With Such A Successful Weekend, Is Selesnya Company Modern’s Deck To Beat?

Has Selesnya Company found its time to shine in Modern? Five SCG creators say what they’d play in the post-banning format.

Noble Hierarch, illustrated by Mark Zug

Welcome to What We’d Play! With the arrival of Kaldheim and the banning of so many cards in Modern this month, many are unsure what they’d play in Modern. That’s where we come in and let you know what we’d play and why we’d play it. Hopefully this advice aids in your decision making for your next Modern event!

Dom Harvey — Selesnya Company

The consistent success of Selesnya Company over the past few months was the surest sign that I didn’t understand Modern anymore — it seemed like a clunkier version of creature combo decks that hadn’t stood the test of time. After watching and reading more — and seeing the format go through a serious upheaval last week — I’ve come around to the point where I’m happy recommending it and sleeving it up myself. Modern right now is slower, fairer, and worse at beating infinite life than it was a week ago and this deck loves to see all of that.

There were lots of successful lists to choose from this weekend’s Challenges on Magic Online, but my recommendation is modeled on the winning list from MrRaeb that goes for the traditional mana creatures over the Arbor Elf / Utopia Sprawl package. This is a big risk in a Lava Dart/Wrenn and Six format, but Burn is occupying some of the metagame share held by Prowess and some people are realizing that, no, Jund Midrange isn’t finally good again this time.

In return, you gain a manabase that can more consistently cast Auriok Champion (an all-star against the various red aggro decks) and can justify more utility lands like Pendelhaven and especially Gavony Township, a strong and low-cost backup plan when you have more cheap creatures for it to pump.  

Todd Anderson — Jeskai Stoneblade

As many of you may already know, I despise Path to Exile, yet quite like playing with Stoneforge Mystic. This version gives me the best of both worlds, as Lightning Bolt and Lightning Helix answer most of what is usually being thrown at you without giving your opponent an extra land! If Death’s Shadow comes back in force, the removal suite will likely have to change, but for now I’m content jamming Bolt and Helix in hopes that I dodge those large monsters.

The format is in upheaval after the massive bannings but some figures are starting to take shape. The frontrunner is actually Selesnya Company for some reason, putting up sick numbers in the tournaments from last weekend. I don’t get it, but Collected Company is nuts so there must be something to the archetype. Lightning Bolt targeting Noble Hierarch should be all the incentive you need to play it over Path to Exile. When mana creatures are running rampant (and are good!), red removal should be floating to the top.

Force of Negation also pairs well with cheap threats. If you can stick something early and back it up with Force of Negation on your opponent’s “danger” turn, that tempo boost could be all you need to get Batterskull onto the battlefield and ultimately win the game. If you plan on fending off fair decks all day, you could do much worse than Jeskai Stoneblade. Lightning Bolt and Lightning Helix are incredible against some of the tougher players in the format, but every decision you make in deckbuilding has some give and take. Every change makes you weaker against something but stronger against something else.

Right now, I’m leaning on Lightning Bolt, and you should too.

Shaheen Soorani — Azorius Control

I have been trying some crazy things in Modern lately.  For a good week, I was successfully using Polymorph to put Emrakul, the Aeons Torn onto the battlefield.  Goofy combo decks are in my DNA, but this Modern Challenge victory by Azorius Control was enough evidence to table other strategies for now.  The list is as traditional as Azorius Control gets in Modern, from the creature and planeswalker package all the way to the disruption.  Outside of a couple of Shark Typhoons, nothing new or fancy needed to be done, besides waiting for a swath of bannings.

Modern provides the most stability for a control archetype when the format is healthy.  Path to Exile is all we have in the early-game, but it’s strong enough to get the job done.  This is the one format I play where I support the continued use of Supreme Verdict over Doomskar.  Having that blue card for Force of Negation is huge and the importance of sweepers is highly matchup-dependent here.  There are very few true aggro decks that go wide, even when facing Mono-Red Aggro, where their threats are mainly direct damage.  Without other foretell cards being relevant in Modern, Supreme Verdict is going to continue to be the sweeper of choice.

This win displays the power of control in Modern.  Although there are many haters of Celestial Colonnade over the years, the evidence is there.  I had an undefeated Day 2, resulting in a Team Trios win with Pete Ingram and Corey Baumeister, as well as a 13-2 Grand Prix record with Azorius Control.  Even though those events predate this list significantly, the lists have not changed that much since.  The only difference now is a weaker, undefined format, where people are trying to find the best deck again. 

If the usual big mana, aggro, and midrange suspects are all that Azorius Control must face, I like our chances!

Ari Lax — Selesnya Company

Last week I told you to play Selesnya Company. The deck got second in the Saturday Modern Challenge and then also got first in the Sunday Challenge. As in, it got second there again, and another copy of it won. I was right, everyone else was somewhere between less right and completely wrong, and I see no reason I’m not still right for this next week.

The main thing I’m currently afraid of with this deck is Azorius Control, the deck it lost to in the finals of the Saturday event. It honestly might be time for Voice of Resurgence to show up in the sideboard, or some high-impact version of the same brand of “proactive threat plus hate card” mix that is just a little more 2021 quality.

Until more people figure out good ways to beat this deck, I’m just going to point you at the list with sideboard Deicide for the mirror. I might convince myself to try the new Living End deck that finished in Top 8 one day and Top 16 the next with the same pilot, but if I had to play for anything that mattered, it’s back to the Spike Feeders.

Cedric Phillips — Living End

Speaking of Living End, my goodness do I love this list. Previously, Living End was a Jund-based deck that had to play a lot of bad cards to interact with problematic things from your opponent (thinking mainly of Beast Within). That’s no longer the case once you elect to move into blue for Force of Negation, Brazen Borrower, and Mystical Dispute.

The creatures you’re cycling when blue is a main color might be slightly worse than the creatures Jund brought to the table, but ultimately that doesn’t matter. When you elect to play Living End, either your core strategy is good (cheating a bunch of crappy creatures onto the battlefield) or it isn’t. With Modern still figuring itself out, now’s a good time to take a few people by surprise.

I wouldn’t look towards Living End for the long term, as it’s a very easy deck to beat if anyone wants to do so (graveyard hate, countermagic, protecting Meddling Mage, etc), but much like Selesnya Hexproof and Dredge, if people aren’t paying attention, you can take huge advantage. This weekend may be the perfect time to do so, since a creature-based deck in Selesnya Company looks to be the deck to beat in Modern.

Have fun cycling!