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.
Notable Omissions & Honorable Mention
I’ll start with the most notable absences from this list, which are Humans and Eldrazi Tron.
This time last year, I would’ve called Humans the best deck in Modern, but it’s really suffered from some new printings and shifts in the metagame. Modern Horizons brought Plague Engineer, Wrenn and Six, and Lava Dart–all of which punish the one-toughness Humans. Additionally, the rise of big mana decks and removal-heavy fair decks has been tough on tribal strategies. The raw power of Humans keeps it very much alive in Modern, but it is not one of my Top 10 decks for this installment.
For a deck with a relatively large metagame share, Eldrazi Tron never seems to put up the top results that I would expect. Of the selection of recent tournaments that I looked at, none were won by Eldrazi Tron. The colorless nature of the deck makes it inflexible and limits its sideboard options. Still, it’s a highly powerful deck that you shouldn’t sleep on. It’s out there, and it will beat you if you’re unprepared.
My honorable mention are the Devoted Druid and Collected Company decks. These don’t make up a large enough metagame share to be on the list, but they had solid showing in the final round paper competitions (capped off by Starcitygames.com Regionals) before events started getting cancelled. These decks are infinitely customizable and challenging to pilot, which leads me to believe that their potential is also quite high. If you’re a creature-based combo expert, stick with it and don’t change a thing!
Ponza is an old-fashioned name that I give to any red land destruction deck. In this case, it’s the R/G midrange deck featuring Utopia Sprawl, Arbor Elf, Blood Moon, Pillage, and hard-hitting threats to ramp into. After all these years, Blood Moon remains one of the best cards in Modern, and this is a great home for it.
9. Death’s Shadow (All Forms)
Because Death’s Shadow is a well-rounded archetype that gives its pilot a lot of agency over the games, it’s a popular choice among elite players. Grixis Shadow is the most popular right now, but you may also run into Mardu Shadow or a variety of green-based versions as well.
A classic that’s as old as the format itself. Burn is ever-present and deadly. Many decks have a hard time beating Eidolon of the Great Revel.
Traditional green Tron remains a top strategy in Modern, and was one of the biggest winners from the London Mulligan change last year.
My favorite deck! 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.
Another winner from the London Mulligan, and the beneficiary of some recent metagame shifts. It’s true that Dredge will fold if people start packing 5+ graveyard hate cards, but with the lack of other graveyard decks on this list, that’s not likely to happen any time soon. Dredge will continue to keep us honest with its 4% or 5% share of the metagame.
4. Red Prowess
Like its more Burn-centered cousin, Red Prowess comes at you hard and fast. It ranks even higher on the list due to being more explosive, and more resilient to mana flood.
In my opinion, the two red decks aren’t quite as strong as the three that will top out the list, but they’re very close. What’s more is that they’re much less intimidating to pick up, due to a straightforward gameplan and a more reasonable price tag. Red Prowess and Burn are both out there in force, and are putting up top finishes. It’s a bad time to skimp on your Thragtusks and Collective Brutalities.
3. Primeval Titan Decks (All Forms)
Primeval Titan decks set the bar for Modern. If you don’t have a plan that can contend with a turn 4 Titan, you’d better go back to the drawing board. The most common version is Amulet Titan, but you’ll also run into the more traditional Valakut decks as well as non-Amulet Titan ramp decks. In all of these cases, the strategy is a big winner from recent printings like Field of the Dead, Castle Garenbrig, and Dryad of the Ilysian Grove.
2. Urza (All Forms)
Second to Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis (which was promptly banned), Urza, Lord High Artificer is the strongest card to come out of Modern Horizons. It’s ability to stabilize the board, drive a mana engine, and provide limitless card advantage makes it a lynchpin of several different top decks.
You can find Urza decks centered around Simic, Dimir, or Grixis color combinations–some with the Thopter Foundry + Sword of the Meek combo, and some without. In the coming weeks, I’ll be putting out some Urza content here on Channelfireball.com as I search for the best version of this undeniably great archetype.
1. Snow (All Forms)
At first I was going to list the #1 archetype as Bant Snowblade, which has been putting up phenomenal results lately, and is the deck of choice for many of Modern’s most dedicated players. However, it’s not the presence of the Stoneforge Mystic package that really makes this deck tick, it’s the blue-green Snow core. So the top ranking for this installment goes equally to Sultai, Temur, Bant Stoneforge, Bant non-Stoneforge–anybody that’s been smart enough to center their deck around Snow-Covered basic lands, Arcum’s Astrolabe, and Ice-Fang Coatl.
Snow is just such 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.
That’s it for this installment. Will another deck rise up to threaten the dominance of Arcum’s Astrolabe? Or will Urza and non-Urza Snow decks hold onto their spots? You can help decide by queuing up on Magic Online and putting up some Modern results of your own.