The Modern Files, Part 1: Combo/Control!

Modern Instructor Pete Ingram is handing out deck grades! Which archetypes are at the head of the class, worthy of being piloted by him at the SCG Season Two Invitational, and which are on the verge of dismissal?

After yet another Top 64 from a Standard Grand Prix, I am now solely focused on Modern for the Invitational in two weeks. For Standard, I will be playing Temur Energy because it’s the best deck in the format and it’s not close.

Breaking. News.

In order to figure out what to play in Modern, I will be writing a two-piece article that covers most, if not all, of the known decks in Modern and my thoughts on them. I will also give each deck a letter ranking of where I think the currently are. Rank A is a deck that is currently solidly in the metagame and I could see easily taking down a tournament. Rank B is a deck that is quite good and could take down a tournament, but less likely than Rank A. Rank C is a deck that I think would not likely do above average. So let’s get this party started!

Ad Nauseam

Rank: B

I wrote about this deck a few weeks ago. I like Ad Nauseam quite a bit and I think the deck is very low on the radar, which makes it a good choice. It also has the ability to adapt quite a bit post-sideboard, which is usually a successful strategy for combo decks. I’m still partial to having Dragonlord Dromoka and Grave Titan in the sideboard, mostly because I feel like people know about the Godhead of Awe technology. I also like the Spoils of the Vault maindeck. This is certainly still in my top five decks that I may play at the Invitational.


Rank: A

Dredge has taken a really big resurgence this past weekend, taking down multiple slots in the Magic Online RPTQ. The thing about Dredge, though: as soon it becomes good, it kind of becomes bad again as sideboards start packing hate. Be sure to have Dredge on your radar for the Invitational. I wouldn’t be surprised if it picked up some steam going forward, especially because it likely crushes Humans.

Dredge follows the rules of Modern that I really like. It’s proactive. If you run into players that are skimping on hate, you are going to crush them. You also can even win games against hate somewhat easily. Dredge is also on my short list of decks that I will pick up for the Invitational.

Gifts Storm

Rank: A

I finally think people have begun to give Gifts Storm the respect it deserves. Decks like Humans or even Dredge are coming out of the woodwork to present fast clocks and disruption. I wouldn’t play Gifts Storm at the Invitational unless you know the ins and outs, and feel comfortable bringing the deck to a field that may be a bit hostile towards you.


Rank: B

Jacob Wilson (alias zyxwvutsrqpon) earned a qualification for Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan this past weekend with a new updated Infect list.

Ever hear of a card called Shapers’ Sanctuary? Seems quite good when your opponents are going to point removal at all your creatures post-sideboard. I will certainly be trying this deck for the Invitational, though I am a bit skeptical if this deck has what it takes to be a good choice. I recommend trying this deck out as well if you have the time. I think it could be a good deck that gets you points against players who aren’t expecting it.

Ironworks Combo

Rank: C

I played this deck a little bit when it first got some hype about six months ago, and it is quite challenging to pilot. That being said, I think this deck is quite good. Basically the deck revolved around Krark-Clan Ironworks and Scrap Trawler, getting a ton of mana and drawings cards off of various triggers and Spheres. Finally you draw an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, cast it, and win the game.

I gave this a C rank mostly because of the fact that it has been nonexistent for quite some time. I encourage players to prove me wrong here and I look forward to anyone who does so.

Living End

Rank: C

Living End is a deck that you see at every Modern Tournament, but usually never does that well. It receives a lot of splash damage from cards like Rest in Peace and Relic of Progenitus, not to mention how blue decks that have counterspells for it can prey on this deck. I wouldn’t recommend playing this deck, as I think it leaves a lot of play edge off the table, and if people are gunning for Dredge, there will be a lot of splash damage. I also just think this is a worse version of Dredge.

Puresteel Paladin

Rank: B

This deck actually surprises me that it doesn’t see play anymore. It is quite good, although I can see a Chalice of the Void on zero being quite problematic. If you don’t expect a lot of Chalice of the Void in your metagame, I think that this deck is the real deal. I wouldn’t be surprised if this deck emerged at the Pro Tour, as it is quite explosive!

Jeskai Control

Rank: A

Some people call me the space cowboy, some call me the gangster of love, some call me Maurice, and some people call me… Jes Guy! I like this approach of Jeskai quite a bit. Basically, Nahiri, the Harbinger is too much of a liability to play in some matchups where you can’t tap out for her and Geist of Saint Traft is horrible in about 50% of your matchups, so I would never maindeck either.

What would I change from this deck? Not much. Probably I would add Geist of Saint Traft to the sideboard because it is very good against some decks. Perhaps I would add Rest in Peace also if Dredge is gaining in popularity. I’d likely want a second Wrath of God effect as well as well as cutting the second Clique, as it doesn’t seem necessary. The U/W Control deck I am much more interested in had the same record in the same event as this deck…

U/W Control

Rank: B

I absolutely love this deck and it is my frontrunner for the Invitational. Overloading on Spreading Seas and Field of Ruin seems so good against so many decks! My first question is, can we go harder? What if we cut the Sphinx’s Revelation and played Wrath of God over Supreme Verdict to support playing Ghost Quarters in addition to all that? I think this deck has legs going forward and I will certainly being working on it.

Lantern Control

Rank: A

I think that Lantern Control is a very good deck for those who can pilot it well. Kanister crushes Modern relentlessly with this deck and it is a beautiful sight to be seen. I have not seen such Modern dominance in quite a while; it’s truly impressive stuff. If you want to play this deck, I highly recommend getting reps in before a tournament because the physical engineering of Lantern Control can be quite difficult.

U/R Breach

Rank: C

I really like the Madcap Experiment transformational sideboard, so maybe this list can do what others haven’t and impress me. I feel like this deck is pretty soft to discard, and every time I have tried this strategy, it has brought me very little success. I think Jeskai is a better blue deck in Modern if you decide to play such.

Join me next week for Ramp, Aggro, and Disruptive Aggro!

And if you haven’t done so already, please check out my podcast page where there is weekly content! ¡Viva la Modern!