The Modern metagame tends to move more slowly than Standard and Historic. Still, I think the dust is finally settling on the release of Modern Horizons 2, and the Modern Power Rankings have changed substantially this week.
15. Hardened Scales/Affinity
I think Hardened Scales and Affinity are underrated. They don’t get as much attention as Colossus Hammer and the Ragavan decks, but they’re explosive, resilient and great homes for the powerful Urza’s Saga. Of the two, I’m more interested in Hardened Scales.
Classic Urzatron has exploded back onto the scene, highlighted by a Modern Challenge with three copies in the Top 8, after having been close to nonexistent for weeks prior. It turns out that casting six and seven-mana spells on the third turn is still good enough, and this is particularly true when players aren’t sideboarding dedicated hate cards.
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 new addition from Adventures in the Forgotten Realms. That said, I think the metagame has taken an unfavorable shift for Mill, with fewer decks like Amulet Titan, and more based around efficient creatures and disruption.
12. Grixis Lurrus
I resisted putting Grixis in the Modern Power Rankings for a while because the lines blur so much between the Izzet, Rakdos and Grixis versions of this midrange strategy. However, it’s becoming clear that Grixis is an appealing choice for experienced Modern players, and deserves a spot on the Rankings all of its own.
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 pretty much every deck with red mana is going to play with Ragavan…
There’s a lot you can do with four and five-color strategies in Modern. You can use Bring to Light, you can combo Scapeshift with Valakut and Dryad of the Ilysian Grove or you can simply out-value people with Omnath, Locus of Creation or Niv-Mizzet Reborn. These decks remain strong, but have lost some metagame share recently because many people who want to play with Omnath are now playing it in Elemental Tribal decks instead.
10. Red Prowess
Red Prowess remains strong and can come in the form of Mono-Red, W/R or U/R. Compared to the Izzet Murktide and Rakdos Lurrus decks, this archetype is much more about unloading quick damage.
Although it didn’t quite make the Modern Power Rankings, I’ve seen classic Burn have a bit of a resurgence lately, also.
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 even moved up a few places in the Modern Power Rankings after winning a Modern Challenge in the hands of Hall of Famer and control master Guillaume Wafo-Tapa. For those who enjoy a good old fashioned long game with counterspells, this can still be the deck for you.
Food was one of the most exciting new decks of Modern Horizons 2, but has started to slip a bit in popularity. It centers around The Underworld Cookbook, which you can find via Urza’s Saga or Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar, and then use to fuel a variety of powerful engines.
7. Amulet Titan
This has historically been one of the defining cards (and decks) of Modern. In the past I’ve listed this as “Primeval Titan (All Forms)” in order to encompass classic Valakut and other Titan strategies. But these days, it’s all Amulets, in part because Urza’s Saga has been an excellent addition from Modern Horizons 2.
Food and Amulet Titan have maintained solid rankings based on how dominant they were in the month of July. However, I’m seeing them a lot less often now, which begs the question of whether they can stand the test of time as well as the top six decks on the Modern Power Rankings.
These top six decks are the ones that seem to be winning tournaments lately. You really can’t go wrong choosing any of them, and you should expect to face them all if you want to go deep in a Modern event right now.
Indomitable Creativity is a powerful card which has more or less spawned its own archetype. Using Treasures and 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.
Similarly, Elemental Tribal is starting to make its case as one of the best decks in Modern. 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.
4. Living End
It was easy for me to give Living End a high ranking in this installment, 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 has dropped from #1 to #3 in the Modern Power Rankings, but don’t let that fool you. 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), it would probably be totally dominant. One thing is for sure: playing lots of efficient spells in these colors is a great place to be.
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.
Similarly, this mono-white Equipment deck continues to Hammer 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 – Four-Color Indomitable Creativity, winning with Emrakul, the Aeons Torn.
Evart – Grixis Dress Down Shadow.
Gab – Four-Color Omnath Midrange.
Huey – Storm.
Martin – Izzet with Ragavan and Murktide Regent.
Luis – Izzet with Ragavan and Murktide Regent.
And As for Me (Reid) – I want to use Urza’s Saga, so I’d go with Colossus Hammer or Hardened Scales.