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This Modern Age We Live In

In today’s Latest Developments article, Tom LaPille eschews the “Mana Week” theme to spend some time describing an experimental new format:  Modern.  It’s defined as including all core, base, and expansion sets printed from Eight Edition onward (minus a banned list given in the article) – essentially all of Magic since the switch to the new card frames.  Now I had already heard about the format when the participants in the Community Cup were announced, and my first response to this news was probably the same as many of you out there:  “Yeah, okay.  I guess that’s interesting, but whatever”.  After reading Mr. LaPille’s article and giving it a little more thought, however, it started to sound more and more worthwhile.

Legacy and Vintage are the two “Eternal” formats in paper magic.  Once a card or set becomes legal in such a format, it’s going to stay legal forever unless it gets banned.  However, so many of the cards that really make those formats hum and give them their distinctive character have been out of print for a very long time (as many as 15+ years in some cases), and as time marches on, they will only become more and more difficult to acquire for players who want to break into the formats.  There will eventually come a time (still quite far in the future) when it’s not even really price, but sheer scarcity of the cards that ends up having a greater effect, as the number of copies that have been lost or damaged over the years starts to catch up with what the metagame needs to support itself.

Modern isn’t just a model of an Eternal format that will be easier for players to get into right now, it’s also one that can be made to last.  All of the included sets were manufactured with large and plentiful print runs.  Players, now better aware of the value cards can gain over time, have probably been keeping better care and better track of them across the board.  Most importantly, none of the included sets carry the stigma of being in thrall to the well-meant yet ill-conceived Reserved List policy.  As the format endures, its depth and opportunity for innovation will continue to grow as Vintage and Legacy have been doing ever since the beginning (almost 20 years on, we’re still getting new cards that impact them significantly).  Note that Modern already has a pretty good start in terms of depth, representing 8 full years of Magic and some of the most influential blocks the game has ever seen.

As I’m sure you can tell, all-in-all I’m feeling pretty optimistic about Modern’s prospects.  Now I want to know how you feel about it.  Is this a format you think you could get into?  Do you think it’s sustainable?  Will it siphon an unhealthly amount of interest away from Vintage and Legacy, or can they all peacefully exist side-by-side?  The most important question of all:  What deck are you going to play?

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5 Comments

  1. Austin
    May 27, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    I like this idea. Now my standard will someday be the next Legacy, or somthing like that. =)

  2. Poisoned Fly
    May 27, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    I really like the idea of Modern. I enjoy legacy but card scarcity/prices prevent me from playing as I like to jump from deck to deck, and owning all of the original dual lands is not feasible for me. Fortunately, owning the Ravnica duals is much more easy. This format feels like it would be wide open enough to support some really off the wall rogue decks.

    The only major problem I see with the format is Tarmogoyf. He is a staple in legacy, and was a staple in extended, and this has resulted in him maintaining a high price during his post-standard years. I feel as though he could become a staple in Modern as well, and his price may sky-rocket, preventing new players from wanting to enter the format as they will feel they ‘need’ 4 Goyf. Of course this is baseless speculation, but at the moment it is my only concern, and of course, Wizards does have the ability to reprint any card in Modern, so they can actively avoid people being priced out of the format.

    As to what I would play: Initially I would probably try some Hypergenesis combo deck. Hypergenesis is a super powerful card, and with Prgenitus, Emrakul and Company, there is no end to the insane shenanigans that hypergenesis is capable of.

    My other deck idea is a Cloudpost Eldrazi deck. The initial idea is to try and turn 3 an Emrakul, by playing T1 Amulet of Vigor, T2 Rampant Growth, into T3 Scapeshift for 4 Cloudpost untap cast Emrakul. This exact combo seems fragile, and god-draw-ish. But I think there is a strong basis for a cloudpost combo deck here.

  3. May 27, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

    Anything with gifts ungiven. Searching out Grove of the burn willows, punishing fire, loam and eternal witness. How can gifts ungiven not be banned?

  4. Poisoned Fly
    May 27, 2011 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

    I think the Grove of the Burnwillows + Punishing Fire combo is overrated. However, Gifts is pretty nutso. I think the theory behind these wacky combo cards (Gifts, and Hypergenesis), is Wizards would like to see if they are truly broken or if the format has answers to them. It seems like the best decision because Johnny tournament players are particularly big fans of these cards and giving them another chance to break them will help get them into the format, while testing the power level of these cards.

  5. Westes
    May 31, 2011 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    I love this idea. It will allow people, like me, with large amounts of cooler older cards to play them not just in casual or EDH. i love EDH but i think modern would be a ton of fun, i feel the ban list would have to change to take in account many of the infinite combos running around. I feel this as a new format would bring back older players, and make life easier on new players. and it would let people who buy outdated cards use them. like me.

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