What is Modern?
Modern is a format where you can play cards from sets that were once Standard legal starting from 8th Edition. Unlike in the Standard format, where cards stop being playable when a new block is printed, every card printed will remain usable in Modern, because Modern is a non-rotating format.
Contrary to Vintage and Legacy, Modern doesn't have a Reserved List, which means that staples can be reprinted to increase card availability. To date, many cards have been reprinted in Modern Masters, and some others in Standard legal sets.
Here's the List of Currently Playable Sets (Updated 8/5/2016)
Why play Modern instead of the other contructed formats?
Whether you are a Modern diehard, a Legacy veteran, or just a regular Magic player, chances are that you have heard about the Modern vs. Legacy debate. After all, Modern was born in no small part because of issues with Legacy, so it's only fair that people compare the formats. Both are nonrotating, both have lots of deck options, and both have powerful cards. So why play Modern over Legacy?
For one, it's a format that is wholly supported by Wizards. With the Modern Masters series, numerous Modern staples being reprinted/printed in sets, Wizards has made it clear that they want to support Modern for the foreseeable future. By playing Modern, you get to benefit from this Wizards push with lots of tournament opportunities and reduced prices of major staples.
Second, it's a different format entirely. Different decks, different staples, different strategies, and different expectations of games. If you want fair decks, Modern has plenty of that for you (Jund, BG Rock, UWR Control, Delver, etc.). If you want fast aggro, we have that too (Burn, Affinity, Bogles). Want some unfair decks? Modern even has that, both on the fairer side of the combo spectrum (Abzan Company) and the less fair side (Griselbrand and Storm). Overall, with a lot of unique decks and a lot of differences from Legacy, Modern has its own identity and should be treated as such.
This format is much, much larger than standard. Meaning there's much more options to play. Modern gives you dozens of options of each deck strategy, with some traditional representatives (UWR Control, Zoo, Jund) and some zany ones (Restore Balance, 8Rack, Knights, etc.).
Card quality is also a lot higher without being overpowering. Even very powerful plays have answers in Modern, so there is never one deck that is just better than everything else in the format. That said, the format is also more skill intensive so you need to be careful. A bad timed spell could ruin your day. This format rewards tight gameplay and smart plays, better games and more enjoyable matchups.
Finally, you'll find things change much more slower than standard. A deck that's good will likely stay good for a long time. Invest in your baby, improve it, play it, and never have to leave it! That's the beauty of the nonrotating Modern format.
Remember the Modern forum rule: Banlist, banning, and unbanning discussion is only allowed The Current Modern Banlist Discussion Thread.
"Why have a ban list at all?" you might ask? While it's true that this is an non-rotating format, and you should be able to play with all cards you own, there are many cards that are overpowered (probably by accident), unfun to play against, or provide too much power to a certain deck. If you're worried about jumping into modern because of all the recent bans, please read The "Addressing Modern Concerns" section.
The Styles of Play
In general, there are 7 different types of Modern playing styles, Tempo, Aggro, Midrange, Combo, Control, Ramp, and rogue. Below is A brief explanation of these styles:
All are from the Wiki. Tempo: The concept of tempo is to dissect the more intricate means of how and when lands and spells are played, as opposed to the "race" which approaches aggressive strategies haphazardly. A player who has a strong understanding of tempo can often put the game state in their favor without having to resort to copious amounts of card advantage or card utility for contingency's sake during the game. Tempo is not specific to any one color, nor does it favor a specific color for having the "best tempo", as tempo exists merely to scale the game's pace and allow it's reader a better understanding of how to seek victory.
Good examples are Merfolk, Fae, and Delver.
Aggro: Magic: The Gathering term for a deck which attempts to win the game through persistent, quick damage dealing. Usually these decks will use small, hard-hitting creatures to win the game. Perfers to race decks, rather than interact. (Aka proactive not reactive.)
Good examples are Zoo, Affinity, and Burn.
Control: A control deck is a term for a deck of cards that aims to control the opponent's cards and progression with, ideally, the end result where one has full control of everything that is done during the game. Control decks are very powerful and present in virtually every format in the game. They want to drop some bomb to win with, but stall out everything else until then.
Good examples are URW Control, Thopter Control.
Midrange: Decks that want to forget the early game and strike straight into midrange. They try to out threat aggro, and make up for their early game with back breaking creatures and threat value.
Good examples of this is Bant and Jund.
Combo: aims to win the game using a relatively small number of cards that instantly or very quickly win the game when combined (hence the name "combo"). Because of this win strategy, a common motif among combo decks is an emphasis put on the ability to find specific cards quickly and win as fast as possible. They will trade consistency for sheer explosiveness.
Good examples of this is Storm, and Ad Nauseam.
Ramp: Does exactly as the name implies, it ramps. Usually forgoing the early and midgame, and focusing on putting lands out, they tend to end the game with either a sheer amount of lands, or mana to put out big things. They trade the control elements control decks have to simply go faster.
Good examples is Tron and Eldrazi Ramp.
Rogue: Rogue Deck can mean a deck that is developed secretly in the run up to a tournament and so arrives on the day completely unknown to the opponents giving the pilot the element of surprise. In this case, such decks are designed to beat an entire metagame normally through the use of cards or strategies which are not currently being used in the high level metagame. Decks of this type are often very powerful, but also fragile and only able to be consistently good before the metagame adjusts at which point they often become unplayable. This however is not a downside for the deck builder, because the aim is not for longevity or to make a new tier 1 deck, it is to win a specific tournament with a specific metagame and nothing else, with the player switching decks immediately after.
Good examples of this are Restore Balance, Eggs, and other odd off the wall decks.
Modern Deck Options
Below are the various archetypes of Modern divided by deck strategy. All decks below are viable decks.
Control Grixis Control - Packing a ton of permission and reactive cards, this deck generates more card advantages and one for ones than the average control deck in modern. Also it has a zombie fish as a win con. UWR Control - Classic permission deck jammed with countermagic, removal, instant-speed card draw, and a few resilient finishers. UWR is tailored with a ton of removal to handle the creature-heavy decks of the Modern format. Mono U Tron - Counter and bounce everything while building up the Urzatron to get out your big, endgame threats. Lock them down with a Mindslaver/Ruins combo or beat them to death with Sundering Titan. 4C Gifts - Use Gifts Ungiven to take control of the game with a toolbox of spells that function from both your hand and your graveyard. Versatile and skill-intensive control at its best. UW Tron - Mono U Tron meets 4C Gifts in this control/combo hybrid that looks to stop the opponent's gameplan while finishing with accelerated and/or reanimated fatties. Skred Red is a board control deck, aiming to control the flow of the game via kill spells and mana killing. Thopter Control Is a control deck that wins with the thopter sword combo. Blue Moon Punishing greedy mana bases, this controls the flow of the game until you can win. Lantern Control Is a deck that uses "rot rocks" to control what the Opponent will draw. The Rack is a discard lock deck, which throttles your opponent until you set your win con out.
Aggro Affinty - Spews out their hand turn 1-3 for an army of
angry artifact dudes. All-in-fast-aggro at its finest. Bogles - Stick a giant stack of auras on your hexproof critter. Attack until opponent is dead. Burn - Burn your opponent from 20 to 0 in as few turns as possible with maximum redundancy. Bolt 'em, Boros 'em, Bump 'em, and generally Burn 'em to death. Infect - Pump up your infect critters and go from 0 to 10 poison counters as early as possible. Zoo - Get mountains, forests, and plains into play. Bring out your animals. Overrun. Burn whatever is left standing and whatever stands in your way. Soul Sisters - White weenie is back! Gain tons of life to stay alive and pump up your creatures as they soar across the enemy lines for the win. Merfolk - Overwhelm your opponents with the many Merfolk lords, swinging with your gigantic islandwalking army of fish. GW Hatebears - With your army of 2 CMC utility creatures, lock down the opponent's board and hand and beat them to death with your sword-wielding critters. Elves- Elves naturally synergize with each other, and with card selection, and the correct lords, win via overrunning. Dredge/DredgevineBoth of these decks are aggro decks, even if they feel comboy. The idea is to dump your libary into your graveyard, and use the graveyard like your hand. Stompy Is all about getting greens best creatures out and overrunning. Suicide Zoo is an all in aggro deck, using its life total to help win the game. Goblins A deck that will never go out of style, goblins is reds aggressive tribe.
Combo Scapeshift - Ramp up to 7+ lands, cast Scapeshift, fetch Valakut and mountains, deal lots of damage. Storm- Cast a bunch of spells, stringing mana rituals and draw together, until you achieve critical mass and win with the Storm mechanic (Empty the Warrens and/or Grapeshot). Living End - Cycle lands and creatures. Cascade into Living End, kill the opponent's creatures and then kill them with your resurrected horde. Griselbrand Reanimator - Want to win on turn 2 in the turn 4 format? This is the deck for you. Reanimate a Griselbrand on turn 2 and swing for the win, gaining life, drawing cards, and attacking again and again with Fury of the Horde. Or just hit with Emrakul to win on the spot. Restore Balance - Use Borderposts or GreaterGarg to clear your board before firing a Restore Balance to wipe out your opponent's entire battlefield and hand. Win with suspended critters or animated borderposts. Ad Nauseam Using Angel's Glory or Phrexian Unlife, you can use Ad Nauseam to pick up your whole deck and throw it at the opponent for lethal. Kiki-Chord Use value creatures to work your way to Kiki and Resto angel to win the game. Assult Loam Tries to literally throw lands at peoples faces.
Midrange Jund - RBG or RBGw good-stuff deck packed with removal, disruption, and cost-efficient threats. UWR Midrange - Play a few high-value threats like Geist and Resto Angel and then hold the line with countermagic and burn while they finish the job. Junk / Abzan - Like Jund but switching the red for white to play Lingering Souls, Siege Rhino and Path to Exile. Drop a few quality threats and hold the board down with removal and discard. Abzan Company - A midrange deck where all the creatures generate value and card advantage, much in the same way pod did. The core uses Collected Company as a tutor spell, and has serveral combo instant wincons. Black White tokens Tries to grind the game out with tokens and pump, making spot removal useless
Tempo This classic delver is about as tempo as you can get. Grixis Delver - Usually plays enough burn and disruption to keep people off their games as they take over the board state with low-cost, high-value creatures. Faeries - Counter everything, then attack with flash fliers. Death and Taxes Tempo. Disrupt opponent's manabase, and over run with white weenies. Temur DelverUsing greens best creatures and blues best tempo. Knightfall Is a bant deck, using built in land synergies to explode out wins.
Ramp RG Tron- Plays the urza lands (Mine/Tower/Power Plant) to ramp out a Karn, Wurmcoil, or Emrakul into play. All before turn 5. Red Green Eldrazi is a enivatablity deck, churning out strong creatures turn by turn. Titan Scapeshift More of a ramp deck than combo like its brother scapeshift, this one aims to ramp and eventually crush the late game with titans and valakuts. Not trying to ramp too high, it still aims to skip some mana to put out pure value creatures that will win the game.
This is one of the most important, but also most difficult, parts of getting into Modern. If you're new to this format, you'll have a hard time seeing what could be good and what could be bad. I have a saying I'd like to share with you.
"If it looks ok, use it in block, if it looks good, use it in standard. If it's really good, think about it for modern, if amazing, use it in modern. If its broken, and people are saying it could be used in legacy, jam it into your modern deck."
That's right. Modern only accepts the best of the best. Meaning most spells that cost 4+ mana are out of the picture unless they are basically winning the game on the spot. Efficiency is the key. Ask yourself these questions before deciding if you should use a card in your modern deck.
Is there another card that can do this effect cheaper, better, or is more veristial?
Is this creature above the curve for its casting cost? (EX: Tarmogoyf is a "3/4" for 2)
Does this card have any place in a pre-existing archetype that could make it more powerful? (Ex: Restoration Angel in Snapcaster Control)
If you can answer all those questions, and still be confident about your card, try it out.
Remember to look for the following in evaluating cards:
Cheap casting cost
Biggest power/toughness for cost
Evasion, recurrsion, great game winning ablities
Disruption, power to stall/hinder your opponent
What Deck is Right for Me?
It's complicated to pin point exactly what deck you should pick up. The best place to start is in our very own "What Deck Should I Play" thread, which is always full of helpful players willing to make suggestions. But the best solution is to go online and test out some decks, see what makes the most fun for you. Cockatrice has a great deck building software, and lets you play other people online. And its completely free!
But if you want a starting place, here are three good starting questions:
What are my favorate colors?
What style of playing do I like most
Do I want a top deck, or a deck I can work a lot on (Up hill battle?)
Do I have any cards I really love, and is there similar cards I can play with?
What current Modern decks appeal to me?
Pick a deck based on the answers to those questions. And don't forget to take those answers to the "What Deck Should I Play" thread for more help!
How do I build a successful deck?
There are many ways to go about building a modern deck. Usually the best ways are tweaking an already existing deck to fit your metagame, or just building from complete scratch to gain a surprise, or a fun factor. But you should always figure out what your metagame is first.
What is my Metagame?
In order to figure that out, you'll need to talk to some people, and watch/play some games. look for these trends:
What style is most of these decks? Aggro? Combo? ect.
Are they popular archetypes?
Is there a lot of blue being played, maybe red? ect.
What decks seem to always be winning? Why is that?
This bits easy. Figure out the meta, and adjust the deck accordingly. I strongly suggest using our forums to chat with people what the best way to do that is. Remember flexible sideboards can cover main board weaknesses.
This is a lot harder than it seems. Sometimes it works amazingly sometimes its a bust. Practice, and clever observations of the meta will prove you in this. Really pay attention to your meta's weaknesses and exploited it. Always keep in mind how you can drive your game plan home, and look at every available spell to our card pool to do so.
Ways to Test
Again, cockatrice is what I would use, but there are always friends you can turn to. Either make/print proxies of cards, or build the decks yourself and play people. Cockatrice also allows you to goldfish, so I suggest doing that to familiarize yourself with the decks.
This next section is a debriefing on the Modern Metagame. It's good to know whats going on in the wide world of Modern, so you're not out of the loop when a new deck rises or falls. Here at MTG Salvation, the moderators strive to make sure that the Tier 1 and Tier 2 sections reflect the main Tier 1 and Tier 2 decks respectively. Tier 3 decks, and decks that have not yet found competitive success, can be found in the Deck Creation subforum. The more popular and more competitive decks/discussions are located in the Developing Competitive subforum
For more information on how decks met this criteria, see this thread for Tier 1 decks, this thread for Tier 2 decks and this thread for the other competitive decks.
Addressing Modern Concerns
A lot of people miss out in this format because of three main concerns: Price, bannings, and speed misconceptions. This part is to put your mind to rest about those, so you can get out there and play some Modern.
Price- Shock lands are around 15 bucks a pop. Fetches are pricier but a great, multi-format investment. Other staples, like Goyf and Confidant, might look pricey on paper. But remember that Modern cards never rotate!! So although, the initial cost might feel a bit high, in the end, your one deck that you can play for years is cheaper than that Standard deck that changes every 12 months. After all once you have a Modern deck, you only upkeep it, getting one or two cards to add as needed. And with demand for standard cards so high, you can easily trade for what you need. Also, with sets like Modern Masters and reprints like Thoughtseize, Wizards has made a big effort to drive prices down and make Modern accessible for anyone.
Bannings- Yes, there has been some bannings in the past. But it was to balance out a baby format. As Modern has been maturing, it, along with the ban list, has become more stable. Many of the most recent ban announcements didn't even touch Modern. If you're worried you're cards will be banned, chances are your safe. If anything, cards are likely to be unbanned in the future, enabling even more decks.
Speed Misconceptions- Although most standard players believe that Modern and Legacy are filled with combo, that's not entirely accurate. Unlike standard, however, combo does exist and does unfair things sometimes, like winning turn 2-3 if they get lucky. But Modern gives you more than enough answers to slow down these decks, and even if you don't play those kinds of interactive cards, most Modern combo decks are only threatening to win on turn 4. Modern is not as fast as people believe. With midrange and creature-based decks the norm, many games actually last longer than standard ones! Remember that with such a large card pool, you can answer most situations.
Lantern - General edits Cardfather - Ban list ktkenshinx - General edits and overhaul Blippy the Slug - Meta game info planeswalker7976 - compling card discussions Bewble/Pand3m0nia - Grammar and spelling check SlimBackwater - List of sets pizzap - overhaul MTG Community - Wiki, staples of the format, overall check
With Modern's popularity growing I feel some people are having trouble acquiring cards for the format and creating decks they wish to because of Budget concerns, this is a thread for Budget decks (for purpose of discussion ~$200 is where the bar is set) that you can take to a local tourney or FNM
NOTE: This thread is not about prices simply Budget deck options, I will reserve the next 2 Posts incase and plan on updating with Budget decks ASAP (feel free to send me a PM if you want me to include a decklist or post it in the thread)
I have broken the archetypes into Control, Aggro, Combo, Tempo, Midrange, Ramp, and rogue
There are several options available the control player on a Budget most are mono colored and require little to no Fetch or Dual Lands, these decks can later be upgraded with Fetches, color splashing, and Planeswalkers
This deck follows a typical Mono Black strategy, kill creatures, destroy the opponents hand and use powerful drawback creatures to end the game, the entire deck is mostly commons and cheap rares save Inkmoths and the Urborg, upgrading you can add Liliana Of The Veil and Thoughtseize
There are many variants on Tron Control from Black to Blue to Colorless
You don't need several colors to play Aggro, these decks have been doing well and are monocolored
Death And Taxes is a W based Tempo deck, the green splash gives you access to some more efficient threats, the main strategy is to deny your opponent mana and use various hatebears to slow them down as you slowly grind them out
A budget Tron build, eldrazi can always be replaced by any other Fatty and Garruk is not necessary, main goal is to ramp into a wincon like Titan or an Eldrazi and use Walls to generate green and hold off Aggro
Hello everyone, and welcome to my Modern on a budget guide. As the cost of Magic continues to rise, you might feel like there's no way you can play this game without taking out another mortgage. Well, luckily, there is hope. This guide is meant to help Modern players (especially new folks) have an easier time getting into the format on a limited budget.
First, to give credit where credit is due: This guide is inspired by -spooky-'s Legacy Budget Primer which can be found here. That guide was a tremendous help for me when I started playing Legacy, so I figured why not pay it forward and write one of my own for Modern.
Note: This guide will focus mainly on building affordable decks that can still be very competitive. If you are looking for extreme budget decks (in the $10-$50 range) then this might not be the best thing for you. I'd recommend looking at the Modern Budget Deck Challenge thread in the Deck Creation forum. Most decks on there go for about $20.
Introduction: Why play Modern?
I believe Modern is the best format for the budget-conscious player to get involved in. You might look at the price of an average Modern deck and find that silly. Well, here's my reason: It is an eternal format. Yes, the average Modern deck is a couple of hundred dollars more expensive than the average Standard deck. But the long term value of Modern cards is much higher as they will never rotate out of the format. Tired of seeing your $25 Standard staples become worth less than $1 after rotation? You won't have to worry about that here. Additionally, once you build a deck in Modern, you can play it forever. So, while the initial cost of Modern is high, the long-term outlook is much, much better than Standard. And in comparison to other eternal formats like Legacy and Vintage, Modern has only a small fraction of the start-up cost.
General tips for playing on a budget
1) Test, test, test.
There is nothing worse than spending a bunch of money on a deck and then later figuring out that it stinks. If you want to avoid this depressing situation, then make sure you always thoroughly play test before buying. You have to make sure that the deck is good and, perhaps more importantly, that you enjoy playing the deck. Make sure it's a deck you won't get bored of. I suggest that anyone who does not yet have Cockatrice get it right away. The ease of being able to play test whenever I want to on Cockatrice probably has saved me more money than anything else.
2) When buying cards, keep their versatility in mind.
There are other things besides the price of cards that determine whether or not they are a good buy. A major one is versatility. Will you be able to use these cards in multiple decks, or just in one? If you spend $80 on a playset of Arid Mesas, yes that's a lot of money, but that's one of the most useful cards out there. There are tons of decks that use Arid Mesa so buying them might be a very good choice. Daybreak Coronet, on the other hand, is only really used in one deck so unless you're set on playing that deck for a long time t may not be the best buy. This idea can be generalized to decks as well as cards: When deciding to splurge on a deck, ask yourself if the cards in that deck will be useful in other decks, or if they will just sit and gather dust after you're done with that deck?
3) Do not build from the top down!
I'm sure some of you have heard this before, but it's just too important not to mention. One of the biggest mistakes a budget player can make is to take an expensive top tier deck and try to replace all the expensive cards with cheaper ones. Unfortunately, what this often does is leaves you with a vastly inferior version of the deck, as it may be missing many of the key pieces. I'm by no means saying that it's not ok to substitute a card or two when you're close to being done with a deck (nobody is going to think less of you for switching that last Grove of the Burnwillows for a Karplusan Forest) but when you've made so many changes that you've lost the core of the deck, well, that probably won't work so well for you.
4) Know which at budget substitutions are OK and which aren't.
When switching an expensive card for a cheaper one, make sure you aren't losing too much. Example: Inquisition of Kozilek is pretty much always a fine replacement for Thoughtseize. Distress on the other hand, really isn't.
5) Be a smart buyer.
It may be more convenient to buy your cards from your LGS and StarCityGames.com, but you will often be able to find much better prices on Ebay if you are willing to put in the time to do it. Be patient, and look for slightly played/moderately played cards to save a few bucks.
6) Pick up fetchlands whenever you can.
As you will see, fetch lands (Arid Mesa, Scalding Tarn, Marsh Flats, etc) often make up a major portion of a deck's cost. Omitting them will often slow down the deck or make it work not quite right. So if you ever have some spare cash, or a chance to pick them up for a reduced price, I'd highly suggest it. It will make the process of deck building a LOT more comforting.
Budget Decks (still in progress)
Here I will maintain a collection of decks that are strong yet easy on the wallet. This section will be continually updated as necessary. It is also by no means all inclusive, so if you know of a deck that is not here, please tell me so I can add it!
I'm not sure if this deck really has an official name, but I've seen it a few times and tried it out and it is very fun to play. Basically, the idea is to use Amulet of Vigor together with Ravnica bounce lands (Gruul Turf, Selesyna Sanctuary, etc) and Summer Bloom to produce absurd amounts of mana in the early game. It also uses "hideaway" lands from Lorwyn to hide some pretty awesome cards, like Time Warp and Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. It's a little bit inconsistent but when it goes off it's awesome. Squashing your opponent with an 18/18 Primeval Titan on turn two is pretty fun. More than half of the deck's cost comes from Misty Rainforest, which can be replaced by Yavimaya Coast if you want.
Death and Taxes
A classic mono-white archetype that really can screw with your opponents head. The deck works by "taxing" your opponent (stopping them from searching their library, making them pay more for spells, etc) as well as using efficient removal to win.
This is a fun combo deck that revolves around its namesake card Living End. The goal is to cycle a bunch of fatties and then play a cascade spell that will hit Living End, killing all of your opponent's creatures and resurrecting your fatties. Fetches add a lot to the cost, but you can definitely play this deck with a more budget-minded mana base. Do not skip the Fulminator Mages however, they are very important to the deck
Deck thread: http://forums.mtgsalvation.com/showthread.php?t=477942
Looking for what staples to pick up first? This is a guide for someone trying to collect the modern format from scratch. Here I go over the basic staple cards, the cards used in a couple decks here and there, and the cards that are sometimes used / mostly used in a single archetype.
You are generally going to need these if you want a lot of deck options in Modern.
You need to update the banned list with Sunrise, and add GTC, DMZ, M14 (and soon Theros) to the list of legal sets. The meta spoiler could be updated too, but now there's the GMMT that just came into existence, so probably no need.
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Thanks to Rivenor for the signature and XenoNinja for the Avi!