As a format, we know Modern is huge! There are too many good decks to count, and once you include the other strategies people play just for fun, there are over a thousand viable decks. Of course, many of those decks aren't super popular. Today I'm going to cover some decks that aren't terribly popular yet. These are decks that I want to work on, develop, and play more with. To be honest, for Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan I hope to show up with a deck like these that players won't be ready for.

Blue Zoo

This deck was literally made a couple weeks ago, so it is brand new. Since it popped up, the deck has been doing well as we see it earned a trophy in a league on Magic Online. The great thing about new decks is it means there is a lot of untapped potential. We have no way of knowing how great the deck is – or if this is the right build – because the deck just started seeing play. The way to solve this is play the deck yourself and continue to work on it.

This deck is aggressive, as it aims to grow its evolve creatures while killing its own creatures with undying. This makes the evolve creatures very easy to grow when you are casting a Pongify or Rapid Hybridization on a card like Young Wolf. Of course, being a fast creature deck that is also blue has advantages. You can sideboard in countermagic, which is not something many aggressive decks have access to. The spells give you more room to outmaneuver the opponent.


You might know that there is a Goblins deck that exists, but let me tell you the deck is a lot better than it looks. Whenever I get paired against Goblins I always lose no matter what deck I am playing with. The mana base may seem a bit too easy, being that it is all basic lands and two copies of Contested War Zone, but there is a ton of synergy here. The Bushwhackers generate explosive turns where you are able to push through huge amounts of damage, which can often just kill the opponent on the spot.

I have been seeing some lists play Burning-Tree Emissary to make it easier to have a big Bushwhacker turn. While I like Burning-Tree Emissary quite a bit, it's true that he isn't actually a Goblin. This list doesn't play any non-Goblin creatures, which maximizes the synergy of cards like Goblin Piledriver and Goblin Chieftain. In this deck you also get a one mana Lava Axe, in Goblin Grenade, which is a great way to be able finish off a game.

We have seen other tribal strategies push more into the format, like Five-Color Humans. Here is a strategy that could likely use a few updates to the sideboard and maybe a couple other card changes, and all of a sudden the deck is a legitimate force in the format.

Soul Sisters

For players who have been playing Modern for a long time, you will likely be familiar with Soul Sisters. However, for those players that are relatively new to the format, you may not have encountered the deck before. Soul Sisters is a deck that was more popular a few years ago, I almost see it now as an archetype that could be revived from the dead. Crested Sunmare is a nice addition here is an easy way to win longer games.

This is the best deck to play in a format full of aggro and midrange strategies. It is nearly impossible to kill a Soul Sisters deck through a typical damage race. The way to beat a deck like Soul Sisters is by doing something unfair, though there are hateful answers to those decks in the sideboard. Soul Sisters is an interesting metagame call. There is the possibility to splash here, but it isn't clear if there is a good enough reason to do so. By playing straight white it is easy to incorporate the Ghost Quarter plus Flagstones of Trokair package, while not being vulnerable to Blood Moon.

Tempered Steel

There was a time when players had Tempered Steel in their Affinity decks, but that trend has since stopped. In fact, Tempered Steel sees virtually no play in Modern anymore, but is there a good reason for this? The card is incredibly powerful, as it is a double Glorious Anthem in the right deck. This list is clearly a brew, as it has doesn't have a sideboard. Still, the synergy is certainly present.

The idea of creating many artifact creature tokens and then having Intangible Virtue and Tempered Steel to back it up makes sense. Even though this deck plays a lot of artifacts, it doesn't have the same vulnerability to Stony Silence that the other artifact decks do. That is actually a huge deal. This is a deck that I believe has a lot of untapped potential, as the concept makes sense.

Mono-Blue Tron

There is more than one way to build a successful Tron deck. While I do still prefer Black-Green Tron, I could see a world where the blue version is better positioned. Having access to counters means Mono-Blue Tron is going to be much better set up against combo strategies. This deck has a much wider variety of spells, which makes it very difficult to play against. It is nearly impossible to play around everything in this deck, and because of all the singletons it makes Gifts Ungiven better.

Traditionally, Tron is reliant on huge creatures and Karn Liberated, but here we see a different package. Treasure Mage and Trinket Mage help you find specific cards that might be needed, and Thirst for Knowledge helps to dig through the deck. Mindslaver is an unconventional way to win the game, as it allows you to force your opponent into having a bad turn. If a key artifact does die, there is always Academy Ruins as a way to bring it back from the graveyard, not to mention looping Mindslaver infinitely with enough mana.

Naya Kiki Chord

Those of who you are Jeff Hoogland fans are likely familiar with Kiki-Chord, but otherwise the deck doesn't see that much play. Oftentimes the deck plays blue in it, though this version is straight Naya. The deck has access to the infinite combo of Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker plus Restoration Angel, but there is a lot more to it than that. There is actually only a single Kiki-Jiki to go along with two copies of Restoration Angel, but the key is it's easy to find specific creatures. Not only does the deck play Chord of Calling, it also has Eldritch Evolution as well.

Since there are multiple ways to search a single creature out of your deck it isn't necessary to play many four-ofs. We see mostly singletons for the creatures, and that makes sense. These creatures are going to tend to be very high-impact in the right matchups, like Eidolon of Rhetoric, or get sideboarded out. There are four copies of Voice of Resurgence because it is the best creature to sacrifice to Eldritch Evolution.

The deck does have redundancy, as Eternal Witness can return either a key combo piece, removal spell or a card like Chord of Calling. If you can't combo off quickly, it can be easy to cheese the opponent out if they aren't prepared. Magus of the Moon has the potential to be backbreaking, even though it makes it tougher on your mana base as well. Fiery Justice can be a devastating removal spell against decks with lots of small creatures. The sideboard contains more hateful cards in the form of enchantments like Blood Moon and Stony Silence.

White-Black Zombies

I'm going to be upfront, I had no idea there was a competitive Modern Zombies deck until Julien made Top 8 of Madrid with this list. The deck is essentially a White-Black Midrange deck, but with threats that are incredibly resilient, and almost impossible to deal with permanently. In fact, all of the Zombies besides Tidehollow Sculler can return from the graveyard. This isn't a full-on tribal deck, since the primary synergy is Gravecrawler recursion, but it is sweet to see Zombies seeing play nonetheless.

It is necessary to play generic good cards like the discard package and Liliana of the Veil. Liliana of the Veil is especially strong here because it is "free" to discard the creatures that can return to play from the graveyard. Lingering Souls makes sense as another source of creatures, even though the creatures it produces aren't Zombies. More interesting is the inclusion of Smuggler's Copter, but it makes sense that looting would be a very powerful effect in this sort of deck.

This is a nice alternative for players looking to move away from decks like Death's Shadow and Jund, but still want to play a midrange, discard-oriented strategy. This deck has graveyard synergy, but also doesn't get hurt as much as other decks by a card like Rest in Peace. You can watch the deck in action here.

Mono-Red Prison

This deck has a lot of similarities to Skred Red, in that it is a Mono-Red Prison strategy. What isn't clear to me is that Skred and snow lands are actually why the Skred Red deck is good. Spot removal is only going to be good when the metagame is creature-focused, and I'm not sure Lightning Bolt is worse than Skred. In any case, this version doesn't worry much about spot removal, with only two copies of Abrade in the main deck. I like Abrade because of all the artifacts seeing play right now.

The deck has Slagstorm and Anger of the Gods after sideboard to deal with lots of creatures of once, and Ensnaring Bridge to lock some decks out of the game. The deck essentially plays all of the most annoying hate cards, and one of them is bound to be really good in a given matchup. The rituals make it easy to accelerate out a quick planeswalker, and Gemstone Caverns or Simian Spirit Guide allow you to potentially play a turn one Chalice of the Void or Blood Moon.

The deck plays some annoying creatures like Goblin Rabblemaster, a card that can spiral out of control very quickly. The general idea is to stop the opponents early gameplan and then hit hard and fast before they are able to recover. One nice thing about this deck is it consistently can play out all its cards within the first few turns of the game.

Thanks for reading,

Seth Manfield