Shared Discovery – Modern Life Is War by Rob Wagner

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Hi all, I guess you’ve heard the news? Wild Nacatl and Punishing Fire got banned from Modern! This doesn’t come as a massive surprise to many (certainly not me – I’ve been building decks around those cards a lot). We’re also getting a bit jaded with the whole Bannings “thing” WotC seem to be getting off on recently, so are this point it’s time to stop complaining and move on with the format as it looks now.

Before the bannings it was quite clear that if you weren’t a one-dimensional combo deck then you probably wanted to be playing Punishing Fire. Also, the strongest cards were making themselves known as Tarmogoyf and Snapcaster Mage. For these reasons I identified Spell Snare as a very strong card and reached the following list I was keeping under my hat:

Next Level Blue:

4 Tarmogoyf
4 Snapcaster Mage
3 Vendilion Clique
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Spell Snare
4 Mana Leak
4 Punishing Fire
2 Vedalken Shackles
3 Thirst For Knowledge
3 Cryptic Command
4 Grove of the Burnwillows
1 Tectonic Edge
4 Scalding Tarn
4 Misty Rainforest
3 Steam Vents
2 Breeding Pool
1 Stomping Ground
6 Island

3 Engineered Explosives
2 Relic of Progenitus
1 Life from the Loam
2 Ancient Grudge
3 Kitchen Finks
2 Thrun, the Last Troll
2 Mindbreak Trap

Which is an attempt to play the best cards in the format with the best ways of maximising them all and a cheeky Tectonic Edge thrown in to get ahead on Groves game 1, and Life from the Loam to get ahead post-board. I’ve won multiple games almost purely off Grove-Fire and even one where I cast only Life from the Loam and Punishing Fire multiple times. Yep, it was probably too retarded.

So what do we do going forward?

Well, the first step is to identify the powerful cards once more. Tarmogoyf and Snapcaster Mage will probably remain high up in the list of cards to play, but we can add to them other cards which are decent but may not have made the cut otherwise. The banning of Wild Nacatl will just mean the large range of crappy 1-drops will see play, such as Kird Ape, Goblin Guide and Memnite.

The banning of Punishing Fire on the other hand allows for two types of cards to see play – creatures which were made bad by its existence, and draw engines which were worse. The first includes cards such as Dark Confidant, Kitchen Finks and Vendilion Clique (I know I have some of those above, but some people were still choosing to not play Grove-Fire). Dark Confidant is probably the biggest gainer here as he was way too weak to a recurring source of cheap damage.

The second class is also interesting as cards like Mystical Teachings stand a chance of getting decent. I know people were playing it before, but it doesn’t compare well stood next to Gifts Ungiven and Thirst For Knowledge with Punishing Fire was surely something which would become a known quantity to the community eventually.

Essentially if you want to look at decks which immediately stop being unplayable then look at the decks with too many creature which are far worse than Wild Nacatl and decks with draw engines that that help you find answers to lots of cheap crappy creatures. I’d also keep combo decks in mind now that they don’t get run over by aggressive starts as easily.

Happy brewing with the new format!


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