Hello and welcome back to Metagame Mentor, your weekly guide to the top decks and latest Constructed developments on the path to the Pro Tour. Last week, I broke down the top 15 archetypes in the current Modern metagame, showcasing a diversity of play styles including aggro, midrange, control, ramp, and combo. However, the variety goes deeper, especially when it pertains to combo. Today, I'll cover the top ten off-meta combo decks that recently found success in Modern tournaments.
The Modern Metagame
Modern, one of the possible Constructed formats for Regional Championship Qualifiers (RCQs), is a nonrotating, 60-card format featuring cards from approximately the last 20 years. Its deep card pool enables a variety of powerful strategies. For a detailed introduction, I recommend last week's format primer, which introduced the top 15 archetypes, matchups, and interactions.
As I wrote in that article, Izzet Murktide and Hammer Time are currently the two most prominent decks to beat. The metagame has remained relatively stable over the past month, but there are always new developments, most notably the emergence of
In the end, Bart Van Etten reigns supreme at the MOCS Showcase! Using Izzet Murktide, they bested Damian Buckley in the Finals to win $20,000 and the title of Showcase Champion - congratulations! pic.twitter.com/1lsX24jZU2— Magic Online (@MagicOnline) January 22, 2023
At last weekend's 8-player Magic Online Champions Showcase, a quarter of the field was on Domain Zoo, which put up a good showing in the Modern rounds. But in the end, in a metagame that also featured two Izzet Murktide decks, two Jeskai Breach decks, and two other decks, Izzet Murktide emerged victorious. Modern champion Bart van Etten defeated draft champion Damian Buckley in the finals, and both finalists earned an invitation to World Championship XXIX, held at MagicCon: Las Vegas on September 22–24, 2023.
Yet there's more to Modern than Izzet Murktide and the other popular archetypes that I covered last week.
The Top 10 Off-Meta Combo Decks in Modern
Looking for something different, but powerful? After sifting through thousands of successful Modern decklists from recent tournaments, I picked ten underrated combo archetypes, in no particular order, to consider.
Tameshi Bloom, like all combo decks in this article, hasn't been popular lately but is still powerful enough to put up a good showing at major events. Just two weeks ago, Jack Lynch piloted this deck to a 9-4 finish at the $20K RCQ at SCG CON, missing the single-elmination playoffs by a single win.
The core of the deck around
Hardened Scales can also win by attacking with aggressive creatures, but its best draws explode in a combo-like way, producing lethal damage out of thin air. For example, suppose you start the turn with
By exploiting these synergies, Davide Patacchiola won the 137-player Classic Qualifier Trieste two weeks ago, earning an invitation to the European Championship. This Regional Championship (to be held in Athens, Greece on June 10-11 in the Pioneer format) marks the next step on the organized play pyramid. Top performers at that Regional Championship will earn a qualification for the Pro Tour at MagicCon: Barcelona on July 28-30. Yet the path to the Pro Tour can begin with a spicy Modern deck.
Vito Tomasicchio recently finished an impressive 9th place at the Grand Open Qualifier Trieste, narrowly missing the single-elimination playoffs on tiebreakers. His 11-3-1 record was still more than enough to secure him a European Championship qualification.
In his deck, which I've come to call Shift to Light, the key card is
Gruul Storm, recently taken to a six-win run by Magic Online player CWS in a Challenge event, is a powerful combo strategy that exploits the explosive synergy between
There are two advantages to playing green instead of blue. First, you gain access to powerful sideboard options such as
Dredge has been one of the most powerful mechanics in Modern since the format's inception—something the designers were keenly aware of when they placed
Two key cards in his deck are
At the $20K RCQ at SCG CON two weeks ago, MrFringe89 took a deck that I dubbed Asmo Portal to a 9-3-1 finish, one win short of making it to the single-elimination playoffs. The appetizing strategy marries two combo angles. The first revolves around
After you've put
Belcher is a combo deck with zero land cards. As a result, an activation of
Belcher also gets to exploit
Devoted Druid has enabled numerous combos over the years, but the one involving
CopyCat is a combo strategy that uses
Masaki slotted the combo in an otherwise straightforward Four-Color Omnath shell. This makes sense because if you draw only one piece of the combo, then you can use
Urza ThopterSword revolves around the synergy between Thopter Founrdry and
Using this game-winning combo, supported by
If you're eager to start your own competitive tabletop Magic journey, you can find Regional Championship Qualifiers (RCQs) near you via the event Locator or your regional organizer's website. RCQs can take place in Modern, Pioneer, Standard, or Limited—including the prerelease at SCG CON Indianapolis. Through April 3, these RCQs award qualifications for the third cycle of Regional Championships. These premier events will be held in the Pioneer format in May, June, or July (depending on your region) and will feed into the corresponding third Pro Tour of the season, which will be held at MagicCon: Barcelona on July 28-30.
However, all of that is in the future. In less than 30 days, on February 17-19, the first tabletop Pro Tour in years will return at MagicCon: Philadelphia. Officially named Pro Tour Phyrexia, it invites a few hundred of the world's very best Magic: the Gathering players to compete in a three-day tournament featuring a $500,00 prize pool. The formats are Phyrexia: All Will Be One Booster Draft in the morning of Friday and Saturday, and then Pioneer Constructed for five rounds afterward each of those days. Pioneer is also the Top 8 format on Sunday as the final remaining players compete to see who will take home the prestigious title and first-place trophy.
For other competitive players looking for an opportunity to show their skills, MagicCon: Philadelphia will also host two Phyrexia: All Will Be One Sealed Pro Tour Qualifiers, each of which qualify the four top finishers for Pro Tour March of the Machine, held at MagicCon: Minneapolis on May 5–7. MagicCon: Philadelphia also features four Secret Lair Showdowns in the Pioneer format, where players compete for coveted Secret Lair prizes, including an alternate-art Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer and a very special variant on Brainstorm. If you're planning on joining us for these exciting competitions, be sure to grab your badge soon before they sell out!