We've been informed that there will be no changes to Modern until after Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan in February. But, I suspect there will be some changes after the Pro Tour. Modern is starting to receive a lot of attention from more pro players and will continue to do so with more Pro Tours and Grand Prix. This past weekend we saw a huge uptick in various Tron strategies.
Eight of the Top 32 decks sported four copies of each Urza's land, with three in the Top 8!
With Tron becoming more popular, we're going to see a rise in both Blood Moon and Spreading Seas. If you are a blue deck, you need to be playing Spreading Seas to compete with Tron…that is, unless you are playing Blood Moon in your deck as well.
The Top 32 sported a few other decks as well, with six copies of Jeskai Control, two copies of Lantern Control, and two copies of TitanShift. I think that Jeskai Control and Lantern are both underdogs to Tron. TitanShift is very well positioned against Tron, hence why it took the tournament down.
The deck with the most copies in the Top 32 was Jeskai, but I suspect that number will drop dramatically as Lantern Control and Tron rise. Jeskai is so popular because in a lot of ways Jeskai is the new Jund. It is the best midrange deck of the format and people tend to gravitate towards whatever that deck is.
Even though Lantern is a bit of an underdog to Tron, I don't think it is by much. The Lantern Control deck has a keen ability to strip answers from the opponent's hand and shut off opportunities to draw more. I think that Lantern is going to be a fairly popular deck at the Pro Tour and it wouldn't surprise me if it was the deck of the tournament.
I know that a few players who were planning on playing Lantern Control at the Grand Prix had their flight canceled, so who knows what would have happened if that didn't occur. Let's talk about the actual deck that won the tournament:
Both players who made the Top 8 with TitanShift made the finals of Grand Prix Oklahoma City. TitanShift has a good matchup against both Lantern Control and Tron, so it makes sense that it won the event. I suspect TitanShift will increase in popularity as a result of the metagame changes.
If we take a look at the Magic Online PTQ that also took place this past weekend, we see that Blue Moon took it down, defeating Team MGG member Andrew Jessup in the finals. Andrew was playing Grixis Death's Shadow, a deck that I suspect will not perform well against a field of Tron decks.
In a surprise to no one, the Magic Online metagame was ahead of the curve and Blood Moon came out to foil the popular Tron menace. Blue Moon always confuses me, because no matter how good I think it is, it doesn't impress me when I play it. I will probably give it another shot in the future, though, as the deck is super-sweet and it continues to do well. One of the reasons it's good right now is its good Tron matchup, assuming you draw Blood Moon.
Tron is such an oppressive strategy because it requires very specific answers. It requires you to go way under it and play decks like Affinity or Burn to kill them before they can get the ball rolling, or else go way over it with something like Dredge, Storm, or TitanShift where you are trying to kill them through comboing. Tron absolutely demolishes midrange strategies and that makes me very sad. I'm certainly not saying that midrange decks need to be the best, but to have them not be viable makes for a format that I am not really interested in.
My hope is that, after the Pro Tour, either some cards get unbanned or some cards get banned. Both of these things happening would excite me even further. If Tron continues to grow in popularity, I think that it will have a continued negative impact on the format. I think an increase in Tron causes a fair amount of decks to be pushed out of the format, but it is Modern after all and I could certainly be wrong.
Standard has been a bit stale as of late, but I do think there are some things to talk about. If you haven't gotten the memo and aren't playing Attune with Aether, then you might need your head checked. I've been in the camp of Temur Energy being the default best deck for a while, and it's possible it still is. But there are two "new" decks that I am considering to play if I had a Standard tournament coming up, perhaps a Pro Tour Qualifier at Grand Prix New Jersey.
The first is a deck that I lost to in the SCG Standard Classic in Roanoke, based off Gerard Fabiano's deck that made the Top 8 of the Invitational.
This deck is quite impressive and I can't seem to go less than 4-1 in any League that I play with it. Longtusk Cub has become good in a lot of aggro matchups, but bad in Energy mirrors. It sometimes can be good on the play in the mirror, but it's pretty rare when that happens. What I like about this deck is that it cuts Longtusk Cub and opts for a more controlled stance on Energy. If I had a Standard tournament to play, I would highly consider playing a well-tuned list similar to this with proper sideboarding plans for all matchups.
The other Attune with Aether deck that I am considering is actually Sultai, which isn't very new. Gerry Thompson had great success with this deck at the World Magic Cup and he claims to have a very good Temur Energy matchup when you remain cognizant of your opponent's Glorybringers.
- 4 Walking Ballista
- 2 Bristling Hydra
- 4 Glint-Sleeve Siphoner
- 3 Hostage Taker
- 4 Longtusk Cub
- 4 Rogue Refiner
- 4 Winding Constrictor
While I'm not in love with Walking Ballista, I do understand its power in the deck. I think there is an option of cutting Winding Constrictor and Walking Ballista for Servant of the Conduit and The Scarab God and going a bit bigger, but you definitely lose out of some percentage of "nut draws." I think this is also a deck I would heavily consider for a future Standard tournament. But if all else fails, there is still old faithful, Temur Energy.
Standard is certainly in a stale place and I am looking forward to Rivals of Ixalan, but I will say that gameplay of Standard is super-fun! Still, I'm sure a lot of people are sick of Attune with Aether by now. What are your thoughts on Standard? Would you ban Attune with Aether or Aether Hub if you had the power?