Insider: The State of Modern

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With Modern Masters 2017 coming out, I’ve covered a lot about the set so far. I’ll provide even more info next week once the set is released.

Today, I want to touch on what’s happening in Modern. Recently we’ve seen a pretty big shift in the Modern metagame, and I want to break down some of what’s going on in the format. There are still tons of viable decks outside of what I’m going to discuss today, but here are the strategies making waves in the format.

If you’ve seen any coverage or looked over recent tournament results, the Death's Shadow deck is crushing events nearly every time. There are still multiple versions floating around out there, but from what I’ve seen, this particular one is showing up frequently.

The biggest change with this version is the focus on just two threats. This obviously includes the namesake card, Death's Shadow, but also Tarmogoyf, because you should be able to make it immense rather quickly. Initially it may seem like two creatures isn’t enough meat to make the deck consistent enough, but you do see a lot of cards with this version, and Traverse the Ulvenwald should have delirium turned on to make it a one-mana tutor.

One aspect about this deck that might get overlooked is the mana efficiency. A huge part of this deck's success is due to how cheap all the spells are. Look at all of the one-cost spells in the deck! It reminds me of Grixis Delver from a few years back, when Deathrite Shaman was still legal. You can win games simply because you can deploy all of your spells before your opponent.

Due to the surge of players drawn to this archetype, another deck has found a resurgence as well: Burn. We all know Burn is the default deck for many new players to the format, but now it’s a truly viable choice because of how great it is against a deck trying to lower its own life total.

Finally, we are getting tons of cards for this deck in the new MMA set. Between Standard cards and MMA17, you can almost build this whole deck. I think that will have a huge impact on the prices of these cards. Normally we’d see a dip in prices, but if the demand is there for new players building this deck, we could even see the cards bump up, but more likely they will just stabilize around their current price points.

If you’ve been around the Modern metagame for a while, I’m sure you’ve run into this strategy a time or four. Seems like I have to play against this deck at least once every tournament. This deck has been evolving constantly since Burning-Tree Emissary was released. Revolt Zoo also does a great job at deploying its hand. Typically, you can drop almost every card in your hand by turn two. Sometimes you have an Atarka's Command or something that you’re saving for turn three to finish off your opponent, though.

Because we’re getting the Goblin Guide and fetchland reprints, we could see another price increase on Atarka's Command. The lowest availability card is usually the one that gets the bump, but there aren’t that many money cards in this deck. In fact, this deck might be the most affordable in Modern after MMA17 is released.

Here we go. Let’s port one of Standard’s most dominant archetypes into Modern. Although we dropped a color from Bant to make it straight green-white, this deck provides a constant stream of good threats. This is not the deck I tend to play – it's too safe and doesn’t do anything broken. Sure, Collected Company is hyper efficient in putting threats on the board, and you can get it off on turn three, but the guys you’re getting are just guys waiting to attack. I like this deck, don’t get me wrong, but you don’t get lots of free wins for doing broken stuff. I do like the sweet Renegade Rallier tech though. You can bring back a cheap creature or a fetchland, and either of those is sweet.

Lastly, I wanted to mention the newest combo deck floating around out there drawing in players with its alluring Magical Christmasland feelings. There’s just something about comboing out on turn two or three in interesting ways that draws us into a strategy.

In case you haven’t seen this deck in action yet, the goal is to play Puresteel Paladin or Sram, Senior Edificer, which each basically do the same thing, and then drop your hand of zero-cost equipment so you can draw another hand. You have Retract to bounce everything and do it again, and while that card isn't necessary to go off, it definitely helps.

Mox Opal is great in this deck too. It should always be turned on and helps you with your mana when you are trying to draw your whole deck and storm them out. This is a card that could go up in price as well, since there's no reprint in sight for it.

The cards in this deck have definitely moved a ton lately. Puresteel Paladin is up to $10 and climbing. The cheap equipment is moving out of bulk status and up to the price of better commons and uncommons. I know my store almost sold out of these equipment just from having a couple players build the deck. The internet was nearly sold out of Kite Shield, and it’s not even a part of the above list I pulled from recent tournament results!


The Modern card pool is so huge that every set presents the opportunity to see new archetypes emerge that keep the format fresh. New cards are printed that interact with old cards in interesting ways and that brings us new strategies.

Modern Masters 2017 has done a great job reprinting cards we need for many different decks. Right now, Death's Shadow is the new hotness in the format. Before that, it was Affinity that was dominant at every event, so shifting our focus to another deck is fine, and I don’t think a strategy of killing yourself will become too broken. After all, Death's Shadow isn’t Hatred or anything.

Modern seems great, and now is the perfect time to get into it. There will be more staples floating around the market, or you can open them yourself if you buy some MMA.

Until next time,
Unleash the Force!

Mike Lanigan
MtgJedi on Twitter

2 thoughts on “Insider: The State of Modern

  1. Just a note… Mox Opal isn’t just great in Cheerios…It’s honestly a necessity. The Opal makes Retract a “free spell” and allows you to keep going off..Without opal this deck would be much slower.

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