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Should I Be Playing Modern?


Maybe your store runs both Modern and Standard Friday Night Magic. Maybe you find yourself wandering away from the Standard tables to watch a match or two of Modern occasionally. Maybe you catch sight of a card like Goblin Guide that makes you nostalgic for Standard iterations past, or maybe you watch with fascination as Arcbound Ravager handily demolishes a match. You look at your Disallows and your Heart of Kirans and think, "Is there more than this?"

At my store, we host Modern events five days a week to support the format's local fanbase. Thus, lots of people will come to me and ask about Modern. They'll ask what decks they can build, what decks they can beat, and what they would play against. There are many people who find themselves on the brink of sleeving up some Wooded Foothills and taking the plunge, but have not found the answer to the question, "Should I be playing Modern?" Read on, and I will help you answer that question.

A Format of Variety

When it comes to Standard, one of the biggest complaints I hear about the format is that there are "only two decks." While not technically accurate, I understand the sentiment. When it feels like one has to play one of two decks in order to perform well, and especially if you don't particularly like those two decks, the format can seem restrictive and miserable to play. We saw that in a big way recently with the quick rise and fall of Frontier. People wanted to play Standard . . .  just some OTHER Standard. If you are looking for format variety, I would love to introduce you to my dear friend Modern. Check out a few cards that have won Modern Grand Prix:

Laboratory Maniac
Lantern of Insight
Lava Spike

In Modern, there are some "tier one" decks, but there is always space in the format for any deck with a plan to come out on top.

Sick Plays

If you have ever wanted to do something cool in Standard, but all of the pieces needed were unwieldy, inefficient, and seemingly meant as Commander cards. Modern is the format where you can play the unreasonable versions of each of these cards. Shock, meet Lightning Bolt. Harness the Storm, meet Pyromancer Ascension. Jace, Unraveler of Secrets, meet Jace, the Mind-well, there are power-level restrictions in Modern too. My point is, because there are now so many cards in Modern, there are infinitely more opportunities for cards to interact with other cards. One good example of this is Saheeli Rai and Felidar Guardian. In Modern, initially unexciting mythic rares find themselves synergizing and comboing with random uncommons all the time!

The Nostalgia Factor

This one only really applies if you have been playing for around two or more years, or are extremely interested in Vintage Magic coverage, but Modern allows you to play the cards of Standards past. Snapcaster Mage, it turns out, is just as good in Modern as it was when the only thing it was flashing back was Mana Leak. Generally, the cards that you used to love playing with in Standard that have since rotated out are still playable in Modern. I think that this is one of the reasons that you will see players stick to Standard for a while then move into Modern: it's more about the cards than a competitive level-up.

Play Opportunities

Some people do see Modern as a tougher or more competitive format than Standard. While any format can be competitive if you offer enough prizes, it is true that you can play more events if you play Modern, just by doubling the number of formats you can play. Some PPTQ seasons have Modern as their sole constructed format, for example. If you are just looking to play more Magic, Modern is a great way to do that. One benefit of using a Modern deck to play more Magic is, since decks don’t generally rotate from the format, you will get to learn your deck inside and out as you play.

The Cost Loxodon in the Room

Serum Visions
Inquisition of Kozilek

Modern is intimidating for several reasons. Generally, the players have more experience (though it's worth noting here that experience does not necessarily directly correlate to skill), there are more cards to learn, and the average deck costs four times more than a regular Standard deck. The cost of Modern is the biggest thing that keeps more players out of it, and even that has some silver linings. First, Wizards of the Coast is working to make Modern cards more available. Modern Masters 2017 and Conspiracy: Take the Crown both saw reprintings of Modern staples Serum Visions and Inquisition of Kozilek. Modern Masters 2017 on its own contains a high concentration of some of the most in-demand Modern cards at common and uncommon. Second, despite these reprintings, Modern cards people already own are going to retain value, because of the way that Modern cards tend to increase in price over time rather than decrease, so any investment that a player makes into Modern is "safe," especially considering the value that comes from playing a new format with those cards. Third, you might already own the cards! If you played while Khans of Tarkir was in Standard, for example, you probably owned fetchlands at some point. Playing Commander can also put some Modern staples into your collection. Heck, if you play Mono-Black Eldrazi in Standard, there's a good chance that you can get away with adding Eldrazi Temples and joining a Modern event. While the starting cost may be high for Modern, staying in Modern is not much of an additional cost short of switching decks entirely.

Play Modern!

I am not trying to tell you that you should be getting out of Standard, or Commander, or Limited, or your current format of choice. However, Modern is a rewarding and overall very fun format that offers a unique change of pace that waiting for new sets to be added to Standard does not. Besides, once Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger leaves Standard you are probably picking up Modern to play it again anyway, right?

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