Modern is a Magic: The Gathering format that allows players to use cards printed from 8th Edition onward. Following the success of the Event decks released with each set getting players into the Standard format (an annually rotating format), Wizards have released a Modern Event Deck. The Modern Event Deck is designed to allow players to get started in the strategic and complex Modern format. As a result, it contains more powerful cards than its Standard Event Deck counterpart.
The Modern format is one which Wizards are keen to push and get more people playing – there is one Pro Tour annually run in Modern and a season of Modern Format Pro-Tour Qualifiers. However, a large barrier to entry into the format is price; cards can be twice or three times as expensive in Modern as they are in Standard, due to both the cards’ power level and more limited availability. The Modern Event deck aims to alleviate this by giving players access to a ready-made 60 card deck with 15 card sideboard at a set price of $75 (RRP).
The deck, March of the Multitudes, is a black/white token strategy that uses token makers, such as Lingering Souls and Spectral Procession, and disruptive elements like Tidehollow Sculler and Inquisition of Kozilek. The strategy has been a fairly competitive deck in the format since its inception and the choice of black/white tokens by Wizards is a sensible one – tokens have proven to be a popular mechanic with newer players.
I tested the deck a few times against various top strategies within the format and the results were interesting. While in the past Standard Event Decks have often done well against the less focussed Decks but struggled against the top decks, March of the Multitudes is a deck with game. Despite being a ‘budget’ version of an existing strategy, it is able to put up a good fight against top performers like Splinter Twin, Jund and Melira Pod. The inclusion of Sword of Feast and Famine gives it a great deal of power against the black/green based decks when drawn.
Alongside the Sword, the ‘chase’ mythic in the deck is Elspeth, Knight Errant – an extremely explosive and powerful way to make a creature into an evasive and large threat. The 4 Lingering Souls and 4 Spectral Procession, combined with the Raise the Alarms and Shrine of Loyal Legions ensure that the deck always has a good number of threats. However, with only 3 Tidehollow Sculler and 2 Inquisition of Kozilek, the disruption side is lacking and the control match-ups suffer as a result.
Wizards were always in a tough position with the card choices in the Event Deck. Modern is a format where some individual cards cost more than the $75 RRP of the deck, so from the outset it was known that the deck wouldn’t contain Tarmogoyf ($180), Dark Confidant ($75) or Cryptic Command ($50). Once it was discovered the deck would be black/white tokens, people were clamouring for a copy of Marsh Flats ($40) to be included. The issue with putting this card in though, is that the deck would then be purchased primarily by people looking for Marsh Flats and ‘trade value’ within the deck – which is not the product’s intention.
It is likely this reason that the deck’s manabase is so awkward. Over half of the deck’s allocated rares are in the land slots, which contain both strategy staples (Windbrisk Heights and Vault of the Archangel) and odd picks (City of Brass). The decision to include City of Brass over Godless Shrine is one of the two, in my opinion, erroneous choices by Wizards. Both cards have seen print recently, but Godless Shrine is routinely used in traditional black/white tokens lists, while City of Brass is better suited to decks with three or more colours where more efficient ‘colour fixing’ is unavailable. Furthermore, with 4 Isolated Chapel, there are not enough swamps or plains for them to reliably enter untapped without replacing the City of Brass with Godless Shrines.
The other strange omission is Hero of Bladehold – a card not prohibitively expensive on the secondary market, but one that is often used in competitive versions of the deck. It too could have been included in the deck (likely at the expense of Shrine of Loyal Legions) and if some rare slots needed to be reduced, the Caves of Koilos number could have been sacrificed, reducing the amount of damage the manabase inflicted to the player in games.
Overall, I think Wizards did a good job choosing a new player friendly strategy and cards that would allow the deck to be purchased solely by its target audience. Had it contained too many expensive cards, the price would have been gouged and the ultimate purpose of the deck thwarted. Some of the card choices are odd, or suboptimal, but at $75 it’s not easy to make a competitive deck, with rarity restrictions that new players would enjoy. The deck also contains some important reprints to increased general supply, such as Inquisition of Kozilek and Zealous Persecution.
The deck comes with a spindown life dice and 80 custom sleeves. It’s possible some will still complain about the lack of ‘value’ within the deck, but I spoke to my Local Game Store owner and the deck has been fully pre-ordered, primarily by players who do not currently play Modern. In Wizards’ eyes therefore, the deck is a success and I personally hope it leads to similar products in future.
Thanks for reading,