PTQ season is well underway, but the Modern metagame remains undefined. I played in a PTQ hosted by Inner Sanctum Collectibles in Cambridge this weekend and begged/stole/borrowed the decklists after the event to bring you a snapshot of what people are currently choosing to play in Modern. Hopefully this will help you to prepare yourself for your next Modern event.

All decklists presented today come from the PTQ, and I have particularly chosen ones with misleading or amusing names so don’t get confused!

An Overview

There were a huge variety of flavours of decks knocking around the event everything from the expected UW Tron to the lesser known GR Skred. As such, the first thing to look at is not what decks are popular but what types of decks.

After some tallying and arguing about categories here are the final standings (numbers are total number of decklist of that type registered):

Zoo may be gone but creatures are still a popular plan. Be they fast and vicious like Boros or more mid-range like Bant, people like to turn guys sideways. If you are playing a deck with a poor aggro matchup then I suggest you think again.

Combo is still present in Modern but the bannings have helped to tame the beast down to manageable levels. The fact that Storm and Twin are still performing and being played shows how important those bans really were.

Aggro-Control is blooming thanks to that pesky creature from Innistrad–[card]Delver of Secrets[/card]. It’s not all about Human Insects though, there are a surprising number of Faeries decks being played.

Control-Ramp is a special category mostly containing Tron. Lastly we have more traditional Control decks that would be mostly absent but for some heavy dredging of [card]Life from the Loam[/card] taking place in a graveyard near you.

Aggro

Aggro has always proven a popular option in the UK and this PTQ was no exception. With Wild Nacatl gone though people have gone to all sorts of places to search for their creature based agression of choice. So, you ask, what was there?

Cue next pie chart (numbers are total number of decklist of that type registered):

Ta-da! I must say I’m getting rather good at these.

As you can now observe in technicoloured glory, Affinity and Jund have eaten most of our aggro pie. There is nothing fancy going on with any of these lists. Affinity is mostly the Red version as played by Mary Jacobson at GP Lincoln, and is probably the most potentially explosive deck available in Modern. Sometimes I feel this deck verges on Combo the way it can deposit its hand onto the table on turn 1. Sadly, it suffers from a lot of post-board hate and can can struggle in Games 2 and 3, but it’s a very popular and powerful deck so do not neglect it.

Mono-U Storm by Daniel Jovič

[deck]4 Blinkmoth Nexus
4 Darksteel Citadel
3 Glimmervoid
3 Inkmoth Nexus
1 Mountain
4 Arcbound Ravager
4 Memnite
4 Ornithopter
4 Signal Pest
3 Steel Overseer
3 Vault Skirge
4 Cranial Plating
4 Galvanic Blast
4 Mox Opal
2 Shrapnel Blast
2 Steelshaper’s Gift
3 Springleaf Drum
4 Frogmite
Sideboard
3 Ancient Grudge
2 Blood Moon
3 Ethersworn Canonist
3 Torpor Orb
3 Spell Pierce
1 Mindbreak Trap[/deck]

Jund is, well, Jund. What else is there to say? It’s an aggressive style deck that relishes an attrition based game because it will win the top-deck mode, thanks to [card]Bloodbraid Elf[/card] and a healthy fleet of Man-Lands. People often refer to Jund as the 55% deck–it has game against everything without having any particularly strong matchups. Its plan is to play good cards and beat you with them. Not a bad plan really…

White Weenie by Carl Hensley

[deck]1 Forest
2 Copperline Gorge
2 Swamp
4 Blackcleave Cliffs
4 Verdant Catacombs
1 Raging Ravine
2 Stomping Ground
2 Overgrown Tomb
2 Woodland Cemetery
3 Treetop Village
1 Blood Crypt
4 Bloodbraid Elf
1 Eternal Witness
3 Kitchen Finks
4 Tarmogoyf
4 Dark Confidant
3 Liliana of the Veil
2 Thoughtseize
3 Maelstrom Pulse
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Inquistion of Kozilek
2 Terminate
2 Blightning
Sideboard
2 Jund Charm
2 Seal of Primordium
2 Anathemancer
2 Ancient Grudge
1 Thrun, the Last Troll
1 Nihil Spellbomb
1 Combust
2 Volcanic Fallout
2 Obstinate Baloth[/deck]

There are an awful lot of other types of aggressive decks knocking around here. Zoo is still being played though, as Owen Turtenwald put it, it really is a 45% list and not what I would choose to run. Bant, Tokens and Boros are all present in small numbers with lots of one-off decks filling up the misc. category including five-colour creatures and Death and Taxes.

Combo

People love to combo. Well, some people do, I’m not so keen. It’s an enticing proposition though. Once you get the combo online, that’s it, you win… well, unless you are playing Storm… then you might still fizzle. Still you get to watch yourself play rather than having to take an interest in what your opponent is up to unless they try to interrupt your game, I mean how rude is that!

You know what comes next…

And there we have it. Combo, at the moment, can be broken down into Storm, Twin and Melira Pod in almost equal helpings. None of these decks are new so I’m not going to go into how they work just include some lists from this weekend.

Lodestone Golem? By Matthew Barnes

[deck]1 Snow-Covered Mountain
2 Island
2 Sulfur Falls
2 Cascade Bluffs
3 Steam Vents
2 Halimar Depths
2 Stomping Ground
1 Arid Mesa
4 Misty Rainforest
4 Scalding Tarn
3 Spellskite
4 Grim Lavamancer
3 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
4 Deceiver Exarch
4 Pestermite
3 Flame Slash
4 Splinter Twin
4 Serum Visions
4 Sleight of Hand
4 Dispel
Sideboard
3 Vines of Vastwood
4 Ancient Grudge
2 Echoing Truth
3 Blood Moon
1 Lodestone Golem[/deck]

Note: given the crossed out 4th [card]Blood Moon[/card] I suspect the [card]Lodestone Golem[/card] is a “oops, couldn’t find another [card]Blood Moon[/card] to borrow guess I’ll shove this in quick” card.

Mono-White Slivers by James Briggs

[deck]4 Scalding Tarn
4 Steam Vents
4 Sulfur Falls
2 Island
2 Mountain
3 Past in Flames
2 Empty the Warrens
4 Manamorphose
3 Pyretic Ritual
4 Seething Song
4 Desperate Ritual
2 Remand
4 Grapeshot
4 Serum Visions
3 Faithless Looting
3 Pyromancer’s Swath
2 Reach Through Mists
2 Sleight of Hand
Sideboard
4 Leyline of Sanctity
3 Shattering Spree
3 Pact of Negation
2 Echoing Truth
2 Gigadrowse
1 Goblin Bushwhacker[/deck]

Project Melira by Jan Huang

[deck]4 Verdant Catacombs
3 Misty Rainforest
1 Marsh Flats
1 Godless Shrine
1 Temple Garden
1 Overgrown Tomb
1 Dryad Arbor
1 Woodland Cemetery
1 Horizon Canopy
1 Sunpetal Grove
1 Gavony Township
1 Plains
2 Swamp
3 Forest
4 Birds of Paradise
1 Noble Hierarch
2 Viscera Seer
4 Wall of Roots
3 Melira, Sylvok Outcast
1 Gaddock Teeg
1 Qasali Pridemage
1 Spellskite
4 Kitchen Finks
1 Nantuko Husk
1 Eternal Witness
2 Murderous Redcap
1 Nekrataal
1 Ranger of Eos
1 Acidic Slime
1 Reveillark
1 Sun Titan
1 Mikaeus, the Unhallowed
3 Chord of Calling
4 Birthing Pod
Sideboard
3 Inquisition of Kozilek
1 Path to Exile
2 Obstinate Baloth
1 Qasali Pridemage
1 Ethersworn Canonist
1 Withered Wretch
2 Spellskite
1 Loaming Shaman
1 Kataki, War’s Wage
2 Dismember[/deck]

Note: Melira Pod players, it turns out, are uninventive with deck names but this one got bonus points for having a picture of vegetables printed on the back.

Aggro-Control

These are the decks that like to play a threat early then use permission to stop their opponents getting in the way. Delver of Secrets fits beautifully into this category with all flavours of decks coming out to play (UB, RUG, Esper and UWR). The more traditional Merfolk and Faeries are also appearing in today’s Modern metagame along with a few versions of good old Caw-Blade.

Snappy Burn by Noel Bresland

[deck]4 Scalding Tarn
2 Hallowed Fountain
4 Arid Mesa
2 Steam Vents
2 Misty Rainforest
3 Marsh Flats
2 Sacred Foundry
1 Plains
1 Island
1 Mountain
4 Steppe Lynx
4 Delver of Secrets
4 Snapcaster Mage
3 Geist of Saint Traft
2 Grim Lavamancer
4 Lightning Helix
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Serum Visions
4 Remand
3 Path to Exile
2 Burst Lightning
Sideboard
4 Kor Firewalker
2 Volcanic Fallout
3 Smash to Smithereens
2 Surgical Extraction
2 Celestial Purge[/deck]

Not Faeries by Ryan Brierley

[deck]19 Island
4 Mutavault
1 Academy Ruins
2 Vapor Snag
3 Spell Snare
3 Mana Leak
3 Disrupting Shoal
3 Cryptic Command
2 Thirst for Knowledge
3 Spellstutter Sprite
4 Scion of Oona
3 Mistbind Clique
2 Glen Elendra Archmage
3 Vendilion Clique
3 Vedalken Shackles
2 Mortarpod
Sideboard
1 Mortarpod
2 Ratchet Bomb
4 Dispel
2 Tectonic Edge
2 Phantasmal Image
2 Relic of Progenitus
2 Surgical Extraction[/deck]

Control-Ramp

No pie chart here, sorry to disappoint but you can imagine it. Just one huge Tron pie (with flavourings of [card]Summoning Trap[/card] and [card]Tooth and Nail[/card]). Your Tron pie is mostly Blue and White, but occasionally you see some Red and once in a while some Green. Basically if you want to run this deck it should have Tron pieces and [card gifts ungiven]Gifts[/card]/[card unburial rites]Rites [/card]in it. A very strong deck that has been heavily adopted after LSV Top 8’ed Lincoln with his list.

There were 12 UW Tron lists and not one of them had an interesting/misleading/funny name. The only one that wasn’t blank or “Tron” was “Rule 517.1B” which means nothing to me. If it means something to you please enlighten me.

UW Tron by Mark Baister

[deck]4 Urza’s Tower
4 Urza’s Mine
4 Urza’s Power Plant
3 Celestial Colonnade
3 Hallowed Fountain
3 Seachrome Coast
1 Tolaria West
1 Eye of Ugin
1 Academy Ruins
1 Island
4 Path to Exile
4 Gifts Ungiven
4 Remand
4 Thirst for Knowledge
4 Azorius Signet
3 Expedition Map
1 Wrath of God
1 Day of Judgment
1 Mindslaver
1 Repeal
1 Snapcaster Mage
1 Iona, Shield of Emeria
1 Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre
1 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
1 Unburial Rites
1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
1 Condescend
1 Oblivion Ring
Sideboard
1 Trickbind
1 Rule of Law
2 Timely Reinforcements
1 Wurmcoil Engine
2 Dispel
1 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Tormod’s Crypt
2 Celestial Purge
1 Disenchant
1 Torpor Orb
1 Tectonic Edge
1 Counterlash[/deck]

Control

Unsurprisingly control formed the smallest part of the metagame. With 37 distinct decklists out of 126 the idea of building a control deck is a scary prospect. The one control-style deck that is performing is the Loam deck piloted to victory by Bronson Magnan at GP Lincoln. Whilst it is being referred to as Aggro Loam it plays much more like a control list–denying creatures with [card]Flame Jab[/card] and emptying the opponent’s hand with [card]Raven’s Crime[/card] before finishing with [card]Tarmogoyf [/card]or [card]Seismic Assault[/card] and [card]Life from the Loam[/card].

This is the deck I ran at the PTQ and narrowly missed out on Top 8. It’s a powerful and extremely fun deck to play, but with many options so don’t pick it up cold!

This May Take Some Time by Carrie Oliver

[deck]4 Blackcleave Cliffs
2 Blood Crypt
1 Bojuka Bog
1 Fire-Lit Thicket
1 Forest
2 Ghost Quarter
3 Graven Cairns
1 Horizon Canopy
1 Lavaclaw Reaches
2 Misty Rainforest
1 Mountain
1 Overgrown Tomb
1 Stomping Ground
1 Swamp
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
4 Verdant Catacombs
4 Countryside Crusher
4 Dark Confidant
4 Tarmogoyf
3 Faithless Looting
3 Flame Jab
3 Inquisition of Kozilek
4 Life from the Loam
3 Raven’s Crime
3 Seismic Assault
2 Liliana of the Veil
Sideboard
2 Ancient Grudge
2 Darkblast
2 Go for the Throat
2 Jund Charm
2 Nature’s Claim
2 Obstinate Baloth
2 Torpor Orb
1 Worm Harvest[/deck]

Well, that rounds out the metagame for a typical English Modern PTQ at the moment. If you are wondering about what performed and what didn’t I’d love to tell you but I don’t have the final standings. I do know what made top 8 however: two UW Tron, Aggro Loam, Martyr-Proc, Jund, RUG Delver, Dredge-Vine and Affinity.

Interestingly, there were only 2 copies of both Dredge-Vine and Martyr-Proc in the event. One problem with Martyr though is it has no game against Tron, and that is what it lost to in the Quarterfinals. Tron won it in the end over Jund.

I think the diversity currently present in Modern is fantastic. As a non-rotating format it needs to stay that way or become stale. If you are heading to a Modern event soon I wouldn’t worry about the meta for deck choice. Just pick something from an archetype you enjoy, then ensure you have a sideboard plan against the most expected decks and have fun!

If you are looking to build a Modern Gauntlet I would recommend including UW Tron, Affinity, UWR Delver, Jund, Aggro Loam, Storm and Melira Pod. This should give you a pretty good feel for how your deck is going to do against the expected field and allow you to tweak your sideboard.

What is your local metagame like, is it aggro heavy like in England or do you see more Tempo-based strategies? If you are going to a Modern even soon what deck are you planning to take? Let me know in the comments and I’ll see you next week.