Welcome back to another edition of Modern Power Rankings! Not much has revolutionized the format recently, but with Innistrad: Crimson Vow less than a month away, we’ll have to see if anything new breaks into the format.
Falling just shy of the cut again this installment are Red Prowess, Urzatron, Affinity and Death’s Shadow. These are important historical Modern decks which are still powerful enough to earn plenty of wins. If you have these decks built and enjoy playing with them, I say stick with it! But if you’re looking for something fresh and new, these decks weren’t relative winners from Modern Horizons 2.
The Monastery Swiftspears and Soul-Scar Mages of Red Prowess used to be among the best creatures in Modern, but they’ve been decisively supplanted by Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer and Dragon’s Rage Channeler. Or, alternatively, by the Goblin Guides and Eidolons of the Great Revel of Burn.
Finally, while it isn’t showing up in force, I’ve personally been playing Jund Death’s Shadow lately and liking it a lot.
15. Grixis Lurrus
In some ways, “Grixis” is a stand-in for any R/B/x deck featuring discard spells, removal and the Lurrus 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.
I changed my naming conventions from “Grixis Ragavan” and “Izzet Ragavan” to using Lurrus of the Dream-Den and Murktide Regent as defining characteristics, since choosing between them is actually a meaningful deckbuilding decision. We know by now that most decks with access to red mana are interested in playing with Ragavan…
Food was a major player a few months ago, but hasn’t put up any big finishes in quite some time.
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.
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.
There’s a big story here, and it has nothing to do with Titan’s actual number on the Power Rankings. I’ve switched back from calling this “Amulet Titan” to calling it “Primeval Titan (All Forms)” after classic Valakut has burst back onto the scene! Primeval Titan has historically been one of the defining cards (and decks) of Modern, and it never stays down for long.
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 Bauble and Expressive Iteration players out there right now.
One of two big winners for this installment is Omnath, Locus of Creation, specifically outside of the tribal Elemental strategy. 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.
Omnath has had a good couple of weeks, with 80-card Yorion, Omnath and Ephemerate decks putting up a number of strong results. 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.
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.
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!
The other big winner for this installment is control. 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. It moved up in the rankings after several top finishes from French Hall of Famers and control masters Guillaume Wafo-Tapa and Gabriel Nassif. 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.
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.
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. In fact, it was the most successful deck of the Magic Online Championship Series Showcase (winning the $20,000 first prize in the hands of Yuuki Ichikawa), which is something that I put a lot of weight on.
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, Bonecrusher Giant, Subtlety and Foundation Breaker.
The top three decks seem to be very close in power level, and continue to jockey for the top position. For this installment, Colossus Hammer takes the crown. This mono-white Equipment deck continues to pound the format. In addition to brutal explosive potential, it accesses awesome sideboard cards like Sanctifier en-Vec, which make it 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.
I asked my teammates what they’d play in a Modern event this weekend.
Andrea – Living End.
Evart – Temur Reclamation.
Gab – Living End.
Martin – Izzet Ragavan.
Luis – U/W Control.
And As for Me (Reid) – I’ve been loving Jund Death’s Shadow recently.