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. Modern is the Constructed format for the current Regional Championship Qualifier (RCQ) cycle, and recent large events have provided a lot of data to sink out teeth into. In today's article, I will analyze the results, show how to beat the most popular deck, and walk you through the top 15 archetypes in the current Modern metagame.
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.
Usually in this article series, I combine published decklists from scheduled events on Magic Online, decklists with net positive wins from Melee, and Top 8 decks from large RCQs into a winner's metagame ranking that combines both performance and popularity. For most of these events, neither round-by-round results nor all decklists are available, so it's nearly impossible to extract useful win rates. However, several large Modern events have been run through Melee over the past few weeks, publishing all decklists and round-by-round results. With this data, it is possible to disentangle metagame share and win rate, allowing us to derive valuable insights.
🎊 Rounding out this weekend's event's, Victor Hawkins (@Penseur_MTG) takes home the trophy for the #mtg $10k Modern and walks away $2,000 richer! Excellent finish after a long day of battling. 🏆#SCGDFW pic.twitter.com/7nDEsQcCBQ— SCG CON (@SCGCON) October 23, 2023
More than 1300 decklists in total were submitted across the four Secret Lair Showdown Qualifiers, the Modern $20K and ReCQ at MXP Portland, the Grand Open Qualifier at LMS Sofia, and the Modern $10K, $10K Trial, and ReCQ at SCG Dallas. After fixing mislabeled archetypes, I determined the raw metagame share and the match win rates (non-mirror, non-bye, non-draw) of every archetype, both against the field overall and against Rakdos Evoke specifically. In the following table, each archetype name hyperlinks to a well-performing decklist close to the aggregate of that archetype.
|Archetype||Percentage of Field||Win Rate vs Field||Record vs Rakdos|
|1. Rakdos Evoke||18.5%||52.6%||-|
|2. Rhinos||6.9%||51.0%||57-47 (55%)|
|3. Four-Color Omnath||6.1%||53.8%||41-38 (52%)|
|4. Yawgmoth||6.1%||51.4%||40-53 (43%)|
|5. Izzet Murktide||5.4%||47.7%||32-30 (52%)|
|6. Amulet Titan||5.3%||51.9%||34-41 (45%)|
|7. Burn||4.7%||45.2%||24-29 (45%)|
|8. Hammer Time||4.3%||52.3%||22-23 (49%)|
|9. Mono-Green Tron||4.1%||48.8%||25-28 (47%)|
|10. Hardened Scales||3.9%||58.6% ✓✓||49-23 (68%)|
|11. Living End||3.1%||52.4%||16-18 (47%)|
|12. Mono-Black Coffers||2.4%||52.3%||14-10 (58%)|
|13. Bring to Light||2.3%||48.1%||9-15 (38%)|
|14. Domain Zoo||1.9%||53.4%||8-9 (47%)|
|15. Jund Sagavan||1.1%||52.4%||9-11 (45%)|
|16. Other||23.9%||44.1%||106-164 (39%)|
The "Other" category included Dimir Mill, Merfolk, Five-Color Creativity, Azorius Control, Heliod-Ballista Combo, Five-Color Reanimator, Gruul Valakut, Grixis Control, Dimir Control, Five-Color Omnath, Enchantress, Affinity, Samwise Gamgee Combo, Four-Color Emerge, Jeskai Breach, Mono-Blue Tron, Grixis Shadow, Humans, Mono-Red Midrange, Belcher, Storm, Izzet Wizards, Four-Color Control, Timeless Amulet, Ad Nauseam, Dimir Shadow, Mono-White Martyr, Asmo Food, Goblins, and more. The number of competitively viable Modern archetypes remains enormous.
The metagame is relatively similar to my metagame snapshots from early September and early October, with Rakdos Evoke in the number one spot. The deck is relatively straightforward to pick up and play to decent results. Moreover, its interactive shell, including
Hardened Scales in particular looks to be widely underplayed, as its win rate over the past few weeks was incredible. The addition of
Meanwhile, there are new innovations and attempts to break
The Top 15 Modern Deck Archetypes
To take a closer look at the 15 archetypes with the highest raw 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 an 18.5% metagame share, 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
For typical lists, the multivariate hypergeometric probability of drawing at least one
When playing against this deck, it's essential to keep in mind that they usually have
Rhinos, with a 6.9% metagame share, has a straightforward game plan: cast
In terms of matchups, Rhinos fares well against Rakdos Evoke, Yawgmoth, and Amulet Titan but struggles against Living End and Hardened Scales. 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
Four-Color Omnath, with a 6.1% share of the metagame, is the label I assigned to decks with at least three copies of
While Benny Zeoli used a traditional version of the deck to win the 277-player $20K RCQ at MXP Portland, the archetype has been subject to a lot of innovation. Recently, many players have found success by adding
Decking can become a real risk when you control three Beanstalks or were foolish enough to cast the fourth. To mitigate this risk, many Four-Color Omnath players went beyond 60 cards, running 61, 62, or even 70-card decks. Going beyond 60 also improves the fetch-shock ratio of the mana base, so it's strategically sound. But you can use this information against them. When you sit down for the match, feel free to ask your opponent how many cards they are playing. If their answer exceeds 60, then it's likely that they are running Four-Color Omnath or another
Yawgmoth, with a 6.1% metagame share, combines undying creatures and
From Wilds of Eldraine, Yawgmoth gained an upgrade in the form of
When playing against Yawgmoth, it's important to be aware of such infinite loops. An even more common loop can be achieved with
Izzet Murktide, with a 5.4% metagame share, 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 run a lot of permission spells. If your opponent is keeping two mana open, then consider testing the waters with a medium threat first if you don't want your best card to meet a
Amulet Titan, with a 5.3% metagame share, 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 Hammer Time, Mono-Black Coffers, and Burn, but it struggles against Yawgmoth and Rhinos.
When playing against Amulet Titan, one interaction to remember is that
Burn, with a 4.7% metagame share, 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, Amulet Titan, and Yawgmoth. Burn remains an easy deck to pick up and play, just like Rhinos and Domain Zoo, so it could be a reasonable, forgiving option for players who are new or returning to Modern.
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
Hammer Time, with a 4.3% metagame share, 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 Rhinos or Burn. However, due to its lack of interaction, it can struggle against combo decks such as 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 4.1% metagame share, is a ramp deck centered around
Mono-Green Tron tends to be line up well against Four-Color Omnath, 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
Hardened Scales, with a 3.9% metagame share, can produce lethal damage out of thin air by putting +1/+1 counters from
Although Hardened Scales can struggle against Hammer Time, Yawgmoth, and Amulet Titan, the deck is well-positioned against the Modern metagame as a whole and against Rakdos Evoke in particular. Rakdos Evoke players have a hard time answering
When playing against this deck, you should be well aware of the potential for combo finishes out of nowhere. Even if their board does not look very threatening right now, consider the possibilities and recognize the importance of leaving up a blocker or removal spell.
Living End, with a 3.1% metagame share, is a combo deck that aims to cycle several creatures and then cascade into Living End, wiping all creatures from the battlefield while returning all the cyclers. The deck has
Living End excels against creature-based decks with little interaction, such as Hammer Time, Amulet Titan, and Rhinos. However,
When playing against Living End, remember that sometimes your creatures are better dead than alive. Destroying or sacrificing your own creatures in response to
Mono-Black Coffers uses
When playing against the deck, remember that they have
Bring to Light is reminiscent of Four-Color Omnath, but it adds a fifth color and a powerful tutor. Due to the way it is worded,
To beat Bring to Light,
Domain Zoo is an aggressive deck that uses Triomes to power up
When playing against Domain Zoo, it can be useful to know that
Jund Sagavan—a portmanteau of
When playing against Jund Sagavan, remember that
For deck builders and Modern experts, there are plenty of opportunities to prove their skills in the current cycle of RCQs. For example, this weekend there are awesome RCQs at Apex Gaming and the Magic Summit.
If your dream is to qualify for any 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 qualifiers are over, and the corresponding cycle of Regional Championships is underway. A full schedule can be found in last week's Metagame Mentor article. This coming weekend, we can look forward to the Regional Championships for Australia / New Zealand and for China, featuring the Pioneer format. Top players from these Regional Championships qualify for Pro Tour Murders at Karlov Manor, held at MagicCon: Chicago on February 23–25, 2024. The formats for this Pro Tour are Pioneer and Murders at Karlov Manor Draft.
Cycle 2 (Modern): The current cycle of Regional Championship Qualifiers runs through December 17 in the Modern format. Due to format matching, these events 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 Standard Pro Tour in the second quarter of 2024. More details concerning its date and location will be announced at a later time.
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.