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. Today, we'll take a look at the top 15 archetypes in the current Modern metagame and discuss what happened in last weekend's events. Modern is one of the possible Constructed formats for Regional Championship Qualifiers (RCQs) and this article can act as your one-stop shop to acquaint yourself with the format.
The Modern Metagame
Modern, created in 2011, is a nonrotating, 60-card format that allows expansion sets, core sets, and Modern Horizons sets from Eight Edition forward, save for cards on the banned list. Compared to Standard and Pioneer, it has a deeper card pool, features more complex card interactions, and enables a larger diversity of strategies.
To grasp the latest Modern developments, I analyzed over 1,000 decklists from large competitive events over the past few weeks. Specifically, I used all available Magic Online decklists from scheduled Modern events held from December 26, 2022 through January 17, 2023. In addition, I used Top 8 decklists from the RCQ at Card Monster Games and the RCQ at Checkpoint Gallarate, as well as all MTG Melee decklists with positive net wins from the Grand Open Qualifier and Classic Qualifier at LMS Trieste and the Modern $20K RCQ, and Modern $5K RCQ at SCG CON New Jersey. These tabletop events provided dozens of Regional Championship invites, with the biggest events drawing hundreds of players to compete for large prizes.
To provide a metagame snapshot that combines popularity and performance, I assigned an archetype label to each deck and awarded a number of points equal to the deck's net wins, i.e., its number of match wins minus losses. For example, a deck that went 5–1 in the Swiss followed by a loss in the quarterfinals was assigned three points. The sum of these numbers for every archetype yields its record-weighted metagame share, which represents its share of total net wins. It may be interpreted as a winner's metagame that you can expect to see at the top tables.
|Archetype||Record-Weighted Metagame Share|
|1. Izzet Murktide||13.9%|
|2. Hammer Time||11.6%|
|3. Indomitable Creativity||8.4% ↑↑|
|4. Rakdos Undying||7.8% ↓↓|
|5. Jeskai Breach||7.5%|
|8. Amulet Titan||4.0%|
|9. Four-Color Omnath||3.7%|
|10. Living End||3.2%|
|11. Azorius Control||3.1%|
|13. Domain Zoo||2.6%|
|14. Mono-Green Tron||1.9%|
|16. Grixis Shadow||1.8%|
|17. Jund Reanimator||1.6%|
|18. Shift to Light||1.5%|
|19. Izzet Prowess||1.3%|
|20. Jund Midrange||1.0%|
|21. Hardened Scales||0.8%|
In this table, each archetype name hyperlinks to a well-performing, representative decklist, and the arrows represent the biggest changes compared to my metagame roundup from early December. Despite small fluctuations, the metagame has remained relatively stable and diverse. The diversity is evidenced by the Top 8 at the Grand Open Qualifier at LMS Trieste, which featured eight different archetypes.
The "Other" category, continuing the descending order, includes Dredge, Urza ThopterSword, Eldrazi Tron, Temur Midrange, Ponza, Rakdos Midrange, Steelseeker Food, Four-Color Control, Belcher, Tameshi Bloom, Devoted Druid combo, Golgari Midrange, Mill, Izzet Breach, Asmo Food, Infect, Affinity, Goblins, CopyCat, Gruul Storm, Grixis Undying, Temur Breach, Humans, Jeskai Prowess, Death & Taxes, Insects, Mono-Red Prowess, Temur Scapeshift, Mono-Black Coffers, Prison Tron, Esper Undying, and more. The number of competitively viable Modern archetypes remains enormous, and deck familiarity is a significant success factor. My advice for navigating the Modern format is to invest time in mastering your preferred deck. A skilled player who is well-versed in their deck's interactions and matchup strategies can win with almost everything.
The defining staples of the format (more specifically, the most-played non-land cards across all main decks and sideboards) were
The most notable metagame development over the past month is the emergence of
The Top 15 Modern Deck Archetypes
To take a closer look at the 15 archetypes with the highest record-weighted metagame share, I've used a decklist aggregation algorithm that takes into account the popularity and performance of individual card choices.
Izzet Murktide, with a 13.9% share of the record-weighted metagame, is a powerful archetype that combines cheap cantrips, efficient interaction, and powerful threats. The card advantage and velocity provided by
When playing against Izzet Murktide, it's important to keep in mind that they will likely have
Hammer Time, with a 11.6% share of the winner's metagame, treats the metagame like a nail. The main goal is to cheat the equip cost on
Hammer Time is well-equipped to defeat decks that rely on damage-based removal, such as Burn, Izzet Murktide, or Rhinos. However, due to its lack of interaction, it can struggle against combo decks such as Yawgmoth, Living End, and Amulet Titan, especially when they add
When playing against this deck, it's important to be aware of the interaction between
Indomitable Creativity, with a 8.4% share of the record-weighted metagame, is a combo deck that aims to put Archon of Creativity onto the battlefield by using the namesake card in combination with
When playing against these decks, make sure to board in
Rakdos Undying, with a 7.8% share of the winner's metagame, aims to evoke
Rakdos Undying's midrange shell, which includes
When playing against this deck, it's essential to keep in mind that they usually have main deck
Jeskai Breach, with a 7.5% share of the record-weighted metagame, is slowly evolving into an Izzet Murktide deck that utilizes
Indeed, the aggregate list no longer includes cards like
When playing against this deck, it's important to remember not to sideboard in too many anti-enchantment or anti-graveyard cards. Cards like
Rhinos, with a 6.4% share of the winner's metagame, has a straightforward game plan: cast
In terms of matchups, Rhinos fares well against Rakdos Undying and Yawgmoth, but struggles against Hammer Time and Living End. Cards that prevent you from casting or resolving
Despite these challenges, Rhinos remains a powerful deck, with a consistent and proactive game plan in every matchup. This makes it an excellent deck choice for newcomers to the format. If you're considering picking up the deck, don't be deterred by the possibility of an opposing Ragavan revealing
Yawgmoth, with a 4.0% share of the record-weighted metagame, combines undying creatures and
When playing against Yawgmoth, it's important to be aware of its potential for infinite loops. One such loop can be achieved with
Amulet Titan, with a 4.0% share of the winner's metagame, is an intricate ramp deck that exploits the synergy between
Amulet Titan has a good matchup against decks low on interaction, such as Hammer Time and Burn, but it struggles against
Four-Color Omnath, with a 3.7% share of the record-weighted metagame, uses the namesake card
When playing against this deck, remember that mana from
Living End, with a 3.2% share of the record-weighted metagame, is a combo deck that aims to cycle several creatures and then cascade into
Living End excels against creature-based decks with little interaction, such as Hammer Time and Rhinos. However, it has a lot of respect in the metagame as many decks have the tools to interact with it. Despite its ability to fight back with
When playing against Living End, remember that sometimes your creatures are better dead than alive. Destroying or sacrificing your own creatures in response to
Azorius Control, with a 3.1% share of the record-weighted metagame, includes all the hallmarks of a traditional control deck: spot removal, countermagic, card draw, sweepers, and planeswalkers. Recently, the most prominent versions have incorporated
When playing against Azorius Control, always be mindful of sweepers and countermagic. Avoid overextending your threats into
Burn, with a 2.9% share of the winner's metagame, embodies the philosophy of fire. The goal is to unleash a flurry of damage as quickly as possible, with an ideal opening hand featuring a turn one
However, four-color or five-color decks have been on the decline folloing the ban of
When playing against Burn, be mindful of your life total. Think twice before pay 2 life for shock lands, consider exiling one of your own creatures with
Domain Zoo, with a 2.6% share of the winner's metagame, is an aggressive deck that uses Triomes to power up
When playing against Domain Zoo, it can be useful to know that
Mono-Green Tron, with a 1.9% share of the record-weighted metagame, is a ramp deck centered around the "Urzatron"–Urza's Mine,
On the following turn, Mono-Green Tron can further bolster its strategy with
Merfolk, with an 1.8% share of the winner's metagame, is an archetype that has been around since the inception of the game. The original
When playing against Merfolk, be aware of the unexpected interactions that
This concludes my coverage of the top 15 deck archetypes in Modern, but there are many other strategies that are also competitive viable, and the metagame continues to evolve. Perhaps even this weekend, as Modern will be featured at the 8-player Magic Online Champions Showcase. In this event, top competitors from the last Magic Online season will battle for their share of a $70,000 prize pool and two World Championship invitations. Live coverage will start at 10 a.m. PT on January 21 at twitch.tv/magic.
If you're eager to start your own competitive Magic journey on tabletop, you can find Regional Championship Qualifiers (RCQs) near you via the Store & Event Locator or your regional organizer's website. RCQs can take place in Modern, Pioneer, Standard, or Limited and, through April 3 they award qualifications for the third cycle of Regional Championships. These major events will be held 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. Pro Tours are high-prestige tournaments that invite the best Magic players from all regions to compete for World Championship invites, an awesome first-place trophy, and $500K in prizes. The formats in Philadelphia will be Phyrexia: All Will Be One draft and Pioneer and it's sure to be an exciting competition. I can't wait to see the return of tabletop Pro Tour!