Five Hidden Gems of Modern

Modern is full of interesting innovations, terrific technology, and sweet strategies that fly just under the radar. You may have seen some of these decks, but you've probably not paid them enough attention. They are competitive but also a lot of fun and may catch your opponents off guard.

boggart harbinger - underworld breach - thought monitor - sythis, harvest's hand - mystic forge

Goblin Combo

Goblins, a deck usually associated with red aggro, takes more of a combo slant in Modern. This red and black version features essentially a two-card combination, which I explain below.

  • On turn two you cast Conspicuous Snoop.
  • On turn three you cast Boggart Harbinger and search for Kiki-Jiki.
  • Snoop has the ability of the Goblin on top, which in this case is Kiki-Jiki. You use Snoop to make a hasty copy of itself. The copy is untapped and can copy itself again. The outcome is an arbitrarily large number of tapped Snoops plus one untapped.
  • The last untapped Snoop copies the Harbinger which puts Sling-Gang Lieutenant on top.
  • Using Lieutenant's ability you sacrifice the whole board and drain the opponent.
  • Win.

This angle allows you to beat noninteractive decks like Living End, Green Tron, Hammer Time, et cetera. However, if the opponent has a removal spell to stop the combo, you can take a route more midrange. Snoop still functions as our Goblin Experimental Frenzy. Goblin Ringleader is an excellent card advantage machine that pairs exceptionally well with Kiki-Jiki. The deck is not without interaction itself. Quadruple Munitions Expert is instant-speed removal that also adds to our Goblin count and synergies.

The sideboard boasts a high number of prison elements that can one-punch knock out some decks. Nobody expects a Chalice of the Void or a Blood Moon from a Goblin deck that can combo kill you on turn three as well.

Blue-Red Breach

underworld breach grinding station

This is my favorite twist on blue-red cards in Modern. While Murktide is currently the best deck, this Underworld Breach deck goes for a combo finish.

  • Cast Underworld Breach.
  • Have Grinding Station. You can have played it on an earlier turn or now from hand or graveyard.
  • Sacrifice a zero-mana artifact with Station, mill three cards.
  • Exile three milled cards to replay that zero-drop from your graveyard.
  • It enters the battlefield and untaps the Station.
  • Sacrifice the zero with Station.
  • Rinse and repeat.

The end goal is to mill the deck, play Thassa's Oracle, and win. If you don't have the required two blue mana, you can play Emry, Lurker of the Loch and loop Mox Ambers, adding blue with each iteration.

In addition to the combo, the deck plays a ton of cards that have been the best in a lot of formats: Urza's Saga, Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer, Ledger Shredder, Expressive Iteration, Unholy Heat, Mishra's Bauble. Compared to some other combo builds, this one does not compromise card quality. It is very flexible and has multiple angles of attack: Saga Constructs, the combo, early Ragavan, card advantage with Iteration, looping Baubles with Emry …

The last key point is that our main combo card, Underworld Breach, is an excellent card advantage engine. You can play Breach and replay Mishra's Bauble a few times to draw cards, you can replay a few threats, or loop Expressive Iteration. This deck is very card-advantage dense.

White-Blue Urza

esper sentinel thought monitor

There have been multiple decks utilizing Urza, Lord High Artificer, including Affinity and Thopter Foundry combo decks. This is a bigger variant of Affinity that abuses arguably the best feature of those decks: card draw. It runs four Thought Monitor, four Esper Sentinel, and three Thoughtcast, which essentially means it does not run out of gas. In order to ensure a high artifact count, the deck also includes five artifacts lands.

Urza itself is just an over-the-top card that creates a huge Construct, provides mana, and a powerful engine in its last ability. Hitting a Thought Monitor or a Nettlecyst off of it pulls you considerably ahead. It's also an Urza's Saga deck, which gives it this strong Construct angle that the opponent will have to attend to at some point. There are silver bullets to be found off of Saga as well: Aether Spellbomb against Murktide Regent, Pithing Needle to shut off cards like Yawgmoth, Thran Physician, Shadowspear for trample and life gain, and lastly Relic of Progenitus to combat graveyard decks.

Compared to Hammer, the deck is considerably slower but also super resilient with a ton of card advantage. It does not really care about removal and can outgrind interactive decks.

Prison Tron

chalice of the void ensnaring bridge

The most innovative take on the prison archetype. It's an unbelievably focused deck that plays a ton of lock-out pieces. Quadruple main-deck Chalice of the Void is a way to combat cascade and potentially lock out some decks on one charge counter. There are also three copies of Ensnaring Bridge to ensure not dying against creatures, as nowadays few decks have the tools to overcome Bridge in game one. It effectively protects its prison pieces with a full playset of an old allstar, Spellskite.

To obtain card advantage it uses Mystic Forge, which lets you keep casting cards off the top of the deck. When it bricks, you can always exile the top card with Forge's ability. Uniquely, the deck runs four Serum Powder, which gives you a free mulligan should you have it in the opener. It acts independently of normal mulligans. This way you give yourself the highest chance possible to assemble Urzatron as early as possible via mulligans alone.

It is of course another Urza's Saga deck that will complete the trio with Expedition Map when necessary. Last but not least, it's a Karn, the Great Creator deck with thirteen sideboard slots earmarked for the −2. The effects range from more graveyard hate to threats, ending with removal and more lockout pieces. When an opponent gets in the stranglehold, it will be super difficult for them to get out.


sanctum weaver enchantress's presence

It's one of those decks that ebb and flow. People are afraid to pick it up, but it's a legitimate deck. Similarly to the aforementioned Tron deck, it has a prison angle. It can catch an opponent off guard with a Blood Moon or lock out combat completely with Solitary Confinement. Moreover, Sterling Grove prevents your other prison pieces from being removed.

Sanctum Weaver unchecked will generate copious amounts of mana, which you can spend in a storm-esque fashion. With Sythis, Harvest's Hand and Enchantress's Presence, you draw a card with each enchantment you play. If you have a lot of mana off Weaver, you can cast half a dozen spells and draw that many cards along the way. The deck closes the game once it's sure the coast is clear for it. Destiny Spinner provides uncounterability but also acts as a finisher. Seemingly out of nowhere, you'll have multiple 8/8 or larger lands attacking with trample.

Are there any other decks that you think are underplayed right now? Let us know in the comments below! And as always—remember to hold my hand and let's pass the turn together. Cheers!

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


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