Four Modern Decks For Your Next Four Modern Events

With a long stretch of Modern events coming up after Mythic Championship Cleveland, it’s time to get creative! Tom Ross takes you to the wild side, hunting for fringe decks poised to break out!

Standard and the upcoming Mythic Championship Cleveland are all the rage right now, but I can’t wait to get back into the Modern zone and sleeve up some awesome decks that have emerged since the banning of Krark-Clan Ironworks. I’ve never been one to play a “beaten path” deck in Modern and am always looking for the next rogue deck that’s been putting up results. Today I want to go over a few lists that have caught my interest enough to consider registering in upcoming Modern events, including SCG Regionals in three weeks.

Mono-White Control

I’ve liked Mono-White Martyr quite a bit in Modern because it has many subtle control elements to it. Path to Exile plus a ton of Ghost Quarters and Field of Ruins quickly runs the opponent out of basic lands. Settle the Wreckage does the job faster and better than Path to Exile, ensuring that your lands are Strip Mining the opponent out for value.

This deck would love to play Path to Exile as well but must make concessions to Chalice of the Void by avoiding all one-mana spells. Overall this isn’t that big of a deal when you have Settle the Wreckage, Wrath of God, Blessed Alliance, and Journey to Nowhere to clean up creatures. In the midgame, the planeswalkers come down to gum up the battlefield by creating a stream of blockers before eventually turning the corner and ending the game.

Gideon, Ally of Zendikar is the first to come down of the planeswalker trifecta. With four Mind Stones and two Gemstone Caverns, there’s a decent chance you’ll see the former Standard all-star enter the battlefield on Turn 3. With the Caverns and the Stone together, you can drop him on Turn 2 if you’re lucky.

Next is the original Gideon Jura as a follow-up that can solve any creature problem you have. It soaks up a ton of damage by forcing an attack to it and can pick off tapped creatures when needed. Much like the four-mana Gideon, once everything is nice and stable, you can start animating and hitting for huge chunks of damage.

Elspeth, Sun’s Champion does much of what the Gideons do, but a lot better and for six mana. The minus can sweep a large battlefield or she can plus to create a bunch of blockers. Honestly, all three planeswalkers grant similar effects with their ability suites. In combination with one another, you control the opponent’s creatures while also attacking the opponent with a different range of creatures on your own.

White is known for having the strongest sideboard cards in Modern. Mono-White Control takes full advantage of the best three:

You don’t use the graveyard except for transforming Archangel Avacyn, so Rest in Peace is amazing against any deck that does. Seeing how the Modern Finals on Magic Online this week was filled with Dredge and Hollow One in the Top 8, I can see Rest in Peace being the most important sideboard card in Modern right now.

Stony Silence shuts off our own Mind Stones but overall is worth it against the artifact-heavy decks like Tron, Affinity, and Grixis Whir. The Damping Spheres help your Tron matchup and your deck is set up nicely against Affinity, so you don’t need too much more.

Leyline of Sanctity is for the Burn and Storm decks. This Mono-White Control deck is one of the very few decks that can sideboard Leyline of Sanctity and then actually cast it later in the game. Drawing a Leyline for your first or second draw step is one of the worst feelings but is much more palatable if you can cast it on Turn 3 anyway.

Tooth and Nail

Wow. It’s been a while since I’ve seen this one.

The win conditions of Tooth and Nail have fluctuated over the years, from Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker plus Restoration Angel to Mephidross Vampire plus Triskelion. This iteration wins with a 30/30, hasted Emrakul, the Aeons Torn that was enhanced by Xenagos, God of Revels. If the 30 damage wasn’t enough to finish the job, the annihilator 6 surely will.

We’ve seen Gruul decks ramping with Arbor Elf and Utopia Sprawl to power out early land destruction or planeswalkers. The addition of Kiora’s Follower and Overgrowth further pushes the synergy to the point that you can more reliably count on adding obscene amounts of mana way ahead of schedule.

Garruk Wildspeaker has always been a mainstay in these types of decks, but as a great planeswalker to cast as early as Turn 2:

Kiora, Master of the Depths allows for the same Turn 2 dream scenario but further continues the story by immediately paying for herself by untapping the land and the Arbor Elf. This means you could have both Kiora and Garruk on the battlefield on Turn 2! From there, the world is your oyster on Turn 3 with approximately infinite mana at your disposal.

You don’t always have to insta-kill for nine mana with Tooth and Nail. Many draws will only offer a middling five or six mana because your opponent decided they wanted to interact with what you’re doing. This is when cards like Tireless Tracker and Primal Command shine to help you gather the resources you need to overwhelm your opponent. Walking Ballista can be tutored up with Primal Command if you have a copious amount of mana and need to win on the spot or mow down the opponent’s battlefield of creatures.

Boros Soldiers

I had a lot of success with Mono-White Humans and Boros Humans in Standard a couple of years ago based on hyper-aggressive starts with Kytheon, Hero of Akros and on the back of the power of Thalia’s Lieutenant. In Modern, we get access to another huge Humans payoff in Champion of the Parish and a Soldiers payoff in Field Marshal. Fortunately for us, many Humans also decide to grow up to become Soldiers to seamlessly weave two tribes into one deck.

The Thalia pair taxes the opponent nicely while you’re continuing your tribal Human Soldier gameplan. Little Thalia is a mainstay in Modern and Legacy solely based on her strength against opposing noncreature spells, and she’s better here than anywhere else since you maximize her creature types to the fullest. Thalia, Heretic Cathar is also an amazing curve-topper to slow down the opponent’s manabase. Against fetchlands, the three-mana Thalia keeps the land tapped twice, setting the opponent back to the Stone Age.

Tithe Taker is the new addition from Ravnica Allegiance that really put this archetype on the map. It’s not as strong of a taxer as the Thalias are, but it’s not legendary either and works very well in multiples to force the opponent to play solely on their own turns. Afterlife is nice also to lessen the impact of opposing sweepers so you can eventually shut the door on a game with incidental hits from the Spirit token, some chip damage from Mutavaults, and some burn in Lightning Bolt and Lightning Helix.

A huge benefit of Boros Soldiers over the traditional Humans deck with Aether Vial is that you can actually cast some noncreature spells. Modern is a fast format, and while Boros Soldiers can hit for huge chunks of damage, you want to end the game quickly when it’s quite possible you want get another attack step. The spells are a bit of a non-bo with Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, but that’s okay, since your spells are cheap and your opponent is likely squirming a lot more under the tax than you are.

Temur Vannifar

Prime Speaker Vannifar has been speaking to players worldwide that have been missing Birthing Pod ever since its exit from Modern and onto the Banned and Restricted List. The Prime Speaker is certainly slower and worse, so the payoff needs to be huge if you untap with the legendary Elf Ooze Wizard. Just a little extra grindy value isn’t enough to do the trick in Modern: you want to win on the spot. This version does just that with the following sequence.

Did you follow all of that?

It’s incredible that the internet has found a way for Prime Speaker Vannifar to trade a lowly 0/1 Birds of Paradise all the way up to a horde of Bounding Krasis in one sequence. Of course, many of those combo pieces are rather bad when you naturally draw them, so there’s a give-and-take when you load your deck with an eight-card chain. The good news is that this deck isn’t a one-trick pony and has plenty of game otherwise as well.

Spellskite protects your fragile creature from Path to Exile or whatnot that can disrupt your awesome chain of events. Deputy of Detention can solve any problematic permanent like an Ensnaring Bridge or a Ghostly Prison getting in your way. Shalai, Voice of Plenty helps against opposing discard or something crazy like Settle the Wreckage from ruining your fun, while also preventing the opponent from targeting your combo pieces, making her a great play before tutoring up Prime Speaker Vannifar with Chord of Calling or Eldritch Evolution. Shalai is also a great fallback plan just to grow your creatures with her +1/+1 counter ability to win through good, honest combat damage.

Starting with SCG Regionals on March 9, there’s a huge stretch of Modern events hosted by Star City Games:

  • A Modern Open in Philadelphia March 16-17
  • A Team Constructed Open in Cincinnati March 23-24
  • A Modern Open in Cleveland April 6-7

Yes, if I wanted, I could play each of these sweet decks in the next four SCG events. I know I’ll be playing one for sure – probably Mono-White Control to start – although I really like all four decks.

Which do you like the most?