Modern Snapshot: December 2019

With October and November in the books we are pulling the data to prepare you for the coming weeks. This data set contains nearly 1,500 decklists and I am especially excited to see the effect of Throne of Eldraine on the format. We will comb over the expansive data set to establish the leading archetypes as well as the best performing mainboard and sideboard cards in the Modern format. Make sure to compare this data side-by-side with last month’s data to see how things have changed.

Methodology

All data has been pulled from mtgtop8.com. The data set contains more than 1,500 decklists from October and November 2019 tournament results. Archetypes that comprised 5% or more of the dataset have been identified above. Individual cards have been ranked by dominance rating. This is calculated by multiplying the percent of decks they appear in by the average number of copies that appear in said decks. For frame of reference, a card that appears in 25% of decks as a two of will have a 0.5 dominance rating. For a hypothetical, 100-player tourney this means that there would be 0.5 copies of said card per player in the room.

Archetypes
Well it took much longer than I expected it to. Since the Hogaak ban, I have been claiming that Urza decks were the format’s best. But as far as the data was concerned, they were just among the best. Finally they have reached the summit thanks to Throne cards such as Emry and Oko. They dominated the last Open we covered and took the trophy at the GP we missed. This has reignited the Opal ban discussions but personally I am not sure we are at that point yet. The deck is great and resilient but I do not think it is at a KCI level. Either way, it is extremely effective and you should tailor your sideboard to combat it. Just behind it is Death’s Shadow whose rapid accession has been spectacular. It was not even ranked in our October entry before jumping to third last month and now it sits in second place. They are mostly Grixis but Sultai and UBRG builds are finding success as well; rip to Mardu but Stubborn Denial is too good to pass up right now.

Eldrazi have begun to regain share as well. They fell near the cutoff when Hogaak was banned but have been creeping up ever since. The Tron builds are the most popular by far but various Ancient Stirrings builds pop up as well. On the other hand, Burn has begun to decline after dominating for two month’s straight. The hate cards for it are narrow but generally game-winning and people finally began to play them. With a full post-Eldraine dataset Amulet Titan was able to return thanks to Once Upon A Time and Castle Garenbrig. The deck has received a heavy consistency buff and I expect it to climb even higher from here. The final two decks to make the cutoff were UWx Stoneblade and Tron. They both have dropped slightly from the previous month but that still lands them among the best decks. However, UWx Stoneblade contains both Bant Snowblade decks and UW Midrange decks with Stoneforge Mystic. Even with the summation, the archetype barely made the cutoff.


Top 11 Mainboard Cards
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This month we had to do a Top 11 as Thoughtseize was just 0.002 dominance rating behind Fatal Push. Much of the Top 11 are the usual suspects but we do see some surprising swings. Most surprisingly, Path to Exile has fallen out of the ranking for the fist time this year. In fact, there are no white spells at all. Do not fret though, Path was in 12th at a 0.49 dominance rating. But this was a drastic drop from last month’s 0.62 dominance. Noble Hierarch is finally back in the ranking for the first time since August. Mishra’s Bauble popped up for the first time last month and now is all of the way up to 2nd place. The most notable entrant though is Once Upon A Time. From the moment this card was spoiled I have been praising it. We have two full articles on the statistical value of this card. It is the best green spell in the format and, in my opinion, the best Standard printing since Fatal Push. You may be surprised to see that Oko, Thief of Crowns did not make it; I was surprised too. He is currently gaining a lot of attention but he just is not there yet. It is an excellent card, my pick for best Planeswalker in the game, but in this data period he managed a paltry 0.44 rating. He almost certainly will be in here next year.

Top 10 Sideboard Cards
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Perhaps we should have not made an exception for Thoughtseize in the mainboard ranking because it was dominant enough to make the sideboard Top 10 as well. Path also showed up here after failing to make mainboard. It is largely business as usual from there. Notably, Sphere launched itself past Brutality; which held near-constant from last month. Veil of Summer climbed as well as folks realize it to be the best color-hate spell in the format. I am still shocked by Disdainful Stroke as I have never been impressed by it in the past. But the data does not lie and it is the premier sideboard counterspell in recent months. Rest in Peace, on the other hand, has disappeared and the age of white being Modern’s best sideboard color seems to be over. Dismember has returned as well and I am surprised to ever see this card miss the ranking. Sure it’s sideboard ranking is lessened by mainboard play, but as a removal spell that can be played in any deck, I would expect it to consistently place higher. Regardless, it made the cut this month.

Wrap-Up
It is pretty stunning how many of Modern’s most dominant spells have been printed this year. The current leading archetype did not exist before 2019 either. The power creep has really ramped up and I am not sure how to feel about it. Are you pleased to see the Modern format become so dynamic? Or has it started to feel like the format is unofficially rotating? It is a love/hate thing for me and I see arguments for both sides. Please share your thoughts with us 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 off until next year as the holidays are a very slow time for Magic. There will not be a January Snaphot for this same reason; limited data. However, look forward to us wrapping up 2019 as a whole. Until then my friends.

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