My editor told me I already made this joke last month about Bogles winning a major tournament but here we are again. You all thought it was cute when Dan Ward took down the Modern GP in Toronto but that was before Jace the Missing-in-Action Sculptor was unbanned along with his apparently much more meta-defining partner-in-crime Stoneforge Mystic Bloodbraid Elf. But now that Bogles has won the Magic Online Championship Series (aka MOCS) I think we can all agree its time for the little booger to go, yeah?

Now that that’s out of the way let’s look at what the rest of the field brought to play Modern at the MOCS…

  • 7 x Jund
  • 3 x Bogles
  • 2 x 5-Color Zoo
  • 2 x BR Hollow One
  • 2 x Burn
  • 2 x Grixis Control
  • 1 x Bant Control
  • 1 x Mardu Pyromancer
  • 1 x Merfolk
  • 1 x UR Control
  • 1 x White Blue Death-and-Taxes

For those of you keeping score at home, that’s 10 copies of Jace, the Mind Sculptor and 36 copies of Bloodbraid Elf. Not only did all seven Jund players sleeve up the recently unbanned badass Elf warrior but so did the two 5-color Zoo decks. Now, the MOCS is in no way indicative of the overall Modern metagame, but holy heck that’s a big difference and a huge outlier in what still looks like a mostly healthy Modern metagame.

But is it a healthy metagame? Let’s take a look at a few collections of Modern decklists:

The tl;dr is that the format is still very healthy, and that in all reality the MOCS metagame is heavily skewed by the limited number of players in the event and the face that many of them test together with large teams and played similar decks. You see a similar effect when you look at the World Championship metagame, another event with a very small and highly-talented player pool.

Those two leagues and one challenge event saw a total of three Bogles decks, one in each event. They saw fairly comparable Jace and Jund-based decks but not with any sort of volume that should cause alarm. It’s very interesting to see how well Bogles does though once it clears its way through to the top of a major event.

One of the things that makes Modern, Legacy, and Vintage great is that they foster decks that can attack from unique angles. Sure, it’s a pain to sideboard for tournaments and leads to more interesting discussions around expanding sideboards to 25 slots, or creating formats where you bring multiple decks a la Hearthstone. But at the end of the day its important for Bogles to exist for the metagame to remain healthy.

There used to be a format called Extended which was basically the last four years or so of Standard. There was nothing interesting about it. You were just watching a window into what Standard looked like two rotations ago. Modern doesn’t rotate which theoretically means the metagame can continue to grow as new and interesting cards are pumped into it.

The role of banning cards is to protect this delicate balance from strategies that would be too consistently good. Bogles is not consistently good but perhaps its consistently good against the sort of decks that pro players like to employ such as Jund and other mid-range-y control decks.

Here’s the bottom line: Wizards seems to have been right, about Jace, the Mind Sculptor and about Bloodbraid Elf. That’s impressive considering the state of chaos Standard has been in for the past year or so and the state of chaos Modern has been in for the past four years or so. The idea that both formats are approaching or have even reached a state where they’re not only fun to play but fun to watch is remarkable.

Rich Stein is a retired Magic player, an amateur content creator, and a Level 2 Social Justice Sorcerer. He hopes to eventually become a professional content creator and a Level 20 dual class Social Justice Sorcerer/Bard but he’s more than content to remain a retired Magic player. You can follow his musings on Twitter @RichStein13.

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