With Pioneer being all the rage and even a Players Tour format this weekend, it’s only natural that Modern is getting less attention than it used to. However, the format is still thriving in local game stores around the world, at the Grand Prix level and not to forget Magic Online where I spend most of my time playing Magic. In this article I will analyze the effects of the bannings of Oko, Thief of Crowns, Mox Opal and Mycosynth Lattice.Oko, Thief of Crowns ended up turning multiple formats on their head, and its time to go in Modern was way overdue. Banning only that card was by far the most realistic thing to happen on that day, but I really like Wizards‘ new way of thinking a bit ahead. They predicted that the reaction would be just another color combination of Urza or the return of previously borderline overpowered Mox Opal-powered strategies. To level the playing field a little bit, Mycosynth Lattice got the axe to make Tron variants slightly less powerful. I hate that bannings are needed, but I think Wizards once again got it right to fix a format.
Metagame 2020 Theory
I want to talk a little bit about the metagame tendencies in Magic 2020. Not the actual decks, but why metagame shares end up like they do and sometimes become “unhealthy”. We live in a day and age where information travels very fast and the need to be a creative deckbuilder is diminished because your time is better spent copying others’ lists and getting in actual practice rather than theorycrafting about the last couple of sideboard slots. My estimate is that 90% of all competitive players use this method, and don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind it. I’m just stating it as a reason why certain decks end up on a way higher metagame share that they would have 5-6 years ago. Players watch the same streams, subscribe to the same Patreons or Discords and thus the opinions become more standardised.
What to do with this information?
When bannings occur I always think about what strategies become better as a result. This time it was quite obvious to most competitive players that Primeval Titan-strategies would be explored early in the format, and aside from that I expected a return of Humans, Jund Midrange and various combo decks. It turned out that a lot of players fancied the hyper aggressive Mono Red Prowess deck since it gets under Primeval Titan nicely. Here is the breakdown of the decks that went 5-2 or better in the Modern Showcase Challenge at the end of January.
4 Titan Field
3 Mono Red Prowess
3 Death’s Shadow
2 Blue/White Control
Looking at this list it becomes apparent that you need a good plan against Primeval Titan if you want to do well in a tournament, and you also don’t want to get run over by Mono Red Prowess or aggressive Shadows. The beauty is that none of these factors disqualify any decks outright, but maybe you have to work a little harder to have enough sideboard cards to be competitive over a three-game series. Let’s have a look at some impactful sideboard or main deck cards that will help in numerous of the expected matchups.
This card is a powerhouse against Primeval Titan while also helping out in graveyard-based matchups. Be careful about ticking it down against Titan decks because you really don’t want to lose it to a couple of zombies or Dryads before you absolutely have to. If you play blue or black, you need a really good reason not to run a couple.Death’s Shadow and Gurmag Angler from Shadow and the Eldrazis from Eldrazi Tron are once again trying to take advantage of decks playing Lightning Bolt, and with Primeval Titan in the mix, hard removal have never been more important.
You get a ton of mileage out of running Damping Sphere these days. Between Tron lands, bounce lands and spell combo, there will be plenty of time to use the two-mana artifact. Most decks that it disrupts will have answers ready, but when they don’t, they lose the game very often.
“But Andreas, I came here for advice on deck choice, preferebly a full 75 that you tested for me”
I’m gonna leave you with this decklist until next time where I break down my build and share sideboard plans of expected matchups. Until next time, don’t let your opponent get to six mana!