December 2021 Modern Tier List

Modern Tier List: December 2021

Michael Rapp Modern

Hello, and welcome to another edition of the Modern Tier List! Modern is a wide and complex format with a lot of movement, which often makes ranking decks tricky. As such, this list is best viewed as a snapshot in time to help influence how you can build and update your deck week-to-week. 

Before we dive into the list, here’s a quick refresher on the tier list grading criteria:

S Tier: Decks that are above the rest. This is normally the default “best deck in the format” and the deck(s) you should have in mind when building or picking your deck.

A Tier: Decks that are great. These decks are knocking on the door of S Tier, but they may have a small weakness that keeps them out of the upper echelon.

B Tier: Good, solid decks. You wouldn’t be surprised if a B Tier deck takes down an event, but they have bigger weaknesses or liabilities than the decks in A Tier.

C Tier: Decks that are totally fine, but not notable. These decks aren’t exactly tearing up the tournament or ladder scene, but you should expect to face them every now and then.

D Tier: Decks with strong elements, but that generally aren’t great choices compared to the rest of the format. 

Modern has had plenty of S-Tier decks in the past, but I don’t currently believe that is the case. Modern is fairly open as far as what decks are competitive, and as such, we don’t have anything in S Tier this time. Similarly, I don’t believe that there are any decks currently in D Tier; most Modern decks are cohesive enough that they land in C Tier.

If you want to see how I ranked things last month, you can find that here

These decks are powerful, consistent, and among the best in Modern. I believe that you can play any of these decks and be serious about winning. We have some returning familiar faces this month, along with some that have gone through some minor changes.

Grixis Death’s Shadow

Grixis Death’s Shadow is HOT right now. The deck has put up a pile of results in the last month, including multiple MTGO Challenge wins. The core of the deck is largely the same, sporting all of the traditional Grixis disruption and threats. The new face is Tourach, Dread Cantor, which helps against Solitude decks. Death’s Shadow is important to the Grixis shell: it’s a powerful threat that doesn’t use the graveyard, and it has incredible closing speed.

Most importantly, Grixis Death’s Shadow has solid-to-good match-ups against all of the other A Tier decks on this month’s list, particularly Amulet Titan and Temur Footfalls. Four-Color Yorion is likely the worst of the bunch, but in my experience, the match-up has been fairly even. 

Read our most recent guide to Grixis Shadow!

Izzet Murktide

Izzet Murktide is back for another month in the A Tier. While it has declined in popularity a bit, given its less-than-stellar match-ups against Four-Color Yorion and Hammer Time, it still has enough game against the rest of the field to stay in A Tier. Ragavan and Dragon’s Rage Channeler provide early pressure combined with card advantage, and Murktide Regent backed up by Counterspell is still one of the more powerful combinations to beat in all of Modern. The deck also has access to Blood Moon and Dress Down in the sideboard options, which could spell trouble for Four-Color Yorion and Amulet Titan. Izzet Murktide has been refined a lot over the past few months, and is likely here to stay unless there are drastic shake-ups in Modern. 

Read our guide to Izzet Murktide!

Orzhov Hammer Time

Just like Murktide Regent and Ragavan, Puresteel Paladin and friends are also here to stay. Sigarda’s Aid allows for turn two kills, whether effective or actual, which is quite the draw to play Hammer Time. However, Hammer Time isn’t just about going as fast as possible – Urza’s Saga and Lurrus let you grind out games against removal-heavy strategies. 

These different angles of attack make Hammer Time a great choice in the current Modern metagame. Murktide is probably its best match-up among other popular decks; it’s only disadvantaged against Grixis Death’s Shadow and Jund Saga, if those decks respect it in deck construction. 

Read our guide to Hammer Time!

Four-Color Yorion

Four-Color Yorion is back again as the best midrange deck in Modern. There are a couple ways that these decks can be built, but this version with Ice-Fang Coatl stands out as the better one. Cutting Lightning Bolt and Counterspell lets Four-Color Yorion play more to its strengths, i.e. accruing a mountain of value from Ephemerate and Yorion, Sky Nomad. Ice-Fang Coatl shines against Grixis Death’s Shadow and Izzet Murktide. 

This deck is a big reason why Izzet Murktide and Jund Saga have been on the decline. Both of those decks have a hard time dealing with all of the value the deck can generate, especially when Solitude + Ephemerate comes up. Four-Color Yorion pilots should be on the lookout for Hammer, Burn, Tron, and proactive Blood Moon decks as tough match-ups.

Read our guide to Four-Color Yorion!

Amulet Titan

Amulet Titan is having a revival in Modern of late, so it’s not surprising to see it in A Tier this month. Cultivator Colossus has been a huge boon for Amulet Titan, providing another huge payoff creature at worst, and a combo kill with Amulet of Vigor at best. Traditionally, Amulet Titan is good at beating up on the midrange strategies, such as Jund, and that holds true today. Four-Color Yorion, Izzet Murktide, and Death’s Shadow, are problematic match-ups for Amulet, thanks to Solitude, Blood Moon, and Dress Down. However, in typical Amulet fashion, sometimes the deck is just fast enough to overcome those bad match-ups, while proving to be strong against the rest of the field. 

Temur Footfalls

Temur Footfalls is our final A-Tier deck for this month. As the Modern metagame has evolved, Temur Footfalls has gone from debatably the best deck in the format to just another entry in A Tier. Over the last month, Temur Footfalls has surpassed the Four-Color Yorion cascade variants. Some of those decks naturally evolved into the Yorion decks we covered previously, but the strength of Blood Moon in Temur is also incredibly valuable right now. Having a pointed sideboard against Four-Color Yorion, Amulet Titan, Azorius Control, and Hammer Time puts Temur Footfalls in a good position in the current metagame.

Read our guide to Temur Footfalls!

I wouldn’t feel bad about registering any of the B-Tier decks on the right weeks. All of these decks have solid match-ups against some of the A-Tier decks, but conditions may not be quite right for them to break out just yet. I’d keep an eye out for movement in this tier in the coming weeks and months.

Jund Saga

Jund Saga had a lengthy run in A Tier, but this month, it’s moved down a bit. While Jund Saga still plays powerful cards and has plenty of good match-ups, the popularity of Four-Color Yorion and the resurgence of Amulet Titan have put the deck in a tough spot. Jund still has a good Hammer match-up, and it has a powerful enough game plan to be able to beat just about everything in Modern. I expect to see Jund again if Four-Color Yorion is ever on the downswing.

Read our guide to Jund Saga!

Sultai Infect

Sultai Infect has quietly been putting up strong results since its Top 8 finish at MTG Las Vegas. It also took down a recent NRG event, which bodes well for its staying power. 

Infect had all but disappeared from the Modern metagame, so what happened to bring it back? Savvy Infect players realized that Phyrexian Crusader is effectively a True-Name Nemesis with infect, given the current metagame. Lightning Bolt, Unholy Heat, Prismatic Ending, Solitude, and Fury are some of the most played removal spells in Modern, and Phyrexian Crusader dodges all of them. Back Crusader up with Vines of Vastwood and Blossoming Defense, and you quickly find yourself in possession of an unkillable, and largely unblockable infected threat!

The top tiers of the Modern metagame have been changing quickly over the last few months, with new decks rotating in and out of A Tier. If you’re savvy (and have a large Modern collection), you can try to get ahead of the curve and try to beat the flavor of the week. Jumping the cycle is a high-risk, high-reward play, because if you nail the timing, you’re in a great spot. However, Modern is wide enough that there is still some danger in missing, even if the time is right.

Hopefully this helped fill in anyone who is looking to tech for this weekend, looking for a deck to play, or just trying to keep up with Modern as a whole. As always, you can find me on Twitter at @RappaciousOne for questions or comments. I’ll see everyone next week!