What’s The Modern Deck To Beat Heading Into MTG Las Vegas?

Is there a deck to beat in Modern heading into MTG Las Vegas? Special guest Devon “d00mwake” O’Donnell and five of SCG’s best share their weapon of choice for the weekend.

Omnath, Locus of Creation
Omnath, Locus of Creation, illustrated by Chris Rahn

Welcome to What We’d Play! With MTG Las Vegas right around the corner, 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!

Devon O’Donnell — Four-Color Crashcade (Yorion)

Temur Crashcade has been a pillar of the Modern format ever since the introduction of Shardless Agent. It has an incredibly fast clock backed up by some of the best disruption the format has to offer (and most of it doesn’t cost you any mana!) The issue with traditional Crashcade decks is they can sometimes struggle in post-board games in the face of Chalice of the Void, Void Mirror, and Engineered Explosives and have a hard time closing out games when your Rhinos can’t cross the finish line. What’s the best way to solve this problem? Just add 20 cards to your deck and have a free 8th card at the start of every game!

Cascade is one of the ways to turn the “downside” of an additional 20 cards into a net neutral since the ratio of cascade spells doesn’t change that much (8 in a 60 card deck is 13%, 12 in an 80 card deck is 15%). And the upside of not having to draw Crashing Footfalls as often is a huge bonus since past turn one it’s a blank in most situations. You also add a robust fair game plan with Omnath, Locus of Creation and Solitude alongside Yorion, Sky Nomad to help close out those games where your opponent has one of those pesky hate cards for your Crashing Footfalls. 

Teferi, Time Raveler is another huge addition which gives you a sizable advantage in the cascade mirrors as well as another tool to help fight control decks. Solitude and Fury compliment the full 4 Dead/Gone to ensure you are not short on cheap and powerful interaction against creatures. Kor Firewalker may stick out like a sore thumb but you actually cut your Crashing Footfalls for them against burn and it’s something I have had great success with in that matchup. I am super excited to be attending MTG Las Vegas and I think this is the best choice for the weekend – I can’t wait to battle!

Ross Merriam — Four-Color Indomitable Creativity

Suffice it to say that I think Four-Color Indomitable Creativity is the most underrated deck in Modern. Control decks have flourished in the format recently, and this list gets to play 80% of the control game that Jeskai or Four-Color Control can but also incorporates a game-ending combo that opponents are forced to respect.

Creativity also bypasses the major problem of previous Polymorph effects by being impervious to creature removal. You can either target an artifact or create multiple targets in a longer game, so as long as you’re patient, you shouldn’t turn any of your opponents’ dead cards into live ones.

The one serious concession you make in order to fit Indomitable Creativity into the deck is in the mana base. The Triomes hold together what would otherwise be a too read-heavy mana base but you still have to take a lot of damage in several games to assemble all the necessary shock lands. That’s why you see the full four copies of Sunset Revelry in the sideboard to help out against aggressive decks, especially Boros Burn.

If you want a more detailed rundown of this list, the sideboard, and why I think it’s criminally underplayed, consult my recent article. But with all the powerful planeswalkers and cheap interaction available, it shouldn’t be too much of a stretch to add a combo finish and call it a day.

Ari Lax — Four-Color Control (Kaherra)

Let’s talk about multi-day Constructed events.

Long Swiss events are really good at filtering for successful strategies, and especially those successful against the other broadly successful strategies. Even if the field at a paper Modern event lags Magic Online, the field playing for Top 8 in the last three rounds won’t. So you should play the best up to date metagame deck, with the caveat that it should have some broad power. It’s tough to peg a single deck as the best and only correct option in Modern, especially under those conditions, so here is my top pick along with a good spread.

The safe pick is Four-Color Control (Kaheera). It’s just a broadly great deck that’s also good versus a lot of other great decks. I think the Rakdos Lurrus shells including Grixis Death’s Shadow are the next step of risk to take, exposing yourself to exactly Sanctifier en-Vec, and the full blow “metagame choice but if I lose I’m in Vegas” picks are Gruul Belcher (Kaheera) and Dimir Mill (Lurrus). I wouldn’t fault anyone for playing Orzhov Hammer (Lurrus) either since it’s the abstract best deck, but I would recommend that for Hammer experts only since the deck is really difficult to maximize.

Todd Anderson — Mono-White Hammer❄

I’m ready and willing to break my “No Ornithopter” pact. I have put up a good showing in a live tournament when I play that little, useless, winged machine, but I’m ready to be hurt again. Hammer decks have become something of a known quantity in Modern, acting as a new iteration of Infect. We all know that the true power of Infect came from Inkmoth Nexus, a land that was relatively hard to kill and featured built-in evasion. Now with Colossus Hammer and Sigarda’s Aid, you too can put your opponent over ten poison and win the game.

The Modern format is starting to change, though. I’m mostly choosing to play Hammer because I think the deck rules, but I’m also of the opinion that it’s the best tool for fighting Goblin Charbelcher. As a relatively new deck, Goblin Charbelcher won both Modern Challenges on Magic Online last weekend, leading me to believe that all this Omnath, Locus of Creation and Solitude midrange nonsense just got dumpstered by a no-nonsense combo.

Hammer decks are fast, consistent, and thrive on non-interactive opponents. Like Infect before it, you can goldfish faster and more consistently than most other decks in the format. When people get hyper-interactive is when you start to falter, but Hammer decks have shown time and time again that they’re not as vulnerable as the old Infect decks. Sweepers are not enough against Inkmoth Nexus, and are too slow. A reliance on spot removal means you might just die if you don’t kill every single opposing threat.

This version in particular is based on the notion that we don’t need Lurrus of the Dream-Den. I agree. I think Nettlecyst is excellent in this deck, and provides you with a lot of bang for a paltry investment. It’s a great tutor target for Stoneforge Mystic or Steelshaper’s Gift. It can act as a threat or you can just move it onto a creature that doesn’t have evasion. All in all, Nettlecyst is awesome and I fully expect folks to move away from Lurrus in this particular archetype.

If you want a leg up on Belcher, and don’t mind going it alone without a companion, this build is ruthless and resilient. You’re high on threat density thanks to Nettlecyst and Steelshaper’s Gift (which also makes you high in combo potential). Overall, this build is just making the best out of an underutilized card, as you’ll notice how many games you win just for having Steelshaper’s Gift and one copy of Nettlecyst in your deck. I don’t normally stray from the path of Izzet, but I’ve become a little more experimental this Modern and it’s been a lot of fun!

Dom Harvey — Gruul Belcher

Pure combo has been missing from Modern for quite some time and a brief glance at the metagame at large reveals a format that’s become complacent. If you have your anti-Cascade cards and are prepared for Hammer you’re good to go and can worry about the other pillars of the format… right?

After what I thought was its breakout weekend heading into the Invitational, Belcher just outdid itself by winning both the regular Modern Challenge and the more prestigious Showcase Challenge on Magic Online in the same weekend and I expect it to be a great choice for Las Vegas. The specific tools you need to beat the other linear decks are weak or totally irrelevant against Belcher and a large swathe of the format has a glaring weakness to Blood Moon that Belcher is well-placed to exploit.

Many opponents won’t just have the wrong tools; they won’t know what the right tools are. The Magic Online metagame moves quickly and I expect players to be ready for Belcher next week but paper players who aren’t paying close attention to recent results will be blindsided by one of the most bizarre decks in the entire format. If you don’t know what your opponent is taking their sweet time thinking about when resolving Recross the Paths or why you haven’t seen a ‘normal’ land yet, you’re in for a rough time.

This list is close to the ‘stock’ list at this point, with Pyromancer Ascension moving to the maindeck to open up a wider range of Recross piles and making you not wholly reliant on Goblin Charbelcher in Game 1 at the cost of just a single slot. 

Brad Nelson — Jund Midrange (Lurrus)

I’m still playing Jund Midrange, shocking I know. Look, the article topic is “What We’d Play”, not “What We Think The Best Deck Is.” For most (normal) people those prompts are synonyms with one another, but I’m Jund Guy. My people, the Jund people, don’t have a choice when it comes to deck selection. Playing Jund Midrange is similar to an illness. Just a compulsory urge to attack with Tarmogoyf while taking cards out of our opponent’s hands. It just can’t be helped. Sorry.

Did that work? Did I get all the non-believers out of here? Ok, great! Jund Midrange is f&%king great and as Jund players we obviously know that. We just don’t want them knowing we know that, and for them to start playing more hate then they already are. So what’s new in the Jund world, you ask? Well, I think it’s important to be playing all four Thoughtseize now that Omnath Soup decks keep popping up. They aren’t great matchups, but we still want to mitigate the damage by playing the strongest cards in the matchups.

It’s actually one of the reasons why I’m playing two copies of Lightning Bolt. Now that sounds super counterintuitive, but I’ve found that you really want some reach in these matchups. Plus you already have so much removal that more often than not having a Lightning Bolt and an Unholy Heat in hand is better than two Unholy Heat.

The last thing I’ll point out that I find important that I don’t see others doing is playing more copies of Nihil Spellbomb in the sideboard. You just have to do this for the other Lurrus or Murktide Regent matchups. If you only have access to one copy then you sort of need to protect it. That’s just silly to me, as these matchups are so graveyard dependent, so exiling it many times a game can be super beneficial.

Now I’ll end my segment of the article with another lie to really push our narrative — Good luck, because you’re going to need it!