The Indifference Curve

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Posts Tagged ‘Splinter Twin

Grand Prix KC Modern Postmortem

with 2 comments

Modern, as a format, is in much better shape than it was a year ago. But it’s still not “there” yet. Here’s where I think it’s having issues and needs improvement.

1) Commentary is a huge issue for coverage

The commentary (Marshall Sutcliffe and Ben Swartz) was simply not up to the task. (Don’t take this personally if you read this guys!) They’re obviously familiar with the broad strokes of the format, but they don’t know the intricacies or interactions very well, and so it just gets infuriating to listen to after a while. You actually need to be familiar with the past 10 years of magic cards and how they interact in a competitive setting, and the lack of actual hands-on experience showed in the booth. You can teach a coverage guy the general deck archetypes. But you can’t teach him hours upon hours of play experience. WotC really needs to step up coverage where formats like Modern/Legacy are concerned and get players to commentate who know their stuff and who can adequately explain complex board states to viewers. This format’s not easy, and has a lot of very odd cards in it thanks to the Time Spiral era. Explaining broad strategies, why someone might choose a certain line, why someone would risk tapping out vs. Twin, etc. All commentators will make mistakes. Finding players who are available, commentate well, know the format, and will give up playing a GP won’t be easy, but if you can pull it off, it’ll be a huge benefit to introducing players to the wonders of Eternal and almost-Eternal formats.

2) Modern has an “Oops I Win” problem

I really like Modern. But, after having a relatively balanced metagame for a while, we’re now seeing a shift to a metagame consisting of 50% combo decks. The problem isn’t so much that more people are playing straight-up combo decks. The problem is that all sorts of tradtional midrange and control decks are now adapting combo finishes. Pod, a midrange deck in Standard, now plays either a GY recursion kill engine or a Kiki-Jiki engine. UWR control decks have adapted to having a bunch of value guys +Splinter Twin/Kki. And other combo decks have moved into “normal” territory – Living End now plays a LD suite it hardcasts. Scapeshift imitates a control shell that seeks to just blast its opponents when it hits 7-8 lands. Dedicated control decks and aggro decks are just left in the cold right now as they can’t keep up with the arms race. Note how Affinity’s just not a deck right now. The metagame’s pushing decks into directions (better be able to beat infinite life bro!) that seem very unhealthy, and Chapin’s prediction that “more bans will be necessary” seems likely to come to fruition. The scapeshift/UWR match was the perfect example of what this format could be, and was unique because the endgame resembled an actual game of magic rather than a concession to an onboard kill. That kind of tension was missing throughout the coverage, and when you saw it there, it served as a reminder of what the best games of magic are really like. We need more of those and less invisible trigger chains

3) Ban suggestions/food for thought

This is going to be me spitballing, but here goes. We all knew the ban list would need to be worked on. It seems likely that it’ll need to be tweaked some more. These are cards that I think merit consideration. I’m throwing out my thoughts on them. Some I think are good ideas. Others probably aren’t.

Simian Spirit Guide
– This card only shows up in dedicated combo decks. And they’re the sorts of decks which are generally going to routinely be violating the “T4” rule. (Goryo’s Vengeance/Breach, Living End.) In a format where Lotus Petal would be “too good”, this guy is essentially a Lotus Petal you can’t even interact with, and who helps strategies (on the margins) that you really don’t want to be giving the help to. It was doing some really gross things all day, and unlike a ritual or mana dork, you can’t interact with the ability pre-emptively

Birthing Pod– I’m actually a fan of this card. I don’t think banning Pod itself really solves any problems though. It’s a very good enabler, but the interactions it enables already exist elsewhere. Case in point:

Melira, Sylvok Outcast
– The interaction between her and the persist creatures is hugely problematic. The misguided templating on her ability is unfortunately not errata-able , and so we’re stuck with a not-so-difficult to assemble infinite life combo that’s relatively resilient. Even with Pod gone, you end up with a deck that looks like a totally bananas version of Junk Aristocrats. It’d be a weird ban for sure, but they’ve banned weirder.

Kiki-Jiki– I actually think he’s fine. 5 mana 2/2? Sure. Not a problem. However…

Splinter Twin– The phantom menace of the format. Splinter Twin is a very oppressive card, in that the deck/strategy’s existence warps everyone else’s consderations of what to play since you need to be able to prevent the T3 EoT Exarch, tap a land, T4 Twin play on the draw. The deck does a lot of awful things to how you have to approach the format, and KOing its consistency (making it have to rely on only Kiki) would, imo, greatly improve people’s willingness to play more “tap out” type archetypes that are currently just shut down because of this dumb card’s existance. Speaking of really stupid cards…..

Emrakul, The Aeons Torn– This card sucks to play with. The Commander team knew it. Market research shows it. We know it. It’s not fun to play with, it’s not fun to play against. In Legacy, there are many, many more lines of interaction, mostly due to SnT and Karakas. In Modern? Not so much. The Goryo’s Vengeance deck is really cool, but Emrakul is the part that turns it from cool to miserable. None of the other cards involved are all that overpowered, even Mr. Grislebanned, and I’d really like to find a way to keep cards like Vengeance and Through the Breach in the format without having to deal with “lol you can’t do anything about it.”

So, those are my big 4. I do think that Modern needs tuning adjustments at this point. All-Combo-All-The-Time is not really going to work in the long run, but I don’t think we need huge changes that eradicate archetypes altogether. I think SSG, Melira, Splinter Twin, and Emrakul all leaving would contribute to a much healthier format. But I’m curious what other people think. Sound off below or hit me up on twitter.

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Written by kirblar024

July 8, 2013 at 2:37 am