The Problems with Modern Format

I should note that I don’t really play Modern. I do every once in a while, usually to horrible results (2-6 in a PTQ on Saturday, for example). I don’t, therefore, know all the ins and outs of the format. I don’t this matters, however.

A couple of weeks back, WotC decided they’d run all the Pro Tours as Standard + latest Draft format. Based on response from the people who watch the streams, WotC recanted their decision and made the first Pro Tour of next year Modern. I guess their hand was somewhat forced, but its not that simple.

The purpose of Pro Tours is to highlight new cards. How many of those were highlighted at Pro Tour Valencia? I guess there were some decks with Courser of Kruphix, and some more with Springleaf Drum, but the latter one is a reprint and therefore doesn’t count. So, PT Valencia didn’t achieve its purpose.

Sure, it was the most watched PT of all time, despite being in Europe and thus in an awkward time zone for the majority of viewers, who are in the US. That doesn’t really matter. WotC is not in the business of content creation. They are in the business of making a game (or games, actually). How many views they get is of interest, but not actually very important. What’s important to them are the sales figures.

Now, they haven’t been able to properly monetize Modern yet. The people who play Modern aren’t that interested in buying packs. They generally have a pet deck they mold over the years to suit their tastes or metagame. They do buy cards. Not many, but some. That doesn’t directly benefit WotC though. That mostly benefits only dealers, which in turn does benefit WotC indirectly.

In order to appease collectors and dealers, WotC can’t mass reprint valuable cards, which means that while the format is growing, the cards will become more and more expensive. WotC has been unable to stop that trend. I don’t know if they really won’t to, unless they can make money of off it.

Of course, they did print Modern Masters (a huge success despite pricing), the Modern Event Deck (based on how the price has lowered, not a huge success), and several cards in different sets (such as Thoughtseize in Theros, Mutavault in M14, and Chord of Calling in M15), so they are making an effort to at least seem like they are trying to get some sort of control over the prices, but it just seems too little. After all, they can’t keep printing extremely powerful cards like Karn Liberated, Cryptic Command and the fetches in Standard, but at the same time, they need to bring these into people’s hands somehow.

So, I think Modern shouldn’t be competitive, or its competitive nature should be downplayed. The original intent was to give people a format to play their favorite cards and decks in without having to worry about rotation. I see this at our local Modern FNMs, where people play Slivers, and such. If it wasn’t for the pro players putting work into finding great decks for the format, these pretty casual decks would be much more playable in the format.

Also, since they do have a Pro Tour for it, they need to keep the format fresh, which means bannings and unbannings. That, in turn, will anger some players, when their favorite deck is gutted, or their favorite deck becomes unplayable when a card that works very well against them is unbanned.

On the other hand, they can’t really ban cards like Breeding Pod either. Having a creature based deck at the top of the pile is not a bad thing. Sure, its making the format somewhat stale (although I don’t think there were any Pod-decks in the top 8 of the last Modern GP), but it would be worse for most viewers, if the format was only Ux control decks.

In the end, personally, I’d prefer the Block PT. That was actually interesting.

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