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Modern Shakeups


When this article premieres the ban list will have been out already. Since this is the case, I'm going to write about the potential unban rumors and the decklists that could spawn from them. It should be kept clear that I'll be discussing what rumors have been popping around and not what I personally think will happen or what has happened.

Let's start with the one of the more absurd rumors I heard in Dark Depths getting unbanned. Dark Depths, in many ways, can break the turn three rule of Modern but since Tron still exists the rule is closer to pick and choose what can and can't win on turn three. An incredibly powerful land with lots of combo implications. The easiest combo would be in a turbo bg shell similar to its Legacy counterpart.

Dark Depths
The goal of this deck is pretty clear and that's to create a Marit Lage as fast as possible and protect it. Not of this World can protect our Marit Lage from Path to Exile or even something like Reflector Mage to let us crash on through. I've included Pithing Needle as a way to beat Ghost Quarter or Field of Ruin in the main deck. Besides that, the deck is just filled with more copies of the same cards and ways to protect the combo and protect yourself from dying.

It also opens up room for Knight of the Reliquary combo decks. It's a lot easier to play a normalized Abzan midrange deck where you're grinding out value anyways and have the addition of the combo to have some fast swings. However this style of speed and consistency is where I'd want to be.

I can't imagine a world where this is unbanned but might as well tackle it if the rumor is true.

Next on the list is Stoneforge Mystic. Stoneforge Mystic is quite near and dear to my heart and I'd be excited to try it out in a variety of decks. It would quickly become ubiquitous across fair decks and dominate with Batterskull. While Kolaghan's Command might have something to say about it that doesn't feel like it's quite enough to truly contain the menace.

Stoneforge Mystic
Both decks here will be built super similarly due to their game plans. While deck-building constraints in Legacy lead us to building our Stoneforge decks in certain ways, Modern is a different animal. Having multiple Batterskulls will play well against discard and Shatter type effects and gives us access to the best equipment in most situations. Post board I've linked in some swords for certain matchups but I wouldn't be opposed to finding room main deck depending on how the meta shakes out. If you're looking to beat up on Stoneforge Mystic decks your best bet is to play a ton of removal. Fatal Push is likely one of the best removal spells in a Stoneforge world where killing the germ or Stoneforge Mystic is quite relevant.

Stoneforge also gives play to our control deck. Being able to add Stoneforge and Batterskull post board (or even main deck) can do wonders for certain matchups. Having Batterskull against Burn, Zoo, or even Dredge can help give the time needed in those matchups if not flat out win them. The creature plan post board has often been a winning recipe for control decks and Stoneforge is a powerful addition.

One of the more reasonable suggestions to add to the Modern line up is Bloodbraid Elf. Green decks have been sorely needing a card advantage vehicle to keep pace with some of the other decks. Whether it's trying to catch up or solidifying a position, Bloodbraid Elf can help swing some games. It's also great for attacking planeswalkers with and even might give Jund the needed boost to be able to tackle Tron decks.

Bloodbraid Elf also raises the stock of Liliana, the Last Hope since re-buying on our hasty friend is going to a powerful play indeed. I've included extra copies post board for us to truly be the lord of grindy decks. Another option for Bloodbraid Elf is the Traverse Shadow decks. While there isn't a ton of room and four mana is a lot in this deck it could be a great tool.

Bloodbraid Elf being almost guaranteed two spells is a nice tool for decks to have access to and if unbanned I'd expect Bloodbraid to make its name known.

Last but not least is the card everyone has their mind on in Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Within the last few days the card has spiked massively online and in paper due to a false Reddit post and speculation from WOTC articles and Jace being the flagship card for a new Masters set. I expect if Jace, the Mind Sculptor to not over perform on day one while players are figuring out what they want to do, and this will lead folks to pretend Jace isn't great. Don't buy into that hype. Jace will slowly develop a stranglehold on the format as it creeps into many decks. For control decks, it's the best thing to be doing. It's a fantastic win condition, a way to refuel, and a way to get back into a tough game. Sure, there are games you will be dead before Jace, the Mind Sculptor is relevant, but no one is building their Jace decks in a way that is just going to die early. I'd say it's more likely that games DON'T end early and drag on for quite some time. Since this is the case, we're more likely to see a card like Jace, the Mind Sculptor dominate. We could even see it in the Death's Shadow variants as well.

But the likeliest place is in the control decks of the format, wu and Jeskai.

The main issue with these control decks is their general inability to keep pace with some of the powerful cards in the format. Trying to go toe to toe with Thought-Knot Seer with Lightning Bolt is a losing proposition. Jace allows the control decks to find answers easier and claw their way into games they were behind, and when at parity can help shut out the opponent from getting back in. Even decks like Tron can be a little easier to manage when you control their draw steps. We can even see Jace as a sideboard card for decks like Storm or Lantern to sidestep hate or power through it. Easier to find answers when you can sift through your library every turn and Jace on its own might lean Storm players back toward fetchlands to make full use out of its ability.

One of the scariest proposition for some decks in the format is Blood Moon and Jace. This might herald the return of the Blue Moon decks as it adds a great win condition. Heck, Through the Breach Emrakul decks would love the four-mana Brainstorm every turn to find the combo. The issue with Jace is it makes all the Blue decks multitudes better and leaves other decks aching for a way to answer it.

Regardless, we will know today what the deal is and where Modern is going. Until the next ban list, please leave Jace off and put Tron and Blood Moon on.

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