Hello, my dear Cardmarket readers, I missed you! But I simply had to take a break from Magic for a few months. However, I am back now, and I bring presents: lots of charts, figures, tools, and of course a whole bunch of decklists—all the way from Modern Horizons 2 to today. Even if you've spent the last five months living under a rock in a cave on the far side of the moon, this article should bring you up to speed on all things Modern.
Last time we took a look at the metagame one month before the release of Modern Horizons 2. After Strixhaven had made its impact on the format, Expressive Iteration turbocharged Izzet Prowess, turning the format into "Duel Decks: Heliod versus Prowess" as some liked to call it.
Then the preview season truly started, followed by the most impactful release of the year. And then for a few weeks people tried to break the format, figure out the new Hogaak of the set, create new archetypes … Thankfully, MH2 was a different beast from MH1.
Is it true that Wizards could release a Modern Horizons set without breaking the format? To find out, let us start with the most represented archetypes in the published data of Preliminaries and Challenges (and Showcases, PTQs …) during that one month before the next release.
We notice that people tried to keep on playing the previous best deck of the format, Izzet Prowess, to see whether the new brews would be able to keep up with it. The lists evolved a little though. As in prior articles, the example lists we showcase are the most recent ones with the highest number of points during that period.
|Izzet Prowess by The_nayr, 4th at Modern Showcase Challenge on July 4|
We notice that two thirds of the lists adopted Dragon's Rage Channeler over Sprite Dragon. Considered the best red one-drop in the format, people started supporting it with four Mishra's Bauble—and some number of sorcery spells, keeping Serum Visions for instance. It also supports delirium for Unholy Heat in half of the lists, now one of the best removal spells in the format, even able to kill a Primeval Titan or Teferi, Hero of Dominaria for a single red mana.
Now, you might be wondering how to get the proportion of decks that run a card?
Indeed, I recently published a website where you can get a lot of the data by yourself, with tons of filters and features, that is still under development:
There's more to come about it in a future article.
The other archetypes at the top of the format also are known faces that received new toys. Amulet Titan—#nobadmatchup—acquires Urza's Saga, which works both as a replacement for Field of the Dead but also a way to get an uncounterable Amulet of Vigor as early as turn three. Some people tried adding Abundant Harvest to stabilize the archetype as well. Combined with other archetypes running the land, it even made people think at the beginning that Saga might need a ban. We see later how the meta shifted to answer it.
You can also note that Foundation Breaker replaced Reclamation Sage, and several lists would now run a copy of Expedition Map to chain multiple Urza's Saga.
|Amulet Titan by kanister, 2nd at Modern Challenge on June 19|
This list is unusual as it runs 61 cards in the main and fourteen in the side. The reasoning was that Ghost Quarter can be considered a sideboard card that you would often side out but still wanted in the main deck as a tutorable option. Still, most Amulet decks remained on the classic 60+15 structure outside of that.
Deck guide: For a recent sideboard guide for the deck, you can take a look at PuntThenWhine's on Twitter.
Another deck that tremendously appreciated the addition of Urza's Saga is Hammer Time. Definitely not as old as Amulet, it was still an established archetype for months before MH2. It also got a new staple for its main deck in Esper Sentinel. In the sideboard, additional options such as Void Mirror and Sanctifier en-Vec appeared. Seal of Cleansing can be looped with Lurrus of the Dream-Den, and Prismatic Ending became the very best removal spell in the format, for instance able to kill Chalice of the Void with any number of counters. A one-of Pithing Needle and a graveyard hate slot filled with Grafdigger's Cage, Nihil Spellbomb, or similar options for a single generic mana or no mana at all (Tormod's Crypt) also became much more common, as you can search for them with Saga.
|Hammer Time by CrusherBotBG, 1st at Modern Challenge on July 4|
Deck guide: For the best guide on the deck (on Patreon), make sure to ask Laplasjan. Note that the deck now splashes black mostly for Thoughtseize in the sideboard.
Besides, again thanks to Urza's Saga and other MH2 cards, a new archetype emerged: Asmo Urza. Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar, Urza's Saga, The Underworld Cookbook, and Thought Monitor all provide a lot of support for an artifact deck. Saga also made Shadowspear a force to be reckoned with, once equipped to a Construct token. Ovalchase Daredevil provides obscene amounts of value with The Underworld Cookbook, and Street Wraith enables some turn one Asmos.
You can see below an example of a Dimir list, but we could find Food shells in almost all combinations of colors.
|Dimir Asmo Urza by sneakymisato, 1st at Modern Challenge on June 27|
Other variants also appeared, without blue and for instance Finale of Devastation to search for Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar. Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer was interesting too, as it can create artifact tokens, and it is a legendary creature for Mox Amber, sometimes allowing the deck to cast Urza, Lord High Artificer on turn two. But since the whole Food archetype didn't stand the test of time after the initial hype, we should not spend too much time on it.
However, Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer itself was far from a fluke. Hey, a one-drop that ramps, creates card advantage, and deals damage—who could have guessed? Thankfully, MH2 also brought several ways to deal with it, preventing it from being too oppressive, as we see later. That does not stop it from fueling good decks though, especially with its partner in crime Dragon's Rage Channeler. Which one of the two is the best one-drop, you might ask. Well, as the best Modern brewer says, "Ragavan steals games. DRC wins games."
So, what does a Ragavan-plus-Darcy (also known as DRC) deck look like? Mostly a low curve midrange pile. Let us introduce Izzet Murktide. Since you play red and a delirium package for Channeler, you might as well add Unholy Heat from MH2, same as people did with Izzet Prowess. However, the set did not just offer red cards. Blue cards are quite strong as well, such as the long awaited Counterspell, or the blue flying Gurmag Angler: Murktide Regent. Able to get bigger than what Unholy Heat can deal with, and having a high mana value, it is quite hard to kill for many decks. And of course, it is very good at closing games quickly, especially in the late game when you cast a second copy that makes the first one so much bigger. It is funny that people initially tried to play Delver of Secrets / Insectile Aberration in this deck, before simply realizing that the other one-drops are simply stronger. A similar phenomenon was seen in Legacy, but that is another story.
Having pretty much access to all the best anti-Amulet cards in the format allowed the deck to thrive and kick Amulet from its temporary throne as you can see in the next part. Blood Moon, Unholy Heat, threats plus counterspells, Aether Gust or the new Subtlety to deal with a Primeval Titan on the stack through Cavern of Souls … The appearance of a lot of cards to hate on artifact/enchantments/lands, mostly to deal with Urza's Saga decks but also hurting many other cards in the shell, such as Amulet of Vigor itself or Dryad of the Ilysian Grove, certainly did not help.
Here, you may note that Blood Moon, Alpine Moon, and Spreading Seas not only shut down the effects of Urza's Saga but destroy it as well, as explained by the Game Rules Manager. Indeed, a Saga without chapter abilities has its final chapter set at zero, so it will automatically die no matter the amount of counters on it.
|Izzet Murktide by MZBlazer, 1st place at Modern Challenge on July 4|
How about keeping the red part of the deck, but replacing counterspells with discard spells? That's the idea behind this Rakdos Midrange deck, which somewhat existed before, just like people would try to make Delver of Secrets / Insectile Aberration work in Modern, and similarly had a much stronger place when Lurrus of the Dream-Den and the other companions were not yet rebalanced. Still, contrary to Izzet, the deck kept Lurrus as a companion. Is it worth it to drop Murktide Regent? Instead, the deck acquired Dauthi Voidwalker and Tourach, Dread Cantor as alternative threats. How about casting a Voidwalker on turn two before a Thoughtseize on turn three to steal and cast for free the Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger of your Tron opponent in a perfect world?
|Rakdos Midrange by Golgarburr, 9th at Modern Showcase Challenge on July 4|
Just like Izzet Prowess ran Dragon's Rage Channeler without Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer, you can also find people doing the opposite. One such instance was Stoneblade, mainly having results in Jeskai form at the beginning. It's another deck that received a lot of upgrades from MH2. The Monkey of course, and Counterspell as in Izzet Murktide, but also a new equipment to cheat in: Kaldra Compleat, which is very hard to deal with for most decks and provides a fast clock. In white, as mentioned previously, Prismatic Ending is a very flexible answer to most threats in the format, whereas Esper Sentinel is a cheap threat.
This is also an archetype where we could witness the evoke Elementals making a splash early, such as Solitude and Fury, which later became essential pieces of the format to deal with Hammer Time for example. You could see less popular variants with black instead of red as well, running Dauthi Voidwalker instead of Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer. Of course, black would not be black without strong removal, so Damn was added, being especially useful to answer a resolved Murktide Regent.
|Jeskai Stoneblade by Thunderstriker7, 1st at Modern Challenge on June 13|
Deck guide: Do you want to play it? Kyle Boggemes has a guide to share.
If you had a close look at the decklists so far, you might be wondering why one would run a narrow card such as Test of Talents (let us say, over Dovin's Veto) or Chalice of the Void in decks full of one-drops. The answer is simple: cascade. Indeed, MH2 also brought us Shardless Agent. And with it, two main archetypes (re)appeared: Blue Living End and Crashing Footfalls.
We often mentioned Living End in previous articles, without going in depth on it, as other graveyard combo decks such as Oops All Spells and Dredge had more results. That time is over. The structure of the archetype changed a bit with the new set while the game plan of cycling creatures before reanimating them through a cascade spell finding Living End remained the same. It mostly does not have to splash white for Ardent Plea anymore and in addition got more zero-mana interactive spells, which are nice enough to fill the graveyard with creatures to bring back: Subtlety, Grief, and Endurance. Grief allows you to pick off any answer your opponent could have before and after you cascade into Living End, Subtlety answers creatures without putting them into the graveyard or prevents a Teferi, Time Raveler from interfering with cascade, and Endurance ensures that your opponent's graveyard remains empty. Some lists sometimes also run Fury in the sideboard.
Among other new toys, Foundation Breaker is an out to graveyard hate such as Leyline of the Void as well as cascade hate like Chalice of the Void on zero. Void Mirror is another option that stops the evoking of Elementals and occasionally screws a Tron player.
|Blue Living End by Glacier7, 3rd at Modern Showcase Challenge on July 3|
Deck guide: Do you want to master it? Ask Sodek (on Patreon), one of the best combo players in Modern.
While Living End is an all-in combo deck, the Modern format now includes another cascade deck. Outside of the cascade package it's filled with interactive cards, which makes it to be classified as a midrange deck. Besides, this time the card you cascade into does not require much setup to work: Crashing Footfalls. As such, it is very reminiscent of the short-lived Turbo Valki deck that tried to cascade as fast as possible into Valki, God of Lies // Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor and was full of control elements otherwise. Such is no longer possible since a ruling update, and Simian Spirit Guide joined the ban list in the meantime. However, the Rhinos deck received a strong tool to bridge the gap from turn two to the cascade on turn three: Fire // Ice, whose mana value is 2+2=4. Perfect to kill a creature, or tap a land or a bigger creature.
|WURG Footfalls by Darthkid, 2nd at Modern Showcase Challenge on July 4|
The white splash adds Teferi, Time Raveler to combat the other cascade and blue decks, Wear // Tear for Urza's Saga decks, and brings the cascade count up to twelve via Ardent Plea. Still, the deck also exists in Temur. Indeed, it provides a better mana base, Force of Vigor often proved to be stronger than Wear // Tear anyway, and you could even run Blood Moon, which is particularly hurtful for Amulet.
|Temur Footfalls by teruteru8140, 15th at Modern Showcase Challenge on July 4|
Deck guide: For more details about the history of the Footfalls archetype and a full primer, you can check out the teachings of Chris Giglio, a proficient Modern grinder on Magic Online.
Maybe you are more into creature combo decks? Or enjoy emblematic characters of Magic's storyline? I have just the right deck for you. Use Ignoble Hierarch to cast Grist, the Hunger Tide on turn two—and profit. Wait, that is not the main combo? Do not worry, this is your new bread-and-butter alternative win condition that also works as a spot removal even for planeswalkers, which you can find with Chord of Calling and Eldritch Evolution. In the sideboard, you also get to add Endurance as mill and graveyard hate, which may even reshuffle some silver bullets occasionally.
|Yawgmoth by claudioh, 2nd at Modern Challenge on June 21|
Deck guide: Are you looking for an intricate deck that your opponent might have trouble to play against correctly? You knocked at the right door, and a compilation of resources on the deck is available.
Last, people still ran Humans after MH2, toying with several new tribe members, such as Shardless Agent, Imperial Recruiter, Esper Sentinel, and Sanctum Prelate. Cursed Totem and Sanctifier en-Vec also provide powerful options for the sideboard.
|Five-Color Humans by ichi-roku, 2nd at Modern Challenge on June 6|
Later, the deck evolved to Jeskai and picked up Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer, but it did not post enough finishes yet to appear again on the graphs.
Deck guide: If you still want to make it work, you could start with this Reddit guide by Fluorspar.
Of course, many more archetypes appeared in the results, especially when people were trying to figure out what was going to be stronger than the rest. That is why the "Other" part of the pie almost represents 50% of the chart. You could also argue that Stoneblade should be split into smaller archetypes based on the color combination just like Footfalls was in the example. The point was merely to showcase the new archetypes that emerged while people were brewing up new contenders in this metagame (which already belongs to the past) and to mention the impactful cards of the set.
Besides, by splitting the Stoneblade decks, we would not have had a single deck based in white and blue represented in the chart, and the case of this archetype since MH2 is very interesting as you shall see later. Indeed, you might have noticed that none of the usual fair decks like White-blue Control or Black-Green/Jund Midrange made it onto the chart. Other old linear decks such as Tron and Burn did not do any better. In the next chapters, we learn more about what happened to them.
Barely one month after Modern Horizons 2, Adventures in the Forgotten Realms joined the card pool. To be honest, that set did not have much of an impact. Only a few cards made it to decks with good enough results to be published. The most played card ended up Ingenious Smith entering Hammer Time, conflicting mostly with Giver of Runes. But the one that had the highest impact on the metagame was Tasha's Hideous Laughter, bringing back Mill into the metagame by tremendously improving its matchup against several decks in the format, especially Burn, which was extremely tough, and Hammer, the most represented deck in the results.
Portable Hole also made the cut in a few specific deck lists, mostly Urza ones, completely blanked by Prismatic Ending in practice, whereas many people assumed the opposite during the spoiler season. Still, those decks were not played enough to make it onto the graphs. Prosperous Innkeeper joined a few Yawgmoth lists, whereas Wish brought the Twiddle Storm archetype back from the dead with a completely new build, even though it didn't make it a major player. It did have a few results in Challenges and Preliminaries though. Last, most animating lands from the set such as Cave of the Frost Dragon have been adopted here and there.
If we take a larger picture of the metagame for the two months between Adventures in the Forgotten Realms and Midnight Hunt, we get the following:
If you read the first part of this article and my previous ones, you should be familiar with most archetypes by now. Note how Amulet Titan, Izzet Prowess, Rakdos Midrange, Asmo Urza, Yawgmoth, Stoneblade, and Humans faded. Instead, a few decks rose to greater prominence.
Good old Burn has an interesting matchup against pretty much all of the best decks of that format, for instance with Deflecting Palm against Colossus Hammer or Roiling Vortex for the cascade spells and evokes … After MH2, it also got the opportunity to run Prismatic Ending and Sanctifier en-Vec in the sideboard. We could also see versions trying Dragon's Rage Channeler and/or Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer.
|Boros Burn by frakom, 3rd place at Modern Challenge on September 5|
Deck guide: Should you need a guide for Burn, you can read Frakom's (on Patreon)—the player behind the result above (and many more with Burn).
Not as old as Burn, Elementals got a complete facelift with MH2, as all the evoke cards are of course Elementals. Combined with Ephemerate and/or Risen Reef, you can get some absurd value just by evoking your cards instead of hardcasting them. Omnath, Locus of Creation can be pitched to any of the ones you play, in addition to providing an easy way to get five mana out of a fetch land to hardcast your other Elementals.
To make sure you do not lose to blue decks, you can run the full set of Cavern of Souls and Teferi, Time Raveler. Additional spot removal like Prismatic Ending or Lightning Bolt helps against aggro decks. Otherwise, Flamekin Harbinger can provide a flexible toolbox. Hey, even Mulldrifter is a playable card if you want to grind. Of course, given the type of your creatures, you also get to play Kaheera, the Orphanguard as a companion.
|Elementals by derk714, 1st place at Modern Showcase Challenge|
Deck guide: Kanister provides quality insight about the deck in this article.
Jund Saga is the latest final evolution of the Super Saiyan Jund Midrange. Wrenn and Six looping Urza's Saga provides a value that is hard to match, and you can also play Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer, Dragon's Rage Channeler, and Unholy Heat. Basically, if you do not see any Rakdos Midrange in the picture anymore, it is because splashing for Wrenn is too strong. (#playthegoodcards)
|Jund Saga by Bullwinkkle6705, 1st at Modern Challenge on August 22|
Deck guide: Is your Jund soul still burning strong? Bullwinkle, the winner of that event, shared his insight on Twitter.
Do your remember the Velomachus Lorehold deck from the end of my last article? The Indomitable Creativity shell saw wild changes in the meantime. There's Prismatic Ending as the removal of choice, sometimes Fire // Ice, but also a new enabler with a defensive option: Hard Evidence. Perfect to chump Ragavan, while also providing either a creature or an artifact to sacrifice … or even both for X=2 on Creativity. Strike It Rich was another choice to get some acceleration and/or a body to sacrifice, but it was not adopted by most lists.
Serra's Emissary is the tech you get when you X=2 for either Velomachus or Emrakul, the Aeons Torn in order to protect them from Solitude for instance. And Obsidian Charmaw out of the sideboard is great tech against big mana or control, especially when you get to cast Creativity into several of them at once. Also note that in the graph, Creativity with Emrakul and Creativity with Lorehold and multiple turns have been split, Turns ending up not appearing, so the overall percentage for Creativity could be higher.
|Four-Color Creativity by calmdownbronco, 2nd at Modern Challenge on August 1|
Deck guide: Do you want to learn more about the Velomachus version? MrRaeb wrote a few words on the topic. For the Emrakul version, I would suggest a video by Zan Syed, SCG player of the year.
How about Green Tron? Well, even though it reappeared, we cannot say it really got much love in MH2. Rather the opposite. At least there was Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth. Still, against a pile of midrange decks, you might as well try to Tron them out.
|Green Tron by Yumas2, 2nd at Modern Challenge on August 2|
Onto another new deck: Grixis Monkey. A control deck mostly developed by TSPJendrek, it harnesses the power of the Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer/Dragon's Rage Channeler duo supported by all forms of interaction. It cuts Murktide Regent to get access to Lurrus of the Dream-Den, and with the addition of black it receives additional removal as well as discard spells.
|Grixis Monkey by TSPJendrek, 4th at Modern Super Qualifier on July 26|
Deck guide: If you want to learn from this great builder and player, you can have a look at his guide on Patreon.
In the meantime, white-blue players dropped Stoneforge Mystic, and turned back to their control roots. Hence the appearance of Jeskai Control. Many versions saw play, and the next part has another major update in store for us.
|Jeskai Control by bobthedog (Gabriel Nassif), 1st at Modern Challenge on July 19|
Note that this list is recognized to be quite untuned by the designer himself, who created it on stream to attack the specific meta he was expecting. And indeed, it worked pretty well.
Last, as mentioned earlier, Mill got a great upgrade in Tasha's Hideous Laughter. But it also received Fractured Sanity from MH2, yet another mill spell that does not target the player. You might guess it, resolving Surgical Extraction on Living End or casting Tasha's Hideous Laughter against Hammer Time is a good way to win matches in Modern. Be wary of the Murktide Regent waiting for you in the corner though …
|White-Blue Mill by Wisnia, 1st at Modern Challenge on September 12|
Have you noticed that the list above is white-blue, instead of the usual blue-black? While the latter combination remained more popular, this variant is the one that had the best score. If you want to learn about it from its creator, he wrote a piece about it on Patreon.
However, tallying up the metagame over those two months doesn't show the whole picture. In fact, the meta changed widely from one month to the other. Here is a table comparing the two.
As you can see, about half of the archetypes over 2% of presence changed from one month to the other. Decks that did not appear on the overall pie chart for the full two months are:
Also note that Azorius Control and Jund Saga were not represented at all during the first month and climbed the ranks on the second. Maybe a graph to showcase this in the next part would be useful?
So far we have covered three months and two sets of changes in Modern. Time to take on the last month and tackle the final set. First, let us see which cards from Midnight Hunt saw play in competitive lists. In main decks, the most represented is Memory Deluge, which was adopted by most Azorius Control players. Consider also entered various shells, such as Blue Moon and Izzet Murktide, as well as Reanimator, especially combined with Faithful Mending.
Wait, Reanimator? In Modern? Yes, with Persist and Unmarked Grave as enablers and Archon of Cruelty as a target, all from MH2, the archetype was quietly developed again after its death due to the Faithless Looting ban. Not really one of the most popular decks in the format, but this article would not be complete without mentioning it due to the hype surrounding it.
|Reanimator by barczek, 7th at Modern Challenge on October 3|
To be fair, another deck harnessing the power of Faithful Mending and Consider picked up in popularity too, even if just a little. It's the fan-favorite Phoenix! It even runs Demilich, which already reignited the hype with AFR. However, after the first results on the release weekend, the deck disappeared again …
|Jeskai Phoenix by AspiringSpike, 6th at Modern Challenge on September 19|
Now, how about the MID cards that entered some sideboards? Yes, they exist as well! Two of them see the most play at the moment. On the one hand, Outland Liberator // Frenzied Trapbreaker sits in multiple Yawgmoth sideboard, even in some main decks. On the other hand, the most used one is Sunset Revelry, the heir of Timely Reinforcements. If you already knew about Reinforcements, then you might guess where Revelry sees play: Jeskai Control and Azorius Control.
Alright, alright, we mentioned the deck enough, finally, it is time for Azorius Control!
|Azorius Control by Nammersquats, 1st at Modern Premier on October 16|
There is a lot to unpack here. The most important change is the inclusion of Chalice of the Void. With that, you cannot run Path to Exile or Opt (now Consider) anymore. Thankfully, MH2 brought Prismatic Ending to deal with small creatures and Solitude for the bigger ones, all this as early as turn one. Note that with Raugrin Triome, your Ending can even exile permanents with mana value up to 3. Some players even run another Triome or shock land for that reason.
Your planeswalkers can also help deal with most permanents temporarily, Archmage's Charm can steal one-drops, and Supreme Verdict clears any creature that might still be there. The uncounterable clause can be particularly impactful against Force of Negation out of Footfalls or Counterspell from Izzet Murktide. Speaking of which, the deck itself gained Counterspell too. After that, it also acquired Hall of Storm Giants, although not all the lists run it. Last, MID provided Sunset Revelry to replace Timely Reinforcements and added Memory Deluge as an upgrade to Fact or Fiction. The first lists developed after MH2 by Guillaume Wafo-Tapa used to run the latter, redefining the structure of the current Azorius Control after a period when the deck seemed to be irrelevant.
Why would you run Chalice of the Void? If you play it on zero, you can stop all the cascade spells (just like Teferi, Time Raveler does) or multiple enablers from Hammer Time. On one counter, you stop all the powerful one-drops from MH2, discard spells, removal, cantrips … which cripples decks like Hammer Time, Izzet Murktide, or Green Tron. Second, as mentioned earlier, you now have better spot removal that plays well with Chalice. You also lose some cantrips, but it is not extremely severe. As a consequence, you have to give up on Snapcaster Mage, but at least Shark Typhoon offers both a body and a cantrip, if not card selection.
Spreading Seas also works as a cantrip if needed and is particularly essential at the moment to deal with Urza's Saga (completely destroying it since it remains a Saga, as mentioned earlier in the article) as well as the occasional Cavern of Souls or Urza's Power Plant. This way you get to cut all the Field of Ruin in order to better support Counterspell and Archmage's Charm. Note that Wafo-Tapa rather likes to store most of his copies in the sideboard now, because many matchups where they are weaker are trending, such as the mirror or Elementals. Last, speaking of the sideboard, you even get to play a companion, Kaheera, the Orphanguard! Indeed, the only actual creature you run is Solitude, which happens to be an Elemental.
Deck guide: Would you like to learn more about the deck? Team TaC's Patreon might have something for you then.
And with that, we finally should know all the decks we need to be aware of to take a look at the post-MID Modern metagame.
Hammer Time remains on top. Meanwhile, the older archetypes that are Burn and Azorius climbed all the way up to the second and third position, continuing the ascension that they already started in the middle of the AFR metagame. On the other hand, Jund Saga is relatively stable again compared to the previous month's sharp rise. It is also interesting to note that the "Other (each <2%)" portion keeps shrinking. Is this a sign of the metagame getting solved? Are people tired of brewing after months of changes? Are the MH2 cards really stronger than what the rest of the format can offer?
We might need to wait another month to see if this trend continues. What is certain is that at least some people are still brewing, while some other decks try to abuse the weak spots of this creature-focused metagame.
Oh, wait, did you notice it? There is still one deck on this pie chart that we did not talk about yet!
|WURG Blink by stainerson, 3rd at Modern Premier on October 18|
Let me introduce the ultimate grinding machine (for now—another might be on the way with cascade spells …). It's a nightmare fusion between Elementals and Four-Color Control that came out this month. Some versions even add Time Warp to loop with Eternal Witness and Ephemerate. Are there fair decks you plan to grind out in your next tournament? You know what to do … provided that you have the budget for it.
Below you find a summary of the changes in our data set, starting with MH2, for what are now the most represented decks in the format that will make it to our final tier list (outside of WURG Blink that just appeared in tournaments). The results are divided into four periods of about one month each, mainly based on the releases of each set:
The data is cut into two charts, in order to make it easier to read. In the first chart, you see decks that have mostly been one the rise since MID. The second shows archetypes that mostly stagnated or regressed after MID.
Now that we are aware of the presence of the most played decks, let us start working on our usual tier list. To do so, we need, as usual, the win rates.
If you are curious about the way the win rate of those decks evolved over time, just like their presence did, you should find the following graphs relevant. Again, the data is split in four periods, same as above, and I also tried to put together archetypes with similar win rate behaviors in order to make it easier to read. First, we got the archetypes whose win rate mostly increased over time, especially after the release of MID. Next are the archetypes whose win rate mostly decreased over the past months. Last are the archetypes whose win rate decreased more or less significantly after MID but were rising or stable before it.
The way of splitting the archetypes may be debatable, but the main goal was to get graphs with fewer archetypes to make them easier to read anyway. We can mostly gather that, since MID, most of the top-tier decks saw their win rate decreasing. Among them, Azorius Control and Jund Saga only faced a small loss, which is to be expected after their fast ascension to the top of the format while people started adapting to them. Similarly, Hammer Time and Amulet's win rate barely drop in that period, but it is more of a stabilization after weeks of decrease since MH2.
On the other hand, Elementals' win rate has mostly been increasing since MH2, only dropping severely once in the second half of the AFR meta. But the dramatic increase after MID more than made up for it, going even over its previous high. Mill has also been ascending quietly since MH2, not accounting for the drop after the release of AFR, which we can easily explain with the very small presence of Mill at the time, leading to a more volatile win rate. Last among those improving decks, Burn, now the second most represented deck in the results, has simply been improving both in terms of win rate and presence since MH2. People seemed to have stopped respecting it until MID, while the Burn lists themselves were tuned to fight the new threats in the metagame.
I also find the case of Living End quite interesting, as both its presence and win rate remained relatively stable since MH2. I must say that I am not sure of the way to interpret this. Here is my funny theory: The deck is secretly overpowered and people try to get results with it, but not too many not to see it banned. The more reasonable theory would simply state that the deck is strong and tried to fight the hate, but people simply respected it more and more over time at the same time as it was trying to overcome the answers.
Now we can combine one factor with the other, as we did in the past. We get the following for the entirety of the archetypes:
What are the decks with a particularly high win rate you notice here? We already introduced Reanimator earlier, which is one of the closest decks to join the tier list by breaking above the average presence. Aside from that, there's …
Glimpse Combo is another cascade deck based on the recent Glimpse of Tomorrow, which was lucky enough to hit a 4-0 in a Preliminary once. You cascade into this suspend spell, preferably after putting a lot of permanents into play using cards like Khalni Garden, Tireless Provisioner, and Wavesifter. Afterward, you either hope to end on an unbeatable board, or spin the wheel again thanks to Goblin Dark-Dwellers recasting Glimpse, or Omnath, Locus of Creation that might give you enough mana and cards to cascade again.
|Glimpse Combo by Talisker, 4-0 at Modern Preliminary on October 1|
The other deck with a high win rate in this table is automatically labeled as a Jeskai Midrange deck, but you could call it a Jeskai Stoneblade deck if you wish. Though, to be fair, it is more of a red-white deck that splashes blue for Teferi, Time Raveler, some sideboard material, and a bigger Prismatic Ending. It may also catch your eye that it is again the same player as with Glimpse Combo, Talisker, who is responsible for the first and best finish of the deck.
|Jeskai Midrange by Talisker, 1st at Modern Challenge on October 17|
The tier list is close! Now, let us display only the deck with a presence over the average presence (which happens to be around 2%, so we see the same archetypes as the ones depicted in the pie chart).
Next, with the formula presented in a previous article, we normalize and sum the metrics that are the presence and the win rate, and we set the limit for tier 1.5 as the average of the results of this aggregation. For the other tiers, we determine them by adding or removing standard deviations on that value.
And … Yes, we made it, here is the tier list for the first month of the Modern MID metagame! (Insert Final Fantasy victory theme song.)
There was a lot to cover since MH2, as the format radically evolved, even though a few of the historical archetypes of the format are still here and even doing really well. While the impact of the next sets, AFR and MID, was relatively minor, the metagame still underwent multiple changes over the last four months as people are still trying to figure out the entirety of the possibilities MH2 offers. At least we now have a relatively clear picture of what is going on, and the metagame is becoming more focused, as we can see with the "Other" category dwindling over time. This reinforces control decks now that they know what to target and by doing so allows them to cover a large portion of the format.
I hoped you enjoyed the article in spite of its length, maybe simply checking the titles and the pictures. Thankfully, even if you did just that, you should have found it helpful to understand how the metagame evolved and where it is standing at the moment.
Feel free to ask in the comments or on Twitter for additional information if needed, such as more details on the application mentioned early in the article, how I collected the guides for each deck (or others), or data about other decks. (Who knows, maybe you are interested in Affinity with Urza's Saga and eventually Neoform, or new decks based on Calibrated Blast, or the data of each card—win rate, presence, by set …)
I'd also be glad to hear your opinion on the structure of the article and the graphics. See you back for the next metagame update!
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.