Is Modern Still A Turn Four Format?

Modern forum

Posted on Sept. 18, 2018, 4:02 p.m. by Icbrgr

Im in the middle of working on a primer for a deck and was looking for sources to cite that support what I have been told/taught about Modern being a "Turn four Format."

I did a little digging and found is quote out of an older article:

"(WoTC) used two criteria (as a guide) in choosing what cards to ban. First, ( WoTC has) a rule of thumb about Legacy that (WoTC doesnt) like consistent turn-two combination decks, but that turn-three combination decks are okay. (WoTC) modified that rule for Modern by adding a turn to each side: (WoTC is) going to allow turn-four combination decks, but not decks that consistently win the game on turn three. (WoTC) banned enough additional cards that (WoTC believe) such decks no longer exist in this format."

If you look at the ban list at the time this article was written there are some very noticeable cards that were banned then and yet currently legal such as Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle and Bitterblossom..... does this mean that there are more answers to these cards/combos in today's Modern format?

Does anyone know if there are more current articles from WoTC that cement/confirm or even disprove that Modern is meant to be a Turn 4 Format?

Jace and Bitterblossom are fair cards and not a part of any 'combination deck'. It's cards such as Seething Song and Second Sunrise which enabled turn 3 combo kills and are banned for the above reasons.

Even though Valakut is a combo card, there is no way to consistently kill with it on turn 3. It is not banned for the turn 3 combo reason either.

All 3 of those cards were banned in the interest of diversity. They are such powerful cards that WOTC believed that, in that time, if those cards were legal, then the format would reduce to decks which play those cards and decks which are designed to beat those cards, which makes for an uninteresting meta game.

Nonetheless, these cards are now legal because of power creep. That is, in order to keep the newer sets interesting, there have to be cards printed which are more powerful than the cards printed before. Inevitably, there are more powerful cards and answers available today, so that cards such as Jace, Bitterblossom, and Valakut don't warp the format.

In my opinion modern hasn't been a turn 4 format since the Twin Banning. Maybe I'm just a spiteful curmudgeon, but Tron wouldn't be able to get away with playing Thragtusk and Thought-Knot Seer in their sideboard if Twin was still around, that's for sure.

Ahem, anyway, modern doesn't feel like it has a turn number anymore. Decks like Hollow One are easily capable of putting 10+ power on the board by turn 2 (looting + street wraith + hollow one turn 1 into angler + bloodghast or pheonix turn 2). Other decks like humans or Modular Affinity might not kill until turn 4 or 5 if you have a removal spell or 2, but they'll build the momentum to kill you by turn 2 or 3. So the game may be won by turn 2 or 3, even though your life total doesn't hit 0 until turn 4.

Technically I guess you can call modern a turn 4 format still, since you won't die on turn 3 very often, but frankly that's kind of bogus in this meta.

September 18, 2018 5:16 p.m.

Icbrgr says... #3

Basically a lot of what you said i have read in various comments from Reddit/Channelfireball articles and such.

People saying its not "win on turn 4" like many people think it is; because there are decks that are certainly capable of winning before turn 4, but are few and far between and/or require very improbable hands and require their opponent not interact at all with in possible to win Turn zero-three sure but not consistently i guess.

Others lean towards an interpretation of the "turn 4 format" as turn 4 is the "critical" turn. whoever "wins/is winning" turn 4 has a great advantage going forward in the game and has a much higher probability to win.


I suppose what I am after here is wondering if there is any newer official word that upholds/dismisses Modern being a Four turn format

Or was this just a phrase uttered once upon a time and the Format an its Ban list aims more towards creating diversity in decks rather than care about how long a game lasts?... or does the ban list in Modern mean something different altogether?

September 18, 2018 6:12 p.m.

chuckles2000 says... #4

My understanding is that is still the general philosophy. Consistent Turn 3 kills are bad and WotC will go after any decks that attain that. I've heard from Pros that they consider Modern to be a turn 3.5 format, or 3.75 (for the more annoyingly precise). If you are a linear, non-interactive deck, you'd better hit turn 4 and occasionally T3. And if you are T4 you'd better have some resiliency. If you are later than that you need to be disruptive of all the t4 linear decks with some ability to "turn the corner" and control the game from T4 onward.

September 18, 2018 7:15 p.m.

DragonKing90 says... #5

i did find an article that talks about this, but unfortunately doesn't give any real details. all it really says is "based on how wotc handles the ban list, its clear they no longer think its a Turn 4 format", but then doesn't give any specific examples.

September 18, 2018 8:30 p.m.

Icbrgr says... #6

I always get confused and or annoyed whenever I hear someone say "Modern is a Turn 3-3.5 turn format." Or read/hear someone talk about their T3 win they had before resulting in that being the new gold standard for the Modern format.

That's actually how/why I have been looking into it because my knowledge from playing and takeing Magic seriously is admittedly dated... So I am probing for a general consensus or a more up to date source on what the norm really is these days in modern.

September 18, 2018 8:45 p.m.

Icbrgr says... #7

Yup DragonKing90 I too found it and was very interested in it and then it becomes a Bant Eldrazi

September 18, 2018 8:47 p.m.

DragonKing90 says... #8

after even more digging, i found a 2nd article that might help explain why the author of the first article no longer feels modern is a turn 4 format.

this second article states that before a deck feels the wrath of the banhammer due to the "turn 4 rule" that wotc outlined, 3 criteria must be met:

  1. the deck must be winning on turn 3 or earlier.

  2. the deck must be achieving these wins consistently

  3. the deck must be top tier.

with those in mind, i think the author of the first article i linked, simply neglected at least the 3rd requirement, and probably the 2nd as well. i've been on the receiving end of game-winning combos on turns 2 or 3 before from Grishoalbrand, infect, and storm, but i'm not sure i'd consider those decks to be meeting all 3 of those requirements. maybe a a combination of 2 of them, but not all 3.

in conclusion, i think wotc is still trying to stick to the "turn 4 rule", and players simply misinterpret what that means.

September 18, 2018 9:14 p.m.

I have to imagine the turn number of modern will vary heavily from player to player. As a grixis delver player, I don't know if I've ever killed someone on turn 4 with my deck. Definitely some turn 5 and 6 kills, but most of the games I play go way past turn 4.

A KCI or Storm or Hollow One or Burn player has almost certainly done a turn 3 kill before. I even once got killed on turn 2 by a storm player. These aggro players would probably uphold that modern is a turn 3.5-4 format.

As a Grixis player I definitely feel that the format is faster than it was 2-3 years ago. I can't give anything concrete or compelling to make you agree with me, and I don't intend on being completely agreed with. But if modern was a turn 4 format in the few months before the Twin banning, there is no way it is still a turn 4 format now. The aggressive decks now reach a much higher power level by turn 3 than the decks back then, in a totally subjective and abstract sense.

September 18, 2018 9:23 p.m.

DragonKing90 says... #10

ToolmasterOfBrainerd: i think you're misinterpreting the turn 4 rule. its not a measure of the formats speed. its a measure of how long wotc wants games to last. the turn 4 rule is simply wotc saying they want games to last until at least turn 4.

September 18, 2018 9:51 p.m.

Hmmmm. Yeah, I think you're right. What I'm observing is simple power creep, not format speed. The vast majority of games are still 4 or more turns long, regardless of how consistent and resilient those turn 4 kills are.

September 18, 2018 10:05 p.m.

Icbrgr says... #12

I find the criteria very interesting and brings a lot of sense to this discussion... Especially the top tier bullet point... with Modern being as vast as it is all the different kinds of decks their are.

September 18, 2018 10:25 p.m.

chuckles2000 says... #13

DragonKnight is correct. T4 format doesn't mean games end on T4, it means that games should last that long and that it is the median "pivot point" for most games. Linear decks are threatening a t4 win. Interactive decks have to thwart that. If you are playing a deck that doesn't do one of those two things, you aren't viable. If you take longer than t4 you need to disrupt (discard, thalia, counters, chalice, etc.). If you aren't interacting you need to be fast...t3 on your best draws and t4 consistently and if you are much slower you'd better be very resilient. So it's a good benchmark for understanding how your proposed deck should be approached.

September 18, 2018 10:35 p.m.

lukas96 says... #14

Well non of the cards youve listed Violates the t4 rule by any means.

As someone pointed out valakut decks dont produce wins consistently before t3. Bitter blossom and jtms are fair cards that also dont do that.

The t4 rule describes modern pretty well. Yeah there are decks that win eaelier than than but if wizards saw them getting to consistent or sharing a part of the meta thats too big they would certainly ban to enforce this rule.

September 19, 2018 3:34 a.m.

Flooremoji says... #15

A turn 4 format doesn't mean 'Wins by turn 4' It means that one player has a almost insurmountable advantage by turn 4 and will likely win the match. Most decks that can win by turn 3 that don't have banned cards are decks that are kept under control by Rest in Peace and Leyline of the Void. I hope this helps.

September 19, 2018 4:55 p.m.

Thescarabbob says... #16

As a rack player, I see it as "play your haymaker (be it your big combo or something like jace) on/by turn 4 or lose." There will be some exceptions to this rule such as control but in general that Is how I see modern.

September 26, 2018 9:36 a.m.

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