Keeping Perspective and Calm after Pro Tour Oath

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Metagame diversity is my preferred measure of Modern health. More specifically, diversity as determined by the data analysis methods you've come to expect from Modern Nexus' Top Decks and metagame breakdown projects. Let's get this out of the way early: Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch does not meet those standards. No matter how you parse the Day 1, Day 2, or Top 8 fields (especially that Top 8...), the Pro Tour is overall one of the least diverse Modern events in recent memory. That's true at the metagame, archetype, deck, and even card level. For many, this provokes all the dramatic emotions associated with Twitch torches and pitchforks. Although I share some of this discomfort, I'm still optimistic about Modern's trajectory. You should be too. Today's article is my case for you to disembark the emergency-ban and Modern doomsaying hype trains. There are ample reasons to stay positive and I want us to keep those in mind as we put the Pro Tour in perspective.

Keep Calm and Modern On

Some players have branded the Pro Tour backlash as alarmist and uninformed. These tournament defenders cite a sample size of one event, enshrine stories like Jason Chung's heroic Top 8 bid on Blue Moon, and fortify themselves in a "wait and see" position. For them, this is fine. Other Moderners swing too far in the opposite direction, clamoring for Eye of Ugin's beheading by end-of-business today, or Wasteland's emergency insertion into Shadows of Innistrad packs. As is often the case with these issues, the most defensible standpoint is in between. This is where we need to set up camp in the months between Pro Tour Oath and the impending Grand Prix trio in early March. Today, I'll start by acknowledging the problematic Pro Tour metagame and its quantitative context. Then I'll move into three ways you can denounce Modern panicmongering, followed by three glimmers of optimism in a format apparently ruled by the Drowner of Hope itself. Let's take a collective Leap of Faith and Modern-on together!


The Pro Tour Metagame Mess

Whether you're analyzing the numbers, reviewing Pro Tour footage, consuming the community's reaction, or triangulating the intersection between those datapoints, all roads in our Oath of the Gatewatch Modern debut lead to the same terminus: the metagame was an unhealthy mess. If you disagree and don't want the silver linings torn away, I strongly encourage you to read this section to get the full evidence-driven picture of this Pro Tour wreck. Even if you agree without reviewing a single number, you'll still want to arm yourself with evidence to argue your point. There's a temptation for Modern veterans and newcomers alike to embrace the internet riot without understanding the kernel of its rage. This analysis will hopefully give you enough ammunition to shoot down most Pro Tour defenses, but not so much vitriol that you'll forget our "Keep Calm" objective.

Numbers and Conversion Rates

I'm a numbers guy (surprise!), so I was delighted to see Wizards post the Day 1 metagame only a few hours into Friday's Modern coverage. Day 2 statistics followed before Saturday's Constructed portion even began, and by Sunday, we had decklists for 24+ point players, those at 21+ points, and even the 18+ finishers. Be still my beating statistical heart. Wizards can sometimes be stingy with data, and I'm always pleased to see them release more around the Pro Tour. This is particularly useful following a controversy-generator like Pro Tour Oath, because it lets us drill into the numbers to figure out if things were better than assessed or worse than feared.

Unfortunately, our Modern weekend shows a metagame in disarray. By most meaningful statistical standards, Eldrazi was the tentacles-down best deck at the Pro Tour. Although some midrange strategies endured through the Eldrazi storm, the overall metagame was still decidedly linear, with almost all of the best decks preferring a race (or Eldrazi) to interaction.

Thought-Knot SeerOne of the most taxing challenges of analysis-design is separating your personal biases from the evaluation setup. It's easy for preferences and predispositions to infiltrate even the best-intentioned studies, and nowhere was that more present than in my Pro Tour Oath numbers crunch. I didn't even get all the stats until mid-Sunday, by which time most of the Eldrazi and linear narrative had already unfolded. To minimize these biases, I made sure I was looking at the data the same way I had in previous events (where no one had axes to grind against Thought-Knot Seer). I also incorporated a few controls and checks to account for influences like number of players per deck.

Following this method, I started with a simple breakdown of Day 1 to Day 2 to 6+ win standings for all decks with above-average prevalence on Day 1. This narrowed the field of 46 distinct decks down to only the 13 with nine or more Day 1 players. Other decks may have performed well, but they didn't have enough representatives to conduct a meaningful analysis. The table below shows those 13 decks, their shares at different Pro Tour moments, and their conversion rates. I'm starting it sorted on prevalence in the 6+ Wins bracket.

Pro Tour Oath: Deck Conversion Rates

DeckDay 1Day 26+ WinsDay1 to
Day2 to
6+ Wins
Day1 to
6+ Wins
Death's Shadow Aggro3.6%4.5%5.7%78.6%54.5%42.9%
Abzan Company3.1%3.3%6.6%66.7%87.5%58.3%
Jeskai Control2.6%2%2.8%50%60%30%

Ignoring classification issues with Burn, Scapeshift, and Zoo, which I know cross multiple variants (e.g. Gruul Zoo and Naya Zoo) that should probably be separated, this overall metagame picture confirms the Eldrazi and linear themes many saw all weekend. Eldrazi's share only climbed from Friday's modest 8.2% to 10.7% on Day 2, then onward to a 17% high in the winner's listing. Kozilek's and Ulamog's minions also touted the Deaths Shadowbest Day 1 to Day 2 conversion rate at a whopping 81%. Combined with their unlisted Top 8 share of 75% and JC Tao's eventual win on UR Eldrazi, and the metagame starts looking as nightmarish as your average Eldrazi art.

Linear decks were also huge. Of the top five decks on both Day 2 and the winner's standings, the usual suspects of Infect, Affinity, Burn, and Eldrazi take up four slots. The Raging and Immense Death's Shadows are right behind at sixth. Thankfully, many of these linear options reported relatively mediocre conversion rates. Infect had a capable Day 1 to Day 2 rate, but then petered out into the winner's bracket. Suicide Zoo maintained decent numbers, but the decisive Day 1 to 6+ Win conversion was still under 50%. This suggests weaknesses to at least the linear decks (if not the Eldrazi), and a flicker of hope for the metagame.

Assessing Deck Viability

If you've been sorting the table on your own, however, you've probably noticed a major disruption to the Modern doomsaying: Abzan Company. Kitchen FinksTrusty Melira, Sylvok Outcast, Kitchen Finks, and their merry Abzan band had a solid but unremarkable Day 1 to Day 2 conversion, but quickly seized the crown with the best conversions from both Day 1 and Day 2 to the winner's area. True, Company's prevalence remained low all weekend, but its conversion rates speak to a possible new sheriff in this one-story Modern town. Looking at the vaunted Day 1 to 6+ Wins numbers, Eldrazi came in not first but second, still sending a frightening 56.3% of its pilots to the 6+ range. The winner? Abzan Company, reigning the charts with 58.3%. None of the linear decks even cracked 50%. These figures suggest both a possible upset to the Eldrazi hegemony and also potential weaknesses in the linear decks, even if they also admit to the overall linear presence and the dominant Eldrazi lead.

To get a better picture of metagame viability in the top 13 decks, I created an index to rank them across different conversion rates while also controlling for sample size. I assigned points to each deck based on the ranking of their conversion rate relative to that of every other deck's (e.g. Eldrazi had the best Day 1 to Day 2 rate so it earned a 1 in that particular conversion category). I then adjusted each ranking for the number of players actually piloting their respective strategy, before aggregating the scores. This estimated a measure of deck competitiveness at the entire Pro Tour. The table below lists those scores alongside that critical Day 1 to 6+ Wins conversion rate.

Pro Tour Oath: Top Deck Viability Rankings

DeckScoreDay 1 to 6+
Abzan Company3.558.3%
Death's Shadow Aggro4.542.9%
Jeskai Control8.530%

The scores have two meanings. First, they are net rankings, ordering the top 13 decks from best to worst. Second, they are also indicators of relative strength: they can be compared to other scores on the scale. For instance, a 1 would be much better than a 7, but a 7 and a 7.5 are relatively similar. Following this system, Eldrazi is the clear frontrunner at a flat 1. Affinity (3) and that upstart Abzan Company (3.5) come in second and third, but with a tiny difference between the two. There's a big score dropoff between Arcbound RavagerDeath's Shadow Aggro (4.5) and Burn (7), and a three-way tie between Mardu, Jeskai Control, and the combined Zoo strategies at 8.5. Top-level takeways include Abzan Company's surprising relevance in the format, the paucity of midrange and control in a sea of linear options, and the uncontested Eldrazi throne. Snapcaster Mage has never felt so helpless!

Overall, the data showcases an overwhelmingly linear Pro Tour, but also one where other options remained viable (if not exactly favored). It points to promising rebels that can rise up against frontrunning strategies (get 'em, Abzan Company!), while also showing just how ahead many of the frontrunning strategies are. And, surprising few, it makes a very strong case for Eldrazi's dominance regardless of how we work our way out of the Infect, Affinity, and Burn/Zoo/Death's Shadow morass. In that overview, we see some causes for optimism but many more for worry, which is exactly where most Pro Tour viewers were throughout the weekend.

I present this case to support the assertion that the Pro Tour really was as bad as many claim. But, more importantly, I also do so to set the stage for a potential reversal in the Modern story. I want us to simultaneously acknowledge the challenges we face while also rejecting a tendency towards undue panic. I want us to admit the weekend's problems while also remaining optimistic about the future. Having laid the Pro Tour foundation in numbers, we can now turn to the lights at the end of the tunnel and start to work our way out of the debris.

Three Panics to Avoid

Before we can look for some realistic outs to the Modern diversity issues highlighted in the Pro Tour, we need to argue against some of the more common outcries. In the coming days and weeks, we will undoubtedly see numerous unsolicited commandments about how Wizards can improve Modern. We will also see a number of reasons we should be fleeing for the hills and unloading our Modern stocks in fear of a format collapse. In this section, I'll tackle three of those allegations and why we need to renounce them wherever and whenever they arise.

"EMERGENCY BAN Eye of Ugin/Eldrazi Temple"

CAPS LOCK is locked and loaded, because this is an EMERGENCY BAN, not your kiddie-gloves annual ban. We're talking Memory Jar, dial-911, call-the-DCI-like-it's-1999 ban here. As much as I'm sure some of us would love to see Eye of Ugin's (or some other Eldrazi piece's) incarceration on Tuesday morning, we do not have enough evidence to support this sentence.

For one, the Pro Tour was just a single event with three Grand Prix tournaments following in less than a month. Those Grand Prix stages are critical datapoints in determining if the Eye of Uginmetagame, especially Eldrazi, is really as bad as it appears. After all, the Colorless Eldrazi strategies were largely unknown just four days ago, and it's possible their novelty was a main reason for their success. Moreover, post-ban Pro Tours always have a degree of warpage: see Abzan's 30% share at Fate Reforged. The only time Wizards implemented immediate post-Pro Tour bans was in 2011 after Philadelphia, but that was a different, younger era of Modern. We're in 2016 Modern with more format information and innovation than ever before. If there's a chance for the metagame to adapt, we'll see it exploited in March. If not, then I'll be the first person revisiting possible bans and all related discussion. We'll need to wait either way, and as one of Aaron Forsythe's weekend Tweets suggested, this is surely what Wizards will be doing too.

"Ban everything. All. The. Things."

become immenseEven the most ardent ban proponents (mostly) oppose an emergency ban. For them, it's enough to wait until April when the foregone banning scenario will play out and a slew of linear cards will get shipped to the B&R gallows. Offenders include Glistener Elf, Become Immense, Inkmoth Nexus, Cranial Plating, and naturally at least a few cards from loathsome Eldrazi. Maybe just ban Mox Opal while we're gutting the format of fast-mana options like Simian Spirit Guide and Eye. Reading all the numbers above and sitting through the event, I can see where this line of thought originates, but it's one we need to discard if we want Modern to thrive.

From a data perspective, there's no evidence to go after anything outside of maybe Eldrazi. All of the other Modern decks have existed for a year or longer, proving their overall safety in the format. Although Infect might enjoy a temporary increase in a metagame that isn't respecting turn Mox Opaltwo Blighted Agent with Vines of Vastwood backup, it always crashes down shortly thereafter. Moreover, in a year where Wizards was very attuned to the turn four rule violations of one deck, Infect was notably absent from the update. Infect hasn't gained anything since Fate Reforged, which suggests whatever speed limits it had in 2015 will likely endure into 2016, at least as long as the metagame continues to adapt. This is also true of Affinity, which has been checked by maindeck removal and powerful sideboard cards for years. These powerful strategies haven't suddenly become unbeatable. They are merely exploiting momentary metagame weaknesses. Counter-shifts will likely swing things back into alignment as we saw in 2015 and years before that.

Treasure CruiseEldrazi represent a possible exception to the Affinity and Infect pattern: the deck has never existed in Modern in this form. Even there, Wizards will likely gather at least a few months of data before acting. This is precisely what happened in Treasure Cruise winter when the reprinted Ancestral Recall warped the format from October all the way through January. Delver metagame shares were just as uncontained then as Eldrazi's appear after the Pro Tour, and Wizards is likely to at least follow that precedent in managing this new uptick. If the combination of a Pro Tour, three Grand Prix tournaments, and all the events in between sees Eldrazi still around the 15%-20% range, a banning could be possible. But without that data, we need to hold off on the cries for sweeping and immediate ban action.

"Reverse the Splinter Twin ban immediately!"

According to the Twin revivalists, the URx staple was an integral policing force in Modern that kept the linear predators at bay. They allege Twin's departure is the main reason for both the Eldrazi coup and for the rampant linear decks which swarmed over Pro Tour Oath. The fix is easy: unban Splinter Twin and restore balance to the unstable Modern order. With the best Snapcaster Mage deck back in Modern, control pilots would have no difficulty herding the Affinitys and Infects of the world back in line, nor tilting the metagame away from the Eldrazi decks many now fear.

There are two reasons we must challenge this logic. On a strategic level, Twin is likely not the Eldrazi answer we are looking for. With maindeck Spellskite, a playset of Splinter Twinturn 2-3 Thought-Knot Seers, Dismembers, and an army of creatures outside Lightning Bolt range, our new Eldrazi would be at least evenly matched with their Twin predecessors. This assumes the Eldrazi player doesn't power out the turn one Chalice of the Void to shut off some of Twin's best spells. To be sure, URx Twin is an excellent regulator when it comes to Affinity, Infect, and the less-interactive Burn and Zoo hybrids. It's also a favorite against Tron, wherever Urza is hiding against all those Crumble to Dusts. But Eldrazi? Twin isn't the format moderator you want. I expect a Pro Tour with Twin would have been roughly as homogeneous but with an added splash of URx in the top-tables. Let's be honest: a Top 8 with six Eldrazi and two Affinity wouldn't have been much prettier than one with four Eldrazi and four Twin.

Strategic speculation aside, there are far more important stakes at play in a potential Twin-ban reversal. Wizards has implicitly (and, in some cases, explicitly) pushed a format policy in banning Splinter Twin. Even if we quibbled all day about Twin's matchup against Colorless/UR/UB Eldrazi, we would still have to acknowledge this policy and how it will play out in our format. As much as I am frustrated by the lack of transparent communication surrounding the ban and some of its factors, my silver lings of Twin's removal still hold. It opens up strategies, unbans, and reprints, while not leaving a gap which can't eventually be filled. We already saw players like Jason Chung, who got 9th at the Pro Tour, carve out a new blue-red niche in a Twinless Modern. If Wizards wants to promote this Modern vision, they need to do so unequivocally. Twin's ban may have dealt a blow to format confidence, but a reversal of that ban would be far worse, showing the Magic community that Wizards is more indecisive, volatile, and malleable than we ever feared. All of us must push on in the post-Twin world, which means admitting the growing pains which can come on the journey.

Rising Above the Madness

As we depart the Pro Tour, I'm counting on all of you to champion the rebuttals to these three common outbursts. Don't give in to the panic! Star Wars should be fresh on everyone's minds, and we all know where fear leads (to Donald Trump, because primary season is also on my thoughts). There are certainly Modern elements worthy of criticism, just as there are definitely worries we need to acknowledge in the coming months. These problems notwithstanding, we need to address those issues with critical minds, clear eyes, and a full heart. Without that perspective, we won't wrestle with Modern's core challenges and won't advance the format beyond where we stand today.

Three Hopes to Maintain

As we soldier into March and the upcoming Grand Prix weekend, we'll be tempted to despair at the unbeatable Eldrazi masters and admit inevitable defeat on the tournament floor. Don't sell yourself, your fellow players, or Modern so short! Since 2011, Modern has proven itself remarkably adaptive and resilient to many potentially damaging trends, and although bans have been needed at times to correct legitimate mistakes, the format always fights back first. Here are three causes for hope in the next months, and three arguments you can tell your friends and internet foes when conversation gets heated.

Trust in Metagame Trends

Eidolon of the Great RevelModern often enters periods of temporary instability. For instance, Burn decks have occupied almost 20% of the metagame on numerous occasions in both 2014 and 2015. Abzan saw shares in excess of 20% after last year's Pro Tour, with linear decks consuming another 40%+ of the format. We can also find metagame spikes where bans were clearly warranted (the Melira Pod and Cruise era of 2014-2015), but for every bannable example we can easily find two or more cases where internal metagame forces were all the correction Modern needed. Eldrazi and linear decks are the sources of today's imbalance, and before we clamor for bans and other extreme action, we need to turn to the metagame for answers.

Without going deep into the Tier 3-4 fringe of Nykthos Ghostly Prison decks and offbeat collected companyEnsnaring Bridge prison strategies, Modern already offers at least one glaring mainstream options in the Eldrazified world. Abzan Company, which we discussed in our statistics section, has considerable promise in this field. Even adjusting for number of players (Abzan Company had far fewer than Eldrazi), the combo/midrange hybrid is right at the top alongside Reality Smasher's gang. Whether playing the value game or comboing early under Eldrazi's limited removal suite, Company is the real deal against the Colorless scourge: Ari Lax himself agreed, further confirming the statistical analysis above. Other decks like Merfolk, Jund, Mardu, and Blue Moon might also join Abzan Company as mainstream metagame solutions to our current metagame threats, but even if no other options pan out, Melira's crew is ready and waiting to show how Modern regulates its own.

Trust in New Technology

Not an Abzan Company player? Still doubting Company's numbers, Chung's 9th place performance, or the Damnationenduring strength of venerable Affinity? Modern's extensive cardpool offers numerous solutions to our Eldrazi puzzle, even if we have to do a little digging to unearth all the options. Players have combed Gatherer nonstop since Saturday, and although we won't be able to confirm their findings until the Grand Prix events in March, there's a lot of hardware at our fingertips. To start, I want to see more hard removal and sweepers. Eldrazi are notoriously Bolt-resistant, except those pesky Eldrazi Mimics, which means it's time to amp up our interaction. Terminate, Doom Blade, Roast, and mainstay Path to Exile all deserve more air-time than they are getting. Same goes for Damnation and the other Wraths. I'm also feeling countermagic more than ever. Chung demonstrated Mana Leak's and Cryptic Command's power all weekend, and I'd be shocked if we didn't see more control mages looking for the perfect permission and removal balance.

Technology hunting can go even deeper. Blood Moon and Magus of the Moon rock Magus of the MoonEldrazi's world in an aggressive shell (don't forget your pressure!), and the Endless Ones stand around looking stupid against a lone Ensnaring Bridge. Merfolk has Spreading Seas already with Sea's Claim waiting in the wings as backup. Through the Breached fatties plow through the Eldrazi board, Ghostly Prison stalls the Eldrazi advancement to a crawl, and Smallpox makes lopsided early gains in the right shell. This doesn't even get to the downright subterranean tech ideas such as Painter's Servant (sold out across the internet), Platinum Emperion in some kind of Unburial Rites/Shape Anew/Trash for Treasure shell, Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas alongside the previously-mentioned Bridge, and other maniacal inventions. It's possible none of these tools get the job done, but we won't know until we try.

Final note on technology: don't fall into the "Eldrazi can Dismember/Thought-Knot Seer/Ratchet Bomb anything I do!" trap. Most Eldrazi decks are running a measly 3-4 Dismember and rely only on a playset of Seers for more meaningful interaction. Modern's history is rife with strategies overcoming a mere seven or so interaction pieces, so don't get discouraged by their feeble defenses.

Get Excited for Possible Unbans

We might see bans in April if things don't improve, but much more excitingly, we also might see unbans. Blue-based decks had a relatively weak showing at the Pro Tour (to put it mildly, in most cases), which suggests the Twin ban didn't open up quite as much URx space as Wizards might have hoped. With the format's power level higher than many blue mages can handle, Wizards can easily turn to the ban list to bolster ailing control strategies and reinvigorate a community soured by Eldrazi and linear races. Indeed, this conservative approach to blue unbans may have been in the cards all along, as Forsythe hinted in January:

Speaking of the sorcery, Ancestral Vision is a card control players have been pleading for since Modern's birth. Although we can certainly voice fears about Vision pushing out BGx attrition strategies and contributing to a blue, Legacy-style dominion, these kinds of objections don't make a lot of sense when we see the current format in the Pro Tour data lens. Blue decks are lagging and Visions is the kind of jolt they might need to improve. That said, it's unclear how Vision would play in a world of turn two Seers and turn three Smashers, something Magic pros were quick to point out all weekend.

Phillips' worries might hold true after a possible unban, but they also might be missing the broader picture. In a vacuum, Vision is certainly weak against Eldrazi. But alongside all the disruption we saw players like Chung wield all weekend, the Recall-lite becomes much more potent. It also incentivizes players towards blue, a draw that is direly needed in a format where control makes up less than 10% of the field.

Overall, even if you disagree with the Vision unban (or would rather open up the floor to other candidates like Stoneforge Mystic and, dare I say, Jace, the Mind Sculptor), it's hard to deny the excitement surrounding meaningful unbans. Modern policymakers have implemented high-impact bans every year since 2013. Unbans have come too, but with the exception of Wild Nacatl's healthy fit in the aggro picture, they have been mostly invisible since their release. Big unbans could easily come in the wake of the swelling Eldrazi population, and I leave you with Brian Kibler's quote about a format where we might see many other cards released into the Modern wilds.

Whether or not the Grand Prix weekend rights the Eldrazi wrongs from Pro Tour Oath, I expect we'll see some exciting unbans come that April announcement.

Marching into March and Beyond!

Panic, discontent, and uncertainty have taken hold of the Modern community, and it's up to us to stand fast against the Eldrazi and linear tides. Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch was a disappointing showing for our format, with some metagame figures uglier than your average Eldrazi Mimic. However, the Pro Tour is only one datapoint and there remains ample reason to stay optimistic and denounce fearmongering. Whether in Abzan Company's early promise, the potential for new technology, or the longterm dangers in the ban-happy suggestions, we'll need to keep our wits about us as we Keep Calm and Modern On into March. If nothing else, I'm really feeling those blue unbans in April!

That's all for today's article and I hope you've enjoyed this romp through the Pro Tour aftermath. Let me know in the comments what you thought of the analysis, the arguments, the article as a whole, and any outstanding opinions you didn't voice during the weekend coverage. I'll see you all Wednesday with more debriefing on Modern going forward!

103 thoughts on “Keeping Perspective and Calm after Pro Tour Oath

  1. Im in the emergency Camp and your article doesn’t really make me change my mind. I think it is just too obvious that 8 sol-lands in modern is no way near being fair. I was planning to go to GP Bologna in march but honestly i feel like canceling if Wizard doesn’t Act on the behalf of this Pro Tour.
    Further i think you’re taking your Numbers a little too far this time meaning you put too much into what they are telling you. 81% from Day one to Day two kinda says it all.. There was 4 players on UR Eldrazi and out of 20 matches Day 1 they won 19!!!
    If that isn’t OP what is then?
    Anyway we know from the Twin bannning (which i actually agree on) that Wizard only cares about Top8 and following their own thinking, 6/8 Eldrazi decks (even split on 3 different build) surely is instant Ban worthy.
    Sorry for bad english i hope you got my point anyway! Else feel free to ask 🙂

    1. I sincerely hope nothing from the mana base gets the ban if anything. If anything needs to be banned, I think it should be Eldrazi Mimic and Simian Spirit Guide. Without those cards, the deck cannot possibly do much damage before turn 3 and would probably drop from Tier 1 to Tier 1.5-2. Comparatively it would be no faster than Affinity or Green Stompy. Eithout Eye or Temple NONE of the Eldrazi decks could exist on any sort of competitive level. I think banning one of those is the wrong way to go about fixing the format. Banning the cards the deck oppresively fast doesn’t necessarily mean banning Eye/Temple.

      1. I’m sure if anything eventually gets banned it would be Eye or Temple. Fast mana does not have a solid history in Modern, which is partially a function of weaker generic Modern answers (topic for another time), but also an issue with format power level overall. An Eye OR Temple (not both) ban slows the deck but doesn’t kill it, which is generally what Wizards does with issues like this.

        1. Yes because Wizard’s bans don’t cripple decks. I mean when they banned Pod that deck type continued. Oh wait. Well when they banned Summer bloom that deck survived. Hold on. When Twin left the Kiki variant put up strong numbers at the PT……. You know what I’m sure they know what they are doing.
          They would never ban something just to make the coverage look better.

    2. We know the Eldrazi strategy was successful at the Pro Tour. The bigger question is whether it can stay successful into the March GPs and the surrounding tournaments. If it can and the format is still warped, then Wizards can ban away. If not, then we get another deck added to Modern that fits nicely into the metagame. PTs can have warped numbers without necessarily meaning the format as a whole is warped. We need to wait and see how things turn out in March. I’ll be the first to revisit the ban and unban angle if the March data supports it, but we can’t jump to conclusions just yet. That reactionary policy is, in the longrun, detrimental to Modern.

      1. You might be happy to ruin three GPs for the sake of collating data. Would-be attendees and TOs are likely to be a lot less thrilled. We’re talking about one land that can produce 2 and another that can generate arbitrarily large amounts of mana and tutor up threats in the late game. It’s not new either. Eldrazi was good before OGW and the new additions have clearly pushed it well above tier 1. It can get in under Burn, play early threats big enough to laugh at Goyf and has enough haste and late game inevitability to stomp any kind of control deck. None of that is going to change with tech. Whether it’s tomorrow, two weeks or SOI, Eye is going to get banned. I feel like delaying the inevitable is a waste of everybody’s time and a lot of people’s money.

    3. I played vs RBeldrazi yesterday,
      he played eldrazi temple and with 2 guide a knoot seer was in to the ground, i know is not a common play but wtf a 4/4 turn 1 on the play only for that fucking land.
      i’m not mad at fast mana in crazy combo like grisselbran on turn 1 because there is a deck around that concept but this is only for those 2 land!!!

    4. But this is without a target on their heads, people knew it was a good deck but didn’t make it far if they didn’t pack the relevant hate, you can see it in the sideboards as the standings narrow. Its a new affinity situation, Pack the relevant hate that blows them out of the water (not as hard as affinity though, they usually fold to the right cards where as eldrazi is merely crippled not dead) or expect to have a rough matchup.

  2. I seriously doubt there is a metagame solution to the problem. Any deck that warps itself to fight Eldrazi (already a sign of a bad format- see original Affinity days) will be at a severe disadvantage against anything else- and as we all know, Modern is chock full of “anything else”.

    Let’s be very clear- WotC messed up Modern. And part of me feels that they have been on a deliberate quest to mess up Modern for a while, as many players like myself have quit playing Standard altogether in preference of the non-rotating format. The Pod banning was “necessary”. We were sold a narrative that it limited design space (where now they have shown that they will design cards that severely warp the format regardless). This created more space in the metagame of very linear strategies and we were left with Twin and Jund as our police. Then they banned Twin for “diversity”, but all it caused was a proliferation of decks which attempt to win very fast in non-interactive fashion. And then we were sold a totally different narrative “its because of the ProTour”. Thoroughly dishonest communication. The Eldrazi nonsense is just the last straw in a series of awful decisions that look to me as short-sighted cash grabs dictated more by corporate greed than by a genuine desire for good competition at the PT level.

    They have lost my business until they show some genuine good-will towards our format. I will not be drafting or playing Modern until I see the return of something like a healthy metagame.

    I urge anyone who agrees with me to call their Customer Service line (1 (800) 324-6496 ) and make your opinion know. It will likely have 0 impact, but it never hurts to vex them a little.

    1. It’s very possible that we don’t see a metagame solution emerge in March. If it fails to arise, then the banning and unbanning option is right around the corner in April. If metagame solutions do emerge, then we don’t have to weather another ban and gain another strategy. Magic and other formats have weathered far worse issues before and I fully expect Modern to be fine after any corrective action (internal or external) is taken in the near future.

      I agree that Wizards may have made some mistakes (firmly disagree they did so intentionally: that’s really baseless), but there’s a lot of room for Modern growth out of this situation. Twin’s ban is good IF Wizards can follow up with some control kickstarting that Modern couldn’t otherwise have. AV would be a great start. Maybe even SFM! That said, Wizards still needs to fix its Modern communication policies, because they are sorely lacking right now. Twin’s ban may have been justified but the added Pro Tour element should have been made explicit. These are the kinds of problems Wizards will need to address in 2016.

      As for Eldrazi, whether through natural evolutions or through banlist movement, we’ll see the issue corrected by April. March GPs will be critical in proving beyond doubt about what is the proper course, and I respect Wizards for their data-oriented approach to this (even if they fell short of that on the Twin ban).

      1. I think the problem people have with waiting has something to do with how tumultuous the last year has been for Modern.

        We waited through the four months it took them to ban Cruise. It sucked but it was an anomaly. We waited through almost a year before they finally removed Summer Bloom (something that was obviously broken). It sucked, it’s less of an anomaly. What sucked even more is in that time period they also sniped two established decks that may or may not have really been a problem.

        We’re at a point now, I think, where player confidence in WotC/Modern has eroded to such a degree that people want this garbage sorted out, they don’t want to play through another three months of obvious degeneracy. It’s part of the reason the emergency ban group is so large this time around, I think.

        1. And the TC ban wasn’t even that needed. There were more Rhinos in the Top8 that TC.
          TC brought it’s own deck building restrictions, and often 3 cards from such a deck did less rhan one rhino.
          But if we say TC must be banned for making Delver good, then there cannot be the slightest doubt that eye of ugin is a goner

      2. I’m not sure they warped the format intentionally, but I remember seeing an interview with R+D during the coverage, where he stated that in designing the set, their “duty” was to a balanced Limited and Standard metagame; they realised that there might be risks to the Modern metagame given the possible interactions between the older cards and the middle sized Eldrazi, but it was a risk they were willing to take.

        So they knew, and while it might not have been intentional, it was certainly not unforeseen.

    2. Yeah, I mostly agree with this in term of my perspective on how wizards is currently dealing with modern.

      In my area, modern is currently more popular than standard at my various lgs’s, and I think that’s partly a reflection of wizards doing a good job of promoting modern and making it fun. But maybe to good – their cash cow is standard. If standard (or perhaps more specifically the new sets that comprise standard) isn’t selling for whatever reason, they lose money and eventually would go out of business. I saw a recent report from Hasbro, wizards owner company, stating financial losses in their gaming sector, primarily looking at magic.

      They need to ensure new sets sell and sell well. I really wonder if this means they’re taking the attitude of “do whatever we have to do to sell new sets, even if that means knowingly screwing with modern.”

      I don’t think this is necessarily corporate greed so much as bad planning and bad designing of sets leading to them feeling they need to screw with modern to get people either buying more into standard or buying more new sets for their now overpowered modern decks.

        1. Hi David,

          The information is actually reasonably easy to acquire through a google search – just type in “hasbro financial statements” and you’ll be able to find a bunch of information. What I’ve found sadly doesn’t break it down to just how successful/unsuccessful MTG specifically is, the reports just mentions it as a big part of the gaming division’s profits. Looks like a new report just came out today, actually, and here’s the link:

          This new report shows gaming as up 1% from 2014. The last one I saw, a mid-year report, showed gaming as being down something like 5% and they mentioned MTG as being one of the main reasons.

          At any rate, growth is growth, so that’s good, even if 1% is really only a mild swelling.

          Either way though, gaining or losing, looking at those numbers reminds me of the importance of MTG being a product that needs to sell (first and foremost) to be able to continue being… and that means new sets being successful.

          1. I was hoping you had something I didn’t. MTG was what kept Hasbro out of bankruptcy for years during the recession, I was hoping someone had found a more detailed breakdown.

    3. I totally agree. You pretty much summed it up. I’m not mad because Twin got banned…I’m mad because they gave us a lame excuse. They most certainly have other motives for their bans other than format diversity. It was to sell more packs of Oath so some rich guy that owns shares in Hasbro can see return on investment.

  3. I’m definitely in the wait and see camp, and think an emergency ban would be stupid, but honestly, I will be surprised if Eye of Ugin makes it past the next ban update or two. Eldrazi Temple is powerful, but in some games at the PT, we saw Eye basically supply 6-10 mana over the first 3-4 turns of games, powering out free Mimics and Endless Ones while discounting Seers & Smashers. Outside of Ghost Quarter, a lot of potential solutions to Eye + Temple are just too slow (most costing 3 mana).

    I hope the metagame will adjust, and like you believe that the 3 GP’s coming up (as well as a slew of SCG Opens) will show if that’s possible, but I would not be shocked that answering 8 Sol lands is just too much to ask for. Some decks will be able to do it, but I don’t think there will be enough of them to craft a healthy metagame. However I certainly hope that if they do ban Eye, they don’t also ban Temple, the deck may need to be slowed down a bit, but let’s not let panic remove an interesting archetype from Modern entirely.

    1. “Wait and see” is a conservative approach, and thankfully we are less than 2 months away from a ban update (and 1 month away from three big datapoints) which can feed into that handling. If the metagame adjusts, then we get a new deck added to the format and no more bans. If the metagame can’t adjust, then we know with much more certainty that the deck is broken and we/Wizards can respond accordingly. If a ban does occur, Eye or Temple are great bets.

  4. disagree with Mid-range being the way to go against Eldrazi. Essentially have to abandon Grixis mid-range; they are just to fast and threat dense.
    Thought Knot Seer + plus 1cc discard spells make it difficult to rely on board sweepers.

    online RU delver has been seeming ok Vapor snag pulls alot of weight with the massive and undercosted creatures.

    Already seeing people next level the deck online putting more black based creature removal.

    the real issue is that this decks core is built around a legacy/vintage quality land that is deck specific. they are a better mid-range deck because they get to the mid range of the game as early as turn 2. It doesn’t hurt that nearly every creature they play is somewhat over powered for cost as they were not intended in standard to be fully playable as a single deck but instead individual cards that other decks would splash for.

    Blood moon is pretty bad alone. Spreading seas backing up your blood moon is really needed if your going to go the mana disruption path. T3 is really to slow, given that TKS is their optimal turn 2 play likely ripping moon out of your hand.

    No one should have been surprised by this deck (at least not if you play MTGO)

    the reality is that this is both the best aggro and the best mid-range deck in the format atm.

    1. We’ll have to wait and see if any of those answers pan out! We’ll know for sure in March. If Eldrazi can’t get reined in by then, we’ll have more than enough datapoints to suggest the need for major action. If the metagame can adapt, then we’ll be able to keep moving forward with a new deck added to the format and new regulators to check it.

      As for midrange, although I think some midrange options remain weak, something like Abzan Company with its combo/midrange identity is very well positioned. That’s true both theoretically and in the numbers, and I’m curious to see how that plays out in the next month.

  5. I sincerely hope nothing from the mana base gets the ban if anything. If anything needs to be banned, I think it should be Eldrazi Mimic and Simian Spirit Guide. Without those cards, the deck cannot possibly do much damage before turn 3 and would probably drop from Tier 1 to Tier 1.5-2. Comparatively it would be no faster than Affinity or Green Stompy. Eithout Eye or Temple NONE of the Eldrazi decks could exist on any sort of competitive level. I think banning one of those is the wrong way to go about fixing the format. Banning the cards the deck oppresively fast doesn’t necessarily mean banning Eye/Temple.

    1. Sadly for those invested in the decks, Eye or Temple are probably the likeliest bans. Wizards often goes after fast mana options, and these are the most offensive of the lot. I sincerely doubt we see both banned, but either Eye/Temple are likely to go if Eldrazi can’t get corrected internally.

  6. Considering all your articles disowning WoTC after the Twin ban I’m very surprised to see you write stuff like we should take a breath and go deep to make entirely new decks just to play against this new seemingly overpowered deck. Why in the holy mother of God would anyone want to make a magus/moon/whatever tier 8 decks just to beat the Eldrazi and then lose to every other deck in the format? Why should the entire format have to warp to deal with a new deck that breaks the laws of physics by producing anything from 0 to 14 mana on turn 1?

    I mean I guess we have to deal with it until it gets banned. But you should also consider that we might not even have seen the best builds of the deck here. And it’s not like they can’t fit their lists to the meta game that is trying to beat them.

    When decks with cards that has never been printed before dominates a PT in a format with as much power as Modern there’s obviously a huge cause for concern. The UR version is made of mostly Standard legal cards. The only exception MD is the lands. Most of the time the board looked like someone was the only one drafting blue in BFZ and they still won games. It’s fucked up.

    There were NO colors represented in the top 8. It’s mindboggling.

    So while you might be angling to get a job at WoTC with your demure attitude toward this travesty, I’ll just sharpen my pitchforks and light up the torches.

    1. The Twin situation was very different than this one. There, we had a considerable body of evidence to suggest Wizards had willfully concealed an important rationale for the Twin ban. They also obscured the metagame numbers around the ban, potentially to further their Pro Tour-focused ends. The issue was both that they did this at all and, more worryingly for me, they didn’t admit to it or tackle it in official channels. This highlighted significant communication issues in how Wizards addresses and manages Modern.

      Eldrazi is a totally different beast. This is a metagame problem and, like in all metagame problems before, I’m always on the side of amassing more data before action is taken. Thankfully, we have three GPs coming up in less than a month! That will give us more than enough evidence to prove the Eldrazi are busted or that they are safe. PTs often have breakout decks or some degree of metagame warping. If that continues into the GP and smaller tournament scene, it’s a problem. If not, then we don’t need to pull the trigger prematurely. It’s easy to make a theoretical case for almost any Modern deck being broken, but it’s the numbers which tell the story. We’ll have those numbers soon in March, and this has always fit my stance on every metagame issue from 2015 until today.

      1. I would also wait and see. Maybe there is a solution out there that I just do not see. But playing horrible decks just to beat Eldrazi is probably as bad as Affinity era. Decks solely designed to beat the best deck and still that best deck won out in the end. Eldrazi very flavourfully tears at the very fabric of the modern format. A format where everything is geared towards efficiency has problems dealing with discounted high cmc cards.

        Basically Eldrazi Mimic is close to a 2/1 Memnite with possible Tarmogoyf upgrade for 0-1 mana. Matter Reshaper is a Nacatl that replaces itself. TKS is an unboltable undecayable sorcery Vendilion Clique. Reality Smasher is a resilient hasty Gurmag Angler. This deck basically got cards on the power level of the best creatures across all tribes and colors in little more than one set.

        My problem with all of this Pro Tour Oath mess is that it showcases how little Wizards is willing/able to handle modern. Their huge banned list was a travesty from the start, oftentimes displaying their utter incompetence at judging the new format. Then every year there comes something new that shakes the format to it’s core until it is banned out. Last year was TC, this year it is Eldrazi. Most sets have no impact on modern. Then we get a nuclear blast. I do not want to go to the tin-foil-hattery, but either wizards is oblivious of this or they do it on purpose to further some agenda.

        When a format with such a high power level like modern is turned inside out, there is some major level of messing up involved. Modern is my favourite format, but I can not afford to switch decks evers four months when wizards decides to ban some major deck to sell new cards via the next PT, something absurd hits print or some archetype lurking in the shadows gets critical mass.

      2. @Edit: I am trying to be calm about this. No one forces me to play Magic, if I think it is bad, but I really want to. I am afraid waiting for data is the only way but waiting too long is a lot like the appeasement politics before WW2. It was all in good faith but totally disregarding that the state of things was beyond repair and what would eventually come was coming wether you were nice about it or not.

        Sure, the deck is new and not explored yet. But there is no obvious angle of attack. You need more expensive catch-all answers against a deck that dumps it’s hand as fast as affinity. You also have to play it on Reality Smasher and 2-1 yourself. All that while still executing your own plan. The twin ban did not have much to do with the mess that this format is. Maybe Bloom could have beaten Eldrazi with it’s insane resilience and faster clock, but that is fighting fire with nukes. A single two set block spawned this on the back of two and a half lands. That was not what I meant when I said that I wish block mechanics were more competitive in modern again.

  7. I agree that we need to wait and see if the deck continues to dominate. My initial guess is that it will and we will need Eye and maybe Temple banned in the next update, but that’s just a guess. I’m personally going to play a lot of Modern if all I face is Eldrazi.

    I am mildly worried that originally WotC planned to ban Twin and Bloom in January and possibly unban some cards (Ancestral Visions) in April so they could separate out the effects of the bans vs the effects of the unbans (in case one or the other seemed to break the format, they’d know which needed to be reversed). If the format is indeed needing new bans now, I worry they will maintain the same mindset of not mixing bans and unbans in the same update. I could see them pushing off unbans if they decide to make new bans in April, and their tendency is to save up big changes until the next Modern PT. In other words, I fear that new bans in April will mean we don’t get unbans for another year when they would otherwise have happened in April. Unless there will be unbans coming in conjunction with a certain summer set! (Hey we can all hope, right?) 😛

    1. This is an interesting and plausible worry. That said, I think Wizards would need to pair an Eldrazi banning with whatever unban they were hesitant to do in January. This would probably be AV or another control card. Eldrazi is likely to survive (in some form) whatever ban they decide to execute in April, if the data warrants it, but Wizards will also need to do a little damage control on a format marred by the Eldrazi to begin with. This will probably mean an unban to “make things right” and stick with their original format goals for a Twinless Modern. I’m still very optimistic!

  8. This past FNM, I got hosed by my first ever Eldrazi deck encounter during the finals matchup against my Grixis Midrange deck. Then, I watched most of the Pro Tour this weekend, esp. Sunday, just to help me understand why the Eldrazi decks are so good. I was having thoughts about changing up my whole game, and I could fallen into despair about the whole thing, but I chose not to. I choose to rise to the challenge, and to be quite honest, a little excited. I think it would be a bad idea for many players to go out and completely redo everything because of this one event.

    I’ve decided to stick with my Grixis Control game plan for now, looking for new cards to help me sideboard in, and expose weaknesses in this new meta. I really enjoyed this article, it mirrored my feelings exactly on the whole situation, thank you.

    Speaking of unbannings for blue, besides Ancestral Vision, I’m an advocate for a Preordain unban (Ponder is still a bit much perhaps?), thoughts on this?

    1. This is a great attitude and is one we should all adopt going into March. If March is an Eldrazi disaster, then we can demand action. If not, Grixis Control players and others can stick to their guns and start innovating to beat the new king on the block. As for unbans, Preordain would probably be much safer than many admit, although I’d honestly prefer Mystic.

  9. there needs to be an emergency ban… fast mana has always been bad especially when it’s only available to a certain deck… and it means the meta is always going to have to adjust to it… that’s what happens when it’s churning out the best thing you can do on the first 3 turns of the game….

    and while there might be a deck that can give it game… abzan company or whatever…. there still are a number of decks that it basically pushes out…. it polarizes the meta and that’s not healthy…

    i can’t foresee this ending well besides a ban and the sooner it happens… the better off we’ll be… i mean can wizards even design anything colorless with <5cmc in future sets without making things more broken in modern?

    1. If we get to March and this is still a problem, action can and probably will be taken. But we need to wait until then and conduct our due diligence on the data. If no answers arise, then I’m sure we’ll see Wizards move quickly to correct these issues.

  10. I want to like the idea of eldrazi being a new powerful deck in Modern. I’m even sort-of okay with the sol lands, since it lets at least one other deck now has access to the free fast mana that has let Affinity be a thing for so long.

    The problem is that the recent trend has simply been to push aggressive creatures, while simultaneously removing cheap unconditional answers from any new sets, which leaves reactive decks with nothing new to combat faster and faster clocks. Since I don’t see this trend ending any time soon, I’m skeptical about Modern’s long term health.

    I’m down with the “give the meta time to adjust” plan, but until there is something interesting (that can actually win a tournament) to do other than fart my hand onto the board as fast as possible, its not going to be a fun format.

    And no, I can’t get excited for unbans, because they all seem too slow to battle with Eldrazi / Affinity / Burn / Infect anways.

    Modern has been a sideboard based format for too long, and the biggest culprit for that has been allowing Mox Opal. So if we allow even more fast mana into the format, can we at least increase sideboard space to compensate?

    1. One of the keys to unbans, even if they are supposedly too slow, is that they give these slower decks something to do past the early turns. Jeskai Control, for example, is perfectly capable of containing early aggression with all its removal. But then it flounders later as the linear decks slip in a threat while Jeskai can’t reload or finish. Unbans like AV, Mystic, or even JTMS would not only address these issues but also create strong incentives for players to jump onto these strategies. I expect we’ll see more of these as the year unfolds.

      1. Thanks for your thoughts and I certainly hope you are right. I really don’t see a Jace unban as likely for the obvious supply reasons. But any control deck needs to be fast enough to stabilize which is quite the challenge when the answers typically cost more then the threats. Those unbans give you more late game (although still maybe not enough against the inevitability from Eye of Ugin), but the late game isn’t the big issue when facing a fast mana deck.

        Honestly what control really wants to get back into the current Modern is some fast mana of its own. But its very likely that’s not a rabbit hole we want to go down. Access to fast mana in an aggro deck should come at the cost of threat density for balance purposes – the fact that it doesn’t here is a big part of the problem.

    2. The super-aggro-linear creature decks don’t seem to be only a thing in modern, but in standard as well. PT dragons -> atarka-tarka runs the show. PT origins -> top 8 heavy mono red. PT BFZ -> more atarka. Yet Maro bitches that counterspells and boardwipes are ruining the fun for everyone.

  11. “From a data perspective, there’s no evidence to go after anything outside of maybe Eldrazi. All of the other Modern decks have existed for a year or longer, proving their overall safety in the format.”

    Tell that to Splinter Twin.

    1. The Twin ban, although not grounded in the data as much as I would want, still had a lot of years behind the decision. Wizards knew what it was doing, knew how it would be a good deck a the next Pro Tour, knew that it would keep closing off URx space, and acted on that knowledge accumulated over time. Their failure to disclose this in an appropriate way is unfortunate, and I wish they would be more transparent in those big decisions. But this is different from Eldrazi, which has only one major tournament underlying its success. If it is an issue in March, I’m sure April will see more decisive action taken against it.

  12. Excellent article Sheridan. I think that it’s too early to be alarmist, as you eloquently put it (if the Eldrazi can still thrive in the face of everyone gunning for them in the next 2 months or so, then that’s another story). I know that I am going to be testing my Merfolk against the Eldrazi menace (I matched up quite well against the Processors and the mono-B Stompy, but these are whole other can of worms), and I have my Echoing Truth and Sea’s Claim at the ready if my initial efforts are found wanting. I feel like classic tempo-style disruption + pressure will win the day against them, with decks like UR Delver focusing on land hate (with Blood Moon, Molten Rain, or both), Death & Taxes (potentially using some tools in their own toolbox), and Merfolk could potentially hit them where it hurts. I, for one, welcome the challenge.

    1. I’m also optimistic that some of those decks have what it takes to succeed. But if they don’t and our beloved Merfolk can’t cut it, there’s always April to make more serious changes. We have only two months until the April update, which is more than enough time to prove the deck’s power but not enough time to cause permanent Modern damage if it’s addressed in the April changes.

    2. I think most people would agree that the old version of Eldrazi was beatable (by many decks, including Merfolk) but i’d be surprised if Merfolk can get there against the PT stompy versions. Sure spreading seas is great and all (much better on the play) but you are going to be too slow to do anything on the draw and maxing out on Sea’s claim weakens Merfolk against the rest of the meta in very significant ways. I like your optimism – but like a lot of the optimism out there – I cannot see any decent version of a competitive deck beating Eldrazi. The only builds that will be able to beat it will die horribly to the rest of the field. PLease prove me wrong!!

  13. The protour was an example of creating panic out of a new set with steroids + banning one of the limiters for aggro decks to go forth in the format. I agree that the metagame needs to settle, but I am more concerned that all this has been pure merchandising based on fear.

    Curiously, the new eldrazi deck that has impacted modern comes from a new expansion and also happens when a large player base are looking for a new deck after twin ban. I think wizards has been studying this (since last ban being Treasure cruise and DTT) they realized, these guys buy our product when its busted, they buy from us and not the secondary market.

    I am not sure if there is a way to correlate this data with the revenue from Wizards, since Hasbro is in stock market some of the data should be open to the public.

    On other topics, the UR eldrazi looks busted, but I was just thinking again that it is the time of mass creature removal as you mention. Maelstrom Pulse should be seeing a couple extra slots in modern as well as the above mentioned cards. In the colorless eldrazi deck, I think it would have been a fairer deck if one card would have been removed: Simian Spirit Guide.

    The ape enabled a turn 2 reality smasher, allowed to use dismember while appearing to be tapped and not to mention a chalice of the void for 1 which disables burn and affinity big time, which is insane. Its already tons of pressure so if a card would require a ban: It is simian spirit guide.

    1. Although it’s easy to talk about merchandising and market motives in all this, I think we need to avoid these kinds of accusations unless we can get some evidence. Those are fairly serious charges. The Twin ban is one thing: at least Wizards unoficially admitted to some of the real motives behind the ban. This would be much more sinister and relatively unnecessary: Wizards and Modern would be doing fine without creating such potentially damaging issues. I’m sure we see this all resolved in either the March GPs or the April update.

      1. Well.
        I absolutely don’t know how Wizards are doing the tests before a new set launch, but i assume they are just not throwing it and “we’ll see what happens” (unless they are really on the rush).
        There must tests, and lots of them, involving people really aware of the modern meta, and all the others.

        it’s not as if they did not see it coming, its just impossible. Here we are not talking about an online game where they can just nerf broken things in a patch, no here we are talking about balance decisions that will be permanent !

        I am not saying they did this for the sake of money (there might be a lot of other reasons), but now damage is done, and money is made.

  14. In order:

    1) Even emergency bans requiere more than a single data point. There’s more dailies, GPs, leagues, etc. that everybody must consider before pulling the plug.

    2) There’s no way that Eye of Ugin and probably Eldrazi Temple make it past April. Nerfing Tron is a BONUS, Tron’s late game, an endless stream of colorless bombs tutored with Eye, is better than anything that a Control deck on this format could be doing, hence, Control is a fringe archetype at best.

    3)I would pull the plug on Simian Spirit Guide too. The decks that it encourages are extremely unpopular with the playerbase.

    1. Forgot:

      4) This would have happened even with Twin on the meta, given that, for starters, these are decks that play 4 TKS, 2 Spellskites and Dismembers mainboard.

    2. Mostly agree with what you are saying, although it’s really important that we do our due diligence on data collection before plunging into more bans. March GPs and all the other events around and before then will be more than enough to confirm or reject the Eldrazi-dominance story. If something does go, Eye seems like a great bet.

    3. I’m not sure banning Eye is the right move because it hurts Tron – A deck that took up under 3% of the metagame and folds to the top 4 matchups in the tournament. I don’t think it would be justified to ban Eye because it would have been like banning Primeval Titan for Amulet Combo in that it also hurts GR Valakut Scapeshift.

      I think the right move would be to take down Eldrazi Temple.

      1. “I’m not sure banning Eye is the right move because it hurts Tron…”

        I see that as a positive. If WOTC actually wants those diverse Blue decks that they promised after the Twin ban, Tron HAS to eat a nerf, since it’s lategame is more powerful than anything that slow Control decks offer and Eye is the piece that allows said endgame. t3 Karns will still be powerful, but drowning the deck on CA becomes an option.

        1. I very much agree with splash damage on Tron (through Eye ban) actually being a good thing for control decks – Eye allows Tron to free-draw it’s most relevant threat against control decks, threats that with on-cast triggers control mages can’t even counter… leak is useless late-game, remand is horrible with on-cast triggers, and even a cryptic doesn’t stop Newlamog taking out 2 copies of Celestial Colonnade. And then Tron just uses Eye again to get the 2nd copy of Newlamog or some other big fatty.

    1. Those are in entirely different categories. Opal and Affinity have never caused this level of metagame warpage that we saw during the PT. Tron hasn’t even come close to Affinity, let alone to Eldrazi. If Eldrazi eats a ban, it’s because it put up the numbers to justify the banning. Affinity and Tron haven’t done that.

      1. That’s because Twin policed Affinity. If Eldrazi gets nerfed Affinity is def top dog – however, at least there are reasonable ways to deal with Affinity of which all decks have something to bring..

  15. I noticed that the article states: “There’s a big score dropoff between Burn (4.5) and Death’s Shadow Aggro (7), ” however the table for the section “Pro Tour Oath: Top Deck Viability Rankings” has the reverse numbers. Which is correct?

  16. You might want to check out the early SCG Regionals and MTGO Leagues and PTQ results since people figured out the PT decklists. Eldrazi was the top archetype in the Regionals results (something like 20% of Top 8s) and is currently putting up more than 50% of League 5-0 and PTQ Top 8 results online. This is with lists people reverse-engineered from streams on Friday, then built and tested within a single day.

    The deck is very easy to build and play. Anyone who’s been on MTGO much this weekend can see that these decks are going to take over Modern far, far faster than broken decks of the past, like Amulet.

    1. I’ve logged and seen all the lists so far. These are early datapoints in low-stakes events. The post PT Fate Reforged metagame was heavily Abzan-centric until GP Vancouver. We need to wait and see how things shape up in the March GPs. If they are all Eldrazi fests, then I’m confident we’ll see a data-driven ban/unban policy in April. We can’t immediately jump to panic: the metagame needs to have given time to adapt and we need to trust in its ability to adapt.

      1. The difference between now and post-PTFRF is that the Abzan lists were consistently over-represented in the Day 1 meta and under-represented at the top tables, hence why it’s meta share shrunk steadily after the PT. Eldrazi is the opposite – under-represented in Day 1 and wildly over-represented at the top tables. This is much more concerning.

        I’m also not sure why we should trust in the meta’s ability to adapt when fast mana has been consistently broken in Modern since the start of the format. (And broken in a general sense since Alpha…) A substantial chunk of the ban list is due to fast mana. Seething Song, Cloudpost, Chrome Mox, Summer Bloom… “My cards produce twice as much mana as yours, starting from Turn 1” is not a strategy that has historically been possible to hate.

        1. It absolutely might play out that way! But we need to wait and see. Modern confidence can easily recover from a 2 month period of Eldrazi, especially in the long-run. But Modern confidence cannot recover from Wizards instituting a snap-ban policy without data. That sets an even worse precedent than the Pro Tour-driven Twin ban and would be a disaster for the format in the long run. I’d rather endure another month of Eldrazi and confirm/deny their power than snap-ban them with no data and set the standard for that to happen again.

          1. I’m not sure what source/evidence you are using for the claim that ‘the recovery from 2 months of eldrazi domination would be less of a confidence hit for modern than an emergency ban’.

          2. In response to:
            “I’m not sure what source/evidence you are using for the claim that ‘the recovery from 2 months of eldrazi domination would be less of a confidence hit for modern than an emergency ban’.”

            Modern attendance was at record levels last year following the October 2014-January 2015 period of Treasure Cruise and Pod. That was a much longer time frame than we are looking at now and Modern did absolutely great after that. Even if Eldrazi is (to be super generous) twice as bad as Cruise/Pod winter, the period is half as long. There is no evidence in Modern’s history, which has been packed with rising attendance and increased support, which suggests a 2 month period of potential problems is going to hurt the format. Modern would easily recover from an Eldrazi winter, especially if Wizards sweetened a ban announcement with an unban.

          3. I’m ‘willing’ to wait until SOI, in the sense that I have no power over their banlist decisions and by wait, I mean I will only continue to play events where my decisions are not reduced to play Eldrazi or lose. At the moment my desire to play MTGO Leagues or attend Modern GPs are swiftly diminishing, and my desire to continue with FNM-level events is contingent on the local players not being competitive enough to immediately switch en masse to Eldrazi. There are plenty of other ways to play Magic that don’t involve being beat up by developmental mistakes.

            Or perhaps I’m just a little more salty than average because they banned my favorite Modern deck and the PT results were more awful than I could have possibly imagined.

            I am willing to stop playing Modern in the hope that a drop in player participation will force WotC to reassess their mismanagement of the banlist and complete lack of playtesting for Modern.

  17. I wish they would do restirctions instead of outright bans in modern. So much of the ban list would be fine as 1-ofs in decks.

    If eye is truly broken and cannot be fixed (as I suspect) it would be perfect as a limited 1-of. This way it doesn’t rip it from tron, and it requires eldrazi to play things like expedition map to get use from it, making it much more “fair” imo

    Of course – some things still aren’t even okay as a 1-of lol

  18. I said this before and will keep saying until WOTC show me the opposite:

    There will be a ban if the other archetypes dont adjust to this incredible deck. As much as i like the Eldrazi deck and would hate to see it go, it might need to.

    More important, regarding the card to be extirpated from Modern, i think Eldrazi Temple and Simian Spirit Guide are in the sight of the DCI. Fast mana is not acepted by them and they will act.
    Why not Eye of Ugin?: Because the card is played in other decks such as RG Tron. But more importantly, the card costs 50 dollars. A playset of 200 dollars will not be taken out of the frame just like that. In the history of Modern as a sanctioned format, no card has been banned that costed more than 15 dollars.
    Imagine youself buying 4 Eye of Ugin yesterday and two months later Boom it goes without saying anything. Do you think you will still be buying cards? I surely wont.
    Its a strategy to protect our investments. I

    I played Pod and Bloom at the time they were removed. I only lost the playset money, All other cards are playables/staples and are worth keeping because their prices just dont go down.

    Like Brian David Marshall said, we will have to wait to GP weekend. I would love to see Eldrazi stay in our format.

    1. It is called a hype train! Eye wasn’t 50 bucks like before BFZ! If you’re going to buy into Eldrazi you deserve to lose Money really. Listen carefully IT WILL GET BANNED SOMEHOW! 🙂

  19. I would personally love to see Sword of the Meek come off the banned list. Since the format is made up of hyper aggressive and linear decks, one of the best ways for a blue mage to recover from the early onslaught is a combo like Thopter/Sword. It gives a way to stabilize the life total, as well as the ability to create almost infinite chump blockers eventually resulting in an attack back for lethal. However, like the tweet said, if this would make Lantern Control so obnoxious, which I believe it would, then take away cards to make it less good. But a solid Tezzerator deck, for example should be able to exist in the format. How about a UW control deck with Thopter/Sword as the finisher? Control strategies as a whole do very poorly in this format because the cards that are available make these decks too slow to survive the early onslaught of the aggressive decks. Combo decks keep getting banned left and right so there is no balance of aggro, control, and combo. This is what makes a healthy format. But right now there are so many decks that don’t even stand a chance which forces us to pick up a deck like Affinity, Burn, or Infect even if we despise everything about these decks. I believe the Pro Tour was a prime example that even though many decks exist in Modern, it is not a format where you can play whatever you want and be successful. I believe Modern is not a format that rewards play skill more than it does deck choice or die rolls. Modern is not a very interactive or decision heavy format, thus leading to more boring and sometimes unwinnable games of Magic. Linear aggressive decks should exist in the format. But they shouldn’t be so good that they keep everything else from being playable. For example, they banned punishing fire and wild nacatl when everyone was playing zoo because zoo was hands down the best deck and everybody was forced to play it. That’s the exact same thing that is happening in Modern right now. But it’s not just zoo. Now it’s a host of 3 – 5 decks that are so powerful that it makes playing any other strategy non viable. Also, if one were to try and hedge against these decks with their sideboard, each deck requires such a narrow and specific card choice that is irrelevant in most other matchups. The state of Modern needs a lot to be fixed, and the printing of these eldrazi cards in the last two sets did nothing to help the state of Modern whatsoever.

  20. I’ve been playing since the Birthing Pod days, and have been a diehard modern lover since nearly its inception. I’ve been playing the UR Eldrazi deck since its announcement against about every major deck, with most games post-sideboard. Opposing decks were picked from the current crop of Tier 1 decks (no Eldrazi mirrors) with Eldrazi-specific hate as well as specific “Anti-Eldrazi” brews that members of my group have tried to create. I am currently somewhere along the lines of 14-0 in matches, and still have yet to drop a game.

    Counters don’t work. Going under it doesn’t work. Racing doesn’t work. Burn doesn’t work. Discard doesn’t work. Sweepers don’t work. Out-valuing doesn’t work. Current land hate of Blood Moon, Ghost Quarter, Spreading Seas and the like don’t work.

    I am 100% a firm believer the deck should be banned first thing tomorrow after the Renton, Washington R&D crew has its morning coffee. It pushes so many decks out the format, far more than Pod, Cruise, Twin, or Bloom have. The PT T8 results speak for themselves. Maybe there’s some super-secret tech at the deepest, darkest bowels of Gatherer that no one’s found yet that supersedes Painter’s Servant, Topor Orb, or Worship. I hope there is and whatever it is, all previously viable 25+ decks can play it. Is it likely? Nope.

    I hope I’m wrong. I really do. I hope there’s some terrible error we made during testing and the deck is relatively harmless and we see the same diversity as 2 months ago. My testing doesn’t show this and neither do the PT results. I won’t be participating in modern tournaments until the issue is taken care of. A painless manabase with lands that generate multiple mana alongside cost reduction and a built-in search engine is just not ok in the current format.

    1. i’m so tired of people whining to unban bloodbraid elf. jund players just want their jund deck to be so good it’s unbeatable again. also unbanning jace, the mind sculptor is not reason enough to unban the elf either.

  21. Hi Sheridan, thanks for the articles. I am disappointed with the pro tour result. However I am delighted in how the pro level 1 metagaming the meta by playing chalice of the void to combat the aggro decks. I believe it is this correct metagaming that push the eldrazi to the top 8. The lack of blood moon in sb of many deck also contribute to the rise of the eldrazis. Going forward, I expect to see more blood moon though I would wish to see a ban in eye of ugin or eldrazi temple. Ancient tomb and mishra workshop in modern for just 1 deck is simply broken. As of chalice, this new tech could be catching on to combat linear strategy.

  22. I will say that while their is not enough evidence to ban eye of ugin or its temple, the fact that only one certain archetype should be allowed to have sol lands seems completely unfair.
    The way the pro-tour played out after the bannings seems all too convenient for my liking.

    Comparing mox opal and spirit guide to the temples is pretty lame. Mox has requirements it must meet before it can add 1 mana. Granted, it’s easy to do in affinity and is strong but I wouldn’t call it broken. Artifact hate is so numerous and strong so there is always that.
    Spirit guide has been around forever and is a 1 time use for one mana. It is strong but not degenerate by any means.

    It would seem that this is an even bigger case for modern to be taken off the pro-tour. I watched it this weekend and it was pretty lame. Eldrazi had a 75% win % against the field. Almost all the decks ran very little interaction. Cards are spiking beyond reason. The best way to beat eldrazi is stall the board and combo them out (Abzhan company). The fact that the deck can just up and attack for 15-20 out of nowhere is pretty scary and makes board wipes possibly not that great. Especially since they are about a turn or 2 behind unless we start using simian spirit guides to ramp us to turn 3 board wipes. The only time the deck really lost was to itself.
    Also this is another great example of needing to add more elements to modern. I’m probably more towards banning the temple or eye because sol lands are rigged but I would much rather see a good counterspell, wasteland, and stifle added to the modern mix instead of more bans. Ghost quarter is a joke. Ancestral vision honestly seems so slow right now and I don’t see why ancestral vision is the talk of the unban town when something like preordain is completely off limits

  23. They won’t unban much of anything, they’re just gonna kill the Eldrazi deck.

    TC and DTT set the precedent, they might free one random card but the chance we see mass unbans is highly out of character for WoTC, who is very conservative with their unbannings.

  24. they are not going to ban anything from the eldrazi deck until:

    1) attendance for modern events plummet because its caw blade syndrome all again
    2) next year before the start of a new pro tour season
    3) all their attempts to print ‘counters’ against the eldrazi tribal deck fail

  25. I’ll present a theory here. Wizards is doing a scorched earth strategy. Make the game so terrible, that no one will play it, and Hasbro will sell them off, hopefully to a better benefactor. They killed standard with cards no one wants to play (well, in standard anyway), they killed modern with the same set, they may have killed legacy and vintage with the recent crackdown on proxies. All that’s left really is commander, the only format I see numerous people moving into. Watch Wizards to somehow mess that up as well.

    I made many friends playing at the world’s largest FNM, and now none of those friends play magic. I will likely join them until wizards gets sold to someone else.

    1. I have no interest in Modern until the Eldrazi Menace is dealt with (with eye of ugin’s banning), and even after that I doubt the format will be much good – the eldrazi domination underscored the fact that interacting with your opponents is no longer a winning plan in modern. And it will remain so, unless the right unbannings fix the metagame – Twin being the only one we can be sure of.

  26. The fact that anyone thinks its ok to ruin 3 Grand Prix events just to “make sure”…. It seems pretty obvious that there is nothing in the meta, and no hate cards that give you a chance against this deck. Literally every decent answer for what they are doing with their mana is too slow. Removal based strategies will not work due to the value each creature is getting just from hitting the table.

    These lines of events have given me ZERO confidence in WotC, the fact that they are ok destroying numerous players play experience like this is disheartening, and i for one have had enough. Just sold my collection – was done with standard being stale, and im done believing in WotC being able to promote a healthy modern format. Shame, i was really looking forward to gp detroit. Least i’ll get to sell off the rest of my collection there.

    1. Same, I did sell my standard stuff and buy into a budget delver deck, but if eye and/or temple don’t get banned REALLY SOON, I’m selling off what I can and doing something else. Besides, at the LGS I visit, the crowds are much more little kids now, who also don’t even know how to build a deck, and many fewer of the late teens and young adults that used to be the vast majority at these shops. No thanks.

      There have been too many of these mistakes at this point throughout the years for the excuse “oops, we messed up” to actually mean anything, especially when every “oops” causes people to have to spend a lot more money, for example, the printing of fetchable dual lands as opposed to the enemy fetches everyone expected out of BFZ with the result that every deck costs $800-900. Yet many people still buy the lies.

  27. Sheridan,

    I think that statistics should drive decision-making when we are dealing with not obvious problems. I think we already “fall back” on statistics when we qualitatively sense something is true, even if many times the margin is so thin that we don’t actually feel comfortable even making a guess and rely solely on the data to reach a conclusion. However, and I am speaking as a statistics teacher, I think you are being a bit obtuse in this situation. I don’t think we need any statistics to prove to us that something very broken is happening with this deck.

    Unfortunately, I think you are falling a little too far down the rabbit hole with your need of data to make a ban decision. This is a problem that can be open sometimes when the issue is viewed so academically. I also do not think alarmism is the other option, but I do think it needs to be acknowledged that eye of ugin is officially broken by the cards they wanted to print for standard. there is already an eldrazi vs non eldrazi meta game and it is very harmful to modern.

    This is not just some flavor of the week that takes mtgo by storm and subsides because people realize the bad match ups. This is a deck that has roots in brokenness with Bx eldrazi abusing the two lands to ramp fatties and has grown into a monster that can fully exploit the land that is clearly broken by any metric and has only been lying dormant because of extremely high casting cost creatures. This article seems naive and purposefully optimistic. Feels a bit disingenuous too. Like you’re forcing yourself to be level headed when the format is just going to suck for three months.

    In any case, eye of ugin should and will be banned. Sooner rather than later hopefully, but most Iilely later. Modern is becoming real fun, with peaks of utter brokenness and troughs of to-be-banned tier 1 decks only pros will have enough money to afford rotating season after season.

  28. I really hope they dont thinking about banning Simian as people are suggesting in comments.
    The card are used in other decks that needs it.
    I think without simian a deck like Living End would fall down a tier.

    For now im binding my time and just trying to playtest my deck to this aggressive meta.

  29. Do you think, that after banning Eye of Ugin only Eldrazi would remain a valid deck? I mean it won’t be that explosive, but the cards still seem to have enough value in them to be played as a Tier 2 (or something) deck.

    Banning both ot the fastlands wouldn’t seem to be entirely justified.

    For now let’s wait a month to see how it goes. However I’ll be tracking tournament results until then. We may sometimes find interesting stuff, like the two UW decks in Top 8 here:

  30. Having tested the UR Eldrazi matchup with Abzan company in a few games I can say the matchup isn’t great for the abzan side. It doesn’t seem as horrible as vs Tron (as infinite life is effectively game over vs the eldrazi builds of the weekend) but it’s definately not good: say 60-40 for the eldrazi side.

    I think anyone saying ‘we need more data’ is being a bit naive. If you have some experience with the game you can clearly see these Eldrazi decks just pack a bigger engine then anyone else. Sure some niche metadecks will arise with a positive matchup vs it but non-eldrazi midrange and slower aggro will be dead as long as these shenanigans are allowed. I wish they would just ban the eye now instead of delaying the inevitable untill april.

    1. The issue is not so much that we just need more data. This is only a piece of the puzzle. The real issue is that Wizards can’t set the precedent of a one-event ban. That’s really dangerous for the format: moreso than even the Pro Tour-inspired Twin ban! By waiting until the March GPs, there is very little risk to the format, Wizards can try and isolate any real offenders, and we give the metagame time to maybe adapt. If it can’t, Eldrazi go in April, just two months from now. If it can, we get to keep a new deck. Either way, Modern wins.

      1. One event, with closer inspection of why it happened, and what can be done against it should be enough. Seriously, i’ve played abzan coco/chord forever, and played against the eldrazi decks the guys at my LGS came up with (exceptionally close to the pro tour decks)….. main deck i was losing 40/60. After board with thoughtseize friends its maybe a 50/50 matchup. If this is the deck thats supposed to keep eldrazi in check? well… good luck with that one. Only deck i can think of is lantern control, and i imagine the sideboards can change for eldrazi to compensate for that

        The fact that 3 modern GP’s are coming up right around the corner should warrant the emergency ban to not ruin THOUSANDS of player’s 1 chance at a modern GP in the year(some are lucky enough to have a few)

        They owe the players to ban it quickly after showcasing the deck like that at the pro tour…. getting them into the “well… we cant beat em, lets join them” then banning the deck out from under them in 6 months is pathetic too.

  31. Eye has to go, visions and potentially bloodbraid should be looked at for unbans. I also think bloodmoon needs to be evaluated, if the decks it is required against are kept in check by other means, it is a very unfun effect.

  32. Have anyone thought of the restrict list ? Currently there’s only restrict list for vintage and wotc could extent it to modern. This might keep the format diverse while keeping “overpowered” decks easier to deal with by having lesser key card, such as eye of ugin.

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