Robert Chesley

Wizards Makes Modern Official

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The Twitter was all a flutter early this morning (or late last night for us here on the left coast) when Wizards made the popular “Modern” format official for the next Pro Tour.

From the official Pro Tour announcement:

The Constructed-format portion of Pro Tour Philadelphia, previously scheduled to be Extended, has been changed to Modern. The new format will be used for ten rounds of Swiss play and the Top 8.

The Modern format consists of all Magic sets printed since the introduction of the modern card frame, starting with Eighth Edition. This includes Eighth Edition, Ninth Edition, Tenth Edition, Magic 2010, Magic 2011, Magic 2012, the Coldsnap expansion set, and the following blocks: Mirrodin, Kamigawa, Ravnica, Time Spiral, Lorwyn, Shadowmoor, Shards of Alara, Zendikar, and Scars of Mirrodin.

It should be noted that this does not include cards that are printed in special sets like “Duel Decks”, “From the Vaults”, or “Commander” those cards won’t be legal unless they were printed in a booster expansion set. These sets reflect a lot better what Extended “used to be like” and while I was on the fence about the format before, it makes a lot of sense.

There are many advantages to having a conglomerate format that uses cards that can be printed “at will” so to speak. I’m still skeptical that cards like Tarmogoyf and Dark Confidant will be printed in a core set or expansion ever again. Which means one of the format’s biggest strengths may end up being the same downfall that Legacy has faced. Wizards has been reluctant to print cards based on tournament demand. I feel they use an outdated “limited” expansion process. The print runs of most expansions today completely sell out. Now, this is due to Wizards knowing how much to print and when to print as much as it is as the demand for Magic cards is at an all time high at the moment. But card availability is a huge problem. Coupled with the fact that there are many constructed relevant “Mythic” rares that compound the factor further. Magic Online doesn’t have as many of these problems, but card availability is still a major issue there. We’ve seen Magic Online give us events that use only certain expansions or offer “Tix Only” drafts to pump more cards of relevant expansions back into the system. It’s harder for the paper world to do this and with more and more people jumping from Paper to Online, the card prices have hit all time highs. Which is a great problem to have from Wizards’ standpoint but it has become an increasingly difficult proposition for many players who are now being forced out of the game because of monetary constraints.

The official banned list for Modern:

The final banned list is as follows:

Ancestral Vision
Ancient Den
Chrome Mox
Dark Depths
Dread Return
Glimpse of Nature
Golgari Grave-Troll
Great Furnace
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Mental Misstep
Seat of the Synod
Sensei’s Divining Top
Stoneforge Mystic
Sword of the Meek
Tree of Tales
Umezawa’s Jitte
Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
Vault of Whispers

You can read this for an official explanation for why many of these cards are banned.

It should be noted that many of these cards were banned in the old Extended format when they were legal or were banned in Standard when they were legal. The interesting omission according to the Magic Twitter-verse is Aether Vial. Aether Vial is a powerhouse in many Legacy “Zoo” decks. Which is also interesting that Mental Misstep is banned. The reasoning is that they do not want really effective counterspells in Modern. This will make aggressive strategies that involve Tarmogoyf and Dark Confidant to use Aether Vial to cheat out really powerful creatures and put a constant pressure against other slower strategies.

I find that many of the cards on the list were really necessary and the format will feel noticeably different from Standard or Legacy. It will also be much more player friendly in that most of the cards in the format are at least obtainable, though as of this writing the “Ravnica Dual Lands” were at $40 a piece and sold out practically everywhere.

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