Welcome back for the March 2022 edition of the Modern Tier List. Last weekend we had the Team Trios event, and a $5K in Indianapolis, as well as the MTGO challenges to take data from. While a Team Trios event isn’t the most concrete source to take data from with regard to win rate, we can still look at popularity. This is also the first month since I’ve started this segment where I believe Modern has S-tier decks! So let’s dive right in!
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 hasn’t had any deck that I’ve considered S-Tier for some time. Throughout the time from Modern Horizons 2 to the Lurrus ban, I thought the top of the metagame was balanced around 4-6 decks. Living in a post-Lurrus world is a bit different. For the time being, Four-Color Yorion, and Izzet Murktide are at least a little bit above the rest of Modern in my eyes.
Since the Lurrus ban, Four-Color Yorion has seemed to be one of the two natural landing spots for players looking for the best deck. Four-Color Yorion was already a reasonable contender for the best deck when Lurrus was around. When Lurrus got banned, Shadow and Hammer took a step back, leaving Four-Color Yorion to absorb all of that metagame share, as it didn’t lose anything.
Four-Color Yorion is the same highly adaptable midrange/control hybrid that can really grind out value in longer games. Teferi, Time Raveler, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, and Teferi, Hero of Dominaria are backed up by Fury, Solitude, Prismatic Ending, and March of the Otherworldly Light will make the game hard for anyone looking to attack. However, Four-Color Yorion isn’t the best against spell heavy decks, especially combo decks, so look for those decks to pop up to prey on Four-Color Yorion.
Izzet Murktide is the only other deck that I think is a step above the field at the moment. Murktide was always just a half-step behind Grixis Death’s Shadow when Lurrus was legal, but now that Lurrus is banned and Shadow has taken a step back, Murktide is here to claim the title of the premier tempo deck in Modern. Murktide Regent is one of the most powerful creatures in Modern largely due to the fact that it dodges or is resilient to common removal like Prismatic Ending, March of the Otherworldly Light, Fatal Push, and Unholy Heat. an 8/8 flier when backed up by Counterspell and Archamage’s Charm is going to end games in a hurry. Ragavan and Dragon’s Rage Channeler are no slackers either! Hammer losing Lurrus and taking a hit in popularity is great news for Izzet Murktide, as that matchup was traditionally unfavored.
As Four-Color Yorion and Azorius Control start to become more popular, and Solitude’s stock continues to rise, Murktide Regent could be in some danger. However, Izzet Murktide can adapt by playing more copies of Dress Down should they need to. Blood Moon is commonly showing up in the main deck as a hedge toward Four-Color Yorion, Amulet Titan, and other greedy mana bases. I’ll be following Izzet Murktide fairly closely to see where exactly this deck lands after the dust settles.
This month we have a relatively large A-tier, which is mostly manufactured by the bans. Four-Color Yorion and Izzet Murktide didn’t increase in power level, but instead the decks around it got worse, which caused those decks to separate into S-Tier. Once the community figures out how to rebuild some of the Lurrus decks, I would expect that gap to get closer or even close entirely. These decks are still rock solid choices to bring to a tournament if you’re proficient with them.
Grixis Death’s Shadow
Last week I wrote about how Shadow still has a lot of life left in it despite the Lurrus ban, you can find that here. While Death’s Shadow may not be the best deck in Modern, as it was a few weeks ago, it still has a strong core. Myself and others have been working tirelessly to find the correct build of Death’s Shadow post-Lurrus to keep Shadow on top of the metagame. Shadow in my opinion has to move to be slightly bigger to keep up with decks like Four-Color Yorion and Azorius Control that can generate enough resources that Shadow has a hard time winning without Lurrus. The best solution I’ve found thus far is Kaito Shizuki, which may look a bit odd, but it protects itself for a turn, and makes a creature before turning into a personal Howling Mine, which is exactly what I want in those matchups!
We’ll see how long it takes the community to find the new best version of Shadow, but until then I think it is still strong enough to be a solid A-tier deck, with the potential to close the gap on Izzet Murktide.
Hammer Time is the second most impacted deck by the Lurrus ban, right behind Death’s Shadow. Hammer, much like Shadow, was in the conversation for the best deck in Modern before the ban, and it also retains its powerful core plan, which means it could only realistically fall so far. Strapping up the Inkmoth Nexus with a Colossus Hammer is still what Hammer is trying to do, and still does it well, however it lost the resilience granted by Lurrus. Some players have been playing blue for The Reality Chip, Spell Pierce, Teferi, Time Raveler, and Meddling Mage to help with the combo and control matchups, but the Orzhov Hammer decks folks are used to are still alive and kicking as well!
Hammer players are figuring out where they need to be in the metagame, and as things get refined I think it will continue to climb back to a position near the top. Hammer does have to be somewhat more all-in than it used to be, because without Lurrus, the interactive decks can certainly run Hammer out of gas. I would keep an eye on Hammer to see exactly how things evolve over the coming weeks.
I spoke on this a couple weeks ago, but I believe cascade decks were among the biggest winners of the Lurrus ban, and suddenly Rhinos are back in force. Grixis Death’s Shadow falling in popularity is great news for Rhinos as that was a traditionally tough matchup. Hammer Time also got worse without Lurrus, so the ability for Hammer to grind out the Rhinos player is much less prevalent now. Four-Color Yorion and Izzet Murktide can certainly be problematic for the Crash, but Force of Negation and Mystical Dispute go a long way to fix those matchups. One thing that is potentially worrying if you’re trying to cast our horned friends is the increase in Burn decks as a response to Four-Color Yorion. I think those things are currently keeping Rhinos in A-tier instead of S-tier, but things could certainly break in a way that favors Rhinos and we could see it jump a tier in the future!
This is all I have for this week. I know that as always I’ll be keeping a close eye on how the Modern metagame develops once the dust settles from the Lurrus ban. As always you can find me on Twitter at @RappaciousOne for questions or feedback! I’ll see everyone back here next week for more Modern content!
Michael Rapp is a Modern specialist who favors Thoughtseize decks. Magic sates his desire for competition and constant improvement.