How Collected Company Got Banned in Modern

Written by Tim Bachmann on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Modern

How Collected Company Got Banned in Modern

Tim Bachmann

Hailing from northeast Pennsylvania, Tim has been playing since Mirrodin, and has been playing competitively since Dragons of Tarkir. With aspirations of playing on the Pro Tour, Tim plays in as many PPTQs and GPs as he can.

Greetings fellow human. I am greeting you from the future today. Approximately two years and four months in the future, after the banned and restricted announcements for the fall set of 2018 are released. The community is in an uproar, as their favorite 4 mana cost green instant from Dragons of Tarkir has just been banned in Modern: Collected Company.

It’s no surprise though. We just got out of a Modern season that saw Collected Company decks reign supreme, as about 25% of the field was playing numerous decks with the card. Grand Prix representation has been going off the rails, too. The card is just everywhere. From Bant Coralhelm, Abzan Combo Company, and Naya Company, to U/G Merfolk, Elves, and the newer decks that you people wouldn’t understand because you haven’t seen the cards yet, Collected Company has been dominating the Modern scene for a while now.

Some would say it started when they made Collected Company to replace Birthing Pod. Others would say the turn to Collected Company being the most broken card in Modern started about a month from now for you folks, when one of the most powerful Collected Company targets in Modern was printed:

Thalia, Cathar Heretic
2W
Creature – Human Soldier
3/2
First Strike
Creatures and nonbasic lands your opponents control enter the battlefield tapped.

This is the first of many busted three or less costing creatures to be printed that started to put Collected Company over the top. According to ModernNexus.com, in May, Collected Company decks made up approximately 10% of the metagame. All but one of these decks was at least partly white. Only one of those decks was considered tier 1 – Abzan Company.

Let’s get real here though. In Standard, the impact of a card like this will be much smaller, but I’ll say it right now. At least while Dragons of Tarkir is Standard legal, this will probably be the best card in Eldritch Moon. I don’t even need to see the other 200 or so cards. This new version of Thalia is busted beyond belief.

In Standard, Thalia means that planeswalkers like Nissa, Voice of Zendikar, and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, no longer protect themselves as efficiently as they do now. They become much more vulnerable, and the curve of G/W tokens or other such strategies is made less powerful. Also, speaking of tokens, Thalia, Cathar Heretic makes your Hangarback Walkers a lot worse on defense, and doesn’t let your Archangel Avacyn block when she comes in.

The card is also a mirror breaker for decks like Bant Company and Bant Humans. While Collected Company into two creatures at instant speed is fine, those creatures aren’t able to block, so you have to hope you hit your Reflector Mage, Bounding Krasis, or Thalia’s Lieutenant if you’re hope with your Collected Company is to affect the board, because you won’t be doing that with blocking.

Another thing for the Bant mirrors, as well as against other decks like the U/R Eldrazi deck, or other decks that try to abuse cards like Shrine of the Forsaken Gods or multicolored lands, especially Evolving Wilds is that they come into play tapped. Thalia doesn’t care if you have a Forest and a Plains for your Prairie Stream. She doesn’t care if Shrine of the Forsaken Gods is your seventh land, it’s not doing anything that turn. Evolving Wilds is an even more fierce beating. Not only can you not activate it the turn it comes into play, which means you have to activate it next turn, which means that land will still be unusable.

In terms of the mono-white or W/x Humans mirrors, I don’t imagine the card will have too much impact, since playing defense isn’t really ideal in those decks anyway, and an Always Watching means that whichever creatures have attacked are able to defend anyway.

In Standard, I imagine this card will be quite impactful, as up until now, we were able to make manabases that took advantage of the Shadows lands and the Battle lands. We can’t just expect to have these things anymore in Standard, especially since this Thalia was printed in the most played and probably most powerful color that exists in Standard at the moment. This only means White’s stock will go up, and I see especially Mono-White humans growing even further in popularity unless some drastic sweeper is also printed in this set.

So now let’s focus on Modern a bit. I recently started playing the Abzan Company deck. While I am having a lot of fun with the deck, it has some draws and some Collected Company that are just very powerful. Like stupidly good. Kitchen Finks, Eternal Witness getting back Collected Company is one of my favorites. That doesn’t seem particularly powerful to some people, it didn’t seem too powerful to me initially, but in actual games, it’s the bee’s knees.

Now imagine a deck that can do that, but can also hit this Thalia, Cathar Heretic. Or the same deck that can play Thalia on turn 2 off of Noble Hierarch or Birds of Paradise. In a format where decks are regularly playing 8 Fetchlands. Those fetchlands are no longer able to be used the turn they come into play, and the dual lands those fetchlands get aren’t coming into play untapped.

Also in this same format that decks have eight fetchlands, those decks only run about 3-4 basic lands. Which means almost every. Single. Land drop. Is going to come into play tapped. This includes their Razorverge Thickets, their Blackcleave Cliffs, their Sulfur Falls, their Twilight Mires, their Glacial Fortresses, their Eldrazi Temples, their Urza’s Lands, their Horizon Canopy, their Grove of the Burnwillows. All coming into play tapped after Thalia hits the field.

Thalia, Cathar Heretic is a sort of reverse Back to Basics, which is the kind of effect an aggressive, disruptive strategy is looking for anyway. Keeping the already difficult to play control decks in Modern off of curve can really disrupt their game plan and really put the Thalia deck far ahead. Remember, most decks, including the aggressive ones, are probably killing you on turn 4. Control decks are just able to survive this onslaught when they are allowed to have their resources come into play untapped. If they miss a land drop against these aggressive zoo decks, they are probably just dead.

Aside from just the aggressive decks, Thalia gives some breathing room to the combo Company decks. In particular, the Abzan Company deck plays a lot of mana creatures. They can use these plus the fact that Thalia slows down your opponent to really get ahead on board and stretch your opponent’s resources so that their plan of trying to stop everything you do doesn’t really work.

And that does not even address the other half of the text on the card. This makes a defensive Kitchen Finks so much worse on the turn it comes into play. Your opponent is essentially paying three mana to gain 2 life. AND THEY PROBABLY CAN’T EVEN CAST IT ON TURN THREE!

If Wizards keeps designing powerful cards like this, and they aren’t afraid to let cards like Collected Company restrict their design space going forward, which they have shown already earlier this year that they aren’t afraid of this at all with the whole Eldrazi mess, I would expect a Collected Company Spring, or Summer, or Fall, or Winter, when most of the people playing modern are playing Collected Company in their deck, just because the creatures they get to play are stupid good. Since this is almost doomed to happen, I expect in the not so distant future that Collected Company will be banned in Modern. Of course this is after an inevitable rise in price of the card on the secondary market. If they were willing to ban Splinter Twin at about 15% share of the metagame, I am certainly not expecting my new favorite deck to stick around for too long.

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