Fringe Modern Decks Post Dominaria United

Fringe Decks Crushing Modern Post Dominaria United

Mason ClarkModern, Strategy

Modern was in the middle of a staleness problem before Dominaria United. While the top end of the metagame has looked relatively the same for almost a year now, players have made innovations and sideboard plans to at least keep the games interesting. But from a diversity standpoint, things have been incredibly lacking.

However, this past weekend’s Magic Online challenges had some very exciting decks put up great finishes! So, this week, we are going to look at some of those decks and examine why they are shaking up Modern.

Rakdos Scam

Lovingly called Rakdos Scam, this deck dominated the Saturday challenge by putting three copies in the top eight, with two of those meeting in the finals.

Despite the name, the deck is just a more Modern take on Rakdos Midrange. While historically these decks look to play efficient answers and threats, this deck does look to maximize a synergy: the evoke elementals combined with cards like Feign Death

Since the deck plays a mixture of Feign Death effects, it offers something close to the Ephemerate game plan the four color deck used for months. Being able to do things like double Grief on turn one can turn an opponent’s great hand into an unplayable pile. This also makes mulliganing even more punishing against this deck. 

While these shenanigans are strong and give the deck an unfair angle, it also just makes good use of the Feign Death plan more fairly. Seasoned Pyromancer is a great card to bring back after chump blocking. 

Meanwhile, Dauthi Voidwalker is one of the stronger cards in Modern, being both a strong, main deckable hate card but also a strong value play to use your opponents best cards against them. This means you can do things like Feign Death the Dauthi, sacrifice it to play a strong card they exiled and still keep your hate piece in play. While cards like Feign Death are not normally worth the space in decks, these small synergies push it over the line and make it a playable card.

This deck isn’t just a gimmick deck. You can still play a totally normal Rakdos Midrange game plan and everything that entails. While not the greatest versus the four color piles, the deck acts like a litmus test for the format and has some good matchups against some of the other players in the meta — from things as established as Murktide to the fringe creature decks in the format. This shell does a great job of playing those grindy games and keeping people honest.


Everyone’s favorite Islandwalking tribe is back in a big way in Modern. Merfolk have been on the fringe of the format for a long time now, and the deck got a few powerful upgrades in Modern Horizons two with Tide Shaper and Svyelun of Sea and Sky

Unfortunately the rest of modern also saw huge shake ups, and the solid Merfolk deck was a bit out classed by other aggressive blue decks and cards like Solitude, Fury, Unholy Heat and Prismatic Ending that made creature decks much less viable. Yet despite all of that, we saw Merfolk put up a 15th place finish in the challenge this past weekend.

So, how did they overcome all those problematic cards? It turns out Vodalian Hexcatcher is a powerful addition to fighting three of the four cards listed above. If your opponent is going to play a card like fury, they need to be able to beat the flash on this card changing the toughness of all your creatures. As for the spot removal, it now forces a sort of Thalia tax on the opponent since, if they can’t pay for the creature they wanted dead, another merfolk ally might die for the cause instead.

Merfolk has always been good at applying pressure, all while slightly disrupting the opponent. That hasn’t changed but only improved thanks to cards like Hexcatcher. The deck has also shifted its sideboard cards to help facilitate this game plan by loading up on cards like Chalice of the Void and Subtly. 

Chalice, while a great answer to all the cascade decks, also helps lock out a few other decks in Modern, allowing your merfolk to easily pressure them. Meanwhile, Subtlety is a powerful free spell that really pushes the tempo and pressure aspect of this deck to its max.


While on the subject of tribal decks, let’s look at Goblins. This has been one of the more fringe decks in Modern for a while now. Since the printing of Conspicuous Snoop in M21, the deck has had access to a game ending combo as soon as turn three. Basically, you just need to get Kiki-Jiki with Boggart Harbinger, have Conspicuous Snoop make a million copies of Harbinger and then switch the goblin on top of your library to Sling-Gang Lieutenant or Mogg Fanatic.

However, Dominaria United brought Rundvelt Hordemaster to the deck. At first glance, it’s a card that looks like a lord that plays into the deck’s value side. And in fact, it does do a good job of filling that role. The goblins deck has often played a single lord as something it can grab to push through damage. 

Yet, while it might seem like this card has nothing to do with the combo above, that couldn’t be further from the truth. It has actually enabled new combos in the deck. 

Now, if you have a Snoop in play with Kiki-Jiki on top of the deck, you can actually make infinite Snoops. Then, if Hordemaster is in play, as they die to the end of turn trigger from Kiki-Jiki, they will trigger Hordemaster. 

That means you’ll exile the top card of your deck. This will eventually set up the situation above, where you wait for a sacrifice outlet to hit the top of your deck and use one Snoop to send the others flying at your opponent for lethal damage.

While pulling off this combo does require things breaking well for you, it’s not like the deck forces you to play cards you wouldn’t already use if Hordemaster wasn’t around. It’s just a strong game piece for the deck. After all, Hordemaster and Skirk Prospector can let you turn your extra goblins into mana and more real pieces.

One big strength of Goblins is they have excellent access to find multiple goblins or the precise goblin they are looking for thanks to cards like Matron. This sort of toolbox and resilient nature makes this deck a much bigger threat than it looks at first glance. They can easily able to keep up a constant stream of threats, all while making you respect the combo kill.

This deck will get more and more refined as time goes on as players figure out the sideboard and the best goblin tutor targets. It’s also one of my picks for a dark horse in the format. Finishing in 11th place in this past Sunday’s challenge is an incredibly strong first showing from this deck with new cards that are still being figured out. 

End step

So, while decks like Four Color, Murktide, and Hammer will continue to be big players in the format, having such an impressive first showing has me hopeful that these decks are going to continue to innovate and be players in the format even if they are not tier zero.