Quick Thoughts About Design in Modern

Currently $50. We'll see how long that lasts.


In case you didn’t hear, Wizards announced a new format aptly named Modern. It’s a non-rotating format from expansions and core sets 8th Edition and Mirrodin forward (No Commander, no Duel Decks unless those cards have been printed in sets since 8th Edition). Everywhere in the MTG Internetsphere is buzzing with excitement; though to be fair, they did the same buzz for Extended and see how that played out?

When “Overextended” was rumored last year, I did a whole write up about my thoughts about porting stuff over and what it generally means if the format is created. That format wasn’t, though this one is. Today, I just quickly want to address some ideas about Modern, and what it means for us:

Ravnica Dual Lands –

When the whole Reserved List issue being pretty much solved early last year, I said that Design needs to step up and create new Dual Lands. My argument is that a format needs to have lands to operate. Since the original dual lands can’t be reprinted due to the Reserved List, and the Ravnica Duals weren’t competitive enough, I suggested some ideas of Duals that could work.

But in Modern, we have the Ravnica Dual lands as clearly being the best instead of second place. Because of this, the Ravnica Duals have shot up in price:

Yeah, it’s climbed almost 200% in the past month (The Community Cup was 2 months ago and you can see this in the chart down below). This is all due to speculation when no one’s even played a single sanctioned Modern game yet. Here’s what I said in the Overextended piece:

This does mean that the Ravnica lands have a good chance at being reprinted either in a Core Set or expansion. Wizards chose the vague names so (shock) they could be reprinted without having issue with flavor settings (as evidence by this whole fiasco with the painlands in 9th Edition). That’s why you see the Zendikar Fetchlands also have vague names; they have a good chance sometime in the far future of being reprinted as well.

The Ravnica Duals have a huge change of being reprinted (but this, like the prices, is all speculation). If, as rumored, we re-visit Ravnica again, there’s a good chance that they guys will be back if not sooner. Because everything in the Modern format has been printed after the Reserved List closed, any card has the chance to be reprinted at any time. Dual lands are important to the format, if they want to foster it and continue for it to grow, I say there’s a very good chance you’ll see them reprinted. You have been warned.

Modern Design –

But this is also a great place in the Design history to start a new format. During Odyssey and Onslaught blocks, there was some huge shifting in the Color Pie where colors either lost or received new abilities. That might be a post someday (if you’re interested, let me know), but all the “mistakes” that WotC made in the past are basically forgiven and the game has “started over” in terms of design. Blue doesn’t get direct damage nor super insane counterspells, lands are almost fair, artifacts costs are almost correct and Storm might not see play at all. At the beginning of the this design period, WotC played it close to the chest in terms of power.

Go ahead and point to the Banned list. Going out and trying new things in design is perfectly fine and that’s how the game grows. If no one pushed the envelope, we would be stuck with Homelands. All of the cards on the banned list are banned for going too far for power, not being in the wrong colors or being a mistake. A good number of them are banned for being part of a degenerate combo and that’s going to happen when you design a game where cards work together. Other ones were pushing a new concept to see how far it goes (equipment and Planeswalkers).

None of these cards are bad designs and there are still a great number of cards legal that do crazy things. But the majority of the cards (ignoring the Timeshifted sheet), fit into the colors. Where Modern begins is the cross-point in the game’s history where it finally matured with design and almost makes it feel like it’s a renaissance of the beginning of the game again (Like November 5, 1955). There’s a huge design change when the frames where changed; this is Magic’s “Fixed” format.

Because design makes sense from this point onward, then it’s reasonable to expect anything to get reprinted (like I said earlier). If new Dual Lands get printed, soon they will be the choice of duals and Ravnica ones will be tossed by the wayside and give Modern and Legacy a chance to duke them out. In this growing format there are only 5 fetchlands and the Ravnica ones might not be the only ones used. Tribes can use their Lorwyn tribal lands, and other lands that use mechanics might show up in the future. Design is more focused and has more experience, which means “better” designed lands.

More powerful doesn’t mean better.

These are just a couple of quick thoughts I had. I’m currently writing 5 articles and planning many more as I go along. With PAX coming up next weekend, I’ve got one panned for next week, and my usual PAX review the following week. I’ve got two secret projects I’m working on for this site that you’ll see around the end of this year. Just been busy, you know?

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