After a wave of bannings and rules changes, Modern seems to be settling in a healthy and fun spot. The beloved decks that have been around awhile are playable again, while there also seems to be room for brewing.
Humans has been around a long time, and isn’t exactly cutting edge. Still, you can always do worse than choosing an aggressive, disruptive and punishing archetype. Humans still has its share of loyal devotees.
Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath is banned and Oops All Spells took a major hit losing Simian Spirit Guide. A natural consequence is that players have less incentive to pack their sideboards (and main decks) with graveyard hate. Dredge is a strong deck that’s positioned to capitalize on this trend. An alternative is to use Hedron Crabs and other self-mill to fill your graveyard instead of the Dredge mechanic itself.
An old favorite makes it back onto the Power Rankings in the form of U/R Storm. This deck uses Goblin Electromancer and Baral, Chief of Compliance to power out a flurry of rituals and Past in Flames, usually resulting in a kill around turn four, which is very difficult to stop.
13. Tron (Classic)
Classic Urzatron is also beloved by many… although it’s reviled by many more. Turn three Karn Liberated or Wurmcoil Engine is such a dominant start that some games involving Tron feel completely one-sided.
11. Azorius Control (or Esper or Jeskai)
Azorius Control has always been good, but lost metagame share when many blue mages switched to Uro decks. Now it’s back as the go-to control deck of the format. Splashing red or black for additional removal options can work also.
10. Colossus Hammer
The Colossus Hammer deck uses its namesake card paired with Sigarda’s Aid and Puresteel Paladin to make a massive attacker as early as the second turn of the game. The gameplay resembles that of Infect. You play mostly cheap cards, suit up a lethal creature and sometimes even protect it with Giver of Runes. Puresteel Paladin and Stoneforge Mystic are excellent cards which contribute the combo, but they can also allow you to win a “fair” game. Lurrus of the Dream-Den provides additional staying power.
I’m still somewhat in disbelief about how successful Modern Mill is, since it’s never been more than a fringe strategy until recently. That said, this deck is actually very good with recent upgrades of Ruin Crab and Maddening Cacophony from Zendikar Rising.
Burn is a classic, and it’s arguably the single biggest winner from the Uro ban. You can’t go too wrong choosing Burn right now. Nor can you go wrong adding a little extra life gain to your sideboard to prepare for it.
It gives me great pleasure to bring my favorite archetype back into the conversation. Jund struggled to outgrind Uro, Field of the Dead and Mystic Sanctuary. But with those out of the picture, classic midrange is back on the menu. Both Jund and Golgari Rock have put up solid finishes lately.
6. Red Prowess
Amidst an infusion of cards from Zendikar Rising and Kaldheim and a lot of sweet strategies putting up results, Red Prowess is still a great deck. The density of strong Red cards that cost one and two mana (or zero mana, for that matter) continue to make this strategy effective.
Burn and Red Prowess have both dropped a few places in the Rankings this week because I hesitate to recommend damage-based decks when the Heliod, Sun-Crowned/Spike Feeder infinite life combo is so popular.
Red Prowess can come in the form of Mono-Red (most aggressive), R/B (more midrangey) and R/U (in the middle). All three options are very strong, but my personal favorite is Mono-Red. Red Prowess will be a top deck in a world without Uro.
Prior to the release of Kaldheim, Omnath, Locus of Creation held the top spot in the rankings for months on end. While the legendary Elemental remains legal, several of its cronies (Uro, Field of the Dead and Mystic Sanctuary) have made an abrupt exit. Still, rumors of its demise have been greatly exaggerated, as four and five-color strategies are picking up steam again. Look for Niv-Mizzet Reborn, Bring to Light and Scapeshift as alternative payoffs for this style of deck.
4. Death and Taxes
Through massive shakeups in the format, Death and Taxes has remained strong. This disruptive creature deck always overperforms my expectations, and this remains true in the post-Uro era. It’s even moved up a few spots in the rankings for this week.
3. Death’s Shadow
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 gained 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. It can come in the form of Rakdos, Jund, Grixis or Mardu.
Field of the Dead was banned, but paradoxically, Primeval Titan may have been an overall winner from the bannings. This has historically been one of the defining cards (and decks) of Modern, and things slowing down bodes well for its prospects. Last week I listed this as “Valakut,” but it now seems that Amulet Titan will be the more popular shell for Primeval Titan.
Modern is home to many creature-based combo decks, and one of the best is Heliod, Sun-Crowned with Walking Ballista. This is a great place to be in the early stages of the new format, particularly as it excels against red decks. Previously, I’ve ranked it at the top spot sort of as a placeholder while the format took shape. That proved to be a good decision, as a bevy of strong results has now solidified this as the deck to beat.
I checked in with my teammates about what they would play in Modern right now.
Andrea: Humans. I like to play something I know very well when the metagame is new and unknown.
Gab: Esper Control.
Martin: Elves. I’m not sure how good it is in Modern right now, but I’d love to find out.
And For Me (Reid): I’d like to try out Niv-Mizzet since it looks like a lot of fun.