I have been playing a lot less Modern than I would like lately. Usually I like to get in a few games a day, either online or in paper. But for the past several weeks, graveyard strategies have caused me to lean more and more out of the format. This is obviously an opinion some may disagree with, but playing against graveyard deck after graveyard deck is simply not very fun. Sure, I'm at a disadvantage because I like playing fair decks, and until pretty recently my pet deck, Jund, was on its last legs. But for someone who actually enjoys playing against unfair decks as the fair player, even I have been having a hard time having fun lately. It's not even been like my win percentage is abysmal, though it has definitely gone down. It's more that games in which I do win feel like I won due to circumstance, rather than skill. My opponent didn't have a fast enough kill, or I drew enough hate pieces. This is something that ever since the rise of Izzet Phoenix and Dredge a few months ago has gotten worse and worse, I feel. Then, they printed Hogaak...
I don't think anyone looked at this card and thought that it would be alright. It has Delve written on it, which is arguably the most busted keyword ever written on cardboard. And it can be cast from the graveyard, there apex of broken strategies. People might have been hesitant to think it was broken before playing with it, but I think everyone knew that it is just one of those cards that is either worthless, but easily broken if the right cards come up, or already broken. Turns out, thanks to some cards from the set it came out in, Modern Horizons, it's actually pretty darn broken.
If you haven't seen this monstrosity of Modern in action, consider yourself lucky. It is absolutely insane. The gameplan is this. You can either beat your opponent with 40 power on board, or, you can mill your opponent out with , after milling nearly your entire deck of course. That's right, this is a graveyard deck that plays , and regularly gets 10+ creatures on the board by turn 3, which also has an alternate win condition of mill. I remember the first time I played against this a few weeks ago. It was a match online, and I thought it was someone's brew of a deck. You know, checking out some new cards. I got rocked by it, but figured it was just one of those brews that can sneak in against tier decks, and I just had a bad matchup against it. But then I got queued up against it again, and again. I started packing tons of Graveyard hate in the board. I reconsidered my stance of things like main deck s. They seemed pretty necessary. But they wouldn't be enough sometimes. It is a deck that is unhealthy because it either stomps you, or you get lucky enough to turn it off.
The Main Culprits
There are some egregious things in the Modern format, but a lot of them aren't actually that unhealthy. For a while, was considered a card that was worthy of a ban due to how pervasive artifact and other colorless strategies were. But since has gotten banned, clamor seems to have died down, though that might be because there are new villains around now. Firstly, there's Hogaak himself. The card is broken right now, that much should be clear. I think that it's a card that does no good for the Modern format, and should be banned. Then, we have . I've seen many people say that if they banned this card then it would make the deck reasonable. I don't disagree, however I think that if you were to ban this and not Hogaak, it wouldn't take long for some new arbitrary card to get printed and combo with Hogaak. Cards with Delve are busted after all.
I actually wouldn't mind seeing both getting banned, as neither seem particularly healthy. Lastly, there's the thorn in the side that's been there for so long, . It seems like whenever a broken strategy comes around, it has in it. I will say, the card is fairly tame compared to the other things happening in a game against Hogaak Bridgevine, but the card just gives too much consistency to decks like this. I also would love for it to be banned, in order to even out against decks like Izzet Phoenix as well.
...it either stomps you, or you get lucky enough to turn it off.
The next Banned and Restricted Announcement is slotted for July 8th, so I'm hoping we can break the format enough for Wizards to respond to the problems players have voiced. I'd love to start playing Modern a lot more, so here's hoping that some things change, and soon.