Welcome back for the Nov. 2022 update to the Card Kingdom Modern Tier list! This month was a bit slow for Modern tournaments, as both SCG Philadelphia and all of the Regional Championships played Pioneer. However, we still have some solid, online data to look at for November.
The Brothers’ War has been out for a couple of weeks, and we’re beginning to see Modern shift along with those new additions. This has caused some shake ups on this month’s tier list compared to previous ones. Before we get into the tier list, I’d like to take a second to remind everyone of the 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 list.
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, though 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.
November has what I believe to be three S tier decks: Rakdos Midrange, Hammer and Murktide.
During the last four MTGO events, Rakdos Midrange put up an astonishing 22 top 32 finishes, with seven top 8 appearances. Hammer clocked in second on that list at 13 top 32 appearances with four top 8s, which means Rakdos nearly doubled both metrics of the second place deck. Now, I don’t think that is representative or likely to hold, but Rakdos does certainly get a boost from the notable decline in Omnath decks.
Rakdos Midrange has what is likely the best turn one of any deck in Modern, frequently using Feign Death, Undying Evil, Undying Malice or Malakir Rebirth in combination with an evoked Grief or Fury to heavily disrupt the opponent while leaving a threat behind. Rakdos is a favorite against Hammer and Murktide, which are the next two most popular decks — so it makes sense that we are seeing it do well.
Hammer is still as streamlined as ever, and the deck provides a hard removal check for Modern. Hammer is as fast as many of the combo decks while able to grind with Urza’s Saga. Given that hard removal is somewhat uncommon outside of Rakdos, Leyline Binding and Solitude, Hammer is in a great place to punish decks for not being prepared. While still an S tier deck, Hammer is kept in check by Rakdos Midrange but balanced by having a great Murktide matchup.
Murktide is still a strong option, and it gets better with fewer Omnath decks running around. The baseline, interactive strategy is weak to both the previously mentioned decks and doesn’t love the popularity of Leyline Binding, however. Despite that, Murktide is proactive and efficient, which gives it an edge over a lot of the chunkier decks. Counterspell and Spell Pierce beat up a lot of the combo decks in Modern, as well.
A Tier has a number of new faces, namely Merfolk and Zoo. Disruptive Aggro has been on the rise in order to beat up on decks like Creativity and the Cascade decks.
Merfolk has really risen from the depths this month, posting solid results over the last few events. Tideshaper and Spreading Seas not only disrupt greedy mana bases (which are prevalent in Modern), but in combination with Lord of Atlantis or Master of the Pearl Trident, they make your team unblockable. Merfolk also happens to be one of the best Force of Negation decks in Modern, and it is not uncommon to see that card in the main deck. So, when the metagame is right for it, Merfolk is ready.
Zoo has also popped up in the vein of disruptive aggro decks. Zoo is more on the interactive side of the spectrum relative to Merfolk, but they both have a similar core game plan: apply pressure with cheap, large creatures and use removal or counterspells to stave off the opponent until you can finish the game.
Creativity has fallen down a notch. While it is still a powerful option, Omnath decks were a good matchup for Creativity. With fewer of those decks around, not only does Creativity have less prey, but Zoo and Merfolk can thrive and feast on Creativity.
Omnath decks are still a powerful midrange option — sometimes with Keruga, sometimes without. Without Yorion, Sky Nomad, these decks lose the ability to go deep into games, which means other midrange strategies can run them out of resources. The card quality in Omnath decks is still remarkably high, though, and they still do a good job of snowballing resources.hey simply aren’t the dominant powerhouse they once were.
Jeskai Breach got a new toy in Third Path Iconoclast, which gives the deck both a fair plan and combos for a mill kill. I wrote about it a couple of weeks ago, but Breach still tows the line of fair and unfair by playing both games well. That makes it a powerful option, as you can choose which plan you need to follow based on the matchup. Omnath decks were good matchups for Breach, and the disruptive aggro decks can be tricky, but ultimately I think Breach is powerful enough against the format at large to earn a spot in A tier.
This tier has plenty of familiar faces, including Amulet, Death’s Shadow, Goblins, Affinity, Jeskai Control and Hardened Scales. None of them, however, have the same consistency as the decks above them.
Amulet fell largely due to the high popularity of Izzet Murktide. The deck simply faces a steep, uphill battle in that matchup.
Grixis Death’s Shadow is down a tier this month as well, as I think it is outclassed by Zoo for aggression and Murktide for interaction. Still, the fundamental plan is good enough to win matches of Modern.
Goblins seem streaky. The deck will go off for a couple weeks, putting up a bunch of results, and then go quiet for a couple weeks. For me, the lack of consistency keeps it in the B tier.
Affinity is close, but it just seems like it is missing a little boost of power to carry the otherwise underwhelming cards in the deck, like Ornithopter and Frogmite. Maybe Urza, Prince of Kroog can get this archetype closer to its former glory.
Jeskai Control seems to be largely propped up by WaToO and MrCafouillette, but they keep putting up enough results with it to draw attention. I would like to see other players winning with the deck before bumping it up to A tier, though. Jeskai Control’s issue remains its inability to keep up with the speed of Modern. But as Modern hits the breaks, that matters less, and the powerful but slow cards Jeskai Control plays can actually make it to the battlefield.
Hardened Scales has been close or even good for a while, but the deck is artificially held down by the fact that players don’t want to take a math test every game to play optimally. Hardened Scales is a safer choice than Affinity when resilience matters, but Affinity will be faster on average.
The decks in C Tier this month, Tron, Prowess, Belcher and Calibrated Blast, are all weak to the disruptive aggro decks in Murktide, Merfolk and Zoo. Hammer is too fast for these decks and the popularity of Blood Moon puts Tron in a bad spot. Finally, Rakdos can rip apart Prowess and Belcher.
Basically, play these at your own risk.
Modern has shifted a fair bit since the last update, and that is always exciting. I‘m happy to see that the Yorion, Sky Nomad ban has quelled the Omnath decks and given space to other midrange and aggressive archetypes. As always, I’m going to keep an eye on things as they move from here, and as Brothers’ War keeps working its way into more decks.
As always, you can find me on Twitter at @RappaciousOne for questions, comments and feedback. I’ll see everyone back here next week! Have a happy and safe holiday!
Michael Rapp is a Modern specialist who favors Thoughtseize decks. Magic sates his desire for competition and constant improvement.