We focus on the top Modern decks, like Izzet Phoenix and Dredge, but you can win with a wide variety of decks. Modern rewards those who master their decks. Many “lower tier” archetypes can take down an event with a skilled pilot. It’s not uncommon to see players such as Yuta Takahashi achieve fantastic success with Dimir Faeries, or Daniel Wong with Izzet U/R Taking Turns. Dedication and experience can pay off.

Fringe strategies benefit from being unexpected. Many opponents won’t know how your deck works or how to sideboard against it. That’s a good place to be, especially if you know your fringe deck inside and out. This week I examine the other side of the Modern spectrum and look at the fringe archetypes which may offer success in the coming months.

Martyr Proc

Martyr Proc takes its name from two cards: Martyr of Sands and Proclamation of Rebirth. The deck combines White Weenie with Mono-White Control, and wins by gaining substantial amounts of life. Modern is an aggressive format, which Martyr Proc fights effectively. While similar to Soul Sisters, Martyr Proc is less vulnerable to removal.

The deck has had recent success, and Danilo Prieto took down an SCG Regional in Orlando last month with this build:

Martyr Proc, by Danilo Prieto

Creatures (21)
Martyr of Sands
Ranger of Eos
Serra Ascendant
Squadron Hawk
Thraben Inspector
Walking Ballista
Archangel Avacyn

Spells (15)
Path to Exile
Proclamation of Rebirth
Cast Out
Cleansing Nova
Day of Judgment
Wrath of God
Gideon of the Trials
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
Lands (24)
Emeria, the Sky Ruin
Field of Ruin
Flagstones of Trokair
Ghost Quarter
Mistveil Plains

Sideboard (13)
Celestial Purge
Damping Sphere
Leyline of Sanctity
Rest in Peace
Rule of Law
Settle the Wreckage
Stony Silence

This deck is stubborn. It can win a long game by recurring Martyr of Sands and Serra Ascendant, either by forecasting Proclamation of Rebirth or with Emeria, the Sky Ruin. This version includes the Gideon alternate win-condition package: Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and Gideon of the Trials. And of course you get all the powerful white removal, sweepers, and sideboard hate.

Playing lifegain decks can be difficult because you have to remember so many triggers. But massive lifegain can prevent some opposing decks from ever winning the game. Martyr Proc may be potent in the correct metagame if want an unconventional strategy.

Mono-White Eldrazi Taxes

Looking for a completely different mono-white deck? If you prefer decks with “Taxes” or “Hatebear” in the name, Mono White Eldrazi Taxes could be the deck for you. Two copies made the top 8 at the SCG Cincinnati Modern Classic last month. For example:

Mono-White Eldrazi Taxes, by Corey McKay

Creatures (25)
Eldrazi Displacer
Leonin Arbiter
Reality Smasher
Simian Spirit Guide
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Thalia, Heretic Cathar
Thought-Knot Seer

Spells (11)
Declaration in Stone
Chalice of the Void
Smuggler’s Copter
Lands (24)
Cavern of Souls
Caves of Koilos
Eldrazi Temple
Gemstone Caverns
Ghost Quarter
Shefet Dunes

Sideboard (15)
Eidolon of Rhetoric
Ratchet Bomb
Rest in Peace
Settle the Wreckage
Sorcerous Spyglass
Stony Silence
Tocatli Honor Guard

The deck is similar to W/B Eldrazi Taxes but has much better mana. Mono-White Eldrazi Taxes packs plenty of disruptive threats for the metagame. Thalia, Heretic Cathar can slow down hasty armies, and Eldrazi Displacer is great at resetting Thing in the Ice. Reality Smasher and Thought-Knot Seer close the door quickly.

Chalice of the Void replaces Aether Vial in this disruptive build, and I like the switch a lot. Chalice provides insurance against the cheap spells which dominate Modern and buys time to deploy your threats. You can play Chalice for one on turn one with the assistance of Gemstone Caverns or a Simian Spirit Guide, which can stop opponents cold.

Declaration in Stone gets the nod over Path to Exile because it exiles multiple Arclight Phoenix or Prized Amalgam. If I were playing this build, I’d want to try and fit in a couple of Scavenger Grounds to keep the graveyard in check. Despite being a colorless mana source, it has excellent synergy with Shefet Dunes.

Sultai Teachings

Wilderness Reclamation has shown its power in Standard, and we’re beginning to see it show up in Modern Sultai decks featuring Mystical Teachings. Sultai Teachings has posted good results in the Modern Challenges on Magic Online.

Sultai Teachings, by Parole

Creatures (3)
Snapcaster Mage

Spells (32)
Wilderness Reclamation
Mystical Teachings
Growth Spiral
Cryptic Command
Spell Snare
Logic Knot
Abrupt Decay
Assassin’s Trophy
Devour Flesh
Fatal Push
Blue Sun’s Zenith
Nexus of Fate
Pulse of Murasa
Lands (25)
Breeding Pool
Creeping Tar Pit
Drowned Catacomb
Field of Ruin
Flooded Grove
Hinterland Harbor
Misty Rainforest
Polluted Delta
Verdant Catacombs
Watery Grave

Sideboard (15)
Ceremonious Rejection
Consume the Meek
Crypt Incursion
Echoing Decay
Fatal Push
Fracturing Gust
Hero’s Downfall
Life Goes On
Nimble Obstructionist
Shadow of Doubt
Surgical Extraction

Sultai Teachings plays control and tutors for what it needs. Wilderness Reclamation ensures you have mana untapped and fuels Blue Sun’s Zenith, but the deck can win without Raclamation in play. Mystical Teachings enables a toolbox of answers for the Modern metagame, which makes the deck incredibly resilient.

I think we are ways off from seeing the best shell for Wilderness Reclamation. That is a scary thought given the results we’ve already seen over the last month. I foresee the archetype becoming more popular, especially as powerful instant spells will keep being printed.

Dimir Mill

Mill strategies have been established in fringe Modern for quite some time. Resource-denying tactics are performing well currently, with Whir Prison and Golgari Midrange attaining success. I think Dimir Mill can do the same. Admittedly the Mill archetype isn’t for everyone, but its not uncommon to see players having success and loving it. The deck below put up a 5-0 Competitive League on Magic Online.

Dimir Mill, by Verzilla

Creatures (4)
Hedron Crab

Spells (29)
Archive Trap
Glimpse the Unthinkable
Collective Brutality
Inquisition of Kozilek
Crypt Incursion
Ensnaring Bridge
Fatal Push
Search for Azcanta
Mesmeric Orb
Mission Briefing
Murderous Cut
Surgical Extraction
Lands (22)
Darkslick Shores
Field of Ruin
Flooded Strand
Oboro, Palace in the Clouds
Polluted Delta
Shelldock Isle
Watery Grave

Sideboard (15)
Cast Down
Collective Brutality
Crypt Incursion
Echoing Truth
Ensnaring Bridge
Fatal Push
Hero’s Downfall
Set Adrift
Spell Pierce
Torpor Orb

Mission Briefing from Guilds of Ravnica helped the archetype a bit, as it interacts powerfully with Archive Trap and Glimpse the Unthinkable. alongside other Mill spells. The wording on Mission Briefing allows you cast Archive Trap for a second time by paying the alternative cost on the card if an opponent has searched their library that turn.

The versatility of Mission Briefing makes room for answers such as Surgical Extraction and even Leyline of the Void, which you need against the powerful graveyard decks of Modern. The Dredge matchup can be especially problematic. Although removing the opponent’s’ library is the primary goal, Dimir Mill can adapt into a control strategy with cards like Ensnaring Bridge. I don’t expect Mill to break out in Modern anytime soon, but it’s one to respect and can present free wins if not acknowledged fully.

As Foretold Living End

Although Living End has existed in Modern for years, we’re beginning to see distinctive versions crop up due to As Foretold and Electrodominance. Although the traditional cascade variant is commonly played still, there’s far more potential with the archetype now. Olivier Consille proved it with a Top 32 finish at GP Bilbao last month.

As Foretold Living End, by Olivier Consille

Creatures (15)
Curator of Mysteries
Street Wraith
Desert Cerodon
Striped Riverwinder

Spells (25)
Living End
Ancestral Vision
Cryptic Command
As Foretold
Tormod's Crypt
Lands (20)
Spirebluff Canal
Tolaria West
Steam Vents
Scalding Tarn
Cascade Bluffs

Sideboard (15)
Fulminator Mage
 Ratchet Bomb
Tormod's Crypt
Anger of the Gods
Chalice of the Void

As Foretold has helped cast Living End and Restore Balance reliably, but Electrodominance adds even more consistency. In the face of prominent graveyard hate, As Foretold Living End can adapt into Izzet Midrange with free Ancestral Vision. The archetype has plenty of resilience, can wipe the board at instant speed, and can mass exile with Tormod’s Crypt on the field.

Remand isn’t well-positioned in Modern because the powerful spells are so cheap, but in this deck it can protect your spells. Electrodominance, like Hollow One, has a clear place in the format but will take time to work out. Maybe someone like Ken Yukihiro will break the archetype for us. Keep an eye out for this one.

Metagaming Modern is no easy puzzle to solve, so it’s essential to play a deck you know and enjoy. We saw proof of this concept last weekend when Attila Fur took down MagicFest Calgary with his innovative take on Jund Breach Titan, besting Sam Pardee on Grixis Death’s Shadow in the finals. Playing what you enjoy will contribute to your win percentage more as you care about what you’re playing and willing to improve on it. We may even see a fringe archetype win the Mythic Championship in London.

Emma is a writer and Modern enthusiast based in Suffolk, England. She has been involved in Magic since Khans of Tarkir’s release back in 2014, but won’t shy away from Cube and MTG Arena. Follow her on Twitter @emmmzyne to join in on the conversation!

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