Welcome back to another edition of Modern Power Rankings! Innistrad: Crimson Vow is just around the corner and the MTG Vegas Modern event is sure to be huge, so now seems like a good chance to look at some of the best decks in Modern.
Food falls off the list this week, after an extended dearth of results. This deck was a major player immediately after the release of Modern Horizons 2, but appears to mostly have been a flash in the pan.
Honorable mentions this week are Affinity and Reanimator, which happen to be pet decks of my teammates, Andrea Mengucci and AspiringSpike (respectively).
It took a surprisingly long time for Affinity to get off the ground, but now that players have honed in on good versions, the power of cards like Thought Monitor and Cranial Plating are becoming apparent. I think it’s cemented itself as a very solid Tier 2 deck.
Spike won a recent Modern Challenge with Esper Reanimator, and says that it would be his deck of choice for an event this weekend.
15. Grixis Lurrus
In some ways, “Grixis” is a stand-in for any R/B/x deck featuring discard spells, removal and the Lurrus of the Dream-Den companion. The card quality and efficiency is so high that you can succeed with almost anything in this shell, whether it be Grixis, Rakdos, Mardu or Jund.
14. Death’s Shadow
Although there’s a tremendous amount of overlap with the Grixis Lurrus archetype listed above, I consider strategies that support Death’s Shadow distinct from those that don’t. Corey Baumeister won the Star City Games Invitational after piloting Grixis Death’s Shadow in the Modern portion. Personally, I’ve been playing Jund Death’s Shadow and have been loving it.
Indomitable Creativity is a powerful card which has more or less spawned its own archetype. Using Treasures, Hard Evidence and other creature tokens as fuel, you can build a deck where the only actual creature card is a game-winning threat, which Creativity will put onto the battlefield for you each and every time. Once the shell is in place, you can take this deck in whatever direction you please, with some players using something simple and deadly like Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, Serra’s Emissary or Archon of Cruelty, while others seek to combo off with Velomachus Lorehold repeatedly casting Time Warps.
The Yawgmoth, Thran Physician combo has its diehard fans. It has tended to hover right on the margins of my Top 15 rankings, but is now solidly in the conversation. This deck uses undying creatures with Yawgmoth’s sacrifice ability to generate massive value, and eventually go infinite. I particularly like that it’s a good home for Ignoble Hierarch and Grist, the Hunger Tide, which are great cards that don’t get quite enough love.
It’s usually a bad idea to show up to a Modern event without some combination of Ragavan, Urza’s Saga, Shardless Agent or the “Pitch Elementals.” But Yawgmoth is one of the excellent exceptions to this rule. I took this deck for a spin recently, scored a 5-0 trophy, and generally had a great experience with it.
Mill still packs a punch, and circumvents most of Modern’s common defensive measures. It’s even gained access to Tasha’s Hideous Laughter as a relatively new addition from Adventures in the Forgotten Realms. I don’t love playing Mill against all of the Ragavan decks, but it does have a number of highly favorable matchups among decks on this list.
Primeval Titan has historically been one of the defining cards (and decks) of Modern, and it never stays down for long.
There’s no denying that the cycle of mythic rare “Pitch Elementals” are among the most powerful cards from Modern Horizons 2. It was only a matter of time before players started to mash them all together in the same deck, complete with tribal synergies like Risen Reef and Flamekin Harbinger, plus Ephemerate to make all of the enters-the-battlefield triggers work overtime.
Classic Burn continues to climb the rankings. Among the many, many ways to play with cheap red creatures, a lot of people are having success with the single-minded strategy of lighting the opponent on fire. A huge appeal of Burn is the ability to play with Eidolon of the Great Revel, which is an absolute beating for all of the Mishra’s Baubles and Expressive Iterations players out there right now.
I expect Burn to be a major player at the upcoming MTG Vegas event.
Note that it’s not the traditional Bloodbraid Elf Jund that’s causing this trend (although many versions of Jund are viable, and Bloodbraid Jund is one of them).
Instead, the hot deck is Jund Saga, which uses Urza’s Saga, Mishra’s Bauble, Ragavan, Wrenn and Six and Lurrus as a companion. Saga is particularly good when paired with Wrenn and Six, and as an extra card type for Tarmogoyf. As the quintessential “good cards” archetype, Jund has finally found a way to cram all of the most important, format-defining Modern cards into one deck!
Omnath decks have been all the rage for the past three weeks or so. The most popular version is an 80-card monstrosity featuring Omnath, Locus of Creation, “Pitch” Elementals, Eternal Witness and Ephemerate. I’ve taken to calling this deck Omnath Pile, since it has that “trade-binder” look of simply jamming a bunch of powerful cards together.
For those wondering, I use the presence or absence of dedicated tribal cards like Risen Reef and Flamekin Harbinger to distinguish between “Elementals” and this more general category of four or five-color Omnath deck.
There’s also a lot more you can do with multicolor strategies in Modern, including casting Bring to Light for Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor or a lethal Scapeshift. You can also just grind people out with Niv-Mizzet Reborn.
Azorius Control (along with Esper, Jeskai and Bant) isn’t the flashiest strategy in Modern, but it’s still highly effective, with very strong card quality. Although it didn’t take the trophy in the end, Azorius Control appeared to be one of the most successful decks of the SCG Invitational. For those who enjoy a good old fashioned long game with counterspells, this can still be the deck for you.
4. Living End
It’s easy for me to give Living End a high ranking, as it’s one of the decks that really checks all of the boxes. It’s had stellar results recently, it’s proven that it can stand the test of time and I had a great experience when I played with it myself.
Living End is beautiful in its simplicity. Cycling creatures comprise most of the deck, allowing you to fill your graveyard while finding your key cards with impressive consistency. Because the namesake card is the only nonland with mana value less than three, cascade spells like Shardless Agent, Violent Outburst, Ardent Plea or Demonic Dread will always find it and leave you with a dominant board position.
In the early days of Modern Horizons 2, it was Food and Temur Cascade making all the headlines. Food gassed out after a quick start, but Temur Cascade has remained successful without slowing down at all.
It uses Shardless Agent and other cascade spells to hit Crashing Footfalls for a massive, underpriced board presence. It circumvents the “no cheap cards” restriction by playing cards like Brazen Borrower, Fire // Ice and Force of Negation.
Lately an 80-card, four-color version of the Crashing Footfalls strategy has also burst onto the scene.
Izzet Murktide is both popular and successful, and if it didn’t have the disadvantage of dividing its metagame share with all of the other versions of cheap-spells-and-Ragavan strategies (think Grixis, Rakdos, Jund, Mardu, Red Prowess and Burn), it might be even more dominant.
Murktide Regent is an extremely powerful creature, and is one of the most compelling reasons to give up on Lurrus of the Dream-Den as a companion for this type of strategy. Compared to U/R Prowess, this deck is shifted more heavily towards blue and plays counterspells.
Some players have been choosing to splash white for additional removal spells and sideboard options.
While Colossus Hammer has hovered near the top of the rankings for quite some time, it’s now starting to distance itself as a clear best deck in Modern. It won the Magic Online Championship Showcase in the hands of Nico Bohny.
It’s a mono-white or Orzhov Equipment deck which has, in addition to brutal explosive potential, awesome sideboard cards like Sanctifier en-Vec. It’s multidimensional and difficult to attack. Colossus Hammer is the best home for Urza’s Saga, which is one of the most powerful cards from Modern Horizons 2.
Checking in With Team CFB
I asked my teammates what they’d play in a Modern event this weekend.
Evart – Esper Reanimator.
Martin – Izzet Ragavan.
Luis – U/W Control.
And As for Me (Reid) – Jund Death’s Shadow when I want access to Lurrus. Yawgmoth when I can’t resist playing sweet creatures that cost more than two mana.