What to Do with Modern Next

Immanuel Gerschenson

Introduction: Welcome to News at 7

Good evening and welcome to news at 7. My name is Immanuel Gerschenson, I am your host and today I have a very special guest, the most played format: Modern.

Me: So Modern, what will be your next move? Everyone is screaming for bannings, as 《Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis》 is dominating the format in ways that are not welcome. Turn 2 it produces at least 10 power for the low cost of 2-3 mana.

Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis

Modern: Immanuel, have you not learned from the past? Just wait and the format will correct itself.

Me: Sadly Modern I have to disagree here. I gave it some time, but what happened is that people either play 《Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis》 or a lot of hate. If you look at the latest premier event, the Mythic Championship IV in Barcelona, you can see that the most played card was 《Leyline of the Void》. Not enough though, as our beloved big creature still managed to post the highest win percentage against the field.

Leyline of the Void

Modern: Okay, okay, you are right, this card is too dominant, but I do not want to let my pet go after just receiving it a month ago. There must be other ways, please do not take 《Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis》 away from me!

Modern: If you take him away from me, I fear the rise of 《Arclight Phoenix》 or even worse – the Urza Tron will be out in full force. Can you imagine every second player is packing either 《Arclight Phoenix》 or Urza’s Tron? What is next? Total chaos and more bannings? I have many decks with a very high power-level and every time one of them shows up in full force, you want to get rid of it. Is there not a better way of correcting the behavior of my decks?

Arclight PhoenixKarn Liberated

Banning Everything is not a Way to Go

When Modern was first announced, Wizards of the Coast said it is supposed to be a turn 4 format (on average). Many people tried breaking this rule, succeeded and got some cards banned. Is the only way to keep Modern healthy to ban those rule-breakers? I believe it is not the only and right way, since there is always something new coming up and trying to break the health rule of Modern. Now it is 《Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis》 that is begging to be banned, but just turn time back a month and look at Modern. People wanted Phoenix decks and Dredge to get the ban-hammer.

Colossus Hammer

Let us shortly imagine a Modern world without Dredge, Izzet Phoenix and Hogaak. I can promise you that in this scenario Tron would be broken and people would want it to get banned. Let’s go a bit deeper and also add Tron to the banned list, what is next in line? Honestly no clue, but I would imagine that something like 《Devoted Druid》, 《Mox Opal》 or 《Urza, Lord High Artificer》 would be close to the next targets. You can go on with this, until there is not a single deck left that breaks the rule, but would this format be even fun at that point?

Devoted DruidMox OpalUrza, Lord High Artificer

So What Should We Do the Next?

I want to keep Modern powerful and fun, but bannings every two months make it not fun at all. Instead of banning cards I believe that restricting most of these cards would be enough to help the format, while keeping the fun aspect and its power-level. Imagine 《Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis》 only as a one of in those decks, would you still fear them as much? I do not think so. Would 《Thing in the Ice》 or 《Arclight Phoenix》 be as strong, if 《Manamorphose》 was only a one of? Once again the answer is, I do not think so.


Wizards of the Coast showed us that they are into experimenting lately, so why not try restricting cards instead of banning them? I would probably go as far as unbanning most cards on the banned list, just keep a few banned, and restrict most of these. Give it one or two months and see what people come up with.

I think this approach would make the format more open and plenty of decks could exist next to each other, while not being too broken. After all, it works in Vintage, so why should it not work for Modern?

Black LotusAncestral RecallTime Walk

It also works in other trading card games and I have never heard any complains. For example, YU-GI-OH has cards that are banned, restricted to one copy per deck and semi-restricted cards, which means two copies of a card per deck. If, for example, 《Splinter Twin》 would be semi-restricted I could see it being an actual deck again. All it takes are two copies of some cards, to have a strong, but not too broken deck.

Splinter TwinSplinter Twin

In my opinion banning a card should always be the last possible resort – if there is really a card doing a lot of harm to a peaceful and healthy format.


Please Wizards, stop banning cards and try restricting some cards. I believe that this approach could work and besides that people would not be in fear of losing a just bought deck. Just try it for a few months, it will not cost you anything and if it works, you will make many people happy.

Additionally, I would wish that someone revisited the current list of banned cards. I am sure everyone who plays Modern on a regular basis could instantly name two cards off the top of their head.

If you have any ideas, opinions on my take or just want to comment on what I wrote, please feel free to do so. I truly believe that Modern could be the best format, we just need to find a good balance for its broken stuff.

Take care and until next time, news at midnight.

Immanuel (Twitter)

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Immanuel Gerschenson Immanuel is skillful at Constructed formats and took trophies at GP Madrid 2014 (Modern) and GP Seville 2015 (Standard). He run a spicy Traverse Shadow list with 《Delay》 and went 14th place at Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan with an impressive 9-1 Constructed record. In addition, he was the runner-up of Austria Nationals 2018 it made him to be a Gold Level Pro. Read more articles by Immanuel Gerschenson