Modern Romance

Posted in Top Decks on June 13, 2013

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

Hello and welcome to the latest installment of Perilous Research,'s exclusive Magic Online column. We've spent the last few weeks talking about Block Constructed and Standard. Today, I'd like to discuss the state of the Modern format. Grand Prix Kansas City is only a few weeks away and it has been well over a month since we've analyzed the state of the metagame. I'm going to take a look at the Modern decks that have been performing well on Magic Online in the wake of Sam Pardee's Grand Prix Portland victory with Birthing Pod.

Modern has the most diverse tier one of any format. At any given moment, there are as many as ten different archetypes posting multiple undefeated records in Daily Events or Top 8ing Premier Events. Let's jump right into some decklists!


OKWilson's White Weenie

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White Weenie may seem like it would be unpowered in a format like Modern, where so many degenerate strategies are available, but the deck continually posts very strong results in Daily and Premier Events. In fact, the deck had more 4–0 Daily finishes than any other archetype last weekend. The deck gets out of range of the other aggressive decks quickly thanks to its lifegain engines. Ranger of Eos and Squadron Hawk make it extremely difficult for decks like Jund or Red-White-Blue variants by straining their removal. The deck is still weak to combo, but as previously stated, those decks are becoming less of a factor.

Ranger of Eos
Squadron Hawk

Gadin's Robots

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Ravager is still a deck after all these years. The deck is easily the most streamlined aggressive strategy in the format. The number of Ancient Grudges these days is pretty low and the Robots deck has the ability to thrive in this type of environment. Cranial Plating makes the game a nightmare for just about anyone and six man lands mean the control decks are going to need instant-speed removal to follow up their board sweeper.

Cranial Plating
Ancient Grudge


ferrugem's Ghost Pants

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Ghost Pants is pretty scary. Liliana is only being played by Jund decks these days, and a lot of them are even shaving copies as of late. The Auras deck can lose to itself with a less-than-optimal draw, but it's perfect draws are some of the most unbeatable in the format. The inclusion of Mana Tithe here is sure to catch a lot of people off guard, too; remember to play your land before casting your cards that interact with the this deck. A lot of players are sideboarding Tranquility effects to deal with this deck, but any given event could be the perfect time for the Aura deck to swoop in and catch a field off guard.

Mana Tithe

alex321's Living End

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With decks like Splinter Twin and Pyromancer Ascension on the decline, the Modern format seems to be dominated by creature-based strategies more than ever. This seems like a perfect time to sleeve up Living End. The deck underperforms against control strategies with a lot of countermagic and faster combo strategies, but the faster combo decks are being played significantly less than they have been. The deck cycles a bunch of creatures into its graveyard and uses one of its cascade spells to guarantee that it will hit a Living End. Problem permanents can be dealt with using Beast Within. Early aggression can be halted with Jund Charm. Fulminator Mage shines against the control strategies, especially those without cheap countermagic. Cards like Supreme Verdict or Wrath of God will often be too slow when the Living End deck is looping Fulminator Mages with cascade spells. After sideboarding, the deck gets to bring in Ingot Chewer to chomp down on Relic of Progenitus, Tormod's Crypt, or Chalice of the Void. This deck's power level is greatly dependent on the current state of the format. The more creature-based strategies, the better positioned this deck will be.

Living End
Ingot Chewer

enzoreal's Scapeshift

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Scapeshift strategies are back! This deck uses Scapeshift and Primeval Titan with Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle to end games out of nowhere. This deck has been around for a while and it seems like it's well positioned given the current state of affairs. Jund decks packing seven or more discard spells are significantly less common than they were a few months ago. The addition of Primeval Titan makes the deck more consistent than earlier versions. By playing Primeval Titan, you no longer need to go deep enough into blue to cast Cryptic Command. The deck's mana base can be difficult because of Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle's Mountain requirement, so cutting a spell that cost obviously frees up a lot of space in the design area of the deck. One particularly nice thing about this type of combo deck is its topdeck potential. Opponents can get you down to zero relevant cards in hand, but if you happen to topdeck a Scapeshift when you have enough lands they're just going to die anyway. After sideboarding, the deck gets Obstinate Baloth and Spellskite against aggressive decks; Cavern of Souls and Boseiju, Who Shelters All against control decks; and Combust against the faster Splinter Twin combo decks.

Primeval Titan
Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle


youhavenogame's Red-White-Blue Tempo

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Red-White-Blue Tempo decks were rising in popularity toward the end of the last Modern PTQ season. The deck has some trouble with Voice of Resurgence, but it can always two-for-one itself and continue playing the game. Creature decks, even those packing Voice of Resurgence, are going to have a lot of trouble dealing with Electrolyze, Lightning Bolt, Lightning Helix, and Path to Exile when coupled with Snapcaster Mage. However, the deck can struggle against some combo decks or decks that include card-advantageous creatures like Ranger of Eos and Squadron Hawk. Opposing players can overwhelm the removal suite of the Red-White-Blue deck if they're willing to work hard enough. Such is the nature of any deck with many spells and zero board sweepers.

Path to Exile

shoktroopa's Blue Tron

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Tron strategies have been around forever, but it looks like the blue versions of the deck have outshined the red-green versions in recent weeks. Blue Tron may be the most powerful non-combo deck in the current Modern format, but it's plagued by the inconsistency that Tron decks have suffered forever. The deck can get run over by more aggressive strategies, especially in Game 1, but it's control matchup is incredible and it had all the tools necessary to combat the combo strategies, especially the non-Scapeshift ones.

Academy Ruins

trunks132's Red-White-Blue Control

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The Red-White-Blue Control deck has become the control strategy of choice in Magic Online's Modern events. The deck has all the tools it needs to beat any opponent, but the diversity of spells means that drawing the wrong half of the deck in any given matchup may result in a loss. This is a perfect deck for anyone who enjoyed the Super Friends Planeswalker deck from a few years ago. The deck has real trouble with Blue Tron decks because they're able to go over the top and produce a lot more mana much faster. Sowing Salt helps this matchup post-board, but it's still not something you want to be up against.

Celestial Colonnade
Sowing Salt


RandomDrooler's Jund

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Despite Bloodbraid Elf being banned, Jund continues to be one of the better decks in Modern. Ajani Vengeant has become the four-drop of choice over Huntmaster of the Fells recently. Jund doesn't really have any bad matchups, except Wurmcoil Engine, and it certainly has good ones. I fully expect Jund to remain tier one for the foreseeable future. Abrupt Decay has finally found its way into the main deck given the current state of the format. Deathrite Shaman acts as a Birds of Paradise that also punishes graveyard-based decks, gains you life against the aggressive decks, and closes games against control decks.

Ajani Vengeant
Deathrite Shaman

jbreau's Melira Pod

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I chose to put this deck in the midrange category because it plays much less like a combo deck in many games—the Melira combo is always available when your opponent is tapped out or playing a non-interactive deck, but the deck can function quite well as a midrange strategy. Sam Pardee ran over the competition with a Birthing Pod deck are Grand Prix Portland. Since then, the deck has performed well on Magic Online. Voice of Resurgence lets the deck search multiple times with a Birthing Pod and protects the deck from board sweepers and instant-speed interaction. We can expect different Birthing Pod decks that utilize Voice of Resurgence to be a huge part of the Modern metagame going forward.

Birthing Pod
Voice of Resurgence

Modern continues to be a diverse and exciting format. The format continues to evolve on Magic Online. We'll revisit the Modern format after Grand Prix Kansas City for an update on Magic's least homogenous format!

Knowledge is Power!

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