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Modern Power Rankings – Week of 8/25/20

Welcome to the Modern Power Rankings. This is a list of top Modern decks, which we will maintain and periodically update here on Channelfireball.com. The criteria is a mix of metagame share, frequency of top results, and author’s personal opinion. You can use it for inspiration if you’re looking to pick up a new deck, or to give you an idea of what decks you’ll need to take seriously if you want to go deep in a big Modern tournament.

Notes on Deck Classification

Modern is home to easily over a hundred established decks. In many cases, these archetypes blur together, plus there’s limitless opportunity to customize and brew. Don’t be discouraged if your favorite deck doesn’t make the list–it doesn’t mean that it can’t be a winning strategy!

The format looks a bit strange right now. Many decks share similar cores, but deviate on a few card choices, or choose different methods for actually winning the game. This forces me into some tough decisions when it comes to these power rankings. On the one hand, I want to have some nuance. Lumping all “Red Decks” together doesn’t make much sense when Burn, Goblins, U/R Prowess, and Skred Red all have distinct gameplans. On the other hand, nobody wants to see a Power Ranking of ten U/G/x Uro decks with five cards changed between each one.

So the following is my strategy for staying organized right now. This is not an exact science, which means that I may change things if more (or less) nuance becomes necessary.

– All of the decks with Monastery Swiftspear, Soul-Scar Mage, Lava Dart, and Manamorphose are “Red Prowess.” The three main varieties right now are R/B, R/U, and MonoRed. “Burn” is distinguished by Eidolon of the Great Revel and Goblin Guide. – “Wilderness Reclamation” is its own archetype. Other decks with the Growth Spiral +

Uro shell are “Big Blue.” These decks can ramp into Scapeshift or Niv-Mizzet, Reborn, or they can be more simple Bant or Sultai Ramp decks. Decks with Uro, but no Growth Spiral are counted separately. For example, “Bant Stoneforge.” – Azorious Stoneforge and the more classic versions of Azorious Control are lumped together.

10. Dredge

Dredge attacks Modern from a different angle than the rest of the decks on this list. The goal is to dump cards into the graveyard and use free spells and abilities like Narcomeba, Bloodghast, Prized Amalgam, and Creeping Chill to win the game. Normal defensive measures like permission, discard, and removal are ineffective against it.

9. “Big Blue”

As mentioned, “Big Blue” refers to decks using the shell of Growth Spiral + Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath, but that do not specifically build around Wilderness Reclamation. Whether you choose to win with Scapeshift, Niv-Mizzet, Field of the Dead, or simple planeswalkers, you really can’t go wrong choosing this type of strategy. The core cards are amazingly powerful, while the rest of the deck can be well-rounded, flexible, and grant access to strong sideboard cards.

8. Ponza (Gruul)

Ponza hovered just outside of the Top 10 last week, but this is one of Modern’s big decks of 2020. As mana hungry decks come to define the format, and as Boil becomes one of the highest-value sideboard cards, Ponza becomes an appealing choice.

7. Burn

While Red Prowess is all the rage, there’s still a lot to like about the classic Burn deck. It has one goal–get the opponent to zero life–and every card contributes to that goal in the most direct possible way. Burn performs better than Prowess against decks packing creature removal, since the Burn deck is so good at dealing non-combat damage. Eidolon of the Great Revel is a nightmare for combo players, as well as anyone else who can’t easily remove it. It can even be quite good against Red Prowess.

Burn had a pretty good week, and has moved up three places in the rankings. It has both a relatively large metagame share, and a healthy frequency of top results. This is a deck that’s worth taking seriously.

6. Death’s Shadow

Although it’s not typically one of the most popular decks in Modern, I’m never surprised when Death’s Shadow puts up results. It’s punishing to its opponents; the card quality is high; it’s customizable; and it really rewards the skill of its pilot. Grixis, Jund, and four-color Shadow decks have all been popping up lately.

5. Urzatron

Urzatron was a defining force at both of the Modern Pro Tours of 2019. In London, it was the most played deck, and in Barcelona it took the trophy when Hogaak came up short. Since that time, its fortunes have been rising and falling, but there’s no denying the power of this deck.

4. Eldrazi Tron

Eldrazi Tron hops on and off these rankings more than any other deck. The reason is that while it’s probably not the best deck in Modern, it’s always a safe and stable option that tends to survive most changes in the metagame. It seems to have been a winner from the Astrolabe banning, as well as the printing of Mazemind Tome.

One specific strength worth highlighting is Chalice of the Void. Not many decks can afford to play with it, but it’s an incredible card in a format that’s based so much on efficiency and cheap spells. In particular, Chalice is a killer of Burn and Red Prowess. Karn, the Great Creator also gives Eldrazi Tron game-one access to specific tools that it needs to dissect some of the unusual strategies you’ll find in Modern.

3. Azorious Control (or Azorious Stoneforge)

Azorious Control is the best deck that nobody was playing with in the first half of 2020. The reason this strategy was hibernating is that there was really no incentive to play straight U/W when playing with Snow lands and Arcum’s Astrolabe was basically free. (And from there, playing more colors was basically free!). However, with Astrolabe out of the picture, Classic U/W is the heir apparent as the Control deck of the format.

Note that U/W Stoneforge is a strong alternative if you’re looking for something just a tiny bit more proactive.

2. Wilderness Reclamation

Wilderness Reclamation is one of the very best decks in Modern right now. When compared to other formats, Wilderness Reclamation in Modern tends to show up as a value card, allowing you to cast powerful spells like Fact or Fiction in turns where you’re also countering your opponent’s spells or progressing your own gameplan. You’ll typically see one copy of Nexus of Fate for the late-game lock out.

1. Red Prowess

Right now, Modern boils down to a heated battle between Monastery Swiftspear and Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath. I really wasn’t sure which of the two deserved the top spot this week, but when two strategies start to rise to the top of a format, one of the most important questions to ask is: Which one wins when you pit them against each other? In my opinion, it’s Red Prowess.

While traditional Burn gets a headache from even the first three points of lifegain from Uro, the Red Prowess decks unload massive, massive damage when their creatures go unchecked, and can sometimes even ignore the Titan. You get out ahead and punish people while they sculpt their hands and lay tapped lands on the battlefield. Sprinkle in some well-placed graveyard hate or a Boil off the sideboard, and you have a rock solid deck that happens to be a good choice against the other strategies on this list.

As mentioned, Red Prowess can come in the form of Monored (most aggressive), R/B (more midrangey), and R/U (in the middle). All three options are very strong.

Discussion

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