How To Beat Food, Amulet Titan, And Rakdos Midrange Decks In Modern

Amid all the new card excitement, there’s still a Modern format to solve. GerryT’s latest decks take aim at the Tier 1 archetypes going into the weekend.

Ovalchase Daredevil, illustrated by Winona Nelson

I’d love to write about Adventures in the Forgotten Realms previews and I’ll do that when I see something I’m excited about. Modern still has my attention in a very big way. Trying out the new cards and building decks is catnip for Gerrys. A month later and I still haven’t figured out all the things I want to.

The various Food decks and Amulet Titan are still the best decks, but there’s also a new player.

Aspiringspike popularized this deck by putting together some absurd runs on stream. 

The new creatures from Modern Horizons 2 are incredible. Dauthi Voidwalker offers disruption plus nigh-unblockable damage alongside some broken upside when combined with Thoughtseize. Dragon’s Rage Channeler is much-needed aggression that’s inexplicably stapled to card selection. Those combine to form a package that can stand up to any deck in the format. They don’t play well from behind, but it gives you a clock that doesn’t necessitate dealing yourself ten damage in order to enable Death’s Shadow. Decks like these have massive longevity in Modern.

You could say Modern is primarily defined by Dragon’s Rage Channeler, Asmor, and Primeval Titan. Maybe you want to mention Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer over Dragon’s Rage Channeler because sometimes it shows up in decks without Dragon’s Rage Channeler, even though Channeler tends to be a stronger card overall. 

If you can bully Channeler decks while having a fighting chance against Food and Amulet Titan, your Modern deck is probably very good. Obviously there are many other decks out there, but your plans against the other decks tend to overlap against the majority of the format. That plan has guided what decks I’ve been working on and also what I’ve been having success with.

This format reminds me of the Grand Prix New Jersey era of Legacy where Treasure Cruise was legal. Brian Braun-Duin won the tournament by doing mostly the same thing as everyone else, just a little bit bigger. 

That’s right, I’ve reprised my role as Mardu Guy™. 

Mardu has no shortage of playable cards at this point. You will almost certainly look at this decklist and wonder why I’m not playing Kolaghan’s Command or Seasoned Pyromancer or whatever and it would be a fair question. Hell, I’m not even playing Batterskull. 

One of Mardu’s strengths has always been the ability to interact with various card types. Prismatic Ending is both a blessing and a curse because you no longer need to be explicitly Mardu to handle everything well, but it also consolidates some of the narrower cards you might otherwise play. If you wanted to, you could likely play this deck as Orzhov.

Sanctifier en-Vec is one of the best possible cards you can have in pseudo-Rakdos mirrors. Stoneforge Mystic and Lingering Souls might do a good enough job at smashing Rakdos, but having what basically amounts to an “I win” card can’t hurt. If Sanctifier weren’t good in other matchups, I wouldn’t bother, but it has protection from the two most popular colors of removal and you’re playing Equipment. 

Alternatively, you could be the bigger red deck by only sticking to red. If you’re applying pressure and disrupting your opponent slightly, you don’t need very much help.

Surprisingly, these decks are better than they look. 

There are so many powerful one-drops that we’re flooded with options. Red removal is excellent at the moment and so is Blood Moon. The Gruul Land Destruction decks play many similar cards, so it’s also interesting to me at the moment. Normally, it’s a deck I wouldn’t touch, but the conditions are somehow perfectly met. 

One of the main things I’ve been leaning on to farm Rakdos is Sanctifier en-Vec. Ideally I’d find something with more widespread appeal for a larger tournament, but if I just want to farm Modern Leagues? Adding four Sanctifier en-Vec is easy mode. If that’s the case, you could do worse than putting it in Humans.

I wish I could say this is by far the best version of Humans but that’s not true. Noble Hierarch can be huge, so playing without it is certainly a risk. However, you end up with a manabase that can cast Damping Sphere, Lightning Bolt, and Stony Silence. Ride Sanctifer en-Vec as much as you can, beat up on all the Tier 2 and 3 decks, and get off Humans if people are playing decks that beat Rakdos Midrange. 

When Rakdos was just starting to rise, I registered this Five-Color Bring to Light deck for one of the Modern Challenges on Magic Online and thought it was genius. It was too early and I’m old, so I dropped early and went back to sleep, but with a Top 32 littered with Rakdos Midrange, I still wonder what would have happened. 

If nothing else, you can take away that going over the top of Rakdos Midrange is a viable strategy. They can disrupt you all they like but they’ll eventually lose to Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle. Even without that inevitability, it’s difficult to stack up against a pile of spot removal and Omnath, Locus of Creation. 

One problem I didn’t identify until during the tournament was that this deck desperately needs something like Expressive Iteration to feed Dryad of the Ilysian Grove. You have Wrenn and Six already but it’s not enough. Some of the different versions play upwards of thirty lands, which is usually a move I’d support. In this instance, you can make do with these incredibly powerful card advantage spells. 

Although Modern Horizons 2 took some of the spotlight off the decks that existed before it, this deck will be able to persevere. 

Dimir isn’t necessarily the flavor of Food I’d register. That said, I can’t see a potentially broken set of engines working in harmony with each other and not do my part to help perfect the deck. 

The details of my list aren’t particularly important. You can scrutinize the finer points if you like, but I was trying to solve the main issue. Any blue Food deck is going to struggle with Thought Monitor being one of the strongest payoffs while also not being able to generate artifacts well enough when you don’t have The Underworld Cookbook and Ovalchase Daredevil. In Izzet, I made that less of an issue by using Expressive Iteration as a way to assemble the combo more reliably while also generating raw resources. 

Dimir doesn’t quite have an Expressive Iteration analogue. However, Lurrus of the Dream-Den is one of the strongest card advantage engines in Modern and we have Mishra’s Baubles and black mana already. Lurrus is effectively a bad Emry, Lurker of the Loch, but I’ve found that to be solid enough. It helps keep Asmor on the battlefield, which is key in many matchups. Lurrus recurring Engineered Explosives can be incredible in the mirror match too, especially in games where you’re on the wrong end of Asmor and Urza’s Saga tokens. 

Although not nearly as powerful as Lurrus or Expressive Iteration, I’ve dabbled with a couple of copies of Serum Visions as well. It’s something I could see going back to because of how good it is at smoothing out your opening hand, but it can be clunky. The singleton copy of Unearth is much stronger when you add Lurrus into the mix. Using The Underworld Cookbook to reanimate something early can be a huge tempo swing. 

These decks are all kinda dope. Maybe I’ll have some cool Standard decks next week, but I’m not holding my breath. If anything, it wouldn’t shock me if I was writing about Modern again.