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The next few months are Modern time for me. Not only are there a ton of Modern Grand Prix and a Modern Pro Tour coming up, but I'm basically locked as the Modern player for all the Team Constructed events I play.
If you didn't already know my opinion on the format, this is a really good thing.
I've spent the last couple of weeks catching up on what I missed while preparing for Standard and Draft at Pro Tour Ixalan. The format has changed a lot in the last month or two, but I'm rapidly catching up. These are the high-level concepts I have locked onto in my testing.
No One Knows What They Are Doing
Modern was such an easy place to be for a long time. Once Death's Shadow showed up, there were definite rules: "don't lose to Death's Shadow," followed by "don't lose to Chalice of the Void or Thought-Knot Seer," then "don't lose to Primeval Titan," and then "don't lose to Goblin Electromancer."
Somewhere along the line, everyone just lost the thread of the format. Maybe it was that all the Eldrazi Tron players drew one too many "Wastes, Ghost Quarter, Urza's Mine" hands or their opponents stopped just dying to Chalice of the Void for one. Maybe Storm players had to play against one too many opponents with Relic of Progenitus and Pyroclasm. Maybe Humans just was too easy to figure out how to beat compared to the last couple of big decks. I really have no idea. People now have this idea that everything and anything is reasonable.
I'm here to ruin your fun. It's not.
Death's Shadow is still stupidly powerful, and most of these cool decks die horribly to it. They probably also die horribly to one or two of Affinity, Storm, Eldrazi Tron, or Humans, which are the other big decks.
The idea that Modern is this wide-open wonderland is largely a self-propagating myth. People play their cool decks against other cool decks and stuff happens and someone wins. Once natural selection sets in after a few rounds, the format is not that forgiving. You have to play against decks that are brutal in their execution and good at stopping you from doing your thing. Notice that the #SCGINVI last weekend was a lot of the same things we had previously seen and not a big metagame evolution.
These new, cool decks aren't terrible, but they lack the refined edge they need to really compete. I think a lot of them are very close, which likely keeps people on them, but you had better be sure your deck has game against the best few strategies over larger sample sizes and varied gameplans.
Ixalan Has Made a Difference
It also turns out you can pay two mana to do nothing in Modern, despite my initial protests. Your deck just has to be really dedicated to doing nothing. Search for Azcanta isn't a broad-reach all-star the way it almost seemed to be in Standard, but it does something well enough to matter.
The other Ixalan addition is Field of Ruin. Outside of Blue Control, I've seen this pop up in G/B decks similar that drop their third color and load up on Tireless Tracker and Dark Confidant to bury people in cards. I don't know how good the card actually is, but the cost is much lower than Ghost Quarter and Tectonic Edge, as the land eventually converts into a colored mana source. Too many Tectonic Edges keeping you off of Cryptic Command was an issue in previous blue decks that U/W Control never runs into.
I have doubts there is that much more hidden in the set, but five or so cards is a lot for a set based on Dinosaurs versus Pirates.
Meddling Mage Is Really Annoying
More than anything else in the new Humans deck, Meddling Mage just existing in the format is probably the highest-impact change to Modern. Previously, Meddling Mage was a sometimes sideboard card in various U/W Snapcaster Mage decks, which were also honestly only sometimes decks. Now, if you plan on getting anywhere outside the midrange and aggro side of the spectrum, you must have a way to not lose to Meddling Mage.