Top 8 Modern Decks – Twin

Welcome to my first article series in which throughout the next two months, I will showcase the eight most influential strategies since the creation of Modern by reviewing the existing variants, and examining the choices available for each. I do have extensive Modern knowledge, yet, some specific archetype specialists will make appearances during this series to clarify a few things I’m unsure about.

Rather than provide something that’s only useful in the moment of a certain metagame, you can go back and see which variant of Twin to play when Abrupt Decay is declining in popularity. My weekly video will showcase the deck I wrote about as well.

Now that you have an idea of what I’ll be doing, here is the our first archetype!


Splinter Twin is one of the only archetypes to have survived multiple rounds of Modern bannings, and are still here since the very first event to feature the format—Pro Tour Philadelphia in 2011. It won the event while being the most popular archetype in the room. I piloted Twin at this event myself and immediately fell in love. As a result, it’s the deck I’ve played the most in Modern.

Samuele Estratti
Pro Tour Philadelphia 2011 Champion

The very first version was all-in on combo. Back then, if your deck couldn’t kill in the first four turns of the game, your deck was bad. It was the best deck because not only could it accomplish the turn-4 rule, but also had the counterspells to stop your opponent from combo’ing themselves as well as Pestermite and Deceiver Exarch which gave you a Time Walk by tapping down some key cards.

With the printing of Snapcaster Mage and eventually Abrupt Decay, Twin took the form of a control/tempo deck instead of relying solely on the two-card combo. People began to understand how to beat the all-in version—Abrupt Decay was the final straw, and the Snapcaster version took over in popularity.

This trio gives a completely new look to the deck, it now wins games without ever using the combo, and since most of those cards are instant speed, it threatens to combo at any time if you are not cautious.

Average UR Twin
Screenshot taken from mtgdecks.net

This is what the average blue/red version looks like. Usually when it feels like the combo is better and that there are fewer hate cards, one or two Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker are added alongside 2 Spellskites and the full 8 Pestermite/Deceiver Exarch.

This sideboard package enables the ability to completely dismiss our original game plan and instead play this Blue Moon type of strategy. Over the years, this has been the most effective way to defeat the Jund/Junk like decks and anyone over-sideboarding against our combo.

Green, Black, or White ?

Here is a quote that I’ve heard before and that feels accurate:

If you are looking to play a better beatdown version, play green.
If you are looking to play a better control version, play black.
If you are looking to lose, play white.

This might be a little drastic, but the reason to play white is Celestial Colonnade, and it just doesn’t fit what Twin is supposed to be doing. You don’t ever want to tap out to activate it. You don’t want to Path to Exile your opponent so that he or she has more mana to keep removal up or cast multiple spells in the same turn and make your Remands awful.

Nowadays, almost every variant will have the Snapcaster Mage/Lightning Bolt core, supplementing with cards such as Tarmogoyf, Tasigur, and Grim Lavamancer depending on its colors.

Temur Twin

Patrick Dickmann
Top 8 Pro Tour Born of the Gods

Grixis Twin

Daniel Fournier
GP Charlotte Top 32

These variants trade velocity for power. Instead of a smoother mana base and cheaper narrow cards, they have all-time greats such as Tarmogoyf and Tasigur, a new Modern favorite Kolaghan’s Command, unconditional removal like Terminate, or another green threat to complement ‘Goyf, from Scavenging Ooze to Huntmaster of the Fells to Thrun, the Last Troll.

I personally don’t like adding a 3rd color besides a light splash for Ancient Grudge because I prefer velocity to power.

General Tips

Try to represent the combo as much as possible. On turn three, don’t play your Steam Vents tapped just because you don’t have a Deceiver Exarch to cast, instead represent it and they might Time Walk themselves trying to keep mana up for an answer. Twin is as good as it is because most people don’t know when they should or should not play around the combo.

Breeding Pool or Stomping Ground? For your Ancient Grudge splash, Stomping Ground is better for a few reasons, mainly to supplement your loads of basic Islands, it casts both sides of Ancient Grudge, and finally, you are likely to want double-red only in some game-ending scenarios where you cast Splinter Twin, hence why you’d want to fetch it late or when you have nothing else to do, saving 2 life the shockland would otherwise do to you.

Sideboard Tips

  • Since the beginning of Modern, black decks have always been Twin’s worst matchup, particularly BGx. Trying to combo them works such a small percentage of the time that it’s not worth it to even try. I suggest boarding out as many combo pieces as possible.
  • Play the player. If your opponent anticipates the usual Twin sideboard plan too closely, you can spot that from their playstyle—they don’t ever keep mana up, they board out removal spells, etc.
  • Always have a minimum of 2 Blood Moons in your sideboard. It is so good against random decks, and it represents too many free wins to not play. Again, play the player, if they don’t respect Blood Moon at all because you’re “not supposed” to bring it in, do it and get them!


Thanks for reading and stay tuned for the remaining 7 decks!


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