Modern Has Never Been This Fun And Diverse Before

Michael Majors is marveling at how wide-open Modern is. He surveys the metagame’s spiciest lists to go 5-0 in Magic Online Leagues last week.

Selective Memory, illustrated by Chippy

Ari isn’t wrong, but this Tweet doesn’t quite tell the whole story.  Modern is, and has been, in flux for over a year between Modern Horizons, changes to the Banned and Restricted list, and many powerful Magic cards being printed in Standard-legal sets.  Modern is extremely well-equipped to absorb anything that even resembles a potential outlier in Standard due to its exceptional mana and the wide range of potential cross-synergies.

Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath has certainly been one of the headliners — giving Blue Control “piles” (as the kids put it) a robust mid- and late-game alongside Mystic Sanctuary, and is now starting to crop up more and more frequently with Omnath, Locus of Creation as a multicolored “good stuff” deck in many different incarnations.  Skyclave Apparition is one of the most exciting white creatures printed in years and naturally fits into any Eladamri’s Call toolbox, Death and Taxes, or Collected Company strategy.

Lurrus of the Dream-Den is, well, Lurrus.  There’s a strange polarization across many Modern decks where archetypes either care about playing the cheapest possible total converted mana cost or are blowing the doors off many Standard decks by wanting to ramp into the stratosphere, and Lurrus has fit quite naturally into Death’s Shadow strategies as well as popping up in Burn and other decks occasionally.

What’s my point? 

The format is a ton of fun right now and the games feel so different not only because of these headliners entering the format and causing a ruckus, but because there have been so many potential new entrants into the format over the last eighteen months, and folks really have the freedom more than ever now to experiment and try new things.

I was blown away by the level of creativity, absurdity, and the seemingly massive range of viable strategies coming out of the last few Modern 5-0 deck dumps, and I want to make sure that not only that effort but Modern itself as a format is highlighted and celebrated.  

The Arena experience is good, Standard feels great, but oddly enough this also might be one of the best times to jump into Magic Online (MTGO).

Cherryxman’s deck is a perfect place to begin and illustrate my point.  This Azorius Belcher deck (look, I’m not counting Simian Spirit Guide, okay?) does so many things beautifully.  A clear evolution from the initial influx of “Oops All Spells” decks that have entered various Eternal formats with the release of Zendikar Rising, this deck is really well built.  

First of all, “naturally do my thing and quickly kill you with some fast mana and a Charbelcher” is accounted for.  

Second, this deck incorporates the pitch-countermagic in the form of Disrupting Shoal and Force of Negation to protect its combo; Jwari Disruption is also some free-rolled interaction.  Finally, Teferi, Time Raveler incorporates it all together as a cohesive package.

Selective Memory

But what’s this card Selective Memory?  Turns out this seemingly forgotten Worldwake rare just so happens to create an Inverter-like secondary combo with Thassa’s Oracle.  Fast mana, deck manipulation, free countermagic, and two combos.  This is a hell of a deck.

It’s a little slow for a combo deck, but it has a great deal of redundancy and should be well-equipped to handle a few pieces of interaction.  I’m extremely impressed and could see this being the best version of the Spells decks that folks have been trying.

I honestly didn’t notice until about fifteen seconds ago that this is another 5-0 by Cherryxman with a radically different deck, this time incorporating Skyclave Apparition.  The Apparition is exactly what these types of decks needed to finally have the raw redundancy necessary to justify inclusions like Charming Prince which help tie it all together.

This isn’t really your traditional Death and Taxes deck; instead it’s a deck that’s very good at making sure that your opponent can’t get any meaningful traction on the battlefield.  Charming Prince, Flickerwisp, and especially Eldrazi Displacer all help keep the battlefield and, in conjunction with Tidehollow Sculler, potentially your opponent’s hand (with some particular trigger stacking)  clean of anything relevant.  You aren’t the best at delivering the beatdown, but once your creature engines are running you’re able to finish off the game quickly enough in five or even seven point increments.  Giver of Runes supplies a much-needed angle of insurance, and this type of deck is notoriously difficult to play against due to the instant-speed nature of Aether Vial and/or Collected Company.

Skyclave Apparition helps promise that creature decks don’t need only be about infinite combos these days.  I wouldn’t quite call this playing “fair” but at the end of the day, the goal is simply to remove your opponent’s permanents and attack.

Chandrian’s Lurrus deck is one that I’m particularly fond of.  No, there’s nothing you’re “missing;” this a Pyromancer Ascension deck whose primary goal is to control the game and eventually just kill you with a large number of Lightning Bolts. These decks have existed in the past, typically as Jeskai incarnations with a lot more burn, but this approach with Lurrus makes a lot of sense.

Not only can the companion flex its “permanent” text to return Pyromancer Ascension when interacted with, but it helps to double down on the card that this deck might honestly be most about — Snapcaster Mage.  This deck is all about trading with everything your opponent does and finally killing them in a flurry of spells.

We’ve seen Cling to Dust show up in many decks like this — not only as interaction against graveyards — primarily Uro, but also just functioning as a backup cantrip.  

Drown in the Loch has been a component of Modern for a while now, but it’s especially important in decks like these that need noncreature interaction but aren’t interested in playing dedicated discard spells.

Dice Factory is a deck that, as I recall, Sam Black messed around with at some point.  I don’t precisely remember the timing or iterations of when folks have been tuning these strategies, but it’s fair to say that cards like Ugin, the Ineffable; Mystic Forge; and Golos, Tireless Pilgrim have given this sideways-Tron variant a lot of tools. 

This deck is honestly pretty simple — you play a lot like Mono-Green Tron but Coretapper and to some extent Ugin can turbo-charge your mana rocks and Astral Cornucopia and Everflowing Chalice to give more backdoor “Trons” and cast your giant colorless cards.  It’s clever, but relatively straightforward.  If you’re sick of Mono-Green Tron but are looking to iterate on non-Primeval Titan big mana decks, this is a great pick-up.

I want to show off both of these decks, but I admit I’ll be giving more love to Gionax’s Boros Land Destruction deck.

Cleansing Wildfire has entered Modern in a big way, first showing up in these Jeskai Control decks as a hybrid cantrip, Rampant Growth, and way to attack big mana or even just greedy strategies, particularly in conjunction with Snapcaster Mage.

Cleansing Wildfire

It’s starting to show up in sideboards, and now it’s helping to define new archetypes.

In the past we’ve seen Boros decks like these function as glorified prison decks leveraging Blood Moon and various other lock pieces to throttle an opponent’s ability to play the game in an often tenuous way.  

This is another example of where a seemingly innocuous card can suddenly create critical mass in a large eternal format.  Cleansing Wildfire and Boom // Bust suddenly give justification to not only Flagstones of Trokair but cards like Cascading Cataracts and Darksteel Citadel.  This Boros deck now has many impactful Turn 2 plays that can pull them out in front by either blowing up an opponent’s land or accelerating themselves. 

Rounding it out, there are some control elements here – sweepers, spot removal, planeswalkers, and even disruption and card advantage engines between Relic of Progenitus and Mazemind Tome.  This deck looks poised to attack specific metagames and looks a lot less fragile than something like Gruul Midrange, which is often transforming between land destruction and glorified beatdown depending on the surrounding context of the format.

I admit this isn’t exactly what I had in mind when I championed Eladamri’s Call as an inclusion in Modern Horizons, but I’m happy to see that there are so many expressions of cards like Uro and Omnath instead of them being strictly relegated to one clear best shell. In some ways this is just a stack of some of the best spells and the best lands that exist in Modern and a hope that it works.  Seemingly, it does.

And honestly, there isn’t really a lot of finesse here either.  This deck is all power.  We see ramp, removal, Wrenn and Six, and some tutoring between Elvish Reclaimer, Primeval Titan, and Eladamri’s Call.  Assemble Field of the Dead; Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle; or out-value an opponent naturally with Uro and Omnath.  

I’d be shocked if this was the best deck due to how seemingly duct-taped together it all is, but this is a fine lesson that sometimes the best way to build for power is to see where packages overlap and incorporate them together.

This is another unique Uro deck and is a weird amalgamation of things that I’ve seen before, and some deep card choices that I never thought I’d see be successful in Modern Leagues.

Swans of Bryn Argoll Skred

Swans of Bryn Argoll has been paired with Skred and gone so far as non-deterministic combos like Seismic Assault or even Chain of Plasma in the past.  This is really a value control deck in many ways, interacting, getting up some cards, and also, ya know, playing Hornet Nest.

Look, I can’t exactly endorse this deck as something people should play, but it is extremely cool and hats off to SlitherBlade.  I hope that they cast Skred on their Hornet Nest and annihilated some Humans player in their League.

I wanted to close on a deck very near and dear to my heart.  I love attacking with Wild Nacatl in Modern, and while this expression of the deck is much different from ones I’ve played in the past, I love that this might again be a viable strategy.  

Irish Soda’s deck is all about fetchlands to maximize their aggressive creatures and incorporating Wrenn and Six uniquely in a dedicated aggressive deck.  This dedication to landfall is so deep that Fearless Fledgling is here.  I never thought I’d write that sentence in relationship to Constructed, let alone Modern.  Renegade Rallier is a huge piece of the puzzle here as well, for not only setting up larger landfall turns by bringing back a fetchland, but also creating a great deal of resilience with its ability to rebuy a threat, or even Wrenn and Six to really put an opponent in a squeeze.

Great removal spells line out the package, and this is yet another deck where those sideboard Cleansing Wildfires can pull double-duty as not only a piece of disruption, but also being a glorified burn spell as a landfall enabler for yourself.

What’s Next?

All of this content came out of one deck dump.

Suffice to say, Modern is wide open right now.  If you’re playing some strong cards and putting them together in a meaningful way, you can probably pull off whatever you want to do.  This is the perfect time to jump back in if you’ve loved the format and lapsed or for the first time if you want to experience a wildly shifting and fresh metagame full of possibilities.