Today's Modern—Grand Prix Minneapolis Primer

Posted in Perilous Research on May 8, 2014

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. We're just two days away from Grand Prix Minneapolis, where some of the best players in the world are ready to play Modern. Modern has quickly grown up from obscurity to be one of the most popular Magic formats. Today, we'll be discussing the current state of the Modern format in an effort to ready ourselves for the upcoming Grand Prix!

Immediately following the banning of Deathrite Shaman, the successful side of Modern format had a lot of Affinity, Melira Pod, and Combo, but little of much else. As we've had more time for the format to settle, more interactive decks have begun to enjoy a lot of success. In today's conversation, we'll be taking a look at the most successful strategies from recent Magic Online events. Let's jump right into some decklists!

White Weenie

Magerithos's White Weenie

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The Modern take on Legacy's Death and Taxes has enjoyed a lot of Magic Online success over the last few weeks. Leonin Arbiter in particular has been one of the most impressive cards. With Leonin Arbiter in play, Ghost Quarter starts looking a lot like Strip Mine and opposing fetch lands become huge hiccups in a very quick format. Thalia, Guardian of Thraben punishes most combo strategies, while Linvala, Keeper of Silence keeps the creature combos from ever realizing their full potential. Loxodon Smiter and Wilt-Leaf Liege team up to make Liliana of the Veil laughably bad against this deck. We've even seen quite a bit of Raven's Crime, Mind Wrench, and Blightning over the last few weeks, so this strategy could be exceptionally well-positioned.


Untitled Mordo Ty Moja's Jund Deck

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Jund is back, and it's doing a lot of good work on the ground. The deck has the best disruption, the best threats, and the best non-Path to Exile removal, which seems like a pretty good combination for a winning deck. Adding white to the Jund deck gives it access to Lingering Souls, which will be seen as a two-of, three-of, or four-of in these types of lists. Lingering Souls significantly increases the deck's win percentage against Affinity, Infect, Faeries, and Vendilion Clique/Delver of Secrets strategies, while also providing a very resilient threat against the more controlling decks of the format and a great Moment's Peace type of effect against the most aggressive decks. Ajani Vengeant becomes a possibility with white, and the mana denial part of the card is especially strong when we're constantly looking at our opponent's hand with Thoughtseize and Inquisition of Kozilek. Jund is definitely capable of winning a large event and we can expect it to perform well deep in Grand Prix Minneapolis.


zemant's Tron

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As combo decks become less popular, there's room for a deck like Tron to experience a lot of success. Sure, cards like Thoughtseize can be strong, but the threat of a Karn Liberated or Wurmcoil Engine off the top or off of Ancient Stirrings means that decks like Jund will have to live in fear. Additionally, aggressive decks and control strategies are going to have a nightmare with the amount of mana Tron can produce. The success of Tron at Grand Prix Minneapolis will be in direct correlation to the success of the combo strategies. Combo tends to be more popular in live events, so this deck may have to dodge some bullets to make it down the stretch at Grand Prix Minneapolis.

Pyromancer Ascension

deadgone's Pyromancer Ascension

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The Modern Storm strategy is capable of very fast wins, often as early as the third turn. The deck attempts to play a Goblin Electromancer or Pyromancer Ascension. When it's able to untap with one of the two in play it can seemingly run through the entirety of the deck and end the game with a big Grapeshot. In post-boarded games, the deck has access to Blood Moon and Defense Grid to deal with disruptive or countermagic-laden decks and Empty the Warrens to punish players who won't have access to an effect like Pyroclasm, Anger of the Gods, Firespout, or Wrath of God.


PuppyPuncher's Tarmo-Twin

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This half tempo/half combo creation has continued to be successful on Magic Online. The deck was likely the most successful strategy in terms of win percentage at Grand Prix Richmond, and it's probably reasonable to assume that it's still very well-positioned. We get to play with a lot of the most powerful cards in the format, but we also get to win the game out of nowhere if our opponent is brazen enough to tap out when we'll have access to four or more mana on the following turn. This seems like a great choice for Grand Prix Minneapolis if we have the testing necessary to pilot the deck correctly.


Kjarl's Affinity

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Aggressive artifact strategies are still the premier aggressive route to victory in Modern. The deck has a lot of new enemies, though. The new Jund lists are very well-positioned against the Affinity deck, and there's quite a bit of sideboard hate running around these days. Still, the Affinity deck never disappoints completely and we shouldn't be surprised to see a copy of this deck in the Top 8 of Grand Prix Minneapolis.

Blue-Red Delver

MR_Thompson's Blue-Red Delver

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Delver of Secrets Tempo strategies are very good against the decks that are trying to develop at a similar pace, using significantly less mana to accomplish the same goals of the other aggro decks. The decks also have a lot of play, and even more post-board, against the combo and control strategies. Anger of the Gods is still quite good against these decks, but playing efficient creatures and spells on the lowest end possible is always going to be a dangerous combination that's able to steal a tournament when people aren't expecting it. It's also worth noting that the best draws from the Blue-Red Delver deck are nigh unbeatable when the deck is in the hands of an experienced pilot.

Red-White-Blue Control

chepa's RWU Control

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Red-White-Blue Control used to be considered the best deck in Modern. Its ability to outpace the aggressive decks with removal and punish combo strategies with countermagic was unmatched. These days, the aggressive decks and combo strategies are more streamlined than ever, meaning that Red-White-Blue Control can't dominate the way it used to. That being said, the deck seems very well positioned for the current state of the Modern format and it should do quite well at Grand Prix Minneapolis.


Vlancef1's Zoo

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Zoo decks have experienced a resurgence with the reintroduction of Wild Nacatl to the format. These decks consistently achieve turn-four kills when allowed to progress unhindered. The deck's removal package is quite strong against a good portion of the combo strategies as well. Unfortunately, Zoo has a lot of trouble against Etched Champion, Anger of the Gods, Tron, and creatureless combo strategies.

Melira Pod

Pythuz's Melira Pod

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Melira Pod is the big contender in the current Modern format, putting up Grand Prix Top 8 numbers that dwarf those of other strategies at recent events. The deck plays efficient creatures that happen to combo with one another and Birthing Pod. Eventually, the deck seeks to put Viscera Seer; Kitchen Finks/Murderous Redcap; and Melira, Sylvok Outcast in play at the same time to set up an infinite loop with the persist trigger. The deck can struggle against Splinter Twin strategies, but overall it has few truly bad matchups.

White-Black Tokens


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White-Black Tokens with a lot of Equipment has been putting up scattered success on Magic Online for the last two months. The deck seems to have trouble deep into Grand Prix Day Twos for some reason, but the cards all seem very strong and it's probably only a matter of time before this deck starts putting up some Top 8s at the Grand Prix level.