Modern Tier List, September 2023

Modern Tier List September 2023 Update

Michael RappModern, Strategy

Welcome back for yet another Modern tier list update, this time for the beginning of the Modern RCQ season. Whether you’re joining us as a new player jumping into Modern, or a returning player who just wants to brush up on how the metagame may have changed since the last time you played Modern, hopefully you’ll take something away from this piece. Before we jump in and talk about some of these decks I’d like to review the tier 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.


This time around I think the S-tier belongs to Rakdos Scam exclusively. Sitting atop the Modern format and a mountain of tournament results, Rakdos Scam has separated itself enough from the rest of the field to earn the S-tier distinction. S-tier decks are the decks to beat, the ones that the rest of the Modern decks are gunning for. How did Scam get to this point though? Like any good competitive deck, Scam has a swath of good matchups. Scam has almost single handedly pushed decks like Yawgmoth and Living End down on this list. Arguably more importantly, Scam has among the best shot to win in its bad matchups of any deck in Modern. Ragavan into Blood Moon, or turn one double Grief, or a 4/4 Fury on turn one really puts the opponent under the gun even if they’re favored in the matchup. Because of Scam’s explosive nature there is a floor on just how bad any given matchup can be, while that same explosive nature gives Scam great opportunity against decks that either aren’t prepared to interact with their threats, or don’t have the redundancy to play through multiple discard effects. 


A-Tier this time around is made up of Rhinos, Four-Color Midrange, Izzet Murktide, and Hammer. These four decks are all Modern staples and are all strong options for upcoming tournaments. As alluded to earlier, Scam has separated itself from the field, but I don’t think the gap between S  and A tiers is large enough to not consider these decks for upcoming tournaments, especially at the RCQ level. All four of these decks have a strong swath of good matchups, but may struggle against other popular tournament decks, but all in all have a high enough win rate to be the next group of best decks. 


Rhinos in my opinion is the second best deck in Modern right now. Powerful, proactive, and adaptive has long been a formula for success in Modern. Because the range of Modern decks that get played is so wide, having a straightforward plan to punish weak hands, bad plans, or stumbles is valuable, and a few 4/4s with trample will end games quickly against an opponent who is unprepared. Fury, Subtlety, Force of Negation, Fire//Ice, and Dismember means that Rhinos not only have a lot of interaction, but it is flexible enough to have coverage against basically everything that you may end up playing against.  Lorien Revealed let Rhinos effectively cut back on lands which reduces its biggest weakness, flooding. Lorien Revealed not only helps you make land drops, but also helps fill the graveyard for an early Murktide Regent, something that Rhinos could certainly struggle to do before the addition of Lorian Revealed

Four-Color Omnath

For simplicity I’ll call this deck Four-Color Omnath instead of control, midrange, or elementals. Four-Color Omnath has gone through some improvements since the last swath of Modern tournaments, gaining The One Ring and Up the Beanstalk. Previous versions of Four-Color Omnath were trending toward more controlling builds moving away from cards like Fury, but with Up the Beanstalk, Four-Color Omnath wants access to as many free or discounted five-mana spells as they can get their hands on. This means that Fury, Solitude, and Leyline Binding are somehow more attractive than they were previously.  Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines also is making a comeback, which was also cut from many decks as they got more controlling. Not only does Elesh Norn trigger Up the Beanstalk, but it also plays extremely well with Solitude, Fury, and Leyline Binding. Obsidian Charmaw made its way into the deck in varying numbers at Pro Tour Barcelona, however players didn’t seem completely sold on it, but now its interaction with Up the Beanstalk has earned Obsidian Charmaw an expanded role in the sideboard plans. 


B-Tier contains some familiar faces in Modern that either haven’t kept up with the new cards in other archetypes or the presence of other decks higher on the list are suppressing some of these decks. That being said, if someone told me that one of these decks had won a tournament I wouldn’t be surprised, but in general these decks either lack a bit of power, or have a hole in their game plan that is exploitable by other popular decks.  

Living End
Hardened Scales

Hardened Scales has kind of perpetually been floating around the Modern metagame. I believe that deck has been quite powerful in a few spots in recent history, but a general lack of desire to take the SATs for nine rounds keeps Hardened Scales representation on the lower end of where it would be if it was a less daunting deck to play optimally. While the core of the Hardened Scales deck hasn’t changed, adding the One Ring and Agatha’s Soul Cauldron gives the deck a noticeable power spike. The One Ring is a known quantity at this point, and helps prevent Hardened Scales from running out of gas. Agatha’s Soul Cauldon on the other hand is a new addition from Wilds of Eldraine that turbocharges the deck. Making every creature into Arcbound Ravager or Walking Ballista is a huge deal as it is, but the fact that Agatha’s Soul Cauldron is also a consistent stream of +1/+1 counters is quite appealing for Hardened Scales. I’d expect to see an uptick in play rate for Hardened Scales in this season. 

End Step

Modern season is my favorite time of the year, and I’m excited to get into the swing of things. While the representations of these decks may vary from local metagame to local metagame, and may not line up with the MTGO representation, I believe this outlines the relative strength of decks against each other. Savvy players who have a bead on the local metagame may reach down the tier list to exploit certain matchups. However, unless you have the metagame dialed in, I’d recommend choosing an S or A tier deck, as they represent the strongest choices in an open field.

As always you can find me on Twitter at @RappaciousOne and on BlueSky at for questions, comments, and feedback. 

Best of luck to everyone in their upcoming RCQs!