Insider: Beating the Pro Tour Fate Reforged Modern Metagame

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Pro Tour Fate Reforged was the first major Modern tournament since the Modern banned list update took Treasure Cruise and Birthing Pod out of the format, which completely gutted the two top decks and opened up the top-tier of the metagame to new archetypes. The high-profile Pro Tour event will serve as the base level from which the Modern metagame will evolve as it goes forward.

Today I’ll examine the Modern metagame as it looks now and I’ll explain how to beat the strategies that will be popular in the wake of the Pro Tour. For each archetype, I’ll also share a list of archetypes typically well positioned against it historically. But edges aren’t necessarily vast, however, so keep in mind that specific decklist variations and sideboard cards can change things.


The Amulet-Bloom deck got a ton of attention in the coverage on its way to the finals, and it’s sure to rise in popularity.


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The deck is quite powerful, but it’s exploitable. My biggest qualms with this deck is its lack of meaningful interaction beyond Pact of Negation.

A core part of the deck, bouncelands, are also inherently unstable. Bouncelands were once a key part of Standard manabases, and the UR Magnivore-Wildfire deck exploited this fact with bounce spell Eye of Nowhere and traditional land destruction spells Stone Rain and Demolish.

In Modern, Fulminator Mage, Molten Rain, and Tectonic Edge are strong against the archetype, as is Ghost Quarter, while Blood Moon is extremely punishing and impossible to beat if not destroyed

This deck is especially weak to discard.

This deck is also vulnerable to counterspells, like Spell Snare for Summer Bloom, and counterspells like Remand and Cryptic Command on its game-winning cards Primeval Titan and Hive Mind.

Chalice of the Void can counter all of their Summoner's Pacts or Amulet of Vigors.

Attacking their ability to use Primeval Titan with Aven Mindcensor is also strong.

An interesting option is Ensnaring Bridge, which all but prevents them from winning with combat and forces them to rely on the Hive Mind combo.

Weak Matchups: Splinter Twin, Infect, Storm, Faeries.

Splinter Twin

Splinter Twin combo won the Pro Tour outright, and it has been a Modern staple since the beginning when it won the first Modern Pro Tour Philadelphia in 2011.


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This archetype operates much differently than the typical combo offering because it’s not wholly focused on its combo. The actual combo is simple and doesn’t require any special inclusions beyond the basic combo pieces, which leaves room for plenty of card selection and disruption spells.

It plays like a tempo deck or a control deck in most games, and sideboard plans that overload on ways to disrupt the combo will succumb to a fair game plan. It’s important to approach sideboarding against this archetype as one would approach sideboarding against a control deck in addition to thinking about the combo.

Discard is perhaps the best tool against this archetype, because it either disrupts combo pieces in hand or removes their control pieces. It’s a deck that plays very much from the hand and doesn’t develop its own board to a large degree, so discard will almost always be a relevant topdeck into the late game.

Liliana of the Veil is a particularly strong card, though they do have Lightning Bolt and creatures to attack it. Thoughtseize is a staple against the archetype.

Combust is one of the best removal cards for disrupting the combo because it’s immune to Spellskite, but Abrupt Decay is nearly as reliable and much more flexible in general.

Weak Matchups: BG/x (Abzan, Jund, BG Rock), Jeskai Flash, Zoo


Arguably the most successful deck of the Pro Tour was Burn, which, in addition to putting two players into the Top 8, had four finishers within 9th-16th place, and many other great finishes down into the money.

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Burn overperformed in the months before Treasure Cruise, so it’s natural that it becomes a top deck once again.

Burn is historically strong against BGx Rock strategies because they have trouble interacting with burn. Siege Rhino is a new issue, but Burn had already evolved to beat Kitchen Finks, and the movement away from Jund’s Lightning Bolt and the addition of Monastery Swiftspear to Burn means the Abzan deck is under a lot of pressure from creatures that they can’t efficiently destroy.

Burn can win as early as turn 3, with turn 4 wins more common, so it’s able to race combo decks sometimes, especially on the play.

Burn is vulnerable to dedicated sideboard hate, the most popular options being Leyline of Sanctity, Kor Firewalker, and Timely Reinforcements.

Weak Matchups: Splinter Twin, Jeskai Flash, GW Auras, Soul Sisters


Abzan was the most popular Modern archetype at the Pro Tour, comprising nearly 1/3rd of the field, and it ultimately put three representatives into the Top 8.

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Abzan is a classic Aggro-Rock deck that plays a mix of robust, but not necessarily fast, aggressive threats combined with a mix of disruption in the form of creature removal and discard spells.

Abzan, Jund, and BG Rock are all cut from the same cloth. Abzan doesn’t dominate other decks in the format, nor is it dominated by any of them. It doesn’t earn many free wins, but it doesn’t give many away either. Because the deck is so non-linear, it’s impossible to actually “hate out” in the traditional sense, because there are no specific cards that outright hose the deck.

Possibly the best strategy for beating Abzan and other Rock decks is to reposition onself in the metagame. Decks that go over the top of them are a great option, specifically GR Tron. Affinity seeks to go under Abzan with low-cost threats and explosive draws. Cutting off the Rock deck’s ability to interact is another option--a strategy employed by Burn.

Also consider that Rock decks must fill their sideboards with specific hate cards in order to attack the metagame at hand. So shifting oneself into a lesser-played strategy may lead to catching a Rock player unprepared.

For example, the GW Auras--aka Bogles--deck was underrepresented at the Pro Tour and far off the Modern radar, so Rock decks are very unlikely to have hate cards like Back to Nature anytime soon, so GW Auras could ride its natural advantage in the matchup to a tournament edge.

On the other hand, the Amulet-Bloom deck boasted a strong matchup against Abzan and was a huge part its success at the Pro Tour, but because that deck is now so popularized, expect Rock players to fill their decks with more hate cards for the matchup, like Fulminator Mage--potentially even in maindeck--and Aven Mindcensor.

Weak Matchups: Amulet-Bloom, GR Tron, Affinity, GW Auras


Infect had a huge Pro Tour, and it brought more players to winning records than every other archetype besides Abzan and Burn.

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Infect operates much like a combo deck that combines Infect creatures and pump spells, but at its core it's a Green Stompy deck that harkens back to the earliest days of Magic. It’s great at nickel-and-diming opponents with help from Exalted from Noble Hierarch and pump from Pendelhaven.

It’s blisteringly fast when unopposed, so it’s best against against decks lacking cheap interaction, like combo decks, and worst against decks with a lot of it, which are currently lacking in the metagame. This archetype was a huge winner with the banning of Treasure Cruise and the decline of Delver decks.

There isn’t a specific Infect hate card besides Melira, Sylvok Outcast, which is solid but not exciting. The best option for most decks is Spellskite, which can soak up opposing pump spells.

Weak Matchups: Jeskai Flash, Jund, Zoo


Affinity is extremely aggressive and powerful, but it relies very heavily on synergies and specific power cards in different situations, especially the two main win conditions, Arcbound Ravager and Cranial Plating.

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This deck is mildly vulnerable to discard and counterspells, but it’s specifically poor against pinpoint creature removal and especially board sweepers.

Affinity is vulnerable to many overpowered artifact-hate sideboard cards, some of the most popular and effective options being Stony Silence, Kataki, War's Wage, Creeping Corrosion, Ancient Grudge, and Hurkyll's Recall.

Weak Matchups: Splinter Twin, Jeskai Flash, GR Tron


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