Modern Horizons 2 hit the shelves last week (the digital shelves, at least), and it’s already revolutionizing Modern and shaking up the Modern Power Rankings. Expect things to change quickly over the coming weeks for two reasons. First, it’ll take players some time to identify and perfect the best strategies. Second, the cards are quite expensive, and not everyone has them yet!
For this installment, I’ve gone out of my way to highlight new decks that I’ve seen doing well with Modern Horizons 2 cards, but I don’t want to give the impression that old standbys like Red Prowess, Heliod/Ballista and Death’s Shadow have instantly become unplayable. If you were winning with your favorite deck two weeks ago, you can still win with it today, even if it may not be what everyone’s talking about.
Modern Merfolk by Karatedom
A fringe archetype is revitalized by the direct additions of Tide Shaper and Svyelun of Sea and Sky, plus the indirect addition of Counterspell. With all this, Merfolk has finally gotten on the board for this week’s Modern Power Rankings.
14. Ad Nauseam
A recent banning saw Ad Nauseam lose Simian Spirit Guide (and all stakes on the Modern Power Rankings), which took away some of its explosive power. However, Modern Horizons 2 sees it gain Profane Tutor, which greatly levels up the consistency of assembling the combo.
This creature-based combo deck uses Yawgmoth, Thran Physician and undying creatures to generate massive value and eventually go infinite. It’s a perfect home for Ignoble Hierarch and Grist, the Hunger Tide.
12. Colossus Hammer
This 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 can also allow you to win a “fair” game. Lurrus of the Dream-Den provides additional staying power.
The most important new addition is Urza’s Saga, which finds Colossus Hammer.
11. Ponza (Gruul)
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 and Lukka, Coppercoat Outcast are interesting options which I’ve seen show up recently.
New additions include Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer, Endurance and Cursed Totem.
10. Eldrazi Tron
Eldrazi Tron has likewise proven itself a strong option over the last month or so on the Modern Power Rankings. 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.
9. Azorius Control (or Esper, or Jeskai)
The go-to control deck of the format. Deckbuilding options include going hard on Miracles with Brainstone and Terminus or splashing red or black for additional removal options. Esper Control was putting up particularly impressive results just before Modern Horizons 2.
New additions include Counterspell, Solitude, Subtlety, and the above-mentioned Brainstone.
This has historically been one of the defining cards (and decks) of Modern. Amulet Titan is the most popular shell, and Urza’s Saga can now help you find Amulet of Vigor. Primeval Titan can also appear in classic Valakut, or even alongside Invasion of the Giants.
Four and five-color strategies are continuing to thrive, and are now right back in the mix of top tier archetypes. Prior to the release of Kaldheim and a swath of bannings, Omnath held the top spot in the rankings for months on end. Look for Niv-Mizzet Reborn, Bring to Light and Scapeshift as alternative payoffs for this style of deck.
A cool new addition is General Ferrous Rokiric.
An old favorite is back, with Humans putting up multiple strong finishes right out of the gates. New additions include Esper Sentinel, General Ferrous Rokiric, Sanctifier En-Vec, Sanctum Prelate and even Shardless Agent.
Modern Food by Drew3141
Food is my pick for the most exciting deck of Modern Horizons 2‘s first week. It centers around The Underworld Cookbook, which you can find via Urza’s Saga or Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar, and then use to fuel Cauldron Familiar and Feasting Troll King.
4. Hardened Scales
Modern Hardened Scales by Capriccioso
Hardened Scales was once a powerful strategy, but never fully recovered from the banning of Mox Opal. With the release of Modern Horizons 2, it took first place in Magic Online Modern Challenge. New additions include Urza’s Saga, Zabaz, the Glimmerwasp and Power Depot.
3. Death and Taxes
Modern Death and Taxes by Kiko
Through massive shakeups in the format, Death and Taxes has remained strong, and always overperforms my expectations. It won the other of this weekend’s Modern Challenges. While Sanctifier en-Vec is a nice new sideboard option, the key addition is Solitude, which can be blinked by Ephemerate, Charming Prince and Flickerwisp.
Temur Cascade is a brand new Modern deck with the release of Modern Horizons 2. 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.
1. Living End
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.
Along with the Modern Power Rankings this week, I thought I’d break down some of the headliners from Modern Horizons 2. Let’s take a look!
#14 & #15: The Underworld Cookbook & Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar
These are the key cards in the new Food archetype.
A nice and versatile card for any deck that can access blue mana, red mana and Snapcaster Mage.
#12: Esper Sentinel
A cheap and disruptive creature that matches up well against a lot of Modern strategies.
#11 Foundation Breaker
A useful sideboard card that pairs well with Living End, and conveniently bypasses any cascade restrictions.
#10 General Ferrous Rokiric
I’ve seen General Ferrous appear in both Human Tribal and big-mana Niv-Mizzet strategies. That’s the sign of a quality card!
#9 Sanctifier en-Vec
Extremely efficient, and extremely useful as a sideboard card. If you’re a black or red mage, make sure you have a plan against this card.
All of the evoke Elementals are strong, but I particularly like that Endurance is affordable and a great sideboard option against several of the top strategies.
Not much to say here, just a great card.
#6 Blossoming Calm
Blossoming Calm is an extremely effective sideboard card, and probably one of the reasons that red decks have fallen out of favor. By responding to a Lava Spike, it’s easy to have this result in seven life and two crucial turns of breathing room. It can also counter discard spells if that’s what you’re in the market for.
#5 Prismatic Ending
I picked this early on to be a major player from Modern Horizons 2. So far, it’s showing up in both main decks and sideboards of U/W/x Control decks.
Counterspell is the very best card for doing a very popular job. It’s appearing in a wide range of strategies, and often in the full four copies.
#2 Urza’s Saga
Get’em while they’re hot! Urza’s Saga is appearing as a four-of in everything from Amulet Titan to Colossus Hammer to Food and Hardened Scales.
#1 Shardless Agent
A port from Legacy, Shardless Agent is having a huge impact on both existing and new strategies. Living End and Temur Cascade were my number one and two decks this week, and I’ve also seen Shardless Agent put to good use in Humans.