Back to Basic Lands: Mono Color Decks in Modern


Starting over in Magic is always difficult, especially Eternal formats where there is no rotation, and card staples tend to be expensive. Fortunately, there are some budget archetypes that allow you to start playing Modern and then evolve into a tier deck. Today, we are going to break down some mono color decks for Modern.

One Color to Rule Them All.

Historically, Modern tier decks have relied on two or more colors thanks to the powerful combination between shock-lands and fetch-lands. There are even rainbow lands like Cavern of Souls or Unclaimed Territory allowing 5-Color Humans to exist.

That's why if we try to build a deck from scratch, it can cost a lot of money to get those mana bases and the expensive spells that come along with them. Therefore, if we do not want to make a huge investment and play tournaments from time to time, a good way to get into Modern is through mono color decks.

Obviously, playing mono color decks diminish the card pool and deny us some colour combination features: Mono-red decks cannot get rid of an enchantment, blue decks won’t win life, and green decks will be unable to inflict direct damage.

However, there are also strong advantages in our favor: There will be no life loss due to our mana base, Blood Moon effects won’t affect us, and we will always find lands opposing Ghost Quarter or Path to Exile.

Here you have three examples of mono color strategies that can perform well at local tournaments and be the foundation of a tier deck if you want to invest more resources on it later.

Death and Taxes. No Pay No Search.

MTGO Modern Challenge. Format: Modern | Number of Players: 100 | Date: 21/01/2018

The good old white weenie strategy! In this deck, the main goal is to punish the opponents’ intricate mana bases. To do that, Leonin Arbiter slows down fetch-lands and tutor effects as well as turning Ghostly Prison and Field of Ruin into Strip Mine.

Thalia, Guardian of Thraben

Once our opponents are constrained on mana, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben will make it even harder to play spells with her tax effect, while not significantly bothering us.

The deck also runs 10 “blink” effects: Flickerwisp and Eldrazi Displacer can momentarily get rid of opposing threats and alongside Restoration Angel they all get value from our ETB (enter the battlefield) creatures, like Blade Splicer and Thraben Inspector.

Thanks to Iconic Masters, two of the most expensive cards in the deck, Aether Vial and Horizon Canopy, have lowered their price, so now is a good time to purchase them.

Finally, once you acquire this deck, it can be transformed into the BW version with the Eldrazi package or with even more resources, you can build a 5-Color Human deck, although it will then be time to invest in Cavern of Souls.

Blue Tron. The Cheapest Tron of All.

Format: Modern | Number of Players: 20 | Date: 13/01/2018

Strictly speaking, this deck is mono-colored, but it has a strong colorless component as it abuses the Urza Lands to play powerful artifacts. The main issue when building a Tron archetype is investing in Karn Liberated, a fundamental card with a very high price. The good news is that Blue Tron does not need Karn.

The blue part of the deck consists of some counterspells to get to the late game: Remand buys us some time, Condescend lets us scry and dig for more answers, and Spell Burst is a recurring counter once we get to the Urza Tron. 

Moreover, we play one of the best draw spells paired with artifacts in the shape of Thirst for Knowledge and some “bounce” effects like Repeal and Cyclonic Rift.


If we manage to get to the late game with the Urza Tron assembled, there are plenty of pay-off cards to win the match: The Mindslaver - Academy Ruins combo gives you infinite turns, Walking Ballista can ping your opponent to death and finally, we can always rely on Ugin, the Spirit Dragon and his ultimate.

Regarding deck improvements, after building Blue Tron, we will be a little closer to other Tron versions, either Green Tron or Eldrazi Tron, which are both tier decks at the moment.

Skred Red. To the Moon and Back!

Format: Modern | Number of Players: 959 | Date: 06/01/2018

If you like snow-covered mountains, then this is your deck of choice. Skred is the namesake of the deck; a one mana removal that deals damage to creatures equal to our snow permanents. Scrying Sheets and Mouth of Ronom both complete the snowy theme.

Blood Moon

Since we are mountain lovers, why don’t we share our love for them? Blood Moon is the scariest threat for any other multi-colored deck. It’s such an unfair card that shuts down games very quickly if the opponent didn’t fetch their basics early. 

Another card that cares about mountains is Koth of the Hammer. Transforming mountains into hasty 4/4 Elementals every turn is a huge deal but be careful not to target the land you just played else it won’t be able to attack. Plus, getting to Koths’s ultimate is one of the coolest ways to finish off the game. Pinging your opponent with basic mountains feels great!

Regarding red creatures, they all have a great impact when entering the battlefield. Pia and Kiran Nalaar play aggressively or defensively, a role depending on the board state. Stormbreath Dragon laughs at every white removal, and the new addition of Hazoret, the Fervent also ensures direct damage when discarding useless cards.

It is also worth mentioning that the synergy between Relic of Progenitus (a powerhouse against graveyard strategies) and Eternal Scourge allows us to have an infinite blocker when exiling it from our graveyard to cast it repeatedly.

Last but not least, Skred Red can be switched to some other Blood Moon decks: GR Land Destruction, Mono Red Prison, or RW Sun and Moon. The UR Breach version might be the most competitive deck at the moment, although it would be a completely different strategy wherein blue is more important than red.

All in all, here it is — our mono color decks review for Modern. Thanks for reading and please leave your comments below.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.


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RonePro(07.02.2018 11:42)

Dear Hellkite88;

Thank you very much for your comment, I really appreciate it! Mono Red prison decks are quite spicy and powerful, never subestimate a turn 2 Blood Moon in Modern. Last week I played against GR Land Destruction with Grixis Shadow and I got wreckd by Stormbreath Dragon on Turn 3, so no jokes about Dragons at all.


Closed-Cardmarket-Account-1215905(05.02.2018 10:39)

The article is amazing, and I absolutely agree on that! Basic land use is quite underestimated, especially nowadays where you have Blood Moon, and even Blood Sun, and a ton of non basic land removal spells. I myself made an experimental deck based on Skred Red, as I love red, love the basic land majority, and wanted to make a stable dragon deck.
So, thanks a lot again Rodrigo Martin for the great article!