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.
I’ve decided to expand the Power Rankings to now encompass the Top 15 archetypes. For many formats, ten decks is all you need to have a clear picture of what’s going on. However, 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. Expanding to 15 decks will give a little more flexibility to highlight breakout decks while still including the format mainstays.
Ponza is one of Modern’s big decks of 2020. It’s a red/green deck that uses Utopia Sprawl and Arbor Elf to accelerate into the most potent midrange threats and disruptive cards available. This strategy has lost a little bit of steam with the printing of Zendikar Rising. However, with mana hungry decks continuing to define the format, there’s still a lot to like about Ponza.
Taking the place of what I used to call “Wilderness Reclamation” or “Big Blue,” Temur is a much more general term for the category of decks that plays with Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath, Wrenn and Six, and a shell of effective removal spells and permission. Field of the Dead is typically involved in the endgame in one way or another. Scapeshift or Hour of Promise are optional ways to power up the manabase. Adding white for Omnath is more common, but it’s still possible to be successful with a more classic Temur build.
Generating a lot of value from its manabase, and capable of multiple different broken draws, Eldrazi Tron is a fun and highly competitive deck. Two individual cards that shine in this archetype are Chalice of the Void and the recently-printed Mazemind Tome.
Despite a very small metagame share, I couldn’t resist featuring Orzhov Stoneforge after its win in a recent Modern Challenge. This deck utilizes Black removal and disruption in much the same way as Jund, but chooses White as a support color for resilient creatures and the powerful new Skyclave Apparition.
A format mainstay, Burn has always been here and will always be here. It’s a strong strategy in a format where almost everyone deals themselves three or more damage per game via their fetchland/shockland manabase. Eidolon of the Great Revel is a payoff card that’s difficult to play outside of Burn, and KO’s certain strategies all on its own. I’ve seen some cool Burn decks recently that touch into Black for Bump in the Night and Scourge of the Skyclaves.
A crowd favorite deck that can always hang in there based on its well-rounded gameplan and excellent sideboard options. This is another place where Scourge of the Skyclaves is starting to make its mark.
Spirits was all the rage in Modern about two years ago. When I first saw Spirits pop up in a top 8 recently, I thought it might be a flash in the pan. More results have given me more faith in the archetype, and I’ve moved it up a few places in the rankings for this installment. Spirits can be built in simple Azorius colors, or can dip into green for Collected Company.
Humans is a tried and true deck that also happens to have put up some strong results recently. It’s fast, disruptive, consistent, and punishing. As my colleague Andrea Mengucci points out, Humans has access to three different highly effective openings in Aether Vial, Noble Hierarch, and Champion of the Parish.
Many control players are choosing to adopt Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath to get that extra raw power. Still, Classic Azorious remains a very simple and effective deck. Permission spells are good, board sweepers are good, and Jace and Teferi are among the most powerful planeswalkers available in the format. What’s not to like?
Note that U/W Stoneforge is a strong alternative if you’re looking for something just a tiny bit more proactive.
Amidst an infusion of new cards from Zendikar Rising and a lot of sweet strategies putting up results, Red Prowess is still a great deck. The density of great Red cards that cost one and two mana (or zero mana, for that matter) just makes this strategy so effective.
While traditional Burn gets a headache from even the first three points of lifegain from Uro, the Red Prowess decks unload massive, massive damage when their creatures go unchecked, and can sometimes even ignore the Titan. You get out ahead and punish people while they sculpt their hands and lay tapped lands on the battlefield. Sprinkle in some well-placed graveyard hate or a Boil off the sideboard, and you have a rock solid deck that happens to be a good choice against the other strategies on this list.
Red Prowess can come in the form of Monored (most aggressive), R/B (more midrangey), and R/U (in the middle). All three options are very strong.
Amidst many different decks powered by Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath, Sultai is proving itself as one of the best. Compared to other color combinations, however, Sultai lends itself to more of a well-rounded, midrange game. The Black answer cards like Thoughtseize, Abrupt Decay, and Assassin’s Trophy are highly flexible, meaning that Sultai has solid game against just about everything.
Primeval Titan is one of the defining cards of Modern. If your deck doesn’t have a plan for beating turn 4 Titan, then you should probably go back to the drawing board.
While Primeval Titan still shows up in classic Valakut and Amulet of Vigor decks, lately it’s had yet another home on top of that. This comes in techy creature-based decks that feature some combination of Aether Vial, Eladamri’s Call, and Elvish Reclaimer. I suppose having all of those other creatures makes for an effective backup plan if ramping straight to a Titan doesn’t work.
Arguably the biggest winner from the printing of Zendikar Rising is Death and Taxes. Historically a fringe archetype, this is a disruptive White creature deck which catapulted from unranked all the way to top billing after the printing of Skyclave Apparition. The ability to maintain a high creature density while building in answers to everything–including noncreature permanents–has made this strategy highly potent.
I think we can all agree that Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath is one of the strongest cards in the format right now. Where Modern players don’t always agree is the best home for it. But right now, Omnath is the most popular, and seemingly the most successful. This deck features four or five colors of mana, powers out Field of the Dead, and uses the legendary elemental for some unbelievably powerful turns. You might sometimes see Niv-Mizzet, Reborn alongside Omnath, or Yorion, Sky Nomad as a companion.
Death’s Shadow has been winning a scary amount lately. It’s punishing to its opponents; the card quality is high; it’s customizable; and it really rewards the skill of its pilot. With the printing of Zendikar Rising, it gains access to Scourge of the Skyclaves to pair with its namesake card. This density of powerful threats makes an already-great archetype stronger than ever. Plain Rakdos is the most played Death’s Shadow deck, but you’ll see Jund and Grixis out there as well.
Checking in with Team CFB
I asked my teammates what they’d play in an upcoming Modern event.
Andrea – Humans. Death and Taxes might be stronger, but I like the ability of Humans to have three good starts (Vial, Hierarch, Champion) as opposed to just Aether Vial from D&T.
Gabriel – Kanister won last weekend’s Modern Challenge with Saheeli Omnath. I’d go with that. [Link to Martin’s Deck of the Day]
Luis – Saheeli Omnath looks awesome.
Martin – Something with Omnath while it’s still legal!