The Hottest and Coldest Decks in Modern

Feature Article from Seth Manfield
Seth Manfield
12/1/2017 11:00:00 AM
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Sometimes I do rankings of which decks in Modern are the best overall, but right now the format is in flux. Every time a deck becomes popular another deck emerges that is the perfect foil to the most popular strategies. The format is in a great spot; there is no single best deck, but there are a ton of different decks. This is why I will be writing about which decks are trending right now and which decks are declining in popularity.

Lantern Control: Hot

Lantern Control has been a player in Modern for awhile, but this is actually a very different list than we are used to. The person who helped popularize the deck, Zac Elsik, recently added Whir of Invention. Whir of Invention allows the Lantern deck to have a toolbox of sorts. No longer do you need to play four copies of all the key pieces of the deck. Whir of Invention allows you to search for a specific artifact you didn't draw naturally.

The deck is more consistent with the addition of Whir of Invention, and I don't think there is a debate as to whether it is actually better than the older version. This is the best version of Lantern in Modern right now, or at least that is what recent results indicate. Playing Whir of Invention does mean changing the manabase to be more blue-heavy, but the sacrifice is worth it. We see some interesting additions like the single Search for Azcanta, and also Witchbane Orb as a maindeck tutor target.

Dredge: Cold

It isn't that long ago that Dredge was considered a top-three deck in Modern. Now it has dropped off the radar in a big way. It's tough to attribute exactly why Dredge isn't that popular right now, so I expect players to pick it back up. Dredge hasn't changed much in terms of new additions, while other decks got a boost from Ixalan.

Now that Jeskai and other control decks are a more significant part of the metagame Dredge should pick back up. Players may decide not to play as much graveyard hate as they might if Dredge was popular. This is certainly a deck to keep an eye on, as we see that it was able to take down the Online RPTQ. It isn't that Dredge is dead by any means, it is simply less popular than it was a couple months ago.

Infect: Hot

Infect had been completely off the radar until Jacob Wilson picked the deck up. He was able to take the deck to a second place finish in the online RPTQ. There are a few reasons why Infect could be well-positioned, as some of its better matchups like Bogles, Affinity, and Big Tron are still pretty popular. After the Gitaxian Probe ban, Infect lost a lot of momentum, but there are clearly ways to build the deck successfully without including that card.

Jacob added two Ichorclaw Myr here as another Infect creature that needs to be answered. One of the best ways to beat Infect is killing all the creatures that have Infect, and this becomes more difficult to do with Ichorclaw Myr in the deck. There is also an incentive not to block Ichorclaw Myr, so even though it doesn't have unblockability, there will be times when you do want the opponent to block it.

Counters Company: Cold

Counters Company was a top three Modern deck in the format pretty recently. The deck was most popular right after players realized the power of Vizier of Remedies plus Devoted Druid. Now players are familiar with how the deck works, so its surprise factor is gone. Beyond that there are other decks like straight White-Green Company that see more play, so this isn't even necessarily the best Collected Company deck in the format.

Counters Company is a strong enough deck that it can bounce back in the metagame. This is the type of deck that may need to change its creaturebase a little bit based on the metagame, in order to have the Collected Company hits be as impactful as possible. This version has included two Tireless Tireless Trackers to go alongside a couple Renegade Ralliers, so you have plenty of grindy creatures to play a long game.

Bogles: Hot

Bogles has picked up popularity online in the past couple weeks, and I expect that to translate over to paper play. The reason is that it beats both midrange creature-based strategies like Five-Color Humans and is naturally strong against control. The lifelink on the auras also provide a good way to beat Burn. There are plenty of good game one matchups for Bogles, and then you can devote the sideboard to the bad matchups.

Leyline of Sanctity is even making its way into the maindeck as a way to beat some decks in game one. For instance, Storm may rely on Grapeshot to win the game and have no other win condition, so a single Leyline of Sanctity can beat a bad matchup game one. Then after sideboard, hate cards like Gaddock Teeg can be backbreaking. You also have Stony Silence for matchups like Lantern Control or Affinity, and so on. This list plays five different matchup specific sideboard options, and that makes a lot of sense to me.

Bogles can be vulnerable if it doesn't draw one of its eight hexproof creatures. Without a hexproof threat there may not be a creature to put the auras on, so the deck does mulligan quite a bit. Sometimes you need to keep a hand with Kor Spiritdancer as the only creature, or a fetchland to go find Dryad Arbor.

Eldrazi Tron: Cold

Eldrazi Tron is definitely not as hot as it was a few months ago. This is a deck that can be great when it is able to completely shut down a lot of strategies with Chalice of the Void, and then beat a bunch of midrange decks with the Eldrazi creatures. However, there seem to be plenty of Blood Moons running around with the Blue-Red Breach deck picking up, and you can go bigger than Eldrazi Tron.

I'm not actually sure if traditional Big Tron or Eldrazi Tron is in a better spot to be right now, but the Big Tron deck does have the edge in the pseudo mirror. Don't get me wrong — Eldrazi Tron will still see plenty of play, but it is definitely on the decline overall.

Five-Color Humans: Hot

We have to consider Five Color Humans one of the hottest decks in Modern, even though it may be a bit off its peak in terms of popularity. This is a deck that is very new to the metagame, so we are still getting used to how to prepare against it, and how to beat it. The Five Color Humans deck was considered the best deck in Modern a couple weeks ago, but it's unclear if that is indeed the case, but it is still going to be heavily played. We haven't seen a manabase like this in quite some time, as the lands allow you to reap the rewards of playing only one creature type. I have talked about this deck quite a bit, so I won't go into too much detail here.

Grixis Control: Cold

This deck is ice-cold, to the point I would be pretty surprised to get paired against it in a large Modern event. There are definitely more popular control decks at the moment, and if you do want to play the grixis colors, there is certainly a good argument that you should simply be playing Death's Shadow. This deck does have a lot of removal in it, but also doesn't win particularly quickly. There will be some splash hate where players are trying to beat a deck like Jeskai Control, but you are even worse off against a deck like Bogles than Jeskai is.

U/R Breach-Moon: Hot

This deck has gained a lot of momentum in the last month or so. This is the best combo/control deck in the format. You are playing a control deck, and then all of a sudden you can Through the Breach an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn and simply win the game. There is also a mana denial element to the deck with both Blood Moon and Spreading Seas. Be aware of any straight blue-red deck in Modern, as more likely than not Blood Moon will be lurking somewhere.

After sideboard you do want a secondary plan, in case Through the Breach plus Emrakul, the Aeons Torn isn't good enough. I have seen versions have Young Pyromancers, but this version is going for Madcap Experiment plus Platinum Emperion. This combo can catch the opponent off-guard, as there is always a good chance the opponent boards out almost all their removal.

W/R Control: Cold

The Red-White Prison deck has More or Less disappeared as far as I can tell. This was a deck that never made it to tier one, but definitely was a strong tier-two strategy at one point. This is a deck that heavily relies on specific hate cards like Chalice of the Void to be very disruptive. With other decks like Eldrazi Tron that also maindeck Chalice of the Void also declining in popularity, it seems like this sort of gameplan isn't going to be as effective in the current metagame.

This is the sort of deck that doesn't have a cohesive gameplan other than trying to disrupt what the opponent is doing. If you don't have the right card in the right matchup, sometimes you will simply get run over. The Planeswalkers are here to close the game out after you are able to disrupt the opponent significantly.

Jeskai Control: Hot

This is the best and most popular control deck in Modern right now. Some versions play Geist of Saint Traft to try and close the game out quickly, while others just play Spell Queller and Snapcaster Mage as maindeck creatures. This is the deck that keeps small creature strategies and Burn decks in check. There is a ton of cheap removal here so normally the various burn spells and Path to Exile is enough to stop any early pressure.

Then of course there is lategame card advantage, with cards like Cryptic Command to take over as the game goes longer. This version doesn't play card like Sphinx's Revelation though, so it doesn't have quite as strong of a go long plan as some of the other versions of Jeskai Control.

Thanks for reading,
Seth Manfield




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