Modern Magic FAQ

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Modern Format FAQ

Modern Resource Links:

A Modern Proposal
First tournament
Birth of the Modern Format

Format Overview

Modern is one of 3 "Eternal" formats recognized by the DCI. The others being Vintage and Legacy. An eternal format means, rather than having sets "Cycle in" while bumping others out, it only adds new sets to its card pool. These formats are always growing larger, unlike Standard and Extended. Most importantly, you can build a deck and keep it for a couple years and (unless a card is banned) it will still be legal. Since you have access to every set since 8th edition, some restrictions have to be put in place. This is where we get our ban list. This list is put into place to keep the format balanced. Without banning certain cards, the format becomes focused into specific decks, and a few anti-decks. Modern's ban list helps broaden the range of what is competitive and we don't have to pay hundreds of dollars for the real power cards. Unlike Rotating formats that can wait for cards to rotate out, Eternal formats must have a permanent ban list.

Question and Answer

Q-0) Why play Modern?
A-0) A lot of Modern players are interested because it’s new. But the reason why there was support behind the concept even before the announcement comes from a different reason. Unlike Legacy and Vintage, Modern offers a format free of the Reserve List. Which means one of two things will happen to expensive cards in this format. Either they become so dominating that the DCI bans them, or R&D decide to reprint them.

Q-0.2) Does that mean that Modern staples won’t be expensive?
A-0.2) Sorry, but no. Although you will always be able to find cheaper alternatives, the best cards will remain the best cards, and will, therefore, command a high price. Aside from that, some cards might be good for Modern, but great in other formats. Just because Wizards can reprint a card doesn’t mean they will, just because it costs 50 dollars.

Q-1) On what turn do Modern decks try to win?
A-1) One of the stated goals of the ban list is to keep combo decks from going off consistently before turn three. Which implies that Wizards wants decks to be able to win around turns 3-5. This doesn't mean decks always win this early in the game. There are disruption elements to stop quick aggro and quick combo, this can cause the game to go much longer, and lucky draws that may win turn 1.

Q-1.2) I’ve heard some Modern decks win on turn 2 and some times on turn 1, is that true?
A-1.2) Some Modern decks may have the capability to go off on turn 1 or 2. Right now, the format is still too young to predict how accurate they will be. A large portion of Modern decks run early game disruption. Many cards can help you from losing turn 1 and 2. The idea is to look for something that costs 1 or less mana to cast that will disrupt your opponent’s fragile game plan.

Q-2) How much money am I looking to lose building a competitive Modern deck?
A-2) Starting completely from scratch you would have to drop about $300-400 for a competitive deck running dual lands. Which leads us to...

Q-2.2) Can you build competitive budget decks in Modern?
A-2.2) Yes, you can. Many people have attempted to convert established competitive decks into budget decks. This has lead to some success, but for the full effect you need to drop the cash.

Q-3) I have a new-frame card that isn't on the banned list, is it legal for Modern?
A-3) Generally, yes.  However, if this new-frame card was printed for a Duel Deck, FTV, or other specialty product, it may not be legal.  Modern-legality is checked based on if the card has been printed in a "modern" set, which is any Core Set or Expansion Set printed since 8th Edition.  "New card frame" is just a quick reference for new players.

Q-3.2) My opponent was playing old-frame cards in his deck, isn't that illegal?
A-3.2) If you think your opponent is cheating, call a judge over right away.  It doesn't hurt you at all if you're wrong.  "New card frame" is just a quick reference for new players, it doesn't actually affect format legality.  Modern-legality is checked based on if the card has been printed in a "modern" set, which is any Core Set or Expansion Set printed since 8th Edition.  Once a card is legal for Modern, all printings of that card are Modern-Legal.  You could even build a Modern deck with only old-frame cards in it.

Q-3.3) If "old frame" vs "new frame" doesn't always work, why do people keep using it?
A-3.3) The card frame was not the only reason 8th edition was chosen as the cut-off point.  But it was the deciding factor.  In 99% of cases (even more as time goes on, since less than 1% of the cards printed in a year are not Modern-legal), it will tell you at a glance if the card is legal for play or not.

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