5 Emerging Decks in Modern

by Zen Takahashi on 09 January 2018, Tuesday

Zen Takahashi


5 Emerging Decks in Modern 

Hello everybody!

Hopefully, everyone had a great New Year's, and are ready to take on 2018! For my first article of the year, I decided I would take this opportunity to talk about some of the new decks that have been arising in Modern over the last few months. 

Magic Online has historically been a breeding ground for new decks – and that has especially been the case with Modern, where new ideas and archetypes arise on a regular basis. 

However, many of these new decks fail to become competitive enough to enter the mainstream and become adopted in paper Magic. 

Today, I will be going over five decks that have been emerging and growing popular on Magic Online that I do believe are competitive enough to become legitimate archetypes - and I think you should familiarise yourself with them before entering your next major Modern event. 

Mardu Pyromancer



Mardu Midrange has existed in some form for several years – notably played by Hall of Famer Paul Rietzl at Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch. However, over the past few months, Magic Online player Selfeisek has been dominating Modern Leagues with their version of the deck – as they currently lead the trophy race at 41, while second place is at just 18! 


Young Pyromancer Bedlam Reveler

Selfeisek's version of the deck is largely based around Young Pyromancer and Bedlam Reveler. The deck is full of cheap spells, which helps create multiple elemental tokens with Young Pyromancer, while also quickly filling the graveyard to get Bedlam Reveler into play faster. 

Having played against Selfeisek multiple times, I have been impressed with the deck every time I see it in action. One of the most significant issues with fair decks in Modern is that in pre-board games you often risk drawing the wrong reactive cards in a given matchup.


Faithless Looting

This deck solves that issue by playing Faithless Looting, while also being able to mitigate the card disadvantage drawback with Lingering Souls, Bedlam Reveler and Young Pyromancer

Playing Faithless Looting also allows you to play more situational cards which can be discarded if unnecessary – as shown by the one-off Dreadbore and Blood Moon

Overall, I believe that this may be the best midrange deck in Modern at the moment. With Fatal Push being commonly played in the format, creatures such as Tarmogoyf and Grim Flayer have become poorly positioned. 

This Mardu deck has a threat base that is resilient to removal as its creatures will almost always be able to trade profitably with spot removal, while also being cheap enough that you change gears and play aggressively like its green counterparts. 

Black-Red Hollow One 



Ever since the release of Hollow One, we have seen multiple people try to break the card in various shells. While the early versions were often Red-Green based on Vengevine, this current Black-Red version is the first one that seems to have found reasonable success.


Hollow One

In fact, it was recently played by Platinum Pro Steve Rubin at an SCG Open, and then shortly after Magic Online player Antillectual played it to an undefeated swiss finish in a Modern Challenge. 

The deck is based around using looting effects such as Burning Inquiry, Faithless Looting and Cathartic Reunion, to abuse discard and graveyard synergies.


Flameblade Adept Fiery Temper Flamewake Phoenix



Flameblade Adept, Hollow One and Fiery Temper all trigger off discarding, while Bloodghast and Flamewake Phoenix become free or cheaper as they find its way to the graveyard. 

Also, you also have a playset of Street Wraith, which helps make the deck more consistent and your Hollow Ones cheaper. Also, a playset of Gurmag Angler takes advantage of the massive graveyard you amass from discarding so many cards. 

From what I have seen, this deck has a high ceiling regarding how broken some of its draws can be. However, although this version is more consistent than prior versions, the deck does still have some issues with consistency – as you will often find yourself with a mismatch of cards. 

While I do believe that this current version is competitive as it stands, there is still more work that needs to be done to find the best version of the deck. I suspect if you can address the deck's consistency issues without dropping its explosiveness too much, the deck could become one of the best decks in Modern. 

Mono Blue Living End




One of the most exciting decks to have come out recently and put up results has been Mono-Blue Living End. The deck first came to my attention when former MOCS Champion and Modern expert Magnus Lantto 5-0'd a Modern League with it, and since then it has been quite popular with various steamers, including Hall of Famer Gabriel Nassif. 


Ancestral Vision As Foretold Living End

Based around As Foretold, the deck is designed to abuse the pair of suspend spells – Ancestral Vision and Living End – which can be cast for free off the enchantment. To consistently find these pieces, the deck relies on cycling creatures – which can later be returned with Living End.


Serum Visions Search for Azcanta

Unlike the traditional Living End deck, this deck does not rely on cascading, so it can play other cheap spells. Serum Visions and Search for Azcanta are crucial for finding As Foretold and the suspend spells, while Remand helps you to not fall behind on board too much in the early turns while still digging you cards. Tolaria West is also a neat addition to this deck, as you can find the suspend spells with it, as well as some silver-bullet lands like Bojuka Bog and Oboro, Palace in the Clouds

While I have yet to play against this deck, having talked to people about it, I think the deck has a lot of potential, and it has been putting up decent results on Magic Online. 

Being a combo deck that can still interact in the form of Remand and Cryptic Command is very powerful. The deck also looks like a lot of fun to play, so I suspect it will become increasingly popular in the months to come if it keeps putting up results online – and will significantly jump in popularity once it puts up a good result in a paper event. 

Blue-Red Kiki-Moon 


In my last article, which can be found here, I discussed how one of the key ways to beat the big mana strategies is by having land destruction with a clock to pressure them. As these big mana decks – notably Tron and Titan Shift – becoming increasingly popular, we have also seen a rise in decks that have adopted this strategy to try beat them.


Blood Moon Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker

One of the decks that has been gaining traction is Blue-Red Kiki-Moon. The deck is very similar to its predecessor, Splinter Twin, but instead relies on Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker to combo off and plays more Blood Moon. In fact, the list above is from Magic Online player CharLy, or better known as Antonio Del Morel Leon, who won Pro Tour Fate Reforged with Splinter Twin


Vendilion Clique Keranos, God of Storms

The deck plays out predominantly the way the old Blue-Red Splinter Twin deck used to. However, without having a turn four kill and being more vulnerable to Lightning Bolt, this version tries to rely less on the combo. This is shown by the addition of Vendilion Clique and Keranos, God of Storms, which indicates that this deck also wants ways to win through more traditional means. 

Although the deck is much worse without Splinter Twin, I do think the deck is well positioned at the moment. The deck has a favorable matchup against the big mana strategies and combo decks like Storm and Dredge, which have become popular over the last few months, and there has been a decrease in GBx Midrange decks – which is the deck's worst matchup.

White-Black Smallpox


The final deck I want to cover today is White-Black Smallpox, which was recently piloted to a Top 16 finish at GP Oklahoma City by Ian Birrel. Before this, the deck was also played by Magic Online superstar Jaberwocki – who played it in a MOCS a few months ago.


Smallpox Flagstones of Trokair

Although it plays Smallpox, this deck is not like the Pox decks you see in Eternal formats, but rather it is more just a midrange deck that incorporates Smallpox into it. It has a number of ways to mitigate the drawback of Smallpox – with cards such as Bloodghast, Lingering Souls and Flagstones of Trokair to discard and sacrifice. 

As I discussed earlier in relation to traditional midrange threats such as Tarmogoyf and Grim Flayer becoming poorly positioned, similar to the Mardu deck, this deck has a threat base that is resilient to removal, as it relies on Bloodghast, Lingering Souls and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar to close games out. 

Although it may not be able to change gears and play aggressively as Mardu can, this deck is a lot better equipped at playing long games as the deck gains so much incremental card advantage from Smallpox and its eight Planeswalkers. Although I prefer Mardu at the moment as it seems better equipped against combo and small creature decks, if we see an increase in Death's Shadow again, I believe this deck could be the premier midrange deck of the format. 


I hope you enjoyed this article as I discussed five new decks that have been emerging and becoming popular on Magic Online. 

I believe that all five of these decks are competitive enough to become legitimate archetypes, and I consider them to be decks that you should be aware of before entering your next major Modern event. Next week, I will be back with more Modern content!

Until next time!

Zen Takahashi
@mtgzen on Twitter 

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