This ban update has my mind reeling; Hogaak is banned, Looting is banned, and SFM is unbanned. Today we will ascertain the futures of Modern’s top decks based on their statistical matchups against the former format kings. In reality, long term metagame prediction is impossible. You could argue that Jund will rise, Tron will rise to beat it, Infect will rise to beat Tron, and Jund will rise to beat Infect. That is the nature of a developing metagame. What we can do is look at the data and predict the immediate impact this B&R update will have.
Today we will be using match win percentages from the combined results of Grands Prix Barcelona and Minneapolis. Matchups with small sample sizes have not been considered in order to maintain accuracy. Dataset comes from Tobi Henke at CFB. We will examine decks and rank their winning futures based on their matchup against Hogvine directly. The losing decks though, are coming off of a ban so their matchup data is no longer relevant.
1. UW Control
Hogvine Matchup: 33.3% MWP
Mono-Red Matchup: 37.9% MWP
No deck was smashed as hard by Hogvine as UW Control. To succeed, they had no choice but to mainboard Surgical Extraction and run additional hate in the board. Even then, Hogvine was winning this matchup twice as often as UW Control was. Their Mono-Red matchup was also the worst among tiered decks. As a deck full of answers, this ban represents an additional slots in the seventy-five and two bad matchups being toppled. What’s that? You say they unbanned Stoneforge Mystic too? Yes indeed, it finally happened. UW Control lost its worst matchups and gained a powerful new toy. Honestly, I am not sure how this affects these decks. Perhaps they move in a midrange direction. Maybe they add a color because the lifelink, vigilance threat can pay off their manabase pain. Whatever they decide to do with it, SFM is a net gain for the archetype.
Hogvine Matchup: 34.1% MWP
Mono-Red Matchup: 44.9% MWP
Jund was getting run over by Hogvine almost as hard as UW Control but unlike UW it still managed to perform quite well at the tail end of Hog Summer. The common sentiment among the community, at least from what I have seen, is that Jund was poised to claim the throne post-ban. Like UW, this is a deck full of answers and now they have room for more of them. It is also pleased to not be facing down Mono-Red anymore, though the matchup was not awful. On top of that it sports a 64.5% MWP against UW Control, which as explained above is expected to rise. The best answer to Stoneforge Mystic is Kolaghan’s Command and Jund is the best deck for it at the moment. SFM is serious card advantage though so it may bring this matchup closer to center. Two poor matchups leaving and being well positioned against the new top deck is a sweet place to be though.
Hogvine Matchup: 37.3% MWP
Mono-Red Matchup: 40.0% MWP
Tron is such an interesting case in the Modern format this year. It was expected by many to break the format if the London mulligan was adopted, which did not happen. It was expected by some to break the format with Karn the Great Creator; which did not happen. The rebirth of Jund was the perfect opportunity for Tron to rear its ugly head but again, this did not happen. The Hogvine and Mono-Red matchups were just too brutal. When you played Tron against one of these decks, it would make you wonder “are we even playing the same format?”. Well, you will not have to wonder anymore as the answer has become a resounding “nope”. Tron is looking to put that 69.5% MWP against Jund to use and we will truly see just how broken the deck is. Do keep in mind though that while SFM is not good against the deck, UW Control boasts a 56.9% MWP against it.
This deck is utterly dead and it deserved it. It tore through the format soon after the release of Modern Horizons. The banning of Bridge from Below was barely a speed bump. It was the most powerful Modern deck we have seen since Eldrazi Winter thawed. Arguably, Hogaak would have been enough of a ban. The deck was Tier 3 when it had Bridge and Looting but lacked Hogaak. Alongside Hogaak it gained Carrion Feeder and Altar of Dementia from Horizons. You could argue that those two were a fair trade for the loss of Bridge from Below. With no Hogaak and no Bridge though, the deck’s playability was questionable. Throw in the Looting ban on top and it looks like this archetype has no shot. There appears to be no compelling reason to explore the strategy further.
The Hogaak ban barely mattered to Dredge at face value. The few remaining Dredge faithful would play a couple during Hog Summer but it was not a necessity. If anything, the ban would be beneficial as many Hogvine would fall back to playing traditional Dredge. This would likely lead to graveyard being less common as well; it was at an all-time high after all. Unfortunately, the Faithless Looting ban is a massive blow to the deck. It was far and away the decks best Turn 1 play. Then once the graveyard well stacked, they could flash it back and dredge as many as ten more cards. Looting was so crucial to the function of the deck that it will be hard to recover. That being said, there is still plenty of room to brew and graveyard hate will be exceedingly rare for at least a few weeks.
3. Phoenix Decks
It is a mixed bag on whether these decks can be called bystanders or not. Izzet Phoenix had an incredible run through the first half of the year but as of late had very much fallen in line. Mono-Red Prowess had shot past it though and quickly became the second best deck in the format; some with Phoenix, some without. You could argue that it too would have fallen in line with Hogaak out of the format. Regardless of where you stand on the decks, this is quite a sting. Izzet builds may fall back on Izzet Charm as one of the modes is an instant speed Faithless Looting. Though you could argue that they just lean more in the Blue Moon direction. Believe it or not, I think Mono-Red builds will be just fine without Looting. Even when Looting was legal, we advocated for a build without it. Phoenix-less players will miss their Bedlam Revelers but trust me, your deck is not dead my friend.
This is a lot to take in. As you can see from yesterday’s prediction article, we did not see this coming at all. The Hogaak ban was obvious but Looting too? Then throwing SFM’s unban on top? This has been such a turbulent few months for the Modern format. Love it or hate it, this is now the format we play. So how do you plan to tackle it? Brewing with Stoneforge Mystic? Trying to figure out how to make your Looting deck work again? Let’s work on it together in our discussion group. Or if you would like to take a swing at writing content for the site you can contact us directly here. We will be back tomorrow with another article for you to enjoy. Until then my friends.