Some Magic players are always interested in the new hotness. They love deck diversity, as well as the emergence of new archetypes to keep formats fresh and exciting. Other Magic players look towards formats they can easily buy in to, without feeling like change occurs too fast. After all, it would be a shame to buy lots of expensive cards only to have your favorite deck become obsolete after a few months. Luckily, the best MTG Modern decks strike a great balance between providing a format for innovation and a format for investment over time.
There is always room for deckbuilding and exploration, especially with the printing of new cards. Still, some classic archetypes have remained great options for years and will continue to be at the forefront of the format. As a result, Modern appeals to a large audience. If you are interested in getting started but don’t know where to begin or wish to stay updated about the best decks to play, look no further. Here are the best MTG decks to play in the Modern format!
Honorable Mention | Indomitable Creativity
While Indomitable Creativity is the namesake card and how the deck wins most of its games, the best card in the deck by a mile is Wrenn and Six. Wrenn is super powerful on its own, but the constant flow of land it provides helps with the deck’s tough mana development and color requirements. The deck wins by casting Indomitable Creativity targeting at least one creature and putting a copy of Archon of Cruelty in its place.
With access to Dwarven Mine and the powerful Fable of the Mirror Breaker, the deck has enough instances of ways to make creatures for Indomitable Creativity that aren’t themselves creatures while in the deck. Dwarven Mine specifically is excellent because it can be tutored with Fetchlands at instant speed, meaning the opponent has to always be weary of Creativity on turn four and beyond, even with no creatures in play. Wrenn helps you set up your Dwarven Mines by providing a steady flow of Fetch Lands, all able to tutor for Mountains to make sure Dwarven Mine is effective.
While this deck has lost its footing in the Modern metagame in recent months, it’s still a solid choice given how strong Wrenn and Six and Fable of the Mirror Breaker are! There are plenty of great options to choose from in Modern, and the printing of new cards and the metagame shifts within the format make sure Modern is rarely a dull format.
Honorable Mention | Izzet Murktide
This deck gets to make use of some of the most powerful cards from Modern Horizons Two all at once. The effectiveness of each of the cards in the deck is extremely high, and that’s what the deck is all about. By playing both efficient threats such as Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer and efficient interaction such as Counterspell, it is quite easy to get far ahead before your opponent even knows what hit them.
Pair that with one of the most powerful card draw spells printed in recent memory, Expressive Iteration, banned in formats such as Legacy and Pioneer, and you have a recipe for success! Murktide Regent specifically is an enormous yet efficient flier that makes quick work of your opponent’s life total. It is very common to play Murktide with Counterspell backup, and for your opponent to simply not have an answer. That makes this deck one of the most powerful options available.
After the release of Orcish Bowmasters and The One Ring, Murktide strategies began to fall out of favor. That said, some new variants of the deck utilizing Questing Druid have begun to show up. Results are still mixed but, for now, there is some potential here.
10 | Hammer Time
Colossus Hammer is an extremely powerful card when you are not planning on paying the eight mana equip cost. Luckily, Puresteel Paladin and Sigarda’s Aid let you bypass the equip cost and still reap the rewards from the powerful equipment. As such, this deck leads to incredibly fast kills.
The reason this deck is so effective though is that it can still grind through lots of removal. Esper Sentinel and especially Urza’s Saga allow the deck to grind with the best, while still having access to blazing starts reminiscent of old Infect decks. It is important to be wary of powerful cards against the deck like Fury and Solitude, but the deck fights through hate pretty well.
9 | Burn
Burn is a tale as old as time. A flurry of Haste creatures and three damage burn spells threaten to quickly and efficiently defeat your opponent. The goal of the deck is to get some early damage in with either Goblin Guide or Monastery Swiftspear, then finish your opponent off with a bunch of burn spells to the face. This deck is as streamlined as it gets. It is a great deck for anyone new to the Modern format to learn and is extremely effective to boot!
It is obviously weak to specific hate cards that gain lots of life. The good news is that the deck comes prepared with copies of Skullcrack and Roiling Vortex to minimize the effect of these hate cards. This deck has been great for a long time and will continue to be great for a long time.
8 | Mono-Green Tron
Tron is a classic Modern deck that has been around for a long time whose presence fluctuates based on the metagame surrounding it. The goal of playing the deck is to assemble the combination of Urza’s Mine, Urza’s Power Plant, and Urza’s Tower by the third turn. From there, you can cast a multitude of extremely powerful and high mana-value spells ahead of the curve. With access to seven mana on turn three, casting Karn, the Great Creator or Karn Liberated will put your opponent quickly on the backfoot. Tron has such a high density of threats that, as long as you develop your mana and can stave off early pressure from your opponent, actually winning the game is often trivial.
The deck definitely has its weaknesses though. Because the deck needs to assemble the Urza lands in a timely fashion to function at the highest level, the deck mulligans A LOT. If you want to play the deck, you must be disciplined and be willing to mulligan to five or four relatively frequently. The deck also lacks early interaction, as the first two turns are typically spent trying to guarantee access to all three Urza Lands quickly. All that being said, Tron remains a powerful choice for anyone looking to cast large haymakers as fast as possible!
Tron also got a big boost from Lord of the Rings. The One Ring provides a steady source of card advantage and given the deck’s ability to generate tons of mana, it’s quite easy to utilize this card advantage in a timely fashion. Having access to both Karn, the Great Creator and The One Ring also gives this deck a higher chance of beating hate cards, since they both only cost four mana. This means that they are much easier to cast naturally on curve without access to Tron than cards like Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. As such, Tron has certainly gotten better in the past couple of months.
7 | Hardened Scales
If you like doing combat math and finding lethal damage in unintuitive ways, this deck is for you! As the namesake card suggests, this deck is all about utilizing counters synergies. Almost every card in the deck is an artifact to maximize the potential of both Urza’s Saga and Arcbound Ravager. Every creature in the deck either enters with counters or can accrue counters over time. This combined with cards like Hardened Scales and The Ozolith makes every single creature the deck plays a legitimate problem for the opponent at all times.
The simple threat of moving counters with Arcbound Ravager to another creature at any point makes combat a nightmare for the opponent. Sometimes, the combination of Ravager and Walking Ballista can finish off opponents without even entering combat! This deck is a real powerhouse, even if it is a bit underrepresented.
That said, Hardened Scales is gaining a much larger metagame share thanks to one particular matchup: Rakdos Scam. Hardened Scales has an absolutely incredible Scam matchup and with Scam having twice as much metagame representation as other decks, playing the Rakdos Scam slayer is a very reasonable plan.
6 | Living End
Another combo deck based around the namesake card, Living End relies on filling up its graveyard with Cycling creatures such as Architects of Will before casting one of its Cascade spells, such as Violent Outburst, hitting Living End and bringing back all the creatures put into the graveyard. Everything in the deck costs 3 or more, so a cascade into Living End is guaranteed. This deck has been around for years, but what really put it over the top was the printing of Grief. Grief is amazing in the deck. It can be played for free but technically costs four mana so it doesn’t break up the Cascade. It is a relevant creature going to the graveyard and can strip the opponent of interaction in the form of counterspells or specific hate cards to clear the way for Living End.
While weak to graveyard hate, the deck is so streamlined and so powerful that it can afford to run a lot of answers to graveyard hate in the sideboard. Additionally, with how much the deck cycles through its creatures, finding these answers is often trivial.
The deck is incredibly consistent, but does fold to hate, which can make your results rather volatile. Walk into a room where everyone is prepared for Living End, and you’re going to have a hard time doing anything. Take a room by surprise, and it will be the easiest tournament win of your life.
5 | Cascade Beanstalk
Replacing the outgoing Four Color Omnath deck, Cascade Beanstalk has wrapped the archetype into something new. Featuring many of the same hallmarks, the namesake card Up the Beanstalk has helped reinvigorate entirely. Now, rather than being based around constant Landfall triggers, this deck punches in with Evoke Elementals and consistent draws.
Harnessing Shardless Agent and Bloodbraid Elf, these Cascade cards have a very specific purpose. While there are a few other targets, they ideally want to hit Up the Beanstalk. By getting this Enchantment into play over and over again, the Evoke Elementals become immense value engines. Able to be cheated out for minimal cost, these frustratingly iconic cards keep you loaded with gas.
As we mentioned, for better or worse, there are other Cascade targets that could be hit. Teferi, Time Raveler is a less common target, but an undeniable star in Modern.
4 | Amulet Titan
Amulet Titan is relatively complicated. By combining Amulet of Vigor, “Bounce Lands” such as Simic Growth Chamber, and Dryad of the Ilysian Grove letting you play multiple lands per turn, the deck can generate enough mana to resolve an early copy of Primeval Titan. This is due to the Amulet’s ability to untap Bounce Lands as they enter the battlefield. Their trigger can then bounce themselves which, when combined with effects like Dryad of the Ilysian Grove, can re-enter and make more mana. This effect multiplies when having multiple Amulet of Vigor in play, meaning you can generate four mana instead of two.
From here, you can tutor for a multitude of different lands to help win the game on the same turn (most of the time). If you still have a Dryad in play, getting Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle is a great start. With Amulet in play, getting Boros Garrison and Slayers’ Stronghold can give the Titan Haste, granting two more lands when it attacks! This deck is an oddity in that the majority of the deck is actually lands, not spells. Most spells and lands are used to maximize the power of Amulet of Vigor and Primeval Titan themselves, hence the name of the deck. This deck definitely takes some playing to get used to but is quite effective if you can master the ins and outs.
3 | Temur Footfalls
Just like with Living End, this deck plays the same Cascade spells that are guaranteed to Cascade into Crashing Footfalls. While not quite the same level of game-ending spell that Living End is, making two four-power creatures turn three is difficult for a lot of decks to race or fight through. If not, Cascading again into another copy usually does the job.
Crashing Footfalls gives a lot more leeway in deck construction than Living End, allowing for more powerful cards on their own, such as Fury, to see play (that said, Living End is starting to play Fury as well). Also, by not playing out of the graveyard, Crashing Footfalls is less vulnerable to specific hate cards from the opponent. This makes Crashing Footfalls a much more consistent choice.
While Rhinos is a consistent, fair deck with an unfair edge, aside from Scam, a lot of other popular gameplans match up well with this deck. As a result, while this is ranked 3rd for now, it could be a bit less powerful than this list suggests.
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2 | Yawgmoth Combo
As the name suggests, this deck revolves heavily around getting a copy of Yawgmoth, Thran Physician onto the board. This card acts as both a value engine as well as a combo piece. Perhaps one of the more convoluted combos available in Modern, requiring Yawgmoth, Blood Artist or Zulaport Cutthroat, and two creatures with Undying, such as Young Wolf, can lead to the following kill combo.
- First, sacrifice a Young Wolf with Yawgmoth’s activated ability. Do not target any of your creatures with the -1/-1 counter. The Young Wolf will come back with a +1/+1 counter thanks to Undying. This will trigger Blood Artist, draining your opponent for one.
- Second, sacrifice your Young Wolf that does not have a counter, targeting the Young Wolf that does have a counter. Your counters will cancel out. Your other Young Wolf will come back with a +1/+1 counter thanks to Undying. This, once again, will trigger Blood Artist.
- You can repeat step two over and over, sacrificing the Young Wolf without a counter, targeting the one that does have a counter, thanks to -1/-1 counters and +1/+1 counters canceling one another out.
- There are other combo lines available in the deck, but, for the sake of briefness, we will not cover those here.
What is nice about this deck is that Yawgmoth is immensely powerful even without the combo assembled. As long as your life total is high, it is very reasonable to draw a bunch of cards with Yawgmoth’s ability right away. As a result, the deck plays multiple ways to find the namesake card, such as Chord of Calling. This deck gets a lot of additional power from opponents simply not knowing how to play against the deck and how to insulate themselves from the combo. If you are a Modern expert, this deck might just be right up your alley.
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1 | Rakdos Scam
It may seem strange to see a Wilds of Eldraine Common, Not Dead After All, in one of Modern’s best MTG decks, but it pairs unbelievably well with Grief and Fury. Both Grief and Fury are great on their own, but when paired with Undying Malice and other cards with the exact same effect, they become enormous problems for the opponent. All you have to do is play a land, Evoke Grief pitching a black card from hand, and if you stack the triggers for Evoke and looking at the opponent’s hand in the correct order, you can strip them of their best resource, target Grief with Not Dead After All before it hits the graveyard, and it will come back as a massive threat. Oh, and it will take your opponent’s second-best resource too!
This combo is absolutely devastating and quite difficult to play around for your opponent, especially if they are on the draw. This combo often wins the game on its own. Yet, the Rakdos deck still gets to play other great midrange cards like Thoughtseize and Seasoned Pyromancer in case the combo isn’t enough or gets broken up. Having access to a great combo as well as an excellent plan B makes this deck an all-star. It’s no wonder this deck dominated Pro Tour Lord of the Rings, and if you want to have success in the Modern format, you have to be prepared for this matchup.
At the moment, Rakdos Scam is so popular that it’s kind of in a tier of its own. Many players are tired of the deck and, at this point, are waiting for Wizards of the Coast to do something about it. Honestly, in my personal opinion, the deck is somewhat overrated, but it is undeniably the best deck in Modern right now.
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