News : The game eternally… by Paul Gulbis

The game eternally… And what the Ban-List and Fate Reforged will do to it by Paul Gulbis


The Modern Magic world was turned on its head with that fateful announcement on the 21st of January 2015. This was the biggest ban-list change since the initial ban list update with the inception of the Modern format.

Birthing Pod; Treasure Cruise; Dig through Time banned.

Golgari Grave-Troll unbanned

We all knew that Treasure Cruise was going to be banned as soon as we started cracking them and sleeving them up. We knew WotC’s policy on card draw and consistency and we knew that this card did it all… What was surprising is that the card itself did not make as many waves as everyone thought it would, but it instead opened up a cheap-to-make deck archetype that flooded the scene – and THAT is what WotC was after. With such a huge impact on the metagame, UR Delver quickly became a deck hated on and the best offender was chaining Kitchen Finks into Siege Rhino and with Pod banned, chances are that if Treasure Cruise was not banned – the format would be 50% Delver vs. the field and that obviously would be a major problem.

So what do these bannings entail?

Well, 20% of the metagame chopped off! 10.5% from UR Delver and 9.5% from Birthing Pod. This gives us a wide open meta-game and space to brew, with an array of decks becoming viable again. Let’s not forget that the meta game is now unpredictable.

Scapeshift takes a hit as Dig Through Time made the deck extremely strong by finding their single card win-con and tucking the rest of the cards into the library (which they find later anyway.)

Don’t get me wrong, there will be the die-hard Pod players that will carry on with their Domri Rades and their Chords of Calling, as will UR Delver decks with Swiftspears still dealing damage quickly – they just won’t have such a strong late game refill. The decks will always exist, just not in their entirety.

These decks will exist, and they will put up a fight – but that doesn’t change the fact the some deck brewing is in order. What will be the next busted deck in Modern? I’d say Affinity, Twin decks and the ever popular Siege Rhino Junk decks!

Think of Modern as being a new format, with new deck ideas and old ideas getting a chance to shine.
When Modern started – everyone was talking about Vial Command and how Shouta raked in the wins at the Player’s Championship, but was eventually outclassed by the value engine that was pod – maybe a resurgence of this deck is possible?


Vengevine decks were also on the rise but because of Pod’s strong presence, main deck graveyard removal was a must with other midrange/control decks and thus made the Vengevine decks obsolete. With Pod in the format, no other mid-range deck could exist effectively beside it.

With Pod gone, the unbanning of Golgari Grave Troll opens up deck brewing up like a can of worms! Vengevine, pseudo Dredge, Reanimator, Delve, the green/black lists go on and on…

What people are definitely trying to do is to break graveyard interaction decks for two reasons: Golgari Grave Troll and less grave hate.

Gifts Ungiven will definitely be a card to watch out for, that could be the new cruise for UR Delver decks, or a fantastic enabler of the Troll/Vengevine decks. Life from the Loam with its fantastic dredging capabilities while being able to ensure land drops will be a main player again!

Don’t forget that there’s a set full of new cards to brew with! These cards in Fate Reforged that will definitely make a mark:

Ugin, the Spirit Dragon;
Soulfire Grandmaster;
Monastery Mentor;
Temporal Trespass;
Tasigur, the Golden Fang;
Alesha, She Who Smiles at Death;

For 4 of those 6 cards, the inclusion is obvious, but the mention of Temporal Trespass might boggle you. With Treasure Cruise and Dig out of the format, the delve spots in blue are wide open!
In UR Delver, you’ll be drawing an extra card, having another attack phase and untapping. For UUU I think that is one way to close off a game, don’t you?
I have heard too many Scapeshift players say: “If I had one more turn to <insert reason here>” Well Temporal Trespass gives you that one extra turn, and since you’re ramping like a champion, you do not need to delve that much at all. I think Temporal Trespass will be a big hitter in modern for the Valakut players.
Let’s not forget what an extra turn in Dredgevine decks could do to your opponent at the low cost of UUU.
Alesha will make waves in the lesser FNMs as she returns so many things that her value will quickly show. Scavenging Ooze, Huntmaster of the Fells, Eternal Witness, Dark Confidant, Blood Artist, Snapcaster, Pestermite… the list of staple power 2 or less creatures go on! The thing that works against her is that if you play her in anything but Mardu, your manabase better be good.

Tasigur is mini-Goyf/mini-Confidant as it has a big-butt for low cost and can draw you cards. I strongly believe this is the best black creature in modern right now – even more so than Confidant.

The mentor might make UR Delver decks turn into Jeskai Delver decks once again. We can safely say that in a deck packing spells over creatures that Geist of Saint Traft has officially been outclassed by this gem of a teacher! Soulfire could feature here but I suspect that he will go into niche Isochron Scepter decks that all of a sudden make your lightning bolts into helices and your helices into something quite annoying – which is quite appealing for people who play with Isochron Scepters!

Ugin and Karn have teamed up to really rid the world of anything coloured. With the way Gr Tron gets its Urza Lands on then we’re looking at a turn 4 wrath of god. That is something not to shrug off. Tron decks are known to stall the game, as the game goes on the stronger Ugin gets. Get your copies now – they are Karn, Liberated/Oblivion Stones 5-8.

What I’m hoping to see in the next few months:

Deck innovation – The doors to deckbrewing were flung wide open, I hope to see some planeswalkers building decks and trying something new each FNM.

Returned Deck Ideas – some decks were made obsolete but with the recent changes – we might see a resurgence in previous decks! I hope to see that shake up the format somewhat.

Fate Reforged in Modern – Cards are great in Fate Reforged, I’m hoping to see more sleeper cards being used. Khans shook the format up and with Fate Reforged modern might be a lot more accessible to newer players.