The 8 Hottest Modern Decks Right Now

The approach of a chilly Canadian winter has Pro Tour Champion Shaun McLaren thinking about the hottest decks in Modern! He lists his picks for the format’s Top 8 (sorry, Affinity players) and tells the world why they just might tear up SCG Baltimore…or why they might just get torn apart.

What’s in store for Modern in late 2017 and early 2018? What’s hot and what’s not?

#SCGRegionals results are in and we have a ton of interesting Modern decklists to sift through. Which decks are the trend-setters and which are bed-wetters?

These are my picks for the eight Modern decks you should be rocking this winter season and why.

#8 – Infect

Infect is like a scab wound that keeps getting picked at so much that it won’t heal over. There’s no place for you in Modern anymore, Infect; just go to Legacy!

That isn’t completely true, but it seems like Infect has taken a massive nosedive in popularity and effectiveness. It’s almost confusing how much worse Infect got when it lost Gitaxian Probe, but it shows what an important card it was for Become Immense and getting information on the best plays to make.

Why It’s Hot: Blossoming Defense is obviously a great newer addition here, acting as more copies of Vines of Vastwood that pack a little less punch in the ideal situation.

Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy is super-interesting, and I love it. To be fair, I haven’t seen a Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy in a list that I didn’t like. Jace acts as another must-kill creature, and if it lives, it’s going to dig you toward what you need, whether it’s pump, disruption, or a creature with infect.

Shapers’ Sanctuary seems excellent since it’s so cheap and potentially just wins the game against a removal-heavy deck. It reminds me of Wild Defiance,with less powerful of an effect but much easier to cast. I shudder to imagine playing against Shapers’ Sanctuary with Jeskai Control.

Why It’s Not: What’s the good matchup for Infect? Scapeshift? U/R Gifts Storm? It’s probably just a case of Modern having gotten better while Infect got worse. I don’t think I’d want to be playing Infect against Eldrazi Tron with Chalice of the Void and Walking Ballista or a Death’s Shadow deck with Fatal Push.

Infect will live on in the hearts of those who care about it for as long as they remember and honor it.

#7 – Eldrazi Tron

Eldrazi Tron is still a relatively young deck in the Modern timeline, and is still going through some evolution.

Kevin Hoang has some sweet new additions. I’m mostly looking at you, Emrakul, the Promised End.

It might be a flavor fail to equip a Basilisk Collar to the tentacled doom thing that is Emrakul, the Promised End, but I want to get that deathtouch and trample synergy any way I can.

Keep in mind this is Emrakul, the Promised End and not Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, which would be even less useful to have a Basilisk Collar equipped to, yet could still end up being relevant.

Raise your hand if you’ve cast Emrakul, the Aeons Torn and still lost because your opponent had enough life and permanents to survive annihilator 6 and then kill you on their next turn.

*raises hand*

Why It’s Hot: I still like Chalice of the Void a lot, even if there’s an uptick of Cavern of Souls and Aether Vials in the format from Humans decks.

Sorcerous Spyglass seems powerful even if you don’t really want it in many matchups. It also plays nicely with Chalice of the Void, since you can cast it through a Chalice on one or see your opponent’s hand and know what to set your Chalice for.

The manabase is capable of some busted starts and provides you with built-in inevitability thanks to Expedition Map, Sea Gate Wreckage, and Sanctum of Ugin to tutor up that Emrakul, the Promised End.

Why It’s Not: While it has some amazing starts, you can expect to be doing some mulliganing as well if you aren’t drawing your Eldrazi Temples or natural Tron in your openers. Considering the deck’s curve is so high, it’s reliant on you having a strong land start with Eldrazi Temple or Tron.

#6 – Living End

Not really much to say here except that Living End still seems to be an undervalued archetype that’s capable of upending an unsuspecting format. I always seem to lose to Living End whenever I play against it.

Why It’s Hot: Consistency for finding your combo since you have eight cascade cards and everything else draws cards, redundancy and power in your cyclers thanks to Kaladesh block, and speed thanks to Simian Spirit Guide and a combo that costs a measly three mana.

Why It’s Not: Graveyard hate, Chalice of the Void, Meddling Mage.

#5 – Jund Death’s Shadow

Classic Death’s Shadow is exactly what I’m looking for. DJ Deficcio does a lot of the things I liked to do when building the deck. Four Inquisition of Kozilek, four Thoughtseize, and three Liliana of the Veil for maximum hand disruption is what I like to see! It’s so easy to get out to a massive advantage and then ride it to victory when you start the game by seeing your opponent’s hand and getting rid of a card.

Why It’s Hot: Mishra’s Bauble and Traverse the Ulvenwald should help make sure you aren’t drawing too many dead cards if you do manage to go to the late game. Stubborn Denial and Temur Battle Rage make sure your Death’s Shadow and Tarmogoyf hit your opponent’s face hard and unimpeded.

Why It’s Not: You’re still fairly reliant on drawing Death’s Shadow or Tarmogoyf and then getting them large enough to end the game, since they’re the deck’s only real threats. By now everyone who’s a Modern veteran is used to playing against Death’s Shadow as well.

#4 – Elves

Often when I see a deck with a lot of one-ofs, I think, “That’s a well-tuned list.” Not necessarily an opinion that everyone shares. I think a lot of people like to see four copies of as many cards as possible.

I think Mason Purcell tuned his Elf deck well… except for the Phyrexian Revoker in the sideboard. I like Elvish Visionary-type cards, but when you could just be running more Elvish Visionaries, I draw the line.

Why It’s Hot: If everyone else is playing a tribal deck, why not play the super-consistent ramp tribal deck that goes over the top of the rest of them?

Why It’s Not: Might take some splash hate as the rest of the format starts packing sweepers into their lists.

#3 – Merfolk with Green

I do not like Green Merfolk and ham. I do not like them, Sam-I-am.

You do not like them. So you say. Try them! Try them! And you may.

Kumena’s Speaker.

Merfolk Branchwalker.

Kopala, Warden of Waves.

Chameleon Colossus.

It’s bizarre seeing these cards in Modern Merfolk. I completely underestimated how far having the creature type “Merfolk” could take you in life.

But upon reflection, it makes perfect sense why it’s good to go green!

Why It’s Hot: Silvergill Adept is the best card in the deck and Merfolk Branchwalker is a bad Silvergill Adept. It’s probably not even that much worse, since it either draws you a card anyway if your top card is a land, or it gets a +1/+1 counter and a scry. Not bad.

Kumena’s Speaker is a one-drop and a Merfolk. In a deck jam-packed with lords and Aether Vial, that’s already an invitation to skip the line and go straight to the VIP section. It allows the deck to get just a little bit lower to the ground and more aggressive as well.

Kopala, Warden of Waves is a bad Kira, Great Glass-Spinner, but hey it’s a Merfolk, which actually makes it a great Kira! Lordy lordy, I’m on boardy.

Can you spot the pattern? I think I can. The lesson learned is that Merfolk are good in the Merfolk deck. Ta-da!

Chameleon Colossus dodges Fatal Push while using all the Lord bonuses rather sneakily, like islandwalk and pumping itself up even more with its +X/+X ability. I’m a big fan of the one-of Unclaimed Territory as well.

Why It’s Not: I suppose adding another color stretches the manabase a little. The other concern would be if it’s just outclassed by other tribal decks doing similar things, but better. Speaking of which…

#2 – Humans

Congratulations, humanity! For the last 200,000 years you’ve won Species of the Year! Now you’re also a decent Magic deck in Modern!

Humans decks are still in their infancy, so a lot of changes can be made to the deck. Expect it to age like a fine wine.

Why It’s Hot: Raw power and tribal synergy! Champion of the Parish and Thalia’s Lieutenant are ridiculous in the deck and become massive while Kitesail Freebooter and Meddling Mage run interference.

Sin Collector is the card I’m most interested in adding to the deck, since it should help against the decks trying to just kill everything you cast while also being good against combo decks.

Why It’s Not: The only real question I have is: why aren’t more people playing Humans decks right now? Now that I’ve had a chance to play with the deck a little, I think that Humans is a strong deck but there are a lot of theoretically bad matchups lurking: Jeskai, Scapeshift with Anger of the Gods, Affinity, Grixis Death’s Shadow. The thing is that Humans can often just power through these “bad” matchups because it’s a resilient deck capable of nut draws.

#1 – Jeskai Tempo

Even though I prefer “creatureless” versions of Jeskai Control with just Snapcaster Mage, I’m blown away by how well Geist of Saint Traft and Spell Queller have been doing lately.

The deck is a Swiss Army knife and kind of took the position of “midrange good stuff” in Modern away from Jund and Abzan. While the deck can play many different roles, its main one is to simply tempo the opponent down with creatures and disruption before burning them out, rather than establish full control.

Why It’s Hot: I like the heavy emphasis on countermagic in the form Logic Knot and Spell Snare, but also Disdainful Stroke, Dispel, and Negate in the sideboard. If people are playing random creature decks, you’re happy to be playing Jeskai anyway, so why not dedicate a lot of the deck to dealing with your problem matchups?

Why It’s Not: Should still be struggling with big mana ramp decks, like Tron and Scapeshift.

Zeke Spira finished first and beat Scapeshift in the finals, and sometimes your pressure and disruption will be enough, but I still feel it’s not a great matchup.

That’s it for today! I hope you got some ideas for which Modern decks are fashionable and which are trashable. Enjoy SCG Baltimore this weekend!