Sifting Through the Grand Prix Eldrazi Rubble

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On Saturday and Sunday, the Gatewatch made their last stand against the Eldrazi in three cities across the world. The Grand Prix battles were fierce. Opposition was stiff. Weeks of debate and analysis led to this point, and the Modern community rallied with the best technology and innovation in its arsenal. But in the end, the outcome was never in question. The metagame numbers, whether in Top 8, Top 32, or the Top 100 Day 2 decks, showcased the most warped metagame in the format's history. The Eldrazi menace made up over 40% of the collective Grand Prix field, making tales of Bloodbraid Jund and Deathrite BGx appear as a fond memory. Everyone played Eldrazi and won or played an anti-Eldrazi deck and lost, and as the weekend closed, Modern was in ruins and the Gatewatch lay defeated. The Eldrazi had won.

Witness the End banner

April 4 comes in 28 days, and this is the first of three articles I'll write on Eldrazi in that time period. Everything else will project the post-April metagame, discuss major Modern policy and management issues, or spotlight strategies and tech that might shine after April. There is no doubt this deck will be hit with at least one ban after this miserable month of unprecedented imbalance, so I'm not spending any more time than needed to discuss such an obvious offender. Today's article will summarize the horrors of Grand Prix weekend, revisiting predictions I made last week. Later this week, I'll publish a formal February metagame analysis, and will also mark the last time I talk about Eldrazi in a metagame context. That will bring us to the third article (date TBD): a scathing indictment of Eldrazi and a call for Eldrazi Temple's or Eye of Ugin's execution. Maybe both! Testing will tell. With that roadmap laid out, let's turn to the most broken Grand Prix events in Modern's history and see how bad things got for Aaron Forsythe to declare Modern a DEFCON 1.


A Conquered Metagame

By the time you read this article, you'll already have consumed considerable media about the disaster of Grand Prix weekend. Forsythe already all but confirmed an upcoming ban in his Grand Prix Detroit interview. Twitter and Reddit have seethed with Eldrazi venom since Saturday morning. Even the normally positive coverage team was speechless at the percentages from the weekend's tournaments. Rather than recap all those figures alone, I want to situate them in the context of previous Modern events. Specifically, in Modern metagame contexts that previously saw format-diversity bans. This will give some historical sense of just how bad things became over the weekend and why you should be as outraged as I am. Maybe even as outraged as Twitch chat, but probably not: our comment section doesn't support the same range of expressive emoticons.

Since Modern Grand Prix tournaments began in 2012, the format has seen five format-diversity bans.Deathrite Shaman I'm not going to talk about those metagames in the banning context itself: I've already done that in my "Last Word on the Splinter Twin Banning" piece. I'm also not going to evaluate those bans. Instead, I'm going to use those bans as indicators of an unhealthy metagame. In the cases of Bloodbraid Elf Jund, Deathrite Shaman BGx Midrange, Treasure Cruise URx Delver, BGx Birthing Pod, and URx Splinter Twin, Wizards identified metagame elements indicative of some fundamental format imbalance. To understand the significant and unprecedented warpage of this weekend, we'll look at the Day 2s and Top 8s of those previous metagames.

Eldrazi in the Day 2 Metagame Context

The graph below represents the Day 2 Grand Prix and Pro Tour shares for each of the banned decks in the months preceding their bans. In some cases, this was as many as eight distinct events (URx Twin from Pro Tour Fate Reforged through Grand Prix Pittsburgh). In others, it was only three (URx Delver with a Grand Prix each in Madrid, Milan, and Omaha).

Banned Deck Shares by Event Chart 1

For people who process better with fewer numbers, here are the average Day 2 shares in each deck category.

Banned Deck Average Shares by Event Chart 2

With the exception of URx Twin, which I've already discussed at length, all of these decks averaged in the 16%-19% range for Grand Prix Day 2 shares. Even adding URx Twin, we can reasonably assume that a metagame might suffer from imbalance when a deck can average between 12% and 19% over its entire lifespan. Of course, something like URx Delver was shorter lived, but still averaged 17.5% across Day 2s in a period of three Grand Prix tournaments.

That brings us to Eldrazi, the Pro Tour where they shambled onto the Modern scene, and the Grand Prix weekend we just endured.

We didn't get any formal Day 2 metagame breakdowns from this past weekend. Instead, we got a strange "Top 100" format I've never seen before in four years of Wizards' Modern metagame reporting. It's also not even a random sample of the Day 2 decks; it's literally the 100 players and decks with the most points going into the Day 2. Frank Karsten confirmed over Twitter that this was an issue of manpower and hours, not Wizards trying to deliberately obscure its unhealthy Day 2 metagames, but I'm still suspicious: Grand Prix Detroit had a big coverage team and similarly-sized events released proper Day 2 breakdowns in a timely fashion (see Grand Prix Pittsburgh). I'll keep an eye on this in future events and bookmark this weekend's coverage, but for now, we're just going to treat the Top 100s as Day 2s for lack of other data.

Here's that first graph again with the Eldrazi shares added.

Banned Deck Average Shares by Event Chart 3

And that's what DEFCON 1 looks like. Notice how the piddly 10.6% Day 2 share from Pro Tour Oath eventually ballooned into that towering triple bar at the end? That's the trajectory of a true Tier 0 deck, and it even exceeds in magnitude (although matching in trend and direction) the overall metagame picture from the Pro Tour until today. Grand Prix Bologna was the most diverse of the three tournaments, with "only" about 40% of the field on the deck. Melbourne was next at 43%. Of course, the event with the most coverage, Detroit, was the worst of them all with a 47% Eldrazi share. The Detroit Top 100 article also contained some of the most unintentionally hilarious, public-relations spins on the metagame of any Modern event I can remember.

"So that’s the Eldrazi. And it’s behaving like an eight-hundred-thousand­-pound gorilla, but remember, this is Modern. There are 53 decks that are not Eldrazi, and among them are more than 20 archetypes."

"The Eldrazi numbers are large, but not insurmountable. And even if you do join the big, bad evil, there are variety types of evil to choose from."

"A Day 1 like this could mean the Top 8 could look like anything really. In a few short rounds, we’ll see."

In fairness, the Eldrazi numbers were surmounted by a lone Abzan Company hero in Ralph Batesh. We'll ignore the fact that the Detroit Top 8 had six Eldrazi strategies alongside Abzan Company (and UR Storm, thanks to Modern hero #2 James Zornes) but hey, I guess they were technically surmounted in the end.

The average shares are actually a bit better because the 39%+ Eldrazi slice from Grand Prix weekend gets brought down by the 10.6% from Pro Tour Oath. Of course, that downgrades it from "abysmal" to "merely terrible." And hey, with Eldrazi averaging 35.3%, that's still 64.7% of the format on something else! #ThisIsFine

Banned Deck Average Shares by Event Chart 4

When I was drafting this article, I considered presenting these last two charts without the dramatic preview of the no-Eldrazi versions. That would have saved on word count and cut back on some degree of sensationalism, but to be totally honest, I'm comfortable with sensationalism in this case. Especially if it helps you relive the visceral shock I experience whenever I recheck these numbers. Eldrazi isn't quite twice as bad as the next most polarized metagame (Bloodbraid Jund). It's just 1.8 times as bad, and at least that much more imbalanced relative to all the other periods.

Endless oneI highlight this historical Day 2 context to give qualitative illustration to a qualitative phenomenon that was rampant throughout the weekend. Eldrazi felt like it was everywhere, and it seemed like it was the least diverse a Modern event, let alone a series of Modern events, had ever been. Those feelings hardly bear repeating, with the majority of feature matches showcasing Eldrazi mirrors or Eldrazi vs. Anti-Eldrazi matchups, and most of Twitter (myself proudly included) decrying the unhealthy format. Hopefully, by seeing that field alongside historically imbalanced fields, we can now understand our dissatisfaction as a function of those past metagames.

Eldrazi in the Top 8 Context

Of course, Day 2 standings aren't the only pedestal for format diversity. Wizards is keen to cite Top 8s as both evidence for and against a healthy Modern, whether in banlist updates or in Modern hype pieces rolled out before major events. There is certainly a popular appeal to Top 8s: they are much more visible than the dull, numbers-heavy Day 2 (or Top 100) breakdowns, and generally receive more coverage in the content following a tournament. Sample size aside, these are also the ostensibly best decks of the day! Who doesn't want to gush over a cool Top 8 finish or diverse Top 8 field, regardless of what happened in the lower tables? Following this, it's important to acknowledge the historic Top 8 picture and see where Eldrazi fits into it.

Instead of showing discrete Top 8 showings for single events, I'm jumping right to the average Top 8 showing across all events for each deck. With only a few possible values for the number of Top 8 appearances for each deck, the event-by-event breakdown just looks ugly. The event summary chart looks much better, although the disproportionate Eldrazi share is ugly in its own way.

Banned Deck Average Shares Top 8s Chart 1

From Pro Tour Oath until the end of Grand Prix Detroit, Eldrazi never sent fewer than three pilots to these major Top 8s. Detroit and the Pro Tour both had six. Bologna added five and Melbourne was at a mere three. Step it up, Australian Eldrazi! Adding the StarCityGames Louisville Open would have included a four-Eldrazi Top 8 in the dataset, but I'm excluding SCG events from the other categories so I'm also removing it here. Speaking of those other categories, not even URx Delver, a deck that dominated for a comparable period of time, was even close to the Eldrazi dominance we've witnessed since the Pro Tour and culminating in the Grand Prix Three. Only Deathrite comes close at less than half the Eldrazi Top 8 prevalence.

Of course, our statistically minded readers will note different event Ns for each period. Birthing PodEldrazi has seen play in four major events between the Grand Prix and Pro Tour scene. By contrast, URx Twin saw play in twice the number of significant events. This was also true of BGx Pod and BGx Deathrite Midrange strategies. With a wider time period, the averages for these decks get brought down by outlying events. Fun fact: 2013's Grand Prix Kansas City and Grand Prix Portland both saw zero BGx Midrange decks in their respective Top 8s (poor Birthing Pod decks with Deathrite don't count!). The simple averages also discount periods of time where a deck became uniquely broken. For instance, Bloodbraid Elf was much tamer before Return to Ravnica added Deathrite and Abrupt Decay to the mix. Same for Pod decks and Siege Rhino after Khans of Tarkir. 

To adjust for these differences, the chart below only looks at the four events where the deck had the most Top 8 appearances. This means we're comparing the worst of the Eldrazi with the worst of everything else. Because URx Treasure Cruise Delver only had three Grand Prix representatives in the dataset, I'm even adding the best-attended, highest-share Delver event from the period: StarCityGames' Modern Premier IQ in Ohio on January 4, 2015. That added three Delver decks to its share, which is over its baseline average of just two.

Banned Deck Average Shares Top 8s Chart 2

Even cherry-picking the four most lopsided events from each of the banned decks' history, we still don't encounter a deck matching Eldrazi. Deathrite BGx comes close with 3.75, a number brought up by 2013's Grand Prix Detroit which saw six Deathrite decks in the Top 8. I'm a Midwesterner myself, so you can't tempt me into making any Detroit cracks here or anywhere else in this article. I save my Midwestern jabs for the Green Bay Packers. Regional humor aside, this "Worst of the Worst" comparison only underscores just how lopsided the recent Top 8 results were in even the historical Modern context. Not even widely accepted offenders like Deathrite Shaman pushed their decks to this level of metagame control.

Eldrazi Everywhere Else

Outside of the Last Chance Qualifiers, there was virtually no segment of the Grand Prix metagame which wasn't writhing with Eldrazi. And even there, 50% of Detroit's Qualifiers were Eldrazi of some kind, even if Bologna and Melbourne almost looked normal. It wasn't like anything else even approached normal all weekend long. In case you want a final accounting of the carnage, here are all the highlights (lowlights?) of the weekend and just how much Eldrazi crushed/smashed/CRUNCHED each event.

First up, Melbourne with its pitiful 3/8 Eldrazi showing in the Top 8.

Bologna is next, with a much better Top 8 showing but a far more disappointing 39% Top 100 Day 2 share. Really need those Eldrazi to up their game!

We end with Detroit, the event that had the most coverage, the most players, and, surprise surprise, the most Eldrazi.

Whether in isolation or in the historical context of past Modern metagames, the Grand Prix Eldrazi weekend broke (quite literally) new ground in the format and how we view degenerate decks. Before this weekend, my benchmark of a broken deck was in the 15%-20% range, with major offenders hovering around 25%-30%. I hadn't believed Modern could host such a format-wrenching force as Eldrazi, but I've learned a lot about what a Tier 0 deck looks like in this format. Standard, Extended, Block, and other formats have had their share of Tier 0 nightmares before, but this has been the first one in Modern and has it been truly grotesque to watch it unfold.

Checking Predictions

I always try to be conservative when making predictions, taking the pre-trends as my guide and relying on Modern's natural ability to regulate imbalance (even if Wizards can't help themselves by tampering with this ability via bans). What can I say? I love Modern and I'm an optimist at heart. This led to a track record of prediction successes over 2015, but also to a major miss during Grand Prix Eldrazi weekend. Looks like the Eldrazi were simply too broken to be regulated and too powerful for my meager optimism: I'm 1.5 for 4 on predictions from last week. Oh well. I guess that's what happens when you bank against such a glaring and offensive Tier 0 monstrosity.

Here are those missed predictions, where they fell short, and how we can learn from them in the future.

  • Reality SmasherEldrazi averaging 25%-30% in Day 2s? NOPE!
    In the best of circumstances, a Tier 1 deck might reach 25%-30% in one event. I stand by that assessment, but Eldrazi is a Tier 0 deck, not a Tier 1 deck. The ceiling is much higher. Having never experienced a Tier 0 deck in Modern, I was uncertain how Eldrazi would impact and uproot the format and instead placed my projections in the humbler, Tier 1 arena. Never again! We now know what a Tier 0 deck is capable of, and this will serve as a longstanding benchmark for future format health.
  • Eldrazi underperforming from Day 2 to Top 32? NOPE!
    My metagame logic on this prediction was sound. Eldrazi decks would clobber the unprepared decks in a broader field on Day 1. Anti-Eldrazi decks that scraped by to Day 2 would then get their pass at the format monster, knocking many out of contention for Top 32. Ultimately, we would expect to see Eldrazi underrepresented in the Top 32 relative to their Day 2 share. Instead, they overrepresented in every event. What happened? I just underestimated how powerful Eldrazi was and how adaptable it was to hate. Even Living End, UW Control, and Abzan Company, probably the best Eldrazi slayers of the lot, still fell to Eldrazi in the top tables. This is another hallmark of a Tier 0 deck, and one I will remember: the Tier 0 deck still beats its so-called predators.
  • collected companyAbzan Company/Chord and Blue Moon excel? Not really...
    I'm kicking myself for switching "UW Control" to "Blue Moon" at the last-minute in the previous article. What can I say? I love Blood Moon, get inspired by Jason Chung, and saw some favorable Moon adaptions leading up to the weekend. UW Control won out in the end, with a few Top 32s and even a Top 16, but at least Abzan Company proved its salt. Living End was the other big non-Eldrazi winner of the weekend, but again, this was clearly the case of the anti-decks ultimately losing to their supposed targets. That's the mark of a Tier 0 deck, and although Abzan Company had its biggest weekend at Detroit, the overall picture is still a bleak Wastes of Eldrazi.
  • 2+ Eldrazi decks in each Top 8? Got 'em!
    We've talked about this one enough for today. Eldrazi were everywhere and beat everything en route to their big performance. Anti-decks don't beat their prey if the prey is really a Tier 0 super-predator in disguise.

There are probably a few other Grand Prix takeaways worth discussing, such as attendance (strong at Bologna and Melbourne; middling at Detroit), coverage (Gaby Spartz and LSV rocked it all weekend long; lack of Shadows Over Innistrad coverage until Sunday rocked it less), and matchup quality (Jund and Dark Confidant flips a highlight; Eldrazi mirrors and cut-to-backup-match Lantern Control rounds not so much). I'm happy to discuss all of this in the comments, but for now, I'm ready to exit the Grand Prix wreckage and start looking ahead to the future.

Bidding Farewell to the Eldrazi

28 days left, two Eldrazi articles to go, and a whole brave new Modern future awaiting us on April 4. Most of the time, I spend my Nexus articles guiding readers away from the popular (mis)interpretations of recent events, metagame statistics, and some new Modern hype. Most of the time, however, we don't have a flagrant Tier 0 tyrant squashing our format into the dust. Today is the rare day where all the anger, buzz, hype, rage, and internet opinion is mostly right: Eldrazi is just as bad as everyone thinks. That's been supported by the internal data from the Grand Prix events themselves, the historical context of previous broken metagames, and the despairing din from every Moderner across the world.

Eye of UginThankfully, something will change in April and Wizards will act to ban at least one piece from the deck. Forsythe indicated a more limited ban approach in his Detroit interview, ideally one leaving the deck intact in some form, but I still expect an example to be made of either Eye of Ugin or Eldrazi Temple. Other targets are up for grabs and up for testing. Until then, keep your heads up and remember that even though the community Gatewatch failed to beat the unbeatable Eldrazi over the weekend, the R&D Gatewatch are ready to deal the death-blow in less than a month.

Let me know in the comments if you have any questions about the data, feedback about the article, ideas about future (non-Eldrazi) pieces for the next few weeks, or general reactions to Modern. We're almost out of the twisted, tentacled woods, and I'll see you all soon.

50 thoughts on “Sifting Through the Grand Prix Eldrazi Rubble

  1. I feel that Eye is a better ban choice than Temple. Eye is to blame for the crazy Mimic starts. More importantly, the deck is more powerful with Temple and Vesuva than with Eye alone; if keeping it viable is the goal.

    1. I’m positive we’ll see one land banned, but which one is an interesting question. Eye definitely eliminates the broken start and removes the Tron inevitability engine as well. That said, I can see Wizards not being very interested in Temple/Vesuva, even if it is slower. I THINK Temple is the more likely ban because there’s less splash damage, but I also haven’t tested the ban options myself yet.

  2. Wow, that’s bleak. This is like Affinity in Standard all over again. Even the decks that “beat it” don’t really beat it; they just don’t get steamrolled. I was waiting until the results of GP weekend to decide whether I was pro-ban, but now it’s more than obvious – that deck is too strong for Modern. Heck, it’s doing great in Legacy, even with Force of Will and Wasteland to police it (though its consistency does go way up with Ancient Tomb and City of Traitors). I certainly won’t be putting my name in any major tournaments until WotC fixes this mess (LGS stuff is fine – it’s not as Eldrazi-saturated, and there’s not as much money on the line). Modern finally got hit with a bad one.

    PS: Shoutout to Ralph and kudos on his win – he frequents my LGS.

    1. Yeah, it’s a real bad one. It’s sad that Modern has had so many bans to date because now a lot of people are lumping this newest problem with the rest; “lol nice Twin ban” “lol more bans.” This ban will be 100% needed and would have happened in almost any configuration of Modern decks. It’s just that strong.

    2. FINALLY someone who remembers the Mirrodin block/Standard farce that was Vial Affinity! Banning a card here and there for Eldrazi variants is fine, I guess. It’s not like they’d be banning an entire deck! I don’t like the saturation levels, but it’s not nearly as bad as dealing with Vial Affinity. I’m more than a bit surprised that no one has come up with a solution for it, given the card pool available for Modern.

  3. Great article, I was actually wondering how you were going to fill space for the next month since there’s only so many “this sometimes beats Eldrazi” deck techs and “Yup, Eldrazi are still broken” articles you can write before it becomes soul-crushing. Here’s to a tentacle-free April!

    1. Yep, it’s this one today, my metagame update tomorrow, and then I’m personally done with Eldrazi until the banlist piece before April 4. Other authors will probably do a list checkin on the GP this week, especially David and Jordan who both played at Detroit, but otherwise we’re over the Eldrazi. Thanks to Forsythe for DEFCON 1!

  4. I must admit I am disappointed at R&D, so much so that more than a correction of their mistake I want an apology, not only was this situation the result of their very bad practice of not testing modern at all while still promoting it as the main format (except for standard of course) but it was also very badly managed from a pr stand point, having important, format defining conversations and statements happen on twitter instead of on the mothership is simply wrong and shortsighted.

    If I was in charge of the B&R announcement I would personally just ban all of the OGW eldrazis, nothing else. I think that would be best option possible as the pre-OGW B/x eldrazi decks occupied an interesting space in the meta game, somewhere above Jund/Abzan and under Tron variants in the “go bigger” scale of decks, being more powerful but much less interactive and more vulnerable to hate than their BG/x counterparts. However I expect an Eldrazi Temple ban in April and it can’t come sooner, I was personally exited about the new twin-less modern especially because I recently decided to buy into the format, I was just waiting for the meta game to adjust enough so that I could make an informed decision and this mess happened.

    Once again an excellent article Sheridan, keep up the good work and good luck to all of you brave enough to face the horror that modern has become.

    1. Cards are not designed for Modern. Maro specifically says this. They will not let non-rotating formats tie their hands. They design for Limited and Standard. Design will either be much more costly (coming out of our pockets) or underpowered; which, believe me, yields even greater complaints. Some cards are will be too weak, some too good. You need some misses to ever hit the target. Unless you would like to pay significantly more to hit the target every time.

      1. This. I think they should give Modern some thought when tuning the more powerful cards, but as Forsythe pointed out, if only 8% of the PT field found the Eldrazi deck, and some members of those teams even played other decks because they didn’t think Eldrazi was good enough, there is no way WotC can ever test well enough to avoid some fuck-ups.

        Fact is, when a set has no impact on Modern, people whine, and when it has a big impact, people whine anyway. Of course what’s happening now is exceptional, but in general, we can’t always complain. Either the new cards have low power level and are useless, or some get pushed and every once in a while something gets out of hand.

      2. Nonsense. If you look at key printings over the last several sets, they clearly print certain cards that are intended to add interesting threats or answers to eternal formats. Them saying they can’t test for Modern is just trying to plead innocence, they are perfectly capable of thinking about how a card will affect Modern before printing it, even if they don’t do extensive testing.

        All of their decisions are calculated. Including the PR spin. Don’t call me cynical until you have been present during review meetings for corporate decisions. People aren’t dumb, but they might play dumb in order to placate the masses.

        I’m not saying for sure they knew post-Oath Eldrazi decks would dominate the format. But any 10 year old could take a look at TKS, Smasher, Mimic etc and see how good that would be with Temple/Eye. It isn’t like they “forgot” about what they printed in the last Zendikar set, everything was done with the goal of being synergistic and a throwback to those mechanics.

        Even if you choose to buy their argument, how can you really understand their thinking? People are willing to spend thousands of dollars to play their card game (not many games cost that much to play) and all they want to say is “Sorry we can host some tournaments for that but we can’t figure out a way to make supporting it more profitable for us, even though we have sole control of the game”. I’d bet the average modern nexus reader could think of about 10 ways to make eternal formats more profitable for WOTC which would fund their silly “we can’t test” argument.

        This format is what they want it to be. No more no less.

      3. I understand what you’re saying, I really do, and I agree that standard’s health and level of interest is more important than modern’s, but to not test at all, to have no idea of what will happen to the second most supported format in the game, a pro tour format no less, I believe is wrong, and if they continue on this course, printing a new treasure cruise and a new thought-knot seer every block, then, eventually, modern will fail, it will become a rotating format and players will leave it, and that is something no one wants.

        1. The problem with wanting them to stop this before it starts is that there isn’t a clean way to do it. Consider the broken interaction:
          “colorless Eldrazi spells” on both lands.

          In order to combat this, they would have to either:

          A) Color the Eldrazi (Remove Devoid and C mana)
          B) Nerf the offending creatures
          C) Pre-ban one or both lands
          D) Errata the lands

          Let’s just throw out Option D right now. WotC doesn’t like to errata and I don’t blame them.

          Option C sounds nice, because it gives us the same solution only faster. The problem there is that there is such a backlash for the supposed ban-happy nature of WotC in regards to Modern that any sort of pre-ban would have been met with outrage at the lost opportunity to “let the format handle it.”

          Option B makes every format that can handle the Eldrazi less fun. When the card isn’t modern playable anymore because of said nerfs, the EV and power level for the set having dropped makes the playerbase upset (see BFZ, JOU, etc.). Wizards needs to sell packs, and if their set can’t generate interest for the Standard and Limited it will underperform and everyone loses.

          Option A would be a poor decision, in my opinion. Devoid is a fun mechanic. Devoid cards and C mana helped fill new areas of card design and didn’t have us repeat the RotE problem of “cheap Eldrazi you don’t really want and giant beatsticks everyone wants to ramp to.” I’d rather have better four- and five-drops than feel like I have to play a ramp strategy (or a See the Unwritten one). The deck diversity gained, the flavor gained, and the design space filled are all reasons to keep Devoid and C mana in, despite the unfortunate consequence of the Eye/Temple interaction.

          Ultimately, their best option was to try and let the format solve it. At the end of the day, a post-ban Modern metagame might still allow for some Reality Smashers, Thought-Knot Seers, and Eldrazi Displacers due to their unique designs and reasonable playability, which is a good thing. Modern needs playables.

      4. I wouldn’t say design for modern but consider what the cards may do in the format.

        We have all these eldrazi standard legal but not eye or temple. Quite likely it was tested internally at some point and quickly deemed too powerful for T2.
        But all those cards are in the Modern and, unlike Legacy, it doesn’t have tools like FoW or Wasteland to keep degenerate things mostly in check (although the eldrazi are shaking a few things there too).
        Between the powerful hosers of legacy and avarage low potential of standard, I think, of all constructed formats, modern has the least potential to regulate itself

        1. To be clear, I’m not saying they should just design anything and not consider Modern at all. As I said, some of the more powerful cards should at least be evaluated and theory-crafted into the metagame to gauge potential effects (I’m talking Treasure Cruise / TKS / Reality Smasher level cards), but given that internal WotC testing often misses things for STANDARD, which they do test, and has much smaller cardpool, I just don’t see how setting up some Modern testing changes much of anything.

    2. R&D definitely dropped the ball on testing, but I don’t think a huge OGW ban is the solution. Wizards wants some version of the deck viable, and the best way to do that is ban a land (and maaaybe something like Mimic) to just rein it in. I also don’t think they need to apologize or anything: in effect, the apology is the ban itself. That said, I do think Wizards needs to figure out an economical and sustainable way to test for Modern. The current situation is not going to work and will lead to more issues in their flagship non-Standard format. Hopefully the new Modern after the ban lives up to our expectations!

  5. Nice recap of the weekend events.
    I managed to go 7-2 and make it into day 2 @ Detroit GP. Somehow managed to dodge Eldrazi the entire day 1. Beat Affinity, Burn, Elves, Goyo Vengeance, Scapeshift, Living End.

    Then got murdered by x2 Eldrazi decks and lost to Infect to seal my fate for Day 2.

    Wasn’t too bummed since was very happy with my Grixis Build.

    Maybe Grixis can squeak back into Tier 3 status? Haha

    1. Maybe! I’m finishing up the numbers for the February metagame update, but I don’t see it happening while the Eldrazi are around. Once April happens, however, then they should be much more viable. Fingers crossed!

  6. “People were not prepared for eldrazi, tha’s why they won” they said.
    “I want to see what happens to these crying babies in two weeks when people have found a good hate card agains Eldrazi” they said.
    “There’s no need for an emergency ban” they said.
    “My deck wins agains Eldrazi in MOL” they said.
    “You guys don’t know what a truly broken metagame is” they said.
    “Thats just people giving up instead of trying to beat them like the pros do” they said.
    “Living End/UW Control/Lantern/8rack just rip Eldrazi to pieces” they said.
    “Eye of Ugin is fine” they say.

    All is dust.

    1. I feel vindicated. I noticed this from the very beginning and all my comments on this site serve as proof. I hope all those ban naysayers that were so aggressively putting people down for “not trying hard enough,” “giving up,” or here’s my favorite, “I‚Äôm going to level with you here: nothing needs to be banned. Change your shorts and let‚Äôs get down to business,” learn something from this.

      This should also teach the modern community, that apparently has a bad reputation for whining, to not cry wolf. The only deck since eldrazi that has seriously needed a ban was amulet bloom for doing unfair things, and also grishoalbrand if it wasn’t so inconsistent (shoal needs the ban, btw, it is the broken card, not necessarily goryo’s vengeance, though this is a completely other conversation).

      The main problem with most ban naysayers is that they think if they can find a deck or decks that beat a supposed “broken deck” then it is not ban worthy and everyone else should have just listened to them and played those decks to beat it. But the argument was never “ban this deck because I can’t beat it.” It was always “ban this deck because it is doing unfair things.” And the counter to the latter is not “but I can find a deck that beats it,” that’s the counter to the former.

      1. I agree that we need to be careful with crying wolf in the future. When we always say “ban this” and “ban that”, it becomes much harder to identify the real wolves in our format. That said, I think it is still important to respect the data collection process when calling a deck broken. The PT was not enough datapoints to realize the deck was Tier 0. Even the qualitative datapoints weren’t 100% conclusive. It wasn’t until the following weeks where we learned, and there should have been zero doubt after Louisville.

        1. Absolutely. If anything, the eyebrows that were raised should make us even more meticulous about our data and methodology, to ensure that we are very accurate in describing such pointed subjective observations as we had right after the pro tour.

          That being said, I think, as you mention in many of your articles, that sound qualitative theory is also important to give context and guide the process. My harshest criticisms were not so much that we should just immediately ban cards (although, certainly many people’s yearly gp was just ruined and thrashed by eldrazi, which are real consequences to the measured approach. It’s easy for us statisticians and academics to sit back in our ivory tower and muse about the “correct” way to do things when real people are actually going to deal with this), I do think it was very wrong to downplay the eldrazi brokenness in any way. As I said earlier, if you soundly analyzed the theory, instead of anecdotally pointing to some decks that MAY or even did beat eldrazi in one tournament or one daily, then the eldrazi brokenness was beyond clear. This is not really directed to you, Sheridan, as you have been more leveled and willing to accept the qualitative once you started to see some early trends in the data. This is more generally to commenters and posters on this and many other websites (Melissa DeTorra? Really? How foolish did she, and others, look still downplaying the eldrazi so close to this past weekend).

          I guess what it comes down to is that the people who consumed the most about eldrazi (pros, commenters and posters who actually played the deck or tested against it a lot, who watched every single eldrazi video on every magic website), were being told by those who barely saw or played the deck (or count “testing against it” as queuing up a league to see if I play them lol) that we were just over exaggerating, needed to stop being lazy deckbuilders, or were just whining.

    2. Although I do think some of the Eldrazi defenders were totally off-base, I do understand the importance of respecting the process. The Pro Tour alone was not enough to call a deck busted. We needed more data. Of course, once we had the data, there was no way to deny it and many still did. We also had that data well before the GP (Louisville really sealed it for me), and many buried their heads even after that. All is now dust and we’ve all learned to see this coming in the future. Hopefully it never happens again though!

  7. None of these figures surprise me at all (I watched most of GP Detroit), but it’s good to have them all in one place for people to see. I’m glad that you’ll be skimping on the Eldrazi articles in the future however, since it’s pretty much a dead horse at this point. I do have suggestions for future articles, so here goes a few off the top of my head:

    – Eldrazi ban tests (I promise, this is the only Eldrazi related one): trying to figure out which card(s) should go, and what lists might look like post-ban. I expect the deck to become slower (assuming they ban a land, which seems necessary), so I don’t think just replacing 4 lands will cut it; the lists will have to adapt.

    – More unban testing: I loved the SfM unban articles, and would love to see some follow-up. I’m not expecting any unbans in the upcoming update, since WotC will probably want to see the format sans-Twin and post-Eldrazi before releasing something, but it’s still interesting to think about. In particular, I’d like more SfM testing, as well as other cards likely to get parole, like Sword of the Meek, Ancestral Visions, Jace TMS, and Preordain. (Yes, I know some of these are very optimistic, but a man can dream).

    – Legacy Nexus? This a stretch, but this site has the best Modern content on the web (imo) and I’d love to see Legacy get a similar treatment.

    I’ll probably think of more later but that’s it for now. Looking forward to what you’ve got in store for us until April!

    1. Forgot an obvious one:

      – New card evaluation + brews & updates to existing decks utilising the new cards from Shadows. A few of the cards already spoiled seem to have potential, and there’s still like 200 to go, so I’m hopeful we can get 10-20 Modern playables in this set.

    2. Yeah, best modern website by far and it’s not even close. Unfortunately, as much as I love Legacy, I’m pretty sure that Sheridan and the rest of the gang barely get any sleep as it is ūüôā

      But the unban testing on the other hand sounds great. A lot of websites talk about that, but only MN can get us the sweet hard data to back their opinions!

    3. Interesting ideas! While I definitely won’t be involved in Legacy Nexus due to time issues and personal interests, I can promise we’ll see more unban testing in the future. The Eldrazi ban article will also include the Eldrazi-related testing. Shadows cards will also definitely get some love next week!

      1. Yeah, I figured Legacy Nexus was wishful thinking, but I had to try. Still, 3/4 sounds great, and I’m really looking forward to it.

        I’ve been thinking about SfM lately and although I think it might be safe/fun in a Esper Stoneblade type deck, I’m wondering if I wouldn’t find space in my Affinity deck for it, making it effectively Cranial Plating 5-8 + a body + the option to run 1 Batterskull. Considering the deck can fairly easily drop the Mystic on turn 1, turn 2 Batterskull might be a tad too good. Testing will tell!

        1. Just to clarify about Legacy Nexus, I didn’t mean running a whole other site, I meant just hi-jacking this one from time to time for a peek at Legacy, in times like these or Modern off-seasons when there just isn’t much Modern to discuss. Although, if you’re not already intimately familiar with Legacy, I can see how that would be very time consuming anyway.

  8. I think they should just admit they got to aggressiv with the costs and ban TKS and Smasher.
    Processor Eldrazi was a fine deck before those cards and I think it would be again if those two cards are gone.
    But in the end wizards will probably go the “sales” way instead of the “metagame” way to sell more packs…

    1. We can’t fault Wizards too much for trying to make money from their products. How else are they supposed to bring us the game we love? That said, more testing could have avoided this, and we know they don’t test because they don’t view it as an efficient allocation of resources. As for the bans, I’m sure they ban one land and maaaaybe one Eldrazi. Probably Mimic, if I had to guess, but I also haven’t done any testing on this question yet.

  9. I honestly believe this was intended.
    It is amazing how much the Modern format resembles the Zendikar storyline.

    I don’t think think that banning Splinter did anything more than sent very talented players looking for the next thing and ultimately the answer was entirely too easy.

    As broken as Eldrazi is right now, what if instead of banning anything, they unbanned everything…….

    1. Yes, because being overrun by Skullclamp in Affinity and Elves will be WAY more fun. While there are certainly cards on the ban list which could come off, many of them should not, and will not, ever.

    2. I think it’s tempting to blame Wizards for this issue more than they deserve. I sincerely doubt it was intended, even if it makes for a snazzy story. It’s much more likely this was just the function of typical corporate and management oversights in a process (i.e. bad testing and bad communication). As for unbanning everything, there’s no way Wizards will do this. It doesn’t fit any of their past format management, and doesn’t fit the power level of the format they are creating.

  10. I feel that minimally, they should ban eldrazi mimic or to a very large extent, eye of ugin. It’s still a fun deck to play against overall.

    or design a hate card for eldrazi decks like how stony silence is killing em’ robots.

  11. Okay, I will dare and leave a comment that, I suspect, is bound to net me a solid Portion of good, old Internet hate: Just UNBAN a lot of things, seriously. Not to say that Eldrazi isn’t busted, but I think Modern could be more fun with a higher power Level in General! Just give us Ancestral Visions, Jace, Twin, Pod, Deathrite Shaman, Bloodbraid Elf, heck, even Ponder! Then give it another spin and see where we’re at by autumn, THEN react. This may or may not be a clusterfuck of a Format for a short period of time, but i think it is guaranteed to improve Format health in the long run!

      1. Clearly, Legacy without Duals is what i was going for here. That’s why i was talking about Force of Will, Blazing Shoal, Brainstorm, Daze and Lion’s Eye Diamond. I highly appreciate the amount of thought you put into your well articulated response.

    1. No hate, normally these kinds of posts don’t incite hate, just eye rolls because of how broken and I fun of a metagame we would have.

      Honestly, we just don’t have the hate or counters in modern to legitimately police the decks that would arise from a total unban. It would just be race city and no interaction (because, again, there isn’t any good interaction). Why don’t you just try legacy? Once you try legacy, you will see what a fast metagame really is and realize that modern wouldn’t be able to handle a total unban. I think you would also appreciate modern’s uniqueness over the older and faster formats.

      As an aside, I use “faster” as a goldfish term. With all the free interaction in legacy, many games do go longer, but I think we can all agree that legacy is a faster and more consistent goldfish format than modern.

    2. then again, the cards you list are definitely on the fairer side of things and it looks like you don’t want to just unban everything. This is a much tamer approach and I think a lot of us here would agree with at least some of those unbans. I still don’t think the cards you listed would do much against eldrazi, however, so that would still need to be addressed.

      I think banning eldrazi and unbanning x, y, and z are two unrelated questions as I still think an eldrazi ban would be still needed if you unbanned the cards you mention.

  12. “Most of the time, however, we don‚Äôt have a flagrant Tier 0 tyrant squashing our format into the dust.”

    See, this is why I love this site. Most other writers would have made a “crumble to dust” or “reality smasher” pun, but you guys spare us the eye roll

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