With Ravnica Allegiance, the focus has been on Standard recently, which means you’ve probably missed a bunch of the cool stuff happening in Modern.
First of all, yes, Modern is back to being fast and unfair, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with it. Linear decks like Dredge and Burn are much stronger in the wake of the Krark-Clan Ironworks ban, but it’s not all bad. For starters, it means we get to pick up a ton of percentage points if we play something with maindeck graveyard hate and happen to have a good plan for Burn.
10. Shhh, Nobody Tell Cedric Phillips That Zoo Might Be Good Again
- 4 Grim Lavamancer
- 2 Magus of the Moon
- 4 Tarmogoyf
- 4 Wild Nacatl
- 4 Eidolon of the Great Revel
- 4 Narnam Renegade
- 2 Knight of Autumn
With Dromoka’s Command and Knight of Autumn (plus some nice sideboard cards), your Burn matchup is solid. Eidolon of the Great Revel is basically a dead card against them, but it’s incredible in so many other spots that it’s worth it.
Playing Relic of Progenitus maindeck is legit, since it’s a low opportunity cost in a vacuum, but when your deck also contains four Tarmogoyfs, it can be more than a little awkward. You gotta do what you gotta do, I suppose.
9. Prison Emerges
Modern also happens to be incredibly weak to Chalice of the Void at the moment. Mono-Red Prison and Whir Prison have been decks for a while now and they’ve kind of been crushing it lately.
Traditional Affinity was already making a comeback thanks to the explosiveness of Experimental Frenzy, but adding a Prison element? I love it. Slowing down the game with Chalice of the Void and Blood Moon really gives you time to work Experimental Frenzy in an otherwise fast and furious Modern format, so that might be what this deck needs to put it over the top.
Chalice, in particular, is potent at the moment. Burn may have picked up some additional three-mana spells that only cost one mana, rending Chalice useless against them, but they cut very few of their other one-mana spells to add them, so they’re just as vulnerable to Chalice as they used to be. Izzet Phoenix, the most popular (and likely best) deck in Modern, won’t be able to beat a Chalice very often.
If you’re feeling really frisky, you could even add Trinisphere into the mix.
- 2 Ensnaring Bridge
- 4 Trinisphere
- 3 Lightning Greaves
- 4 Mind Stone
- 4 Chalice of the Void
- 1 Welding Jar
- 4 Everflowing Chalice
- 4 Mox Opal
- 1 Blightsteel Colossus
Although I don’t support porting decks from format to format (because context matters), it’s possible that a Colorless Prison (MUD-style) deck could work in Modern, at least right now. The viability is always determined by how impactful the lock pieces are, and they basically don’t get any better right now.
Using Gemstone Caverns and Simian Spirit Guide to power out early disruption isn’t new to Modern, but this deck adds Mox Opal, Everflowing Chalice, and Mind Stone in order to go a little bigger, opting for Lodestone Golem as well. From there, you’ll hopefully find a Kuldotha Forgemaster, equip it with Lightning Greaves, and send a hasty Blightsteel Colossus at your opponent.
8. Azorius Is a Cop
Have you ever countered your opponent’s Turn 2 spell with Mana Leak and cast Turn 3 Jace, the Mind Sculptor? I assure you it’s nice.
I always said Azorius Control was more like a Prison deck than anything else. We should just embrace it. The old versions rarely won games by grinding people out on slim margins. They were all about setting up big effects like Terminus and eventually winning through snowballing planeswalkers like Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Teferi, Hero of Dominaria. All they wanted to do was invalidate large swaths of their opponent’s cards at a time, so why not Chalice of the Void?
You lose Path to Exile (and Opt, though no one is missing that), but Path was mostly there to fight decks that won with a single big threat, like Grixis Death’s Shadow, and those decks happen to be incredibly vulnerable to Chalice. Plus, you can play Engineered Explosives and cards like Dismember instead for very little downside, and occasionally, a lot of upside.
Taking people to jail continues after sideboarding, where you get Modern’s funnest cards after Ensnaring Bridge and Blood Moon — Rest in Peace and Stony Silence.
7. Brewing with Arclight Phoenix
Arclight Phoenix continues to be explored in various shells, including in the deck that people were very scared of for about a week.
With Izzet Phoenix having much of the same overlap as the old Jeskai Ascendancy decks, it was only a matter of time before the two merged. Whether one is stronger than the other remains to be seen, but you can’t argue with the fact that Jeskai Ascendancy will allow you to combo kill people out of nowhere, which should make difficult matchups all the easier.
The missing piece for this build is Thing in the Ice, which is the best sweeper in the format. Young Pyromancer, while cool with Jeskai Ascendancy, isn’t nearly as good as a defensive tool as Thing in the Ice happens to be. Both dodge graveyard hate well, but Thing is much more powerful in general. Post-sideboard, you’ll be facing all the Nihil Spellbombs, Relic of Progenituses, and Rest in Peaces your opponents can throw at you, so it’s important to have a robust transitional plan. Young Pyromancer and Jeskai Ascendancy are powerful, but not nearly as good on defense.
6. RNA’s Impact on Modern, Part 1
Thanks to a new print, we have some new toys to play with. Electrodominance, alongside As Foretold, gives us more ways to abuse the Time Spiral suspend cards, such as Living End, Ancestral Vision, and Restore Balance.
- 1 Architects of Will
- 4 Curator of Mysteries
- 4 Desert Cerodon
- 1 Nimble Obstructionist
- 4 Striped Riverwinder
There’s basically nothing I enjoy more on this planet than a good combo / control mashup, and this one is no different. Your actual win conditions cycle, which is great, and although your Living Ends may clog your hand, you’ll be happy to have them once you find As Foretold or Electrodominance. Even though the latter technically works with Ancestral Vision, you’re spending two cards to draw three, which isn’t a great deal. If you’re killing something with Electrodominance, it’s a much better deal in regards to card economy, but not in mana efficiency.
A mini-Tolaria West engine helps find part of your combo, but you get to play a maindeck Tormod’s Crypt to make your second Living End completely backbreaking. Getting to maindeck a Chalice of the Void probably isn’t necessary, but it can be nice in longer games against decks with a bunch of cheap cantrips or burn spells.
- 2 Simian Spirit Guide
- 4 Street Wraith
- 4 Monstrous Carabid
- 3 Deadshot Minotaur
- 3 Urabrask the Hidden
- 2 Insolent Neonate
- 4 Flameblade Adept
- 4 Desert Cerodon
- 4 Hollow One
- 16 Mountain
This list is a little wilder, but I appreciate all of Warren’s work trying to break Faithless Looting in the last year or so. Even though there’s only Electrodominance to combo with Living End, this deck makes do by using it as a backup plan for a fairly normal Hollow One strategy. The cycling creatures help Hollow One cost less, fill your graveyard with giant monsters, and allow you to combo kill your opponents in the midgame by giving all your creatures haste with Urabrask the Hidden. Given enough time, Faithless Looting and Cathartic Reunion will find your combo.
I’m not sure how viable this deck actually is, but it’s cool as hell.
5. RNA’s Impact on Modern, Part 2
Yet another Ravnica Allegiance card has found its way into Modern. Is Birthing Pod back?
- 4 Birds of Paradise
- 2 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
- 1 Scryb Ranger
- 4 Noble Hierarch
- 3 Knight of the Reliquary
- 1 Spellskite
- 2 Scavenging Ooze
- 1 Village Bell-Ringer
- 2 Restoration Angel
- 4 Voice of Resurgence
- 1 Tireless Tracker
- 1 Renegade Rallier
- 1 Shalai, Voice of Plenty
- 1 Goblin Cratermaker
- 2 Knight of Autumn
- 4 Prime Speaker Vannifar
Being able to untap with Prime Speaker Vannifar is no easy task, but the fourth toughness does wonders in Modern. In longer games, you can set up Knight of the Reliquary into Hanweir Battlements to give Vannifar haste. At that point, you can basically combo kill from nowhere. Between Scryb Ranger, Village Bell-Ringer, and Restoration Angel, you can untap Vannifar enough times to get the right combination of creatures onto the battlefield, often ending with infinite hasty Angels courtesy of Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker.
Having your deck rely on a four-mana creature isn’t the best recipe for Modern, but decks like these have been winning far more often than I thought possible, so maybe there’s something there.
4. RNA’s Impact on Modern, Part 3
Wilderness Reclamation is a potentially busted mana engine, and with all the efficient card drawing, it’s not crazy to see it crushing Standard. Modern is a different story, and while I’d expect people to try and find actual broken things to do with it, so far the best thing is… Mystical Teachings?
If you were finally hoping Mystical Teachings would be playable in Modern by playing one of the fairest decks possible, I’m sorry to disappoint you. Modern is too fast for a four-mana card that accomplishes very little. Instead, you use Mystical Teachings as the glue that can also find Nexus of Fate multiple times once you have a sizeable mana advantage and a Wilderness Reclamation. It’s not quite the same as winning with Dralnu, Lich Lord, but it’s the best we can do at the moment.
Even though this looks like a Teachings Control deck, it’s probably closer to Turbo Fog than anything we have in Modern. Cryptic Command is the fanciest Fog out there. Your win condition is more compact than for the various Taking Turns decklists out there, which means you have more space for defensive tools.
There are some Bant versions running around too, and I like those a little better, even if the Flashback on Mystical Teachings is a tad more difficult to enable with a single multicolor land. The white cards strike me as better defensive tools, so the final versions will probably land somewhere closer to Bant than Sultai.
3. Amulet Titan Needs to Adapt (in a Field of Lightning Bolt)
In a world of Lightning Bolts, Sakura-Tribe Scout and Skyshroud Ranger don’t live very long. Since Amulet Titan basically depends on them for their mana engine, it’s possible you need to look elsewhere. Amulet Titan master Edgar Magalhaes recently took second in a Modern Classic with many copies of Coalition Relic in his Amulet Titan deck, and that’s a fine first step.
Lotus Bloom is something you can find on Turn 1 with Ancient Stirrings, which enables Turn 4 Primeval Titan and likely a Turn 5 kill. Both have the added benefit of ignoring Blood Moon and both are quite good at casting Hive Mind, which is a backup win condition we haven’t seen in quite some time.
Amulet Titan, like every other deck in Modern, needs to adapt with the metagame.
2. Was Myr Retriever the Problem All Along?
Even though Krark-Clan Ironworks was banned…
Krark-Clan Ironworks was one of the strongest mana producers in Modern, so it was only a matter of time before someone found a great deck for it. It also enabled weird combos involving Myr Retriever thanks to some crazy rules interactions and eventually got banned.
The rest of the shell is still there, including Mox Opal and Ancient Stirrings, so we just needed to find something else to do with that shell. Apparently Semblance Anvil and Grinding Station are it, and now we run the risk of losing to Myr Retriever again.
Thankfully, this deck isn’t nearly as powerful as Ironworks in a vacuum and is much more vulnerable to artifact destruction and hate in general. I highly doubt this engine is ban-worthy, but as it becomes iterated on, we shall see.
1. What I Would Play This Weekend
I’m not messing around here. There are zero copies of Dark Confidant, which hasn’t been good in Modern in quite some time, and 25 lands to help support a higher mana curve, which you can afford to do thanks to Tireless Tracker and the seven utility lands. Maindeck Nihil Spellbomb is a nod to Dredge and an excellent complement to Scavenging Ooze.
The combination of Field of Ruin and Assassin’s Trophy will run your opponent out of basic land eventually, mitigating the downside. Even if they are playing a bunch of basics, being able to remove your opponent’s best permanents with ease means you’ll be alive and able to keep grinding well into the late game.
Three Collective Brutalities (with the fourth copy in the sideboard) will have you praying for your opponent to cast a Turn 1 Goblin Guide. Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet is a maindeckable hate card against decks like Dredge and Burn, yet also does nasty things to any creature-based deck in the format. Kitchen Finks rounds out the lifegain package.
Your plan against Tron involves Fulminator Mage, Field of Ruin, Assassin’s Trophy, and Surgical Extraction. Be mindful that you still need to apply pressure because they will eventually cast Wurmcoil Engines and Karn Liberateds the old-fashioned way. Languish is a cute sweeper that each of your creatures has the potential to survive. Nissa, Vital Force is your ace against midrange and control.
Overall, this deck is great.