I've been looking at basically every Modern list published by various sources in the hopes of finding a list that'll crack open the format. Now, this is a daunting task because Modern is such a wide-open format with so many different viable decks. So after much research, I've pulled out a few fringe decks that I think could make the most impact on the metagame with some work. The interesting thing is that the decks are all very different because there's no established archetype that dominates Modern. Midrange, combo, control, aggro all are valid options.
Here's my short list of fringe decks to look out for in Modern in the future.
This deck is one that I've been working on devoutly for weeks. It's inspired by a U/R Blood Moon deck that I believe went 7-3 at Pro Tour Return to Ravnica.
The deck underwent a series of changes, the first of which involved removing Serum Visions from the deck. One can easily pick up on the lack of solid one-mana draw spells by looking at the Modern banned list, and Serum Visions was just lacking in this deck. Between Izzet Charm and Snapcaster Mage, U/R Delver is easily able to go through its deck. Overall, Serum Visions really isn't missed as much as one would expect.
I also decided to play a different creature suite than the original list. Although I like Vendilion Clique, I really think it's too fragile. I achieve the same effect with Delver of Secrets. The three power and evasion are much more important than the come into play effect.
I ended up going with the Delver/Lavamancer package alongside Snapcaster Mage. Grim Lavamancer is a great card for this deck, allowing you to handle smaller creatures while at the same time providing a decent clock for your opponent.
The two cards I put in last are some mix of the third Vedalken Shackles and either Glen Elendra Archmage or Dungeon Geists. Other cards I considered were Detritivore and Phyrexian Metamorph. The reason all these cards cost four mana is I was looking for a card that is a decent threat and isn't vulnerable to Inquisition of Kozilek and Abrupt Decay. These cards are difficult for you to deal with, so having a threat that helps blank these spells is a boon.
What you play in those slots is completely up to you, but I recommend you leave the rest of the list alone.
Overall, this deck is very good at playing an early threat, be it Delver or Blood Moon, and just sitting on and protecting said threat from harm.
We all know why Delver of Secrets is good.
Blood Moon, on the other hand, is a little more deceptive. The best word to describe Blood Moon is "devastating" because that's exactly how it feels when this card hits play in a surprising amount of scenarios. Imagine this: you're playing versus a Jund player and he goes tap land, land, Dark Confidant on the draw. If you look at how our deck is constructed, it's built to take advantage of this kind of situation. If you hit your first three lands, you can easily counter or burn the Confidant and safely slam a Blood Moon, which will often keep your opponent on twenty-some Mountains and one or two Swamps and Forests.
This deck is a personal favorite of mine. The games, whether you win or lose them, are grinds, but if you play tight, you can do some tricky things.
- 4 Birds of Paradise
- 4 Deathrite Shaman
- 1 Eternal Witness
- 4 Knight of the Reliquary
- 3 Tarmogoyf
- 1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
- 1 Iona, Shield of Emeria
This is an interesting new take on a favorite archetype that I feel could work for a decent number of players. The deck I'm talking about is Gifts Rock. There's one key difference between this and previous Gifts Rock decks. It's that you aren't always searching for an engine with Gifts Ungiven, but rather you can Gifts Ungiven to end the game. Just by getting an Iona or Elesh Norn you can elicit a concession from your opponent on the spot, giving this deck a huge amount of raw power and reach. Don't forget that you can also search for the more long game oriented Gifts piles that include cards like Eternal Witness, Raven's Crime, and Life from the Loam.
The smaller creatures in the deck are no slackers either. As you can see, you're playing the best creatures green has to offer. Between Knight of the Reliquary and Tarmogoyf, you can easily not just hold but dominate the ground.
You may be able to keep the ground forces under control with these cards, but it's Lingering Souls that acts as king of the skies. With the ability to search for a Gavony Township via Knight of the Reliquary, you can simply turn your measly 1/1 Spirits into true monsters.
Pepper in some removal spells, which happen to be two of the best in the format, and you have a very powerful deck that can push through your opponent in many ways.
The sideboard is very unique in the way that it lets the deck focus on a direction and reduce the deviation of strategy that naturally occurs when you run Tarmogoyf and Gifts Ungiven in the same deck. In some matchups, one could side in Obstinate Baloth and Swords of Feast and Famine to apply quick pressure that keeps coming. Against a Jund deck, you could throw in a Sphinx of the Steel Wind depending on what removal spells they are playing. This could be a huge nail in the coffin for them.
The main difficulty with this deck is that it can be hard at times to decipher the board state and figure out if it's better to muscle out a victory with Knight of the Reliquary and Tarmogoyf or, as ridiculous as this may seem, use some finesse and sneak an Elesh Norn or something equally scary into play.
By the way, it should be noted that Butakov has been crushing Modern Daily Events on Magic Online with an extremely similar list. This deck could become a real player in the metagame with some time to develop
This Scapeshift list ran by Makihito Mihara at PT Return to Ravnica is, in my opinion, the most streamlined and effective list of all Scapeshift decks to see success at that tournament. Running a whopping 27 lands allows this deck to max out on Oracle of Mul Daya, which enables you to get to six or seven lands on turn 4 with regularity. The speed and the inclusion of a certain instant allows for very quick kills.
The four Negate maindeck is what really sets this deck apart. Makihito Mihara knew he was going to be playing defensively and that it was more important to have answers to spells than creatures. Furthermore, most Scapeshift decks don't have an effective hard counter for two mana to protect their combo.
The transformational sideboard is also worth noting. If you're jamming Scapeshift at a Modern tournament, you're bound to play against the format-defining deck, Jund. Thus, you better be prepared to deal with Slaughter Games. This list utilizes an interesting route. Instead of trying to wade through hate cards such as Slaughter Games, it dodges them completely by removing Scapeshift from its game plan. It sides out four Scapeshift and a few other cards for four Gifts Ungiven and the package of Iona/Elesh Norn and Unburial Rites. This deck even has an additional fatty in Avenger of Zendikar which, if any one remembers, can get pretty nutty with Oracle of Mul Daya.
There are some other unique cards in this sideboard. One that grabbed my attention in particular is Izzet Staticaster. This card is great against Tokens and the other White Weenie strategies such as Soul Sisters and puts in good work against any deck running Lingering Souls. Overall, this is an exciting list that I feel was completely overlooked when decks from the Pro Tour were being evaluated.
- 4 Bloodghast
- 3 Dark Confidant
- 4 Deathrite Shaman
- 2 Extractor Demon
- 4 Gravecrawler
- 4 Lotleth Troll
- 1 Rotting Rats
- 4 Vengevine
One of my favorite cards of recent history is Vengevine, and this is the deck in Modern that does the best job of abusing said card. The deck has a solid core—cards like Grisly Salvage, Smallpox, and Lotleth Troll all fill your graveyard quickly while ones like Bloodghast and Gravecrawler take advantage of this fact.
Smallpox can cripple your opponent. Because this deck only needs two or three lands to operate efficiently, you will almost always get the better end of the deal when you cast Smallpox. Extractor Demon is an interesting inclusion that functions as a burn spell in this deck, often providing the last couple points of damage.
Darkblast is a key cog in this list and, in my opinion, is the glue that holds it all together. It's the only card in the deck with dredge and, therefore, is the best at keeping your graveyard engine running. The ability to kill Dark Confidant and even two-toughness creatures is huge for this deck and really gives it a way to interact with the opponent beyond Smallpox.
This deck's sideboard is one of the strongest in the format. Creeping Corrosion and Delirium Skeins are the absolute best available at what they do (disrupt Affinity and Storm, respectively). The full suite of Abrupt Decay gives the deck a lot of flexibility and the ability to interact with a wide variety of problem cards.
Overall, this is a deceptively powerful deck. Its power is based in the synergy between its cards and the affinity they all share for the graveyard.
- 4 Figure of Destiny
- 4 Grim Lavamancer
- 2 Hellrider
- 4 Plated Geopede
- 4 Steppe Lynx
- 4 Stormblood Berserker
- 4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Boros is a deck near and dear to my heart, so it pained me when all my initial attempts to put together a build in Modern failed. The unfortunate thing about Boros is that one of your most powerful cards, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, makes your spells cost more in addition to your opponent's. Molten Rain doesn't look so special when it costs four. When you're giving your opponent a land every time you cast Path to Exile, you will undoubtedly find yourself falling extremely behind as the game progresses.
It came to me when I noticed the inclusion of Stormblood Berserker in Boros lists. This card is what could put it over the top. It does exactly what you're trying to do, which is do as much damage as you can as quickly as you can. Remember, you're running twelve one-drops, so most likely this guy will be a 3/3 on turn 2. Combine this with just one of two more creatures and the clock you put on your opponent could be very brief.
The sideboard includes another Elspeth, Knight-Errant and some Blood Moons for Jund. The Sudden Shock eats Arcbound Ravagers, Lotleth Trolls, and prevents creatures like Deathrite Shaman from eking out a little value when targeted with removal. If you take a quick glance at the sideboard, you'll notice it's entirely spells except for Duergar Hedge-Mage. This is because most of the matchups where Thalia comes out are matchups where Sudden Shock and Path to Exile and even Surgical Extraction are all stars.
Your deck has a great game plan against decks Thalia is good against, and often you'll side in fewer cards against these decks.
The last thing that is really noteworthy in this build is the absence of Ranger of Eos and the inclusion of Hellrider. The reason I'm a big supporter of Hellrider is that almost any time you play a creature on the first three turns and Hellrider on turn 4 successfully, you should win on the spot.
Boros is very explosive, so save your fetchlands and swing for massive amounts when your opponent gives you the opportunity. The deck's ability to do ten-plus damage out of nowhere is not to be underestimated and is one of the main reasons why I recommend giving Boros a try.