The return of creature decks to Modern

The Return of Creature Decks to Modern

Mason ClarkModern, Strategy

Modern, as a format, has always been propped up by a “you can do whatever you want” mentality. However, during the last year, Yorion made playing creature decks in Modern incredibly difficult due to cards like Solitude, Fury, Prismatic Ending and Unholy Heat

The good news for creature fans in Modern is that many of these cards are on the downswing, outside of Unholy Heat. This means creature decks are back on the menu! Today, we are going to explore the creatures decks doing best and the ones that have gained the most from this metagame shift.


Yawgmoth still put up solid finishes during the Yorion era, but it has skyrocketed in the metagame since the latest ban went into effect. If you’re interested in learning how to play the deck and the combo, we have a full breakdown article here.

Yawgmoth uses its ability to present a combo kill with the back up plan of beating the opponent down. The main deck of Yawgmoth hasn’t actually changed much in the past couple of months, as the meta around it has simply improved its odds. The deck’s only big weaknesses in the metagame are Rakdos Midrange/scam and Rhinos — two decks that can clock quickly and disrupt the general game plan you’re presenting. However, in current Modern, every deck is going to have some terrible matchups. 

Also, while Yawg’s own prospects improved with Yorion gone, so did the prospects of its favorite prey. And with more decks like Hammer running around, Yawg’s win percentage goes up. This goes for all the creature decks, like Yawg itself. Being a combo deck that is hard to interact with, especially one where its main combo piece is good at breaking up creature synergies, leads Yawgmoth to a great spot.

Today’s version of Yawg does see one small change in the sideboard, though. Haywire Mite is an all star creature from The Brothers’ War that has been added to all the Urza’s saga and Karn decks, but it’s also worth it here.

Essentially, playing a one mana Outland Liberator when lined up against hate cards for Yawg has a lot of appeal. It can also just be a cheap body to start some Yawg chaining, if things are going well already.

This deck can be a little tricky to play at first, but with consistent practice and a little thought, it’s one of the most rewarding decks in all of Modern. 


This is another deck that hasn’t changed much in a while, but it has benefited from the recent metagame shifts in Modern. 

If you look at Modern right now, there are three to four top decks (depending on who you ask): Breach, Hammer and Scam. Hammer has a good matchup against scam and, depending on the Breach build, it can have an OK match up there, too. You’re also great against Murktide, another deck knocking at the top of the meta. All things considered, having that spread of matchups as one of the most popular decks at every event is a great place to be. 

But why is Hammer so strong? Outside of the obvious turn two potential, it has a few really strong advantages. The first is it’s one of the most mana efficient decks out there, and it can easily overwhelm your opponent in that regard while being proactive. That means you’re using your resources better than others. 

Second, it’s also one of the best Urza’s Saga decks. Saga not only gives you access to your namesake, but it also allows you to find some powerful sideboard cards — like the recently added Haywire Mire. Like we talked about above, it does a great job being a cheap thing that can help answer hate while also playing a key role in the mirror.


This is my dark horse pick for Modern, but I feel good about it for maybe the first time ever. So, let’s start with why you would even want to play Merfolk right now, since it’s historically a meme deck that few people respect. 

First the pitch elementals, especially Fury, are much scarcer than they have been at most points in recent Modern history. While Rakdos Scam does play them, the new inclusion of Voldalian Hexcatcher means you can realistically invalidate that card a fair bit. 

Second, the mana disruptive elements are at an all time best. There are lots of Urza’s Saga decks running around, which insta-die to Spreading Sea effects. And the other part of the meta is large on three to five color decks, where hitting a triome can be game over for opponents. Combine that all with the new addition of Magus of the Moon, which you can cast off Vial and by naming Wizard with Cavern of Souls.

Merfolk is a classic deck to Modern. Proactive and good at disrupting, the deck has only improved now that the format has settled in a place where both of those qualities are at their best. It’s easy to disregard this deck due to its past results, but I think you’re doing yourself a disservice for the next few weeks by not considering this deck. 

I think what players are missing is that they should think about Merfolk like they do about Chalice Stompy in Legacy. Those decks always get disrespected but have great win rates against some of the best decks. You’re still weak to large portions of the metagame, but no deck in Modern is perfect against the field. Plus, this deck versus the top tier tables is actually very strong. 

Svyelun is a card that can single handedly change the Rakdos matchup from a close one to a blowout, as killing all the merfolk becomes much harder when you’re drawing two cards a turn. We have seen some hardcore, blue chalice decks adopt this card without other merfolk in the list and seen it do well in Modern at certain points. I think combining that idea with the merfolk themselves is a great recipe for success.

End step

Modern is in a great place at the moment, and all these creature decks show how the format is a little underexplored again. For the first time in a while, you can actually do what you want! So, let me know what you’re doing with this freedom in Modern on Twitter. Otherwise, I’ll catch you all next week.