I knew [casthaven]Summer Bloom[/casthaven] was getting banned. Despite recently writing a defense of my favorite green sorcery, I knew it was only a matter of time before I could no longer make turn two [casthaven]Primeval Titan[/casthaven]s. While I got a little emotional unsleeving the deck that has brought me a good deal of success in the past year, I’m excited to move forward. I’m excited to play Modern knowing that I’ll never get [casthaven]Splinter Twin[/casthaven]’ed out of the game again.

Honestly, I didn’t see a [casthaven]Splinter Twin[/casthaven] ban coming. I had griped about the deck quite a bit over the years, but just saw it as being a cornerstone of Modern. Twin was, in my estimation, the best deck in the format and nixing it allows for innovation. Fellow Hipster Brendan McNamara had a particularly salient comment about the ban in a tweet, “Still loving the Twin ban in Modern. The strong UR cards remain format staples, they just don’t get to play easy mode combo kill.” The worst part about Twin was that you always had to respect the combo and stunt your board progression in order to hold up removal. Meanwhile, Twin could simply continue to draw cards, play instant speed threats, and protect their combo with additional counters. With Twin itself banned, the deck has to morph into a slower combo deck with Kiki-Jiki at the helm or the pilot can audible to a viable Grixis Control/UWR list. If you have the cards for Twin you’re most of the way there to building another good deck, which is more than can be said for Bloom pilots.

Regardless of my opinions on the bans, they are done, and what’s important now is how to move forward in a new Modern meta. The first thing to look at is the best and worst match-ups for Twin and Bloom to see how these decks move up or down in the power rankings.

Twin—

Good Match-upsBloom Titan, Tron, Infect
Bad Match-upsGBx (Abzan/Jund), Merfolk, Scapeshift

Bloom—

Good Match-upsGBx, Burn, Zoo
Bad Match-upsInfect, Twin, Hatebears

While we don’t have a lot of overlap between these lists, it’s reasonable to believe that Tron, Infect, Burn, and Scapeshift get better post banning. In fact, the secondary market has begun adjusting accordingly:

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There’s a lot of data to process in determining what the new meta looks like but no actual results to guide our research. It seems reasonable to me to imagine that the tier system is a bit nebulous at this point and that GBx, Tron, Infect, Burn, and Affinity are more or less the best decks in the format. If you are open to playing anything, I don’t think you can go wrong with playing Burn the first few weeks of this new format. It can go under Jund and Tron, has plenty of spot removal to make Infect a competitive game, and while unfavored against Affinity isn’t an auto-loss. I like this build from MTGO user Hoodace from a recent MTGO Constructed League.

Hoodace MTGO Constructed League 1/15/16

Lands (19)
Arid Mesa
Bloodstained Mire
Mountain
Sacred Foundry
Stomping Ground
Windswept Heath
Wooded Foothills

Creatures (18)
Eidolon of the Great Revel
Goblin Guide
Grim Lavamancer
Monastery Swiftspear
Wild Nacatl

Spells (23)
Atarka’s Command
Boros Charm
Lava Spike
Lightning Bolt
Lightning Helix
Rift Bolt
Searing Blaze
Sideboard (15)
Destructive Revelry
Lightning Helix
Path to Exile
Pyrite Spellbomb
Rest in Peace
Searing Blaze
Skullcrack

Since I’m unsatisfied with ever playing the best deck, I’ll be playing either [casthaven]Ad Nauseam[/casthaven] or Elves at the start of the format. I like Ad Nauseam because it’s great against [casthaven]Scapeshift[/casthaven], Tron, and Burn and while it does struggle against GBx decks, the match-up isn’t unwinnable post board. In terms of Elves, the deck’s worst match-up was arguably Twin. Twin had a more consistent clock as well as disruption ([casthaven]Electrolyze[/casthaven], [casthaven]Lightning Bolt[/casthaven], and [casthaven]Izzet Staticaster[/casthaven] out of the side) that punished the tiny forest people. Without Twin, Elves seems like a reasonable choice for the meta. It is a beating against fair decks, reasonable against aggro, and operates at comparable speed with other combo decks.

I’d start with a list like this one from MTGO user EskimoJoe:

EskimoJoe MTGO Constructed League 12/30/15

Lands (18)
Cavern of Souls
Forest
Gilt-Leaf Palace
Horizon Canopy
Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
Pendelhaven
Razorverge Thicket

Creatures (34)
Dwynen’s Elite
Elvish Archdruid
Elvish Champion
Elvish Mystic
Ezuri, Renegade Leader
Heritage Druid
Llanowar Elves
Mirror Entity
Nettle Sentinel
Reclamation Sage
Shaman of the Pack
Spellskite

Spells (8)
Chord of Calling
Collected Company
Sideboard (15)
Burrenton Forge-Tender
Chameleon Colossus
Choke
Dauntless Escort
Fracturing Gust
Hushwing Gryff
Kataki, War’s Wage
Lead the Stampede
Melira, Sylvok Outcast
Reclamation Sage
Scavenging Ooze
Spellskite

The manabase here is a little bit ambitious but playing the white splash allows for [casthaven]Burrenton Forge-Tender[/casthaven], [casthaven]Dauntless Escort[/casthaven], and [casthaven]Kataki, War’s Wage[/casthaven] out of the sideboard. What I really like about Elves is the ability to present an explosive start but also have the ability to grind out games. The fact that you get to play a [casthaven]Chord of Calling[/casthaven] toolbox post board is excellent and really helpful in difficult matches. Playing Infect? Grab Melira. Playing against Tron with [casthaven]Pyroclasm[/casthaven]? Grab Forge-Tender. Playing against Affinity? Kataki is pretty good against them. I also believe that for decks that can play it, [casthaven]Fracturing Gust[/casthaven] may be the single best sideboard card against Affinity. Not only is an instant speed [casthaven]Shatterstorm[/casthaven], but it very quickly puts you out of range of Galvanic Blast.

Ultimately, it will take a little bit for the Modern meta game to take shape. For my money, I would want to play a deck with a strong proactive game plan that can end the game quickly, at least until we have some real results. Also, it’s probably okay to start cutting Bloom/Twin specific sideboard cards. I don’t think you want to have a bunch of [casthaven]Torpor Orb[/casthaven], [casthaven]Choke[/casthaven], or [casthaven]Rending Volley[/casthaven] hanging out in your board when they could be more relevant answers. Regardless, I’m excited to move forward with this new format and hope that the secondary market gods smile upon me as I attempt to put together some new lists.

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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