Hello everyone! Since the last time I wrote an article, we've seen some huge changes to the Modern format.
Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis and
Faithless Looting are now gone and a 2 mana 1/2 (
Stoneforge Mystic) was deemed no longer too strong for Modern. Today I'll be discussing 8 decks that I think are well positioned in this brand new Modern meta. We have a lot of information and card evaluation to go through here, so let's get started! Oh yeah, there's also going to be some free stuff that you can win at the end of this article! Just in case you needed a little more of an incentive to keep reading.
Earlier this month was the first Star City Games Modern Open since the recent changes and Burn put up a great showing. Burn has always been a tier one archetype, but it's better positioned now than it has been for a long time. There were 3 copies in the top 8 and 4 copies in the top 16 of the first event after the bannings and it's continued to put up even more results since then. The decklist shown here is Dylan Donegan's 2nd place Burn deck from SCG Dallas.
4 Sunbaked Canyon 1 Fiery Islet 4 Skewer the Critics 4 Inspiring Vantage 4 Monastery Swiftspear 4 Eidolon of the Great Revel 4 Boros Charm 4 Searing Blaze 2 Arid Mesa 4 Goblin Guide 4 Rift Bolt 2 Sacred Foundry 4 Lightning Helix 4 Lava Spike 2 Bloodstained Mire 2 Wooded Foothills 3 Mountain 4 Lightning Bolt 2 Deflecting Palm 3 Skullcrack 4 Kor Firewalker 3 Path to Exile 3 Smash to Smithereens
Pros: Good against the new
Stoneforge Mystic decks, has game against almost all decks in the format, and is very consistent which is important if you're playing in a longer tournament like a Grand Prix or SCG Open.
Cons: Less dedicated sideboard slots to graveyard hate means potentially more sideboard anti-burn cards like
Collective Brutality or
Auriok Champion and minimal interaction for decks like Neobrand or
Primeval Titan strategies.
I've always been a big fan of the Eldrazi strategies with cards like
Reality Smasher and
Thought-Knot Seer. Not only does this deck take advantage of that Eldrazi package, but it includes a few other packages that I think are strong in Modern right now too. Also,
Ancient Stirrings is a very, very good Magic card. The decklist shown here is Ally Warfield's 22nd place deck from the SCG Modern Open. Notably, Ally also piloted the Selesnya Eldrazi deck to a top 4 finish in the Team Modern Grand Prix earlier this month as well!
4 Ancient Stirrings 1 Batterskull 4 Brushland 4 Cavern of Souls 4 Eldrazi Displacer 4 Eldrazi Temple 2 Forest 1 Horizon Canopy 4 Karn, the Great Creator 4 Noble Hierarch 4 Path to Exile 2 Plains 4 Prismatic Vista 4 Reality Smasher 4 Stoneforge Mystic 1 Sword of Feast and Famine 1 Sword of Fire and Ice 3 Talisman of Unity 4 Thought-Knot Seer 1 Wastes 1 Batterskull 3 Damping Sphere 2 Dismember 1 Ensnaring Bridge 2 Grafdigger's Cage 1 Liquimetal Coating 1 Mycosynth Lattice 1 Sorcerous Spyglass 1 Tormod's Crypt 1 Walking Ballista 1 Witchbane Orb
Karn, the Great Creator gives access to many silver-bullets as well as maindeck hate against decks like Whirza and
Hardened Scales, Eldrazi hold swords better than the typical creatures that you'll see in a Stoneforge deck, and this deck has so many haymakers that constantly force your opponent to have answers.
Cons: Very slow without an opening hand that contains some kind of mana acceleration and loses to decks like Tron that are able to produce even larger threats.
With the bannings of Hogaak and Looting, graveyard decks got significantly worse. Even so, more players are starting to shave on their graveyard hate because they think that graveyard decks are finally dead. This is a big mistake. Less mainboard copies of
Nihil Spellbomb or
Scavenging Ooze makes Dredge even more favorable in game one than before.
Before the bans, we would see non-black decks like Tron or Burn running 4 copies of
Leyline of the Void in their sideboard to stop graveyard decks. We don't see that anymore in this new meta. The loss of
Faithless Looting certainly hurt Dredge, but players have found success replacing it with cards like
Insolent Neonate and
Tome Scour. If you still don't believe me, the results speak for themselves. Dredge got 1st place in the SCG Modern Classic and put up an undefeated finish in the Modern Premier on MTGO. The decklist shown here is SCG Modern Classic winning deck piloted by Jake Peralez.
1 Arid Mesa 1 Blood Crypt 4 Bloodghast 2 Bloodstained Mire 4 Cathartic Reunion 3 City of Brass 2 Conflagrate 2 Copperline Gorge 4 Creeping Chill 2 Forgotten Cave 1 Gemstone Mine 2 Golgari Thug 4 Life from the Loam 1 Mountain 4 Narcomoeba 4 Prized Amalgam 4 Shriekhorn 1 Steam Vents 4 Stinkweed Imp 2 Stomping Ground 4 Tome Scour 4 Wooded Foothills 1 Abrupt Decay 2 Alpine Moon 2 Ancient Grudge 1 Blast Zone 1 Darkblast 3 Lightning Axe 3 Nature's Claim 2 Shenanigans
Pros: Very high win percentage in game one, currently much more under the radar than it should be, and
Creeping Chill is a busted card that should have never been printed, especially good in the current Modern environment.
Cons: Dredge has the possibility of just losing to itself by having unfortunate dredges that only hit cards like
Cathartic Reunion and
Shriekhorn or lands, and games two and three become much more about how much graveyard hate your opponent draws / how much graveyard hate removal you draw.
When Hogaak was busy doing Hogaak things to the format, this was the generally agreed upon second best deck. With Hogaak gone, it would make sense for Whirza to move up one spot and become the best. While I don't think Whirza actually is the best deck, it's certainly very strong. Let's not forget that
Sword of the Meek was previously banned in Modern because of how powerful the interaction is with
Thopter Foundry. Thopter Sword decks were reasonable before, but the printing of cards like
Goblin Engineer and
Urza, Lord High Artificer in Modern Horizons provide another enabler and a way to win the game in one turn instead of over the course of multiple turns. The decklist shown here is Harlan Firer's winning decklist from the Star City Games Modern Open.
4 Arcum's Astrolabe 1 Breeding Pool 2 Chromatic Star 1 Ensnaring Bridge 2 Galvanic Blast 3 Goblin Engineer 1 Ichor Wellspring 1 Inventors' Fair 4 Mishra's Bauble 4 Mox Opal 1 Mystic Forge 1 Nihil Spellbomb 2 Pithing Needle 4 Polluted Delta 1 Pyrite Spellbomb 4 Scalding Tarn 4 Snow-Covered Island 1 Snow-Covered Mountain 1 Snow-Covered Swamp 2 Spire of Industry 1 Steam Vents 2 Sword of the Meek 4 Thopter Foundry 4 Urza, Lord High Artificer 1 Watery Grave 1 Welding Jar 3 Whir of Invention 3 Assassin's Trophy 3 Ceremonious Rejection 2 Collective Brutality 1 Damping Sphere 2 Fatal Push 2 Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas 2 Thoughtseize
Pros: Whirza has the ability to play silver-bullet cards like
Pithing Needle and
Ensnaring Bridge in the maindeck without hindering functionality significantly,
Arcum's Astrolabe gives the deck access to play whatever colored sideboard cards they want, and Whirza is a great choice for a longer tournament due to its consistency with several enablers, tutors, and even ways to recur combo pieces from the graveyard.
Cons: Many players run artifact hate cards in their sideboard like
Force of Vigor,
Smash to Smithereens,
Karn, the Great Creator, etc. and very little maindeck interaction for aggressive strategies like Burn or Infect.
Having to put Jund on this list makes me a little sad because I was always on team BG Rock > Jund. However, the printing of
Wrenn and Six has made Jund into the best black green based midrange deck in the format. With the unbanning of
Stoneforge Mystic, we've seen more players sleeving up
Kolaghan's Command again and Jund is one of the best K Command decks in Modern. Jund also accesses a little bit of everything, which gives it the ability to have game against all kind of decks. There's hand disruption for combo,cheap removal for aggressive decks, and 2 for 1's like
Bloodbraid Elf to generate advantage in the midrange mirrors. The decklist shown here is Cameron Gass' Jund list from the top 4 of the SCG Modern Classic.
1 Abrupt Decay 2 Assassin's Trophy 4 Blackcleave Cliffs 1 Blood Crypt 2 Bloodbraid Elf 3 Bloodstained Mire 2 Fatal Push 1 Forest 2 Huntmaster of the Fells 4 Inquisition of Kozilek 1 Kolaghan's Command 4 Lightning Bolt 3 Liliana of the Veil 1 Liliana, the Last Hope 1 Maelstrom Pulse 1 Mountain 2 Nurturing Peatland 2 Overgrown Tomb 1 Plague Engineer 1 Raging Ravine 2 Scavenging Ooze 1 Stomping Ground 2 Swamp 4 Tarmogoyf 2 Thoughtseize 2 Tireless Tracker 4 Verdant Catacombs 1 Wooded Foothills 3 Wrenn and Six 2 Ashiok, Dream Render 1 Collective Brutality 1 Collector Ouphe 1 Damping Sphere 3 Fulminator Mage 1 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet 2 Kitchen Finks 1 Nissa, Vital Force 1 Plague Engineer 2 Weather the Storm
Pros: Jund has something for every opposing deck in the format, you are playing with some of the best cards ever printed in Magic like
Liliana of the Veil and
Tarmogoyf, which can both single-handedly win games by themselves, and Jund is one of the best decks at adapting to a new meta because it can be customized very easily since there are so many great options to choose from within the Jund color combination
Cons: The win rate against Tron is pretty abysmal for Jund and the ability to customize Jund to adapt to a new meta easily can also be detrimental if you misread the meta for the specific tournament that you're playing in
I had a difficult time deciding whether I should talk about regular Tron or Eldrazi Tron for this article. Both are fine right now and Eldrazi Tron has been putting up better numbers, but it's also being played in a significantly higher quantity, which gives it more opportunities to perform well. With that being said, let's talk about what differs the variants from each other and why I think regular Tron is better right now.
One of the selling points for Eldrazi Tron in the old meta was the ability to play 4
Chalice of the Void in the main. Chalice has gotten weaker with the recent meta shift. Another selling point for Eldrazi Tron is that you can still function reasonably without having all 3 Tron lands in play. This isn't normally a concern for either side in game 1, but in sideboarded games it is. Cards like
Damping Sphere, etc. get brought in against both decks, but regular Tron plays ways to remove them and Eldrazi Tron doesn't. So, going back to the statement that Eldrazi Tron plays better without having their three lands in play, it's because that problem is more relevant to their deck than it is to regular Tron.
Tron has the lower floor when it comes to playing without tron assembled, but it also has the higher ceiling for when it does. I feel that differences in ceiling height for the two decks is much larger than the distance between their two floors. Therefore, I have to choose Tron over Eldrazi Tron right now. The decklist shown here is the Tron list that MTGO player Thalai played to a top 16 finish in the Modern Premier event on MTGO.
4 Ancient Stirrings 1 Blast Zone 4 Chromatic Sphere 4 Chromatic Star 2 Dismember 4 Expedition Map 4 Forest 1 Ghost Quarter 4 Karn Liberated 4 Karn, the Great Creator 3 Oblivion Stone 1 Sanctum of Ugin 4 Sylvan Scrying 2 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon 2 Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger 4 Urza's Mine 4 Urza's Power Plant 4 Urza's Tower 1 Walking Ballista 3 Wurmcoil Engine 1 Crucible of Worlds 1 Ensnaring Bridge 1 Grafdigger's Cage 1 Liquimetal Coating 1 Mycosynth Lattice 3 Nature's Claim 2 Spatial Contortion 1 Thragtusk 1 Trinisphere 2 Veil of Summer 1 Walking Ballista
Pros: 7 mana on turn 3, more consistent than ever with the introduction of the London Mulligan, and has good matchups against other top decks in the format like Jund and Whirza.
Cons: Minimal interaction for faster combo decks like Infect or Storm and has less
Karn, the Great Creator sideboard targets than any other Karn deck, but it still plays the really relevant ones like
Liquimetal Coating, and
In June of 2011, we saw two cards get banned from standard and 2 months later, they were also part of the initial Modern ban list:
Jace, the Mind Sculptor and
Stoneforge Mystic. Due to the past domination of Cawblade (an Azorius Jace and Stoneforge deck) in Standard, most Modern players started their Stoneforge brewing process with an Azorius shell, arguably the best choice. Jace and the Mystic are both great, but there are also plenty of other quality cards in this deck beyond those previously banned. Modern staples like
Path to Exile,
Snapcaster Mage, and
Force of Negation are just a few of them.
I've also seen some lists playing some cards like
Spell Queller and
Geist of Saint Traft, but the list that I'm showcasing here has neither. I've seen Jeskai, Esper, and Bant versions of Stoneblade that have done well, but feel the regular UW version is more consistent and puts up better results than the 3 color versions. The decklist shown here is Peter Ingram's winning list from an SCG IQ earlier this month.
1 Batterskull 2 Celestial Colonnade 2 Cryptic Command 1 Dismember 4 Field of Ruin 4 Flooded Strand 4 Force of Negation 2 Glacial Fortress 2 Hallowed Fountain 6 Island 3 Jace, the Mind Sculptor 2 Mana Leak 4 Opt 4 Path to Exile 2 Plains 1 Polluted Delta 1 Prismatic Vista 4 Snapcaster Mage 2 Spell Snare 4 Stoneforge Mystic 1 Supreme Verdict 1 Sword of Feast and Famine 2 Teferi, Time Raveler 1 Vendilion Clique 1 Batterskull 2 Celestial Purge 1 Ceremonious Rejection 2 Disdainful Stroke 1 Disenchant 1 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar 2 Rest in Peace 1 Stony Silence 1 Supreme Verdict 2 Timely Reinforcements 1 Vendilion Clique
Pros: More win conditions that can end the game significantly faster than the typical
Mana Leak and
Supreme Verdict deck, access to great white sideboard cards like
Rest in Piece,
Timely Reinforcements, and
Celestial Purge, and has game against the majority of decks in the format.
Cons: Even though it's faster than UW Control, the deck is still a bit slow and contains fewer creatures to put your
Stoneforge Mystic sword on than the Esper or Bant versions.
There are a lot of great decks that I could have chosen for this article. Mardu Shadow, Titan Shift, Amulet Titan, etc. are all still very reasonable choices that can take down almost any tournament. However, as you can see, I chose Infect over each of them. The Infect mechanic is broken. It's dumb and probably should have never been printed.
But I absolutely love this deck. For the past few months, Modern Infect has been my baby. So, it makes me quite the happy Magic player when my favorite deck is a fantastic choice for 2 metas in a row. Infect was great during Hogaak's reign and it's great now too, against a new slower meta heavy with creatures!
Deck is great. Play it. Here's a decklist that you can check out. Some garbage Magic player won an SCG IQ with it earlier this month before the bannings and the list is still certainly playable with just a few sideboard changes. Also, I know what you're thinking, "Why is Alby being so mean and calling that Magic player garbage?" Well, it's because I know that Magic player pretty well. It's me! I won an SCG IQ with Modern Infect and will be attending the Star City Games Invitational at SCG Con in November. I'm very happy to be able to include one of my own tournament results in this article. So, to keep consistent with the previous paragraphs, the decklist shown here is Marc Yeager's SCG IQ winning Modern Infect list.
1 Become Immense 4 Blighted Agent 4 Blossoming Defense 2 Breeding Pool 1 Dismember 2 Distortion Strike 4 Glistener Elf 1 Groundswell 4 Inkmoth Nexus 4 Might of Old Krosa 2 Misty Rainforest 4 Mutagenic Growth 4 Noble Hierarch 2 Pendelhaven 4 Scale Up 3 Snow-Covered Forest 2 Spell Pierce 1 Spellskite 1 Verdant Catacombs 4 Vines of Vastwood 2 Waterlogged Grove 2 Windswept Heath 2 Wooded Foothills 1 Ceremonious Rejection 1 Dismember 1 Dispel 1 Distortion Strike 3 Grafdigger's Cage 1 Ichorclaw Myr 2 Pithing Needle 1 Reality Shift 2 Return to Nature 2 Wild Defiance
Pros: One of the fastest decks in the format, game one win percentage is very high, and has good matchups against some of the best decks in the format that you're likely to see at competitive tournaments like Tron, Whirza, Dredge, UW Control, UW Stoneblade, Devoted Druid Combo, etc.
Cons: Bad matchups against decks with a lot of interaction like Burn or Jund.
This month marks the 1 year anniversary of my sponsorship with Cardsphere. As a way to celebrate, they're letting give away a year of Cardsphere premium to someone who reads this article. I've decided to split that year up and do 4 winners who will each receive 3 months of free Cardsphere premium so that we could have more than just one winner.
I was trying to think of a cool way to have people enter into this giveaway and have it incorporate some of my history with Cardsphere along with it as well and this is what I came up with. The first card I ever sent on Cardsphere was an Iconic Masters
Archangel of Thune and the first card I ever received from a foreign country on Cardsphere was from Portugal (shoutout to Cardsphere user Merlin76 for sending me my playset of fullart promo
Psionic Blasts from across the world.) So, to enter this giveaway I want you to go to your wants list and add a Near Mint copy of an Iconic Masters
Archangel of Thune in Portuguese at 12% (one percent for each month that I've been working with Cardsphere). On September 29th, I'll pick out 4 winners who have this card on their wants list and they'll receive free Cardsphere premium for October, November, and December!
Thank you all so much for reading this article and best of luck in the giveaway!