Hello and welcome back to Metagame Mentor, the weekly column in which I highlight the decks to beat and the latest Constructed developments on the path to the Pro Tour. Today, to help you prepare for upcoming Modern Regional Championship Qualifiers, I'll analyze the impact that Dominaria United has had on the Modern metagame thus far.

Last Weekend's Biggest Events

Before breaking down the Modern metagame, let me summarize last weekend's biggest events across all formats.

In Arena Championship 1, featuring the Alchemy format, Sam Rolph broke his "curse" in the best possible way. After finishing ninth in both the Innistrad Championship and New Capenna Championship, he finally made the playoffs in the very first Arena Championships. And he didn't stop there. He made it all the way to the finals, where he defeated Keisuke Sato in a Rakdos Sacrifice mirror match in the Alchemy format. Rolph earned the first-place prize of $30,000, and both finalists earned an invitation to the Magic World Championship taking place in 2023.

Although Esper decks dominated the Alchemy metagame at this event, two of the four Rakdos Sacrifice players met in the finals. This clearly establishes Rakdos Sacrifice as the "Deck to Beat" in Alchemy. Rolph's list with Braids, Arisen Nightmare and Sato's list with Fable of the Mirror Breaker are both excellent.

The 32-player Arena Championships represent the top of the MTG Arena premier play pyramid, analogous to the 8-player Champions Showcase Events on Magic Online. Both signature events are held three times per year and award World Championship seats to the top two finishers. Invitations to the Arena Championship are awarded to players who earn enough wins in Day Two of Qualifier Weekends. Qualifier Weekends used to feed Set Championships, including those where Rolph finished ninth, but these have been sunset with the return of the tabletop Pro Tour.

On the tabletop side of things, last weekend marked the end of the first round of Regional Championship Qualifiers (RCQs). Chiefly among them was the 194-player NRG Series Trial in Minneapolis. There, Aaron Miller took it down with Five-Color Creativity, defeating Blake Madson's Rakdos Undying in the finals. More on these archetypes later! Both finalists earned an invitation to the first Regional Championships. In the U.S., but also in Europe and Brazil, these will happen November 19—20 and will feed the first Pro Tour in 2023.

From October 1 through December 18, RCQs will award invitations for the second round of Regional Championships, which will take place in the first quarter of 2023. Top finishers at these Regional Championships will then qualify for the second Pro Tour in 2023. To find RCQs around you, you can use the store and event locator with the filter "Regional Championship Qualifier" and/or visit your regional organizer's website.

The 10 Most-Played Cards from Dominaria United in Modern

Modern, created in 2011, is a nonrotating, 60-card format that allows expansion sets, core sets, and Modern Horizons sets from Eight Edition forward, save for cards on the banned list.

To analyze how Modern has changed with the latest set, I used all Magic Online decklists from Modern Preliminary, Challenge, and Showcase Challenge events held since the release of Dominaria United, as well as top decklists from the 4Seasons Modern Tournament, FTF Tour Stop Edmonton, RCQ at CM Games Hixson, and The Last Sun 2022 Qualifier at Hareruya TC Tokyo. I also added decklists with positive net wins from the Singapore Open, Grand Open Qualifier in Paris, and NRG Series Trial in Minneapolis. In total, this yielded 767 decks.

Across all main decks and sideboards, the most-played cards from any set were Lightning Bolt; Scalding Tarn; Misty Rainforest; and Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer—all with over 840 copies in total. This means that on average, there's more than one copy each per deck. One might say that red is the best color in Modern right now.

Yet Dominaria United is making a substantial impact as well.

Leyline Binding

The most-played new card by a mile is Leyline Binding. At 472 copies total, it has immediately established itself as a prominent Modern staple, and it has found a home in a variety of four-color and five-color archetypes, including Indomitable Creativity, Rhinos, and Domain Zoo. To put the number of 472 total copies into perspective: All other new Dominaria United cards in my data set summed up to 243 copies in total, so roughly two-thirds of the Modern impact of Dominaria United is comprised of one card: Leyline Binding.

The enchantment provides universal instant-speed removal for a single white mana, which is something that wasn't available in Modern before. It doesn't matter whether you need an answer to Wrenn and Six, Murktide Regent, Amulet of Vigor, or Underworld BreachLeyline Binding got you covered. And by fetching Indatha Triome into Steam Vents, you can consistently cast it for a single white mana as early as turn two, provided you have enough fetch lands. Even in a two-color deck like Azorius Control, all you have to do is to add Breeding Pool, Raffine's Tower, and Raugrin Triome to your mana base.

On top of all that, Leyline Binding still counts as a six-mana spell when you're cascading, so it's a cheap piece of interaction for cascade decks that won't break up your Violent Outburst. It even cleanly answers cards that cascade players hate to see, such as Chalice of the Void or Teferi, Time Raveler.

For all of these reasons, many players have been trying to adjust their mana bases to fit in Leyline Binding. Meanwhile, players relying on previously-difficult-to-answer threats like Murktide Regent are scrambling to adjust in a world where opponents can exile your key card for a single white mana with no drawbacks. One way or another, when playing against white decks in Modern, you should now keep a close eye on your opponent's domain count.

Rundvelt HordemasterVodalian Hexcatcher

The second-most and third-most played new cards from Dominaria United are the Goblin and Merfolk lords. At 40 and 32 copies respectively, they're not upending the format, but they are valuable for these tribal archetype. More on them later.

Tear AsunderTemporary Lockdown

The remaining new Dominaria United cards, each with 26 total copies or fewer, had no major metagame impacts. But they still offer small upgrades for various archetypes.

Tear Asunder and Temporary Lockdown are sideboard cards. Tear Asunder is most commonly found in the sideboard of Indomitable Creativity decks, while Temporary Lockdown was mostly chosen by Azorius Control players.

Shadow Prophecy

Shadow Prophecy made it into a small portion of the decks that embraced Leyline Binding. In these five-color domain decks, it digs deep, and it can even set up your graveyard for Persist, Wrenn and Six, and/or Unholy Heat.

Inscribed Tablet

Inscribed Tablet allows "Tron" deck to assemble Urza's Mine, Urza's Power Plant, and Urza's Tower more consistently. It's a notable improvement for decks like Mono-Blue Tron or Prison Tron that lacked access to Ancient Stirrings.

Nishoba Brawler

A 5/3 trampler for two mana is never bad, and Nishoba Brawler has made it into some Domain Zoo builds.

Yotia Declares War

There's a wacky Mono-Red Sagas deck that uses Hex Parasite and Power Conduit to remove counters from Sagas like Fable of the Mirror-Breaker or The Akroan War to keep retriggering them. Yotia Declares War is another Saga to exploit.

Serra Paragon

Serra Paragon found a slot in Angels due to her creature type and in Boros Fiddlebender because of her ability to replay Urza's Saga or any of the artifacts put into the graveyard by Goblin Engineer or Oswald Fiddlebender.

The Modern metagame with Dominaria United

To provide a Modern breakdown that combines both popularity and performance, I assigned archetype labels to all decklists and awarded to each deck a number of points equal to its net wins, i.e., its number of match wins minus losses. For example, a deck that went 5–1 in the Swiss in a Challenge event followed by a loss in the quarterfinals was assigned three points.

The sum of these numbers for every archetype was then used to determine its record-weighted metagame share, which represents its share of total net wins. Each archetype name hyperlinks to a well-performing decklist closest to the aggregate of the archetype.

Archetype Record-Weighted Metagame Share
1. Hammer Time 11.1%
2. Indomitable Creativity 9.8%
3. Izzet Murktide 9.4%
4. Rakdos Undying 7.4%
5. Four-Color Omnath 6.2%
6. Rhinos 5.2%
7. Living End 5.0%
8. Burn 4.2%
9. Jeskai Breach 3.6%
10. Azorius Control 3.2%
11. Yawgmoth 3.1%
12. Temur Scapeshift 3.1%
13. Amulet Titan 2.8%
14. Grixis Shadow 2.8%
15. Mono-Green Tron 2.0%
16. Glimpse of Tomorrow 1.9%
17. Goblins 1.5%
18. Merfolk 1.2%
Other 16.5%

The "Other" category, continuing the descending order, includes Rakdos Midrange, Eldrazi Tron, Affinity, Mill, Domain Zoo, Twiddle Breach, TitanShift, Calibrated Blast, Dredge, Asmo Turns, Tameshi Bloom, Belcher, Humans, Prison Tron, Jeskai Obosh, Hardened Scales, Jeskai Murktide, Mono-Red Sagas, Izzet Prowess, Azorius Blink, Mono-Blue Tron, Boros Fiddlebender, Asmo Food, Five-color Bring to Light, Spirits, Mono-Red Obosh, Turbo Phoenix, Selesnya Tron, Infect, Bant Blink, Elves, Grixis Midrange, Mono-Red Prowess, Jund Sacrifice, CrabVine, and more. The number of competitively viable Modern archetypes remains enormous.

The breakdown in the table above can be interpreted as a winner's metagame, i.e., a distribution of the types of decks that you can expect to face at the top tables if you make a deep run in a Modern tournament. Comparing it to previous Modern breakdown tables from August 18 and September 1, the pivotal developments since then are:

  • A downtick in Izzet Murktide, Four-color Omnath, Yawgmoth, and Amulet Titan. Their fall partly stems from opponents gaining Leyline Binding, for instance as an answer to Murktide Regent. The corresponding drop of Izzet Murktide has been enormous, and Hammer Time has taken the number one slot as a result.
  • A sustained onward march of Indomitable Creativity, Rakdos Undying, Rhinos, Grinding Breach, and Temur Scapeshift. All of them are cementing themselves as top-tier archetypes in the current metagame. Some exploit Leyline Binding, but most of these archetypes were already trending up even before Dominaria United.
  • The revitalization of Goblins and Merfolk. They were happy to gain a new tribal lord in Dominaria United.

To support these developments with good, representative decklists, I used a proprietary decklist aggregation method that combines popularity and performance. The core of the method was explained in an article, but I have since extended it by considering win rates, sideboards, land counts, and other relevant aspects, inspired by the theory behind artificial neural networks. It provides a systematic way to pinpoint decklists for the hottest archetypes in Modern right now.

4 Esper Sentinel 4 Colossus Hammer 4 Puresteel Paladin 4 Sigarda's Aid 4 Stoneforge Mystic 4 Urza's Saga 4 Ornithopter 3 Inkmoth Nexus 3 Springleaf Drum 4 Snow-Covered Plains 2 Steelshaper's Gift 2 Silent Clearing 2 Blacksmith's Skill 2 Memnite 3 Seachrome Coast 2 Giver of Runes 2 Hallowed Fountain 1 Shadowspear 1 Gingerbrute 1 Kaldra Compleat 1 Arid Mesa 1 Nettlecyst 2 Windswept Heath 2 March of Otherworldly Light 2 Sanctifier en-Vec 2 Hushbringer 2 Lavinia, Azorius Renegade 2 Hallowed Moonlight 1 Pithing Needle 1 Relic of Progenitus 1 Spell Pierce 1 Teferi, Time Raveler 1 Path to Exile

Hammer Time, at 11.1% of the winner's metagame, is the new number one! The main goal of the deck is to cheat the equip cost on Colossus Hammer with Sigarda's Aid or Puresteel Paladin. A turn-two kill is even possible with the right opening hand: Sigarda's Aid and Ornithopter on turn one, followed by double Colossus Hammer on turn two. Kills on turn three or turn four are more realistic, especially when you need Urza's Saga and Stoneforge Mystic to find the Hammer, but the dream is there.

Hammer Time players are split between mono-white and blue-white lists. A small blue splash is still the most common approach, though. Note that the aggregate list has cut Spell Pierce and The Reality Chip from the main deck; the only blue spells are in the sideboard.

In addition, Hallowed Moonlight has entered the sideboard to answer Rhinos, Indomitable Creativity, and Rakdos Undying. It seems very well positioned in light of these recent metagame developments. If you're playing white and hadn't given this card a shot yet, then be sure to consider it!

4 Dwarven Mine 4 Wrenn and Six 4 Archon of Cruelty 4 Lightning Bolt 4 Fable of the Mirror-Breaker 4 Indomitable Creativity 4 Leyline Binding 3 Scalding Tarn 3 Wooded Foothills 3 Spell Pierce 3 Bloodstained Mire 3 Prismari Command 3 Arid Mesa 3 Fire // Ice 2 Steam Vents 2 Transmogrify 1 Ziatora's Proving Ground 1 Stomping Ground 1 Blood Crypt 1 Mountain 1 Ketria Triome 1 Raugrin Triome 1 Sacred Foundry 3 Veil of Summer 3 Leyline of the Void 2 Flusterstorm 2 Boseiju, Who Endures 2 Nature's Claim 1 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn 1 Spell Pierce 1 Turn the Earth

Indomitable Creativity has been on the rise for months, ever since Fable of the Mirror-Breaker was released. Now at 9.8% of the record-weighted metagame, it has moved up to the number two archetype in Dominaria United Modern.

Its game plan is to cast Indomitable Creativity on one or more of its own tokens to cheat out Archon of Creativity. Since every fetch land can grab Dwarven Mine, Indomitable Creativity acts like a one-card combo. The deck also has Fable of the Mirror-Breaker and Prismari Command to produce even more tokens.

Not only is it consistent, but it's arguably the most resilient combo deck in Modern as well. Unlike, say, Living End, it is not affected by anti-graveyard spells such as Endurance or anti-cascade tools such as Chalice of the Void. Indomitable Creativity also shrugs off Prismatic Ending, and it has access to nine one-mana counters after sideboard to trump opposing countermagic. While Lightning Bolt on a Dwarf token can counter Indomitable Creativity for X=1, a single spot removal spell won't beat larger values of X, and opponents also can't just sit back and wait when you accrue value with Wrenn and Six and Fable of the Mirror-Breaker.

Indomitable Creativity players are split between how many colors to run and whether or not to include Leyline Binding. But the aggregate five-color approach has been the most popular one in recent weeks. It's also close to the version that Aaron Miller used to take down the aforementioned NRG Series Trial in Minneapolis. Last month, a new variation featuring Primeval Titan appeared, but that was short-lived. Everyone uses Archon of Cruelty now, as an Archon hitting the battlefield is really difficult to beat.

The addition of Fire // Ice (instead of Explore or Hard Evidence) is also something that happened over the past month or so. It excels in the mirror match, where it can burn two Dwarves in one fell swoop.

4 Dauthi Voidwalker 4 Blackcleave Cliffs 4 Fury 4 Grief 4 Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer 4 Bloodstained Mire 3 Thoughtseize 3 Terminate 3 Seasoned Pyromancer 3 Swamp 2 Blood Moon 2 Blood Crypt 2 Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger 2 Undying Malice 2 Lightning Bolt 2 Malakir Rebirth 2 Feign Death 1 Kolaghan's Command 1 Mountain 1 Shizo, Death's Storehouse 1 Agadeem's Awakening 1 Undying Evil 1 Polluted Delta 1 Night's Whisper 1 Liliana of the Veil 1 Verdant Catacombs 1 Prismatic Vista 2 Tourach, Dread Cantor 2 Engineered Explosives 2 Unlicensed Hearse 2 Fatal Push 2 Necromentia 2 Collective Brutality 1 Hidetsugu Consumes All 1 Magus of the Moon 1 Abrade

Rakdos Undying has also been on the rise for months. Now at 7.4% of the record-weighted metagame, it has become the number four archetype in Dominaria United Modern, just behind Izzet Murktide. Izzet Murktide, whose aggregate list hasn't really changed, has started to struggle a bit now that Leyline Binding can cleanly answer Murktide Regent. Rakdos Undying may become the superior midrange option in the present metagame.

Its game plan is to evoke Grief of Fury on turn one, then cast Feign Death, Undying Evil, or Undying Malice to return it to the battlefield. In case of Grief, this yields two pain-free Thoughtseizes and a 4/3 menace on turn one. In case of Fury, it produces a 4/4 double striker on turn one. Both can leave opponents feeling like they were scammed out of playing a fair game.

This powerful turn-one potential is wrapped into a normal Rakdos Midrange shell, featuring usual cards like Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer; Dauthi Voidwalker; Thoughtseize; and Terminate. When playing against this deck, you should also be aware of their main deck Blood Moon, so try to fetch basic lands when you can.

Dominaria United hasn't led to real changes to this deck. Most lists run a mixture of undying effects, although Undying Malice and Feign Death are most popular. Even though they return the creature tapped, they are capable of returning Grief of Fury a second time. Undying Evil return the creature untapped, but it doesn't work on a creature that already has a +1/+1 counter.

4 Ardent Plea 4 Crashing Footfalls 4 Fire // Ice 4 Flooded Strand 4 Force of Negation 4 Fury 4 Leyline Binding 4 Misty Rainforest 4 Omnath, Locus of Creation 4 Shardless Agent 4 Solitude 4 Violent Outburst 4 Wooded Foothills 4 Teferi, Time Raveler 4 Arid Mesa 2 Boseiju, Who Endures 2 Brazen Borrower 1 Breeding Pool 1 Hallowed Fountain 1 Indatha Triome 1 Otawara, Soaring City 1 Raugrin Triome 1 Sacred Foundry 1 Scalding Tarn 1 Steam Vents 1 Stomping Ground 1 Temple Garden 1 Forest 1 Island 1 Mountain 1 Plains 1 Endurance 1 Windswept Heath 4 Force of Vigor 4 Mystical Dispute 3 Endurance 3 Wear // Tear 1 Yorion, Sky Nomad

Rhinos, at 5.2% of the winner's metagame, has become the premier cascade deck in Dominaria United Modern. It sits just behind Four-color Omnath, whose aggregate build still revolves around Traverse the Ulvenwald but which has struggled against the rise of Indomitable Creativity. Four-Color Omnath has trouble beating Archon of Cruelty, and their Prismatic Ending is of little help. Also, I bet that a few four-color Omnath players may have taken their Omnaths and moved towards this shiny new four-color Rhinos brew.

The game plan is to cast Ardent Plea, Shardless Agent, or Violent Outburst on turn three. Because the deck only has one card with mana value two or fewer—Crashing Footfalls—you're guaranteed to create two 4/4 Rhinos. This may not be as powerful as Living End, but it still puts a lot of pressure on your opponent and it's not as vulnerable to graveyard hate. Despite the "no cheap spells" restriction, the Rhinos archetype contains a surprisingly large amount of interaction that can be cast on turn two: There's Fire // Ice, Force of Negation, Fury, and now that we added white, Leyline Binding as well.

After the near-universal adoption of white, Rhinos players are split nearly evenly between 60-card versions and 80-card versions. The 80-card versions generally add extra lands; Ardent Plea; Omnath, Locus of Creation; and Solitude. This yielded a slightly better combination of popularity and performance, as reflected in the aggregate list, and there are several benefits of going up to 80 cards. First, you gain Yorion, Sky Nomad as a companion. Second, it reduces the probability of drawing Crashing Footfalls in your opening hand. Third, it allows you to maximize your fetch land to shock land ratio.

To cast Leyline Binding on turn two, you need at least four basic land types. For example, Indatha Triome plus Island, or Hallowed Fountain plus Stomping Ground. Fetch lands are essential in assembling such combinations. Disregarding mulligans while conditioning on drawing at least two lands, the probability that the aggregate Rhinos deck can assemble at least four basic land types on turn two on the play is 86.3%. This means that you can cast a turn-two Leyline Binding consistently enough. If you were to go down to a 60-card list by cutting 12 spells and 8 fetch lands, then this probability would drop to 79.4%. So even though a larger deck size means that you draw your best cards less often, it can improve your consistency of assembling domain. (I derived the probabilities by algorithmically enumerating all possibilities and summing the corresponding multivariate hypergeometric probabilities.)

4 Urza's Saga 4 Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer 4 Emry, Lurker of the Loch 4 Unholy Heat 4 Underworld Breach 4 Scalding Tarn 4 Expressive Iteration 4 Mishra's Bauble 3 Ledger Shredder 3 Grinding Station 3 Mox Amber 2 Spirebluff Canal 2 Flooded Strand 2 Steam Vents 2 Arid Mesa 2 Teferi, Time Raveler 1 Thassa's Oracle 1 Aether Spellbomb 1 Springleaf Drum 1 Otawara, Soaring City 1 Mountain 1 Island 1 Sacred Foundry 1 Hallowed Fountain 1 Lightning Bolt 2 Prismatic Ending 2 Engineered Explosives 2 Tormod's Crypt 2 Spell Pierce 2 Mystical Dispute 1 Pithing Needle 1 Wear // Tear 1 Shadowspear 1 Teferi, Time Raveler 1 Aether Gust

Jeskai Breach is a deck that I've featured nearly every week in this column because it keeps winning large tournaments. At 3.6% of the record-weighted metagame, it still hasn't surpassed format mainstays like Burn, which remains steady in terms of aggregate list and metagame share, but Jeskai Breach is on an upward trajectory. Leyline Binding may pose a problem, but the relatively new addition of main deck Teferi, Time Raveler helps mitigate it.

The game plan of Jeskai Breach is multi-pronged. One option is to combo off by repeatedly milling yourself. This involves sacrificing Mishra's Bauble or Mox Amber to Grinding Station and recasting the zero-mana artifact via Underworld Breach. Bauble or Mox entering the battlefield untaps Grinding Station, which can sacrifice it again and mill yourself to fuel the escape cost. You loop until you win the game with Thassa's Oracle. To find combo pieces more consistently, you can rely on Urza's Saga; Expressive Iteration; and Emry, Lurker of the Loch.

But you don't have to combo off to win the game. The deck can also win a fair game by attacking with Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer; Ledger Shredder; or Construct tokens while destroying opposing creatures with Unholy Heat. A mid-game Underworld Breach to recast multiple spells for value can also provide decisive card advantage.

When sideboarding against this deck, you can definitely add several anti-artifact, anti-enchantment, anti-graveyard, or anti-storm cards. Almost everyone will have a way to interact with the combo in their sideboard. But you should make sure not to overboard or to misinterpret Jeskai Breach as "just a combo deck". In fact, they sometimes even board out combo pieces. If you draw multiple Force of Vigor or Leyline of the Void while your opponent is attacking you with Ragavan or Ledger Shredder, then you will regret it if you boarded out all of your creature removal. Keep a balanced mix to answer all of their plans.

4 Dryad of the Ilysian Grove 4 Expressive Iteration 4 Misty Rainforest 4 Lightning Bolt 4 Fire // Ice 4 Remand 4 Scapeshift 4 Stomping Ground 4 Steam Vents 4 Growth Spiral 3 Ketria Triome 3 Wrenn and Six 3 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle 3 Scalding Tarn 2 Wooded Foothills 1 Island 1 Forest 1 Mountain 1 Dress Down 1 Breeding Pool 1 Explore 3 Force of Vigor 3 Veil of Summer 3 Chalice of the Void 2 Boseiju, Who Endures 2 Engineered Explosives 2 Flusterstorm

Temur Scapeshift, in twelfth place at 3.1% of the record-weighted metagame, is another Modern deck that is on the rise. It doesn't use any new Dominaria United cards—rather, it's a blast from the past making a comeback—but it's well-positioned in the present metagame. Unlike combo decks such as Yawgmoth or Amulet Titan, both of which are on a bit of a downtrend right now, Temur Scapeshift is based around lands and sorceries, so it shrugs off Leyline Binding as a result. And against Indomitable Creativity, you have Remand to stop their signature spell, while their typical interaction is Spell Pierce, which won't stop your Scapeshift.

Your game plan is to ramp to seven lands and then cast Scapeshift. You'd grab Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle and six Mountains and roast your opponent for 18 damage. That's usually enough to win the game. Alternatively, if you draw Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle naturally, then you can combine it with Dryad of the Ilysian Grove to turn every land into a Lightning Bolt, with fetch lands counting double. Few decks have ways to interact with lands, although Blood Moon remains a problem.

When playing against Temur Scapeshift, be very mindful of your own life total, as the difference between 19 life and 18 life could be the difference between life and death. Don't crack fetch lands unnecessarily.

4 Rundvelt Hordemaster 4 Conspicuous Snoop 4 Munitions Expert 4 Aether Vial 4 Bloodstained Mire 4 Goblin Matron 4 Auntie's Hovel 4 Cavern of Souls 3 Mountain 3 Mogg War Marshal 3 Mogg Fanatic 3 Boggart Harbinger 3 Blood Crypt 2 Sling-Gang Lieutenant 2 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker 2 Goblin Ringleader 1 Skirk Prospector 1 Sokenzan, Crucible of Defiance 1 Den of the Bugbear 1 Swamp 1 Wooded Foothills 1 Blightstep Pathway 1 Stingscourger 4 Leyline of the Void 2 Chalice of the Void 2 Magus of the Moon 2 Thoughtseize 1 Goblin Trashmaster 1 Goblin Cratermaker 1 Fury 1 Alpine Moon 1 Void Mirror

Goblins, at 1.5%, is not a big part of the Modern metagame yet, but Rundvelt Hordemaster certainly revitalized the archetype. In fact, it's the first two-mana Goblin lord ever printed!

The main game plan is to assemble an infinite combo. With Conspicious Snoop on the battlefield, you use Boggart Harbinger to put Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker on top of your library. This allows Conspicious Snoop to create a copy of itself, which can subsequently create another copy, and you continue until you control an arbitrarily large number of Conspicious Snoops. Finally, you copy Boggart Harbinger, put Sling-Gang Lieutenant on top of your library, and drain your opponent with millions of Snoops.

If you control Conspicious Snoop and randomly see Kiki-Jiki on top of your library, without controlling Boggart Harbinger or Sling-Gang Lieutenant, then you can also make infinite tapped copies of Conspicious Snoop, but they would all just die at end of turn. So previously, this didn't accomplish anything. Now, if you encounter such a scenario with Rundvelt Hordemaster, you get infinite death triggers, which means that you can exile cards from the top of your library one-by-one until you see Sling-Gang Lieutenant and win the game.

Rundvelt Hordemaster also helps dig for combo pieces, and it supports a beatdown backup plan. All in all, it offers new strategic angles, and Goblins is back on the menu.

8 Island 4 Svyelun of Sea and Sky 4 Mutavault 4 Cavern of Souls 4 Master of the Pearl Trident 4 Lord of Atlantis 4 Merfolk Trickster 4 Silvergill Adept 4 Tide Shaper 4 Vodalian Hexcatcher 4 Aether Vial 3 Subtlety 2 Cursecatcher 2 Glasspool Mimic 2 Dismember 1 Otawara, Soaring City 1 Minamo, School at Water's Edge 1 Oboro, Palace in the Clouds 3 Chalice of the Void 2 Dismember 2 Harbinger of the Tides 2 Force of Negation 2 Flusterstorm 1 Unlicensed Hearse 1 Grafdigger's Cage 1 Subtlety 1 Kira, Great Glass-Spinner

Merfolk, at 1.2%, is an even smaller part of the Modern metagame, and two-mana Lords are nothing new for the tribe. The original Lord of Atlantis even dates back to Alpha, making it nearly 30 years old. Still, Vodalian Hexcatcher is more interactive than most Lords, and you'll need to keep it in mind if you get paired against this deck.

When your Merfolk opponent controls two untapped lands or an Aether Vial with two counters, you now have to factor in the possibility that they might flash in Vodalian Hexcatcher and counter your noncreature spells. This can be particularly powerful against expensive spells like Indomitable Creativity. Don't be caught off guard!

Looking Ahead

Dominaria United has improved a lot of Modern archetypes, and it'll be interesting to see how the metagame will develop in the coming weeks and months. A good barometer for that will be the premier Modern tournaments that are coming up.

This weekend, October 1-2, features major Modern RCQs at The Legacy Pit Open, the F2F Tour Stop in Montreal, and the Magic Showdown in Amsterdam. The Amsterdam event will have live video coverage. As I mentioned, they'll feed the second round of Regional Championships, which will take place in the first quarter of 2023.

Next weekend, October 8-9, there will be Modern $30K and Modern $5K tournaments at SCG Con Dallas, both of which award Regional Championship slots as well. In addition, there is the Magic Online Champions Showcase, where the formats are Modern Cube and Pioneer. It will be exciting to see all the action!