The release of Modern Masters comes with the rotation of the PTQ season, which means it’s time to break out our Modern decks again! What trends have we seen in the metagame since the Pro Tour and how should we tune our decks to beat the expected field?
There are so many different styles and variations of decks in Modern that it is nearly impossible to narrow the field down to a few distinct archetypes. Instead, let’s attempt to break the metagame down into smaller categories to get an idea of what directions decks are taking to gain an edge in a diverse field. The decks in consideration are taken from tournament results on Magic Online and on the SCG circuit in the three months since PT: Fate Reforged.
Thanks to the banning of Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time, aficionados of cheap red and blue creatures and spells have begun to branch out into black for the power of cards like Tasigur, the Golden Fang and Kolaghan’s Command. The core strategy of sticking an early threat and protecting it is still quite powerful and will catch a lot of people off-guard if they keep loose hands or just don’t have an answer right away.
We’ve seen a few variations on Twin over the past few weeks, from straight U/R in the style of Antonio Del Moral Leon’s PT-winning list, to Jeskai, to Grixis splashing Tasigur. The archetype continues to prove itself as the most tried-and-true combo deck of the format to keep fair decks honest with a dose of infinite faeries.
The core of Thoughtseize/Tarmogoyf/Liliana has always been present in the metagame and continues to put up solid results. This has mostly manifested itself in Abzan Midrange, which we saw in huge numbers at the PT, but has recently dipped into red for traditional Jund to make use of the powerful Lightning Bolt and other metagame-specific options. This is the fairest of the fair decks in the format and will always be a standby for strong Modern players to try and outplay less experienced people.
This is a brand-new archetype that has sprung up from the powerful 4-mana instant from Dragons of Tarkir. It’s essentially an old-school Birthing Pod deck that utilizes Chord of Calling and Collected Company to fill the void for the toolbox enabler and improve the odds of finding a game-ending combo on top of all your value creatures. It has already won an SCG Premier IQ event and shown up in multiple MTGO Daily events, meaning it could become a legitimate contender moving forward in the metagame.
We all know by now that the deck is not a fluke, ever since Justin Cohen’s 2nd place finish at the Pro Tour and the subsequent string of Top 8’s and 4-0 Dailies in the months after. While the deck does struggle with the current top dog of the format, Splinter Twin, the diversity of the metagame means that a deck with a proactive gameplan will often rise to the top against a multitude of opponents, as many decks simply cannot handle the sheer power and velocity of Primeval Titan.
Atarka’s Command has given the deck even more juice in its already-vast arsenal of powerful burn spells. The deck now has a perfectly reasonable Plan B with a diverse creature suite to pressure life totals if the direct damage plan fails. Burn remains the “fun police” of the Modern format, keeping people in check if they go too far off the deep end trying to out-value the other fair decks of the format.
Here is another deck that has popped back into relevance thanks to the addition of Collected Company to the format. Efficient creatures like Wild Nacatl and Knight of the Reliquary are often forgotten amidst all the powerful strategies in Modern, but they have been doing very well on Magic Online lately thanks to the shot in the arm the 4-mana instant gave the archetype. Watch out for quick starts from your opponents thanks to the resurgence of Zoo.
The powerful Robots strategy will always be around in Modern, and it continues to produce results online. However, it has dipped in popularity recently thanks to the uptick in Burn decks that run cards like Destructive Revelry to keep the artifact menace in check. That’s the beautiful thing about Modern, though – regardless of how popular a deck is, there will always be people who play it anyway because it is the deck they’ve practiced for years, so don’t skimp on sideboard hate just because it hasn’t been prominent lately. That’s when Affinity is at its strongest…when it’s least expected!
These are the primary archetypes we can expect to see at our local PPTQs in the months to come. Are there any other major archetypes we missed? Is your pet deck on the verge of a breakout performance? Let us know in the comments!