The Best 8 Decks In Modern

Nobody knows Modern as well as Todd Stevens, and believe it or not, he’s not interested in Blood Moon’ing his opponents at SCG Baltimore! What on Earth could have him putting his Prison deck on the back-burner?

It could be pretty tough right now to know what you should be playing in Modern, as the format is quite a bit different since the release of Aether Revolt. Last week we took a look at the results from twelve recent large Modern tournaments, ten #SCGRegionals and two Modern Classics, in my article “How Has Modern Changed?”

This week I’m going to continue to use those findings as well as my playtesting these past couple weeks by writing about the Top 8 decks that I recommend playing the next two weekends at #GPVAN, #SCGBALT, and #SCGINDY. But first, an honorable mention:

Sultai Delirium earns an Honorable Mention slot because, although I did well with the deck on stream on Sunday and many people have been asking about it since then, it’s not a deck I would recommend right now if your goal is to win one of these upcoming tournaments. I wouldn’t want to play Sultai Delirium against any of the other decks on this list, with the exception of G/W Company and maybe Bant Eldrazi, and that doesn’t include Valakut and Tron, which are rough matchups. Having tough matchups against myriad “unfair” decks shows a weakness in the sideboard, which is common in decks that don’t have access to white.

What Sultai Delirium does very well is defeat other “fair” decks such as Jund and Abzan by having a better late-game. Traverse the Ulvenwald is the prize for playing this strategy, and the one-mana sorcery is a perfect build around card. The most common gameplan with Sultai Delirium is to use the interaction and card advantage the deck has to prolong the game long enough to be able to Traverse for Emrakul, the Promised End, which essentially ends the game on the spot when cast. If that gameplan sounds familiar, then you probably played Standard last year.

You can find Ross Merriam talking more about this deck here, and this is my current update to Jadoth’s list. The sideboard still needs some more work to help with the unfair matchups, and if you’re picking up the deck for this weekend, it’s what I would recommend using your time toward.

Now let’s get into the Top 8 Modern decks that I would recommend playing this weekend:

I like the look of Goryo’s Vengeance decks a lot right now with the decline of graveyard hate, but still the version I would recommend for the weekend would be Dan Ward’s with Kari Zev’s Expertise over the more popular Nourishing Shoal version because it’s extremely difficult to interact with. One of my current favorite sideboard cards is Surgical Extraction, which does a fine job stopping Goryo’s Vengeance, but fusing a Breaking//Entering is basically impossible to stop. Both halves of the fuse card resolve before anything else happens, which means you’re able to mill eight cards and return Emrakul, the Aeons Torn from your graveyard to the battlefield before your opponent can use their Surgical Extraction or before Emrakul’s trigger will force it to be shuffled back into the library.

Kari Zev’s Expertise is the enabler for Breaking//Entering, but unfortunately it relies on a creature being on the battlefield. Luckily enough, Forbidden Orchard is the perfect land to play to make sure there is a creature on the battlefield for Kari Zev’s Expertise.

This is my updated list for W/R Prison, which is still a good choice even in the new Modern metagame. Even with a decline in Infect, which was the deck’s best matchup, the decline in Dredge is a welcome sight because the Dredge matchup was not as good as it may have looked on paper.

Between Chalice of the Void, Blood Moon, and the various white sideboard hate cards, W/R Prison has the tools to be able to fight the various unfair decks that have jumped up in popularity, while still having a good matchup against other midrange decks.

Tezzeret’s Gambit is the new addition that replaces an Anger of the Gods, which moves to the sideboard and the maindeck Blessed Alliance, that I played before. Tezzeret’s Gambit is just a Divination with upside that helps us find the specific answer we’re looking for while having the small chance of proliferating a planeswalker. Chalice of the Void and a Gemstone Caverns with a luck counter can also be proliferated, but it’s unlikely that you’ll need to do either of those.

The biggest downside to registering W/R Prison right now is its weakness to traditional Tron decks as well as Eldrazi Tron, which are two of the deck’s worst matchups and are currently popular decks. You don’t automatically lose against either one, though, and the Modern metagame is so vast that it’s possible to play a fifteen-round tournament and dodge both of those decks, so all things considered W/R Prison is a solid choice.

Now this is a sweet brew found on the 5-0 Magic Online decklists from The_Gunslingers (oh wait, that’s me)! Affectionately referred to as G/W Value Town, this deck has the tools to have extremely favorable matchups against other midrange and control decks while also being able to beat aggressive decks, all because of one of the my favorite cards ever printed.

There’s not much better in Magic than casting a Courser of Kruphix and putting a land from the top of your library onto the battlefield and gaining a life, but that’s not even the best part of Courser of Kruphix. Knowing the top card of your library is invaluable when playing with fetchlands, Knight of the Reliquary, Horizon Canopy, and Clue tokens. It allows you to keep getting “free” lands off the top every turn while giving yourself numerous looks at finding any card you need. Hitting land drops is one of my favorite things to do in Magic, and Courser of Kruphix helps immensely.

Wait a minute, did I mention something about Clue Tokens a little bit ago? Ah, yes, that’s because we have Tireless Tracker in the deck, which has incredible synergy with Knight of the Reliquary and Courser of Kruphix. Even just playing a Tireless Tracker and then a fetchland feels unfair. There are only two Trackers in the deck because you only have so much mana for the Clue tokens and there is other competition for the three drop slot.

Speaking of that three-drop slot, Renegade Rallier hasn’t stopped impressing me yet. Last week, I wrote that it was the best card from Aether Revolt for Modern, over Fatal Push, but when we get to the final deck on this list we’ll find a card I like even more. Here’s a brief list of ways I’ve used Renegade Rallier in the deck recently:

The Blood Moon in the sideboard is only to handle Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle, because I haven’t had success with other plans such as Leyline of Sanctity or Runed Halo. Even though the Valakut can’t target you, it can still kill all of your creatures and therefore the white enchantments haven’t worked out well enough. The Blood Moon is not for Tron, as your gameplan is to simply Ghost Quarter them turn after turn with the help of Crucible of Worlds, Knight of the Reliquary, Renegade Rallier, Courser of Kruphix, and Renegade Rallier. It may sound like a difficult plan, but I’ve ended more games than not against Tron with them having zero lands on the battlefield, and Blood Moon would only hurt our Ghost Quarter plan.

This G/W Company deck has a great matchup against any midrange or control deck as well as a good matchup against Burn and Tron, which warrants it to be a serious consideration for the next two weekends. If it weren’t for the final deck on my list this week, I would be sleeving up four Courser of Kruphix. I told you all last week to keep innovating, and I’m not going to stop either.

I talked about this deck last week, comparing it to Puresteel Paladain that has gotten more publicity, but I feel like U/R Gifts Storm is the better overall deck. Both decks have eight crucial two-drop creatures that allows there deck to go off and win with Grapeshot, but the difference is U/R Gifts Storm has a much higher density of cantrips that allows them to more consistently find copies of the two-drop creatures.

U/R Gifts Storm also doesn’t need one of the two creatures on the battlefield, given enough time, and can cast the rituals for their regular cost and storm your opponent out. Now, a Surgical Extraction that exiles Past in Flames can put a huge damper on the U/R Gifts Storm plan, so relying highly on the graveyard is a downside that Puresteel Paladin doesn’t have, but the consistency offered with the cantrips as well as the power of Gifts Ungiven makes this my Storm deck of choice.

To the surprise of probably no one, I’m recommending Bant Eldrazi as a good deck to play these next two weekends. This is the same list that I played at #SCGRegionals, except with an Eternal Witness over the Thragtusk in the sideboard. The reason for the change is that I’ve been struggling with Jund a little more than I want to be recently, including going 0-2 against Jund at #SCGRegionals, and Thragtusk is just too expensive at five mana. Eternal Witness is a flexible card that can get an Eldrazi Temple that was destroyed by a Fulminator Mage, a Path to Exile to handle a threat, or in the very late-game an Eldrazi Displacer that can be used to continually blink the Eternal Witness.

Besides that I there isn’t much left to say about the deck that I didn’t cover here, but I’m still a fan of having access to four counterspells in the sideboard to improve the combo matchups, as the Eldrazi creature base can handle most creature strategies well.

When I went through the Modern results last week, it was a little surprising to see how many Abzan Company decks were making Top 8 after not seeing much of the deck in the last couple of months, but it makes perfect sense. The recent decline in Dredge paired with the printing of the aforementioned Renegade Rallier has given this strategy a huge boost.

You’re never out of the game if you have four mana and a Collected Company, and Renegade Rallier’s ability to ramp and be tapped for convoke makes it the perfect addition to this Chord of Calling deck. Jacob even had a copy of Tireless Tracker to be able to help him grind through attrition matchups, and if I were playing the deck, I would find room for a Courser of Kruphix somewhere in the 75.

Abzan Company is a difficult deck to pilot, but if you have the experience with the deck, I recommend you dust it off and give it a try again. It’s also one of the few decks with a very favorable Burn matchup in the field, which is an added bonus, especially considering what’s up next.

I’m not sure exactly how it all happened, but Burn is one of the best-positioned decks in Modern right now and one I would definitely recommend playing. My good friend TJ Rogers, aka RedBaronMTG on Magic Online, had back to back 5-0 records with Burn on stream and it’s the deck he has been championing for a while now.

My favorite part about TJ’s decklist is that he’s running 61, cards even though many people believe that to be wrong. The reason behind it is simple: nineteen lands is too few and twenty lands is too much. So he’s compromising by playing twenty lands and having an extra Lightning Helix in his maindeck.

There isn’t anything cute going on with this decklist, which should be the case for a good Burn list. Over in the sideboard there are three copies of Exquisite Firecraft, more commonly seen in Legacy Burn sideboards to get through counterspells. I may prefer another Affinity hate card or two in that slot, but hard to argue with the success he’s having by throwing Burn spells upstairs.

And we’re finally to what I think is the best deck to play right now in Modern, Eldrazi Tron, thanks the Aether Revolt card that took first-week Standard by storm.

Walking Ballista has changed the game with Eldrazi Tron by being the best card in a deck that already featured Thought-Knot Seer. Walking Ballista gives Eldrazi Tron more turn 2 interaction for cards like Dark Confidant while going way over the top of other decks in the late-game when you have mana to sink in to it. Basilisk Collar is also moved to the maindeck now as a way to fully take advantage of Walking Ballista.

Eldrazi Tron does a good job of playing a normal midrange game but has the ability to go way over the top of other midrange decks, while some percentage of the time having an explosive start thanks to the power of the Tron lands. Unlike traditional G/X Tron decks, it’s difficult to fight Eldrazi Tron by attacking its manabase because of having access to 24 lands and a playset of Expedition Maps, as well as being able to play cheaper threats such as Matter Reshaper and Thought-Knot Seer.

The two worst matchups for Eldrazi Tron are probably Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle decks and traditional Tron decks, which is why the full playset of Surgical Extraction is still in the sideboard, as the best plan is to be able to Ghost Quarter a key land and then Surgical it away. Although I’m as big of fan of Gemstone Caverns as anyone else, it’s probably necessary to cut it for the fourth Ghost Quarter because of these two matchups.

For those of you playing Modern at #GPVAN or #SCGBALT this weekend, or at #SCGINDY the following weekend, these are the decks I recommend that you play. I’ll be slinging some Modern at both of the SCG Tour stops these next two weeks, and hopefully I draw plenty of Constructs.