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. This weekend, the next Regional Championship Qualifier season will start, featuring Modern as the Constructed format for in-store events. To get you up to speed on Modern, today's article provides a overview of the format. I will walk you through the top 15 archetypes in the current Modern metagame, and I'll highlight my picks for new Wilds of Eldraine cards that may make an impact.
The Modern Metagame
Modern is a nonrotating format based on expansion sets, core sets, and straight-to-Modern sets from Eight Edition forward, save for cards on the ban list. With its deep card pool, Modern boasts intricate card interactions and exciting competitive diversity. The upcoming cycle of Regional Championship Qualifiers (RCQs), taking place from September 9 through December 17, will feature Modern as its Constructed format.
To grasp the latest Modern developments, I analyzed over 1,100 successful decklists from competitive events over the past three weeks. Specifically, I used all published Magic Online decklists from scheduled Modern events held from August 15 through September 4. In addition, I used all MTG Melee decklists with net positive wins from the Kadou Series Modern, $10K RCQ at The Gathering Place Games, Nordic Masters, and $20K RCQ at SCG CON Columbus, as well as the Top 8 decklists from the 4 Seasons and the Dutch Open Series. It's always great to see Modern champions hoist their trophies, especially at large events that drew hundreds of players.
🏆 Amin Ebady (@EbadyAmin) takes home the trophy after 2 long days of battling in the $20k Modern RCQ! He pockets $3,000 and secures the Qualification for the Regional Championship at Dreamhack. Congrats and well fought this weekend! 👏 pic.twitter.com/G6ughLchXx— SCG CON (@SCGCON) September 3, 2023
To obtain a metric that combines popularity and performance, I awarded a number of points to each deck equal to its net wins (i.e., its number of match wins minus losses). Each archetype's share of total net wins is called its record-weighted metagame share, which may be interpreted as a winner's metagame that you can expect to see at the top tables.
|Archetype||Winner's Metagame Share|
|1. Rakdos Evoke||16.3%|
|2. Izzet Murktide||11.0%|
|5. Amulet Titan||5.4%|
|6. Hammer Time||4.9%|
|7. Mono-Green Tron||4.5%|
|9. Four-Color Omnath||3.8%|
|10. Living End||3.2%|
|11. Dimir Control||2.1%|
|12. Indomitable Creativity||2.0%|
|13. Jund Sagavan||2.0%|
|14. Hardened Scales||1.7%|
|15. Mono-Black Coffers||1.5%|
|18. Domain Zoo||1.3%|
|19. Grixis Shadow||1.2%|
|20. Izzet Control||1.2%|
|21. Urza ThopterSword||1.1%|
|22. Izzet Prowess||1.0%|
In this table, each archetype name hyperlinks to a well-performing, representative decklist. The "Other" category included Grixis Control, Five-Color Reanimator, Golgari Midrange, Jeskai Control, Esper Control, Jeskai Breach, Storm, Mono-Red Obosh, Four-Color Control, Gruul Midrange, Five-Color Omnath, Mono-White Martyr, Mono-Black Control, Cragganwick Cremator, Mono-Black Grief, Samwise Gamgee Combo, Asmo Food, Heliod Company, Dice Factory, Bring to Light, Twiddle Breach, and more.
The number of competitively viable Modern archetypes remains enormous, and you can basically play any style of deck you want. As 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; Modern usually rewards deep format knowledge and experience.
The defining staples of the format (more specifically, the most-played non-land cards across all main decks and sideboards) were
The most notable, sustained metagame developments since Pro Tour The Lord of the Rings and my metagame snapshot in August are the rise of Izzet Murktide and the fall of Four-Color Omnath. Four-Color Omnath dwindled as a result of disappointing Pro Tour results, where it struggled against Mono-Green Tron, Rhinos, and Living End. Meanwhile, Izzet Murktide was the main benefactor of the unban of
The Top 15 Modern Deck Archetypes
To take a closer look at the 15 archetypes with the highest record-weighted metagame share, in descending order, I've used a decklist aggregation algorithm that considers the popularity and performance of individual card choices.
Rakdos Evoke, with a 16.3% share of the winner's metagame, won Pro Tour The Lord of the Rings and is the most popular deck in Modern right now. It's a midrange deck that can evoke and return
The archetype has been known under various names over the past year, including Rakdos Evoke, Rakdos Undying, Rakdos Grief, Rakdos Scam, and Rakdos Midrange. The name Rakdos Evoke highlights the key mechanic of both
When playing against this deck, it's essential to keep in mind that they usually have
Izzet Murktide, with an 11.0% 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
Izzet Murktide was the best home for
When playing against Izzet Murktide, it's important to keep in mind that they will likely have
Rhinos, with a 9.6% share of the winner's metagame, has a straightforward game plan: cast
In terms of matchups, Rhinos fares well against Rakdos Evoke and Yawgmoth, but struggles against Living End. Cards that prevent you from casting or resolving
If you're considering picking up the deck, don't be scared of an opposing Ragavan revealing and casting
Yawgmoth, with a 6.2% share of the record-weighted metagame, combines undying creatures and
From The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth™, the deck gained several upgrades in
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 5.4% share of the winner's metagame, is an intricate ramp deck that exploits the synergy between
Mastering this deck requires a deep understanding of the various lines of play available, making it a challenging but ultimately rewarding endeavor. Amulet Titan has a good matchup against decks low on interaction, such as Hammer Time and Burn, but it struggles against Living End and against
When playing against Amulet Titan, one interaction to remember is that
Hammer Time, with a 4.9% share of the winner's metagame, treats the metagame like a nail. It avoids the enormous equip cost on
Hammer Time is well-equipped to defeat decks that rely on damage-based removal, such as Izzet Murktide or Burn. 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
Mono-Green Tron, with a 4.5% share of the record-weighted metagame, is a ramp deck centered around
Mono-Green Tron tends to be line up well against Four-Color Omnath and Living End, and it had a fantastic weekend at Pro Tour The Lord of the Rings, where it put multiple players in the Top 8. However, it has fallen hard since then. This drop-off can be ascribed to an unfavorable matchup against Rakdos Evoke and to the large quantities of
When playing against Mono-Green Tron, remember that the most popular build nowadays is based on the one that Team Handshake unveiled at the Pro Tour. It uses fewer
Burn, with a 4.3% 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
Burn has been a staple of the Modern format since its inception, preying on slow decks like Mono-Green Tron or decks with painful fetch-shock mana bases like Four-Color Omnath. However, Burn struggles against Hammer Time and Amulet Titan. While Burn remains an easy deck to pick up and play, other decks such as Rhinos are similarly forgiving, and they offer better positioning in the current metagame. For this reason, I would recommend Rhinos over Burn for new or returning Modern players.
When playing against Burn, be mindful of your life total. Think twice before you pay 2 life for shock lands, consider exiling one of your own creatures with
Four-Color Omnath, with a 3.8% share of the record-weighted metagame, uses the namesake card
Four-Color Omnath is one of the best homes for
When playing against the deck, it's useful to be aware of how
Living End, with a 3.2% share of the winner's 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, Yawgmoth, and Rhinos. However, Living End is vulnerable to
When playing against Living End, remember that sometimes your creatures are better dead than alive. Destroying or sacrificing your own creatures in response to Living End is often a good course of action. In particular,
Dimir Control came out of nowhere two months ago, exploiting all the best cards from The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth™ along with permission and spot removal. It uses
When playing against Dimir Control, respect their countermagic. When they have three mana up, they represent
Indomitable Creativity is a combo deck that aims to put
When playing against Indomitable Creativity, make sure to board in
Jund Sagavan—a portmanteau of
When playing against Jund Sagavan, remember that
Hardened Scales can win with swift attacks, 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
When playing against this deck, you should be well aware of such combo finishes. Even if their board does not look very threatening right now, consider leaving a blocker untapped or removal mana open just in case. Especially after March of the Machine introduced
Mono-Black Coffers uses
When playing against the deck, remember that they have
Promising Wilds of Eldraine Additions
Besides these top 15 Modern archetypes, there are many other competitively viable decks, and Wilds of Eldraine is adding several exciting new tools as well.
Up the Beanstalk has the potential to generate a lot of card advantage, and I imagine it could find a home in Four-Color Omnath, where
Other Wilds of Eldraine cards with potential for Modern include Hearth Elemental (which could fuel Dredge),
Happily Ever After
For deck builders and Modern experts, there are plenty of opportunities to prove their skills as the next cycle of RCQs is about to kick off. If your dream is to qualify for the Pro Tour in the 2023–24 season via the Regional Championship qualification path, then the following infographic provides a visual overview.
Cycle 1 (Pioneer): The first cycle of Regional Championship Qualifiers has concluded, but the corresponding Regional Championships are about to kick off, using the Pioneer format. A full schedule can be found in this article, but the first ones will take place on September 30 with the Legacy European Championship in Lille, France and the Canada Regional Championship in Calgary, Alberta. Top players from these Regional Championships qualify for the Pro Tour that will be held at MagicCon: Chicago in February. More details regarding this event, including the Pro Tour formats, will be announced at a later time.
Cycle 2 (Modern): The upcoming cycle of Regional Championship Qualifiers runs from September 9 through December 17 in the Modern format. Due to format matching, they award invitations to a Regional Championship in the Modern format. These Regional Championships will take place between January 19 and March 24 in 2024 and will qualify players for a Pro Tour in the second quarter of 2024. More details concerning its location and formats will be announced at a later time. Pro Tour formats are not necessarily the same as the formats of their corresponding Regional Championships.
Cycle 3 (Standard): The third cycle of Regional Championship Qualifiers runs from January 2024 through March 2024 in the Standard format. Due to format matching, they award invitations to a Regional Championship later that year in the Standard format. Pro Tour details will be announced at a later time.
You can find RCQs near you via the Store & Event Locator or your regional organizer's website. In addition, if you're looking for more high-level Modern action, then MagicCon: Las Vegas features the format at the Secret Lair Showdown and "Win an Uncut Sheet" events, which offer really cool and coveted prizes. The Modern metagame will surely continue to evolve during the upcoming RCQ cycle, and while my column's focus will briefly switch to Standard as Magic World Championship XXIX approaches, I'll be back with regular Modern updates soon!