Dec 21, 201718553 views

Top 5 Modern Decks

The next Pro Tour is quickly approaching and it'll be a wild one - Modern.
There are dozens of decks that are respectable choices and the metagame is wide open. Death’s Shadow decks have been considered the best decks for the last year, but the last 2-3 months proved that wrong. With a lot of pros getting their hands on the format and trying out new things, we see that the format is a lot deeper than it seemed and many other decks can compete with the one mana 10/10 strategy.
Based on, the Top 5 most played decks amongst tournament results are Grixis Shadow, Storm, Jeskai, Tron and Affinity.
You’ll be surprised to see that my take on the Top 5 best decks only includes one of these decks.
1. Lantern Control

4 Ancient Stirrings 3 Thoughtseize 4 Inquisition of Kozilek 1 Abrupt Decay 4 Whir of Invention 1 Pyrite Spellbomb 1 Grafdigger's Cage 1 Witchbane Orb 2 Pyxis of Pandemonium 4 Codex Shredder 2 Pithing Needle 4 Mox Opal 3 Ensnaring Bridge 4 Lantern of Insight 4 Mishra's Bauble 4 Darkslick Shores 3 Botanical Sanctum 4 Spire of Industry 4 Glimmervoid 1 Academy Ruins 2 Island
2 Abrupt Decay 1 Grafdigger's Cage 1 Pithing Needle 1 Seal of Primordium 1 Collective Brutality 1 Pyroclasm 1 Porphyry Nodes 2 Welding Jar 2 Leyline of Sanctity 1 Search for Azcanta 2 Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas Lantern Control reminds me of the Amulet Bloom decks. They existed for a long time, but they were not figured out, not well piloted and criminally underplayed. Until there was a Modern Pro Tour and Justin Cohen showed the world how good it could be. It escalated extremely quickly and under a year it become too good that we called for Summer Bloom to be banned.
Lantern feels the same, it existed for a long time, then a few years back, Zac Elsik got a few good results with it. It popped up and started getting good results, great players such as Sam Black picked it up and it gave it more credibility. We’ve seen it do well at tournaments since then, yet, not as much as it should.
The last few months and the addition of Whir of Invention clearly cemented the deck as one of Modern’s best strategy. I’m going bold by saying it is THE best deck to play right now.
It is unbelievably frustrating to play against, specifically now with Whir of Invention because of how consistent it is. It always does what its supposed to be doing, locking you out of the game and it does it remarkably quickly. Beating it is possible, but it requires masterful plays, clutch mulligans and a really good understanding of the matchup. I hope that I’m wrong otherwise the Pro Tour might be a little puzzling to watch.
2. Eldrazi Tron

4 Endbringer 4 Matter Reshaper 4 Reality Smasher 4 Thought-Knot Seer 4 Walking Ballista 2 All Is Dust 2 Dismember 2 Warping Wail 4 Chalice of the Void 4 Expedition Map 2 Mind Stone 2 Cavern of Souls 4 Eldrazi Temple 3 Ghost Quarter 1 Sea Gate Wreckage 4 Urza's Mine 4 Urza's Power Plant 4 Urza's Tower 2 Wastes
Sideboard: 1 Warping Wail 1 Basilisk Collar 1 Grafdigger's Cage 2 Gut Shot 2 Hangarback Walker 2 Pithing Needle 2 Ratchet Bomb 3 Relic of Progenitus 1 Wurmcoil Engine
I used to be a big Eldrazi Tron fan, then I moved away from it. I am now back to saying it’s just a very good deck.
How good it is correlates with how potent Chalice of the Void is in the metagame and my conclusion is that it’s rarely bad. The ‘’nut’’ draws happen much more frequently than anyone originally thought. Assembling Tron, drawing an Eldrazi Temple or having a turn two Chalice single handedly wins you tons of games.
Then your fair game isn't even that bad either since casting Eldrazi creatures is always a powerful thing to do.
Lantern Control being one of the deck’s worst matchup is the reason why I have to rank it 2nd here. 3. Grixis Shadow

4 Death's Shadow 4 Gurmag Angler 4 Snapcaster Mage 4 Street Wraith 2 Inquisition of Kozilek 4 Thoughtseize 2 Dismember 4 Fatal Push 4 Opt 4 Stubborn Denial 2 Temur Battle Rage 4 Thought Scour 1 Blood Crypt 4 Bloodstained Mire 1 Island 4 Polluted Delta 4 Scalding Tarn 1 Steam Vents 1 Swamp 2 Watery Grave Sideboard:
2 Ceremonious Rejection 2 Collective Brutality 1 Engineered Explosives 2 Izzet Staticaster 2 Kolaghan's Command 2 Liliana of the Veil 2 Nihil Spellbomb 2 Young Pyromancer Wait didn't you just talk about it being overestimated? Yeah, but that doesn't mean it’s not still one of the best decks, in fact, it is still pretty good. I just wanted to point out that Modern is not in a bad place right now where you absolutely have to play a Death’s Shadow strategy or you handicap yourself. Grixis Shadow is an extremely consistent deck and it punishes decks that are clunky and/or badly built. For those reasons, it’ll always remain one of the best choices. It is not my first choice these days as people have found ways to beat it, they’ve understood the deck.
For those who just love the deck, you can always adapt. Oliver_Hart on Magic Online, better known as Andrew Jessup in real life, is an avid Grixis Shadow player and as you can see in the decklist, he made changes to the deck if you compare to the usual lists we kept seeing in the last year. Opt over Serum Visions is a nice way to play better at instant speed. I’m a little skeptical that you wouldn't want Serum Visions at all since my personal experience has been to flood a lot with all these cantrips that don’t control the top of your deck well like Serum Visions. I would try cutting a land, maybe two. I don’t expect Grixis Shadow to do well at the Pro Tour only because I doubt people will play badly constructed decks like they do on Magic Online or some live tournaments. I also doubt anyone will register decks that are awful against it. Yet, there are people who try it out new stuff like Mono Blue Living End, try to have a good time and then face Grixis Shadow and see their dreams go down the toilet.
4. UR Breach

Scott Lipp already wrote an article about his take on the deck. Mine isn't very different and you should totally check out what he said.
If you were a Twin player back in the days, you should love this one. At first I thought I was just blinded by my love of Twin when I first picked up UR Breach, but as it turns out, it’s a real deck and it wins. Disruption and a combo easy to assemble is a formula that works against many decks.
There are a few weaknesses to Through the Breach and Emrakul in comparison with Deceiver Exarch and Splinter Twin. It does not automatically kill them. Very often putting them down to 5 life and dealing with their board will essentially be game over. A small percentage of the time, they’re left with 2 big creatures and you can’t do anything about it and die. What can we do though? Splinter Twin is banned for a reason.
Enters Blood Moon. Being a turn slower to combo than our ancestor can sometimes make a big difference, so having a card like Blood Moon that slows down and sometimes completely wrecks our opponent coming down on turn three is a nice direction that the has taken.
It gets the 4th spot for me since some of its bad matchups are amongst the top played decks. Specifically Grixis Shadow, Affinity and Lantern Control.
5. Humans

4 Champion of the Parish 4 Kitesail Freebooter 4 Mantis Rider 4 Mayor of Avabruck 4 Meddling Mage 4 Noble Hierarch 3 Reflector Mage 4 Thalia's Lieutenant 4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben 2 Thalia, Heretic Cathar 1 Plains 4 Ancient Ziggurat 4 Cavern of Souls 1 Hallowed Fountain 2 Horizon Canopy 1 Temple Garden 4 Unclaimed Territory 2 Windswept Heath 4 Aether Vial
Sideboard: 2 Dark Confidant 2 Hostage Taker 2 Izzet Staticaster 1 Mirran Crusader 1 Reflector Mage 1 Riders of Gavony 2 Vithian Renegades 2 Xathrid Necromancer 2 Dismember I played this deck quite a bit before Unclaimed Territory and Kitesail Freebooter were printed. I thought it was a decent deck, but not quite there yet. The printing of those two cards really pushed the deck to Tier 1.
I have a friend who’s been doing very well with all sorts of version of it. Having Collected Company in his deck over Aether Vial, Path to Exile sometimes, Avacyn’s Pilgrim sometimes, different manabases, etc. I personally have a hard time imagining myself playing this strategy without Collected Company as it was overperforming in my older versions. I can understand however that the mana becomes an issue.
The reason I have it as my 5th choice is simply because I’m unsure the best way to build it has been found.

· A Commoner's View in Pauper:
· *2nd* at Pro Tour Ixalan:
· Unclaimed Creature Types:
· Why I Never Drop From Tournaments:
· The Art of Sideboard Construction - Sultai Energy:
· Blue Moon Beach Control:
Adam Haziq, Kyle Jacobs, and 17 others

Ironing board expander
I love my lantern deck. Been playing with it for a few years now. NOBODY likes it. It's extremely hard to beat, but also extremely hard to pilot. I think that's why so few people play it. There is no "gotcha you're dead" moment, and modern people live for that. If you want a good insight on it, Randall Thompson (my teacher, look him up on youtube) is coming up on 9 years playing the deck almost exclusively. He has spreadsheets, win/loss percentages, and performance stats for each matchup, and even each card in the deck
As a noob not fully aware of the metagame, this was such a good read!
As someone who doesn't get to play too much anymore, I don't have all the cards above memorized. If Massdrop is serious about Magic content, perhaps it's worth investing the time in implementing mouseover card images? I'm pretty reliant on that when reading decklists on other sites (which generally have mouseover images).
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Thanks, Mark had linked to that. I installed it, and I plan on enabling it when the developer adds an option to not run by default and only run on command. But it's an excellent extension. Hopefully there is a trivial way for Massdrop to add the Gatherer links/popups themselves.
laughing at how "WTF?" I am with this. I have absolutely no idea what is being discussed. I imagine it's some card game. To find it at MassDrop? LOL
Correct! It's a card game called "Magic: the Gathering" which has been around since 1993 and is played by around 20 million people worldwide. Massdrop sponsors a group of 12 players that compete at the Pro Tour. My uncle always asks "What language is this???" when I have one of my articles shared so you are not alone!
pretty damn amazing
Interesting opinions. I can see your point of lantern been to good for the format and i'm completely in favor of your points of view. It's quite frustrating to see how the lantern player assembles all the pieces while you kept a hand full of removal hahaha. That been said, i don't Think modern required a ban right now. It's in a very good shape nowadays. Very nice write up. Keep it going
Like the list. Also love the diversity in the format. Having a top 5 list without Storm, Affinity, Scapeshift or any Jund Variant shows how many options people have to play what they want. Never change Modern, never change.