Why the Banning of Splinter Twin is Good for You, New Modern Player

If you haven’t already heard that [card]Splinter Twin[/card] was banned from Modern play this weekend after being spoiled (yes, another inadvertent spoiler!) by an overzealous Magic Online playtester, then, my friend, you are just the player for which I am writing this article. Typically, I write about casual stuff like Commander and how I like to play budget decks in Standard, but this week we have something spicy and delicious to devour, Competitive Magic ban lists.

Modern is a format, like Commander, where cards do not rotate over time. It was devised by those geniuses at Wizards of the Coast to allow newer players without the deep pockets or longevity in Magic to compete in a non-rotating format outside of Legacy and Vintage. Legacy and Vintage decks include the oldest, rarest, and hence the most expensive cards in Magic. It isn’t uncommon for Vintage decks to break the $20,000 mark. It isn’t likely that newer Magic players will be forking out that kind of cash to purchase one deck to participate in one format. Modern was supposed to help solve that problem. For the most part, it has. Most modern decks come in under $800, and some competitive decks can even be purchased for just a fraction of that cost. Modern is a fun format with a wide diversity of, so called, Tier 1 decks. Tier 1.5 or 2 decks (slightly less competitive, but still able to beat Tier 1 decks on occasion) add dimension to the format’s diversity as well. I, myself, play one of these less competitive decks in the format called Death and Taxes, with my latest list below. It is a blast to play and I beat my buddies Tron deck regularly.

[deck title= Modern Death and Taxes]
4 Flickerwisp
1 Kitchen Finks
4 Leonin Arbiter
3 Loxodon Smiter
4 Noble Hierarch
1 Qasali Pridemage
2 Restoration Angel
4 Scavenging Ooze
1 Tarmogoyf
3 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
4 Aether Vial
4 Path to Exile
1 Sword of Fire and Ice
*1 Cavern of Souls
*2 Forest
*2 Gavony Township
*4 Ghost Quarter
*1 Mutavault
*2 Plains
*3 Razorverge Thicket
*1 Tectonic Edge
*4 Temple Garden
*4 Windswept Heath
1 Dragonlord Dromoka
1 Eidolon of Rhetoric
1 Gaddock Teeg
1 Linvala, Keeper of Silence
1 Melira, Sylvok Outcast
4 Mirran Crusader
1 Qasali Pridemage
3 Sunlance
1 Sword of Light and Shadow
1 Vryn Wingmare

[card]Splinter Twin[/card] was a “pillar of the format” according to many Magic writers and Modern players. It has been played in the Modern format since it’s inception, and decks featuring the card have been top eighting tournaments left and right. I am not going to get into the “should Twin have been banned” argument here, but what you need to know as someone who may want to start playing Modern, is that the format is going to be very fun and somewhat unpredictable for a while as dew decks take their place in the sun.

[card]Splinter Twin[/card] decks were everywhere in the format. There were many shells that the card with its other combo friends, [card]Pestermite[/card] and [card]Deceiver Exarch[/card] lived in, which helped to mask its overall prevalence in the format. Now that Twin is gone those shells are going to have to find ways to live on their own or die off. New decks that were held in check by Twin before will now start to rise again. I am no expert on the Modern format, but I think you, as a new player, might be able to find a cheaper entry way into the competitive format right now than at any other time. Here are some of the decks that you have to choose from. Hint: Ignore the ones that have [card]Splinter Twin[/card] and [card]Summer Bloom[/card] as both of these cards were recently banned. These decks are all considered Tier 1 and 1.5.

  • Tron
  • Living End
  • Scapeshift
  • Jund
  • Junk
  • Bogles (predicted by some to be much better post-Twin banning)
  • Affinity
  • Burn
  • Infect
  • Eldrazi
  • Merfolk
  • Abzan Company
  • Control
  • Kiki Chord
  • Zoo
  • Lantern Control
  • Grishoalbrand
  • Elves
  • Ad Nauseum

There are other budget decks that are likely less competitive in large paper tournaments, but that I have found success with on MTGO. I’ve been playing the Evoke Control deck on MTGO, and it is a blast! I’ve won more than 50% of my games, which I take to be a success considering I am often playing against deck lists similar to or exactly the same as the lists found in large tournament top eights.

Budget decks are a great way for you to get a feel for the format and certain kinds of decks that inhabit it. You can build a budget deck, invest into some of the staple lands of the format, play in a tournament or two, and start to see what it is like. You might like it, or you might not, but there has never been a better time to try!

Hurry up if you plan to buy into any of the tier one decks, as Modern season is upon us. The staple cards in the format will be rising in price over the next few months as the Modern Pro Tour gets underway and many other tournaments across the country follow suit. If you acquired many of the fetch lands from Khans of Tarkhir, then you will be happy to note that those cards will play nicely in Modern. Older and popular cards like [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card], [card]Tarmogoyf[/card], [card]Liliana of the Veil[/card], and [card]Cryptic Command[/card] are very pricey right now, and I would avoid them during the turmoil of the format finding itself again.

Play a budget deck for now to see if you enjoy Modern play. For the time being, everyone else will be “figuring out” the format along with you. It is a good time to enter as you won’t feel like the only one who isn’t sure about what is happening in the game in front of you. Modern is quite different than Commander and Standard, but a blast nonetheless. Go one, give it a shot. What is the worst that could happen, ending up with a handful of [card]Mulldrifter[/card]s and [card]Esper Charm[/card]s with no place to play them? They will still be fun in your Commander games.

About the Author
David has been an on and off Magic player since the very 1st set back in 1993. He is an active card trader on PucaTrade and Deckbox under the name Rheebus, a name he used for 7 years on Dungeons and Dragons Online. He produced the longest-running segment to DDOCast called Rheebus the Rogue's Top Ten, and now aspires to contribute actively to the Magic community through writing.

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