Top 100 Players’ Archetypes

Posted in GRAND PRIX DALLAS 2016 on November 6, 2016

By Marc Calderaro

As always, Modern always has a glut of good decks, or as Ari Lax said yesterday, “a scrum.”

Out of the Top 100 finishing players from Saturday, there were 34 distinct archetypes. Now, that doesn't mean they all came with equal representation, but there are an arbitrarily large amount of viable archetypes. Multiple Blue-Red Thing in the Ice decks—with Prowess and Ascension—multiple ramp decks, multiple Eldrazi decks, aggro decks, heck, even multiple control avenues get in the mix. (Although Corey Burkhart advised that no one play his deck...)

There's tons of play in Modern as usual. There's a reason this weekend was the largest Texas Grand Prix of all time.

Enough jibber-jabber. Here's a table.

Archetype # in Top 100
Infect 11
Bant Eldrazi 8
Dredge 8
Naya Burn 7
Affinity 6
Death's Shadow Aggro 6
Titanshift 6
Jund 5
Abzan 4
Lantern Control 4
Abzan Company 2
Bant Knightfall 2
Blue-Red Prowess 2
Bring to Light Scapeshift 2
Grixis Delver 2
Jeskai Nahiri 2
Living End 2
Madcap Moon 2
Red-Green Tron 2
Thing Ascension 2
White-Black Eldrazi 2
Black-Green Elves 1
Black-Green Midrange 1
Black-Green Tron 1
Breach Titan 1
Goryo's Vengeance 1
Grixis Control 1
Jeskai Control 1
Jeskai Delver 1
Kiki-Chord 1
Mardu Nahiri 1
Merfolk 1
Red-Green Through the Breach 1
Skred Red 1

Sometimes its worthwhile to collapse this into various main archetypes, but after various iterations, nothing aptly represented the data better than this. At least not without some serious kajiggering.

Though there has been wanton fear concerning Dredge, so far, that seems overblown. It's the second-best-performing archetype, representing 8% of the metagame, and its ceiling doesn't seem much higher. At best, Dredge looks like it will settle into the format as an Affinity analogue. When players start shaving their sideboard removal because they lost the fear, it will rise. But when people respect it— when Dredge has to win by casting Golgari Grave-Trolls and Stinkweed Imps—it is quite the beatable deck.

As a larger statement about the format—the top six performing archetypes are eminently aggressive, with Bant Eldrazi being the closest thing to “Midrange” in the bunch. Totaling that up, it's 46 decks in the Top 100 where you can expect pressure early and strong just from the top-performing archetypes. (Yes, I didn't include TitanShift as “aggro.” Feel free to counter.)

Right below the aggro and TitanShifts are Jund and Abzan, just shy of 10% of the metagame (unless you lump in Abzan Company too). These seem the reactive decks of choice, but that's only if you haven't already chosen an aggressive strategy.

The “true” combo decks seem a thing of the past, with nary an Ad Nauseam to their name, with the pure Scapeshift seeming the closest we have.

The biggest difficulty of the archetype names so far is the constant merging and unmerging of the Scapeshift and Through the Breach combos. Some decks are just Scapeshift, some add Through the Breach. Some just have Through the Breach and Valakut, and some have just one Scapeshift—and sometimes just Scapeshift in the board.

It's safe to say that Primeval Titan–based decks are doing well in Modern, but the best shell on any given weekend is still up for grabs. Although, it seems that Amulet of Vigor isn't one of the cards to choose.

As far as fun archetypes that have shown up more recently outside of Dredge, I'm a big fan of Madcap Moon. It's the latest evolution of Blue Moon which has adapted to include the two-card combo of Madcap Experiment and Platinum Emperion.

Which brings up the hidden data from this chart—decks with maindeck Blood Moon. They don't rise to the level of an archetype, but more and more players talk about the power of dropping that in the first game, and preferably on the second turn with Simian Spirit Guide. “Hate cards” like Blood Moon and Chalice of the Void are still extremely powerful early. There's even one TitanShift player cutting the Lightning Bolts from his main deck for a full suite of Chalices.

Aggro is still good in Modern, and even the Midrange and Control decks must interact very early on, but the fall of combo, the rise of Dredge, and the advantage gained from Blood Moon are just some of the takeways from the Top 100 Players' Archetypes here at Grand Prix Dallas-Fort Worth.