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.
I’ve decided to expand the Power Rankings to now encompass the Top 15 archetypes. For many formats, ten decks is all you need to have a clear picture of what’s going on. However, 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. Expanding to 15 decks will give a little more flexibility to highlight breakout decks while still including the format mainstays.
A format mainstay, Burn has always been here and will always be here. It’s a strong strategy in a format where almost everyone deals themselves three or more damage per game via their fetchland/shockland manabase. Eidolon of the Great Revel is a payoff card that’s difficult to play outside of Burn, and KO’s certain strategies all on its own. I’ve seen some cool Burn decks recently that touch into Black for Bump in the Night and Scourge of the Skyclaves.
14. Eldrazi Tron
Eldrazi Tron takes a lot of value from its manabase, including multiple ways to get to five, six, and seven mana ahead of schedule. Karn, the Great Creator offers a toolbox of hate cards that you can access in game one, while Chalice of the Void can score easy wins against decks like Red Prowess and Death’s Shadow.
Spirits was all the rage in Modern about two years ago. When I first saw Spirits pop up in a top 8 recently, I thought it might be a flash in the pan, but more results have given me more faith in the archetype. Spirits can be built in simple Azorius colors, or can dip into green for Collected Company.
Zendikar Rising brought the double-faced land/spells, and with them came two powerful new combo decks. Goblin Charbelcher might just be the most direct way to score a game win in Modern. Cast the namesake card, and activate it targeting the opponent. The rules of the game don’t register Shatterskull Smashing and Turntimber Symbiosis as lands while they’re in zones other than the battlefield, which means that you can count on upwards of 40 damage when you assemble your combo.
11. Devoted Druid
Creature-based combo decks are among the most fun, interesting, and customizable archetypes in Modern. As such, they tend to reward the skill and experience levels of their pilots. I’m never surprised when I see a strong finish from a deck featuring the infinite-mana combo of Devoted Druid and Vizier of Remedies.
Holding steady at #10, Jund is a crowd favorite deck that can always compete based on its well-rounded gameplan and excellent sideboard options. This is another place where Scourge of the Skyclaves is starting to make its mark.
Amidst many different decks powered by Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath, Sultai is proving itself as one of the best. Compared to other color combinations, however, Sultai lends itself to more of a well-rounded, midrange game. The Black answer cards like Thoughtseize, Abrupt Decay, and Assassin’s Trophy are highly flexible, meaning that Sultai has solid game against just about everything.
Humans is a tried and true deck that’s fast, disruptive, consistent, and punishing. As my colleague Andrea Mengucci pointed out, Humans has access to three different highly effective openings in Aether Vial, Noble Hierarch, and Champion of the Parish. In my opinion, Humans is the second-best way to make use of the powerful Skyclave Apparition.
7. Red Prowess
Amidst an infusion of new cards from Zendikar Rising and a lot of sweet strategies putting up results, Red Prowess is still a great deck. The density of great Red cards that cost one and two mana (or zero mana, for that matter) just makes this strategy so effective.
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.
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.
This is the other combo deck featuring the double-faced land/spells. It’s one of the fastest decks in the format, and has even climbed a few spots in the rankings for this week. It uses Balustrade Spy and Undercity Informer to target itself and dump its library into its graveyard. From there, Creeping Chills drain the opponent while Narcomebas and Swords of the Meek hit the battlefield, which facilitates the casting of Salvage Titan and the returning of Vengevines to deal the finishing blow.
Compared to Charbelcher, you get eight “I win” cards instead of four, and you only need to assemble four mana instead of seven.
Modern is home to many creature-based combo decks, including ones built around Devoted Druid plus Vizier of Remedies or Yawgmoth, Thran Physician plus undying creatures. Another combo that’s been making some waves recently is Heliod, Sun-Crowned and Walking Ballista. In the past couple of weeks, this combo has gone from a fringe strategy to one of the most successful decks in the format.
This deck can come in the form of Selesnya, where it gains access to any combination of Collected Company, Eladamri’s Call, and Chord of Calling. It can also come in the form of MonoWhite, where it plays out more like a Death and Taxes deck, but with a combo finish. Here’s the winning deck from a recent Modern Challenge:
Modern Heliod Deck List - NHA37 1st Place Modern Challenge
Primeval Titan is one of the defining cards of Modern. If your deck doesn’t have a plan for beating turn 4 Titan, then you should probably go back to the drawing board.
While Primeval Titan still shows up in classic Valakut and Amulet of Vigor decks, lately it’s had yet another home on top of that. This comes in techy creature-based decks that feature some combination of Aether Vial, Eladamri’s Call, and Elvish Reclaimer. I suppose having all of those other creatures makes for an effective backup plan if ramping straight to a Titan doesn’t work.
In my opinion, Death and Taxes is the best way to make use of Skyclave Apparition. This archetype is probably the biggest winner from the printing of Zendikar Rising. Historically a fringe archetype, this is a disruptive White creature deck which has catapulted from unranked all the way to top billing with the new set. The ability to maintain a high creature density while building in answers to everything–including noncreature permanents–has made this strategy highly potent.
Recently, I’ve been seeing a new take on Death and Taxes which splashes blue for Spell Queller and uses Yorion, Sky Nomad as a companion.
Death’s Shadow is punishing to its opponents; the card quality is high; it’s customizable; and it really rewards the skill of its pilot. With the printing of Zendikar Rising, it gains access to Scourge of the Skyclaves to pair with its namesake card. This density of powerful threats makes an already-great archetype stronger than ever. Plain Rakdos is the most played Death’s Shadow deck, but you’ll see Jund and Grixis out there as well.
I played with Death’s Shadow for a video and deck guide here on Channelfireball.com , and it didn’t disappoint. This is what I’d be playing if I had a big Modern event coming up.
I think we can all agree that Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath is one of the strongest cards in the format right now. Where Modern players don’t always agree is the best home for it. But right now, Omnath is the most popular, and seemingly the most successful. It’s moved into the #1 spot after weeks of consistent results.
This deck features four or five colors of mana, powers out Field of the Dead, and uses the legendary elemental for some unbelievably powerful turns. You might sometimes see Niv-Mizzet, Reborn make an appearance, or the Saheeli Rai + Felidar Guardian combo.
Checking in with Team CFB
I asked my teammates what they’d play in an upcoming Modern event.
Andrea – I’ll stick to what I said last week. 4C Uro-Omnath because I want to explore more of that deck and it’s so fun!
Gab – I’d go with Oops All Spells–The deck that won the Magic Online Modern Showcase.
Huey – Whatever Captain Reid says to.
What Captain Reid says to – Jund Death’s Shadow. It’s a top strategy where I get to try out some new cards, play with Thoughtseize, and have some fun combat steps.