Hello and welcome back to Metagame Mentor, your weekly guide to the top decks and latest Constructed developments on the path to the Pro Tour. Today's article focuses on Modern, the Constructed format for the current Regional Championship Qualifier (RCQ) cycle. After providing a metagame update, I'll suggest several ways to defeat the dominant deck—Rakdos Evoke.
The Modern Metagame
Modern is a nonrotating format based on expansion sets, core sets, and straight-to-Modern sets from Eight Edition forward, save for cards on the ban list. My format primer from three weeks ago provides an in-depth introduction to the top Modern decks.
To grasp the latest Modern developments over the past three weeks, I analyzed over 900 successful decklists from competitive events. Specifically, I used all published Magic Online decklists from scheduled Modern events held from October 27 through November 13. In addition, I used all decklists with net positive wins from the Apex Gaming $5K RCQ, F2F Qualifier Edmonton, F2F Qualifier Kitchener, the Friday $5K RCQ, Saturday $10K RCQ, and Sunday $5K RCQ at SCG CON Pittsburgh, as well as all Top 8 decklists from the RCQ at Hareruya Kichikoki, RCQ at Battleco Takadanobaba, Saturday event at Arcanis Infinity, Sunday event at Arcanis Infinity, and RCQ at Card Shop Santa Clara. To each deck, I assigned an archetype label and awarded a number of points equal to its net wins (i.e., its number of match wins minus losses). Each archetype's share of total net wins can be interpreted as its share of the winner's metagame.
|Archetype||Winner's Metagame Share|
|1.Rakdos Evoke||27.5% ↑↑|
|7.Mono-Black Coffers||4.0% ↑↑|
|13.Izzet Murktide||1.9% ↓↓|
|14.Temur Murktide||1.8% ↑↑|
The "Other" category included Jund Sagavan, Jund Evoke, Four-Color Control, Twiddle Breach, Ad Nauseam, Dimir Mill, Domain Evoke, Indomitable Creativity, Dimir Shadow, Mono-Blue Tron, Izzet Wizards, Naya Scapeshift, Izzet Boom, Dimir Control, Samwise Gamgee Combo, Temur Midrange, Heliod Combo, Gruul Storm, Grixis Control, Jeskai Control, Infect, Urza ThopterSword, Bring to Light, Five-Color Reanimator, Dice Factory, and more. The number of competitively viable Modern archetypes remains enormous.
In this table, each archetype name hyperlinks to a well-performing, representative decklist. The arrows in the table represent the biggest movements compared to my format primer from three weeks ago. For clarity, I now distinguish explicitly Cascade Beanstalk decks with
Rakdos Evoke, which is capable of evoking and returning
Despite its popularity, Rakdos Evoke is not overpowered, nor is it unstoppable. Based on data from all events held on Melee since the release of Wilds of Eldraine, its non-mirror winrate against the field is around 53%, putting it in the middle of the pack among the top-tier Modern archetypes, and this number has shrunk to 52% over the past three weeks. I ascribe the deck's prominence to other reasons: Rakdos Evoke is relatively easy to pick up and play to decent results, its matches are generally quick, it stands a chance in every matchup, and its predators are difficult to pilot.
Yet there are plenty of well-positioned strategies that are favored against Rakdos Evoke, offering players who can proficiently switch to different decks in Modern a chance to exploit the current state of the metagame. In any case, if you're playing Regional Championship Qualifiers and don't want to play Rakdos Evoke yourself, you'll need a plan to combat it. Let's take a closer look.
How Do We Defeat Rakdos Evoke?
Before going over the various ways to defeat Rakdos Evoke, let's review the deck in question. You can see a typical decklist above, used by Magic Online player Patxi to win a Challenge last weekend.
Rakdos Evoke can execute its primary game plan quite consistently. With this list, the multivariate hypergeometric probability of drawing at least one
So, how do we defeat it? There are various ways.
Play Hardened Scales
Hardened Scales can produce lethal damage out of thin air by moving +1/+1 counters from
In events held on Melee since the release of Wilds of Eldraine, Hardened Scales went 79-40 against Rakdos Evoke in non-draw matches, which means that it won the matchup 66% of the time. So, the available data suggests that
Play Mono-Black Coffers
Mono-Black Coffers uses
In events held on Melee since the release of Wilds of Eldraine, Mono-Black Coffers went 29-23 against Rakdos Evoke in non-draw matches, which means that it won the matchup 56% of the time. Moreover, its winrate against the rest of the field was higher than that of Rakdos Evoke as well. D00mwake reached the Top 8 of a Magic Online Challenge last weekend with the above-shown list.
Play Mono-White Hammer
Hammer Time cheats the enormous equip cost on
🥇Today's events conclude with Travis Brown (@DisgruntledElk) triumphantly emerging as the victor! In addition to the trophy, Travis has earned $2k and secures the qualification for Regionals in Denver early next year. Awesome work rising to the top! 🌟#SCGPITT pic.twitter.com/znhCtsUzRt— SCG CON (@SCGCON) November 12, 2023
Last weekend, long-time Hammer Time expert Travis "DisgruntledElk" Brown took down the Modern $10K RCQ at SCG CON Pittsburgh with the list shown above. His sideboard features
Overall, in events held on Melee since the release of Wilds of Eldraine, Mono-White Hammer went 45-37 against Rakdos Evoke in non-draw matches, which means that it won the matchup 55% of the time. Moreover, at the highest level of competition at Pro Tour The Lord of the Rings, its results against Rakdos Evoke were even better.
Play Temur Rhinos
Rhinos has a straightforward game plan: cast
In events held on Melee since the release of Wilds of Eldraine, Temur Rhinos went 67-56 against Rakdos Evoke in non-draw matches, which means that it won the matchup 54% of the time. Moreover, at the highest level of competition at Pro Tour The Lord of the Rings, its matchup against Rakdos Evoke was even better. A representative list, used by Hakan Cinar to reach the Top 8 of the $10K RCQ at SCG CON Pittsburgh last weekend, is shown above.
Try Temur Murktide
Temur Murktide is a new evolution of Izzet Murktide, the long-time Modern strategy that combines efficient interaction and cheap cantrips to quickly turn
Temur Murktide is slowly supplanting Izzet Murktide, and its card choices appear to give it a structural edge against Rakdos Evoke. In events held on Melee since the release of Wilds of Eldraine, Temur Murktide went 10-4 against Rakdos Evoke in non-draw matches, which means that it won the matchup 71% of the time. Although the sample size is far too small to draw strong conclusions, this new build at least seems promising and worth trying.
Add Suitable Answers to Your Favorite Modern Deck
If you'd like to stick with your favorite Modern deck to leverage your expertise, then it would be wise to adapt your card choices or sideboard with Rakdos Evoke in mind. Apart from the individual cards that I already highlighted earlier in this article, such as
One of the best ways to fight Rakdos Evoke is with card advantage and individually strong cards that can win off the top. Although this is ideally baked into the structure of your deck with engines like
Alternatively, you can try to answer their synergies after sideboard. In particular, it can be valuable to have an effective answer to a returned
On the draw, you can protect yourself with
Modern is based on 20 years of card history, and this extensive pool of cards provides a vast array of viable strategies to be discovered, some of which may be able to answer the current metagame. In recent weeks, I saw two good examples of unexpected brews that found success.
I'll be honest: I don't know if
The players who recently made deep runs in scheduled Magic Online events with these brews— Gabriel Nassif and Aspiringspike — are well-known deck builders and streamers who have heralded metagame innovations before. While more testing is needed to determine if these particular decks are the perfect answer to the current metagame, the Modern card pool is so enormous that there's always the potential for novel decks to break out.
Explore The Lost Caverns of Ixalan
At SCG CON Pittsburgh last weekend, we got a first glimpse of The Lost Caverns of Ixalan impact in Modern, which may also shake up the metagame. Although the most-played new card was
Rakdos Evoke is dominating the Modern RCQ cycle, which runs through December 17, but there are various ways to defeat it. In an ideal world, natural dynamics can bring the metagame to a more balanced state. In fact, my analysis of the current winrate matrix indicates that the equilibrium metagame contains no Rakdos Evoke at all! However, such game theoretic analyses are based on limiting assumptions, such as the simplified abstraction of a matchup matrix and players who frictionlessly swap to decks that have a good matchup against Rakdos Evoke.
In reality, switching to a deck that crushes Rakdos Evoke is tough. Hardened Scales is one of the most difficult decks to play in Modern, using various fringe cards specific to the archetype. It would be unwise to take Hardened Scales to an RCQ without spending the time and dedication to learn the deck's intricacies, which is not a trivial undertaking. Although I do believe that metagame trends can eventually push down Rakdos Evoke, its winrate against the field is unlikely to drop far below 50% anytime soon, and you should be prepared to face it if you enter a Regional Championship Qualifier this weekend.
From Friday November 17 through Sunday November 19, the most awesome place for players to test their Modern mettle is at the Apex Gaming $20K Invitational Weekend. The destination event features several