The End of a Modern Era: B&R Update January 13, 2020

Our first banned and restricted update of the new decade, and it is leaving nothing to the imagination.


This changes everything.

The ban on Oko was foretold a mile away. It was no secret how dominating he has been in most every format he’s touched, and Modern was no exception. I am honestly glad they took their time with banning him however, as he deserved a fair trial. Oko ended up being in 40% of decks in Modern with an average win rate above 55% (as noted on the update page). I’m sad that I can no longer curve Wrenn and Six into Oko, but it’s a small price to pay for salvation. One thing that I found quite interesting as well, Oko is the first Planeswalker (aside from Deathrite Shaman) to get banned in Modern. It comes as no surprise he would get the ax, just fascinating that there is now a Planeswalker on the Modern ban list.

Mox Opal. It’s about time.

When I first started playing Modern around four years ago, Affinity was the top deck. As time went on, it very slowly fell out of favor, not being able to keep up with the metagame after not getting any solid upgrades for a long while. There were a few good moments when I thought for sure Opal would get hit by the hammer, but it never did. As time went on and Urza, Lord High Artificer got printed, Affinity faded into ambiguity as Whirza took up the Mox Opal mantle. This is when I started believing Opal needed to be banned.

Urza decks are un-interactive and boring to play against, while also being able to consistently and quickly combo off. It has been a nightmare for the format, and is what I largely contribute to being the culprit behind players leaving Modern. You’re safe for now Pioneer.

Mycosynth Lattice was a small surprise to be sure, but a welcome one. I understand the un-fun of the combo, and I’ve been locked by it myself, so seeing this interaction with Karn, the Great Creator no longer being viable makes me want to start brewing again.

Overall, very solid update. I remember a time in Modern when fair decks could flourish. When the midrange, aggro, and control decks lived in harmony as the pillars of the format. I believe we are once again entering an era of Modern when the three can live in harmony. I’m not saying ramp and combo are gone, as Eldrazi Tron and Titan decks will still be played and rampant I’m sure, but this is a strong step in the right direction.

To sign off, I would like to take a moment of silence for Affinity.

A pillar of the format indeed. I have lost to Affinity more than any other deck in the history of my Magic career, and I truly believe that it no longer has what it takes to stand up to the test of Modern. It’s not the first of its kind, Faithless Looting and Splinter Twin are examples of these pillars of old Modern being taken down in order to make way for the new.

In the words of J.R.R. Tolkien, “I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.

Affinity paid for the crimes committed by Urza, and I hope all players of Affinity, past and present, can find solace knowing the greater good was achieved. I leave you now with the parting words of King Théodin;

I go to my fathers, in whose mighty company, I shall not now feel ashamed.

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