As usual, the Modern field at the most recent stop of the Cardmarket Series was the most diverse. The Top 16 featured no less than 15 different archetypes! Let's take a look at the best of what the format has to offer now, after the departure of Hogaak and Faithless Looting plus the addition of Stoneforge Mystic.
Traditionally, Modern had always been one of the most wide-open Constructed formats. In the past, it wasn't rare for big tournaments to end up with a Top 8 comprised of eight types of deck. After some upheaval and several bannings, things seem to have reverted to this glorious state of unrivaled variety.
The Top 8
When the dust settled after eight rounds in Barcelona, eight players with seven different archetypes gathered for the playoffs. You can find all of their lists as well as the full metagame breakdown on the event's coverage page.
- 2 Jund (which had also been the most popular deck in the field at large)
- 1 White-Blue Control (which ended up winning the tournament)
- 1 Bogles
- 1 Living End
- 1 Hardened Scales
- 1 Spirits
- 1 Paradoxical Urza
It is notable that just one of the players made use of Stoneforge Mystic, and then not even of a full playset. Albert Casulleras Romero simply added another angle to his white-blue Spirits deck with three Mystics and two pieces of Equipment. These results, as well as others across the globe, have allayed fears of a possible Stoneforge dominance. Even White-Blue Control—which many had worried would morph into a Legacy-style Stoneblade deck—remains alive and well, quite evidently.
The 9th–16th Place Finishers
The level of diversity didn't go down either, when going down further in the standings. The players in 9th to 16th place added another eight archetypes to the mix. The lists themselves contained plenty spice too, for instance Tome Scour and Invigorated Rampage—hardly staples of the Modern format.
Death's Shadow players had fallen onto hard times after the release of Modern Horizons. It wasn't just that their game, like all others, was overshadowed by the presence of Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis. They also had to contend with Aria of Flame out of virtually all blue-red Arclight Phoenix decks all of a sudden. Now, after the bannings, the Shadow is back. The deck even gets a flexible new tool in Throne of Eldraine's Drown in the Loch.
When you see a Modern deck with Arcbound Ravager, Mox Opal, and Inkmoth Nexus nowadays, it's usually Hardened Scales. But the traditional Affinity build with more cheap evasive creatures and Cranial Plating remains a powerful force too. Christophe Bacque proved as much with his near-miss finish in Barcelona. Galvanic Blast fits particularly nicely into the current Modern environment. It's never a dead card but a card that leaves Urza, Lord High Artificer dead—or just kills the opponent. It's no coincidence that Urza players have started to incorporate the card into their decks themselves.
Scapeshifting into Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle is another strategy that proved too slow during the Summer of Hogaak. It's also another strategy that has started to become more popular again after the latter's ousting. The newest trend for the archetype involves the addition of a single Field of the Dead and splitting basic lands between snow-covered and regular to hit the requisite number of different names.
The addition of Goblin Ringleader to the Modern card pool turned Goblins into a viable deck. Once again, the tribe hadn't been able to realize its potential while Hogaak was around, but it's coming into its own now. In fact, the event in Barcelona had more players running Goblins than Humans, and several Goblin decks hovered around the top tables until late in the tournament.
You wouldn't expect Invigorated Rampage to be much of a factor in Modern, but there you go. There's a place and a time for everything, and in this case the card found its place in an all-out aggressive Zoo deck with Dreadhorde Arcanist …
Death and Taxes
Finally, here's a deck with four copies of Stoneforge Mystic. Between that and Giver of Runes, Modern Death and Taxes is starting to resemble its Legacy cousin very closely.
While the bannings brought graveyard strategies down to a more reasonable power level, they haven't been eliminated as a metagame factor. Dredge even gets to abuse the engine of Life from the Loam and Forgotten Cave now, to fuel greater Conflagrate than ever before. It's likely that the community also hasn't found the optimal build yet. The one in Barcelona's Top 16 included the somewhat unusual Tome Scour; others included Insolent Neonate.
The Death and Taxes list above already borrowed heavily from Legacy. However, the following clearly earns the top prize in the Legacy lookalike contest. There's a wealth of card selection spells for 1 blue mana. There's Delver, Tarmogoyf, and some Pyromancers. Gerard Coll even included Forces and Wrenn and Six. Granted, his Force was Force of Negation instead of Force of Will and his planeswalker would recycle Ghost Quarter rather than Wasteland. But the similarities are staggering.