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By: olaw, Oliver Law
Jul 03 2019 12:00pm


In this month's edition of Rogues' Gallery we are looking at the hottest brews from June 2019.  June marks the release of Modern Horizons so very shortly after War of the Spark and we are seeing another big shake up to the format.

Pre-Modern Horizons Decklists

I am going to divide this in pre and post-Modern Horizons decklist for clarity and a more rounded view of the month of June.  Here are a few lists that were making waves before Modern Horizons hit the shelves.

Jeskai CopyCat

Remember when Wizards accidentally printed an infinite combo into Standard?  Well Felidar Guardian and Saheeli Rai have been on the fringes of the format for some time but seem to be seeing an uptick in play with the printing of Teferi, Time Raveler.  Teferi plays nicely into the existing gameplan of protecting walkers and protects your combo from interaction from the opponent.

This decks and variations were putting up a lot of results in the pre-Modern Horizons metagame so this deck remains one to watch.

Jund Arcanist

Cavedan is rapidly becoming a mainstay of this article series and we are only three articles in.  Cavedan is a member of the Faithless Brewing podcast who discuss and test new Modern brews.  It's a great podcast for those interested in Modern brews and obviously they are having a good amount of success with their brews at the moment with regular 5-0 appearances in the Modern leagues.

This particular deck focuses on the power of Dreadhorde Arcanist.  The ability to get free spells every time Arcanist attacks in an ability dying to be abused and this shell does that nicely and also has ways to buff the Arcanist to flashback more expensive spells.  With Modern Horizons I have seen some updates to this type of list.  Scale Up is one card that seems particularly tasty with Dreadhorde Arcanist.

Post-Modern Horizons Decklists

Modern Horizons hit the shelves early on in the month and has had a much bigger impact on the format than I anticipated.  The really big hitter has been Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis who has vastly exceeded expectations and may have just broken the format with partners in crime Carrion Feeder and Altar of Dementia.

Hogaak Vine

It seems I grossly underestimated Hogaak in my set review.  I had thought it would be a solid top-end threat for Dredge but turns out it might just be insanely broken.  I was labouring under the mistaken belief that getting two black creatures into play to cast it off would be harder than it is, particularly with the assistance of Bridge from Below.  This deck put up some insane results in the MTGO Modern Challenge immediately following the MH1's release with just over 30% of the decks in the Top 32 being Hogaak Vine decks.  That dominance has continued and Hogaak Vine is now the deck to beat in the format.  The speed and power of the deck is really frightening and the deck can easily cast Hogaak on Turn 2 while generating a huge board presence in the process.

Calls for a ban of at least one of cards in the deck have been rapid, loud and seemingly justified.  I would not be confident investing in this deck as I don't think it will last too much longer.  However, if you want to play a broken deck while it's still legal then I would hop on board this train.

I have previewed MPL Player kanister's list as he has been one of the biggest advocates and innovators of the deck so far.  The deck can be built several different ways but we do appear to be approaching a consensus on most of the main deck slots.  The main deviations now appear to be between a White splash, for Wispmare, or a Green splash, for Nature's Claim, for artifact/enchantment hate and the use of a few flex slots.  Piotr decided to opt for main deck Leyline of the Void to counter other Hogaak Vine decks but other options include Lightning Axe, Stinkweed Imp and Darkblast

The Wispmare/Nature's Claim debate is interesting.  Wispmare has some nice synergy as evoking it causes a creature to go to the graveyard, activating Bridge from Below, and it can't be countered by Force of Negation or other common protective measures.

Hogaak took up a very large percentage of the Day 2 metagame at Grand Prix Dallas Fort Worth which took place on 28-30 June.  However, it didn't completely dominate the tournament with only 2 copies making it into the Top 8.

Esper Death's Shadow

Death's Shadow has been pushed pretty far down the pecking order in recent times.  However, help appears to have come from a rather surprising source in the form of Ranger-Captain of Eos.  The three-drop handily tutors for the deck's namesake while make a solid board presence and a Silence effect in a pinch - it also can be brought back with Modern Horizons reprint Unearth for added value.  It's quite a different package from the Death's Shadow decks we have come to know in Modern but presents some exciting new options and may mark a new way forward for Shadow fans.

You can check out TheAsianAvenger playing a slightly different build of this deck on MTGGoldfish:

Thopter Sword

The Thopter Foundry/Sword of the Meek combo gain a lot of potential cards from Modern Horizons.  The speed of Hogaak Vine appears to have pushed down the use of Karn, the Great Creator which has opened up some space in the metagame for these decks to fight through.  Unfortunately these decks do get some splash damage from the prevalence of graveyard hate though.  Here is an example decklist:

The deck uses Goblin Engineer and Urza, Lord High Artificer as two of the most prominent new tools for the deck.  Goblin Engineer can act a tutor for either of the combo pieces and Urza allows an infinite combo by which you make mana off Sword of the Meek and then sacrifice it to it's own ability to generate infinite Thopters, gain infinite life and use the mana from the Thopters to play cast all the cards in your library.

The last week of MTGO Modern League results also highlighted an interesting variant on the Urza based decks.  FTZZ's decklist is focused on a much faster combo kill.  The idea is to use Urza to generate mana from all of your 0-mana cost artifacts, tokens generated from Saheeli/Sai/Mirrodin Besieged, with Grinding Station providing further mana each time you cast an artifact, and filtering through your deck with Riddlesmith.  Echo of Eons allows you to rinse and repeat, shuffling your graveyard back into your deck, and the kill can be achieved through milling with Grinding Station, making a swarm of 1/1 tokens backed up with Chalice of the Void on meaningful numbers or using the Phyrexian mode of Mirrodin Besieged. 

The deck is really innovative and I am interested to see how well this performs moving forward.  The deck is similar to Eggs once it gets going.

Sultai Ninjas

Another exciting new deck that has been doing the round on MTGO is Sultai Ninjas.  This deck is almost entirely based around Modern Horizons cards and uses Faerie Seer, Ice-Fang Coatl and the new ninjas to beat opponents.

If you want to see the deck in action Frank Lepore did a stream running the deck which you can check out in the video below.

Bw Devotion

The next deck I want to highlight isn't notable its use of Modern Horizon cards but more its lack thereof.  Killagerm put up an incredible third place result with a Mono-Black Devotion deck splashing white.

It's really interesting seeing a deck like this manage to do so well, particularly in the rather hostile environment that Modern is right now.  The deck looks super janky and is a devotion strategy that only has 3 pay off cards with no Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx to be seen.  Also, the foregoing of Leyline of the Void in a Devotion deck is very controversial in my mind.

For more information about the deck from the pilot you can read their Reddit post and check out their article about the deck.


Modern Horizons has certainly made an impact on Modern in a much bigger way than I had imagined.  Hogaak Vine has rapidly risen to be the deck to beat in the format.  On a more positive note, a number of strategies appear to have been empowered by Modern Horizons and there are some positive additions to the format that seem like they might be filtering through to competitive play.  It will be interesting to see how things play out as we have more major Modern events.

In terms of future horizons, Core Set 2020 is hitting shelves and online stores early next month (or may have already done so depending on when this is printed) and is bringing the London mulligan with it. 

Thanks for reading,

Oliver Law (olaw on MTGO)