Discovering Modern: Key Archetypes & Strategies
23/02/2023 · 10 min read
Welcome to my new article about the major archetypes in Modern ! If you're relatively new to the format or considering making the switch from another, this article is for you!
Along the article I'll provide an overview of the major archetypes, how they work, and which are the best strategies to beat them!
What is in Modern?
Modern is a format that spans from Mirrodin to the most recent expansions with a wide list of banned cards that can be viewed at the following link: https://magic.wizards.com/en/banned-restricted-list
This vast array of expansions enables a wide range of strategies, with the main ones being the following.
1.- UR Murktide
Currently, this deck is the most prominent in the format. The combination of efficient creatures with cheap removal and counterspells make it a deck that can stand up to any other deck in the metagame.
This powerful deck requires an in-depth understanding of the metagame in order to effectively manage our responses to our opponent's threats. A typical deck for this archetype would look like this.
After sideboarding we'll have access to powerful spells like Blood Moon and Dress Down that will be capable of dismantling entire strategies.
HOW TO BEAT UR MURKTIDE.
As it is a deck that takes advantage of the graveyard, opponents often focus their sideboard strategies on attacking this angle. Certain cards have proven effective in combating this archetype.
2.- Hammer Time
This deck constitutes the most aggressive option in the format, taking advantage of Sigarda's Aid and Puresteel Paladin to equip the Colossus Hammer for free, creating a creature that can end the game quickly in very early turns.
This deck incorporates cards like Stoneforge Mystic, Urza's Saga, and Esper Sentinel to help us have a more midrange plan in the event of a longer game, while also acting as a tutor for any needed equipment.
HAMMER TIME IN THE CURRENT METAGAME
In my opinion, this deck is a great entry point into the format because we'll be able to win games quickly due to its speed, but only experienced players will reach the highest ranks since some games can only be won if the right decisions are made.
HOW TO BEAT HAMMER TIME
Playing with an artifact-based deck typically means that you will be using the cards included above, making post-sideboard games more complex.
3.- Rakdos Scam
This deck will aim to cheat powerful Elementals from Modern Horizons 2, such as Grief and Fury, into play by using evoke in combination with spells like Undying Malice for just one mana. It will also feature disruption in the form of discard and removal spells, as well as the best spells in these colors.
This is a great midrange deck with some really abusive outs, being able to recover the hand with cards like Seasoned Pyromancer, or abusing Dauthi Voidwalker which will make us a real threat to graveyard-based strategies. In my opinion this deck is really fun to play, packing some really powerful cards and being able to win games in a few turns. I would definitely recommend it to players who are just entering the format.
I would definitely recommend it to players who are just entering the format.
HOW TO BEAT RAKDOS SCAM
The following cards have proven to be highly effective against the aforementioned strategy. They help to prevent aggressive creature revival and protect us against the double discard of Grief.
4.- Indomitable Creativity
The goal of this deck is to typically resolve Indomitable Creativity on one of the tokens generated by our deck, backed up by the mighty Archon of Cruelty which has a great impact on the board.
The deck is also combined with disruption spells such as Spell Pierce or Leyline Binding, as well as cards that generate great value like Wrenn and Six or Fable of the Mirror-Breaker.
The key cards that will help us both save time and develop our strategy would be the following:
REFERENCE DECK & ALTERNATE PLAN
An alternate plan for the deck is to discard an Archon with Bitter Reunion or Prismari Command, then revive it with Persist, making it difficult for our opponents to combat both angles at once.
HOW TO BEAT CREATIVITY DECKS
If you're playing in an area with a lot of Indomitable Creativity, the star card to have in your sideboard is one that will copy your opponent's Arconte and force them to sacrifice it, allowing you to trigger its effect on your turn when attacking.
5.- Temur Rhinos (A.k.a. Temur Cascade)
The goal of this deck is to take advantage of Crashing Footfalls by playing Shardless Agent or Violent Outburst on early turns, followed by 4/4 trampling creatures that can end the game in a few turns. The other cards in the deck will be disruptive and removal spells to clear the way for our rhinos.
HOW TO BEAT TEMUR RHINOS
If we don't want to be crushed by a stampede of rhinos, in my opinion, the best cards to fight them off are...
Any of these cards may disrupt your initial victory plan, but we must still remain vigilant since they can still win with other cards such as Fury or Endurance.
6.- Jeskai Breach
One of the latest decks to join Modern, this deck's great strength is its ability to win games from two different angles, playing format-defining cards like Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer and Urza's Saga, or comboing out your opponent with the increasingly popular Underworld Breach.
With this card, our graveyard will gain escape, enabling us to mill our deck with Grinding Station and a zero-cost artifact and finish the game with Thassa's Oracle.
HOW TO BEAT BREACH DECKS
If we want to win against these kinds of decks, in my opinion, the best cards would be.
The classic Red deck has also had its representation in Modern, making it a great entry-level deck due to its cost-to-quality ratio. The mechanics are simple: inexpensive and efficient creatures, plus the best direct damage spells and creatures available in Modern.
HOW TO BEAT THEM
Today, this deck is quite weak, and sideboards are usually not very populated against this type of strategy, yet some valid cards would be:
8.- Golgari Yawgmoth
This deck is a blast to play, with its core card being Yawgmoth, Thran Physician.
Combining this card with two creatures with persist would give us a drawing machine that can close out the game with a Blood Artist.
The most efficient creatures with persist available are Young Wolf and Strangleroot Geist. The rest of the deck consists of creature accelerators and tutors, with the main issue being its reliance on Yawgmoth, Thran Physician.
Playing Yawgmonth requires a great deal of practice, as we must be familiar with all of the interactions and adjust our game to our opponent's deck. This deck is recommended for experienced players in the format.
HOW TO BEAT YAWGMOTH DECKS
At our gaming shop, if we find lots of Golgari Yawgmoth, the best cards to fight them will be:
Many of these cards are geared toward disabling their graveyard recursion engine, which, in combination with mass removal, can give us the best results against them.
The deck has recently seen the addition of Svyelun of Sea and Sky and Vodalian Hexcatcher, which has returned it to the competitive circuit of the format. The deck is one of the simplest to play and due to its low cost, it can be an interesting option for novice players. The mechanics are simple - populate the table with the best Merfolk and quickly finish off our opponent. The most powerful opening of our deck is playing a turn one Aether Vial.
HOW TO BEAT MERFOLKS
As with any creature-based deck, we are vulnerable to mass removal and the best cards to face these types of decks would be:
10.- Amulet Titan
A classic deck format that has been evolving over the years, Primeval Titan is the main element of this deck.
With its help, there are two main lines of attack to finish the game: either with a Primeval Titan with haste, or with Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle aided by Dryad of the Ilysian Grove. The combination of bounce lands with Amulet of Vigor provides us with plenty of mana, making our mission much easier.
Playing Amulet Titan requires a deep understanding of the game as well as a broad knowledge of the wide array of triggered abilities and different lines of play, making it a challenging choice for novice players.
HOW TO BEAT AMULET TITAN
The cards we find in Modern to combat these types of strategies are:
Since the beginning of the format, one deck has been around: the UrzaTron. Its mechanics are simple; quickly assemble Urza's Tower, Urza's Power Plant, and Urza's Mine with the help of cards like Expedition Map and Sylvan Scrying, then finish the game with a heavy hitter like Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger or Karn Liberated.
HOW TO BEAT TRON
To combat Tron, we have several options available, such as Magus of the Moon or Blood Moon which will turn all their non-basic lands into Mountains, or cards like Subtlety which will give us the necessary tempo to win. With Necromentia, we can name any of their 3 lands, preventing them from generating mana.
12.- UW Control
If you're looking for the most control-oriented strategy in the format, we'll play the best counters and removal spells available, along with Triomes, so we can cast Leyline Binding.
We'll also use some planeswalkers as finishers, with Teferi, Time Raveler being the most important because it helps us deal with cascade decks and makes sure our opponents can only play spells at sorcery speed.
HOW TO BEAT UW CONTROL
To combat these decks, we can use Blood Moons to attack their fragile mana base or cards that give us an advantage, such as Seasoned Pyromancer or tempo cards like Mystical Dispute or Subtlety.
13.- Living End
The other major player in the Cascade archetype in the format, this type of deck relies on cycling creatures like Striped Riverwinder or Street Wraith to power up a Shardless Agent or Violent Outburst to cast Living End, resetting the board and bringing our creatures onto the battlefield.
As disruption, we have access to Force of Negation and Grief - spells we don't have to pay mana for in order to use.
HOW TO BEAT LIVING END
To combat this type of strategy, we can use two cards that attack cascade mechanics such as Chalice of the Void or Teferi, Time Reveler, or cards that attack the graveyard such as Endurance or Rest in Peace.
I hope this brief guide to Modern Magic will serve as an introduction to new players of the format and give them a general idea of what it's all about so they can get excited to try it out.
Thank you for reading!
If you liked this article maybe you will also find interesting on of the following ones Pioneer Azorius Control Sideboard Guide, Going Mythic with Mono Green in Explorer
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Eternal formats expert
Eternal formats expert Pablo Carrasco is known as burrarun on Magic Online. There, he's had great success in Legacy and Vintage MTGO Challenges, winning many of them. In 2020, he even took home the Tolarian Academy Championship in Eternal Weekend. Pablo is a force to be reckoned with in any eternal format!
Published: 2023-02-23 00:00:00