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! 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.
We’ve now had two weekends of results after the companion rules change. It’s fair to say that we have a whole new Modern format on our hands. Lurrus of the Dream Den and Yorion, Sky Nomad are still out there, but these have become small role-player cards instead of the dominant forces that they were last month.
Modern changes fast, and is home to many, many different archetypes. Still, there are a handful of decks that we tend to think of as pillars of the format. It’s worth mentioning when these don’t appear in the Top 10 rankings on a given week.
Ramp decks have had a relatively bad run over the last two weeks. I was starting to get excited about Urzatron with Jegantha, the Wellspring and Golos, Tireless Pilgrim–but the companion rules change put the kibosh on that. Don’t be surprised to face Tron or Primeval Titan. Don’t be surprised if you lose to them. But they haven’t made my Top 10 list this week.
Jund, Ad Nauseam, and Devoted Druid decks all hover around the Top 15, but haven’t made the cut for this installment. Similarly, the “Big Blue” decks like Niv Mizzet and Scapeshift have suffered from Yorion being weakened, and have largely given way to more traditional Snow and Urza decks.
10. Eldrazi Tron
A reliable presence in the Modern tournament scene, Eldrazi Tron is capable of producing a number of different high-powered draws. Chalice of the Void is a powerhouse against the Burn and Red Prowess decks.
Eldrazi Tron is a top archetype that never used a companion anyway. This can be a go-to choice for companion players looking to jump ship to a safe, intact deck.
9. Death’s Shadow
Death’s Shadow was really coming into its own just before the companion rules change. I’m not exactly sure what form this deck will take now, but there’s no denying that it’s powerful, customizable, and rewards tight play from its pilot.
Storm is one of those ever-present decks in Modern. Sometimes all it takes is a slight shift in the metagame–or a couple of talented players innovating on the deck–to make it a deadly threat. Storm preys on non-interactive decks like Dredge, Tron, and Valakut. It’s also a great choice when players come with the wrong types of interaction, like the Pillages and Blood Moons out of Ponza.
I also believe that a Storm player who really understands the matchup can be a favorite against the Urza and Snow decks, even in spite of their permission spells.
Regardless of the metagame, you should never sleep on Humans. This deck is fast, consistent, and highly disruptive. It’s even picked up some new weapons like General Kudro of Drannith.
6. Red Prowess
Red Prowess maintains many of the strengths of traditional Burn, but has even more explosive power.
Red Prowess with either a white or black splash was a top strategy in the period before the Companion rules change because the archetype could utilize Lurrus so effectively. 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 made for a well-oiled machine. These decks are still strong, but I’m also a big fan of the faster Mono-Red version of Prowess.
This archetype has lost a lot of metagame share in the last two weeks, but it still makes Top 10 rankings because I’ve played a lot with it, and I vouch for how strong it is.
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 benefited a lot from Lurrus, but it’s always been more of a bonus than something that’s essential to the gameplan.
Urza has all of the strengths of the more traditional Snow decks: Arcum’s Astrolabe, Ice-Fang Coatl, Uro, and permission spells with Mystic Sanctuary. On top of that, it also has a built-in artifact theme in order to facilitate Emry, Lurker of the Loch and the namesake Urza, Lord High Artificer.
Urza decks can be built in a variety of color combinations and may or may not use Yorion, Sky Nomad as a companion.
Dredge attacks Modern from a different angle than the rest of the decks on this list. The goal is to dump cards into the graveyard and use free spells and abilities like Narcomoeba, Bloodghast, Prized Amalgam, and Creeping Chill to win the game. Normal defensive measures like permission, discard, and removal are ineffective against it.
Ox of Agonas provides a power level upgrade to an already strong deck. Dredge is very good right now.
Also known as Gruul, Ponza is a midrange deck that seeks to accelerate its mana, disrupt the opponent with cards like Pillage and Blood Moon, and utilize single potent threats like Seasoned Pyromancer and Klothys, God of Destiny.
Ponza can either be built around Obosh, the Preypiercer, or in a more classic way with no companion. Either way, I think this is one of the top midrange decks in Modern now.
1. Bant/Sultai Snow
In all the time I’ve been writing Modern Power Rankings, this is the most certain I’ve ever felt about the #1 archetype.
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. The Cryptic Command + Mystic Sanctuary engine makes it almost impossible to keep up with this deck in the long game.
While some Snow players do use Yorion as a companion, it’s not essential to the gameplan. Sixty-card versions of Snow have held strong even during the reign of companions, and now Snow is the best strategy in Modern.
The most traditional build is Bant Stoneforge, but you’re also likely to run into Bant Snow Control with no Stoneforge Mystic. Sultai Snow is also breaking out as a favorite of some of the top Magic Online Modern players.