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Metagame Mentor: Seven Modern Innovations with Wilds of Eldraine

October 12, 2023
Frank Karsten

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 cycle of Regional Championship Qualifiers (RCQs). I'll review the biggest metagame changes over the past month and I'll highlight seven sweet decks that have found success with new Wilds of Eldraine cards.

Modern Metagame Update

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. With its deep card pool, Modern boasts intricate card interactions and showcases an abundance of viable decks. For new and returning players, my format primer from early September provides an in-depth introduction to the format.

To grasp the latest Modern developments, I analyzed nearly 700 successful decklists from competitive events over the past three weeks. Specifically, I used all published Magic Online decklists from scheduled Modern events held from September 22 through October 9. In addition, I used all Top 8 decklists from the Swiss Magic Masters and RCQ at Tabletop Gaming Center, as well as all decklists from Secret Lair Showdown Qualifiers with net positive wins. 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 22.4% ↑↑
2.Four-Color Omnath 8.5% ↑↑
3.Yawgmoth 7.6%
4.Hardened Scales 5.5% ↑↑
5.Rhinos 5.4% ↓↓
6.Hammer Time 5.0%
7.Domain Zoo 4.3% ↑↑
8.Bring to Light 3.5% ↑↑
9.Living End 3.4%
10.Amulet Titan 3.3%
11.Burn 2.9%
12.Izzet Murktide 2.7% ↓↓
13.Mono-Green Tron 2.2%
14.Indomitable Creativity 1.6%
15.Mono-Black Coffers 1.6%
16.Five-Color Reanimator 1.3%
17.Urza ThopterSword 1.3%
18.Azorius Control 1.2%
19.Samwise Gamgee Combo 1.2%
20.Gruul Valakut 1.2%
21.Dimir Control 1.0%
22.Heliod Combo 1.0%
23.Jeskai Breach 0.9%
24.Twiddle Breach 0.9%
25. Other 10.0%

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 early September. The "Other" category included Mill, Mono-Black Control, Izzet Prowess, Dimir Coffers, Izzet Wizards, Grixis Shadow, Timeless Amulet, Miracles, Jund Sagavan, Mono-Black Grief, Dimir Shadow, Jund Shadow, Affinity, Jeskai Control, Four-Color Control, Mono-Red Midrange, Ponza, Temur Wizards, Tameshi Bloom, Golgari Midrange, Jund Reanimator, Asmo Food, Belcher, Carth Superfriends, Black Burn, Glimpse of Tomorrow, Trash for Treasure, Mono-Red Obosh, Jund Midrange, Storm, Merfolk, Eldrazi Tron, Dredge, Rats, and more. The number of competitively viable Modern archetypes remains enormous.

522163 Not Dead After All 616933

Rakdos Evoke is the dominant deck at the moment. After winning Pro Tour The Lord of the Rings and gaining Not Dead After All from Wilds of Eldraine, it has kept rising in popularity. With its capability of evoking and returning Grief as early as turn one, it packs a punch, and the deck is relatively straightforward to pick up and play to decent results.

However, it does not go unchallenged. Based on the round-by-round results from the Pro Tour, Rakdos Evoke struggles against Four-Color Omnath, Rhinos, Hammer Time, and Burn. These decks are relatively resilient to discard, can answer explosive turn-one-plays with cards like Subtlety, and/or exploit hard-to-answer enchantments like Sigarda's Aid. As long as the popularity of Rakdos Evoke remains high, the matchup matrix suggests that these decks are well-positioned, so I am surprised to see that Rhinos has dropped in popularity over the past few weeks.

The drop in popularity of Izzet Murktide, which held the number-two spot a month ago, is not a big surprise, however. The adoption of the unbanned Preordain only worsened the deck's struggles against Orcish Bowmasters. As Orcish Bowmasters was the most-played Modern card overall over the past few weeks, this metagame appears hostile to Izzet Murktide. Even Domain Zoo has had a recent resurgence after adopting Orcish Bowmasters into its arsenal. Masters of Izzet Murktide can still find success with it, as Modern rewards familiarity and experience, but decks filled with card draw effects and one-toughness creatures are facing an upward battle at the moment.

Not Dead After All Up the Beanstalk 629743

Wilds of Eldraine introduced a variety of powerful new cards to Modern. As I already highlighted in my analysis of the Secret Lair Showdown Championship, the most important ones are Not Dead After All for Rakdos Evoke, Up the Beanstalk for Four-Color Omnath and Bring to Light, and Agatha's Soul Cauldron for Hardened Scales.

Accordingly, all of these decks have soared ahead in the metagame ranks over the past month. Hardened Scales, which was nowhere to be found at the Pro Tour, has suddenly become a major player in Modern. Agatha's Soul Cauldron can exile Arcbound Ravager and Walking Ballista from your graveyard and grant their activated abilities to all of your creatures with +1/+1 counters on them. Moreover, the deck uses ward on Patchwork Automaton, modular on Zabaz, the Glimmerwasp, and tokens from Urza's Saga to invalidate the removal spells in Rakdos Evoke. Hardened Scales is not an easy deck to learn how to play optimally, but doing so can pay off in the current Modern metagame, as I believe it has a good matchup against Rakdos Evoke.

7 Sweet Modern Decks with Wilds of Eldraine

The impact of Wilds of Eldraine is not limited to new additions for Rakdos Evoke, Four-Color Omnath, Bring to Light, and Hardened Scales. To emphasize this, let's take a closer look at seven successful Modern decks that have recently posted a positive record with new Wilds of Eldraine cards.

The most important benefactor of Wilds of Eldraine that I hadn't highlighted previously is Yawgmoth. Although it traditionally struggles against Rakdos Evoke, Agatha's Soul Cauldron provided a boost, and it was the third-most prominent archetype over the past three weeks. For example, Durotan97 won a Magic Online Challenge with the deck on October 1.


Agatha's Soul Cauldron, which has largely replaced Endurance as incidental graveyard hate, provides counterplay against spot removal by turning Yawgmoth, Thran Physician and Grist, the Hunger Tide into major threats after they die. Suddenly, your Delighted Halfling or Orc Army can create Insects for value. Even better, if you've exiled Yawgmoth, Thran Physician and control one Young Wolf with a +1/+1 counter and one Young Wolf without, then Agatha's Soul Cauldron allows you to execute the well-known undying loop without the need for Yawgmoth, Thran Physician on the battlefield.

The addition of Walking Ballista enables a brand new combo as well. If you use Agatha's Soul Cauldron to exile Walking Ballista and put a +1/+1 counter on Young Wolf, then you can remove the counter to shoot itself, which triggers undying, and you can repeat this for infinite death triggers. With Blood Artist on the battlefield, that equates to infinite damage! Likewise, Fulminator Mage from the sideboard can turn into a one-sided Armageddon, and finding the right creatures for the situation is easy with Chord of Calling. All in all, Agatha's Soul Cauldron has provided Yawgmoth with powerful new angles of attack.

The combination of Up the Beanstalk with Solitude and Leyline Binding is well established by now, but alternative spells with mana value 5 or greater are still getting explored. Danny_Bambino went 4-0 in a Modern Preliminary by exploiting the miracle mechanic.

Up the Beanstalk

As most five-mana spells are too slow for Modern, the key challenge posed by Up the Beanstalk is to find enough cards that have mana value 5 or greater officially but that can be played for alternative or reduced costs in practice. The miracle mechanic does exactly that—when it's the first card you draw in a turn, Terminus costs only one mana to cast and Temporal Mastery costs two. You can put the cards on top of your library with Jace, the Mind Sculptor, and any time you cast a miracle spell, Up the Beanstalk will provide more fuel.

The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth™ introduced Flame of Anor, which many players tried to capitalize on, but finding the right Wizards can be a challenge. Tubaba, who finished 4-0 in a recent Modern Preliminary, tackled the conundrum with a new creature from Wilds of Eldraine.


Sleep-Cursed Faerie takes several turns before it can get involved in combat, but if you are disrupting your opponent with countermagic and removal in the meantime, then you can buy enough turns to exploit a 3/3 flier for one mana. More importantly, it's a one-mana Wizard that is hard to remove due to its ward ability. This turns Flame of Anor into a reliable three-for-one, and you can take over the late game by flashing back with Snapcaster Mage, the other Wizard in the deck.

The list is reminiscent of Izzet Murktide, but it eschews Mishra's Bauble, Preordain, and Dragon's Rage Channeler to fit in the Wizard package. As a result, it's not as susceptible to Orcish Bowmasters, which might be a good approach in today's Modern metagame.

Food decks with Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar and Sarinth Steelseeker have been on the fringes of competitive Modern for a while, but Wilds of Eldraine provided some tasty innovation. Crazybaloth recently finished 15th in a Magic Online Challenge with four copies of a sweet new card.

Night of the Sweets' Revenge

When Night of the Sweets' Revenge enters the battlefield, the created Food token fuels Academy Manufactor and Sarinth Steelseeker, but that's only the start. As roughly one-third of the deck creates additional Food tokens, you can expect to control several of them when you drop Night of the Sweets' Revenge, providing an enormous mana boost. You might be able to drop your entire hand onto the table at once and untap on the next turn with anywhere from 7 to 12 mana. This means that you can sacrifice Night of the Sweets' Revenge for a massive boost or cast Finale of Devastation for X=10. That's truly the icing on the cake.

Black Burn is a strategy that aims to reduce the opponent's life total down to zero as quickly as possible. Unlike most burn decks in Magic's history, it uses black life-loss effects instead of red direct damage spells, using Bump in the Night instead of Lava Spike. There's even a roughly one-in-a-million chance (0.000082%, to be more precise) of drawing an opening hand with 4 Chancellor of the Dross and 2 Soul Spike, draining the opponent for 20 before they have a chance to play their first land!

Although this strategy is not entirely novel, Wilds of Eldraine improved it further, and Shawman took it to a 5-0 finish in a recent Magic Online League.

Hopeless Nightmare

The key new addition is Hopeless Nightmare, which is basically a mini Bump in the Night that can be sacrificed to prevent flooding in the late game. In certain spots, you may even blow you your own Hopeless Nightmare with Witherbloom Command to scry towards the spells you need. But often, it'll stay on the battlefield as a black permanent, enabling Leechridden Swamp to deal the final points. All in all, the unassuming enchantment is a great fit for this fascinating archetype.

The list of decks that benefited from Agatha's Soul Cauldron is nearly endless. This deck, which NotSoWeird piloted to the Top 8 of a recent Magic Online Challenge, uses it to add resiliency to Heliod, Sun-Crowned combos.


Heliod, Sun-Crowned yields infinite damage by giving lifelink to Walking Ballista, and it gains infinite life in combination with Spike Feeder. However, these creature-combo decks have always been plagued by their vulnerability to spot removal. If you control Heliod, activate the ability of a 2/2 combo creature, and your Spike Feeder or Walking Ballista is destroyed in response, then you're back to the drawing board.

With Agatha's Soul Cauldron, however, a spot removal spell is easily shrugged off—simply exile Walking Ballista or Spike Feeder, grant their abilities to another creature you control, and win the game. Due to this new addition, Heliod Combo decks have been climbing the Modern metagame ranks recently.

Tulio Jaudy, who always brings the spiciest decks to premier events, finished 28th at a Modern Challenge last weekend with a deck no one saw coming: Rats!

629614 629598 Lord Skitter's Butcher

Wilds of Eldraine introduced three powerful Rats, providing a critical mass. Tangled Colony is an effective two-drop that provides resiliency against Fury, but the three-drops really shine, especially after a turn-two Pack Rat. Since Pack Rat counts the number of Rats, it can attack as at least a 3/3 when you follow up with Lord Skitter, Sewer King or Lord Skitter's Butcher on turn three, and it'll grow quickly on subsequent turns.

The real workhorse in the deck is Karumonix, the Rat King, which will usually put two or three cards into your hand. After all, now that Wilds of Eldraine has provided enough playable Rats, half of the deck is comprised of Rat cards. This includes Nameless Inversion as a piece of interaction.

Another benefit of the deck is that it's not particularly vulnerable to Orcish Bowmasters. Indeed, its only one-toughness creature—Gnawing Vermin—takes down the Orc Archer along with it. Overall, I applaud the innovation. Maybe it's time to dust off Swarmyard?

Looking Ahead

Wilds of Eldraine has introduced new tools for Modern archetypes both old and new. If you'd like to test your mettle, then you can find Modern or Limited RCQs near you via the Store & Event Locator or your regional organizer's website. There are also several huge Modern events coming up that will provide big prizes, multiple Regional Championship invites, and/or live streaming coverage:

To help everyone follow along, each tournament name hyperlinks to the corresponding event page on Melee. I hope that organizers will publish the top decklists publicly after each event, as I'm excited to see all the Modern innovations!

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