Modern has recently gotten a rollercoaster of shakeups. Between Modern Horizons, Bridge from Below being banned, and the addition of the London mulligan; the Modern metagame has shifted considerably as we head into Mythic Championship IV Barcelona this weekend.

We’re celebrating the new Modern format with some awesome Mythic Championship IV fantasy leagues over on Thousand Leagues! Draft your favorite players or cards in one of our public leagues and you could win a Japanese War of the Spark booster box—or create your own league and invite your friends!

Selecting a Modern deck has become more daunting in a new Modern format. I am going to talk about some of the decks I see as primary contenders for your next Modern tournament.

The Phoenix-Humans Test

The first thing you should do when selecting a deck for an upcoming Modern tournament is make sure it passes The Phoenix-Humans Test. Put simply, if your deck has a bad matchup against Humans or Izzet Phoenix, it is probably not the correct choice. I consider this test to be the gatekeeper for decks trying to break into the top tier of Modern as the format settles.

Through the recent Modern changes both Phoenix and Humans have seen consistent success, and I believe they will hold the primary metagame share for upcoming tournaments. Obviously, both Humans and Phoenix themselves are fine choices for tournaments, and both are quite adaptable for a shifting metagame. If you are looking to play something outside the scope of these two decks, your deck must be able to respectfully compete with both of these decks.

Using this test, here are a few decks I think are primed to rise in Modern metagame share in a dramatic way.

Modern Dredge

Creatures (19)
Stinkweed Imp
Prized Amalgam
Golgari Thug
Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis

Spells (22)
Faithless Looting
Creeping Chill
Life from the Loam
Cathartic Reunion
Lands (19)
Arid Mesa
Wooded Foothills
Bloodstained Mire
Copperline Gorge
Stomping Ground
Blood Crypt
Mana Confluence
Forgotten Cave
Blast Zone

Sideboard (15)
Nature’s Claim
Lightning Axe
Abrupt Decay
Leyline of Sanctity
Ancient Grudge

Dredge is a deck that I have not seen very many people talking about, but that I expect should make a full come back after the Bridge ban. It was a top contender in the Modern format prior to the rise of the Bridgevine deck, which only invalidated Dredge because it became the best way to win the game by abusing the graveyard.

Dredge also got new toys from Modern Horizons in the form of Shenanigans and Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis. Overall, with the innovation of Blast Zone, Dredge now has a much better Humans matchup than it had previously. It is also favored against Phoenix assuming Phoenix has less than six sideboard cards for the matchup.

Eldrazi Tron

Creatures (15)
Walking Ballista
Matter Reshaper
Thought-Knot Seer
Reality Smasher

Planeswalkers (6)
Karn, the Great Creator
Ugin, the Ineffable

Spells (15)
Chalice of the Void
Expedition Map
Mind Stone
All Is Dust
Lands (24)
Urza’s Mine
Urza’s Power Plant
Urza’s Tower
Eldrazi Temple
Cavern of Souls
Ghost Quarter
Blast Zone
Sea Gate Wreckage

Sideboard (15)
Leyline of the Void
Spatial Contortion
Mycosynth Lattice
Ensnaring Bridge
Liquimetal Coating
Grafdigger’s Cage
Pithing Needle
Basilisk Collar
Walking Ballista
Crucible of Worlds
Torpor Orb

Eldrazi Tron has been quietly putting up impressive win rates at most major tournaments, but remains strangely disrespected when talking about preparing for major Modern tournaments. Karn, the Great Creator revitalized this archetype, and the ability to play Chalice of the Void to combat Izzet Phoenix fits Eldrazi Tron as well.

As a result Eldrazi Tron is one of the harder matchups for the Izzet Phoenix deck, and having access to Ensnaring Bridge, Torpor Orb, and high numbers of Walking Ballista makes your Humans matchup much better than it once was. I expect this archetype to continue to trend upwards in metagame share for as long as Izzet Phoenix remains a top contender, which will be for at least the next few weeks.


Creatures (12)
Goblin Guide
Monastery Swiftspear
Eidolon of the Great Revel

Spells (29)
Lightning Bolt
Lava Spike
Lightning Helix
Boros Charm
Searing Blaze
Skewer the Critics
Rift Bolt
Lands (19)
Bloodstained Mire
Arid Mesa
Inspiring Vantage
Sunbaked Canyon
Sacred Foundry

Sideboard (15)
Path to Exile
Rest in Peace
Searing Blood
Smash to Smithereens
Wear // Tear

Burn has drifted in and out of the Modern metagame for as long as Modern has been a competitive format. Previously, Burn lacked the consistency and staying power to be a top contender; but with the addition of Sunbaked Canyon from Modern Horizons, Burn has a powerful tool for mitigating one of the biggest issues the deck had: flooding.

Burn is also another deck that preys heavily on Izzet Phoenix, and I consider Burn to be Phoenix’s worst matchup in the known Modern metagame. The Humans matchup is tougher, but is close, and Humans has been trimming on sideboard cards for the matchup recently as Auriok Champion’s stock has significantly decreased in their sideboard with recent Modern developments.

Grixis Urza

Creatures (9)
Goblin Engineer
Urza, Lord High Artificer
Sai, Master Thopterist

Spells (30)
Whir of Invention
Ghirapur Aether Grid
Mishra’s Bauble
Mox Opal
Arcum’s Astrolabe
Pentad Prism
Thopter Foundry
Sword of the Meek
Paradox Engine
Ensnaring Bridge
Grafdigger’s Cage
Pithing Needle
Nihil Spellbomb
Ichor Wellspring
Lands (21)
Polluted Delta
Scalding Tarn
Prismatic Vista
Cavern of Souls
Watery Grave
Steam Vents
Snow-Covered Island
Snow-Covered Swamp
Snow-Covered Mountain

Sideboard (15)
Blood Moon
Lightning Bolt
Dead of Winter
Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas
Grafdigger’s Cage
Witchbane Orb
Spine of Ish Sah

Artifact decks have also existed since the beginnings of Modern. Grixis Urza is the latest of these decks thanks to Urza, Lord High Artificer. Urza creates even more ways to cheat on mana, an infinite combo with Thopter Foundry and Sword of the Meek, and a backup beatdown plan all in one card. It was one of the cards players were most excited about during the preview season for Modern Horizons and the card has lived up to its initial hype.

I don’t think we have seen the final iteration of these decks, however. They are certainly powerful and have put up some impressive early results, but the deck is far from tuned. Unless you feel very comfortable with your specific build, I would stay away. The one advantage this strategy has is that many people have been shaving dangerously low on artifact hate in their sideboards, and you will catch a number of people unprepared. Overall I think this deck is a little unfavored against Izzet Phoenix, but I think the matches are still close. Most of the builds I have seen of Grixis Urza have been favored against Humans.

There are a few other Modern decks not listed here that I believe may also be good choices, but the four listed above are my top choices for anyone not playing Phoenix or Humans. Modern has certainly undergone quite a few changes, but there is still plenty of signs of the old Modern format to accompany the new decks and innovations. Whatever Modern event you are preparing for, I hope you now have a better idea about how to approach deck selection, as well as a better evaluation of this new Modern format. Thanks for reading!


Don’t forget to join one of our awesome Mythic Championship IV fantasy leagues over on Thousand Leagues! You could win a Japanese War of the Spark booster box!

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