Modern is an ever-churning format, and Michael is here to take a look at what’s shaken things up in the latest Tier List Update!
Hello, and welcome back to the June 2022 edition of Card Kingdom’s Modern Tier List! So far June has brought us all of the normal MTGO events along with Dreamhack Dallas, and NRG Lansing, which means we have plenty of results to look at. Modern went through a stretch where not a lot was going on in terms of which decks were performing well, but this month we’ve seen a bit of life from the A-tier decks. Many of Modern’s top decks since the Lurrus of the Dream-Den ban are still performing as they were, which makes up the S-tier and a chunk of the A-tier. Let’s dive right in!
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.
As always, S-Tier decks are the best of the best and have separated themselves from the rest of Modern in terms of power and results. I would expect to see these decks at the top tables of any given Modern tournament, and would have a plan for them when selecting and building your deck.
Murktide and Four-Color Yorion return as the standard S-tier faces, but Elementals joins the fray this month. Murktide and Four-Color Yorion continue to litter the top tables at most events, so their inclusion in the S-tier is easy. I will say that I believe that Murktide is a better choice online than in paper, as Four-Color Yorion has an artificially low play rate online due to its high digital cost. Four-Color Yorion still seems to be the deck to beat going through June, as it won Dreamhack Dallas, NRG Lansing, and continues to put up many MTGO results.
At first glance Elementals look strikingly like Four-Color Yorion, and that is true. The difference is that Elementals is built to beat Four-Color Yorion and other fair decks. Risen Reef, a full set of Eladamri’s Call, and more Ephemerates in lieu of Counterspell and Expressive Iteration tells us that Elementals is looking to go over the top of the other fair decks in Modern. This comes at a cost however, because without Counterspell Elementals leaves itself vulnerable to combo decks, and other high impact spells. Elementals also plays Cavern of Souls, which pushes the Murktide matchup even further into the direction of Elementals, but it can make their mana awkward at times given how demanding some of the mana costs in the deck are. Overall, as long as Four- Color Yorion and Murktide are at the top of the metagame, Elementals will be a strong choice.
A-Tier decks are strong options that can definitely win a tournament on any given week, but are just a step behind the S-Tier decks. I would still be happy to register one of these decks for an event, especially if I already have a lot of reps with the deck.
Living End is somewhere between S- and A-tier for me, it has a great matchup against Four Color-Yorion and Elementals, but struggles against Murktide, and the trending Grixis Death’s Shadow. Rhinos just doesn’t stack up well against either Yorion deck, and Ledger Shredder has made the Murktide matchup more difficult. Hammer, Yawgmoth, Amulet, and Burn continue to stick around as decks I’d expect to play against in any Modern tournament, and they continue to put up the results to prove it.
Grixis Death’s Shadow
Grixis Death’s Shadow went from arguably the best deck in Modern before Lurrus was banned, to barely showing up at all until recently. Kanister won a Modern Challenge with Grixis Shadow, featuring four copies of Ledger Shredder. You may wonder why playing Grixis Shadow is good when Murktide is still a top performing deck. This is a reasonable question, because I do believe that Murktide and Grixis Shadow occupy a similar spot in the metagame from a functional standpoint. Grixis Shadow, like Murktide, has good matchups against the combo decks that are showing up to try and beat the Yorion decks. The difference is that Grixis Shadow has a better matchup against the Solitude decks, which means if the metagame is largely Yorion, and combo decks try to beat them, Grixis is a good place to be.
B-Tier decks definitely still have what it takes to win, but either are missing a little something, have some bad matchups up top, or are just newer to the scene and haven’t had the time to prove themselves yet.
Affinity has taken a step back from its position a few weeks ago, and is seeing less play, and putting up results less frequently. Azorius Control continues to perform reasonably, but is largely shouldered by a select few players on MTGO, so I’m a bit skeptical on its performance when piloted outside of that group, which is why it lands in B-tier. Rakdos Midrange will continue trying to scam opponents with Grief + Undying Evil (or similar cards), and if Blood Moon is good, Rakdos gets some free points there.
It has definitely been a minute since Jund Saga has posted a notable result, but it did put up a second place finish at Dreamhack Dallas. Modern Jund builds are currently reliant on recurring Urza’s Saga with Wrenn and Six to bury the other fair decks in card advantage. This means that if things work, Jund is one of the few fair decks that can effectively keep up with the resources that Four-Color Yorion generates. This version of Jund does go bigger than the versions previous, instead of Dragon’s Rage Channeler this deck plays three Tireless Tracker instead. This means that this version of Jund is less aggressive than the version with DRC, but is trying to bury the opponent in resources given that at some point in the game, every land that comes into play makes a clue, and grows the Tracker. In traditional Jund fashion, the deck is going to be strong against other fair decks, and is going to struggle against combo decks.
Dimir Food has been popping up over the last couple weeks, and for good reason. This deck plays just like a fair deck with Emry, Asmo, and Urza’s Saga, but also has a combo finish with Underworld Cookbook, Academy Manufactor, and Time Sieve to take infinite turns. All these cards existed up until this point, right, so why is it now that Dimir Food is back? Ledger Shredder has a fantastic home on this deck. All the spells are cheap, it puts things into the graveyard for Emry, and it blocks well, which is everything this deck wants in a card. Asmo’s ability to often trade two food for one creature is powerful in fair matchups and six damage is going to kill nearly every creature in Modern. Then comes the Splinter Twin angle, Dimir food can beat you playing fair, and then if you ever give them a window, they’ll set up infinite turns and win that way.
Ah yes, old Belcher is back. Every now and then when people get sick of Four-Color being too good, Belcher makes an appearance to embarrass Yorion and friends. Remember earlier when I said that Elementals and Four-Color both can’t handle combo decks particularly well, and Belcher is about as all-in as a combo deck gets in Modern. I often expect Belcher to go off on turn three or four, which doesn’t give the opponent much time to do a whole lot about taking 40 damage to the head. Belcher, as is tradition, struggles against decks like Murtkide and Death’s Shadow because they can interact and apply pressure in the early turns of the game. However, the Yorion decks, Jund, and other fair decks that aren’t fast or prepared are very easy matchups.
That’s all I have for this week. It is interesting as the top of the Modern metagame continues to be a fight between Yorion and Murktide Regent, that other A- and B-tier strategies have moved up to challenge the titans. In fact those decks cycle much more, and players turn to combo to beat Yorion, Murktide and GDS show up to beat those decks, which then leads to decks like Jund showing up to try and beat Murktide and GDS, and the cycle repeats.
As always you can find me on Twitter at @RappaciousOne for questions, comments or feedback! I’ll be back next week with some more Modern (or maybe Pioneer) content, I’ll see you all then!
Michael Rapp is a Modern specialist who favors Thoughtseize decks. Magic sates his desire for competition and constant improvement.