be doing whenever the topic arises.

      1. Thank you for your reply! I agree with you wholeheartedly on fighting them on this decision. I only meant that we should accept that shakeup bans are the current reality, and we shouldn’t try to justify the Twin ban by other methods (i.e. T8s, metagame presence, etc.), as it’s disingenuous- the numbers just aren’t there.

        Whether or not shakeup bans will be the reality in the future is, of course, up to us, at least in part. I wish you the best of luck with your efforts. But until and unless their policy changes I will exercise restraint in their deckbuilding choices to minimize financial/emotional losses.

    2. If more and more people follow your example and buy tier 2 deck X, then it will no longer be tier 2 because it’ll make up such a large portion of the meta. So not safe.

      If 80% of the players play a deck with 56 forests and 4 dryad arbors and the other 20% play 58 forests and 2 elvish mystics do we eventually ban dryad arbor because it wins a huge % of the time in this meta?

  11. Hi,

    I play modern since like 18months. As a no-money beginner, I started with rogue deck’s like affinity without mox opal, allies aggro etc. Then I reached my first job and had a little money, so I invested in 4 aether vial and 4 noble hierarch to make my first competitive deck : hatebear with flicker and resto effects. Made a few results at my LGS.
    Since few months, I was considerating invest again in a tier one deck in order to start competion at a larger scale. Twin was on the shortlist…
    With this ban, I’m not so sure I still want to invest in modern and I’m not talking only about money. Mastering decks in such a large and competitive format is difficult and eats a lot of time. I’m fine with that, it’s challenging, awesome and fun. I just don’t want my efforts to be ruined by an unpredictable decision I have no control on. And that’s exactly how I would have felt if I made this invest. So what? I can’t invest time nor money in any tier one deck without fearing to waste both because of the banhammer? That’s where I’m at right now, and I don’t think I’m the only one.
    Considering that, I’ll stick with my petdeck : the tier 2/3 hatebear, and won’t invest myself much more on competitive modern like I planned to…

    1. Based on these updates, the safest investment will always be a Tier 2 or Tier 3 deck that doesn’t also threaten turn 1-3 wins. Hatebears/Death and Taxes are great options here, and are unlikely to ever see a ban.

  12. The real question is – if many believe the end game of the Twin ban for Modern’s diversity is a good thing (which I also believe) – does the end justify the means? Yes it does.

    I think it does. If twin limited the diversity of blue decks in a similar way to the way pod limited the future of creature based decks then banning twin was definitely a good call. I think a lot of people believe this (as you seem to do). it is the timing and the way it was done that people have a problem with. Without going backward – what better timing could there be? A deck existing for a long time gives it no right to be “unbannable” anyway – that is a very singleminded way of looking at the format.

    To me, it is entirely possible that this thought hadn’t translated into any traction until now, but was considered long ago. Perhaps they thought they could limit the power of twin through printing new cards like rending volley – but that didn’t seem to have a large effect on the archetype. Ironically, this is the argument many of you are using to hate on this decision!! To me it seems that wizards did try to solve the twin “problem” without banning it for a while now. If so, clearly they determined that those efforts were insufficient, and decided to “cut their losses” going for the full out ban.

    Those of you twin lovers – if they banned it in years ago, you would have not had the deck to play at all. No matter how/when/what they seem to ban people always find reasons to hate on them. From a different perspective a long-overdue ban is better than no ban at all, assuming the bad does really need to happen.

    In my mind – the end justifies the means. Modern will be more fun without twin, and I cannot wait to see what new blue cards can get printed/ come off of the ban list now that no one has to worry about enabling the T4 combo deck of the format.

    Financial losses? This is funny to me. Reprints are much more of a financial loss then this (1 card used in 1 deck). I own 4 copies of twin and that loss is miniscule compared to the loss I took buying into 4x Days Undoing at $20 each based on the overhyped articles on this very site. This is a very minute cost.

    Emotional losses? this is even funnier. These are cards used to play a game. Boo Hoo!! This is not your favorite teddy bear we are talking about. I cannot even believe this is a point of conversation beyond pod players saying to twin players “I know that feel.” Move on! lol.

    Aside from the above. I love this site and it’s content. I don’t even have any hard feelings about Day’s Undoing as I love Jordan’s brews. People need to step back and gather some perspective. It’s not the end of the world.

    1. Thanks for the response! Love reading the longer, interesting, and well-reasoned replies like this one. I do think Modern without Twin will eventually be a better format with more options and lots of open design space. Hopefully Wizards acts on that and releases the necessary blue cards to make that a reality (AV would be a great start). There are other police cards that could have done this, but it would’ve taken a while to bring them into the format and with no guarantee of success. I think the overall metagame future, and its potential, is very bright for Modern.

      That said, I think you are underestimating the potential costs of this ban. Even if I hadn’t written a word about this ban, there’s a large subset of the Modern and Magic community who feels much less likely to invest in Modern due to this ban. I’m also talking investment as a player, not just as a speculator or economic agent looking to profit from cards (Modern got even more lucrative in that arena). The problem is that Twin got banned for these non-metagame, external reasons related to PT coverage and PT innovation. This suggests to many players that their top-tier deck could come next in another year, just because Wizards wants to shake things up.

      Although you and others may not put a lot of stock into the emotional, monetary, and time investments in Modern, I think a lot of players do value those investments and act based on them. It’s very much a perception thing, not just a rational, economic calculus. This ban and its relationship to the Pro Tour undermine the players who care about those investments, which is worse than it is not for the format.

      I agree it’s not the end of the world and I made plenty of disclaimers to that effect, both in the comments and in the article. But I can accuse Wizards of mismanagement while also believing in Modern’s success: those aren’t mutually exclusive. That’s where I am now and that’s where I’ll be unless we get new information about the ban or Modern’s future.

    2. i’m failing to see what the ‘twin problem’ was…. twin has had a constant metagame share of around 10% for it’s entire modern lifespan… it never had pod level success at tourney’s and was never seeing jund level bbe numbers….

      i don’t know how anyone could ever say twin was oppressive with a straightface… it was almost like the banning was expected which it certainly was not for anyone paying attention to modern this year….

      this was a bad ban no matter how you slice it.. it would have been bad 3 years ago and it’s a bad ban now… if wotc is regulating >10% metagame share decks before every pro tour then that criteria is bad… it is so laughably bad that i don’t know how ppl can trust such dumb ppl….

    3. The problem with this ban is that it seems to undermine the spirit of the whole format. While this banning will assuredly change up the format it also created a lot insecurity. What is the point of investing hundreds of dollars and countless hours learning and mastering a tier one deck when it could be banned simply to shake up the next modern pro tour? Given the reasoning behind this ban would you feel safe buying into Tron or Affinity? As a newer player I would now be hesitant about putting my money into a top competitive deck.
      In regards to your comment about the diversity of blue based decks I would just like point out that twin was the go to route primarily because no other u/x strategies have been very competitive. Even Patrick Chapin’s grixis control list which started out very reactive with many 2 for 1’s has evolved into a much more proactive deck. These strategies simply haven’t been very successful. Wizards does not seem to have much interest in shaking up the format through unbanning’s given the lack of impactful unbans in recent years. Also, as the game continues to move more toward stronger creatures rather than instants/sorceries the chances of them printing cards that impact reactive strategies in modern seems rather slim.
      You laugh off the people who are upset that their favorite deck was banned. I do not know what deck you play in modern but imagine if that deck you have played for years was suddenly gone. Wouldn’t you be upset? I don’t think it is outrageous for players who have played the deck since the formats inception who have spent hundreds if not thousands of hours to master to be upset over this banning.

  13. The Goldifsh and Meadery articles don’t “confirm” a relationship between this ban and the Pro Tour. They just cite it as a probable reason. Like you said, Forscythe has also alluded to a link between the two. But the articles you list are not confirming anything; they’re just making educated guesses.

    1. In this case, the evidence is so overwhelming that I’m perfectly fine marking it off as “confirmed”. Also, remember that we are just confirming a “relationship”: you only need to read AF’s tweets from the weekend to confirm a “relationship”. I have not assumed here, elsewhere, or in the comments that this is the sole reason for the ban, or even the main reason for the ban. All that matters is that there was some relationship between the two (which is absolutely confirmed at this point), and that this relationship is being perceived in a certain way by players.

        1. Oh, I see what you two are saying. You are pointing to a poor verb choice, which I agree was badly chosen. I’m just going to change it to “also remarked” to be clearer.

  14. A post by pvddr:

    “Paulo Vitor – ‏@PVDDR

    @mtgaaron @LejeuneH and re: suppression, its not twin that is doing it but decks like tron. No one WANTS to play twin, but we’re forced to”

    Soo true. What option did you have vs Tron with a snappy deck without twin? And now Tron will be more played…. as well as b/x Eldrazi decks. Which happen to crush fair snappy decks and bgx (from playtesting). Now racing/combo is the best option…. I honestly don’t feel like a doomsayer here but modern is very likely to be all combo aggro ramp….is this healthy?

    Will some fair magical police deck come and crush the mana ramp tyrants? As well as the slew of linear aggro and combo to follow?

    I hope…

    1. I’m optimistic that any short-term Modern issues will be resolved in the mid and long-term, either through natural metagame evolutions or new unbans/cards/reprints to enhance existing strategies. That said, I expect extensive ban mania and craziness if the metagame looks warped in the short-term. Wizards has basically guaranteed this ban mania will happen through the recent update, and it is going to be very hard to argue against.

    1. I’m sorry you feel some of these complaints are “crying”. Although I’ve certainly seen my fair share of crying about the ban, I think this article has done a great job of explaining both where the ban is fine (the metagame will likely be healthy in the long-run, or even more diverse), and also where it goes astray (sends a bad message, emphasis communication issues, etc.).

      I think there’s a temptation for Modern community members to label any opposition to the ban as “crying”. We need to move away from that because it restricts our ability to improve the format and stay in conversation with Wizards.

  15. This is pretty much crap about the ban. Tron players might as well get ready.
    Im getting out of modern and i hope alot follow after realizing the money you can lose building decks that eventually get banned.

    1. Tron could certainly be in trouble if it becomes a major Tier 1 player in 2016 and stays that way before the next Pro Tour. I hope Wizards clarifies its stance on these bannings and finds an alternative to the “shakeup ban”. It isn’t great for longterm format health and although Modern will likely still prosper, I believe it won’t succeed as much as if we didn’t have these kind of hamfisted, spice-it-up bans.

  16. As a now former twin player, this banning did one awesome thing, i started brewing. I feel a little betrayed in so far as this banning smells more of a way to sell OGW than help a format (given tron and bx eldrazi on the rise with the set release in a few days AND a pt on the way, way too convenient to be a random shake up). The solution is simple; brew more. More difficult for new comers to the format without a good card pool but a simple enough solution. I say this as someone who started playing this game 20 years ago, when it was looked down upon not to have your own brew, net decking was considered the lowest of the low, now its pretty much the norm. I love how this game has grown, but i cant help but wonder if the twin banning is a symptom of a larger issue, that one of the fundamentals of the game; brewing, has largely fallen to the wayside. Any talk of losing on an investment should be looked at a bit closer, have we lost sight of the creativity behind the game? Yes there will always be staples that are expensive (lands in general are never a bad investment) but how much of the secondary market is largely driven by what is essentially a loss of creativity vs an illusion of competitiveness? I can say this banning reconnected me with something I never noticed I lost; my creativity. Within minutes of the news i took out my twins, exarchs and mites to tinker with a keranos powered mana denial strategy. I just hope the one caveat of the new format is more names replacing “the internet” on decklist sheets.

  17. I know that this banning has changed what types of decks I’ll be building from now on. I’ve now lost two straight decks to the ban hammer(Pod and Bloom and both deserved to be banned). That said I’m done with tier 1. Luckily enough I had Storm and Living end already bulit. But the twin ban caught a lot of people off guard and caused two friends to drop the format all together.

  18. I am sad to see the deck go, but the “interact or win before turn four” rule was getting a little stale. The down sides is an increase of Tron decks, the most irritatingly deck to try and beat.
    Well, time to put 3 Fulminator Mages in modern fund now!

  19. Given the stance Aaron Forsythe has taken, and the Tom LaPille interview that has resurfaced, I think it’s really unfair that the community didn’t get a heads-up on the consequences of fighting to keep the Modern Pro Tour. I mean, you have to a expect a passionate community to take a stand when, without any real explanation, you decided to axe the biggest event of the year/show of support for their format. But if they’d explained then that having the PT would likely lead to bans every year to keep the format fresh, our collective decision may have been much different.

    At the very least, I think it would be only fair now to publicly (and I don’t mean Twitter, not everyone goes that deep, I’m talking press release on the mothership) acknowledge that this is WotC view on the matter, and let the community decide if it’s worth it to us to keep the PT.

    I know I would tune in for a “same old stuff” Modern PT, and I really like the idea of a seperate, “Modern Master” type PT as was suggested by a poster earlier, but having read the article on mtggoldfish, I can understand the monetary implications of having a PT not really advertise the new set as much as it needs to (and while running an extra PT or similar event might circumvent this, WotC has to be sure that organizing such a large scale event will be profitable).

    In the end, I think what matters most, even as someone who plays no other formats and would love to take a run at making the PT, is that the thousands of players who want to play the format get to do so, and in the spirit which was promised: stability. If the PT needs to go, so be it.

    Also, to those brushing off the financial implications of the ban because “Snappy and Scalding Tarn are still worth $”, consider that this is not true of all decks. If they ever nuke Tron, of ban a key piece from Affinity, those decks instantly become big piles of worthless cardboard. We need to think long term about all the implications of this policy, not just “I hated Twin good riddance” and “You lost 50$ value on Twin, boo hoo.”

    1. Agree that it feels unfair. I’d actually feel better if the exact same banning had occurred but we knew it was coming and supported the Pro Tour in spite of the pressures. That kind of transparency is valued by a player base who invests in this kind of format. Not even saying Wizards needs to be transparent on every aspect of Modern management! But this kind of ban transparency, not just over Twitter and informal channels, would go a long way towards improving format confidence.

  20. Hello, Sheridan

    Let me preface this by telling you that I was a bit disappointed by your Saturday article. While I was reading it, I couldn’t help but to hope that your emotions wouldn’t get the best of you. What makes this site stand-out is the unique hard data driven articles and the cool head you always seem to have.

    So, putting up an article “for me to legitimately vent my frustrations” and admitting that “If it sounds like I’m angry it’s because yes, I’m angry.” wasn”t what I was expecting for. Reading a more balanced article this time is really relieving for me other readers who also noted your sourness.

    Now, I agree with you regarding the meta. There’s a world after Twin and Modern is capable of finding a balance, although it may need a couple months. I miss some meta-trend predicitons, but I’m aware that nobody knows for sure what’s going to happen.

    Regarding the ban itself, you may remember our discussion at MTGSalvation one month ago. I presented a yearly Top8 analysis for the BBE, DRS and Pod bans that pointed out to a ban aimed at URx Twin and you told me that the numbers weren’t there.

    Please, don’t misunderstand me. I’m not here to show off, but to ask you something instead. I want the community to realize that’s the data they look for. I believe the cutoff is around 20% of PT/GP Top8s and there are 4 bans to back that up.

    The criteria may be flawed, but that’s another discussion. Most people are clamoring for more transparent ban criteria, while they overlook that now it’s even more clear. The community needs to know that this doesn’t set any new precedent and/or doesn’t fit any previous ban criteria.

    As for the format implications, I believe that killing a Tier 1 deck on a yearly basis is plain afwul for Modern as a format. Fortunately, this is not the case. First, tiers measure prevalence/popularity and AF said that “Popularity isn’t the measure at all”. Otherwise, Burn and Affinity players would be the salty ones right now.

    They won’t ban a deck just because it is popular so please, don’t say all Tier 1 decks are unsafe. That’s not true. You could at least say that “overperforming Tier 1 decks” are, if anything. The only one deck that is really unsafe at any given January it’s the one with around 20% of last year’s high profile events Top8s.

    It seems they may even spare the winningest one. Proof? Looking at the 2013 data, Pod had 3 wins and 13% of the Top8s. Meanwhile, BGx had 0 wins and 29% of the Top8s, thus they banned DRS. By 2014, Pod had 3 wins (again), but 22% of the Top8s and they banned Pod.

    As for the spicy Pro Tour hysteria, I want people to stop quoting some tweets/lines and then ignoring others. For reference, I’ll quote both Aaron Forsythe and Tom LaPille :

    AF: “PT predicates bans. They aren’t random […]” and ” That [A ban for PT entertainment] is not why the ban is happening. It is dictating when, not why.”

    TLP: “My theory about this is that if you’re going to run a Modern Pro Tour, that is going to accelerate the rate at which people’s cards get banned.”

    It dictates when, not why. It is going to acceletate bans. The diversity bans are done on a yearly basis in late January. The “why” is explained at the the actual B&R announcement and the Top8 data proves that the ban is consistent with previous ones. The innecessary mention of PT Philly doesn’t change that fact. The “and also…” excuse and debatable examples don’t change that fact.

    Furthermore, look at the BBE ban. Banned for the same “large enough percentage of the competitive field” diversity reasons. Was there a Modern Pro Tour inmediately after BBE was banned? No, there was not. However, the announcements’ dates is quite telling: January 28, February 3, January 19, January 18. Even when there wasn’t a Pro Tour (BBE’s ban), the annoucement date seems clear – late January.

    Now, Modern has a yearly competitive diversity ban in late January. Is this bad? First, this is not a rotation per se. Second, how long do you think we should wait to nerf the best performing deck? 2-3 years? Never? I believe 1 year is reasonable, but I could be convinced otherwise.

    There are criteria that all 4 bans fulfill. Wizards has decided to make this bans effective by late January, because the Pro Tour gives more pressure to Modern. But being Tier 1 is not the criteria. Is Wizards’s fault that Twin fulfilled the criteria BBE, DRS and Pod fulfilled? No.

    Is the Top8 data debatable? Sure. Is the 20%-ish cutoff debatable? Sure. Is the Twin ban random? No. Is it for the sole purpose of a more interesting Pro Tour? No. Are all Tier 1 decks in danger? No. Should Wizards have a clearer communication with the playerbase? Absolutely.

    Do we really want Modern to not have a Pro Tour? I know I want a Modern Pro Tour. LaPille suggests that we as a community can reach an agreement with Wizards for a ban-less PT and I think we can work towards that. However, until that agreement is reached, we should try to avoid anger to blind us. After all, we play a game and the decide the rules, as vague as they unfortunately are.

    If nothing changes, the Pro Tour is around the corner and there’re other 9 GPs yet to come. That gives us 10 events, 80 decks. If history repeats itself, less than 11 Top8s is the charm and 15+ Top8s could be a deck’s doom. Right now, the modern-legal deck with most Top8s is Affinity with 12%. If history repeats itself, the hate would keep Affinity safe. Let’s see what happens with Tron.

    Sorry for the long post ^^ I hope Modern Nexus keeps all the great content coming!

    1. This. Thank you for the well thought out post – it has helped me understand the less popular analysis of this ban announcement. Based on your thoughts I believe that the intention was to ban Twin for the “good reasons” stated (format diversity) and the timing/manner of it (the part everyone is up in arms about) is to benefit the marketing of our favorite game. If this is the case, all of the “rotating format” heresay seems pretty fragile.

      Sheridan, I think you need to respond to this post. He has some very good points and implications for the way you analyze bans, and the way in which you (and many) have interpreted this announcement. Perhaps you are all wrong. It is a least a plausible argument, and one that does not get enough credit.

      I was also dissappointed by your Saturday article for the same reasons he was. It reads like a temper tantrum. A Joker quote applies here:

      “It’s the schemers that put you where you are. You were a schemer, you had plans, and look where that got you. I just did what I do best. I took your little plan and I turned it on itself.”

      Everyone thought they had it all figured out – time to go back to the drawing board.

      “You know what I’ve noticed? Nobody panics when things go “according to plan.” Even if the plan is horrifying! If, tomorrow, I tell the press that, like, a gang banger will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because it’s all “part of the plan.” But when I say that one little old mayor will die, well then everyone loses their minds!”

      See the parallel? lol

    2. Thanks for the long and involved post. As I mentioned earlier to a few other users, it’s great to read these kinds of responses and get other thoughts from the audience.

      With regard to Saturday’s article, it’s important to balance less objective op-ed pieces with more subjective and analytical ones. We do very, very few of the former and tons of the latter, so I stand by the decision to run something more personal then. It certainly struck a chord with many readers, and I’d definitely do it again in similar circumstances. As long as we make sure the vast majority of our articles are more analytic in tone, it’s good to have that occasional mix to show we aren’t just data robots.

      As for the Twin ban prediction, the only stat that strongly predicted the ban was Top 8 percentage. But past announcements, especially the Pod and TC ban, had strongly alluded to other metrics outside of the Top 8. Twin was much safer on those other metrics than the Top 8s alone, so I (and many, many others) bet against the ban. Of course, Wizards seems to place a LOT of emphasis on those Top 8s, so we need to readjust our ban prediction measures in the future. I think this emphasis is both misplaced and an inaccurate measure of the format. As PVDR said over Twitter and many others have echoed, the format was already diverse even with Twin reigning as a strong deck. The Top 8 measure made Twin look much more powerful than it actually was, leading to a ban that I don’t think was necessary.

      As this article says numerous times, we know the ban wasn’t solely because of the Pro Tour, and we know it will likely have many silver linings. That doesn’t mean we can’t criticize the way the decision was made and how its logic was communicated! The fact that the Twin ban was expedited due to the PT is a problem. Maybe the new Bx Eldrazi deck took a major metagame stage and obviated the need for a Twin ban. Maybe new police cards emerged in upcoming blocks. By assuming the ban needed to happen now and not later, Wizards makes the Pro Tour a much, much more decisive factor than many give credit.

      I believe we as a community can be angry and dissatisfied about the ban and also support Modern and Wizards. Criticism does not need to mean crying, just as supporting Modern doesn’t need to mean categorically agreeing with everything Wizards does and says. I think we are off to a good start in venting frustrations to Wizards and showing them that the way this ban was handled was AT THE LEAST a problem for a segment of their playerbase, if not a large segment. Hopefully that leads to change.

      1. I agree – people have a right to be angry. I can see a few problems from the Wizards end, and I think they navigated them as best they could assuming the following:

        They noticed Twin was a large share of top8s
        They probably tried to weaken twin by printing new cards (rending volley, etc)
        They realized they cannot print new blue cards without strengthening twin
        They cannot unban things people want without strengthening twin
        They have a PT to drum up interest for, which we demanded
        They dont want to tell us their metrics because of the financial implications for allowing others to predict bans beyond a reasonable doubt or manipulate the system
        They need to balance their marketing interests the whole time to make profits high

        Under all of these pressures, I am not sure they could have made a “correct choice.” There is too much to balance. At the end of the day the $ always wins, it is how our world works.

        Everyone wants to know the metrics they use to ban cards. Has anyone considered the implications of that? You think the secondary market is out of control now? This would have a cascading effect on the whole mtg economy if people could speculate with that knowledge. It is interesting that the banning had its greatest effect on the mtg economy by increasing the price of other cards. Who knows what havoc the “ban list” solution could spread on the mtg community… be careful what you wish for,

        Wizards has to be the bad guy when it comes to this stuff. Deciding whether or not to ban cards is likely a very complex decision. Considering we don’t even have all of the factors, I think it’s best to just let it be and brew some new decks. Nothing good will come from shouting and screaming at wizards, as we have already seen.

        Side note – this will definitely be a PT that I watch. The first one I watch, in fact.

        1. more transparency into the decisionmaking process is more often than not a good thing… you can compare something like the fed vs just about any other bank in the world as an example where every word published by the fed is scrutinized to the punctuation…. for the most part though the fed is more transparent than most other banks in the world and the US is better off because of it….

          in the finance world investors just want to know that the ppl in charge are not idiots… markets are less volatile…. ppl have confidence in the system…

          when the market is opaque… something like china for example… and they do wildly crazy things…. markets are more volatile and at the same time deters investment…

          previous bans had solid data behind but if we’re measuring diversity based solely on top 8 appearances…. that’s really dangerous and why the twin ban is worrisome… that metric alone has tons of flaws with it and signals that WotC is not really that in tune with the game…. it’s equally as worrisome if their motivations were driven by financial reasons….

          and ppl will have more ppl leaving than coming in if the ppl governing are incompetent or have motivations not inline with it’s playerbase… you can see it in other card games and well just about any game in existance…. and that’s the path i hope this format and game doesn’t take….

  21. Well 2dude, that quote is very well put and something that most drones in the matrix don’t realize. Police decks don’t emerge because they are oppressive, they emerge to fight the oppression. Hence, legacy with miracles.

    Modern is a very linear, combo aggro format. Now I am interested to see what the metagame will look like now but let’s be fair, it probably won’t look much different. Everyone that is in support of a twin ban says that twin was keeping other blue decks down yet nobody makes a claim to exactly what deck will be able to emerge. Twin should not have been banned under the understanding of what a ban is supposed to be for.

    But the people that are happy with the ban like it because they think the meta will emerge. Nobody is going to be able to successfully play a control deck in modern now. Every competitive deck will either look to fly under you, go over the top of you or hope to rip your hand apart. Control is looking to be a very terrible option. That is why jeskai died, why grixis is basically just blue jund and why wafu tapo control style decks don’t place in modern.

    But let’s solve this modern dilemma. I like the idea of modern being a great wedge between standard and legacy. I like the idea of a non-rotating format with minimal bans. Also I liked the idea that modern would be a relativley inexpensive format to break into and still be able to own a tier 1-1.5 deck should one choose. Let’s look at why that isn’t the case.

    1. Bans: Love them or hate them, bans do exactly what they are intended to do. They artificially change the meta and allow wizards and its big vendors to profit. They do this under the guise of being good for the format. Collectivism is a horrible, terrible thing to have in any facet of our lives and it exists in almost every aspect from government to even Magic. The idea that it is ok for one to suffer so that others can gain is sick and takes away from the freedoms of everyone. Now yes, magic is a game and there have been certain cards that have proven to drastically shape the meta or just be broken in general. But instead of having a chosen few decide what is good for our modern format, I say we petition strongly to manage our own banlist or have a 3rd party independent of Wizards manage this. That way the whole community has the option to take part in what we want our format to be.

    2. Card availability and the financial headache: I also liked the idea that we could basically start a new eternal format that doesn’t lock as many people out like Legacy has due to basically the mana base. I love legacy and I wish we could get more duals for all but until that happens, Modern is going to be more financially feasible for more people. Modern has been experiencing extreme financial swings here lately. This is bad for the health of the format. Even with reprintings we are seeing cards go through the roof overnight and then settle far higher than they were before. That is something legacy doesn’t experience at all. Yes, legacy has more expensive cards but they aren’t doubling in price overnight or over the course of a few days. They stay rather steady. Now, what does price have to do with Modern? Even if money isn’t your concern if you are a fan of any eternal format you want your format to be affordable so that more people buy in, thus giving you more people to play against. Modern is slowly creeping up to legacy prices and in some cases the decks are more expensive.

    3. Stability: Modern intrigued me because I thought it would be a non-rotating format that could support strong decks because of the vast card pool. Wizards intentional bans means that if the pro-tour continues, then we are going to see a banning and they are going to give us some bs excuse to why they did it. Like someone stated, decks are hard to master. When I decide to put money into a bunch of overpriced cardboard that cost pennies on the dollar to make because I like the game that much, I want to be able to master my deck. How can I confidently do this anymore? Do we really want an enternal format where we intentionally play or brew up watered down decks because they are “safe?” How do you entice new players unsure of making that standard leap when your selling point is ” yeah that deck is strong but I wouldn’t buy it because if it wins too much they will ban something out of it, just build this lesser deck that way you can always play it.” Doesn’t sound like a very good first impression.

    4. Last but not least. PRO-TOUR MODERN:
    The writing is clearly on the wall. The pro-tour is just not healthy for eternal formats.
    A. It causes waaay too much volatility in the price due to age and apparent supply of cards and the fact is reprints of high profile cards have made modern way more expensive in general.
    B. Wizards will always ban something, which leads to a divide in the community. But the worst part is their bans are brought on with financial implications, not legitimate format health or concern.
    C. SO let’s take part in the format we help to support. Let us be in charge of the banlist or vote on a 3rd party. Let us have a truly non-rotating format with minimal bans and more unbans. Let people invest into the format with confidence, not hesitation. Say what you will about Legacy, but nobody questions their investments. I’m going to be leaning towards legacy until we take modern off the pro-tour and let it become a naturally progressing eternal format.

  22. I’m a little too idealistic to blame the Twin ban in any major way on finances. Maybe that is the case, but I’m not sure that’s relevant.

    Honestly, I’m more of a Modern lurker than player (because money), but my feelings about Twin in recent months reflect my feelings about Pod a year ago. Collectively (and let’s be honest, the flavors of Twin can only be so different), it took up far too large a portion of the metagame. It was doing too well. I was tired of hearing about it. So, while it was a major upset, I was relieved when it was banned. I agree that a Twin ban is less obvious than a Pod ban or a Cruise ban, but I’m not sure that means Wizards has declared an annual war against format staples.

    I, personally, have been waiting for a Modern analysis of OGW from a site I’ve found thoughtful and reliable, namely Modern Nexus. With the format shakeup, there is even more to talk about, even if there is little concrete to say. Maybe you want to wait till after some major events, till you can gather some data. I would understand that (it is your theme after all).

    It would be nice to hear what you think of say, Oath of Nissa or some of the new Prowess cards in Delver, or what Bx Eldrazi or Tron gain. Do more marginal flavors of Tron get better with the Twin ban? Is Mentor better now? I don’t know enough to form an opinion myself.

  23. I’m not sure if this will compute for many players, but perhaps Modern players who want to make “investments” in a deck should start considering things like popularity and whether it does anything “unfair” when making a choice—not just LSV saying that it is the best deck.

    In the days of yore, I was soooooo psyched about UB necro-donate that I had put all this effort trading for underground seas and various other cards. Then they banned Necropotence in 1.X and I shit bricks. What did I do? I got hit hard by a few more bans with tinker and actual rotations, but eventually I learned my lesson and started acknowledging the risks associated with getting too attached to decks that do “unfair” things, like getting infinite something, cheating things into play or anything that leaves a bad taste in someone’s mouth that seems ubiquitous.

    Pretty simple. Know the risks of attachment and handle it like an psychologically-mature adult when risky toys get taken away. It is after all just a game and people should honestly have other passions in life that allow them to see mtg for what it is; entertainment.

  24. So are the people who are the most upset the ones who have been saying for months now that Splinter Twin is a safe investment target for modern? My guess is yes. And I would also guess that those people took a huge financial hit on their 20+ copies of the card.

    1. Strongly disagree. I think people are upset with the Twin ban because it came out of nowhere and no one really knows why Wizards bans decks. Their criteria is ridiculously opaque. This worries people that their other investments might also find themselves in the ban crosshairs, not to mention inspiring little confidence in how the format is managed. The financial loss is only a small part of the puzzle.

  25. Thank you for these articles. I think they really helped a lot of people to feel like they has a champion that actually have a chance to be heard by WoTC. I’ll keep playing because I love CCGs and Magic is such a big part of my life at this point. But if I had any alternative CCGs to turn to I would quit MTG simply because I feel that WoTC isn’t doing a good job and I don’t trust them at all.

    MTG’s success has mostly to do with the players themselves making this game great, and very little to do with how well WoTC are managing it. Just look at MTGo and these decent bans/coverage changes.

    Kind regards,

  26. I would like the idea of a fifth pro tour, featuring modern. As has been previously mentioned, the timing could be around one of the supplementary product releases and feature unique draft formats like modern masters or even conspiracy. Along that line all cards originally printed in Commander/planechase/etc. should become modern legal. Then wizards would have a protour to specifically promote the new cards. Players and coverage could be excited about the brews, especially as commander cards usually lend themselves to specific interactions.

    I guess wizards is concerned with newer players having problems distinguishing the new and the reprinted cards but maybe one could actually add all cards printed in supplementary products to the modern pool and ban accordingly. Since you know, then the banmen at wizards have something to do to keep them busy instead of hammering the next tier one deck.

    Who wouldn’t want to play with Dack Fayden and friends in modern? Most of the new cards look pretty promising but not overpowered, see also Caleb Durwards article on channelfireball about it (

  27. > @Nisher That is not why the ban is happening. It is dictating when, not why.

    – @mtgaaron, Twitter

    Like it or not, the Splinter Twin ban would have happened without a Modern Pro Tour. They simply timed it to happen right before the Pro Tour since it exists.

    1. True, but I want to emphasize that this is a problem. It’s ridiculous to assume that Twin was a foregone ban and banning it right now produces the same result as waiting 6 months. Maybe the new Bx Eldrazi deck proved a major metagame force and Twin’s share dropped. Maybe a new card or synergy emerged from an upcoming block. Maybe Bloom’s decline removed a major Twin matchup and the Twin share dropped as a result. The deck might NOT have been bannable in 6 months, but the expedited Pro Tour-induced timeline pulled the trigger prematurely.

      It would be different if AF had said “Twin was getting banned today with or without the Pro Tour”. That would have completely headed off my line of criticism, and then we could just have a discussion about the opaque banlist criteria. But he said it was a factor, and the fact that event timing is a factor in metagame bans is an issue for many players including myself. Wizards did not communicate this was a factor in previous bans, and didn’t tell us our support of a Pro Tour would lead to a hasted ban schedule. That’s an issue many players are justifiably upset about.

      1. It’s equally possible that the Splinter Twin ban would have come in the update right after the last Modern Pro Tour, because they were delaying the ban until the next Pro Tour, and the last 9 months of Twin being legal would never have happened.

  28. I know that the ban came out of left field (I certainly didn’t expect it), and the Pro Tour-centric timing is certainly a worrisome factor, but I’m choosing to be cautiously optimistic, because (as you alluded to) this ban might end up being good for metagame health. WotC can now print (or unban) potent blue spells without the fear of putting Twin over the top, and the answer to building a solid URx tempo/midrange/control shell no longer involves “add Twin, Snapcaster, and flavor to taste”. That said (as we discussed before), there will HAVE to be an unban or printing of some sort, because I feel that right now the strongest deck that runs blue is Merfolk, and that’s kind of an odd place to be.

  29. I personally disagrees about JtMS and SFM having greater chances of coming out of the banlist now. Maybe Ancestral Vision, but I would not keep big hopes. If the Twin win is enough to supress diversity, cards like JtMS and SFM will do just that.

    What I really fail to accept is, if Modern needs a shake up for the Pro Tour, why not unban SFM or even BBE? It is not like banning Twin will give birth, in the time frame of one month, to a lot of truly original and different URx decks. Chances are we gonna see all the “classic” Modern decks still, the only difference is that Twin didn’t attend this time.

  30. An mtgprice article by Corbin Hosler actually takes a different perspective on the ban timings ( After the initial pro tour, cards have been regularly banned out of Modern around January. The modern pro tour has only been in february since 2014, so it’s likely that the pro tour was scheduled at this time BECAUSE of the B&R announcements, not the other way around.

    This article, like many other articles and individuals, are also reading a whole lot into the Aaron Forsythe tweets. I’ll parrot Corbin’s article again: the character limit of twitter prevents both context and the ability to write detailed, nuanced descriptions. I think it’s likely that we see another press release with more details.

    I’ll also stand by my previous comments on this site and say that I expect unbans to help blue decks.

    1. That’s an interesting take but I don’t necessarily agree with it based on the AF tweet saying that the PT dictates the “when” of the ban, not the “why”. He didn’t say the “when” of the PT was dictated by the ban; he said the opposite. That’s not a lot of evidence to go on, but it’s one piece which undermines the article’s argument.

      Even if that’s the case, which it might very well be, it only underscores the communication problems Wizards has with Modern management right now. We need some official statements and direction, not random tweets and scattered quotes from different articles. This is the sort of transparency players, including myself, want to see.

  31. The one thing that scares me the most is the assumption that the only way to shake up the format is by banning a card for the pro tour. I really like the idea of having a yearly moment of “extra” excitement around the format so it would be a shame if the pro tour went away. I just wish that the pro tour meant unbanning cards instead of banning them and letting new/old archetypes come to light.
    I was really disappointed by the fact that there wasn’t a unban together with the ban of splinter twin. It felt a little safe and a little too easy. I personally would have loved if stoneforge got off the list and with the banning of twin I think it would made a lot of sense. I think it have a giving the format a push in the right direction of a more interactive modern. A real concern is the lack of interaction that the upcoming meta have so it will interresting to see how the modern format ends up looking like at the pro tour.

  32. Comments are interesting as always. One thing you mentioned was the possibility of a goyf ban. I want to discuss the implications of something like that happening. I feel it can limit card choice significantly considering it’s probably the most efficient creature in modern. One could also assume aggressive, less interactive beater strategies will be more successful with twin out of the way and goyf will absolutely be present in decks like that. I don’t think it is particularly ban worthy but my point is wizards could make a case for it. Will wizards consider the resale markets? One goyf is worth over ten twins, Players could lose thousands of dollars because of a ban list change. Just an interesting thought experiment. I suppose I say that because I don’t have goyfs.

  33. I’m a Merfolk player and should fear the rise of Affinity.

    I don’t believe this is the case, however. More likely than not, all of the Anti-Twin sideboardslots will directly convert into Antitron and AntiAffinity cards. Honestly i think Affinity will get dismantled in the upcoming weeks. I expect decks to overcompensate against Affinity.

    It’s as simple as that.
    With that being said, i will have a lot of fun playing Merfolk the next few weeks 😉

  34. If they want a rotating format, just bring back Extended instead of breaking trust and striking fear into the hearts of the player-base. Because right now, WotC is looking a lot like a child tapping on the glass of a fishtank because he ‘wants the fishes to do tricks’.

  35. I’m not sure what people want, so I am going to split hairs here.

    On one hand, we have those who applaud the ban, because it opens space.
    On the other, we have those who hate the ban.

    But it is not that simple.

    Removing Twin opens up opportunities that will be explored over the next few years. Removing Twin gives us hesitancy on the wisdom of spending $1200 on a certain deck.
    Removing Twin for such a paltry reason gives pause to say, ‘Who’s next?’

    Based upon stats alone we can live with the Twin banning. It was oppressive. You played around it, and as such, the deck warped the entire meta. Every deck built asked itself one question: ‘How do I beat/compete with Twin?’
    As such, the ban makes sense.

    What we need to remember, and what Wizards may not have considered, was that there was very definitely a Rock Paper Scissors element to the game. Removing one of the basic pillars leaves us looking at the structural underpinnings of Modern, wondering if it is all going to come crashing down. We do not know, and we will be nervous until testing shows that Twin is replaced and the structure is secure, or that we have a massive imbalance in the game, and the only deck that works is X.

    And then, next year, when they ban Tron or Affinity, will we be able to reconcile it?
    Will we be able to accept it as necessary like Twin?
    I can accept it so long as they prove to me they are designing for modern in the next year. How can they do that? By designing cards specifically for the Modern meta, and fulfilling their promise to use standard to reprint staples. So far, they are doing a miserable job on the reprints. OGW previews do show that it may be the best modern set to hit standard in years, if not ever.

    So where do we go from here?
    We can do away with the PT, but at the end of the day, modern can go one of 2 directions:
    Does Modern enter a long arc where supremacy is exchanged by the same 4 decks over 10-20 years, with only an occasional popup (Eldrazi, Lantern) that quickly gets hated out and beaten into fringe status by the big boys? Is that a format you want to play, where the 4 standards slowly accumulate the best of the best cards, and slowly grow stronger and more dominant?

    Or do you want a format that is kept changing by the occasional (annual) removal of a card or deck that tilts the balance too strongly in one direction? A format that encourages brewing and innovation, and makes metagaming a dicey proposition?

    Having said that, I know which one my wallet wants to play, and which one my intellect wants to watch and follow. We certainly can;t have both, and I think the longing for that is causing the angst.

  36. Anonymous, thats because it can be. There is tremendous amount of security built into the fact that I can buy these cards, and they likely wont go down, but will only go up.

    There is a seminal article on how this stability, and even rise in prices, helps Wizards sell future cards. need to drive sales? Throw in a few reprints worth money, and this drives sales, while also reducing the cost of needed cards for new players coming into the game.

    Crashing the value of a card, or entire deck of cards with a ban is very, very bad business for Wizards, and they know they should do it only as a last resort. The ban on Summer Bloom was a necessary ban to keep the format fair.
    The ban on Twin was NOT a last resort, it was shaking the kaleidoscope to get a whole new image, and should NEVER be done, and if done, dropping it like a bomb on the community results in…

    Well, you see what the results are.

    1. But those monetary factors should never come near to the actual joy of playing this fantastic game. And this format, with all its wonderful possibilities due to its vast card pool, will get even more exciting without twin decks. I really couldn’t care less about losing a couple of bucks on my splinter twins up on the shelf here.

      1. Yes but how much money do you have to drop on magic? Some people only had twin as their modern deck. It was consistent and would work (not always win but worked). Now those people are expected to invest in another deck? Say they invest in Tron, and it does really well and becomes super popular so Wizards bans it. Now those people have invested in another deck and it got banned. (this is clearly hypothetical so don’t get hung up on the tron thing it was just first deck that came to my mind). This just sets a bad tone.

  37. I am a college student who has been looking into modern because of the very idea of a non-rotating format. I love magic. I play pretty much all the formats I have the money for (commander, standard when i could, etc.) I was scrapping and clawing my money to save up and was slowly buying twin because it was always the coolest deck I saw. It never seemed unfair. I even build a modern deck that was able to handle twin because it honestly has some rather obvious weak points (bolt pestermite or some other removal spell). I ended up getting a few of the pieces for christmas and low and behold in the next few days it gets banned. I personally feel cheated and screwed. I wasted money to find out the one deck everyone assumed would never be banned got banned. I understand it is a popular deck but i always assumed a deck was popular because it was good (sometimes too good). Then of course it is told they only banned it to shake things up. I feel even more cheated by this company because I honestly do not have a lot of money to put into magic. It was a great way to socialize but how can I honestly tell myself “this is an investment for fun” when it could be banned just to shake things up.

  38. How can any format be considered healthy if any deck that is considered fun enough to play in numbers gets a ban hammer? Those without such limited income may stick around for awhile longer chasing the money pit of standard, the yu-gi-oh-esque tendencies of modern (spend x amount on top deck to have it banned within a year), or sell their house and buy into legacy. Even pauper doesn’t escape these tactics which is unfortunate as magic had been an enjoyable game for the past few years. To those who are able to afford sticking through wizards illogical ban on anything that’s “too fun” or “too good”, I wish you the best.

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