Modern is a format that I firmly believe has no best deck, at least right now. This leaves more room for innovative strategies being quite competitive. I want to talk about decks that I think are both fun to play and under the radar. These decks wouldn't be considered tier one by most players standards, and that's okay.
I'm going to start with a deck that is an old favorite with some new additions. That's right, none other than Blue-Black Mill! This deck straight-up wins the game by leaving the opponent with zero cards left in their deck. Don't be fooled – this is a legitimate strategy, I'm well aware that professional player Jason Chung has been putting up strong results with the deck.
We know that there must be a critical amount of mill effects in the deck. If we assume the opponent will draw around 12 cards a game (give or take a few) than we need to mill about 48 cards away. While this can involve cards that put a given number of cards into the opponent's graveyard like Glimpse the Unthinkable, it also means having some repeatable mill effects. Hedron Crab and Mesmeric Orb are cards you can potentially make use of over and over again if left unanswered.
Funnily enough, you are often in for a surprise after cracking a fetch land against the mill deck. That is because there are four copies of Archive Trap, and there are many decks that can't prevent you being able to use the trap aspect of the card.
While there are several ways to put cards in the opponent's graveyard, it is also important to have pieces of interaction. The mill clock isn't usually going to be fast enough without the disruption alongside it. We have some generic good cards like Inquisition of Kozilek and Fatal Push, and there are others that are more high-variance based on the matchup and situation. Collective Brutality and Crypt Incursion are two cards that are amazing against Burn and aggressive decks in general. Ensnaring Bridge can outright win the game on its own depending on how the opponent is trying to kill you. Surgical Extraction works really well alongside your mill spells because whatever you might want to target with it likely will be in the opponent's graveyard.
Stripping an important combo piece, or a key Tron land with Surgical Extraction can be the difference in the game. Extirpate after sideboard provides some redundancy for this effect as it is the primary gameplan in multiple matchups. As for the newest addition to the deck, it is Mission Briefing. Being able to re-use key mill spells and filter through your own deck is very valuable. The cantrip of choice here is of course Visions of Beyond. This is one of the most important cards in the deck, as it becomes absurd when you start drawing three cards off it.
In the sideboard we see extra copies of cards and effects that are in the main deck. Oftentimes the deck plays out like a Blue-Black Control deck, that doesn't win in a traditional way. I also want to mention the manabase. Field of Ruin is a key piece to the Surgical Extraction plan against Tron, and Shelldock Isle can be absolutely gamebreaking if you are able to take advantage of it. This mill deck is good, and it always feels good to beat the opponent in this way.
I want to talk about an Eldritch Evolution deck next. When we think of Eldritch Evolution, we know it is going to be a creature-based combo deck with a toolbox. We are most used to seeing this card alongside Devoted Druid and Vizier of Remedies, but there are other directions you can go. This deck actually aims to win the game by dealing a bunch of damage to the opponent with Cragganwick Cremator.
Cragganwick Cremator is a card that has barely ever seen play, so it's okay if you have no idea what it does. The idea is to discard a huge creature to the enter-the-battlefield trigger and deal a ton of damage to the opponent. Sounds pretty awesome, right? Well it just so happens that the largest possible creature to discard to Cragganwick Cremator is Impervious Greatworm. Yep, that is a full 16 damage to the opponent's face.
This is a two-card combo that will often win the game, as the opponent losing four life earlier in the game is a reasonable expectation to have. Both Cragganwick Cremator and Impervious Greatworm can be cast without the other piece of the combo, but that isn't their primary role in the deck. Fauna Shaman provides another tutor to go alongside Eldritch Evolution. Since there is a toolbox element to the deck, there is much more than just the primary combo and there are many high-impact silver bullets you can tutor for.
This deck has positioned itself well against the decks that rely heavily on nonbasic lands. The mana creatures along with ways to assemble your basic lands mean you aren't going to be hurt very much by a Blood Moon or Magus of the Moon on the battlefield. With plenty of ways to search for the single Magus of the Moon alongside two copies of Blood Moon, it's an effect you have easy access to.
Surrak, the Hunt Caller is one of the singletons that stands out, as it is particularly cool if you can cast Impervious Greatwurm and give it haste, though that is pretty tough to actually set up. There are plenty of options when it comes to the sideboard as well, and we see a whole host of additional high-impact creatures there. Eidolon of the Rhetoric is a great example for a sideboard card this deck wants, and it only needs to occupy one slot there.
Now we get to a longtime favorite of mine, Jeskai Ascendancy combo. We have seen Jeskai Ascendancy alongside Fatestitcher do some crazy things, and we even saw a number of players bring a similar deck to a past World Championship. The deck wins in a very unconventional way. Fatestitcher gets untapped by the Jeskai Ascendancy trigger, and so do your mana creatures if you have one on the battlefield. You can use the Fatestitcher to untap a land, and you can continue to tap the mana creatures to allow you to keep casting spells. Eventually the Fatestitcher itself becomes large enough you can just kill your opponent with it.
The Birds of Paradise and Sylvan Caryatid are important enablers. They are quite good alongside ways to untap them like Cerulean Wisps. The numbers on some of the cards in the main deck may seem odd at first glance – why are there only three copies of Jeskai Ascendancy if it is the most important card in the deck? The answer is the Glittering Wish package.
This deck leans heavily on Wish. There are a variety of Wish targets in the sideboard, which essentially is an extension of the main deck. A reasonable amount of the time it is actually correct to use Glittering Wisp as a card draw spells, which means finding the Scarscale Ritual to go alongside a Sylvan Caryatid already in play. The fact that Sylvan Caryatid has hexproof is really nice and makes it much more reliable than Birds of Paradise.
The goal of the deck is fairly simple. Get a mana creature onto the battlefield along with a Jeskai Ascendancy and then start casting as many spells as you can. Fatestitcher will allow you to net more mana and actually close the game out.
The one-mana spells help you go faster. For example, imagine playing a Birds of Paradise or Sylvan Caryatid on one of the first two turns. On turn three you cast Jeskai Ascendancy with one mana still available – can you win from here? The answer is that not only can you win, but this is a spot the deck can consistently go off from. The various one-mana cantrips allow you to dig through your deck looking for a Fatestitcher or more cantrips. If you can get Fatestitcher out it means you can net an additional mana for each spell, and you essentially have as much mana as you could possible want.
The deck is fun to play and catches opponents completely off guard. The reason why it hasn't truly taken off in terms of players picking it up is that graveyard disruption and ways to stop Jeskai Ascendancy actually getting on the battlefield can be annoying to deal with.
The final wacky deck I want to talk about is White-Black Devotion.
Were you around during the days of Mono-Black Devotion in Standard? If the answer is yes then you will remember the power level of Gray Merchant of Asphodel. The aim is to get as many cards with black mana symbols into play as possible. There are notably not any copies of Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx in this deck, but the reason for that is to reliably be able to cast Phyrexian Obliterator on turn four. Phyrexian Obliterator is super important for the deck, and one of main incentives for being base black.
Devotion doesn't only take creatures into account, however. Permanents like planeswalkers and Phyrexian Arena also count towards your devotion count. This is quite important as those permanents are often the most difficult for the opponent to remove from play. The deck can play out similarly to Jund, as you have access to discard spells into a planeswalker like Liliana of the Veil. This allows the deck to have a real way to pick the opponent's hand apart.
Black has a lot of depth to it in terms of discard, removal and resilient threats. The white splash does provide some additional options though. Lingering Souls is a great card to have access to alongside Liliana of the Veil to grind through control decks and have flying blockers. After sideboard, the white cards happen to be some of the best sideboard cards in the entire format. This is a deck I have now played against multiple times and been fairly impressed. If you like Golgari Midrange strategies but want to try something new, I recommend giving this a shot.
Thanks for reading,