Top 5 Modern Decks to Beat:

December of 2021

Intended Audience - Intermediate

Written By Filip Skornicki

Modern is rife in strategies and archetypes that could succeed on any given weekend. Arguably, there are two dozen decks that, if they top8 an event, nobody would bat an eyelid. However, there will usually be some solidified top dogs of a given format at any given time. And here I want to present you with the top 5 Modern decks coming into December.

1: Hammer

The number one on the list is Hammer. The deck originated as a mono white deck. It was already surprising as white had been thought to be the worst colour in all of Modern. Yet, all the deck needed was contained within this one colour. However, after some time players started adapting a seemingly free black splash to utilize cards such as Thoughtseize.

In a nutshell, the deck is a mix between Affinity, Boggles, and Infect. Its strength lies in the fact that it can present literal turn 2 or turn 3 kills. Not a lot of decks are equipped with the proper tools to combat such fast nut draws. If it was just a fast-kill deck, then it would not be able to thrive in such an interactive meta as it does. The truth is that the deck is supremely resilient and has very strong late-game.

The very first reason is Lurrus of the Dream-Den. As most people already know, having a companion is superior to not having one, but Lurrus especially enables easy rebuild – you can replay either the destroyed enablers or pay-offs. On top of the companion, there is Urza’s Saga. Not only do you get 2 huge Construct tokens from one, but also cheat a Colossus Hammer immediately into play, which is especially relevant against countermagic and effects such as Chalice of the Void. A non-zero number of times you’ll have the Saga/Lurrus Draw and just outgrind most opponents just on the back of those two.

The key here is that the opponent has to be constantly wary of a potential kill out of nowhere. It gains a lot of so-called false tempo thanks to that – opponent is playing around something that might or might not be there. Some people even experiment with non-Lurrus builds, leaning more on Stoneforge Mystic tutor targets.

How to play against it

There are still ways to combat it. I suggest equipping yourself with proper hate cards – Force of Vigor, Dress Down, Engineered Explosives. Each of them has a bit of a different use.

Force enables you to two-for-two the opponent while not spending mana. It’s especially useful as you want to both interact and proceed with your own gameplan. There will be games when their first land drop is Urza’s Saga and you can snipe both the Saga and whatever they played off of it.

Dress Down expertly deals with Urza’s Saga – kills off Construct Tokens and draws a card in the process.

Engineered Explosives is basically a mass removal spell which deals with the most key spells – Hammer, Sigarda’s Aid etc.

2: UW Control

Classic UW Control. Historically, one of the most popular archetypes ever which have always been playable, more or less, but still playable. However, currently it’s arguably the best it’s been in a long time. The strategy is simple – counter, kill, accrue card advantage, win late with planeswalkers. While the strategy has always been the same, there are some reasons why it’s especially good right now.

First, Chalice of the Void. It’s arguably the best Chalice deck right now which can punish those hyper-efficient one-drop-heavy strategies. There will be plenty of free wins just on the back of Chalice. Furthermore, the deck utilises the white incarnation great – Solitude. The deck is naturally slow as most control decks are. Having a free removal spell is supremely beneficial. While the downside is losing a card, it’s not that bad as what other deck than control could recoup the lost card advantage. Moreover, the deck has got other tools in Prismatic Ending, Counterspell and Memory Deluge. When we combine all the elements, we get so many strong elements. Finish the deck off with the best planeswalkers ever printed and Supreme Verdict and we’ve got a tier 1 deck.

How to play against it

On the one hand, a fully-interactive control deck might not have any specific weak spots. However, what the deck like this struggles with is meta diversity and you can attack it from an angle it does not expect. The deck is full of creature removal so one way to attack it is to play a strategy that does not play creatures – eg Belcher. You can also play some hate cards yourself such as Blood Moon and catch them off guard. Lastly, you can go even bigger than they do – eg a Yorion value shell or Green Tron. There won’t be many specific one-card-wins. Your whole strategy has to be able to attack it properly.

3: Yorion Money Tribal

The name can fundamentally vary but it all revolves around the same idea – Yorion as a companion, three to five colours, a lot of value. The deck will often play Omnath, Locus of Creation, Solitude, Fury and a bunch of planeswalkers. The premise is to flood the opponent with card advantage and just win on the cards front.  While slamming walkers, it is also very interactive – Solitude, Fury are free spells whose cost is miniscule compared to the tempo advantage the deck gets. In addition, there are Force of Negation, Lightning Bolt, Prismatic Ending. It is by no means an all-in value deck. On the contrary, it’s more of a midrange/control deck which has a ton of value in it. You can try to go all in to race it, but it will still be a tall order. The deck also plays Ephemerate to double use all the on-creature effects. Often, early Incarnation with Ephemerate is good game against a lot of decks. A creature deck might have a ton of trouble getting through double point removal and a 3/2 lifelinker, all for 1 mana. 

How to play against it

Similarly to the previously mentioned UW Control, we can attack it from the same angles. You can exploit the fact that the deck aims mainly to destroy creatures. In addition, it’s way more prone to Blood Moon than UW is. Decks like Burn or Mill can also punish such slow-out-of-the-gates deck. So you have got two options – attack from a different angle or be properly fast

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4: Amulet Titan

Titan is back! The deck fell off a bit but now it’s back in full force. The deck has not got any new tools but it seems that it reinvigorated. It’s a very strong combo deck centered around Primeval Titan. Literally over half of the deck is lands and the rest is ways to utilize them – usually by playing multiple lands a turn. The deck has other other angles of attack though. It plays Urza’s Saga which is an excellent plan B. Not only does it make tokens but also finds the key piece in the titan puzzle – Amulet of Vigor. It allows for early explosive kills or later storm-esque sequences. In addition, it has the Dryad of the Ilysian Grove and Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle angle and Karn, the Great Creator. Clearly, the deck can pivot plan to plan which makes it that much harder to attack. Speaking of…

How to play against it

First, the same tools that work against Saga, work here. Dress Down can kill off Saga tokens or make the Titan on the deck ability-less when it enters. Force of Vigor in addition to getting rid of Saga itself also disposes of Amulet or Dryad which is an enchantment. Blood Moon is of course effective at shutting down lands which accelerate them and sometimes they can be caught off guard without a green source. Strategy-wise, being fast and linear is good as they don’t have a lot of tools to interact. Be careful not to get out-raced though! Pressure plus countermagic has also proven to be good, but beware Cavern of Souls and the Saga plan B.

5: UR Murktide

My personal choice for the primary deck in Modern. The reason why the deck is strong is that it’s a Legacy deck in Modern. It’s wild efficient as it’s curve realistically ends at 2. One of its biggest strengths is multi-spelling starting from the early turns. In addition, the deck has both Serum Visions and Consider to churn through cards. It allows the deck to minimize flood and screw and maximize drawing what it needs. On top of that, the shell is highly interactive with 8 one-mana removal spells maindeck and 5ish counterspell effects. It’s very focused, highly adaptable, and efficient. Post-board it can transition to a Blue-Moon-adjacent deck and play a more control role with a lot of removal, counterspells, and card advantage. The biggest con of the deck is not having a companion but Murktide Regent, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, and Blood Moon are worth it.

How to play against it

The first issue here is that it’s tough to find a single card that hoses the deck. It’s a deck with clock, interaction, card selection – difficult to attack. However, Chalice of the Void is the first card that comes to mind. On the other hand though, you cannot rely on it too much. In addition, Solitude has proven to be very effective as it can get rid of its best threat – Murktide – and do it for free whilst avoiding effects such as Spell Pierce or Force of Negation. Supreme Verdict and its uncounterability goes a long way as well. Make sure you don’t get Blood Mooned out of nowhere post board and don’t lose to a well-timed Jace.

And that’s it from me today! Thanks for reading my break-down of the Top 5 in Modern. Make sure to read my other articles on Spikes Academy.

And as always – remember to hold my hand and pass the turn together. Cheers!

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