A New Cannon for Modern

Posted in Top Decks on February 20, 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

We're just one day away from Pro Tour Born of the Gods. The best players in the world have gathered in Valencia, Spain, with dreams of hoisting a trophy above their heads on Sunday afternoon. The Constructed portion of Pro Tour Born of the Gods is Modern. Modern is a fast-paced format with a huge pool of available cards. We'll be watching combo strategies that deal millions of damage on the fourth turn, aggressive decks that are capable of fast victories while effectively disrupting any opponent, and control decks that have access to some of the most skill-intensive cards ever. Today, in preparation for Pro Tour Born of the Gods, we'll be taking a look at the new landscape of the Modern format in its current state.

Modern can be a confusing format to watch, especially if we haven't played much with the popular decks. Things will seem strange even for those of us who have been playing Modern in the last year or so. The banning of Deathrite Shaman and unbanning of Bitterblossom and Wild Nacatl heralded some big changes to the Modern format. Jund will likely fall out of favor while decks like Faeries and Zoo have new life breathed into them. A solid understanding of the major archetypes in the new Modern format will enhance our viewing experience by giving us the knowledge to have input on specific plays within a match. We've got a lot of decklists to cover in preparation for the Pro Tour; let's get to it!

Pyromancer Ascension Storm

umbrageous's Pyromancer Ascension Storm

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We'll kick things off by taking a look at Pyromancer Ascension Storm. When playing Pyromancer Ascension strategies, we're aiming to get our namesake enchantment in play and use it to start doubling inexpensive spells while creating huge amounts of mana with copied Manamorphose and Rituals. Once we've sifted through enough of our library we can fire off some very large Grapeshots to finish the game. The banning of Deathrite Shaman has reintroduced this strategy as one of the better combo strategies in the Modern format.

Pyromancer Ascension
Grapeshot

RUG Scapeshift

tsuru's RUG Scapeshift

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Scapeshift is the best one-card combo in Modern. When we have seven lands in play, we can cast Scapeshift and deal 18 points of damage, which will usually be enough to end the game in a format with so many shocklands and fetch lands. Things start to get crazy when there's a Prismatic Omen on the table, though. Scapeshift with six lands and Prismatic Omen and we can fire off 72 points of damage. This deck gets to play a reasonably interactive game and it has a lot of individually powerful cards. The resilience and lack of reliance on the graveyard make this a strong combo choice for Pro Tour Born of the Gods.

Scapeshift
Prismatic Omen

Melira Pod

quikidk's Melira Pod

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Birthing Pod decks are essentially powerful midrange strategies that happen to have a number of infinite combos hidden within. Melira, Sylvok Outcast allows players to abuse the persist mechanic if they have access to a sacrifice outlet like Viscera Seer. We can use Murderous Redcap to deal infinite damage, or Kitchen Finks to gain infinite life. The deck's combo interactions don't stop there, though. Archangel of Thune in conjunction with Spike Feeder can make our team infinitely large while also gaining us infinite life. It's important for players to remain on the offensive against a deck like this; playing a reactionary game will be a futile endeavor for most non-Snapcaster Mage decks.

Birthing Pod
Melira, Sylvok Outcast

Red-White-Blue Control

Crash_CZ's Red-White-Blue Control

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Red-White-Blue Control is the most successful dedicated control strategy in the current Modern format. The deck plays a lot of interactive removal and countermagic and eventually takes over the game with a big spell. The deck will enjoy the amount of Zoo it will get to prey on after Wild Nacatl's unbanning, but Bitterblossom packs a longevity that's hard for a deck like this to deal with. Time will tell if this deck continues to do well with the new banned list, but it's looking like a very strong contender for the deck to beat going into Valencia.

Lightning Bolt
Sphinx's Revelation

Tribal Zoo

zeuth's Tribal Zoo

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Tribal Zoo is sure to be a factor at the upcoming Pro Tour. The deck gets to play with the most powerful burn spells ever printed, alongside Kird Ape, Loam Lion, Wild Nacatl, Tarmogoyf, Geist of Saint Traft, and Ghor-Clan Rampager. It's very difficult for us to ask for more. This is a very strong archetype, but the deck may be overly hated out of the format because everyone has their crosshairs lined up to take it down.

Wild Nacatl
Geist of Saint Traft

Blue-Red Delver

Androod's Blue-Red Delver

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Blue-Red Delver seems like it's well-positioned for Pro Tour Born of the Gods. The deck aims to get on the table quickly with Delver of Secrets and apply pressure with strong spot removal, disruption, and creatures with flash that assure the deck is always using all of its mana efficiently. This deck seems like a great way to beat dedicated combo and Faeries, but it seems like it might have trouble with the Zoo decks with a lot of 3 toughness for one mana.

Delver of Secrets
Vendilion Clique

Faeries

osmanozguney's Faeries

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Always surprising, and never disappointing, Faeries won the premier event last Sunday. Faeries plays like a tempo strategy, getting onto the board early and then controlling the game with interactive removal and disruption. Most of the deck's threats can be cast at instant speed, meaning that the deck uses all of its mana very efficiently on most turns. We're not sure how good Faeries can be in a format with a lot of aggressive Zoo decks, but the deck has proven its resilience time and time again.

Bitterblossom
Spellstutter Sprite

Robots

The french goblin's Robots

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Robots is one of the best aggressive strategies in Modern. The deck plays a lot of inexpensive artifacts and attempts to close the game quickly with a card like Cranial Plating. When opponents are able to deal with the initial onslaught, the deck can use Arcbound Ravager to load all of its hard work onto an Inkmoth Nexus or Blinkmoth Nexus that could potentially end the game on its own.

Cranial Plating
Blinkmoth Nexus

Zoo

pyromaniac4290's Zoo

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Here it is, the deck to beat for Pro Tour Born of the Gods. The deck aims to use undercosted creatures and burn to end games quickly and efficiently. The newest Zoo variations win the game on the fourth or fifth turn when facing little resistance. The deck also has a great deal of interactive ability thanks to its burn spells and Path to Exile.

Tarmogoyf
Path to Exile

Midrange Splinter Twin

Luskefisk's Midrange Splinter Twin

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Splinter Twin has been one of the more successful combo strategies in Modern for some time now. The deck aims to win by assembling Splinter Twin or Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker with Deceiver Exarch or Pestermite to make INFINITY FAERIES and win the game. The latest trend with Splinter Twin is to play it in a tempo/midrange strategy that just happens to have the capability of going infinite. This makes the deck a lot more resilient to hate by giving it additional routes to victory. Also, the presence of strong, hard countermagic and cards like Vendilion Clique make the deck very good at breaking serve in a combo mirror where we lost the roll and have to be on the draw.

Splinter Twin
Deceiver Exarch

Martyr of Sands

Numbertwo's Martyr of Sands

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It may seem odd that this makes the list here, but if players are expecting a lot of aggressive strategies or combo decks with actual ceilings and damage limits, then this deck is certainly the best choice in those circumstances. Martyr of Sands makes it extremely difficult to apply pressure and win a race against this deck. In the long game, Proclamation of Rebirth makes this deck have an unending stream of very potent threats or nearly infinite life at the ready.

Martyr of Sands
Proclamation of Rebirth

Ghostpants

MGatica's Ghostpants

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The Modern Aura deck made a big splash at last year's World Championship. The deck aims to put a lot of Auras onto an inexpensive hexproof creature and allow it to take over the game. We can expect Auras to enjoy a metagame with less Liliana of the Veil now that Deathrite Shaman is out of the picture. This could very easily be the breakout deck of Pro Tour Born of the Gods.

Gladecover Scout
Ethereal Armor

Hate Bears