Hello, and welcome to the October Modern tier list brought to you by Card Kingdom! 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, and some that have gone through some changes, but still have the same core plan.
Azorius Control made the jump from B-Tier to A-Tier since the last time we looked at the format. The strength of Azorius Control lies in its disruptive elements, particularly Prismatic Ending, Solitude, and Chalice of the Void. As Modern players tried to get lower to the ground with each passing week to get under the other popular decks, the stock of cheap, powerful interaction rose. Prismatic Ending isn’t a new player in Modern, but Azorius Control can leverage it to kill almost anything that sneaks by its stack of counterspells. Solitude lets you tap out for a Teferi, Time Raveler on turn three without having to worry about your opponent attacking it. Chalice of the Void continues to be great; many decks have upwards of 20 one-mana spells, and Azorius Control doesn’t have any. Memory Deluge gives Azorius incredible digging power; the first half is close to Fact or Fiction, and the flashback is close to Dig Through Time. Finally, Supreme Verdict and Teferi, Hero of Dominaria let you take the game late against slower decks such as Temur Footfalls and Elementals.
Unsurprisingly, Hammer Time has held onto the title of the best deck in Modern. The game plan is still basically the same: suit something up with a Colossus Hammer and go to town. However, since we’ve last seen it, Hammer has picked up a black splash. While some players are opting for Dark Confidant, Diem4x has chosen to keep Ingenious Smith instead. Thoughtseize and Knight of Malice come out of the sideboard to help with troublesome match-ups. Knight of Malice is surely a nod toward the uptick in Solitude, and it puts Azorius Control in a difficult spot. Thoughtseize provides additional protection from Solitude, and improves the match-ups against Temur Footfalls and Living End a bit.
Four-Color Yorion is sort of an evolution of Elementals. Omnath, Locus of Creation, Solitude, Fury, and Ephemerate are all still around, but Risen Reef, Flamekin Harbinger and the Elementals-specific cards are gone. Players are swapping Kaheera in the companion slot for Yorion and an extra 20 cards. And nearly all of these extra cards are dedicated to generating a pile of value. Spreading Seas, Abundant Growth, Expressive Iteration, and Eternal Witness are new faces to make sure that the flow of cards never stops.
Four-Color Yorion is likely the best pure midrange deck in Modern at the moment, and it can win on card quality alone. Any deck looking to attack has to make it fast, because once Four-Color Yorion gets rolling, not much is going to stop it. Spell-based combos are your best bet to beat this deck, as it doesn’t interact well on the stack. Four-Color Yorion also has a greedy mana base, which makes Blood Moon a strong counter. We’ll see how the meta responds to this newcomer in the coming weeks.
Izzet Murktide has also gone through something of a transformation. While the core of the deck is still blue and red, Murktide decks are adopting Prismatic Ending to solve some key problems: Chalice of the Void, Rest in Peace, and the Hammer Time match-up in general. The same proactive game plan is still in effect: either run the opponent over with Ragavan or Dragon’s Rage Channeler, or stick a large Murktide Regent with counterspells to protect it. In addition to a strong tempo plan, Jeskai Murktide can pivot to a Blood Moon plan after game one, should the match-up call for it, adding a powerful angle of attack against greedy opponents. While Murktide is not currently challenging Hammer Time for “best deck” status, it is still a strong A-tier option, despite Solitude‘s best efforts.
Crashing Footfalls has also seen its fair share of evolutions over the last month, from adding white, to adding 20 cards and Yorion. However, for cascade decks, consistency is key, which is why I chose classic Temur to feature this month. Due to the nature of the cascade package, Temur Footfalls only has a handful of flex spots that change to suit the metagame. Seasoned Pyromancer, Prismari Command, Cryptic Command, and Bonecrusher Giant typically fill these slots. Temur Footfalls plays a powerful blend of midrange and tempo by interacting early with modal cards, and then turning the corner quickly with Crashing Footfalls.
With the decline of Murktide Regent, Jund Saga may have become the best home for Ragavan and Dragon’s Rage Channeler. Jund Saga has two great game plans: getting aggressive with Ragavan, Dragon’s Rage Channeler and Tarmogoyf, or grinding out longer games with Urza’s Saga and Wrenn and Six. Six discard spells not only lets you break up the opposing plan, but gives you needed information to decide what to work toward. Urza’s Saga provides a consistent flow of threats, as well as a tutorable suite of artifacts for all situations. This deck has game against basically everything thanks to its efficient, powerful core.
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.
Burn has been flirting with breaking into A-tier after a few weeks of good results, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it move up next month. Burn is the same as it ever was: linear, focused, and fast enough to punish slower or stumbling decks. Azorius Control, Four-Color Yorion, and Jeskai Murktide are all plus match-ups for Burn, putting the deck in a solid place to succeed.
Dimir Mill tends to rank generally the same as Burn, and I have them both in B-tier this month. But Dimir Mill is in danger of falling lower in my rankings due to the rise of Yorion. Between Four-Color Yorion, Azorius Blink, and Yorion Rhinos, there are a lot more 80-card decks in the format than normal. To the benefit of Mill, Endurance seems to be less popular than it was last month. Don’t let the current Yorion decks dissuade you from playing Mill, though — we’ve yet to see if they have true staying power, and Mill has plenty of other good match-ups.
I believe Esper Reanimator is one of the most underrated decks in Modern right now. As Rakdos-based Lurrus decks fall off, players have been cutting back on their graveyard hate. Archon of Cruelty is going to be excellent against anyone trying to play a fair, resource-driven game. And, importantly, Serra’s Emissary provides a lot of coverage against the broad spectrum of Modern, giving you protection from whatever card type you need. Choosing “creature” puts decks like Hammer Time and Four-Color Yorion in a hard spot, forcing them to find a Path to Exile or Teferi, Time Raveler to try and answer it. Similarly, choosing “land” means that decks relying on Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle are going to be put in the squeeze. I’d expect to see more Esper Reanimator in the coming weeks.
C-tier decks have a strong plan, but may just 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.
Of the C-tier decks, I want to highlight Belcher because it’s a spell-based combo deck, and it’s especially well-positioned against Four-Color Yorion and Elementals decks in general. The concern for Belcher is the interactive decks like Azorius Control, Jund Saga, and Jeskai Murktide. But thankfully, Veil of Summer is a potent option in those match-ups. Blood Moon is also in a good spot right now, and Belcher is one of the best homes for Blood Moon that you’ll find. With 12 ways to play a turn two Blood Moon, your opponents best have something good to do with Mountains, because they’re going to have a lot of them. If Modern continues on its current trajectory, I could see Belcher being a B-tier deck by the end of next month.
Hopefully, this gives you a little more insight into this week’s Modern metagame. Naturally, as Modern changes, so will this list, so it’s best used as a guide, rather than an absolute. As always, you can find me on Twitter at @RappaciousOne for questions or comments. Be sure to keep an eye out for our next tier list update in November!
Michael Rapp is a Modern specialist who favors Thoughtseize decks. Magic sates his desire for competition and constant improvement.