Kumagoro42's picture
By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Jun 16 2020 12:00pm

 Hello and welcome back to the State of Modern, our monthly rendez-vous with all things Modern, including big tournament reports, the decklists and prices for the archetypes that are currently the most successful in the meta, and an up-to-date ban list. If you never tried your hand at Modern, this is the right place to know everything you need to know in order to begin; and if you're already into it, it can still be a good way to make sure you know everything that's happening in the format.

 The series archive is here.
 Let's start a new ride!


 Here's the latest Modern events with at least 200 players (or suspected so, for most of these the data aren't available), ordered chronologically. Find the archetypes below. Due to the pandemic, last season happened mostly online, and consisted primarily of MTGO Super Qualifiers.

 February 8: Star City Games Team Open: Philadelphia (team of three playing each a different format)
 Players: 239
 Winner: Harland Firer with Urza Foundry (teammates: Dan Jessup playing Pioneer, Zach Allen playing Standard)
 Top 8: Urza Foundry, Amulet Titan, Azorius Control, Amulet Titan, Amulet Titan, Amulet Titan, Creatures Toolbox: Yawgmoth, Creature Toolbox: Heliod

Pictured: Firer on the left, Jessup in the middle, Allen on the right.

 March 22: MTGO Modern Super Qualifier
 Players: N/A
 Winner: JoshicallsmeFabo with Humans
 Top 8: Humans, Amulet Titan, Dredge, Burn, Dredge, Bant Control, Walks, Burn

 March 29: MTGO Modern Super Qualifier
 Players: N/A
 Winner: Sharkcaster_Mage with Valakut
 Top 8: Valakut, Burn, Urza Emry, Dredge, Death's Shadow, Burn, UrzaTron, Dredge

 March 31: MTGO Modern Super Qualifier
 Players: N/A
 Winner: Mercenario with Dredge
 Top 8: Dredge, Urza Emry, Gruul Utopia, Gruul Utopia, Infect, UrzaTron, Bant Control, Burn

 April 12: MTGO Modern Super Qualifier
 Players: N/A
 Winner: coert with Burn
 Top 8: Burn, Bant Control, Urza Emry, Gruul Utopia, Dredge, Niv-Mizzet Reborn, Jeskai Breach, Goblins

 April 12: MTGO Modern Showcase Challenge
 Players: N/A
 Winner: Graciasportanto with Urza Emry
 Top 8: Urza Emry, Amulet Titan, Simic Reclamation, UrzaTron, Dredge, Allosaurus Combo, Humans, Allosaurus Combo

 May 17: Lotus Box League Season 1:  Modern 1K
 Players: 212
 Winner: Ryan Donkin with Ad Nauseam
 Top 8: Ad Nauseam, Rakdos Aggro, Rakdos Midrange, Rakdos Aggro, Scapeshift Control, Creatures Toolbox: Lurrus, Bogle, Scapeshift Control

 May 24: MTGO Modern Super Qualifier
 Players: N/A
 Winner: Darkiundsa with 4-color Yorion Control
 Top 8: Four-Color Yorion Control, Bogle, Urza Emry, Ad Nauseam, Amulet Titan, Scapeshift Control, EldraTron, EldraTron

 June 2: MTGO Modern Super Qualifier
 Players: N/A
 Winner: Zonast with Grixis Delver
 Top 8: Grixis Delver, Death's Shadow, Creatures Toolbox: Lurrus, Ad Nauseam, Death's Shadow, Amulet Titan, Bant Control, Allosaurus Combo


 Already covered: Ad NauseamAffinity, Allosaurus Combo, Bant AggroBant ControlBogleBlue MoonBloomless Titan (aka Amulet Titan), Bridgevine (banned, update: Crabvine), BurnCollected Chord (aka Creatures Toolbox), Death's Shadow (update), Dredge (update), Eldrazi Aggro, Eldrazi & TaxesEldraTron, Elves, Equipment StormFaeriesGifts Control, Goblins, Green Devotion Prison (banned), Grixis Control, Hardened ModularHatebears, Hogaak DredgeHollow OneHumans, Infect, Instant Reanimator, Izzet Aggro (aka Izzet Delver), Izzet Phoenix (update), Izzet PyromancerJeskai MiraclesJund (also feat. Wrenn and Six), Junk, KCI (banned), Lantern Control, LanternlessLiving EndMadcap Gruul, Mardu Pyromancer, Martyr LifeMerfolk, Nahiri Control, Naya Burn, Niv-Mizzet RebornPhoenix Deck Wins, Phoenix Wrenn and SixPonza (update), Pyro Prison, Rakdos MidrangeRDW, Saheeli EvolutionSelesnya Value, Simic FieldSkred Red, Spirit Aggro, StonebladeStorm, TezzeratorThe Rock, Titan BreachTokensTwinless Exarch, Urza FoodUrza Foundry (aka Whirza), Urza OutcomeUrzaTronUW ControlValakut (aka TitanShift), Valakut Control, Vannifar PodWalks.

 Update: In the past three months, Modern has managed to dribble the battery of bans that plagued its junior formats Standard, Historic and Pioneer. The companion rule changed for everyone, though, so some of the lists we're going to feature below might not be at the same power level anymore.

 This said, the scenario looks very different from last winter. Monored Burn is the list that's scoring the most placements right now, possibly due to online gaming (forced by the coronavirus health crisis) favoring strategies that win rapidly and through the least amount of clicking. The relative decline of evergreen archetypes like UrzaTron, Dredge and, especially, UW Control, has been accompanied by the emergence of new decks, and not all inspired by power cards from the latest premier sets (as the Standard-legal expansions are now called).

 Gruul Utopia, for instance, is a successful list that is still enjoying its moment in the limelight and doesn't include any card printed in 2020, except for Klothys, God of Destiny. It's essentially a fast aggro list with a strong land-hosing component through Magus of the Moon and Pillage, while Klothys herself takes care of the opposing graveyard. The titular Utopia Sprawl has multiple functions: ramps in combination with Arbor Elf, contributes to Klothys's devotion, and mitigates the effect of the Magus on our own mana base.


 Surfaced in the post-Theros meta, Jeskai Breach is a combo deck that makes use of Underworld Breach to recur a zero-cost artifact, sac it to Grinding Station, then use the milled cards to recur it again, resulting in an empty library and a Thassa's Oracle win. Among the little helpers of this endgame we can find both Urza, Lord High Artificer and Emry, Lurker of the Loch.


 I expressly mentioned this couple of monoblue legendaries because Emry has caused the major shakeup in Urza lists this past spring. Abandoning the Thopter Foundry combo, the old wizard reworked his titular deck to include the Merlady of the Lake, moving into a more control-oriented shell with Emry as the main engine value. After all, they both traffic in artifacts.


 Arguably the greatest resurgence of the season belongs to the Creatures Toolbox lists, currently the second force in the meta, right after Burn. Thanks to the new options from the most recent sets, this broad family of archetypes has gotten bigger and more varied than ever. One version uses Heliod, Sun-Crowned to enable a number of combos exploiting both the lifelink activation and the +1/+1 counters that the white God grants through lifegain. When paired with Spike Feeder, this means infinite life (the same routine the Feeder used to perform with the much slower Archangel of Thune). With classic Melira partners Viscera Seer and Kitchen Finks, that's both infinite life and infinite scry, as Heliod's +1/+1 counter will cancel out persist's -1/-1 counter, so the Finks can be eternally sacrificed to the Seer (Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit is an alternate enabler of this combo). Finally, a lifelinking Walking Ballista regains each counter it sacrifices while Heliod is around, resulting in infinite damage. The tools of choice to dig for all the pieces are Collected Company and, in this instance, Once Upon a Time, since this list is still from before the ban of the free opening spell from Throne of Eldraine.


 Similar structure, but more surgical tutors (the tried and tested duo of Chord of Calling and Eldritch Evolution), complementary mechanic (undying, which is like persist's wealthy cousin), and different protagonists for Yagwmoth Combo. By using Yawgmoth, Thran Physician to sacrifice a creature with undying, the black doctor can place a -1/-1 counter on another, thus nullifying the no-return clause. Invert the targets and repeat, generating a loop that has Geralf's Messenger drain the opponent for two at each iteration. Now, Yawgmoth's ability also costs us two life in the process, so we either need to have a higher life total than the opponent's, or Blood Artist has to spectate the whole affair. It's a fun, novel take on an established kind of creature-based infinite combo – plus a definite flavor win with Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth being in the list, as ominous as it sounds.


 As for the old Devoted Druid plus Vizier of Remedies plus Duskwatch Recruiter into Walking Ballista combo, well, it turns out all these cards can be played in a deck that has Lurrus of the Dream-Den as a companion. Yet another completely different suite of tutors to search for all the moving parts, Eladamri's Call and Finale of Devastation from the library, Postmortem Lunge and Lurrus itself from the graveyard. It still has to be seen if this build will survive the companion nerf, particularly with all the competition from similar builds.


 Now that we started covering Ikoria's influences, is there's some specific Human target for the much feared, much banned Winota, Joiner of Forces to fetch in Modern, in addition to the immediately obvious Agent of Treachery? Oh yes, there is, and it's pretty spicy: Auratouched Mage, in turn searching for Colossification, since it will be already tapped and attacking (and indestructible, to boot). It's not a very widely played deck, but it was just too juicy to ignore.


 We talked about Lurrus, but the second most powerful companion made the leap to Modern as well: Yorion, Sky Nomad shows up in a few places, like the Winota deck above as well as the very prosperous Scapeshift Control, the Temur list that dethroned Azorius from the top seat of the category. It's a kind of build that surrounds the Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle and, in certain cases, Field of the Dead endgames with a number of red and blue control elements. It's similar to, but distinct from what two years ago we defined as Valakut Control, of which this deck is a successor.


 And what about this four-color pile, which looks like 80 good cards (and the lands required to cast them) strung together to compose a selection of the best removal available, plus the best counterspells, the best planeswalkers and the best value creatures in Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath and Ice-Fang Coatl?


 This list seems to exemplify Modern's current direction, where control decks contain combo and aggro components and are equipped to face every situation and reconfigure themselves based on the opposing strategy, which sometimes makes the resulting list hard to classify.


 Last revised: January 13, 2020 (banned: Oko, Thief of Crowns, Mox Opal, Mycosynth Lattice), March 9, 2020 (banned: Once Upon a Time)

 Total banned cards: 40

 By Color: 

  • White: 1
  • Blue: 7 (of which 1 Simic)
  • Black: 4 (of which 2 Golgari)
  • Red: 6
  • Green: 10 (of which 2 Golgari, 1 Simic)
  • Colorless: 15
  • Multicolored: 2 (of which 1 Golgari, 1 Simic)

 By Type: 

  • Creature: 3
  • Land: 8
  • Artifact: 8
  • Enchantment: 2
  • Planeswalker: 1
  • Instant: 8
  • Sorcery: 10

 By Set:

  • Core Sets: 2 (of which 1 from 9th Edition, originally from Visions, and 1 from Magic 2011)
  • Modern Horizons: 1
  • Mirrodin block: 12 (of which 9 from Mirrodin, 2 from Darksteel, 1 from Fifth Dawn)
  • Kamigawa block: 4 (of which 2 from Champions of Kamigawa, 2 from Betrayers of Kamigawa)
  • Ravnica block: 1 (from Ravnica)
  • Ice Age block: 2 (both from Coldsnap)
  • Time Spiral block: 3 (of which 2 from Time Spiral, 1 from Future Sight)
  • Lorwyn block: 1 (from Lorwyn)
  • Alara block: 0
  • Zendikar block: 3 (of which 1 from Zendikar, 1 from Worldwake, 1 from Rise of the Eldrazi)
  • Scars of Mirrodin block: 5 (of which 1 from Scars of Mirrodin, 1 from Mirrodin Besieged, 3 from New Phyrexia)
  • Innistrad block: 1 (of which 1 from Dark Ascension)
  • Return to Ravnica block: 1 (from Return to Ravnica)
  • Theros block: 0
  • Khans of Tarkir block: 2 (both from Khans of Tarkir)
  • Battle for Zendikar block: 0
  • Shadows over Innistrad block: 0
  • Kaladesh block: 0
  • Amonkhet block: 0
  • Ixalan block: 0
  • Three-and-One Sets: 2 (both from Throne of Eldraine)

 See you at the end of summer!