Mastering Modern

Posted in Perilous Research on June 11, 2015

By Jacob Van Lunen

Jacob Van Lunen began playing Magic in 1995. He has participated in organized play at every level of competition and was a member of the winning team at Pro Tour San Diego in 2007, thanks to an innovative draft strategy. As a writer, Van Lunen has had more than three hundred Magic strategy pieces published

Welcome back to Perilous Research,'s exclusive Magic Online column. Modern seems to be at the forefront of everyone's minds right now. The Modern Masters 2015 Edition Limited format managed to bring out thousands of players for the biggest weekend in competitive Magic history. This coming weekend, players will look to prove themselves on the Constructed end of the spectrum at Grand Prix Charlotte, the first premier-level Modern event since the last edition of Modern Masters.

The recent eye on the Modern format has resulted in some big shifts. Just a few weeks ago, it seemed like Abzan strategies were still a dominant force, but that's all changed with the printing of cards like Atarka's Command and the rising popularity of Tron decks.

Abzan is still very strong, but its decline in popularity is opening up the metagame for a lot of new archetypes.

Today, we'll be looking at some of the new and exciting Modern strategies that went undefeated in recent Daily Events on Magic Online. Let's jump right in!


Krazylawlko's Hexproof

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Hexproof has always had a silent presence in Modern. The deck declined in popularity over the last year or so as all flavors of black-green started to include three to four copies of Abrupt Decay in the main. Hexproof is normally very comfortable getting free wins in the first game against non-combo strategies, and losing that free edge did not go unnoticed by Hexproof players. Now, with black-green strategies on the decline, Hexproof is enjoying a metagame with flavors of Delver, Tron, Collected Company, and Red decks that all struggle to beat Hexproof. This deck has always had tremendously good and horrendously bad match ups, but choosing it on the right week and being paired correctly will always be rewarded.

Graveyard Shenanigans

Myarushima's Graveyard Shenanigans

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Graveyard decks like this one have been championed by Raphael Levy for the last few years. This deck has some tremendously exciting interactions that result in a lot of free wins. When games go long, the deck is capable of grinding out virtually any opponent. There's a lot of potential to this type of strategy and, as long as people are skimping on graveyard hate, this will be a force to be reckoned with. It's worth noting that this is easily the most difficult deck we'll be featuring today, and I recommend a lot of practice before sleeving this up for a tournament.


Paschan's Burn

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Burn decks got a huge upgrade to their arsenal with the printing of Atarka's Command. Skullcrack was already one of the most important tools in their arsenal. Giving the card significantly more versatility means that, even in post-boarded games, it's very hard to force through any significant life gain against the Red decks.


Bagobalboa's Infect

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Infect decks are capable of flashy, turn-two kills. When all damage is essentially doubled and life gain is made irrelevant, games can end very quickly. Become Immense is especially powerful when it's representing 60% of the game by itself. Well-versed Red players will usually be able to keep the Infect player off of a win condition and the Infect strategy is still plagued by consistency issues. That being said, the deck is capable of explosive games and the general power level means that this deck is a very capable contender to win this coming weekend's Grand Prix.

Living Twin

Perret's Living Twin

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Living End decks are nearly unbeatable for "fair" strategies that aren't aiming to win the game early with a big combo. Unfortunately, the deck has, historically, been incapable of racing opponents. The latest technology floating around seems to be the inclusion of Splinter Twin combo in the Living End deck, effectively allowing the deck to realistically win on the fourth turn or even earlier with a draw that involves more than one copy of Simian Spirit Guide.

Grixis Delver

Thomash's Grixis Delver

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The Blue-Red Delver decks that were dominating Modern before Treasure Cruise was banned are back. Now, instead of trying to draw three cards, they're dropping Gurmag Angler or Tasigur, the Golden Fang onto the battlefield. The addition of black also makes the deck better against streamlined combos with targeted discard and gives the deck more indiscriminate removal in the form of Terminate and Kolaghan's Command.


Expoxy's Merfolk

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Merfolk's position in the metagame is directly linked to the average number of removal spells in opponent's decks. The deck plays such a high density of Lord creatures that pump the whole team, that most opponents will often find themselves overrun by an army of larger-than-expected fishes. The presence of main-deck Spreading Seas means that the deck can get a lot of free wins against Abzan, Jund, and Tron opponents; and it's very unlikely to have a draw that isn't capable of a turn-four victory.


yuuki0815's Jund

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Jund was overtaken by Abzan in terms of popularity, but that's changed a lot recently as we've had an opportunity to witness the power of Kolaghan's Command and Lightning Bolt in the current Modern metagame. Jund does what it's always done; the deck combines the best removal with the best disruption, and some of the format's most efficient and versatile threats. This deck will always be a major contender to win any tournament, and I expect to see at least one Jund deck in the Top 8 of this weekend's Grand Prix.


Crywolf102190's Tron

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Tron decks have been instrumental in pushing Abzan strategies out of the spotlight. Tron absolutely demolishes control strategies that have no real answer to the endgame Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. Tron is one of the few decks that can honestly claim a strong matchup against Jund and Abzan, where its high density of trump cards with high casting costs punish the decks that lean on Inquisition of Kozilek. Tron still struggles to beat combo strategies and decks that are interacting with their lands, but it's a consistently powerful deck that's reasonably simple to pilot effectively.

These decks only scratch the surface of the current Modern metagame. Decks like Splinter Twin and Abzan are still major players. This coming weekend, some of the best players in the world will descend upon Charlotte, North Carolina, to compete in a Modern Grand Prix. What decks do you expect to make their way to the top tables? What strategy do you expect to win the event? Don't miss the exciting coverage of the event right here on!

Knowledge is power!

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