Last week, Modern writer and brewer Jeff Hoogland posted this on twitter:

this is fine

While I tend to quietly lurk around the twittersphere, letting others duke it out in 140 characters or less, I decided to respond to this one. I’ve written a lot about Bloom Titan, eleven articles, and have played the deck for a year and half now. Though I would hesitate to call myself an expert on anything, I feel I have a pretty good grasp of the deck’s strengths, weaknesses, and place within the metagame. I can’t say I agree with Jeff, or the sentiment I see echoed all over social media that Summer Bloom, or another piece of the Bloom Titan deck should be banned.

The criteria Wizards have set for banning a card in Modern is somewhat nebulous, however, after culling through the B&R announcements, I have a general idea about ban worthy cards. Bannable cards fit one, or more of, the following criteria:

  • This card enables consistent turn three kills (Blazing Shoal, Chrome Mox, Rite of Flame). These are cards that do something patently unfair before opponents can meaningfully interact.
  • Dominant at large level events. Looking at Pro Tour Return to Ravnica in 2012 there were three Jund decks in the top eight, two in Chicago after that, three in GP Toronto a few months later. Deathrite Shaman and Bloodbraid Elf were deemed too powerful and got the axe.
  • The sake of format diversity. This category dovetails into the previous one a little. If one deck is dominant on the GP circuit and also stifles the development of other decks then perhaps it will see a ban. Birthing Pod is a card that enabled a very consistent creature-based midrange deck. Without Birthing Pod, new creature-based strategies could take hold.
  • It’s really boring. Playing against the Eggs deck was really boring. The deck took a long time to win, it was uninteractive, and people really hated playing against it. They decided to ban Second Sunrise to nix the power level of the deck, to the chagrin of only Stanislav Cifka and Nathan Holiday who had won major events with the deck.

With that in mind, let’s discuss whether Bloom Titan as a deck has cards that meet these criteria.

  • Consistent turn three kills. Bloom Titan is capable of killing an opponent on turn two given a hand of untapped land, karoo land, Amulet of Vigor, Summer Bloom, Hive Mind, and Summoner’s Pact. This is not generally a common occurrence. Most of my information here is anecdotal but at GP Pittsburgh, out of 31 matches, I killed an opponent on turn two or three only twice. 6% of the time. However, it is worth noting that resolving a turn two or three Primeval Titan, while not winning the game on the spot does generate considerable advantage. A turn three Titan is often enough to win the game, with or without an Amulet. Even if they have spot removal for titan, it is possible to just chain together more titans thanks to Tolaria West and Summoner’s Pact. I can understand that the deck’s ability to combo early and resiliency to spot removal is frustrating and this is why people want to see the deck go away. However, I strongly believe that there are more than enough tools in Modern, many of them maindeckable, to keep the power level of titan in check. Since the deck relies on a variety of spells to cast an early Titan or Hive Mind, hand disruption is especially potent against the deck. An early Inquisition of Kozilek or Thoughtseize can delay the deck considerably. Decks like Jund, with the ability to Thoughtseize away a combo piece and then play a threat are more than reasonable against most Bloom Hands. While Bloom has a singleton copy of Cavern of Souls, counter magic is also reasonable against the deck, stopping explosive starts and countering big spells. Land destruction, especially in the form of Ghost Quarter is excellent against the deck. Tax effects that stop the Bloom player from searching his or her library such as Leonin Arbiter, Shadow of Doubt, and Aven Mindcensor are also good against the deck. And of course, Blood Moon is the bane of this deck’s existence. Even when siding in multiple pieces of enchantment removal, I have lost a considerable number of games to the Eighth edition enchantment. The card just shuts down the entire deck.To top it off, Bloom has plenty of terrible match-ups, including most of the other combo decks in the format. I have found Tron to be 50/50 and the midrange decks such as Jund, Junk, and Grixis to be only slightly in the Bloom players favor.
  • Dominant at large level events. While there are a bunch of ways to combat Bloom Titan, I don’t think the average deck is forced to run many. I am not saying this as a Bloom player who wants to avoid hate, but as someone who realizes that Bloom is a small percentage of the metagame. According to MTGTop8, it’s about 3%, which is extremely low in comparison to Twin’s 12%, Burn’s 10%, Affinity’s 8%, Jund’s 8%, and Tron’s 8%. To offer more anecdotal evidence, I have never played against the mirror in a GP, PPTQ, or 5K. This of course fits into the larger narrative of how well is this deck doing at large events? Is Bloom Titan filling up top eights all over the place? The answer is no. Since the deck’s inception in late 2013, it has put a single copy in seven top eights in GPs and Pro Tour Events. So two years, seven top eights. Compare this to Twin variants which have 14 decks in various PT & GP top eights in the last 16 months.

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  • The sake of format diversity. I have no evidence that the existence of Bloom Titan is suppressing other archetypes in the format. If Bloom Titan didn’t exist, perhaps some of the good match-ups would see more play, but it’s not like Burn or Zoo are underrepresented right now.
  • It’s boring. I don’t think Bloom Titan is boring. There is a lot of thinking involved with the deck but even the longest Bloom Titan turn never resembles that of Eggs or Storm for that matter.

If Wizards is really intent on banning a piece of Bloom Titan, I hope it’s not Summer Bloom. The card is the backbone of the deck and without it, Bloom Titan is just a mess of Primeval Titans and terrible lands. If Wizards wanted to stop actual turn three wins, it would make the most sense to ban Hive Mind. The card is stupid and only ever used with pacts as a degenerate way to win the game. If you worry that the deck can operate too quickly, ban Amulet of Vigor. Without Amulet, the deck would be forced to shift its axis from a Combo/Ramp deck to a Ramp/Midrange Deck. This does not signify the death knell for the deck entirely, though I would assume that it would be worse than Tron as a big mana deck with late game inevitability. Regardless, as I said, I don’t believe we need to see a ban for anything in Bloom Titan. The deck is clearly very good, but is not dominating the tournament scene, represents a very small percentage of the metagame, does not consistently combo kill on turn three, and can be disrupted by a variety of methods including hand disruption, counter magic, taxing effects, land destruction, and Blood Moon.

Bloom Titan is powerful but, contrary to Hoogland’s claims, of an appropriate power level for Modern.


In terms of Magic, Shawn Massak is a Modern enthusiast, with a penchant for tier two decks, counterspells, and pre Eighth Edition frames. In terms of life, Shawn lives in Brighton, MA where he works as an employment coordinator for people with disabilities, plays guitar in an indie-pop band, and spends his free time reading comics, complaining about pro-wrestling, and wishing his apartment allowed dogs as pets.

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