Insider: Modern After the B&R Announcement

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Hey, guys.

There was a huge change to Modern last week—Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Bloodbraid Elf are unbanned. Players may have speculated on one of these being unbanned but probably not both. I don't agree with WotC's decision to unban these cards personally, as the format is very healthy right now. Nevertheless, this is going to shake up the format by a lot.

A week after the unbanning, Jace, the Mind Sculptor is now 80 tickets each. Many people have already identified the JTMS and BBE synergies in Modern and thus those cards have increased in price. Therefore I think I'm a little bit late to the party, so I'm going to talk about something else.

The thing about MTGO is that you need to be online at the same time a B&R announcement happens in order to take advantage of it. The exception is if you bought some staples when they were cheap—for example Tarmogoyfs were below 30 tickets before the unbanning of JTMS and BBE. I talked about buying Goyf last October. If you invested in Goyfs, you should have been able to sell them for at least 15 tickets of profit each!

The last two weeks we talked a little bit about Liliana of the Veil. If you didn't sell them last week, I think you should keep them for some time longer as the price will probably continue rising. If you sold them, too bad—we can only blame luck as this B&R was definitely unpredictable.

If you didn't catch the announcement, there was basically nothing you could do because by the time you went online, everything became very expensive. So what we can do is think out of the box—find something that people haven't notice. Now, as usual there are two types of card that we can consider:

  1. Cards that have good synergy with the new card
  2. Cards that can beat the new card

With the unban of JTMS, I think some players will start to brew up planeswalker control decks. Thundermaw Hellkite is definitely one of the best cards that can beat JTMS and other planeswalkers after they resolve but I've thought of something different:

Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker is a bit slow but it's a card that Jace can't deal with, and most cards in a blue-based control deck can't deal with once it resolves. Thundermaw Hellkite does hit harder but it can still be dealt with by bouncing the Dragon and countering it afterwards. So I strongly recommend buying some playsets of Sarkhan as investment.

Certain players figured out that Gaddock Teeg and Spell Queller are good creatures that can beat JTMS players. It's true, but JTMS decks will usually have a good mix of Lightning Bolt, Exterminate! and Fatal Push to deal with small creatures.

Thus, I think the best strategy to beat JTMS is to play BW Tokens. I think the deck is not only good against JTMS decks but it's also good against BBE decks. Despite generating plenty of card advantage, these midrange/control decks still have hard time dealing with creature tokens with their spot removal suite.

Most cards in BW Tokens are cheap right now, especially Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and Auriok Champion. In my opinion Auriok Champion is one of the most underrated cards after the recent B&R announcement. It has protection against most removal in the format plus it can block BBE and other black creatures. The only card that BW Tokens should be afraid of is Tarmogoyf, but with the printing of Fatal Push, that is no longer a big issue. Therefore I recommend investing in the cards in screenshots above: Auriok Champion, Bitterblossom, Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, Sorin, Solemn Visitor and Lingering Souls.

BBE is not only good in Jund midrange decks but also in aggro decks. A Naya Zoo deck packed with Wild Nacatl, Tarmogoyf, and Knight of the Reliquary is running around on MTGO. If you do some analysis on the decks that play BBE or/and JTMS, they have one similarity: they cut down their removal count to pack four copies of either BBE or JTMS in the deck. Thus, aggro decks that are able to beat their opponent before they slam the four-mana spells should become better.

Another thing about decks that play the unbanned cards: many of their spells are sorcery-speed, including BBE and its cascade trigger, and JTMS. This means if we can find decks that can win easily when opponents cannot react at instant speed, there is a potential that components of those decks will increase in price in the near future. In my opinion, there are few decks that fall in this category: Infect, Death's Shadow, and Gift's Storm.

I know I've talked about Infect many times but look at Inkmoth's price right now—its only 7.5 tickets! Both Jace and BBE can't do anything on Inkmoth unless BBE cascades into something that can destroy lands. Furthermore, with the reduction of spot removal in Jund and relying fully on the cascade trigger of BBE to gain advantage, Infect players can have good win rate with playsets of Vines of Vastwood and Blossoming Defense. I think this deck is worth investing in. Thus I recommend buying playsets of Blinkmoth Nexus and Mutagenic Growth.

When the Death's Shadow deck first appeared in paper tournaments, it had a transformational sideboard which allowed the deck to play a heavily disruptive strategy. Basically the deck would destroy the lands and hands of their opponent by playing a combination of Thoughtseize, Fulminator Mage, Kolaghan's Command, and Surgical Extraction. While BBE is still affordable, if you guys want to have a slightly budget-friendly Modern deck that can compete with the JTMS and BBE hype, you can try going back to the old Death's Shadow build.

Alright guys, that's all for this week. Thanks for reading and I'll see you again next week.

Adrian, signing out.

One thought on “Insider: Modern After the B&R Announcement

  1. I’m very skeptical of investing into BW Token staples. The deck would need to have a substantial advantage against other midrange decks featuring BBE and JTMS, and it’s unclear to me that that would be the case. I guess the deck has no where to go but up since it’s at rock bottom now, but how much of a metagame share would it need to occupy to see substantial gains? Of the list Gideon is interesting because it has proven itself in Legacy and seems poised to thrive in a more grindy Modern format, at least out of the sideboard.

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