Shifting Fortunes: Top 8 Decks Affected By The KCI Ban

The time for speculation is over. Instead of the typical, “No Changes,” the DCI finally decided that Krark-Clan Ironworks created too many issues in the format. While many thought Ancient Stirrings would be the card to be banned if KCI became too powerful, the DCI decided to keep the casualties to a minimum and surgically extract KCI from the format. Today we will be going over what this means for the format going forward.

For these matchup win percentages, our numbers come from this article from MTG Modern Metrics. They share our passion for numbers and I highly recommend that you check them out. This data was compiled using a self survey from Erzel_ which allowed respondents to identify their deck as well as their opponent’s deck at the Grand Prix level. There are some caveats with this way of sampling, but overall, it should provide an accurate analysis of the matchups at the GP level.

1. Titanshift (21.9% MWP)
According to the data, Titanshift versus KCI was the most lopsided matchup in the Modern format among tiered decks. Titanshift not only says goodbye to a terrible matchup, it is likely to see favorable metagame shifts elsewhere. Titanshift is a turn four combo deck and it is very good at that. However, KCI was just too fast and resilient for Titanshift to do anything about it. The interaction Titanshift did play was rarely enough to actually survive beyond Turn 4 and even rarer to do so with seven lands. The deck’s worst matchup has disappeared and it is favored against the grindy decks that struggled with KCI. Expect Titanshift, and other ramp decks, to come back in a big way.

2. Jund (31.3% MWP)
Jund has been a fan favorite in Modern since its inception. They pride themselves on 50/50 matchups that are won via outplaying the opponent. Unfortunately, KCI was a bad matchup and it required a lot of dedicated sideboard hate to effectively beat. Moving forward, Jund will be very happy that it no longer needs to worry about finding sideboard slots or virtually forfeiting the matchup. Our very own Michael Kidd did well at SCG Worcester recently by dodging the matchup. He was kind enough to write a tournament report and guide for us, which will be more useful than ever with KCI out of the format.

3. Jeskai (37.3% MWP)
Jeskai pilots will also be very happy to see KCI gone. The traditional thought is that Jeskai was better against creature decks like Spirits and Humans while U/W shined in matchups where the extra removal was poor. U/W boasted a slightly winning percentage at 50.5% vs KCI which is a far cry from Jeskai’s poor 37.3%. This is the most drastically different matchup percentage between UW and Jeskai Control. If you are a U/W Miracles player it is very likely that you should be giving the red splash another try now. However, this will depend on whether big mana or creature decks are more popular in the new meta. Red spot removal will be invaluable against creature decks but Field of Ruin will be necessary to take on the ramp decks.

4. Affinity (37.4% MWP)
Traditional Affinity has taken a massive fall from grace in the past year or so. Traditionally being one of the top decks in the format, Affinity was dethroned by KCI and Hardened Scales Affinity. It is likely that Hardened Scales may still the better deck going forward but that data is unavailable. Regardless, both versions benefit from the B&R update. KCI was bad matchup and demanded strong artifact hate cards like Stony Silence. The loss of a bad matchup and the potential for artifact hate to go down are both good signs for a legendary deck that seems to be on life support.

1. Infect (57.5% MWP)

KCI is exactly the type of deck that Infect preys upon. Infect is faster than KCI and was able to mostly shrug off their light interaction. Infect has long been a fringe player but was a good metagame call recently. Many players lamented the format’s linearity but for Infect such conditions are ideal. It had the best KCI matchup in the format and difficult interactive matchups were being suppressed. That matchup is gone and the fate of the rest are questionable. If ramp decks surge, Infect will have potential to shine. But that is a big if and at face value Infect lost some appeal with this B&R update.

2. Grixis Shadow (57.1% MWP)
Grixis Death’s Shadow is another deck that was very well positioned to beat KCI. The combination of large threats, discard, and counterspells made it incredibly difficult for KCI to get its engines going. GDS has more flexibility in how you build it compared to something like Infect, but there is a core strategy that metagame conditions can invalidate. It is hard to say where they go from here but one of the key advantages they had over Jund, a positive KCI matchup, is now irrelevant. Admittedly though, it has a favorable matchup against every deck listed in the winner’s section of this article.

3. Storm (54.3% MWP)
With KCI gone, Storm can reclaim the title of best spell-slinging combo deck. However, it is not all positive for Storm. KCI and Infect were two of Storm’s best matchups. One is definitely going away and the other is facing a potential down turn with the loss of one of it’s best matchups. It may see more play as dejected KCI players look for a new deck to play. However, at a glance it does not appear that the metagame will be friendly to the deck. Like Infect though, it is waiting and hoping for ramp decks to durdle their way back into the format.

4. Bant Spirits (MWP Unavailable)
Finally we have Bant Spirits. While we don’t currently have matchup data, it has been noted by both sides that Bant Spirits was one of the harder matchups for KCI. Bant Spirtis had a sideboard full of cards like Stony Silence and Rest in Peace that are exactly what you would want in the KCI matchup. The powerful sideboard is one of the major reasons to choose Bant Spirits over a deck like Humans. This deck was already beginning to falter as a result of the rise of Izzet Phoenix. In many ways this deck is as powerful as the white sideboard options are in the format at the time and currently they are much weaker than they were in 2018.

The Krark-Clan Ironworks banning is going to shake up the modern meta, but it remains to be seen how much. It is always difficult to predict how a ban will impact the format and it is exacerbated by a new set release coming in the same week. We’ll have to wait for the answers, but it’s a great time to get tuning and brewing. Tomorrow will be Ravnican Allegiance release day and we will usher it in with the top new cards that could make an impact in the Modern format. What will you be sleeving up in this new meta? Come discuss it in our new Facebook group.

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