The announcement of Modern as a format for the Community Cup sent quite the buzz through the Magic community. Presumably due to the success of the format in the Cup and the vastly positive buzz formed around it not only allowed them to turn it into a legal format, but update the next Pro Tour(PT Philadelphia) from Extended to Modern. For the most part this change has been happily accepted by the general masses, however, there are a few squabbles that have come up.
The banned list is a bit of a problem on two fronts really. First off, we have some cards that may not have been necessary to ban, secondly (and probably the more pertinent of the two) we have cards that really should have been banned but weren’t. Tom LaPille, Latest Developments, gave two primary reasons for cards to get banned: Either they supported a reliable turn three or sooner victory, or they were a/the key card in a deck that dominated the Extended format while it and only other cards that would be in Modern were legal.
I am definitely with the first rule and can get behind the need for it and all of the cards banned due to this. My actual problem with this rule comes from some of the cards they did not decide to ban. The big one at the top of my list is Dragonstorm, sure it’s a nine cost sorcery, but while it was last in Standard, there was a reliable second-third turn victory combo with it and the multitudes of instant ramp available at the time. Now, with an even larger pool of pieces to choose from it seems more likely to end up as a solid strategy. The other card that worries me is Living End, while it doesn’t seem too bad, I feel it should be hit for the same reason that Hypergenesis was.
As for the second rule, I have more qualms with this one. Some of the decks pointed out weren’t as pervasive as they are presented and there are a few decks that really did need to be hit that were not. First off, Bitterblossom does not need to be banned. Yes Faeries was a big boogie monster in its Standard era, but there were enough answers printed to deal with it that it has not been remotely the same type of beast in Extended (nor even Standard by the end of its run), especially not the seven year format that Modern is most likely to represent. The other cards banned under this reason I completely agree with, however there is one other boogie monster that should have been hit, Jund. Jund hasn’t been a huge threat in extended yet, but it was the dominant force the entire time it was in Standard and only one card needs to be hit, Bloodbraid Elf. The card advantage created by cascade is recognizably huge, and at least one of the cards already on the banned list (Hypergenesis) was specifically hit due to cascade. Bloodbraid Elf is the big cascade card in Jund and the lack of its presence would stop the deck’s true force.
The banned cards not discussed in LaPille’s article were those banned for the Community Cup initially. Most of those were cards that had been banned in another format or were generally considered to be powerhouses. Of these Chrome Mox is the only one that bothers me. However, after the list of their criteria I understand why it was necessary. I actually find more of a problem with some cards that weren’t banned. First and foremost Æther Vial. Æther Vial was from Mirrodin block. This is the block that had eight cards banned at in one announcement for Standard and two other cards at earlier. Guess which card was first. Æther Vial is a vicious source of aggro and one of the easiest ways to get past control. The first deck I went to after the announcement was Æther Zoo and I feel it is likely to be running rampant along side some pretty potent tribal decks running the same. Also in this list they are trying to get rid of Artifact Affinity without losing the two primary offenders, Disciple of the Vault and Arcbound Ravager. While probably not too bad, the actual kill of the decks are still potentially viable and getting rid of them would allow the artifact lands a chance at revival. Other cards, such as Birthing Pod or Mystical Teachings, have been tossed around for banning as well, but I don’t feel the need for anything else has arisen just yet.
There is one other thing I feel needs to be addressed about the Modern format, and specifically the change of format at Pro Tour Philadelphia. While we have been told Modern isn’t replacing anything (specifically Legacy) that is exactly what has happened. Modern has essentially replaced Extended. Many of the Extended Grand Prix that were coming up have been adjusted for Modern instead and this has me worried that Extended may be completely going by the way side. Unfortunately, I may be in a minority here as to those that care. Extended has been the least popular format for some time now, and while the change last year from a seven year rotation to a four did not hurt it, it has not helped either. With the advent of Modern upon us, I fear for the longevity of Extended as a format. The further we get from the cut off point, the more we will need a larger rotating format to keep some people coming back and to prevent tournaments from going stale. With this, I ask that Wizards make sure to keep Extended around in some way, shape, or form.
Pro Tour Philadelphia is this coming weekend, and it will be our first look at the new format. What will Magic look like afterward? What is Magic Post-Modern?