Modern is a format where you can master a deck, tweak some slots each week,
and have huge amounts of success. We see it all the time with Jund experts,
Snapcaster Mage experts, and Affinity experts. Obviously how well those
decks are positioned week in and week out can change, but sheer mastery of
a deck will likely carry you further than a good metagame call.
That said, I’m an expert of none.
I’ve said this before, but I’m incredibly envious of those who know a
Modern tournament is coming up and they already know what they’re playing.
Deck selection in Modern shouldn’t be very hard, but I tend to make it way
more difficult than it should be.
, B/R Hollow One and Five-Color Humans are the decks to beat. Together,
they might make up 15% of the metagame. That means over the course of
fifteen rounds of swiss, you will statistically be playing against them
zero to two times each. There are some theories that “the cream rises to
the top,” and that could be true, but in Modern, the best deck doesn’t stay
the best deck for long. You never know if it’s a week where the “best”
decks are going to dominate, or everyone is going to be ready for them.
For now, let’s just assume that you want to tackle the metagame and not
just the winner’s metagame.
So, what’s the call?
If it were me, I’d try to exploit the common weaknesses of Humans and
Hollow One without forgetting about the other 85% of the metagame. If
there’s a deck that’s good on its own that is inherently good against
Humans and Hollow One while still being solid against the other good decks,
that’s great. What you shouldn’t do is go off the deep end and play things
like a deck that is all removal, card drawing, and Rest in Peaces. You
won’t beat anyone else.
Jund needs some work. Bloodbraid Elf is actively bad against Humans, Hollow
One, Tron, Affinity, Burn, Storm, and many other of the top decks in Modern
now. While you have more turns to interact with your opponents than you did
in previous Modern formats, Bloodbraid Elf doesn’t give you enough of a
catch-up mechanic. The metagame has exploited Jund’s newfound weakness and
suddenly Jund stopped putting up good Magic Online (and, for the most part,
real life) finishes.
That overhaul would probably start with trimming or outright removing
Bloodbraid Elf, at least for now. Dark Confidant is also a card I’ve
frequently had rotting in my hand. Tireless Tracker has been incredible for
me as a card advantage threat that doesn’t damage me and doesn’t ask for
quite as much up front as Bloodbraid Elf.
With straight B/G, I’ve found the Humans matchup to be largely about tempo
and whoever gets to double spell territory quicker. Some cheaper removal or
sweepers out of the sideboard would likely shift that paradigm. Overall, I
don’t hate B/G Midrange’s spot right now.
One of my other initial thoughts was that maybe now is the time to use
Thopter Foundry and Sword of the Meek as a win condition and defensive
tool. Realistically, Humans and Hollow One will outpace you, but cards like
Wrath of God and Timely Reinforcements should help with that. However, that
stuff is basically just worse than playing Ensnaring Bridge. If you can
splice some land destruction elements into an Ensnaring Bridge deck to have
a shot against Tron, that would be rad.
Oh look, someone did that already.
This deck has the same problem as Lantern for me, and Birthing Pod before
it, namely that I’m completely unpracticed with either and act as if that
precludes me from ever playing them. In reality, I’m probably not giving
myself enough credit.
While I won’t be at #SCGMKE, I’ve been considering what to play for Grand
Prix Hartford the following weekend. Barring some absurd Modern shifts
leading up to it, these are the decks I’m considering for Hartford, roughly
I’ve never played Living End in a tournament before, but I have messed
around with it a fair bit online. Despite that, I’m not entirely sure what
the matchup spread is like for the deck, which would mean that I would
probably build the deck wrong. The versions that have been doing well
online don’t seem very well prepared for Humans or Hollow One, and that
strikes me as a big issue. One of the upsides to playing Living End is
having a good Tron matchup. Given my 0-3 record against Tron at Grand Prix
Phoenix, you should expect me to be better prepared for that matchup going
Cards like Faerie Macabre, Shriekmaw, and Dismember seem necessary in this
metagame, yet are rarely present in Magic Online lists. Instead, they have
resilience in Archfiend of Ifnir and additional land destruction elements
(which I agree would be nice), but you basically won’t function if Thalia,
Guardian of Thraben or Meddling Mage are on the battlefield.
That, combined with Hollow One likely ushering in a surge of graveyard
hate, means I don’t like Living End’s position at the moment. The deck
needs a better backup plan, but that simply doesn’t exist right now. If
Tron makes a huge comeback, I’m down to try blowing up their lands.
Bant Company (and variants)
I was on this sort of deck recently, but I like Humans’ chances better at
the moment. Recently, the format was more about stabilizing early and
playing longer games, which Bant Company is excellent at doing. Now, you’re
facing down ten power on Turn 3, so you can find better things to do.
If Humans is the best deck, you can’t do much better than Mardu Pyromancer.
The Hollow One matchup scares me a bit, but apparently it’s not supposed to
be that bad. They have very few ways to interact with Young Pyromancer, but
I can’t help feeling like you will probably lose to Bloodghast and
Flamewake Phoenix eventually. Then there’s Tron, which is beatable, but not
something I’m happy to play against. Getting the matchup close to even
requires a lot of sideboard space, which is too valuable for Modern.
Unsurprisingly, I love Mardu Pyromancer to death. However, if you’re trying
to play a midrange or control deck, you are probably better off with a
sorcery speed version of Grixis or Esper Control. Four mana sweepers are
completely fine now, maybe actively good, and Mardu Pyromancer isn’t going
down that rabbit hole.
- 4 Noble Hierarch
- 4 Bloodbraid Elf
- 2 Nest Invader
- 2 Scavenging Ooze
- 4 Eldrazi Obligator
- 4 Reality Smasher
- 4 Thought-Knot Seer
- 4 Matter Reshaper
Nest Invader is a clever addition. Most lists seemed to waffle between Mind
Stone, Talisman of Impulse, and Birds of Paradise in that slot because
having additional acceleration is welcome but flooding out is a real issue.
Mind Stone alleviates that to some degree, but with Bloodbraid Elf, the
worst thing in the world is having three colorless mana sources and a dual
land. Nest Invader doesn’t do anything to solve that issue, but at least
it’s better to cascade into.
Eldrazi used to be something that was poised for a comeback, but Humans and
Hollow One shut that down rather quickly. Bant, G/R, Colorless, and U/B
Eldrazi all seem completely reasonable decks for Modern, but we can do
- 2 Grim Lavamancer
- 4 Goblin Guide
- 4 Eidolon of the Great Revel
- 4 Monastery Swiftspear
- 4 Bomat Courier
- 4 Rampaging Ferocidon
While it might seem like a joke, this deck might actually be good. Burn
itself is mostly a good deck, although it typically has a large issue with
decks that presents threats quickly and/or kill on Turn 3 or 4. Once decks
side in life gain, things get even worse, so having a deck that functions
like Burn but has more repeatable sources of damage is where you’d want to
Unfortunately, Humans, Hollow One, Tron, and Storm are relatively popular,
and things are stacked against Burn, creatures or not. Between Forked Bolt
and Grim Lavamancer, this could have a reasonable Humans matchup, but the
rest are still a big issue. Remember, Modern requires you to keep your
target broad and not hone in too much, and this deck fails at that.
While now isn’t the time to be attacking with Goblin Guide, it is something
to file away for later. Bomat Courier is an incredible card that will, at
some point, find its way into Modern in a big way. I promise.
I don’t have a list for you here, but I see no reason why Infect can’t join
that legion of decks that are good against Bloodbraid Elf. Realistically,
it depends how it matches up against Hollow One and Humans, and those
aren’t questions I can currently answer. However, I am confident that
playing a Traverse the Ulvenwald package would help in some matchups,
although probably not the ones that are prevalent now. That said, classic
G/U Infect, various versions of Infect with Traverse the Ulvenwald, and G/B
Infect are all worth looking at.
Infect has always had a huge issue with Burn, and while I think Burn is
poorly positioned now, G/B Infect is something worth exploring. If you go
down the more midrange route with Thoughtseize, Dismember, and Phyrexian
Crusader (and maybe the Traverse the Ulvenwald package), you could even
sideboard Death’s Shadow to gain traction against them. Hopefully you can
even one-shot them with Rancor or some such. If you don’t want to go that
route, there’s always Collective Brutality.
Here’s my big reveal:
Bring to Light Scapeshift
Unless I wanted to go super deep on this (and I kinda do), I wouldn’t
change much about this list. Again, Timely Reinforcements seems like the
perfect card for this sort of strategy, so it’s possible you could slant
your deck toward Bant instead of Temur, which I wouldn’t be opposed to.
Combo control looks good, especially if it’s heavily slanted toward beating
creature decks and is insulated against Tron. Naturally, tutorable bullets
happen to be game winning in Modern, so you also have that going for you.
This is on my short list for the coming weeks and what I would absolutely
Ultimately, the specifics for what I’m working on are irrelevant, as my
deck choice won’t necessarily align with yours, nor is it correct to just
do what I do. The overarching theme here is that Modern is exploitable at
times, and this is one of them. Both Humans and Hollow One are trying to
swarm the battlefield with big creatures. Having an opportunity to prey on
the best two decks is a rare opportunity and one that I’m looking forward
Remember — The most important thing to keep in mind when selecting a deck
for Modern or tuning your existing Modern deck is to not target any
specific thing too heavily. Selecting a deck that is inherently strong
against the vast majority of any given field is going to yield massively
better results than attempting to prey on a tiny portion of the metagame.