Hello, and welcome to this month’s 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. MTG Las Vegas is this weekend, which makes this a great time to go over the decks that could be major players in the event.
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. This month, we have some familiar faces returning to A Tier. We also have some decks that have gone through some changes, but still have the same core plan.
Four-Color Yorion looks a bit different from last month, but retains its spot in A Tier. This deck preys on the more efficient midrange decks, like Jund Saga and Izzet Murktide. Value is the name of the game here, and if Four-Color Yorion survives the early turns, it will outmuscle nearly every deck in Modern. Creature match-ups are where you’ll make your money with this deck. Be careful in the event that combo decks make a resurgence, because this deck is lacking in ways to interact with non-creature spells. The rising number of Blood Moons in Modern is also a bit worrisome, so be mindful of your land sequencing.
Hammer Time is just as fast and punishing as ever. It feasts on all but the most interactive midrange decks and fastest combo decks. Capable of turn two kills or grinding out long games with Urza’s Saga, Hammer Time had a rock solid plan regardless of game length. I expect many players will be looking to bonk their opponents should they show up unprepared this weekend.
Jund Saga has been the frontrunner for RBx Lurrus decks for a while now. Its card quality and ability to grind through most opposing decks is remarkable. However, Jund’s success may have earned it a target on its back. Four-Color Yorion is a slightly larger midrange deck, which is one of the last things Jund wants to see. Traditionally, Jund struggles against low resource investment combos, like Belcher, which is on the come up. Worry not — there should still be enough creatures decks around to make Jund a strong choice.
Izzet Murktide is also extending its stay in A Tier this month. A tempo deck with access to Blood Moon is a great plan right now, which earns Izzet Murktide a lot of equity. Ragavan and Dragon’s Rage Channeler are still top tier Modern threats, and when you can back them up with Murktide Regent, you’ll be ending games in a hurry. Izzet Murktide packs plenty of removal to handle creature decks, as well as counterspells for slower decks. Izzet Murktide does struggle against Teferi, Time Raveler and graveyard hate, making it a strong — but not bulletproof — option.
I chose to feature Temur Footfalls instead of a four-color version for a couple reasons. First, having access to Blood Moon is likely to be important this weekend, and Temur Footfalls is one of the best homes for it. Second, while the odds of drawing a cascade spell stays relatively the same, your chance of drawing Blood Moon, Force of Negation, and Force of Vigor goes down. I think Temur Footfalls will be one of the most played decks this weekend, and for good reason: it’s powerful, proactive, and has relevant disruption. That being said, keep an eye out for all the Engineered Explosives and Chalices of the Void that come with that power.
Grixis Death’s Shadow makes an appearance in A tier this month. With a similar tempo-oriented game plan to Izzet Murktide, Grixis Death’s Shadow looks to get underneath the opponent with Ragavan and Dragon’s Rage Channeler. Once the opponent is out onto their heels, the powerful disruption suite picks apart their game plan. The addition of Lurrus of the Dream-Den gives Grixis Death’s Shadow a better ability to go long compared to Izzet Murktide.
Grixis Shadow and Jund Saga also have a common strength — threats that don’t have a graveyard dependency — which is a good place to be at the moment. Dress Down and Tourach, Dread Cantor make Grixis Shadow better equipped to fight Solitude compared to other midrange strategies. That doesn’t mean that Death’s Shadow isn’t without its flaws; big mana decks and pure control decks are still going to be a struggle.
I wouldn’t feel bad about registering a B-Tier deck on the right week. 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.
Belcher has moved up to B Tier this month after winning back-to-back Modern Challenges on MTGO last weekend. This deck has everything that I’m looking for in a combo deck right now. No creatures means that opposing removal spells are blank, and that alone earns Belcher a lot of points. I’ve previously mentioned that Blood Moon is poised to have a great weekend; not only does Belcher get to play it, but it gets to cheat it into play ahead of schedule!
Belcher is looking to prey on Jund Saga, Four-Color Yorion, and Temur Footfalls, all of which struggle to interact on the stack. On the other side of things, Belcher really wants to dodge Izzet Murktide and Grixis Death’s Shadow, because they can interact on the stack while applying a ton of pressure.
Yawgmoth is in an interesting spot at the moment. Decks are packing a lot of removal, and Yawgmoth can usually grind through that. But on the flipside, Solitude is a beating for Yawgmoth because it cleanly answers undying creatures. I like that Yawgmoth is a combo deck that can still function as a beatdown deck when it has to. Interactive decks can be stretched thin trying to handle the aggro plan, which opens up a window for the combo to win the game.
C-Tier decks have a strong plan, but may be pushed out of the meta by some bad match-ups. The Modern metagame tends to be cyclical, so it’s only a matter of time before some of these decks start to climb the ranks.
This may be one of the most hostile metas for Tron in some time. The unparalleled speed of Hammer Time and the glut of Blood Moon effects in the format both pose huge issues for Tron. Things only get worse for Karn and friends if Goblin Charbelcher picks up more of a metagame share. I expect a fair number of players to show up with Tron this weekend, but I don’t see the deck performing particularly well.
I, for one, am thrilled to be back to playing large paper events, and my weapon of choice this weekend is old reliable Grixis Shadow. If you see me in Vegas, feel free to come say hello! Best of luck to everyone battling this weekend.
Michael Rapp is a Modern specialist who favors Thoughtseize decks. Magic sates his desire for competition and constant improvement.