A man can’t even have a peaceful Friday night without the entire Magic world exploding due to easily the worst Modern-related announcement in the format’s history. Wizards has never made a Modern update or announcement that has forced a “Well then, I really think I’m going to quit” reaction out of me. That is, until last night:
Effective Date: January 22, 2016
Magic Online Effective Date: January 27, 2016
I can’t begin to describe the online reaction to this announcement. Or the metagame consequences. Or the implications for Modern as a whole. For now, all I can say is that the anger is more than justified and every single one of you is well within your rights to be furious, send angry emails and Tweets to Wizards, or just pack up and leave the format altogether.
I’ll be publishing a more formal Banlist analysis next week, but wanted to put up this article as a place for our users to discuss the update in the comment section. Also, as a place for me to legitimately vent my frustrations with this sickening announcement.
When Wizards announced Modern in their inaugural “A Modern Proposal” article, Tom LaPille promised “As I said, many of you have called for a non-rotating format that doesn’t have the card availability problems of Legacy. We propose Modern as that format.” That’s no longer true today. Although Legacy’s card availability issues aren’t present in Modern (even if the price tags of many staples suggest otherwise) Modern can no longer truly be considered a nonrotating format. It is now a rotating format where rotations are hamfisted through by banning decisions irrespective of metagame shifts.
This is a disaster for a format that is supposed to engender long-term investment, support, and buy-in from its playerbase. If Modern is the spiritual successor to Legacy, you should be able to buy a Modern deck and play it for years without fearing the deck’s sudden banning. You should be able to safely invest your time, money, energy, and general resource with the promise of a long return. Today shows this is no longer the case in Modern. If you play a Tier 1 deck and the deck performs well, it can be banned. This will only heighten the ban mania that characterizes the format
The Modern management consequences are also severe. Since 2013, every single January ban update has featured a Tier 1 ban. Until now, we could write this off as a coincidence. In those previous cases, a deck was legitimately causing problems for the format (Bloodbraid Jund, Deathrite Ajundi, Pod, and Cruise Delver), and that required a January banning to rebalance the format. The Twin banning puts this into new light. Going forward, we are forced to consider the January ban update as the new artificial rotation schedule of Modern. Your Tier 1 deck may always be in the banning crosshairs just to “spice things up” a bit a the next Pro Tour. This hamfisted approach is sure to frighten new players away, terrify old veterans out, and overall exacerbate all the insanity around Modern bans that already existed.
If it sounds like I’m angry it’s because yes, I’m angry. I’m mad because I love this format and regardless of the metagame justifications for this banning (which are thin, at best, and arbitrary, at worst), Splinter Twin‘s demise sends a message to players: Modern is unsafe. Affinity could easily attain Twin-level numbers over the next year. Will Affinity go next? What about when BGx, Tron, Eldrazi, Burn, or any other top-tier deck enjoys a sustained performance streak? Could they get banned too? I’ve defended Wizards for most of the year and fought Tooth and Nail against ban mania since the format’s founding. In 2016, however, the ban mania is no longer just paranoid speculation. It’s a real condition that players will need to keep in mind when investing in any Modern decks.
I’ll see all of you next week with the proper banlist analysis article, but I’ll be in the comments below to discuss this more. How do you feel about the bans? What are you going to do as a result? Are there contributing factors that you think are to blame in the update (the Pro Tour, the new rotation schedule, hype around new sets, etc.)? Or any comments on WHERE THE UNBANS ARE?? Bring it down to the comment section and I’ll talk to you all soon.
Sheridan is the former Editor in Chief of Modern Nexus and a current Staff Author. He comes from a background in social science data analysis, database administration, and academia. He has been playing Magic since 1998 and Modern since 2011.