Modern Power Rankings – 5/13/21

Welcome back to another round of Modern Power Rankings! Not much has changed in Modern lately, but with Modern Horizons 2 coming up next month, there’s sure to be some major shake ups in the format.



15. Living End

Living EndStreet WraithViolent Outburst


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 Violent Outburst, Ardent Plea or Demonic Dread will always find it and leave you with a dominant board position. 


14. Ponza (Gruul)

Blood MoonPillageWrenn and Six


A big deck of last year, Ponza makes it back onto the Modern Power Rankings after a long hiatus. This is a red/green midrange deck that focuses on card quality, and a couple of well-placed disruptive cards like Blood Moon and Pillage. It can be built with Obosh, the Preypiercer as a companion, but many players prefer to skip it in order to access cards like Wrenn and Six or Scavenging Ooze. Karn, the Great Creator is an interesting option which I’ve seen show up recently. 


13. Jund/Golgari


While it might not be “top tier,” my favorite archetype remains in the conversation. These decks are well-rounded and customizable, and can be tailored to take on almost any metagame you expect to face. Both Jund and Golgari Rock have put up solid finishes lately. 


12. Tron (Classic)

Urza's TowerKarn LiberatedWurmcoil Engine


Classic Urzatron is 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. This deck has been putting up a lot of strong finishes lately.


11. Dredge/Crab

Hedron CrabPrized Amalgam (Timeshifted)Bloodghast


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. 


10. Colossus Hammer

Colossus HammerPuresteel PaladinStoneforge Mystic


Colossus Hammer is a big winner in this installment, having moved up several places on the back of a Modern Challenge win and several other great finishes. It 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 can also allow you to win a “fair” game. Lurrus of the Dream-Den provides additional staying power. 


9. Death and Taxes

Elite SpellbinderThalia, Guardian of ThrabenAether Vial


Through massive shakeups in the format, Death and Taxes has remained strong. This disruptive creature deck always overperforms my expectations, and Elite Spellbinder makes for a positive new addition.


8. Burn

Goblin GuideEidolon of the Great RevelLava Spike (Timeshifted)


Burn is a classic, and is 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. 


7. Eldrazi Tron

Eldrazi TempleThought-Knot SeerReality Smasher


Eldrazi Tron has likewise proven itself a strong option over the last month or so. This is an alternative take on the colorless Urzatron strategy which also uses Eldrazi Temple, Thought-Knot Seer and Reality Smasher for more chances at explosive hands.


6. Azorius Control (or Esper, or Jeskai)

Cryptic CommandJace, the Mind SculptorTeferi, Hero of Dominaria


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, and Esper Control is putting up particularly impressive results. 


5. Death’s Shadow

Death's ShadowScourge of the SkyclavesThoughtseize (Timeshifted)


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. 


4. Niv-Mizzet/Omnath


Four and five-color strategies are continuing to pick up steam, and are now right back in the mix of top tier archetypes. Prior to the release of Kaldheim, Omnath, Locus of Creation held the top spot in the Modern Power 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. Look for Niv-Mizzet Reborn, Bring to Light and Scapeshift as alternative payoffs for this style of deck. 


3. Primeval Titan (All Forms)

Primeval Titan (Timeshifted)Dryad of the Ilysian GroveValakut, the Molten Pinnacle


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. Amulet Titan is the most popular shell, but Primeval Titan can also appear in classic Valakut, or even alongside Invasion of the Giants.


2. Red Prowess


The density of strong red cards that cost one and two mana (or zero mana, for that matter) continue to make this strategy effective. Red Prowess is heavily played, and if you add all of the flavors together, this is the strategy you’re most likely to face at the top tables of a Modern tournament right now. 

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 is a top deck in a world without Uro


1. Heliod/Ballista

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 right now, particularly as it excels against red decks.

I almost gave Red Prowess top billing for this installment, based on its volume of play and frequency of strong finishes. However, the reality is that nothing has changed my mind about Heliod/Ballista being the best deck. Its favorable matchup against other top archetypes like Red Prowess, Death’s Shadow and Burn leads me to hold it steady at number one in the Modern Power Rankings.


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