Stunned. Floored. Gutted. Distraught. These were just a few of the emotions flowing through my veins when I woke up on Saturday morning. I awoke to a myriad of text messages, Skype messages, Facebook messages, and a Twitter feed in an uproar. At first, I thought my friends were playing a joke on me. Then I saw the announcement.
Summer Bloom is banned in Modern
Splinter Twin is banned in Modern.
My mind started racing, the world spinning around me as I struggled to find meaning in these words. I hadn’t even gotten out of bed yet. Work went really well last week, I was ready for a great weekend of playoff football and hanging out with my family. I couldn’t process what I had just read, especially without coffee.
“Maybe I read it incorrectly.” Words I muttered as I greeted my toddler on the couch as I walked from the master suite of my home. After setting my son up with breakfast, and having Mr. Keurig brew me a cup of joe, I read the announcement again. And again. And again. It didn’t change. My favorite deck was no longer a deck. I would never be able to play Deceiver Exarch in Modern again.
Social media seemed just as shocked as I was. Obviously you will always have a small pocket of people in the “I told you so,” camp, no matter what card is banned. Some people just detest certain pieces of cardboard. However, the overwhelming majority of posters that I saw, both professional players and weekend warriors hiding behind a Reddit screen name alike, were utterly shocked. The proposed “forced rotation,” comments I was reading warrant their own article about how Wizards intends to maintain the Modern format over time, but even players who played decks that had a poor Twin matchup were expressing their disbelief.
So what was I to do? I do have Infect sleeved up, but I am nowhere near as comfortable with that deck as I was with Twin. A number of thoughts rushed through my head. “Sell out. Ship the Scalding Tarns, Snapcaster Mages, whatever isn’t bolted to the floor.” “Play Blue Moon. Play Scapeshift. Play Temur Delver.” “Discuss the fallout with the other players I know on a personal level before making any rash decisions.”
Luckily, as noted, I do have Infect. I also have Grixis Control now sleeved up, but no one knows at this point what is going to happen with the metagame shifting, especially with newer decks in Grixis Control and these Eldrazi decks popping up.
I think the thing that everyone was expecting in that announcement was the banning of something key out of the Amulet Bloom deck. I think anyone who has been playing that deck for the past year has really been playing it on borrowed time.
I think also that something most people were expecting was a ban from the Grishoalbrand deck. The really confusing thing about this announcement was that Wizards went ahead and banned what everyone had come to consider to be the standard combo deck of the format, the turn-4-but-not-even-every-time combo deck in Splinter Twin, while letting a deck that can win on the second turn a good amount of the time continue to live.
Anyway, having the Splinter Twin decks not exist anymore underlines, bolds, and capitalizes what I wrote about last week. G/R Tron is poised to be the deck to beat moving forward, at least up until the Pro Tour. Last week I touched on additions to the Tron deck including those from the new set, Oath of the Gatewatch. One card I failed to talk about was Warping Wail. The “Eldrazi Charm” seems like a sure fit in the G/R Tron strategy. Boatloads of colorless mana, plus a weakness to creatures of low power/toughness, along with a weakness to powerful sorceries like Crumble to Dust, and even the option to get extra mana make it seem like Warping Wail is tailor-made for Tron.
Aside from that card that I missed last week, Tron’s other options are sure to be helped by Oath of the Gatewatch, even more than the deck was helped since Fate Reforged. I know that even from a position of Infect, Burn, and Zoo, there’s a lot of concern about how Tron is now the best control deck of the format, and with the new tools it’s getting, it would be able to more suitably beat those weaker matchups.
However, I spent a lot of time thinking about this since the banning of my now defunct favorite deck. At least from the Infect side of things, one card gets bad in the Tron matchup: Apostle’s Blessing. Apostle’s Blessing doesn’t help against Warping Wail or Return of Kozilek because those spells have no color. However, every other spell in our deck helps beat those two new answers that Tron will be playing with. Groundswell, Might of Old Krosa, Mutagenic Growth, Become Immense, even Pendelhaven are all suitable answers that at least negate the damage that would be done to the deck from Tron.
If your deck is worried about Tron from an aggressive perspective, if you’re looking to get under the Tron deck, and Tron decks are running a lot of these new toys, a set of Mutagenic Growth is suitable in any deck worried about these cards.
What if you’re trying to go long against Tron? What if you’re an Abzan or Jund or Grixis player, or even a Blue Moon player? How are you meant to beat Tron, expecting it to be everywhere now that its top contender is no longer a deck? Luckily, these decks have also been given a lot of tools to beat Tron in the past few sets. Along with old standbys Fulminator Mage, Blood Moon, and Molten Rain, those of us trying to fight the big mana menace have been given tools such as Crumble to Dust, which I know will be replacing my Rending Volleys in my Grixis sideboard, and Tasigur, the Golden Fang. Now, I say Tasigur, the Golden Fang because he’s a big clock against an opponent who’s trying to spend the first few turns setting up and then casting big spells to just obliterate board states. Typically, a big clock alongside disruption in the form of counterspells and discard spells, with some Surgical Extraction nonsense should be enough to beat Tron on the regular. It absolutely won’t be easy for these decks, but it’s not a new enemy for these decks.
While I certainly expect Tron to be everywhere for the next couple of months at least, I feel like a lot of the talk about the deck is that in the form of “the sky is falling.” However, now that Splinter Twin is banned, I truly do feel like the sky has already fallen. Hopefully I can get the same amount of enjoyment from Infect or Grixis as I got from Splinter Twin. If not, I’ll be talking to my resident disciple of Saint Traft, Jason Clark, to see what his pitch is to finally get me on board with the deck.
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