MTG Vegas is coming up this weekend, and I’m excited to see what the biggest Modern event in years will have in store for us. This event will toss players from all backgrounds and experience levels into the crucible, and I’m truly not sure what will happen.
I think the complexity of the format and card availability will factor into some people’s deck choices (for example, I keep predicting that Burn will be heavily played). However, I’m hopeful that the final installment of the Power Rankings before the event will be a reasonable reflection of the decks that will perform well. In other words, I think well-prepared players with Colossus Hammer, Azorius Control and Omnath will have high win rates, even if it’s unclear how many of them there will be.
15. Death’s Shadow
The Death’s Shadow decks overlap with all of the R/B/x Lurrus archetypes. However, they can pack more of a punch and are appealing for a wide open field. Corey Baumeister won the Starcitygames.com Invitational after piloting Grixis Death’s Shadow in the Modern portion. Personally, I’m strongly considering Jund Death’s Shadow for MTG Vegas.
Charbelcher is a brutal combo deck that wins games quicker than any other deck on this list. There’s been a bit of a midrange “arms race” in Modern lately, with players overloading on grindy cards like Expressive Iteration, Ice-Fang Coatl, Eternal Witness and the like. Charbelcher has been on the rise as a reaction to these inbred decks which are trying to beat each other, while not giving enough respect to Combo.
The Yawgmoth, Thran Physician combo has its diehard fans, and I’m quickly becoming one of them. 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’ve generally had a great experience with 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 players opting for a variety of simple, deadly threats like Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, Serra’s Emissary or Archon of Cruelty.
Mill still packs a punch, and circumvents most of Modern’s common defensive measures. It’s even gained access to Tasha’s Hideous Laughter, which is extremely powerful against decks using Lurrus of the Dream-Den as a companion. 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 stays strong, and I expect a good showing from it in Vegas. 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.
7. Jund Sagavan
Jund Sagavan 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!
6. Living End
Living End has dropped a few spots, but this is more due to the popularity of the top five archetypes, and is not indicative of any fatal flaw with Living End itself. 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.
Omnath decks have been all the rage for the past month 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.
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.
I asked my teammates what they’d play in a Modern event this weekend.
Andrea – Izzet Murktide.
Gab – Living End.
Huey – Storm, of course.
Luis – U/R Ragavan.
Martin – U/R Ragavan.
And As for Me (Reid) – I’m still undecided, but leaning towards either Jund Death’s Shadow or Yawgmoth.