R Koster's picture
By: R Koster, Rob Koster
Mar 24 2021 1:00pm

We have had some real tournaments happening, and there is a definite snapshot starting to build as to what is good, and the cream of the crop is definitely rising to the top.

Between a couple of Modern Challenges and a big MTGO tournament, the case can be made for one deck to be the best deck in the format. It won both the Magic Online Champions Showcase, a Modern Challenge, and a Modern PTQ. Let's start with that. 

I'm assuming that at this point that everyone knows how this deck works. For those who don't, here's a quick recap.

This deck wants to combo into either infinite life with Spike Feeder and Heliod, Sun-Crowned or infinite damage with Walking Ballista and Heliod, Sun-Crowned. You give the Walking Ballista lifelink with Heliod's ability and then ping them, resulting in you winning a counter from Heliod, giving it straight back to the Ballista.

That's the first plan this deck has, which already is pretty good. Considering Heliod is hard to get off the battlefield and multiple things combo with it. The second thing this deck is doing is this weird thing that you apparently can do with creatures. It swings them sideways into the opponent's life total's face.

In comparison, there are no 10/10's for 1 mana or hexproof/unblockable guys. Every single creature in here is entirely reasonable as a secondary thing to play behind the combo. Also, four main deck Auriok Champion in a format where Lightning Bolt and Fatal Push are two of the big removal spells, and Burn has been tier 1 for a decade, can't be a bad thing.

I already said it at the start, but I want to reiterate it. I've had multiple people ask me if I think something should get banned from this deck, and I think banning something from this deck would be a massive mistake. The deck is good, yes. But I ran it through a few leagues this week after it was very much a known quantity, and I just lost to everything in games 2 and 3. I won every single game 1, then died horribly to a gazillion sideboard cards in every single match. I mean, I even lost multiple matches to burn playing Kozilek's Return and Roiling Vortex. With an infinite lifegain combo deck. So yes, the deck is potent. But the deck can be stopped by hate, which is a wonderful thing to have in the best deck in the format.

We also once again have the trifecta of Modern fun police that people have been clamoring for, for years.

Let me explain that; people have been yearning for the times we had Twin, Jund, and Burn as the top 3 decks policing the format.

Jund and Burn, while never having been banned,  couldn't beat an Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath to save their life. Those two policing forces got pushed out. Twin got banned out of the format, and we ended up with a format that was a smoldering, steaming dumpster fire.

We are at a format where both Jund and Burn are good, and we have a successor to the role of Twin in the format. An interactive combo deck that can also beat you fairly. And lo and behold, the format is terrific once more. Funny how those things work. Before people mention it, yes, I have noticed that Twin and Heliod Combo play very differently. It doesn't matter; it's the style of deck that polices the format, not the exact configuration of cards.

So, what else is good?

Well, as I mentioned already, Boros Burn is doing well, and so is Izzet Prowess. I like how both have ended up being completely different decks while keeping the degeneracy in check.

The other deck that I already mentioned that is doing very well is Jund, both in the Bloodbraid Elf style and the Death's Shadow Jund style.
We all know what a Jund deck looks like, so I'll just put up the Death's Shadow list that did well recently.

This list isn't quite a standard list, even though it closely resembles one. The most significant changes are the 4 Hexdrinker in the main and the whole 4 Temur Battle Rage in the sideboard. Both acknowledgments to the fact that in Modern, you really always have a plan if you can make your opponent very dead. For those of you who haven't watched the Magic Online showcase yet. I highly recommend it, there are some sweet games in there, and if you're not convinced by Temur Battle Rage after watching those matches, I highly recommend you play a deck without Creatures because they are not for you. Like Esper control.

Esper Control now truly is a thing. I can't recall Esper ever being the best control deck in Modern. But it's starting to look like we are at that point. Lightning Bolt Just isn't very good right now except when you actively want to zap your opponent's face. The format is also very grindy right now, and nothing grinds harder than an Esper Control deck.

For reference, here is a list:


This deck is a very close relative to the Azorius Control decks we all know and love, and it plays out very similarly. Lots of doing nothing, lots of drawing cards, taking forever to close out a game that has been over since the 5th turn. Everything a control mage has ever desired is in there. And while I keep losing to this deck, I'm glad that Esper is impacting the format.

The final thing that I want to mention; I have been getting queued into Tron at least twice per League for a while now, do with that information what you will.

All I can say after all that is that Modern is fantastic right now. We have every single archetype running around in the higher tiers of the format. It doesn't matter if you like Combo, Control, Aggro, Ramp, or Midrange. Everything is there for you to choose from!