Modern, as a format, has a long history of supporting a large number of viable archetypes. Well, until Modern Horizons hit and Modern became slanted heavily toward the top few decks. But recently, nature (read: Modern) is healing as players figure out different strategies or simply revamp older ones. So today, I’d like to talk about Goblins, Izzet Prowess and Hardened Scales; three Modern classics that have been finding success as of late.
For years, Goblins was meme tier in Modern. Yet, it seems like every year that goes by, Goblins gets another card or two.
Conspicuous Snoop is likely the biggest addition for the current iteration of Goblins. Gaining access to a combo finish elevates the deck from just another tribal deck that gets crushed by Fury to a deck that can kill out of nowhere (like Yawgmoth and Breach) thanks to Aether Vial (which is missing from the image due to a bug with the Æ character on Goldfish).
If you have Conspicuous Snoop in play, an Aether Vial on three with a Goblin Matron or a Boggart Harbinger in hand, that represents an instant speed kill by putting Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker on top of your library. Snoop copies itself with Kiki-Jiki’s ability making as many copies as you’d like, then you copy Matron or Harbinger to put Sling-Gang Lieutenant on top, then sacrifice the copies to Sling-Gang Lieutenant to win.
The downside to Goblins is it is still a creature deck, which means removal spells are good against both plans, where Breach is more insulated against that. However, I think Goblins is a fine choice if you’re interested in an aggro plan that punishes the opponent for overcommitting to stopping that plan.
Izzet Prowess was running the streets a couple of years ago after Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath caught a ban. Once Modern Horizons and Modern Horizons 2 came through, Monastery Swiftspear and Soul-Scar Mage got put on the backburner when Murktide became the premier Izzet deck. And over the last couple of weeks, Swifty and Soul-Scar Mage have made their return alongside Sprite Dragon or Third Path Iconoclast.
Prowess struggled against Solitude because it often goes all in on one or two creatures, and facing a free, instant speed removal spell was backbreaking. But with fewer four color control decks running around after the Yorion ban, Izzet Prowess has more room to re-enter the metagame.
Izzet Prowess combines blazing speed with powerful card advantage, such as Expressive Iteration and Light up the Stage, to make sure they always have the spells for their prowess creatures to be a legitimate threat.
Oftentimes, Prowess will have an unassuming start of chipping in for a couple damage and maybe killing a small creature in the way. But then it combines Manamorphose, Gut Shot and Mutagenic Growth to put out a barrage of spells that often leaves opponents taking a large chunk of damage they will struggle to recover from before Prowess can end the game.
Izzet Prowess is the perfect choice for players who want a blazing fast option, but don’t want to be dead in the water by the time turn four comes around
Hardened Scales has been putting up results like it is 2018 again. The most impactful card Hardened Scales gained this time around is Urza’s Saga, which pumps out some truly monstrous Constructs. Patchwork Automaton is no slouch, either, as it gets out of hand extremely quickly when Hardened Scales is involved.
Hardened Scales has historically performed well against decks leaning on cards like Lightning Bolt and Unholy Heat, as the Modular creatures and The Ozolith pass on the power to another creature seamlessly. Luckily for Scales, Rakdos Scam and Izzet Murktide happen to be two of the best decks in Modern. If Murktide continues to chase away combo decks, I would expect that Scales continues to be a strong choice to punish the midrange decks.
It is always interesting to watch Modern evolve once a banning happens or a new set is introduced, especially in scenarios like with these former, Modern mainstays. Time looked as if it had passed these decks by, but a shift in the metagame allowed them to show up again and find success when they had all but been forgotten about. Personally, I can’t wait to see what evolution Modern goes through next!
As always, you can find me on Twitter @RappaciousOne for questions, comments and feedback. Until next week, have fun battling with these renewed Modern decks of old.
Michael Rapp is a Modern specialist who favors Thoughtseize decks. Magic sates his desire for competition and constant improvement.