A Modern Primer: How Do I Get Into Modern?

“What is Modern?” you might ask.

Modern is an eternal (non-rotating) format that was introduced in the Spring of 2011, with a card pool that spans from Eighth Edition all the way to the present—basically, all the sets since the “modern” (soon to be replaced) border was introduced. In an effort to keep the format fun, Wizards of the Coast introduced an ever-changing list of cards that are not legal for Modern tournament play. Currently banned cards are:

[Deck title=Current Modern Banned List]
Ancestral Vision
Ancient Den
Blazing Shoal
Bloodbraid Elf
Chrome Mox
Cloudpost
Dark Depths
Deathrite Shaman
Dread Return
Glimpse of Nature
Golgari Grave-Troll
Great Furnace
Green Sun’s Zenith
Hypergenesis
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Mental Misstep
Ponder
Preordain
Punishing Fire
Rite of Flame
Seat of the Synod
Second Sunrise
Seething Song
Sensei’s Divining Top
Stoneforge Mystic
Skullclamp
Sword of the Meek
Tree of Tales
Umezawa’s Jitte
Vault of Whispers
[/deck]

Isn’t Legacy an eternal format with a banned list too? Yes, it is. So why would one play Modern over Legacy?

Since Wizards announced Modern, the company has been pushing the format at high levels of play, including pro tours, frequent grands prix, and a PTQ season each year. So if you want to play at the highest levels of competition, you will probably need to play some amount of Modern. The support Legacy gets from Wizards is fairly minimal. Plus, Modern is a pretty interesting format with a lot of competitive decks.

The decks listed below are lists that have either been doing well on Magic Online or in physical tournaments. When choosing a representative list, I chose the one with a best finish in a given event. Note that many decks fall into multiple categories, such as the [card]Birthing Pod[/card] decks being both midrange and combo decks. I grouped them how they generally finish the game out.

The Decks

First, let’s cover the aggressive decks in the format.

[deck title= Affinity]
[Creatures]
4 Arcbound Ravager
4 Etched Champion
2 Memnite
4 Ornithopter
4 Signal Pest
3 Steel Overseer
4 Vault Skirge
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
4 Cranial Plating
4 Galvanic Blast
4 Mox Opal
4 Springleaf Drum
3 Thoughtcast
[/Spells]
[Land]
4 Blinkmoth Nexus
4 Darksteel Citadel
3 Glimmervoid
4 Inkmoth Nexus
1 Mountain
[/Land]

[Sideboard]
2 Ancient Grudge
2 Blood Moon
1 Dispatch
2 Spellskite
3 Thoughtseize
1 Torpor Orb
2 Wear // Tear
2 Whipflare
[/Sideboard]
[/deck]

Affinity is the premier aggro deck in Modern at the moment. When playing in any large Modern event, you should expect to play against it at least once, so be sure to pack sideboard cards so you don’t lose on turn three.

[deck title= Soul Sisters]
[Creatures]
4 Ajani’s Pridemate
4 Martyr of Sands
3 Ranger of Eos
4 Serra Ascendant
4 Soul Warden
4 Soul’s Attendant
4 Squadron Hawk
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
4 Honor of the Pure
3 Path to Exile
4 Spectral Procession
[/Spells]
[Land]
2 Emeria, the Sky Ruin
4 Flagstones of Trokair
16 Plains
[/Land]

[Sideboard]
2 Oblivion Ring
3 Rest in Peace
3 Rule of Law
4 Stony Silence
3 Suppression Field
[/Sideboard]
[/deck]

Soul Sisters is one of the cheaper decks in Modern. It sees an excessive amount of play on Magic Online because of being a budget build. If you want a budget option for getting into Modern, then this is one of the better ones.

[deck title= Infect]
[Creatures]
4 Blighted Agent
4 Glistener Elf
4 Noble Hierarch
4 Plague Stinger
2 Spellskite
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
2 Apostle’s Blessing
2 Giant Growth
4 Groundswell
4 Might of Old Krosa
4 Mutagenic Growth
2 Rancor
4 Vines of Vastwood
[/Spells]
[Land]
2 Breeding Pool
1 Dryad Arbor
2 Forest
4 Inkmoth Nexus
4 Misty Rainforest
2 Overgrown Tomb
2 Pendelhaven
3 Verdant Catacombs
[/Land]

[Sideboard]
2 Abrupt Decay
3 Dismember
3 Inquisition of Kozilek
4 Nature’s Claim
2 Pithing Needle
1 Spellskite
[/Sideboard]
[/deck]

Infect just comes from out of nowhere with quick kills and should never be underestimated. You should expect to see Infect with some regularity, as it has been picking up in popularity as of late.

[deck title= Mono-Blue Merfolk]
[Creatures]
2 Coralhelm Commander
3 Cursecatcher
4 Lord of Atlantis
4 Master of the Pearl Trident
3 Master of Waves
4 Merrow Reejerey
2 Phantasmal Image
4 Silvergill Adept
2 Thassa, God of the Sea
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
4 Æther Vial
4 Spreading Seas
4 Vapor Snag
[/Spells]
[Land]
16 Island
4 Mutavault
[/Land]

[Sideboard]
1 Damping Matrix
4 Hurkyl’s Recall
1 Merfolk Assassin
2 Relic of Progenitus
2 Spell Pierce
2 Spellskite
3 Threads of Disloyalty
[/Sideboard]
[/deck]

Merfolk, much like its Legacy counterpart, tries to jam as many lord effects onto the battlefield as quickly as possible to create a critical mass of attackers. But the similarities end there, as one of the primary things the Modern version can’t do is counter spells for free and destroy opposing lands at no cost.

[deck title= Hate Bears]
[Creatures]
2 Aven Mindcensor
4 Blade Splicer
4 Flickerwisp
4 Leonin Arbiter
1 Linvala, Keeper of Silence
1 Mangara of Corondor
4 Noble Hierarch
4 Restoration Angel
3 Scavenging Ooze
3 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
4 Aether Vial
4 Path to Exile
[/Spells]
[Land]
1 Eiganjo Castle
1 Forest
2 Gavony Township
4 Ghost Quarter
4 Horizon Canopy
2 Plains
4 Razorverge Thicket
4 Temple Garden
[/Land]

[Sideboard]
1 Choke
3 Creeping Corrosion
1 Dismember
2 Gaddock Teeg
1 Mangara of Corondor
2 Mark of Asylum
1 Qasali Pridemage
2 Stony Silence
1 Sunlance
1 Sword of War and Peace
[/Sideboard]
[/deck]

What the Hatebears deck tries to do is generate threats that make its opponents’ game plans difficult to execute. The biggest issue with the deck is drawing the wrong cards at the wrong time.

[deck title= Hexproof]
[Creatures]
4 Gladecover Scout
4 Kor Spiritdancer
4 Slippery Bogle
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
4 Daybreak Coronet
4 Ethereal Armor
4 Hyena Umbra
4 Path to Exile
4 Rancor
4 Spider Umbra
3 Spirit Mantle
[/Spells]
[Land]
1 Dryad Arbor
1 Forest
4 Horizon Canopy
3 Misty Rainforest
4 Razorverge Thicket
4 Temple Garden
3 Verdant Catacombs
1 Wooded Bastion
[/Land]

[Sideboard]
2 Dismember
4 Leyline of Sanctity
2 Nature’s Claim
2 Spirit Link
3 Stony Silence
2 Torpor Orb
[/Sideboard]
[/deck]

The Hexproof deck is the bane of any deck that wants to interact with your creatures. Hexproof has a lot of speed, but can be fairly inconsistent, losing to itself quite often due to only having thirteen creatures to suit up.

[deck title= Burn]
[Creatures]
2 Eidolon of the Great Revel
4 Goblin Guide
4 Hellspark Elemental
4 Vexing Devil
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
4 Flames of the Blood Hand
4 Lava Spike
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Rift Bolt
4 Searing Blaze
2 Shard Volley
4 Skullcrack
[/Spells]
[Land]
20 Mountain
[/Land]

[Sideboard]
2 Anger of the Gods
2 Combust
2 Eidolon of the Great Revel
2 Molten Rain
4 Satyr Firedancer
3 Smash to Smithereens
[/Sideboard]
[/deck]

Burn is now the most budget of budget decks in Modern. Not only does it not have to run fetch lands, but it has recently gotten several cards that can generate card advantage. Don’t be surprised when you see burn spells flying around the room.

[deck title= B/W Tokens]
[Creatures]
3 Brimaz, King of Oreskos
4 Dark Confidant
3 Mirran Crusader
4 Tidehollow Sculler
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
3 Doom Blade
3 Inquisition of Kozilek
4 Lingering Souls
4 Path to Exile
1 Sword of Fire and Ice
2 Sword of War and Peace
3 Thoughtseize
3 Zealous Persecution
[/Spells]
[Land]
2 Arid Mesa
2 Ghost Quarter
4 Godless Shrine
4 Isolated Chapel
4 Marsh Flats
4 Plains
1 Swamp
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
1 Vault of the Archangel
[/Land]

[Sideboard]
2 Disenchant
2 Ethersworn Canonist
1 Grafdigger’s Cage
3 Kor Firewalker
1 Rest in Peace
2 Stony Silence
2 Suppression Field
1 Thoughtseize
1 Torpor Orb
[/Sideboard]
[/deck]

The popularity of Black/White Tokens is in a constant flux, as it is not amazing or terrible against any of the decks in Modern. The recent Modern Event Deck may give a boost to its popularity, though.

[deck title= Tribal Zoo]
[Creatures]
4 Kird Ape
4 Loam Lion
4 Wild Nacatl
2 Snapcaster Mage
4 Tarmogoyf
4 Geist of Saint Traft
1 Ghor-Clan Rampager
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Mutagenic Growth
4 Path to Exile
2 Lightning Helix
4 Tribal Flames
[/Spells]
[Land]
4 Arid Mesa
1 Blood Crypt
1 Forest
1 Hallowed Fountain
1 Marsh Flats
4 Misty Rainforest
1 Plains
1 Sacred Foundry
4 Scalding Tarn
1 Steam Vents
1 Stomping Ground
1 Temple Garden
[/Land]

[Sideboard]
2 Ancient Grudge
2 Aven Mindcensor
2 Chained to the Rocks
1 Domri Rade
1 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
1 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Mutagenic Growth
1 Ranger of Eos
2 Stony Silence
2 Swan Song
[/Sideboard]
[/deck]

Tribal Zoo hasn’t performed much since the unbanning of [card]Wild Nacatl[/card], but a 3/3 for one CMC surely can’t be held down for long.

Now let’s take a look at the combo decks in the format:

[deck title= Melira Pod]
[Creatures]
4 Birds of Paradise
1 Eternal Witness
4 Kitchen Finks
1 Linvala, Keeper of Silence
1 Melira, Sylvok Outcast
1 Murderous Redcap
3 Noble Hierarch
1 Orzhov Pontiff
1 Phyrexian Metamorph
1 Qasali Pridemage
1 Ranger of Eos
1 Reveillark
1 Scavenging Ooze
1 Shriekmaw
1 Spellskite
1 Viscera Seer
3 Voice of Resurgence
1 Wall of Roots
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
2 Abrupt Decay
4 Birthing Pod
3 Chord of Calling
[/Spells]
[Land]
3 Forest
3 Gavony Township
1 Godless Shrine
4 Misty Rainforest
2 Overgrown Tomb
3 Razorverge Thicket
1 Swamp
1 Temple Garden
4 Verdant Catacombs
1 Woodland Cemetery
[/Land]

[Sideboard]
3 Dismember
1 Eidolon of Rhetoric
1 Entomber Exarch
1 Harmonic Sliver
1 Kataki, War’s Wage
2 Scavenging Ooze
1 Sin Collector
4 Thoughtseize
1 Thrun, the Last Troll
[/Sideboard]
[/deck]

Melira Pod is the most popular deck in the format. You likely won’t ever play in a major Modern event without playing against it. This deck sports several ways to combo its opponent and redundant effects to make sure it happens. In the hands of a skilled Melira Pod player, this deck can be a nightmare to play against.

[deck title= Kiki Pod]
[Creatures]
4 Birds of Paradise
1 Deceiver Exarch
1 Eternal Witness
1 Glen Elendra Archmage
2 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
3 Kitchen Finks
1 Linvala, Keeper of Silence
1 Murderous Redcap
3 Noble Hierarch
1 Phantasmal Image
1 Qasali Pridemage
3 Restoration Angel
1 Scavenging Ooze
1 Spellskite
2 Voice of Resurgence
3 Wall of Roots
1 Zealous Conscripts
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
4 Birthing Pod
3 Chord of Calling
[/Spells]
[Land]
3 Arid Mesa
1 Breeding Pool
2 Fire-Lit Thicket
1 Forest
1 Gavony Township
4 Grove of the Burnwillows
1 Hallowed Fountain
4 Misty Rainforest
1 Mountain
1 Plains
1 Sacred Foundry
1 Steam Vents
1 Stomping Ground
1 Temple Garden
[/Land]

[Sideboard]
1 Ancient Grudge
1 Avalanche Riders
1 Combust
1 Eidolon of Rhetoric
1 Fiery Justice
1 Harmonic Sliver
1 Kataki, War’s Wage
1 Kitchen Finks
2 Negate
3 Path to Exile
1 Sigarda, Host of Herons
1 Thrun, the Last Troll
[/Sideboard]
[/deck]

Slightly less popular than the Melira Pod deck is the Kiki Pod deck. This deck contains even more ways to combo kill its opponent, with more value creatures. I’ve lost my fair share of games to this deck where I simply said, “What just happened?” when I was taken out by a combo win.

[deck title= Splinter Twin]
[Creatures]
4 Deceiver Exarch
1 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
2 Pestermite
4 Snapcaster Mage
2 Spellskite
2 Vendilion Clique
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
2 Cryptic Command
1 Dispel
1 Electrolyze
1 Flame Slash
4 Lightning Bolt
1 Peek
3 Remand
4 Serum Visions
1 Spell Snare
4 Splinter Twin
[/Spells]
[Land]
1 Desolate Lighthouse
5 Island
3 Misty Rainforest
2 Mountain
4 Scalding Tarn
3 Steam Vents
1 Stomping Ground
3 Sulfur Falls
1 Tectonic Edge
[/Land]

[Sideboard]
2 Ancient Grudge
2 Anger of the Gods
2 Batterskull
2 Blood Moon
1 Dispel
1 Echoing Truth
1 Engineered Explosives
1 Flame Slash
2 Relic of Progenitus
1 Threads of Disloyalty
[/Sideboard]
[/deck]

Splinter Twin is the second-most popular deck in Modern. It can win as early as turn four undisrupted, but usually sets up for a couple of extra turns to make sure it wins through disruption. You will see some version of Splinter Twin at nearly every Modern tournament.

[deck title= Tarmo Twin]
[Creatures]
2 Deceiver Exarch
4 Pestermite
4 Snapcaster Mage
4 Tarmogoyf
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
2 Cryptic Command
1 Electrolyze
2 Flame Slash
2 Gitaxian Probe
4 Lightning Bolt
3 Remand
4 Serum Visions
2 Spell Snare
4 Splinter Twin
[/Spells]
[Land]
1 Breeding Pool
1 Forest
2 Hinterland Harbor
3 Island
4 Misty Rainforest
1 Mountain
4 Scalding Tarn
2 Steam Vents
1 Stomping Ground
3 Sulfur Falls
[/Land]

[Sideboard]
3 Ancient Grudge
2 Anger of the Gods
1 Batterskull
1 Combust
1 Counterflux
1 Dispel
1 Nature’s Claim
1 Negate
1 Spellskite
2 Threads of Disloyalty
1 Thrun, the Last Troll
[/Sideboard]
[/deck]

Tarmo Twin takes the shell of Splinter Twin and adds some threats so it doesn’t have to strictly kill through combo. In the right metagame, it can be even more potent than Splinter Twin, so don’t be surprised if you’re simply getting beaten down.

[deck title= R/W/U Twin]
[Creatures]
3 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
4 Restoration Angel
2 Snapcaster Mage
1 Vendilion Clique
4 Wall of Omens
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
1 Cryptic Command
4 Electrolyze
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Mana Leak
3 Path to Exile
2 Remand
1 Spell Snare
1 Sphinx’s Revelation
[/Spells]
[Land]
4 Arid Mesa
1 Cascade Bluffs
4 Celestial Colonnade
1 Desolate Lighthouse
1 Hallowed Fountain
2 Island
1 Mountain
1 Plains
1 Sacred Foundry
4 Scalding Tarn
3 Steam Vents
1 Sulfur Falls
2 Tectonic Edge
[/Land]

[Sideboard]
1 Anger of the Gods
1 Celestial Purge
1 Dispel
1 Izzet Staticaster
2 Relic of Progenitus
1 Rest in Peace
1 Shadow of Doubt
1 Spellskite
3 Stony Silence
1 Wear // Tear
2 Wrath of God
[/Sideboard]
[/deck]

R/W/U Twin goes for the value avenue of victory, and takes the combo route when its opponent provides an opening. There’s several versions of this deck, and all are very dangerous to play against.

[deck title= U/R Storm]
[Creatures]
4 Goblin Electromancer
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
3 Desperate Ravings
4 Desperate Ritual
3 Faithless Looting
4 Gitaxian Probe
3 Grapeshot
4 Manamorphose
3 Past in Flames
4 Pyretic Ritual
4 Pyromancer Ascension
4 Serum Visions
4 Sleight of Hand
[/Spells]
[Land]
3 Island
2 Misty Rainforest
1 Mountain
4 Scalding Tarn
3 Steam Vents
3 Sulfur Falls
[/Land]

[Sideboard]
2 Anger of the Gods
1 Blood Moon
2 Echoing Truth
2 Empty the Warrens
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Swan Song
2 Vandalblast
[/Sideboard]
[/deck]

Storm sees a decent amount of play, as it’s relatively cheap to build. It is, however, fairly difficult to play correctly, and does poorly due to this. Storm has seen quite a few cards banned over the course of the Modern format, but is a very resilient deck.

[deck title= Amulet Combo]
[Creatures]
4 Azusa, Lost but Seeking
4 Primeval Titan
3 Simian Spirit Guide
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
4 Amulet of Vigor
2 Hive Mind
2 Pact of Negation
4 Serum Visions
1 Slaughter Pact
4 Summer Bloom
4 Summoner’s Pact
[/Spells]
[Land]
1 Boros Garrison
1 Cavern of Souls
2 City of Brass
1 Forest
4 Gemstone Mine
1 Golgari Rot Farm
3 Gruul Turf
1 Island
1 Kabira Crossroads
1 Khalni Garden
1 Selesnya Sanctuary
4 Simic Growth Chamber
1 Slayers’ Stronghold
1 Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion
1 Tendo Ice Bridge
3 Tolaria West
1 Vesuva
[/Land]

[Sideboard]
1 Acidic Slime
1 Bojuka Bog
3 Firespout
1 Ghost Quarter
3 Leyline of Sanctity
4 Seal of Primordium
1 Slaughter Pact
1 Thragtusk
[/Sideboard]
[/deck]

The Amulet Combo deck just wants to play a bunch of extra lands to essentially combo win with a creature. The deck is fairly uninteractive and punishes you hard for any misplay, but it does still take a lot of players by surprise.

[deck title= Ad Nauseum Combo]
[Creatures]
4 Simian Spirit Guide
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
4 Ad Nauseam
4 Angel’s Grace
1 Lightning Storm
4 Lotus Bloom
2 Mystical Teachings
2 Pact of Negation
2 Peer Through Depths
4 Pentad Prism
3 Phyrexian Unlife
4 Serum Visions
1 Slaughter Pact
3 Sleight of Hand
[/Spells]
[Land]
1 Darkslick Shores
2 Gemstone Mine
1 Godless Shrine
1 Halimar Depths
2 Hallowed Fountain
1 Island
3 Marsh Flats
1 Plains
3 Scalding Tarn
1 Seachrome Coast
1 Sunken Ruins
1 Swamp
1 Temple of Deceit
1 Tolaria West
2 Watery Grave
[/Land]

[Sideboard]
1 Boseiju, Who Shelters All
1 Drown in Sorrow
1 Echoing Truth
1 Favor of the Mighty
1 Hurkyl’s Recall
1 Laboratory Maniac
4 Leyline of Sanctity
1 Patrician’s Scorn
1 Rest in Peace
2 Silence
1 Wrath of God
[/Sideboard]
[/deck]

Ad Nauseum simply wants to draw its whole deck so it can one-shot its opponent. This deck isn’t super popular due to the amount of setup required to win, but does show up to ruin people’s days.

[deck title= Scapeshift]
[Creatures]
4 Sakura-Tribe Elder
3 Snapcaster Mage
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
3 Cryptic Command
2 Electrolyze
3 Izzet Charm
4 Remand
2 Repeal
4 Scapeshift
4 Search for Tomorrow
4 Serum Visions
3 Telling Time
[/Spells]
[Land]
1 Breeding Pool
1 Cascade Bluffs
1 Flooded Grove
3 Forest
1 Halimar Depths
3 Island
2 Misty Rainforest
2 Mountain
4 Steam Vents
4 Stomping Ground
2 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
[/Land]

[Sideboard]
2 Ancient Grudge
2 Anger of the Gods
1 Batterskull
1 Engineered Explosives
2 Obstinate Baloth
2 Relic of Progenitus
1 Spellskite
2 Swan Song
2 Vendilion Clique
[/Sideboard]
[/deck]

Scapeshift decks have been working their way up in popularity, but have consistency issues and take too long against the more popular combo decks. Scapeshift can tune its sideboard to beat any deck in the format though, so it’s always a contender.

[deck title= Living End]
[Creatures]
2 Architects of Will
4 Deadshot Minotaur
2 Faerie Macabre
4 Fulminator Mage
1 Jungle Weaver
4 Monstrous Carabid
1 Pale Recluse
1 Shriekmaw
3 Simian Spirit Guide
4 Street Wraith
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
3 Beast Within
4 Demonic Dread
4 Living End
4 Violent Outburst
[/Spells]
[Land]
4 Blackcleave Cliffs
1 Blood Crypt
4 Copperline Gorge
1 Forest
1 Godless Shrine
1 Kessig Wolf Run
1 Overgrown Tomb
1 Stomping Ground
1 Swamp
4 Verdant Catacombs
[/Land]

[Sideboard]
1 Beast Within
2 Damping Matrix
2 Faerie Macabre
4 Ingot Chewer
2 Ricochet Trap
2 Shriekmaw
2 Sin Collector
[/Sideboard]
[/deck]

The Living End deck just wants to fill its graveyard with as many creatures as it can before simultaneously wiping its opponents board and filling its own, often times at instant speed. Living End is one of the slower combo decks in the forma, however, which makes it a less attractive option for many players.

Midrange has a real place in the format, as well:

[deck title= Jund]
[Creatures]
2 Courser of Kruphix
4 Dark Confidant
3 Scavenging Ooze
4 Tarmogoyf
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
3 Abrupt Decay
2 Anger of the Gods
3 Inquisition of Kozilek
4 Lightning Bolt
1 Maelstrom Pulse
2 Slaughter Pact
1 Terminate
3 Thoughtseize
1 Chandra, Pyromaster
3 Liliana of the Veil
[/Spells]
[Land]
4 Blackcleave Cliffs
1 Blood Crypt
1 Forest
2 Grove of the Burnwillows
2 Marsh Flats
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Overgrown Tomb
4 Raging Ravine
1 Stomping Ground
2 Swamp
1 Twilight Mire
4 Verdant Catacombs
[/Land]

[Sideboard]
2 Ancient Grudge
1 Batterskull
2 Engineered Explosives
3 Fulminator Mage
1 Golgari Charm
1 Liliana of the Veil
1 Rakdos Charm
1 Scavenging Ooze
1 Thoughtseize
2 Thrun, the Last Troll
[/Sideboard]
[/deck]

Jund has taken quite a few hits with bannings since Modern came about, and to its credit, is still hanging in there despite them. Jund continues to be a mass of value cards that together can overcome any deck in the format.

[deck title= GB Obliterator Rock]
[Creatures]
2 Courser of Kruphix
4 Dark Confidant
4 Phyrexian Obliterator
4 Scavenging Ooze
4 Tarmogoyf
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
3 Abrupt Decay
4 Inquisition of Kozilek
2 Maelstrom Pulse
2 Slaughter Pact
2 Thoughtseize
1 Victim of Night
4 Liliana of the Veil
[/Spells]
[Land]
1 Forest
2 Marsh Flats
2 Overgrown Tomb
4 Swamp
4 Treetop Village
4 Twilight Mire
2 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
4 Verdant Catacombs
1 Woodland Cemetery
[/Land]

[Sideboard]
3 Creeping Corrosion
2 Deathmark
3 Fulminator Mage
2 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Nihil Spellbomb
1 Sword of Light and Shadow
2 Thoughtseize
1 Thrun, the Last Troll
[/Sideboard]
[/deck]

The G/B Obliterator Rock deck is essentially Jund without the red. This doesn’t necessarily make it better or worse, but it does see less play than Jund. This deck does lack the reach that the red gives Jund, and that can be problematic against some decks in Modern.

[deck title= R/G Tron]
[Creatures]
1 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
3 Wurmcoil Engine
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
4 Ancient Stirrings
4 Chromatic Sphere
4 Chromatic Star
4 Expedition Map
4 Oblivion Stone
4 Pyroclasm
3 Relic of Progenitus
4 Sylvan Scrying
4 Karn Liberated
[/Spells]
[Land]
1 Eye of Ugin
2 Forest
2 Ghost Quarter
4 Grove of the Burnwillows
4 Urza’s Mine
4 Urza’s Power Plant
4 Urza’s Tower
[/Land]

[Sideboard]
1 Ancient Grudge
2 Combust
1 Dismember
3 Nature’s Claim
1 Spellskite
3 Stone Rain
3 Torpor Orb
1 Wurmcoil Engine
[/Sideboard]
[/deck]

R/G Tron is a deck that simply wants to cheat on mana to get huge threats into play before its opponents sets up any kind of defense. This deck is super consistent due to most of the cards either drawing or searching for the specific cards it needs to punish its opponent.

And finally, we have the control decks of Modern:

[deck title= R/W/U Control]
[Creatures]
4 Snapcaster Mage
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
4 Cryptic Command
4 Electrolyze
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Lightning Helix
2 Mana Leak
3 Path to Exile
2 Remand
1 Shadow of Doubt
3 Spell Snare
2 Sphinx’s Revelation
1 Supreme Verdict
1 Wrath of God
1 Ajani Vengeant
[/Spells]
[Land]
3 Arid Mesa
4 Celestial Colonnade
1 Glacial Fortress
2 Hallowed Fountain
3 Island
1 Mountain
1 Plains
1 Sacred Foundry
3 Scalding Tarn
2 Steam Vents
2 Sulfur Falls
3 Tectonic Edge
[/Land]

[Sideboard]
1 Celestial Purge
2 Counterflux
1 Crucible of Worlds
2 Porphyry Nodes
2 Relic of Progenitus
2 Spellskite
2 Stony Silence
1 Threads of Disloyalty
2 Wear // Tear
[/Sideboard]
[/deck]

R/W/U Control is one of the few control decks in Modern, and I always expect to play against it any time I play in a Modern tournament, as it is always overrepresented. While quite a few people play this deck, it does have problems in trying to close the game out due to not having many real threats.

Tempo

[deck title= U/R Delver]
[Creatures]
4 Delver of Secrets
1 Grim Lavamancer
4 Snapcaster Mage
2 Vendilion Clique
4 Young Pyromancer
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
4 Gitaxian Probe
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Pillar of Flame
4 Remand
4 Serum Visions
2 Spell Pierce
2 Spell Snare
3 Vapor Snag
[/Spells]
[Land]
6 Island
4 Misty Rainforest
1 Mountain
2 Mutavault
4 Scalding Tarn
3 Steam Vents
[/Land]

[Sideboard]
2 Blood Moon
1 Grim Lavamancer
1 Hibernation
2 Magma Spray
2 Negate
2 Shatterstorm
1 Spell Pierce
3 Threads of Disloyalty
1 Vendilion Clique
[/Sideboard]
[/deck]

U/R Delver hopes to keep its opponent off balance just long enough to close out the game with one of its small threats. Recently on MTGO, U/R Delver has seen a surge in popularity, and I would expect that to carry over into the paper world as well.

[deck title= U/B Faeries]
[Creatures]
3 Mistbind Clique
2 Snapcaster Mage
4 Spellstutter Sprite
3 Vendilion Clique
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
4 Bitterblossom
3 Cryptic Command
3 Go for the Throat
2 Inquisition of Kozilek
3 Mana Leak
2 Spell Snare
2 Sword of Feast and Famine
2 Thoughtseize
2 Tragic Slip
[/Spells]
[Land]
3 Creeping Tar Pit
4 Darkslick Shores
5 Island
4 Mutavault
4 River of Tears
3 Secluded Glen
2 Swamp
[/Land]

[Sideboard]
2 Batterskull
3 Deathmark
1 Engineered Explosives
2 Glen Elendra Archmage
2 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Inquisition of Kozilek
2 Spell Snare
2 Spellskite
[/Sideboard]
[/deck]

U/B Faeries is a recent addition to Modern, and has had minimal success so far. It does, however, see a good amount of play online, and has been picking up traction in paper. I’m never surprised to see it at a tournament, as many people love to play this deck.

The Testing Gauntlet

If you have time to test your deck choice, I would suggest the following decks as your primary testing gauntlet:

Melira Pod
Affinity
Splinter Twin
U/R Delver

And if you have even more time to test, I would suggest these:

Burn
Jund
Scapeshift
R/G Tron
Hexproof

Deck Suggestions

If I were to suggest something for a player new to Modern, I would suggest one of the following decks, as they are all relatively affordable (at least as far as Modern goes) and can be learned fairly quickly.

Affinity
Burn
Hexproof
Splinter Twin

I will still most likely be on my own Zoo list this season, but wouldn’t suggest it unless you have quite a bit of time to learn all of the matchups. If you’re interested in the list, here it is:

[deck title= Medium Zoo]
[Creatures]
4 Kird Ape
3 Grim Lavamancer
4 Wild Nacatl
4 Voice of Resurgence
4 Tarmogoyf
3 Knight of the Reliquary
4 Ghor-Clan Rampager
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Path to Exile
4 Lightning Helix
[/Spells]
[Land]
4 Arid Mesa
1 Forest
3 Horizon Canopy
1 Kessig Wolf Run
1 Mountain
1 Plains
2 Sacred Foundry
2 Stomping Ground
2 Temple Garden
1 Treetop Village
4 Verdant Catacombs
[/Land]

[Sideboard]
1 Ancient Grudge
2 Combust
3 Eidolon of the Great Revel
2 Scavenging Ooze
3 Torpor Orb
2 Krosan Grip
2 Thrun, the Last Troll
[/Sideboard]
[/deck]

As you can see, Modern is a very diverse format. There are even more decks lying under the surface waiting for the time to shine. Whether you’re playing in an upcoming grand prix, preparing for the PTQ season that started on June 7, or even just playing FNM, this information should help you understand what is out there and to decide what deck you want to play. Once you dive into the format, hopefully you will be as excited about Modern as I am!

Thanks for reading,

Josh Milliken

@joshuamilliken on Twitter

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5 comments on A Modern Primer: How Do I Get Into Modern?

  1. Anonymous says:

    Eternal is not synonymous with non-rotating. Modern is non-rotating but not eternal. Legacy is both.

    1. Josh says:

      Wizards originally said when announcing Modern that it was an Eternal format due to not rotating, I forgot they decided it wasn’t actually one when I wrote the article.

  2. Noah says:

    I would argue that Jund is essential in a testing gauntlet. It was played less right after the banning but now is surging in popularity. Also Junk lists like this one (http://www.mtgtop8.com/event?e=7683&d=244120&f=MO) are becoming a thing. Finally GB Rock was really only being played because it has a really great zoo matchup. People running it now are few and far between and seem to run fewer obliterators. Also UWR Control now has two versions, the normal version you linked and “Kiki Control” which has a combo kill using kikijiki and resto angel and also runs value creatures that work with kiki like wall of omens and snapcaster mage list is here (http://www.mtgtop8.com/event?e=7803&d=244953&f=MO).

    1. Josh says:

      Jund is in the 2nd wave of decks to test, as I listed the top 4 most played decks, and it hasn’t been among them in a while. The Junk decks hadn’t been showing up in results that I saw when I wrote the article, and are only seeing a surge of popularity because Willy Edel told people to run it, not because it was doing well at the time. G/B Rock still shows up quite a bit on Magic Online. And the Kiki Control version is listed with the rest of the Splinter Twin decks.

  3. Anonymous says:

    That “UWR twin” deck isn’t a uwr twin deck is a kiki control deck, which is quite a different deck from uwr twin(a combo deck).
    Kiki control is a control deck with a combo kill in that isn’t the main gameplan albeit it can be useful and can lead to easy wins, it isn’t the main focus of the deck
    .

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