Banned Cards Schmanned Cards - A look at Modern GP's from this past week!
by Stu Somers
So last week I ran into a bit of computer trouble and could not get an article out in time, but do not worry - I have found the problem, ran the numbers, checked with the lab, and came to the conclusion that this week’s article will make up for my disappearance last week! Today, we'll review the 2 Modern GPs in Vancouver and Brisbane this past weekend and why decks that had cards banned out of them dominated the two tournaments.
Out of the Shadows
With Gitaxian Probe getting banned in the last announcement, it essentially took Become Immense with it, sort of creating a “soft-ban” on the card because of how de-powered Become Immense became. So why did Death’s Shadow put 3 players in to the Top8 of GP Vancouver despite losing 2 of its best cards, other than the fact that Wrapter, GerryT, and Sam Black are stone cold masters? For reference, here is Death’s Shadow before the banning of Gitaxian Probe and the list that Josh Utter-Leyton used to win the GP:The first thing you will notice is that the creature package is much tighter. You have 4 Tarmogoyfs and 4 Death’s Shadows to win the game with and that is it. The mana is also slightly better. You have 2 basics when you get into the racing situations and saving the last few life points are vital. You also are no longer needing to have Red mana on turn on for your Monastery Swiftspear or Lightning bolt. Fatal Push has given the deck a reason to move Red to more of a splash than an integral part of the deck. The real innovation in the deck was Traverse the Ulvenwald. At the end of the day this is a 1-mana tutor and that is generally going to lead to high levels of redundancy and consistency in decks and this is no exception. It essentially turns your 8 threats into 12 and makes maximizing all of your mana in a turn that much easier. The other big changes is that the deck now has 8 discard spells with 4 Inquisition of Kozilek and 4 Thoughtseize. With how combo heavy modern has become, those decks do not want to be facing down a 4/4 1-mana Death’s Shadow after a pair of discard spells.
Dredging Up Something OldThe other major banning that occurred with Aether Revolt was Golgari-Grave Troll. I had played a lot of Dredge leading up to that point and even I was happy to see the Troll get banned. That deck would regularly put 20+ power onto the battlefield by turn 3 which was basically game over for most decks. The games that go longer you would also be heavily favored because recurring a 5-mana, regenerating 10/10 would be too much for Grixis and Jund to overcome. The deck stayed essentially the same from before the ban and after:The only change between Jacob Baugh’s SCG Invitational winning deck and Lee Shi Tian’s 3rd place deck is that the 4 Golgari Grave Troll and 1 Darkblast were replaced with 3 Golgari Thug and 2 Life from the Loam. Pretty simple really! The vast majority of games were run with just racing out Prized Amalgams and Bloodghasts so with that being the main plan still, you go from being an overwhelming favorite in a lot of matches to just a favorite with slightly less cards dredged each turn and less of a recurring threat in the later games.
Question and Answer Time
So why did these decks do so well? The answer is the same one that has been prevalent for most of Modern’s existence: People showed up with the wrong answers. The vast majority of people read into the hype of the new combo decks taking over Modern and brought cards like Chalice of the Void, Grafdigger’s Cage and Surgical Extraction. Those were the wrong answers. People were even playing Lightning Bolt, if that card is not going to some one’s face, do you really think that is an appropriate answer to anything that is in Death’s Shadow, Dredge, or Affinity? If you are going to be trying to beat any of these decks, you need to understand what the right answers are. Path to Exile does not care what size the creature is. Relic of Progenitus not only keeps dredge under control, but it has applications against a number of other decks. Stony Silence not only completely shuts down Affinity but stops the Lantern Control deck that just happened to win GP Brisbane. On a side not, please, for the love of all things good in the world, stop bringing in Surgical Extraction in against Snapcaster Decks. What are you hoping to hit?! Their Thought Scour? Just stop and thank me later!
That last mini-rant aside, I hope you all enjoyed my article this week. Next week I start my new job in Downtown Pittsburgh, but I hope to give you some insight on my testing for the RPTQ weekend coming up on March 5th. Thanks again for reading and if you have any questions please feel free to comment or hit me up on twitter.
@Ssomers55 on Twitter
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