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Modern Power Rankings – Pre 6/1 B&R Announcement

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. 

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. Don’t be discouraged if your favorite deck doesn’t make the list–it doesn’t mean that it can’t be a winning strategy! Additionally, I’ll try to be as precise as possible in my deck classifications, but there will be times when I have to lump a variety of decks into one broader archetype. 

With a banned and restricted announcement planned just a few days from the time of writing, who knows if this will be the final ranking with Lurrus and Yorion decks in their fully-powered forms? 

Falling Off the List 

A category of decks which I call Blue Lurrus falls off the power rankings this week. This encompasses Grixis Delver and non-Delver midrange decks that choose Lurrus as the companion. I personally like these decks a lot, with Grixis Delver being one of my favorite Modern decks that I’ve tried in the era of companions. Personal opinion aside, however, I can’t continue to justify a top 10 position for this archetype due to its very small metagame share. 

The bigger surprise will be the fall of Primeval Titan decks. Prior to the widespread cancellation of paper events back in February and March, you could’ve reasonably argued that Primeval Titan was the #1 strategy in Modern. It was both heavily played and hugely successful across the Starcitygames.com tournament circuit. Since then, its numbers and results have been on a steady decline. Even after the printing of companions, which strengthened the competition while leaving Titan decks unchanged, the strategy held strong. However, yet another week has passed with a dearth of Titan results, and the picture is starting to become clear. Primeval Titan is a powerful strategy with plenty of great matchups across Modern, but it lacks the well-roundedness to be what some would call “Tier One.” 

I played a lot with the TitanShift Valakut deck recently, and will have some content rolling out here on CFB soon. My conclusion was that it’s a strong deck, but wouldn’t be my first choice for an upcoming tournament. Thus, my personal experience seems to fit with the results I’m seeing. 

Breakout Decks 

I love to see brewing and creative deckbuilding alive and well, even in a format as old as Modern. Before I get into the top 10, I’ll mention a few unusual decks that are breaking onto the Magic Online tournament scene. They don’t yet have the success or metagame share to earn a spot in my power rankings, but keep an eye on them for coming weeks! 

The first deck is Miracles, which is a U/W-based Control deck that uses Opt, Omen of the Sea, and Jace, the Mind Sculptor to set the top of its library. This is useful not only for Terminus and Entreat the Angels, but also for Counterbalance. I’ve played against this deck, and it’s surprisingly annoying to face Counterbalance, even in the absence of its partner, Sensei’s Divining Top. (Which of course is banned in Modern). It’s like playing against a Chalice of the Void which might unexpectedly counter any of my spells regardless of manacost! 

The next is Wilderness Reclamation. This usually takes the form of a Snow Control deck that simply plays a few copies of Wilderness Reclamation for value. You’ll typically find one copy of Nexus of Fate for the late-game lock-out, but simply having Reclamation to double your mana and pass with Cryptic Command every turn will be plenty good enough in most games. 

Restore Balance put up two top results recently. This is a combo deck that finds creative ways–like Cascade, Fate Foretold, or Electrodominance–to cast the otherwise-uncastable Restore Balance. It can leverage this into a game-winning advantage in a variety of ways, such as artifact mana and Greater Gargadon

10. Ad Nauseam

Most Common Companion: None

Ad Nauseam is a strong metagame deck that preys on many popular archetypes right now. In particular, I think the rise of Ad Nauseam is connected with the decline of Primeval Titan–a matchup where Ad Nauseam has a massive advantage.

9. Devoted Druid Decks

Most Common Companion: Variety

I’m grouping all of the green creature-based combo decks together. One common version uses Lurrus as a companion and focuses on assembling Devoted Druid and Vizier of Remedies before winning with Walking Ballista, Finale of Devastation, or any of a number of different ways. Another common version pairs Heliod, Sun Crowned with Walking Ballista and Spike Feeder–this of course precludes the use of Lurrus.

The point is that these decks are very powerful, very customizable, and very skill-testing, which also means that they have a high ceiling in terms of potential.

8. Bant Snow

Most Common Companion: Yorion, the Sky Nomad

Snow is a beautiful recipe. You get a solid, consistent, and nearly painless mana-base that isn’t vulnerable to Blood Moon. From there, you get to play any cards of your choosing from among three (or possibly more) colors. The highlight, of course, is Ice-Fang Coatl, which is a hyper-efficient flash threat that can hold an equipment, or be a stone-cold killer of anyone foolish enough to try attacking with creatures. It’s also worth mentioning the Cryptic Command + Mystic Sanctuary engine, which makes it almost impossible to keep up with this deck in the long game.

While Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath allows the non-companion Snow decks to keep pace with Lurrus of the Dream Den, I’ve noticed a trend of Snow players gradually starting to build around Yorion, the Sky Nomad.

Bant Snow has dropped a few spots in this week’s rankings, but this is more because players are finding different (better?) ways to use the Snow cards, and not because the strategy has become less effective. Bant Snow shares a lot in common with this week’s #5 deck.

7. Tron

Most Common Companion: Jegantha, the Wellspring

Tron is a traditional staple of the Modern format. Recently, it’s taken a back seat to other big mana decks like Titan Ramp, Eldrazi Tron, and Big Blue Scapeshift. However, Tron is making waves again. I’ve been impressed by the versions using the combination of Golos, Tireless Pilgrim in the main deck with Jegantha, the Wellspring as a companion.

6. Eldrazi Tron

Most Common Companion: None

A reliable presence in the Modern tournament scene, Eldrazi Tron has had a higher than normal rate of top results recently. It looks like this old favorite has found effective ways to deal with the companion decks which have been ravaging the format. In particular, Chalice of the Void is a powerhouse against the Burn and Red Prowess decks.

5. Big Blue

Most Common Companion: Yorion, the Sky Nomad

This archetype is difficult to define, in part because players are still searching for the ideal builds. Even in these early stages, however, it’s proving its power and flexibility. “Big Blue,” can take the form of a Bring to Light deck with Niv-Mizzet, Reborn; a Bring to Light deck with Scapeshift; or a multicolored Scapeshift deck that uses neither Bring to Light nor Primeval Titan. These decks are packed with card advantage and utilize Yorion, the Sky Nomad as a companion.

4. Urza

Most Common Companion: Yorion, Sky Nomad

Yorion can’t match the speed or efficiency of Lurrus, but it’s still a game-winner when it goes unchecked, and when it slots perfectly into an already-great archetype, the results are excellent.

Second to Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis (which was promptly banned), Urza, Lord High Artificer is the strongest card to come out of Modern Horizons. He has a remarkable ability to stabilize the board, drive a mana engine, and provide limitless card advantage, and now makes a great pairing with Yorion, Sky Nomad.

While many varieties exist, these days you’re most likely to see Urza decks centered around blue and green, utilizing Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath.

3. Jund

Most Common Companion: Lurrus of the Dream Den

Jund has changed a lot with the printing of Ikoria, but I actually think it’s one of the biggest winners from the new cards. I’ll always have a soft spot for Liliana of the Veil and Bloodbraid Elf, but cards that you shuffle into your deck and hope to draw on a key turn simply cannot be compared to the value of a free companion that you get as an extra card every single game. Lurrus fits perfectly with the Jund gameplan: Spend the early turns dismantling the opponent, and then transition into resilient card advantage-based threats in the mid-game.

Jund has its work cut out for it in combating the big mana decks of the format, but the card quality is through the roof, and it’s still primed to beat up on opposing creature decks. As always, the sideboard cards exist to shore up just about any weakness, provided you know where to look.

The more time passes, the more Lurrus cements itself as a top strategy in Modern, and the more Jund cements itself as the top Lurrus Midrange deck.

2. Burn

Most Common Companion: Lurrus of the Dream Den

A classic that’s as old as the format itself. This is a top archetype that’s able to slot in a companion effortlessly, with no restructuring required. Burn didn’t need a massive upgrade to keep putting up results, but it got one!

I sometimes see Burn get a bad rap as a deck for beginners, or a choice for players on a budget. I start to reject these ideas when I see it putting up more top finishes than any other deck in the format. Burn is here to stay, and has taken such a large metagame share that you should consider targeted hate cards like Kor Firewalker, Weather the Storm, Dragon’s Claw, and Leyline of Sanctity.

1. Red Prowess

Most Common Companion: Lurrus of the Dream Den

Red Prowess has put up an astounding number of top results over the last three weeks. It maintains many of the strengths of traditional Burn, but has even more explosive power, and utilizes Lurrus more effectively. You lose out on Eidolon of the Great Revel, but the combination of Monastery Swiftspear, Soul-Scar Mage, Abbot of Keral Keep, Mishra’s Bauble, Lava Dart, and of course Lurrus of the Dream Den makes for a well-oiled machine that you can count on for deadly consistency.

While based in Red, Prowess players can choose either White or Black as a secondary color to support Lurrus. The White versions resemble more classic Burn decks, except with Soul-Scar Mage and Abbot of Keral Keep in place of Goblin Guide and Eidolon of the Great Revel. The Black version goes slightly more midrange with discard spells, graveyard hate, and slightly more card advantage and removal. A player with the account name: Patxi has been making top 8 of practically all of the recent MTGO Modern events using R(b) Prowess. A top player latching onto a deck and having this much success tends to be an indicator of a top archetype.

Modern remains a diverse format where many different strategies can succeed. However, if you’re in doubt about what to play, it looks like packing Lightning Bolt and Lurrus of the Dream Den is a pretty safe bet.

Has the format settled into a new equilibrium? Or are players still finding their way with the new Ikoria cards? I don’t know the answer to these questions, but I’ll be keeping my eye on them and updating these power rankings frequently over the coming months.

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