Innistrad: Midnight Hunt is just around the corner, and it certainly has some exciting new cards for Standard. Whether it’ll break through in Modern is yet to be known, but that hasn’t stopped the Modern Power Rankings from shaking up a bit this week.
Falling Off the List
Coming in at #16 and #17 this week (just shy of the cut) are Red Prowess and Urzatron. These are important historical Modern decks which are still powerful enough to earn plenty of wins. If you have these decks built and enjoy playing with them, I say stick with it! But if you’re looking for something fresh and new, these decks weren’t relative winners from Modern Horizons 2. In particular, the Monastery Swiftspears and Soul-Scar Mages of Red Prowess used to be among the best creatures in Modern, but they’ve been decisively supplanted by Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer and Dragon’s Rage Channeler.
The Yawgmoth, Thran Physician combo deck has its diehard fans, and tends to hover right on the margins of my Top 15 rankings. It 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.
14. Grixis Lurrus
I resisted putting Grixis in the 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 Power 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…
This strategy has lost a lot of metagame share because players wishing to play with Omnath, Locus of Creation now frequently turn to Elemental tribal decks instead. Still, there’s a lot 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 Omnath and Niv-Mizzet Reborn, as these cards remain extremely powerful.
Food was one of the most exciting new decks of Modern Horizons 2, but continues to slip in popularity, and fall lower in the Power Rankings. I keep it on the list because it used to be quite popular and successful, and I know what it’s capable of. However, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen Food decks show up in force.
A big story for this installment is the rise of classic Burn. 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.
10. 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.
Like Food, Amulet Titan is a previous top-ranked deck which has gradually been declining in popularity.
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 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.
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. 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. Mill has had a good month, and climbed a few spots in the rankings.
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 moved up in the rankings after several top finishes from French Hall of Famers and Control masters Guillaume Wafo-Tapa and Gabriel Nassif. For those who enjoy a good old fashioned long game with counterspells, this can still be the deck for you.
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.
While Burn and Mill were winners for this installment of the Power Rankings, the biggest story is the continued, meteoric rise of Jund. That’s right! My favorite deck has gone from unlisted all the way up to #5 on the Power Rankings. Granted, it’s not the traditional Bloodbraid Elf Jund that’s causing this trend (although many versions of Jund are viable, and that’s still one of them).
Instead, the hot deck is Jund Saga, which uses Urza’s Saga, Mishra’s Bauble, Ragavan, Wrenn and Six and Lurrus as a companion. 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!
4. Living End
It’s easy for me to give Living End a high ranking, 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.
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.
Izzet Murktide and Colossus Hammer seem to be very close in power level, and continue to jockey for the top position. For this installment, Izzet Murktide takes the crown. 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.
I asked my teammates what they’d play in a Modern event this weekend.
Andrea – Jund Sagavan.
Evart – Jund Sacrifice.
Gab – U/R Murktide.
Martin – U/R Murktide. I watched Luis stream with it yesterday and it looked great.
Luis – Gab’s U/R Murktide deck. If Martin thought it looked great despite how badly I played, the deck must really be fantastic.
And As for Me (Reid) – Jund Saga, or Jund Death’s Shadow.