How Modern has Changed Since the B&R Update
The bannings of Hogaak and Faithless Looting and the unbanning of Stoneforge Mystic surprised the Magic community when it was first announced. Many Modern decks were built off of Faithless Looting and many decks such as Phoenix and Hogaak were knocked out of the format entirely. I am going to talk about the biggest changes the Banned and Restricted Announcement did to the Modern format.
Burn is the most played deck right now.
This isn’t that surprising at the beginning of a format. It was the top deck after the introduction of Modern Horizons, too. Burn is the kind of deck that gets better the more clunky the opposing deck is. If an opponent takes a lot of damage off of their lands, Burn will punish them for it. It will likely stay as the top deck until the other decks (such as the Stoneforge Mystic decks) can be tuned to beat it. The fact that Burn has such a linear strategy that doesn’t care about many of the things that a lot of the decks are doing makes it a solid choice in this format. Burn will probably consistently be putting up good results for the rest of the current format.
Whirza decks are becoming more popular.
I haven’t been able to play much with Whirza style decks, but they are rapidly gaining in popularity. They are certainly very good, too. One of the disadvantages that Whirza decks had at the last Mythic Championship was that the deck wasn’t as finely tuned as it is now. The deck has great tutors in Whir of Invention and Goblin Engineer. Urza, Lord High Artificer also is particularly powerful in the deck because it produces a lot of mana and allows Thopter Foundry + Sword of the Meek to go infinite. The deck is powerful and efficient and I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes the best deck soon. It seems like this deck does some pretty busted things while being consistent at the same time.
Dredge is still good.
I wasn’t expecting this to happen but Dredge is still a powerful deck and is able to function without the advantages of Faithless Looting. Most lists now use Tome Scour and morphed the manabase to be able to cast it on turn one by adding a few more five-color lands and Steam Vents. Though Tome Scour requires luck to play with, it has a high power level as well. Dredge can now have much faster starts if they mill a Narcomoeba and a Prized Amalgam with a Tome Scour. Also, graveyard hate is at an all-time low with most of the graveyard decks out of the format, so you probably won’t see as many Leyline of the Voids. Dredge seems like it is always going to be powerful but is more of a metagame call based on how much graveyard hate is in the format currently.
To Stoneforge or not to Stoneforge.
UW control is facing the tough decision of whether or not to play Stoneforge Mystic. I’ve seen recent lists that play it and some that don’t. Stoneforge Mystic is an absurdly powerful creature but it slightly strays from the control strategy that the deck has. The deck needs to warp around it as a consequence. UW control decks with Stoneforge Mystic usually play more Spell Snares and Mana Leaks which makes the deck more streamlined and fit into the strategy of Stoneforge Mystic. This is because Stoneforge is a cheap threat which is normal UW control doesn't have. It being a threat makes cheap interaction more useful because it allows you to interact at the same time as playing a Stoneforge Mystic therefore allowing you to double spell. UW control decks without Stoneforge Mystic usually play more one-ofs in their list and a wider spread of win-conditions and value generators. The current list of UW with Stoneforge Mystic has some room for improvement because it still needs to find a better way to incorporate Stoneforge Mystic into the strategy. I'm not sure about the four-of Spell Snare that some lists play. My guess is that the UW lists with Stoneforge Mystic will be the most popular version of the deck once the dust settles.
Death’s Shadow decks are becoming more popular.
After being close to pushed out of the format, Grixis Death’s Shadow is back again. Before, Hogaak and Dredge were popular which wasn’t good for Shadow because Shadow didn't have a great matchup versus them. Now those decks are out of the format and Shadow is becoming more popular. As decks become more and more linear, Grixis Death’s Shadow is able to prey on this by using just enough cards to disrupt an opponent's gameplan and present a powerful threat of their own. The idea is that Shadow is able to Thoughtseize or counter the most important cards in linear archetypes and then the rest of the cards can’t beat the giant Death’s Shadow. Also, a new version of Shadow that Jacob Wilson played at the last Mythic Championship, Mardu Death’s Shadow, is gaining in popularity. Mardu Shadow is much more grindy than the other Shadow decks using the power of Ranger-Captain of Eos, Tidehollow Sculler, and the recently added Giver of Runes. It also has access to sideboard cards like Lingering Souls. The game plan of this Shadow deck is different from Grixis Death’s Shadow because it plays much more expensive creatures and plans to grind out the opponent more. Both decks are powerful in this format in their own ways and it seems that the metagame will decide which is better.
There's a lot of different cards in this deck. It recently did go 9-0 in the Magic Online Premier event so it's a deck I definitely want to try.
Overall, it seems that linear decks are becoming more and more popular in this format with only the best disruptive decks staying at the top. I am kind of surprised that Jund is doing well right now but Wrenn and Six is a powerful card. Other than Jund and UW control, the rest of the field seems linear compared to past Modern formats. Of course, the most important thing about this Modern format is to play what you know because, in a linear format, you need to know how to achieve your strategy.
I hope this article was helpful. Please comment if you have any questions about anything.