By now Modern Horizons 2 has had time to show its impact on the Modern metagame. The four pillars of Modern are no secret, Lurrus of the Dream-Den midrange decks, Izzet Murktide, Hammer Time, and Cascade, these decks have by far seen the most success as of late. With every defined metagame there will always be decks hanging around the fringes that aim to target one or more of the format defining strategies, today I want to highlight a few of these decks.
Heliod Company by Ben Jones – 8th Place, MTGO Super PTQ
While Heliod Company is hardly a new deck, it took quite a fall from grace with the release of Modern Horizons 2, relinquishing the title of the de-facto best deck in Modern. Recently we’ve seen Heliod start to put up results again largely thanks to a good Hammer Time matchup.
Auriok Champion and Heliod, Sun-Crowned, can be fairly problematic for Rakdos and Grixis Lurrus, and Izzet Murktide as those decks rely heavily on red and/or black removal to keep the board under control. Collected Company is also quite strong against the fair decks, often providing an instant speed two for one that can also provide unexpected pressure, or ambush attacking creatures.
With Modern being as low to the ground as it is currently, Skyclave Apparition looks a lot like Vindicate stapled to a 2/2. Having the ability to interact with noncreature permanents in game one is quite important right now, given the importance of Sigarda’s Aid, and Colossus Hammer.
The passive life gain from Auriok Champion, Conclave Mentor, and Spike Feeder also gives Heliod a pretty solid matchup against the aggressive decks. Modern is still Modern, and even the most popular decks are still less than 10% of the overall metagame, and having a combo finish sets a pretty high floor against the field at large. All of this combines to make Heliod Company a solid choice, and I’d expect to see more of it as we move back into paper events.
Dimir Mill by Draccon136 – 7th Place, MTGO Challenge
1 Crypt Incursion
1 Fatal Push
1 Surgical Extraction
2 Ashiok, Dream Render
1 Bontu’s Last Reckoning
2 Chalice of the Void
1 Dress Down
2 Force of Negation
1 Lurrus of the Dream-Den
1 Nihil Spellbomb
1 Void Mirror
Mill for a long time was not a truly competitive Modern deck, hanging out in the tier two or three area. I tend to view Mill in a similar lens as Burn, a spell-based pseudo combo deck, except that it pressures cards in the library, a much harder resource to control.
Mill has captured lightning in a bottle right now. Tasha’s Hideous Laughter combined with an unusually low average mana curve is a huge boon. Against Hammer Time or any of the Lurrus decks, Tasha’s Hideous Laughter will often end up milling huge chunks of cards at a time.
Surgical Extraction, while often used incorrectly, is better than usual right now. Being able to mill a Crashing Footfalls, Living End, Bring to Light, or Colossus Hammer is going to severely impede your opponent’s ability to win the game.
Beyond having a fast possible kill with Archive Trap and Tasha’s Hideous Laughter, Mill also sports seven or eight removal spells between Fatal Push and Drown in the Loch to give itself the time it needs against the small creature decks. Having access to that suite of cards allows Mill to choose the drag race kills, as well as having a slower, more controlling game plan centered around Hedron Crab and Ruin Crab.
As long as Modern stays focused around Colossus Hammer and Lurrus of the Dream-Den, I imagine Mill will stick around as well. Plus, it has a good Heliod matchup, as it can pretty easily beat infinite life!
Four-Color Elementals by Kanister – 1st Place, MTGO Challenge
Our last deck for today is Four-Color Elementals, a deck that was largely written off for a long time before getting Endurance, Fury, Solitude, Subtlety, Prismatic Ending, and Foundation Breaker with the release of Modern Horizons 2. Wow, getting six cards out of one set will raise most decks from the depths of obscurity, especially when four of them are powerful creatures with no mana cost.
Four-Color Elementals plays like a value-laden midrange deck thanks to Risen Reef in combination with zero-mana Elementals. How does Elementals line up against the top decks of the format? Fairly well actually. Against Hammer Time, you can use your mana to develop threats while using Fury and Solitude to keep yourself alive until you can start buying your opponents in-game objects.
Against Murktide decks, the same principle is true, except Solitude and Subtlety carry the load as both line up pretty well against Murktide Regent. You do have to two-for-one yourself to free cast the Modern Horizons 2 Elementals, so the midrange Lurrus decks should beat up on this deck, right?
There we have it! If you want to attack the meta from a different angle, Heliod Company, Dimir Mill, and Four-Color Elementals are some of the best options to do so. While there are certainly other decks that boast powerful interactions with the popular decks it isn’t feasible to list them all. However, we can accomplish that together, be sure to let me know which underrepresented decks you believe could sneak their way up the Modern ladder! You can always find me on Twitter at @RappaciousOne. I’ll see you all next week!
Michael Rapp is a Modern specialist who favors Thoughtseize decks. Magic sates his desire for competition and constant improvement.