A Modern Deck for Every Player

By Sylvan Schrank

With so many sets, cards, and strategies in the Modern format, it can be daunting for new players to get into – to say the least. I remember how long it took me to select my first Modern deck, and I’m sure many others remember that process as well. Thankfully, new players looking to get into the format, you’re not alone. In this article, I’m going to talk about some great decks for every playstyle, and find a deck you’ll love to play.

 

Aggro

Aggro, historically, is one of Modern’s most successful archetypes. Burn and Affinity are omnipresent, having put up great results forever, and decks like Humans, Hollow One, and Bogles are currently putting up great results. If I was looking to play an aggressive deck in Modern, I would go with Humans – at least right now. The Aether Vial fueled five color deck isn’t the fastest out there, but it’s got nut draws that can outrace any deck in the format, and it backs it up with some of the best disruptive creatures Modern has to offer. Disruption and a clock is a great strategy in Magic, and Humans is no exception. In my opinion it’s the best deck right now, you can’t really go wrong choosing it.

 

If you’re looking for a reference that this deck feels like, it’s similar to a combination of Death and Taxes and Zoo decks. It has the ability to put pressure on with cheap creatures like Champion of the Parish that grow quickly and outmuscle almost anything in the format, or it can play a slower game with Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and other taxes effects to lock the opponent out. In general, you’ll want to prioritize your taxes, but there are matchups where you just want to go for the kill early on.

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Humans by Bernardocssa

7-1, Modern MOCS – May 5, 2018

Creatures (37)
Champion of the Parish
Kitesail Freebooter
Mantis Rider
Meddling Mage
Noble Hierarch
Phantasmal Image
Reflector Mage
Restoration Angel
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Thalia’s Lieutenant

Spells (4)
Aether Vial
Lands (19)
Ancient Ziggurat
Cavern of Souls
Horizon Canopy
Plains
Seachrome Coast
Unclaimed Territory

Sideboard (15)
Auriok Champion
Damping Sphere
Dire Fleet Daredevil
Dismember
Gut Shot
Izzet Staticaster
Kataki, War’s Wage
Reclamation Sage
Sin Collector

 

Midrange

Historically, Jund has been the Midrange deck to beat. With the unbanning of Bloodbraid Elf it could be seen as the best – and it is a great choice – but you can do better. Mardu Pyromancer, while relatively new to the competitive scene, is a much better choice right now, in my opinion. The deck feels like Jund, if Jund cut Tarmogoyf and Liliana of the Veil for Lingering Souls and a Treasure Cruise that comes stapled to a 3/4 with Prowess – a trade that Jund, as well as most other decks, would be happy to make. This is the best Midrange deck in the format, in my opinion, and I would recommend it over any other. It is worth noting that this is one of the format’s hardest decks to play, so if you don’t feel like you will have time to learn it, you might want to play something else.

 

The key to this deck is Bedlam Reveler. You’ll have been 1 for 1’ing your opponents into oblivion similar to Jund; now, to finish, you draw 3 and make a giant beater. Many decks will have trouble answering this. It’s especially hard for many decks to answer token swarms from Lingering Souls and Young Pyromancer while still being able to beat your Reveler.

Mardu Pyromancer by Kerrick_  

5-0, Modern Competitive League – May 5, 2018

Creatures (8)
Bedlam Reveler
Young Pyromancer

Spells (32)
Collective Brutality
Dreadbore
Faithless Looting
Inquisition of Kozilek
Lingering Souls
Thoughtseize
Fatal Push
Kolaghan’s Command
Lightning Bolt
Terminate
Blood Moon
Lands (20)
Blackcleave Cliffs
Blood Crypt
Bloodstained Mire
Godless Shrine
Marsh Flats
Mountain
Sacred Foundry
Swamp

Sideboard (15)
Blood Moon
Fatal Push
Anger of the Gods
Crackling Doom
Engineered Explosives
Goblin Rabblemaster
Leyline of the Void
Liliana, the Last Hope
Molten Rain

 

Control

I’ve written about Blue Moon before, and it’s still a great choice, but between then and now, something new has happened. Teferi, Hero of Dominaria feels like a strictly better Jace in this format – turns out 3 mana is better than 4 mana. Although Blue Moon is still by far the best Jace deck, I think it would be a mistake not to suggest Jeskai, especially after its performance this weekend.

Jeskai Control by GedionRavenor

5-2, Modern Challenge – May 19, 2018

 

Creatures (4)
Snapcaster Mage

Spells (56)
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
Serum Visions
Supreme Verdict
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
Cryptic Command
Electrolyze
Lightning Bolt
Lightning Helix
Logic Knot
Negate
Path to Exile
Secure the Wastes
Search for Azcanta
Celestial Colonnade
Field of Ruin
Flooded Strand
Glacial Fortress
Hallowed Fountain
Island
Plains
Sacred Foundry
Scalding Tarn
Spirebluff Canal
Steam Vents
Sulfur Falls
Sideboard (15)
Negate
Baneslayer Angel
Celestial Purge
Damping Sphere
Dispel
Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
Engineered Explosives
Runed Halo
Vendilion Clique
Wear // Tear

 

Combo

Justin Schabel wrote a guest article about Storm for us last week, and that’s what I would recommend as well. It’s relatively easy to learn, and is one of the most powerful decks out there. The deck can adapt to beat almost anything, and with Shadow on the decline, one of its worst matchups is seeing less play.

 

The deck feels like it’s doing one of the most broken things in the format. Not many combo decks go off as consistently as it does, and the ones that do tend to not do it until turn 4, at fastest. Although Storm’s average kill will come on turn 4, it can kill as early as turn 3, especially in game 1. The hardest part of piloting the deck is beating hate. Anything from taxes to grave hate can hurt you, and you have to have a plan against them all.

UR Gifts Storm by chaba_lol

5-0, Competitive Modern League – May 11, 2018

Creatures (6)
Baral, Chief of Compliance
Goblin Electromancer

Spells (36)
Empty the Warrens
Grapeshot
Past in Flames
Serum Visions
Sleight of Hand
Desperate Ritual
Gifts Ungiven
Manamorphose
Noxious Revival
Opt
Pyretic Ritual
Remand
Repeal
Lands (18)
Island
Mountain
Oboro, Palace in the Clouds
Shivan Reef
Snow-Covered Island
Spirebluff Canal
Steam Vents

Sideboard (15)
Empty the Warrens
Abrade
Dispel
Engineered Explosives
Flame Slash
Gigadrowse
Lightning Bolt
Pieces of the Puzzle
Search for Azcanta
Shattering Spree
Wipe Away

 

Ramp

Although I think it would be a mistake not to at least mention Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle-based strategies, for the ramp players reading this I would recommend Tron. It’s been tier one for almost the entire existence of Modern – the only time when it wasn’t, in fact, was when Cloudpost was just a better version.

 

Tron is the deck with, probably, the most 80-20 matchups in the format – for both players. For example, it’s almost unwinnable for Jund, but Burn is incredibly favored in the matchup. If you want a deck with lots of 50/50 matchups, I can’t recommend this deck. If, however, you don’t mind having some near-impossible battles, this is a great choice.

Mono Green Tron by Connor Sloan

SCG Louisville Modern Classic Louisville, 2nd Place  – May 20, 2018

Creatures (8)
Walking Ballista
Wurmcoil Engine
World Breaker
Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger

Spells (33)
Karn Liberated
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
Chromatic Sphere
Chromatic Star
Expedition Map
Oblivion Stone
Relic of Progenitus
Ancient Stirrings
Sylvan Scrying
Lands (19)
Forest
Field of Ruin
Horizon Canopy
Sanctum of Ugin
Urza’s Factory
Urza’s Mine
Urza’s Power Plant
Urza’s Tower

Sideboard (15)
Thought-Knot Seer
Thragtusk
Nature’s Claim
Spatial Contortion
Warping Wail
Karn, Scion of Urza

 

Tempo

Sadly for tempo mages out there, the Modern format doesn’t offer much for us. However, there is one deck that fills the slot. Around May of last year, Grixis Death’s Shadow began to see play, and it’s filled the role of the format’s best tempo deck since.

 

With many close, skill based matchups, this is a great choice if you’re good at the deck’s style. I wouldn’t pick it up and just expect to win though. Although not the hardest deck in the format, it has a high skill floor, and you’ll need to practice a lot. It can be very rewarding though, and the deck can be tuned to beat almost anything.

Grixis Death’s Shadow by Dylan Donegan

SCG Modern Open Louisville, 14th Place – May 20, 2018

Creatures (16)
Death’s Shadow
Gurmag Angler
Snapcaster Mage
Street Wraith

Spells (26)
Dismember
Fatal Push
Kolaghan’s Command
Lightning Bolt
Stubborn Denial
Temur Battle Rage
Thought Scour
Inquisition of Kozilek
Serum Visions
Thoughtseize
Lands (18)
Island
Swamp
Blood Crypt
Bloodstained Mire
Polluted Delta
Scalding Tarn
Steam Vents
Watery Grave

Sideboard (15)
Engineered Explosives
Grim Lavamancer
Young Pyromancer
Ceremonious Rejection
Disdainful Stroke
Kolaghan’s Command
Stubborn Denial
Liliana, the Last Hope
Anger of the Gods

 

Although at first glance it may seem hard to start out in Modern, there are a ton of strategies for everyone. Whether you find yourself filling the board with tokens on Mardu Pyromancer, ramping into turn 3 Karn Liberated and turn 4 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, or casting 1-mana 8/8s in Death’s Shadow, there is a deck for you out there. I hope this article has helped you find that deck, and I’ll see you next week.

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