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Pro Tour Modern Horizons 3 Metagame Breakdown

June 27, 2024
Frank Karsten

The decklists are in, the data is ready, and the third Pro Tour of 2024 begins tomorrow! At Pro Tour Modern Horizons 3, taking place June 28–30 at MagicCon: Amsterdam, 243 of the world's best Magic: The Gathering players will bring their Modern decks to compete for $500,000 in prizes, invitations to the World Championship, and a prestigious trophy. The field includes top players from Regional Championships, online qualifiers, and previous Pro Tours, so we can look forward to an awesome weekend of high-level Magic.

The formats are Modern Horizons 3 Booster Draft on the mornings of Friday and Saturday, followed by Modern for five rounds afterward each of those days. Modern is also the Top 8 format on Sunday. Modern Horizons 3 infused a lot of unique, powerful build-arounds into the Modern format, resulting in the emergence of brand-new archetypes and an upheaval of the metagame.

To follow all the action, catch the stream at, which begins at 11 a.m. Central European Time on Friday and Saturday and at 10 a.m. Central European Time on Sunday. See the viewer's guide for more information.

Modern Metagame Breakdown

Modern is a nonrotating 60-card format that allows cards from expansion sets, core sets, and straight-to-Modern sets from Eighth Edition forward, spanning 21 years of history.

In recent months, the Modern metagame had already been through some changes, including the introduction of surveil lands, the dominance of cascade decks, the ban of Violent Outburst, the surprising powerhouse that is Leyline of the Guildpact, and the introduction of Slickshot Show-Off. However, all of these developments pale in comparison to the impact from Modern Horizons 3. Bolstered by the new set, the metagame at the Pro Tour breaks down as follows.

Deck Archetype Number of Players Percentage of Field
1. Bant Nadu 49 20.2%
2. Ruby Storm 23 9.5%
3. Jeskai Control 22 9.1%
4. Mono-Black Necro 17 7.0%
5. Eldrazi Tron 14 5.8%
6. Four-Color Nadu 13 5.3%
7. Boros Energy 13 5.3%
8. Jeskai Wizards 12 4.9%
9. Mono-Black Grief 6 2.5%
10. Jeskai Dress Down 6 2.5%
11. Gruul Eldrazi 6 2.5%
12. Izzet Murktide 5 2.1%
13. Esper Goryo's 5 2.1%
14. Mardu Energy 5 2.1%
15. Golgari Yawgmoth 4 1.6%
16. Gruul Prowess 4 1.6%
17. Izzet Wizards 3 1.2%
18. Boros Burn 3 1.2%
19. Living End 3 1.2%
20. Rakdos Grief 2 0.8%
21. Jeskai Chant 2 0.8%
22. Temur Eldrazi 2 0.8%
23. Merfolk 2 0.8%
24. Amulet Titan 2 0.8%
25. Dimir Mill 1 0.4%
26. Grixis Shadow 1 0.4%
27. Abzan Soultrader 1 0.4%
28. Azorius Hammer 1 0.4%
29. Gruul Scapeshift 1 0.4%
30. Jund Creativity 1 0.4%
31. Dimir Grief 1 0.4%
32. Bant Control 1 0.4%
33. Boros Prowess 1 0.4%
34. Mono-Red Prowess 1 0.4%
35. Mardu Midrange 1 0.4%
36. Hardened Scales 1 0.4%
37. Four-color Control 1 0.4%
38. Sultai Vengevine 1 0.4%
39. Domain Zoo 1 0.4%
40. Dimir Murktide 1 0.4%
41. Jeskai Prowess 1 0.4%
42. Dimir Nethergoyf 1 0.4%
43. Four-Color Reclamation 1 0.4%
44. Devoted Nadu 1 0.4%

All Modern Constructed decklists for the tournament will be published on the Pro Tour Modern Horizons 3 event page on Friday June 28 at the beginning of Round 4 gameplay, approximately at 2 p.m. Central European Time. Until then, you can find short summaries of the most-played archetypes below.

Bant Nadu (49 players): Bant Nadu is a brand-new combo strategy that tries to assemble Nadu, Winged Wisdom and Shuko. Shuko targets your creatures for zero mana, allowing Nadu's ability to happen trigger for each creature you control. This yields a lot of free cards. Each land put onto the battlefield by Nadu enters untapped and triggers Springheart Nantuko, creating another 1/1 creature that can get targeted by Shuko twice. Once you get going, you can easily draw your entire deck. You can even play a fresh Nadu to reset the "twice per turn" counter along the way. Eventually, you'll use Thassa's Oracle or a convoluted Endurance loop to win the game.

Ruby Storm (23 players): Ruby Storm is a new combo strategy based around Ruby Medallion and Ral, Monsoon Mage from Modern Horizons 3. With either of these cards on the battlefield, Pyretic Ritual and Desperate Ritual cost only one mana and add three, unlocking a huge mana boost. The cost of Reckless Impulse and Wrenn's Resolve is also reduced, allowing you to rapidly sift through your deck. The plan is to cast numerous spells in a single turn at a reduced cost, do it all over again with Past in Flames, and finish the job with a lethal Grapeshot.

Jeskai Control (22 players): Jeskai Control features spot removal, countermagic, card draw, sweepers, and the powerful new Phlage, Titan of Fire's Fury to stabilize and win the game. The deck also exploits an energy package from Modern Horizons 3 with Tune the Narrative, Galvanic Discharge, and Wrath of the Skies. The feature that distinguishes Jeskai Control from other Jeskai decks is that it uses at least three copies of The One Ring or Memory Deluge to net card advantage and support its control plan.

Mono-Black Necro (17 players): Mono-Black Necro features cheap, efficient interaction to trade resources in the early turns before refilling with Necrodominance. Unlike the original Necropotence, this new enchantment actually draws the cards, so you can almost double your life total with Sheoldred, the Apocalypse while sculpting the perfect five-card hand. There's also an opportunity to cast spells in between drawing cards and discarding to hand size, so you can pay an exorbitant amount of life, pitch loads of cards to March of Wretched Sorrow or Soul Spike, and pass the turn at a higher life total than you started with.

Eldrazi Tron (14 players): Eldrazi Tron exploits Ugin's Labyrinth from Modern Horizons 3, which can imprint Devourer of Destiny or All Is Dust to get access to two mana on turn one. Along with Eldrazi Temple and the trio of Urza lands, this deck ramps into enormous amounts of colorless mana early on. All Eldrazi Tron decks sink their mana into Karn, the Great Creator; The One Ring; and Kozilek's Command.

Four-Color Nadu (13 players): Four-Color Nadu is basically Bant Nadu splashing for Orcish Bowmasters or Thoughtseize. Fascinatingly, many Nadu, Winged Wisdom decks at the Pro Tour have shaved Thassa's Oracle and are instead employing Endurance loops as their win condition. The ones in Four-Color Nadu are easiest to explain. If your library consists of four lands while you bestowed Springheart Nantuko onto both Endurance and Orcish Bowmasters, then you can target four Insect tokens with Shuko, use the four lands to create copies of Orcish Bowmasters and Endurance, sacrifice them to Sylvan Safekeeper, and have Endurance return them to your library. You can loop to create infinite Orcish Bowmasters copies to deal infinite damage.

Boros Energy (13 players): Boros Energy is a midrange deck that makes the most of the energy mechanic brought back in Modern Horizons 3, combining cards like Guide of Souls, Amped Raptor, Galvanic Discharge, Unstable Amulet, and Static Prison. With this powerful suite of cards, you can always spend energy on the most fruitful way possible for the game at hand, while the early-drop creatures put considerable pressure on the opponent.

Jeskai Wizards (12 players): Like Jeskai Control, Jeskai Wizards features Phlage, Titan of Fire's Fury along with the energy package of Tune the Narrative, Galvanic Discharge, and Wrath of the Skies. The feature that distinguishes Jeskai Wizards from other Jeskai decks is that it runs Tamiyo, Inquisitive Student and Snapcaster Mage to enable Flame of Anor. On turn four, you could cast Tamiyo and immediately transform her into a planeswalker form by drawing cards with Flame of Anor, which is a powerful line of play. In her planeswalker form, Tamiyo has a powerful defensive ability and an easy-to-reach, game-winning ultimate.

Mono-Black Grief (6 players): The dream for Mono-Black Grief is to evoke Grief on turn one, discard the opponent's Galvanic Discharge with the evoke trigger still on the stack, and return it with Not Dead After All. Roughly one in every seven of the deck's opening hands are capable of this dreaded sequence, and it results in a 4/3 menace with another discard trigger attached. A new addition to the strategy from Modern Horizons 3 is Nethergoyf, which grows when Mishra's Bauble or Urza's Saga hit the graveyard.

Jeskai Dress Down (6 players): Jeskai Dress Down is similar to Jeskai Control and Jeskai Wizards, but it stands out because it uses at least three copies of Dress Down alongside multiple copies of Nulldrifter. Dress Down makes it so that you won't have to sacrifice a three-mana Phlage or Nulldrifter, allowing you to build an enormous threat at a reduced cost. Alternatively, the sacrifice trigger can be countered by Consign to Memory, so Nulldrifter can consistently annihilate opponents early on.

Gruul Eldrazi (6 players): Gruul Eldrazi leverages Eldrazi Temple and Ugin's Labyrinth, similar to Eldrazi Tron, for a quick mana boost, ramping into powerful mid-game Eldrazi and top-end spells. The killing blow as well as the deck's unique twist is to use Through the Breach to sneak in Emrakul, the Aeons Torn; which will attack with annihilator 6.

On the whole, the Pro Tour metagame is dominated by combo strategies. Last week, in my analysis of the first Magic Online events after Modern Horizons 3, Ruby Storm and Bant Nadu already seemed to be very promising. After an additional week of testing, these two decks are on top of the Pro Tour metagame. Between Bant, Four-Color, and Devoted Nadu, nearly 26% of the field will try to assemble the combo of Nadu, Winged Wisdom and Shuko. With Ruby Storm and other combo strategies also being well-represented, many games at the Pro Tour might end as early as turn three.

However, Modern has been evolving rapidly. For example, established archetypes such as Living End fell by the wayside as players tried to break the new cards. Meanwhile, new archetypes like Mono-Black Necro rose in prominence. But the biggest development is the emergence of a large variety of Boros, Jeskai, and Mardu decks that exploit the new energy cards from Modern Horizons 3 along with Phlage, Titan of Fire's Fury. Nearly 25% of the field registered one of these decks, which is almost as much as the Nadu contingent. To put this all into perspective, let's take a closer look at the most-played cards from the new set.

Most-Played Cards from Modern Horizons 3

Even with the high bar set by the existing Modern card pool, Modern Horizons 3 has had a considerable impact on the format. In fact, 242 out of the 243 Pro Tour competitorsuse at least one new-to-Modern card from this set in their deck. The following table breaks down all new-to-Modern cards among Pro Tour decklists.

Card name Total number of copies Main deck Sideboard
Galvanic Discharge 268 268 0
Phlage, Titan of Fire's Fury 264 211 53
Nadu, Winged Wisdom 252 252 0
Springheart Nantuko 232 232 0
Consign to Memory 190 20 170
Wrath of the Skies 183 138 45
Tune the Narrative 162 162 0
Static Prison 115 50 65
Ral, Monsoon Mage 92 92 0
Ruby Medallion 92 92 0
Amped Raptor 92 92 0
Devourer of Destiny 88 88 0
Kozilek's Command 88 88 0
Ugin's Labyrinth 88 88 0
Tamiyo, Inquisitive Student 85 81 4
Unstable Amulet 79 79 0
Guide of Souls 78 78 0
Ajani, Nacatl Pariah 77 77 0
Glimpse the Impossible 73 73 0
Necrodominance 68 68 0
Sylvan Safekeeper 68 68 0
Arena of Glory 65 65 0
Invert Polarity 55 45 10
Disruptor Flute 53 9 44
Boggart Trawler 52 52 0
Fell the Profane 48 48 0
Shifting Woodland 43 42 1
Flare of Malice 41 31 10
Phyrexian Tower 36 36 0
Orim's Chant 36 6 30
Nethergoyf 34 34 0
Volatile Stormdrake 33 10 23
Sink into Stupor 27 27 0
Vexing Bauble 27 4 23
Nulldrifter 27 26 1
Sorin of House Markov 23 23 0
Psychic Frog 22 22 0
Emrakul, the World Anew 22 22 0
Toxic Deluge 21 0 21
Harbinger of the Seas 21 7 14
Flare of Denial 20 19 1
Malevolent Rumble 20 20 0
Sowing Mycospawn 16 10 6
Ocelot Pride 16 16 0
Ulamog, the Defiler 15 15 0
Phelia, Exuberant Shepherd 13 13 0
Chthonian Nightmare 9 9 0
Thief of Existence 9 0 9
Wastescape Battlemage 9 8 1
Flare of Cultivation 8 8 0
Eldrazi Linebreaker 8 8 0
It That Heralds the End 8 8 0
Brainsurge 8 8 0
Barbarian Ring 6 6 0
Marionette Apprentice 6 6 0
Monumental Henge 5 5 0
Meltdown 5 0 5
Spymaster's Vault 4 4 0
Rush of Inspiration 4 4 0
Warren Soultrader 4 4 0
Cephalid Coliseum 4 4 0
Drowner of Truth 4 4 0
White Orchid Phantom 4 4 0
Birthing Ritual 4 4 0
Flusterstorm 3 0 3
Deep Analysis 3 3 0
Kozilek, the Broken Reality 2 0 2
Bridgeworks Battle 2 2 0
Six 2 2 0
Accursed Marauder 2 0 2
Consuming Corruption 2 2 0
Grist, Voracious Larva 2 2 0
Buried Alive 2 2 0
Null Elemental Blast 2 0 2
Collective Resistance 1 0 1
Ghostfire Slice 1 0 1
Revitalizing Repast 1 1 0
Legion Leadership 1 1 0

662274 662349

In terms of raw card count, the most important new additions are Galvanic Discharge and Phlage, Titan of Fire's Fury. Both cards have found their way into decks like Jeskai Control, Boros Energy, Jeskai Wizards, Jeskai Dress Down, Mardu Energy, and various others. In addition, many Ruby Storm decks use Phlage, Titan of Fire's Fury in their sideboard to handle Drannith Magistrate and to provide an alternative route to victory. At the same time, various Gruul Prowess decks have adopted Galvanic Discharge as well.

Galvanic Discharge is the most-played new energy card overall. It's basically a Lightning Bolt for creatures or planeswalkers with additional flexibility. When combined with other energy cards, it becomes similar to Unholy Heat in its ability to take down enormous creatures. And when it burns a smaller creature, you can store the energy for Wrath of the Skies later on. Yet many Pro Tour competitors anticipated this trend, as Suncleanser started to appear as a spicy answer that can prevent opponents from accumulating energy counters.

Phlage, Titan of Fire's Fury is a twist on Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath and Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger. Uro is currently banned in Modern, and Kroxa won Pro Tour The Lord of the Rings last year, so there's some major historical pedigree. Compared to Kroxa's two-mana discard effect, Phlage's front side of a three-mana Lightning Helix is typically better. It stabilizes the board, extends the game, and can be escaped to dominate the battlefield and subsequent damage race.

662345 Springheart Nantuko

Nadu, Winged Wisdom has enabled a brand-new combo strategy that's going to be a clear front-runner at the Pro Tour. By itself, Nadu is a 3/4 flier that doesn't die to Lightning Bolt and that draws you a card when your opponent tries to kill it. Yet when combined with ways to target your own creatures for zero mana, such as Shuko or Outrider en-Kor, you can go off and win the game on the spot. Due to its wording, Nadu's ability applies twice for each creature you control, not twice in total, so every creature you control will effectively yields two free cards, putting any lands onto the battlefield untapped.

Springheart Nantuko is Nadu's partner in crime. When it's on the battlefield, every land hit by Nadu creates a 1/1 Insect token, allowing you to keep the chain going and basically never run out of creatures to target. Bestowing it onto creatures can potentially provide more value as well, and several players at the Pro Tour plan to create infinite copies of Arboreal Grazer by combining a bestowed Arboreal Grazer with Amulet of Vigor and Simic Growth Chamber.

662201 662227

Energy cards get better the more you have of them. Running multiple energy sources allow you to spend your energy resources in the best way for the game at hand. While Galvanic Discharge is the most-played energy card, Wrath of the Skies, Tune the Narrative, Static Prison, Amped Raptor, Unstable Amulet, and Guide of Souls from Modern Horizons 3 are seeing considerable play as well.

Wrath of the Skies in particular provides Jeskai decks with a cheap sweeper effect that's devastating against any strategy relying on developing a big board state. It also lines up particularly well against Urza's Saga. As a result, Wrath of the Skies is an excellent answer to Bant Nadu. Moreover, curving Tune the Narrative into Wrath of the Skies means that you have enough energy for a massive sweeper, even as early as turn two or three.

Static Prison, Amped Raptor, Unstable Amulet, and Guide of Souls aren't generally seen in Jeskai decks, but they are regularly included in Boros Energy and Mardu Energy decks. Static Prison is also a popular sideboard card for Ruby Storm decks, allowing them to answer cards like Damping Sphere for a single mana.

Ral, Monsoon Mage Ruby Medallion

Ral, Monsoon Mage and Ruby Medallion are also high on the list of most-played Modern Horizons 3 cards. They are found in only one archetype—Ruby Storm—but they are essential four-of's in that deck. By combining these cost-reducing two-drops with cards Pyretic Ritual and Reckless Impulse, this combo strategy can win on turn three.

Ugin's Labyrinth Devourer of Destiny

The final set of cards that I'dlike to highlight are the various new Eldrazi cards. Devourer of Destiny and Ugin's Labyrinth can provide a land that taps for two mana, which you can sink into an enormous Kozilek's Command. These cards have enabled novel Eldrazi Tron, Gruul Eldrazi, and Temur Eldrazi builds. They all play a bit differently—Eldrazi Tron builds up loads of mana; Gruul Eldrazi exploits Through the Breach; and Temur Eldrazi is more aggressive in nature—but all of them showcase the power of the all-devouring Eldrazi.

Partly due to the prominence of Devourer of Destiny, Consign to Memory has become a very popular sideboard inclusion, as it can counter both an Eldrazi and its cast trigger. It also answers The One Ring or stifles your own sacrifice trigger from Phlage, Titan of Fire's Fury, so it has plenty of utility. In fact, it's the most-played sideboard card from Modern Horizons 3, showing that there many suitable answers to all the new threats. Modern looks completely fresh, and I'm excited to see which decks will end up on top of the standings at the end of the tournament!

The Road to Magic World Championship 30

At Pro Tour Modern Horizons 3, all competitors who clinch 36 match points and/or reach the Top 8 will receive an invitation to Magic World Championship 30—the crown jewel of Magic organized play. As we count down the weeks leading up to that tournament in late October, each week I'm taking a look at a great deck from a past Magic World Championship. After previously reviewing World Championships from 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007, let's go back in time to 2008.

At the 2008 World Championship, a total of 329 players from 57 countries came to Memphis to compete across Standard, Draft, and Extended. In the end, Antii Malin from Finland took the trophy with Faeries. Although his decklist and performance was excellent, I'd like to take the opportunity to highlight another Faeries decklist from the same Top 8—mine!

571402 Spellstutter Sprite

Faeries was the most-played Standard deck at the tournament, and it put five players in the Top 8. For a large part, the deck's power stemmed from Bitterblossom. The powerful enchantment would slowly create an army of Faeries that could chump block for days, turn Spellstutter Sprite into a hard counter, and receive a global boost from Scion of Oona.

Losing a life every turn would add up eventually, but you could always champion Bitterblossom with Mistbind Clique, removing it from the battlefield. Faeries rewarded pilots who had a good intuition for tempo, role assessment, and winning damage races in the air. Due to its prevalence at the 2008 World Championship, Bitterblossom was even placed on the initial Modern ban list when the format was incepted in 2011. However, after being unbanned in 2014, it never achieved the same heights as it once did in the 2008 Standard format.

The specific decklist I used to clinch Top 8 at the 2008 World Championship has various seemingly weird numbers, such as a singleton Ponder, singleton Broken Ambitions, and singleton Loxodon Warhammer. The reason is that I built my deck using the wisdom of nearly a hundred successful Faeries players before me. I collected their decklists, analyzed the data, and calculated the average. This resulted in an aggregate list based on how often players played four Cryptic Commands, five Islands, three Remove Soul, and so on. It worked out perfectly, proving that data analysis can result in success.

While I have left my Pro Tour competitor days behind me, I nowadays still love to sift through the data, providing aggregate decklists and metagame analysis on a weekly basis. This weekend, in my home country of The Netherlands, I'll even be at the newsdesk to provide all the numbers on the Modern metagame, decks, cards, matchups, and more. Don't miss the live action at, starting this Friday, June 28!

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