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. As we look forward to the Modern Pro Tour at MagicCon: Barcelona on July 28—30, today we'll analyze the biggest Modern innovations since the release of March of the Machine.
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. If you're new or returning to the format, then I recommend starting with my article "everything to know about Modern to win your RCQ" to acquaint yourself with the top-tier decks. Even though that article was written in January, the Modern metagame doesn't move quickly, so it's still relevant.
To grasp the latest Modern developments, I analyzed over 1,000 successful decklists from competitive events over the past month. Specifically, I used all published Magic Online decklists from scheduled Modern events held from April 21 through May 22, all Top 16 decklists from the Modern main event at Arcanis Infinity and Modern $5K at Apex Gaming, all Modern Top 8 decklists from F2F Tour North Bay, F2F Tour Montreal, F2F Tour Halifax, and F2F Tour Edmonton, all MTG Melee decklists with net positive wins from the $20K RCQ at SCG Con Richmond, $5K RCQ at SCG CON Richmond, and $5K RCQ at NRG Series Minneapolis, and all decklists from the 2023 MOCS Showcase Season 1. That last event is the pinnacle of competition of Magic Online.
Congratulations to Marco Vassallo of Italy, the MOCS Season 1 Showcase Champion! pic.twitter.com/EwIhQpcU8f— Magic Online (@MagicOnline) May 21, 2023
Marco Vassallo has had an amazing month. After making Day 2 in his first Pro Tour, he emerged victorious at the Magic Online Champions Showcase, earning $20,000 and an invitation to Magic World Championship XXIX! The Modern metagame at the MOCS Showcase was wild: Vassallo triumphed with an innovative Goryo's Blink deck, which I'll highlight later in this article, while others showed that Infect and Eldrazi Tron are still competitive, at least for a specific expected metagame. If this event is any indication, then anything could happen at Pro Tour The Lord of the Rings in two months from now.
Although the MOCS Showcase mainly showed linear or combo decks, Modern features midrange and control decks as well, and the number of viable Modern archetypes remains enormous. To provide an overview of the decks that you can expect to see the most at the top tables, I assigned an archetype label to each deck in my dataset 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. I added three wins for every MOCS competitor. The sum of these numbers for every archetype yields its record-weighted metagame share, which represents its share of total net wins.
|Archetype||Record-Weighted Metagame Share|
|1. Indomitable Creativity||11.3%|
|2. Izzet Murktide||9.2%|
|3. Rakdos Scam||7.6%|
|5. Hammer Time||7.3%|
|6. Living End||5.8% ↑↑|
|7. Four-Color Omnath||3.8%|
|8. Amulet Titan||3.5%|
|10. Mono-Green Tron||3.4%|
|12. Jeskai Breach||2.9%|
|13. Hardened Scales||2.5%|
|14. Domain Zoo||2.2%|
|15. Azorius Control||1.7%|
|17. Jund Reanimator||1.6%|
|18. Mono-Black Coffers||1.3%|
|20. Izzet Prowess||1.2%|
|22. Grixis Shadow||1.0%|
|23. Boros Obosh||0.9%|
|24. Asmo Reanimator||0.9%|
|25. Bring to Light||0.7%|
|27. Jund Midrange||0.6%|
|28. Glimpse of Tomorrow||0.6%|
|29. Jeskai Prowess||0.6%|
In this table, each archetype name hyperlinks to a well-performing, representative decklist, and the arrows indicate that Living End has surged in popularity compared to my Modern metagame snapshots from March and from April. The "Other" category, continuing the descending order, included Mono-Blue Tron, Belcher, Urza ThopterSword, 8-Whack, Eldrazi Tron, Goryo's Blink, Mono-Red Obosh, Niv to Light, Infect, Devoted Druid, Death & Taxes, Timeless Amulet, Bant Control, Izzet Breach, Dredge, and more.
The defining staples of the format (more specifically, the most-played non-land cards across all main decks and sideboards) were
To shows the impact of March of the Machine, the following table reveals its 15 most-played new-to-Modern cards across the decklists I analyzed.
|Card Name||Total Copies||Main Deck||Sideboard|
The most-played new card is
Surge of Salvation Bolstered Hammer Time
In my data set of over 1,000 successful Modern decks from the past month,
In contrast to
Ozolith, the Shattered Spire Reinvigorated Hardened Scales
The second-most-played new main deck card from March of the Machine is
Invasion of Tarkir Found a Home in Domain Zoo
Did you know that
The biggest reason is that Domain Zoo offers so many ways to deal five damage—exactly the amount of defense counters on the battle.
New Enablers Boosted Jund Reanimator
Jund Reanimator is essentially an
That's four copies of
In this deck, after discarding the legendary Frog Spirit Elemental to
The other way to deal 18 damage with
Nissa, Resurgent Animist Reinforced Four-Color Omnath
March of the Machine: The Aftermath has not been out for long. In most of the Modern tournaments I analyzed, its cards were not yet legal. Nevertheless, based on the early indications from last weekend's events, the most important Modern card from the supplementary set is
Her powerful landfall ability fits naturally in a deck that runs a lot of fetch lands for
Goryo's Blink Won the MOCS Showcase
The final highlight is the deck that Marco Vassallo used to win last weekend's Magic Online Champions Showcase, going 3-1 in Modern. While it's not entirely new, with similar lists dating back to March, Vassallo took a well-tuned version with
The first key card in the deck is
The second key card in the deck is
March of the Machine has introduced new tools for Modern archetypes both old and new. And as proven in the MOCS Showcase, the format remains a brewer's paradise where everything is possible. Following the release of The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth™, which will be legal in Modern, afficionados of the format can look forward to the NRG Series $10K event on June 24, the Grand Open Qualifier at LMS Bologna on July 8, and of course the highest-profile Modern tournament of the year: Pro Tour The Lord of the Rings at MagicCon: Barcelona, beginning on July 28.
The next few weekends, however, are dedicated to Standard and Pioneer. These Constructed formats offer multiple premier events with live streaming coverage:
- May 27–28: LMS Valencia. Featuring Pioneer, the Grand Open Qualifier at LMS Valencia awards well over $20,000 in prizes and 32 Regional Championship invitations. Live coverage begins at 9 a.m. CET both days.
- May 27–28: Arena Championship 3. Featuring draft and Standard, the Arena Championship 3 awards $200,000 in prizes and two Magic World Championship XXIX invitations. The field is stacked with many of Magic's top competitors, including Nathan Steuer who can go four-for-four on premier event Top 8s. Check back tomorrow for the metagame breakdown, which will reveal several surprises. Live coverage begins at 9 a.m. PT both days.
- June 3–4: Regional Championships. Featuring Pioneer, the third Regional Championship cycle of the 2022-23 season kicks off, with championships in the U.S., South East Asia, Mexico, China, and East Canada in the first weekend. Next week's Metagame Mentor article will provide a full overview of all Regional Championships and their coverage and will convoke a summary of the latest Pioneer metagame developments.