Modern is fascinating—the metagame is always unclear, but the yearly Modern Pro Tour would filter out the unknown variables. Now that it’s gone, it’s back to the wilderness.
So what is the best way to select a deck for the upcoming Modern weekend?
You should play what you know. The margin between a good metagame call and being unprepared with the deck you chose is not worth it. Unless you feel completely comfortable with your last-minute deck swap and know it inside and out, I don’t recommend changing decks because you think your usual strategy isn’t good in the format anymore.
Modern is so popular at the competitive level because of how easy it is to jump into. You can play literally any type of strategy and win with it. The difference between the best deck and the worst deck in a tournament is about 10%, Affinity is great, but it never has more than a 55% win rate. Believe it or not, a Norin Soul Sister’s deck has a 47% win rate according to data gathered by MTGGoldfish, which means that if a card like Norin the Wary is only 8% away from being Affinity good, everyone will play the strategy they want. Especially in a field of 2,000+ players where more than half are there to play with the one deck they own, most people aren’t going to bother buying a completely new deck because they saw one of their bad matchups win a tournament.
It’s fair to assume with my arguments above that your average opponent will not care about what’s playable in the metagame, so it makes your bold deck choice irrelevant.
What About My Sideboard?
Right on. If there is something you can adjust to great effect, it’s your sideboard, and maybe the few answers you are playing main deck. Don’t adjust your whole deck.
If you plan on going deep into Day 2, you will play against competent and prepared opponents who may have brought the new trendy decks. This is why you should adjust a few slots in your 75.
My rule of thumb for Modern GPs is to make changes to my 75 only according to the following list of trendy decks.
Going into Grand Prix Los Angeles and Charlotte, I expect these to be a little more popular than usual:
Before Eldrazi winter, Tron was one of the strongest deck in the format. It only makes sense that it’s good again post-bannings.
The deck received a lot of hate from most pros. I think it’s an extremely consistent deck—its weakness is that it has either great or horrible matchups and there are no close matchups. At the moment, only Burn and Infect strike me as bad for Tron, and that should be a good enough reason to see a resurgence of it from competitive players.
This card made a whole deck good again all by itself. UWR went from mediocre to a tier 1 deck in the span of one new expansion. This isn’t Jace, the Mind Sculptor by any means, but it does fill the proactive spot Jeskai needed for removal and card advantage against BGx decks. Combined with Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, it also means that you won’t ever go to time again like when your only win condition was Celestial Colonnade.
The deck won the most recent big tournament and I expect it to be among the most played decks between the top players this weekend. It’s powerful, it has a lot of plays, and it is skill rewarding. Tron is one of its worst matchups, yet, if you want, you can dedicate more space in your sideboard for those Crumble to Dust, which are also good against the new trendy RG Valakut deck.
Melira Company has been the consensus most played/expected deck of the last few big tournaments. Not only is it a skill rewarding deck, but most players just love this kind of strategy—it plays so many creatures and has such sweet interactions. It didn’t do well in the last SCG Open and that could be attributed to Tron being the most played deck on Day 2—that’s one matchup you don’t want to face with Melira. Pithing Needle saw play in this deck in the past and I think it might be time for it to come back. It’s good against Tron, but, more importantly, it’s good against Nahiri, the Harbinger and her friend Celestial Colonnade.
It got 2nd at the Open last weekend, which by itself is no big deal, but Owen Turtenwald was seen playing it on Magic Online! Is the 2nd best Magic player at the moment the voice of a metagame? We shall see.
This particular version, designed by Matthias Hunt, was played by a group of Madison guys.
It’s pretty good and has picked up in popularity on Magic Online too. You should be prepared—this isn’t your regular Scapeshift deck. In fact, it doesn’t even play Scapeshift.
Eye of Ugin is gone, but Eldrazi Temple is still around. A little before the bannings were announced, I toyed around with the idea of Eldrazi Temple not being banned. This deck actually ended up seeing play.
A ported RG version from the pre-ban era is also seeing play. Then there is a Bant variant that plays Eldrazi Displacer, Drowner of Hope, and mana dorks. The sky’s the limit for the Eldrazi archetype and I believe it is still alive and well—expect versions of it to pop up this weekend.
These 2 cards are making Dredge a serious deck. I have not found the right list and it may take the community lots of time to figure it out, but I would be uncomfortable not playing any graveyard hate in L.A.
Affinity, Burn, Jund, and Abzan are all decks that will definitely see a good amount of play, but this is the kind of tournament that I wouldn’t mind cutting a slot or two dedicated to those matchups. They will be played, but not as much.