Welcome to What We’d Play! With the banning of Arcum’s Astrolabe, 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! Be sure to vote for what deck you would play at the end!
Ryan Overturf — Mono-Red Prowess
Reigning world champion Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa outed himself as a Thoughtseize apologist last week, but I remain unwavering in my preference for Mono-Red Prowess. I find that only playing cards that make reasonable or good exchanges on mana is better than playing something like Kiln Fiend that desperately hopes that Thoughtseize can block for it.
I get that Bedlam Reveler bites you sometimes when you draw it at the wrong time, but this is at least equally true of Thoughtseize, which is known to be a pretty miserable topdeck in long games. Again, I like Thoughtseize against the combo decks like Neobrand that you don’t have a prayer of racing, but every other matchup is beatable through racing, removal, or grinding with Bedlam Reveler and Light Up the Stage. Having Lava Spike over Thoughtseize leaves your deck more coherent overall and makes you more effective at racing, which is honestly just what a lot of Modern is.
I see where Cling to Dust gives you a pretty powerful piece of interaction against a lot of powerful cards and strategies, but I’m just not seeing Thoughtseize as a huge draw in a format as fast and redundant as Modern. The lack of Crash Through and the need for basic Swamp also make me tremendously sad, though I see how we get there if we believe Thoughtseize is a meaningful pillar of the archetype.
Maybe I’m stubborn. Definitely Paulo is a better player than I am. I just don’t see the Rakdos build.
Dom Harvey — Selesnya Reclaimer
- 1 Sakura-Tribe Elder
- 2 Wall of Blossoms
- 4 Primeval Titan
- 1 Springbloom Druid
- 4 Elvish Reclaimer
- 4 Dryad of the Ilysian Grove
- 2 Forest
- 1 Wooded Foothills
- 1 Plains
- 4 Windswept Heath
- 1 Snow-Covered Plains
- 1 Snow-Covered Forest
- 1 Sacred Foundry
- 1 Selesnya Sanctuary
- 2 Temple Garden
- 1 Ghost Quarter
- 4 Flagstones of Trokair
- 1 Vesuva
- 2 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
- 1 Bojuka Bog
- 1 Cavern of Souls
- 1 Radiant Fountain
- 1 Crumbling Vestige
- 1 Blast Zone
- 2 Field of the Dead
- 2 Castle Garenbrig
After seeing Sam Black’s interest in Elvish Reclaimer with Flagstones of Trokair in another shell, I incorporated that package into a more mainstream ramp deck and noted that I was impressed with the results. Since then, the deck has made the Top 4 of last weekend’s MOCS Showcase Qualifier on Magic Online and has become a regular fixture of the 5-0 League results.
Sam’s list via Francisco Pawluszek used Aether Vial to dodge popular interaction against the Uro decks (notably Aether Gust) and escape the demand for resources that the ramp payoffs place on you, but the first job is less relevant when most Uro decks are Growth Spiral ramp decks that can put the game out of reach while Vial is ticking up and Vial leads to very disjointed draws. My approach enjoys the flexibility and self-contained engine of Elvish Reclaimer as well as the familiar recipe of casting Primeval Titan as early and often as possible.
Compared to other ramp strategies, Selesnya Reclaimer sacrifices some explosiveness but is much better at playing a low-resource game and making relevant plays on early turns. Path to Exile is not just the best removal spell of its kind but a secret ramp spell (often on an Elvish Reclaimer that was about to fall to another removal spell anyway); Eladamri’s Call offers access to powerful sideboard hammers when Primeval Titan isn’t good enough and redundancy when it is. I’m trying maindeck Beast Within / Generous Gift as a good hedge against the nonsense that beats you – Blood Moon, Phyrexian Unlife, Urza’s Tower or Simic Growth Chamber – with a decent floor that’s even higher in a deck with a plethora of four-toughness creatures and fine targets to cash in for a 3/3.
Shaheen Soorani — Izzet Prowess
Most probably do not know this about me, but tempo decks used to be right up my alley once upon a time. The fifth SCG Invitational Top 8 for yours truly was with Mono-Blue Wizards in Standard. After that, I crafted an Izzet Delver deck for one of the early Modern Invitationals, narrowly losing my win-and-in for that event’s Top 8. I can do aggressive, but it needs some sweet blue disruption and card draw to really pull me in.
This Izzet Prowess decks reminds me of those decks of old, but with much more bang for your buck. Sprite Dragon has turned out to be an absurdly powerful card in each competitive format, hitting an unbeatable power and toughness very early on. Add that to the power of recently released Stormwing Entity, and Modern now has the firepower to make a tempo deck a top contender. Here we see it take down a Magic Online Challenge, but I think it can do so much more. Once tabletop play returns, you will likely see me sending damage upstairs and hitting the red-zone with haste in this volatile format.
Corey Baumeister — Sultai Reclamation
Temur Reclamation was my deck of choice for quite some time. The fact that you still get to play all the busted cards from Bant Control and act on your opponent’s turn with Fact or Fiction leads to some really tough-to-deal-with sequences.
Lately, I have just been so disappointed with the red cards, though, that I decided to switch to Sultai. The fact that I can kill Death’s Shadow; Tarmogoyf; and Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath with Fatal Push instead of hoping to get lucky with Lightning Bolt has been a huge improvement. Also, Wrenn and Six isn’t what it used to be without some one-toughness creatures to kill.
Uro and fetchlands continue to be the most powerful interaction in Modern and I will continue to play them for as long as they allow me to do so!
Ari Lax — Humans
- 4 Meddling Mage
- 4 Noble Hierarch
- 4 Phantasmal Image
- 4 Champion of the Parish
- 4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
- 4 Mantis Rider
- 4 Reflector Mage
- 4 Thalia's Lieutenant
- 3 Kitesail Freebooter
- 2 General Kudro of Drannith
I still think Temur Reclamation is a phenomenal deck, but if you aren’t looking to own Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath and Force of Negation, then Humans is extremely underrated these days. People just aren’t showing up with the volume of removal or sweepers needed to really push the deck out of the metagame, and General Kudro of Drannith is a shockingly potent addition that covers a lot of potential issues. Read all my Modern primers from the last month or two, and you will notice a trend where I describe all my creature matchups as good, except Humans, which gets dicey.
The one problem is Lava Dart. I don’t think the Prowess matchup is great, and it’s tough to fix since their all-removal draws and their creatures-plus-removal draws are both good in the matchup. Your sideboard can do work, though, with Auriok Champion (don’t lose it to Stomp) and Kambal, Consul of Allocation, and honestly I think having a bad matchup even against a metagame pillar is fine. Modern is a wide-open format and each archetype is spread thin enough in the metagame that dodging or getting lucky against one is totally within reason.
Andrew Elenbogen — Rakdos Prowess
Two weeks ago, I though Mono-Red Prowess was the best deck in Modern, clearly better than the version that includes black for Thoughtseize. This week, things have changed. Specifically, Selesnya Hexproof is having a large resurgence. It won a major online tournament, and I have been facing it surprisingly often in Leagues. This matchup is nearly unwinnable for Mono-Red Prowess, but in a format as diverse as Modern, one awful matchup is not the end of the world.
However, I think playing the black cards adds percentage there at relatively little cost. To be specific, Thoughtseize can take their only creature or their only lifelink enchantment and Angrath’s Rampage wins any game they do not have Leyline of Sanctity. Overall, the matchup is still unfavorable, but the percentage really matters.
The biggest difference between my list and most Rakdos Prowess lists is that I do not run Lurrus of the Dream-Den as my companion. I win many games with Bedlam Reveler, often casting it for two or three mana. Lurrus always costs a minimum of six mana, which is just too much to be realistic in most Modern games. Additionally, my list will likely cast a Bonecrusher Giant from exile nearly every game. This basically functions as a companion that does not require a three-mana upfront payment. Bonecrusher Giant is not the reason I’m excluding Lurrus, but it is a nice bonus and I love that it answers hate cards and acts as both a prowess trigger and a threat.
Cedric Phillips — Selesnya Hexproof (Lurrus)
A genius choice from a genius-level player in Dylan Donegan. I know my way around a Slippery Bogle better than most and the story always goes like this — if the metagame shapes up in such a fashion where no one has anything for Selesnya Hexproof, it could be (and ideally should be) the easiest tournament of your life. The PTQ I won with Slippery Bogle in 2016 was, and after chatting with Dylan after his big win, his victory wasn’t particularly difficult either.
Now, of course, if people have hate for you, your tournament will be horrible because Selesnya Hexproof can’t shrug any dedicated hate off. But given that that currently isn’t the case, I recommend dusting off those Razorverge Thickets and having the time of your life!
Patrick Chapin — Jeskai Stoneblade
For my mana, I’m packing Stoneforge Mystic and blue planeswalkers again. The main differences in my list this week are a couple more planeswalkers instead of a third Shark Typhoon and a third piece of Equipment, and then slightly tweaking the blue instants to incorporate a Shadow of Doubt to help make up for shaving a Field of Ruin. There’s been a little more midrange than before, and I like the planeswalkers for going over the top of them. There’s also been enough Burn lately that I’m bringing an extra Timely Reinforcements out of the sideboard.
I’m so close to wanting to play a Monastery Mentor deck, as I love how much the card just demolishes ramp decks and slower combo decks. As soon as the midrange fad dies down a little, that’s exactly where my focus is turning to.