The banning of Birthing Pod and Treasure Cruise left a major void in the Modern metagame, and because there has not been a high-profile event attracting attention to the format in over three months, Modern remains relatively unexplored. The metagame offers breathing room for players attempting to experiment with new strategies, and deck builders and brewers are innovating with new cards and working to Reshape the format as we know it.
Magic Online, where Modern is played every day, offers a great opportunity to consistently play Modern competitively against skilled opponents, and it's the first place I look for information on metagame developments. I scour Daily Event decklists for interesting ideas, and this past week was particularly rich with innovation. In honor of the Modern Masters 2015 setrelease, today I am going to share some new Modern decks that execute their own unique game plan while competing with the best decks in the metagame.
Tooth and Nail
Tooth and Nail is back! This card has traditionally been powered out by Urzatron lands, but it has seen a revival in the mana-ramp enchantment shell of the nearly Monogreen Devotion deck that appeared a couple of years ago.
Utopia Sprawl and Overgrowth are the ramp spells of choice, but they are extremely potent in this deck because Arbor Elf, Voyaging Satyr, Garruk Wildspeaker, and even Nissa, Worldwaker are used to untap these lands or Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx to add even more extra mana. The enchantments also conveniently add to devotion. The synergies generated by the untap effects makes these enchantments much more powerful than traditional land-searching spells, and it's this interaction that allows this deck to compete in Modern.
This archetype has traditionally included four Primeval Titan and some Kessig Wolf-Run as a win-condition, but I found that plan to be sophomoric, too underpowered to tackle everything in Modern. Tooth and Nail, on the other hand, offers a very clean way to win the game. The plan here is to fetch Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, and Xenagos, God of Revels to give it haste and +15/+15, winning the game immediately. With customization and sideboard bullets, Tooth and Nail is able to power through essentially anything the opponent can throw in its way.
This deck retains a single Primeval Titan and a single Kessig Wolf Run as a potent secondary plan, which can found by Tooth and Nail or conveniently sought by Primal Command. This deck gets to keep all of the power associated with Primeval Titan and the Kessig Wolf Run end game, but without having to rely on it to win the game.
Primal Command offers a lot of power and flexibility. It can create lots of interesting lines of play, perhaps the most exciting being its ability to put an opposing land on top of the deck and tutor for an Eternal Witness, which recurs the Primal Command for making the same play the following turn. It can also find excellent silver-bullets like Acidic Slime or any of the wide assortment of sideboard creatures.
This deck can overpower anything in the format, and it's capable of a fast goldfish kill through some disruption. It's biggest failing is that it lacks much meaningful interaction being forced to rely on Beast Within, but that's a problem inherent to combo-ish decks in Modern and, with sideboarding, can be overcome.
I am impressed by the various webs of synergy weaved throughout this deck, which combine to create a sleek and convincing Modern deck. It's designed to maximize Temur Battle Rage as a Berserk effect that combos with pump spells Become Immense and Mutagenic Growth to deliver a one-hit knock-out punch. Death's Shadow adds redundancy by serving as an excellent Temur Battle Rage target and is powered by Gitaxian Probe, Street Wraith, and the painful fetchland/shockland manabase.
Two Pact of Negation in the sideboard are a fantastic addition against troublesome control opponents, and bely the combo nature of this deck. Hooting Mandrills allows the deck to change gears against decks like BGx and blue control by replacing Become Immense, making the deck more solid and less reliant on resolving pump spells. It also combines with Become Immense to provide fuel for Nourishing Shoal, which offers potent life gain against Burn decks.
With 12 free cycling cards, this deck is effectively 48 cards, and over a game grows smaller because of fetchlands, so it's quite consistent, though mulligans are hard because of the cyclers. It is of course extremely single-minded, but with sheer Brute Force it's able to power over creature opponents, and with aggressive mulliganing it will be able to race combo decks.
There's nothing in Magic I like more than hybrid combo decks; that is, decks that play two or more game-winning combinations. These decks attack opponents from two angles, forcing them to respect the possibilities of both combos. This inevitably leaves the opponent unable to effectively to deal with the proactive deck. Opponents also typically over sideboard, which leaves them unable to execute their own game plan.
Living Twin meres the Splinter Twin / Deceiver Exarch combo with the Living End cascade deck shell, which ends up looking like:
Taking advantage of the three and four mana costs of the Splinter Twin combo pieces, this deck is a functional Living End deck that will always cascade into Living End. Compared to the traditional archetypes that play these combos, it will be less powerful as a Living End deck, and less consistent as a Splinter Twin deck, but from the opponent's perspective it's a nightmare. Consider that Violent Outburst is an instant, and it becomes apparent that this deck has a ton of room for maneuvering.
Some real synergy and value is gained by merging these combo decks because of Simian Spirit Guide. The card has always been an option in the Living End deck, and it allows Living Twin to execute the Splinter Twin combo ahead of schedule, and it gives this deck an edge in pure goldfish situations.
Unburial Gifts with Greater Good and Yosei, the Morning Star
Decks build around Gifts Ungiven and Unburial Rites have existed in Modern since Unburial Rites was printed, but I have never seen one that included Greater Good.
The combination of Yosei, the Morning Star and Greater Good was once a cornerstone of a Standard format, and it's just as powerful in Modern. Yosei, the Morning Star locks the opponent down for a turn when it dies, and Greater Good digs deep into the deck, so it's possible to chain Yosei, the Morning Star and put the game out of reach for the opponent. This deck can actually lock down the opponent outright with Progenitor Mimic, which can create an endless supply of Yosei, the Morning Star, and because of the legendary rule, does not even require Greater Good.
This deck plays a Reclaim and a Noxious Revival to ensure that it can get any card it wants to with Gifts Ungiven, but furthermore these cards can Recycle a Yosei, the Morning Star and keep the opponent locked down, or even return something like a Greater Good that was destroyed or discarded.
This deck may be a bit slow, but it has a ton of great disruption and reactive cards to get it there. Gifts Ungiven is essentially a one-card combo in this deck, so it's certainly not wont for power.
Human Aggro was a top-tier strategy in Standard, so it's logical that the tribe could thrive in Modern, where it has a wider assortment of Humans at its disposal.
Dark Confidant is the most striking addition compared to the old Standard decks, but Meddling Mage is quite powerful against the linear decks of Modern. The mana base is particularly interesting for its inclusion of Gemstone Mine, City of Brass, and Mana Confluence to complement Cavern of Souls. I'd be interested in trying Ancient Ziggurat instead of Gemstone Mine, although it can't cast the many spells in this sideboard.
This deck is very aggressive and has some great synergies. It has a fast goldfish that can race combo, and it seems strong against other creature decks because it can simultaneously build large creatures and a wide board presence.
I was drawn to this deck because of how sleek it looks with its many four-of cards, its straightforward aggressive focus, its great manabase, and its 4-0 record. It looks a bit weak against combo, but it looks excellent against the creature decks that are currently on top of the metagame.
This deck is RW Aggro to the core, featuring all of the best red and white creatures and spells in Modern.
The spell suite starts with sets of the most efficient in the colors, Path to Exile and Lightning Bolt. Lightning Helix and Boros Charm are extremely powerful burn spells. Volcanic Fallout is a bit unusual, but it's great against a field packed with small creatures. Notice that Volcanic Fallout doesn't actually destroy Monastery Swiftspear, Seeker of the Way, or Kor Firewalker, so this deck breaks the parity of this board sweeper.
Monastery Swiftspear serves a starring role as the most aggressive creature in the deck. Figure of Destiny is mana intensive, but it hits hard and requires a lot of respect from opponents. Kor Firewalker is extremely hateful against red decks, Burn especially, but it does a lot of work against decks like Naya Zoo and Grixis Delver as well. With life gain, Seeker of the Way is strong against aggressive opponents.
The strength of this deck is that it forgoes the awkward and painful mana base of most Modern Zoo style decks which play three or more colors. It proposes that red and white are powerful enough to win the game without another color, and that playing something like Tarmogoyf only makes the deck worse as a whole.
RW Myth Realized
Another look at red/white, this deck isn't traditional, but it's not as strange as it looks. It's built on the back of Myth Realized as the primary win condition, which will grow over the course of a game and put increasing pressure the opponent. It's a weaker draw later on, but on turn one it's quite effective. Monastery Swiftspear is another one-mana threat, and it will deal a lot of damage in a deck with 31 cards that trigger prowess. Boros Reckoner holds the ground against a format increasingly shifting towards aggressive ground threats.
The deck is packed with cheap spells to support the prowess threats, notably Mishra's Bauble as a free spell that cycles and Relic of Progenitus which essentially cycles for two mana. The rest of the deck is efficient burn spells and disruption. The maindeck is especially hateful against the metagame, including three Pyroclasm to punish creature decks like Elves and Abzan Collected Company, two Molten Rain and a Blood Moon to attack mana, and the aforementioned Relic of Progenitus to attack graveyard strategies. Four maindeck Lightning Helix go a long way against burn. The sideboard, expectedly, is filled with hateful sideboard cards, which white provides in spades.
Bant Collected Company
Collected Company is having a tremendous impact on the Modern metagame, where it is being adopted into nearly every shell imaginable. This Bant deck is notable because it takes advantage of Snapcaster Mage to reuse Collected Company and generate massive card and board advantage. Blue also provides access to the powerful Geist of Saint Traft, which this deck pushes through the red zone with exalted triggers and Wilt-Leaf Liege.
The Elf Collected Company deck that won the Magic Online Championships Final has gained a following on MTGO, and some players have taken a page from the Legacy playbook by splashing Blood Moon and other red hate cards in the sideboard.
The sideboard also includes a Magus of the Moon, which can be found by Chord of Calling. This deck is nearly all basic Forests, so Blood Moon is not an issue, while Wooded Foothills and Stomping Grounds make splashing easy.
Grixis Delver is among the most popular and successful archetypes Modern deck on Magic Online. Grixis Faeries plays much of the same core, but takes advantage of some Faerie synergies.
Compared to Grixis Delver, this deck replaces the vulnerable Young Pyromancer with the slow and steady Bitterblossom. Without Delver of Secrets it is less aggressive, and instead plays a more attrition and tempo-oriented game plan with Spellstutter Sprite. Mistbind Clique and Vendilion Clique are extremely strong disruptive cards that also evade blockers and attack for a lot of damage.
The mana base, which includes four Mutavault and a pair of Creeping Tar Pit, is the biggest strength of this deck. It can selectively apply pressure with its lands, and can generate extra aggressive fuel in attrition battles.
Check out that sideboard!
What are you playing in Modern? Share in the comments!