Welcome to Metagame Monthly! In this series, we'll look at the hottest decks in various formats to start each month. We'll let you know what decks are rising, falling, and staying strong from the previous month.
We also rank each deck on a scale of S-F to help trend where things stand over time.
The very best decks in the format. Will almost always appear in the Top 8 of a tournament
Solid decks that have strong matchups against most decks but have weaknesses that can be exploited or a lower win rate than S-tier decks
Decks at the edges of the winner's circle. Can place highly given the right meta shift or matchups
It's gonna take a lot of skill and a little luck to Top 8, but you could pull it off. Decks that could compete at an FNM level but not generally good enough against the meta
Poor matchups against most of the field. Our "jank" lists and homebrews often fall here
Don't play these decks
After reading, you'll be primed for competitive play and just might find yourself in one of the top spots of your next tournament!
Modern continues to be a diverse format with almost any deck capable of winning an event. While the major players have remained strong, we are seeing some changes in how they are constructed. Both Izzet Murktide and 4c Control continue to diverge from a stock build to a few different identities.
Meanwhile, the Cascade duo of Living End and Rhinos remains incredibly hard to predict, as always. These decks are keeping others honest, but their variable success in big tournaments makes them an unpredictable choice.
After a weekend taking up nearly half the Top 8 spots in MTGO Challenges, Hammer Time has fallen off again. Amulet, Yawg, and E-Tron are also hanging around, consistently nabbing a spot or two in various winner's brackets.
We also have one deck that seems particularly poised for success against the current shifts in the meta.
Without further ado, let's dive into the Modern metagame for August 2022.
Note: While we do look at a lot of decks, we can't cover everything. If a deck isn't mentioned, it likely either hasn't changed, is performing the same, or is a fringe deck that hasn't caught on. It's also worth noting that any deck can perform well in the hands of an experienced pilot.
This deck has shifted in a big way since the printing of Ledger Shredder in New Capenna. While it took some time for skeptical players to test the bird advisor, Shredder has firmly cemented itself in this deck.
In fact, many pilots are moving away from the Dragon's Rage Channeler plan entirely. Doing so sacrifices a bit of your tempo advantage. However, Shredder is a threat that grows quickly and can win games on its own. It also gives you an extra threat that doesn't rely on the graveyard (despite filling it).
Still, some players prefer the tempo-focused build with a split of both DRC and Shredder. It's unclear which version is better, though this will likely be determined in time.
Both builds of Izzet Murktide are capable of dismantling many decks in the format. Though it can have a tough time with 4c Omnath and fast combo decks, this is a solid call for a broad field. Perhaps that's why it consistently has the greatest meta share at almost every Modern tournament.
August Rank: S
It's hard to find a Modern tournament without a four-color deck in the Top 8---many times even the Top 4. This is a premier deck in the format and continues to dominate thanks to the sheer power of its cards and its ability to adapt as the meta changes.
There are several versions of this deck floating around right now, including the hard control build with Counterspell, one focused on elementals and Risen Reef, and a Vivien Combo list. While all three play slightly differently and are built with different cards, the core is the same. Likewise, the flexibility and manabase tend to be the same.
One hot point is a tug-of-war between Eladamari's Call and Transverse the Ulvenwald. While the former is more consistent, the latter utilizes Mishra's Bauble to enable Delerium consistently. It has also started running Unholy Heat again, perhaps the cleanest removal spell in all of Modern.
One thing to keep in mind is the time required to pilot this deck. If you're playing in paper, this should be a major consideration. 4c goes to time quite frequently, which can result in a lot of draws if you aren't prepared.
Regardless of which build you pick up, 4c is well positioned to take down any Modern tournament. If you want to play the best deck and don't like Murktide, this is an equally strong choice.
August Rank: S
Living End has seemingly locked up its spot as the best Cascade deck in Modern for the time being. It has outperformed the Rhinos build for several weeks on its way to a multitude of Top 8 finishes in MTGO challenges and paper tournaments.
Going all-in on Combo while 4c Omnath leans into a more removal-heavy build rather than counters is a big advantage. Meanwhile, Izzet Murktide slowing down with Ledger Shredder over DRC gives Living End more time to set up.
Nothing has really changed for this deck from a build standpoint. Though the debate between Grief vs. no Grief continues, it appears the versions with the pitch elemental are stronger based on recent results.
While abundant graveyard hate remains a problem for Living End, this deck has been able to fight through it consistently enough to keep putting up results.
August Rank: S
Unlike its Cascade sibling, Crashcade has had a tough run over the past few weeks. The meta simply isn't friendly to its midrange plan right now. Although two 4/4 creatures on turn three will never be bad, it simply is the weaker of two Cascade decks in this meta.
Rhinos' time for vengeance will come. However, it all depends on what Murktide and 4c do. With Ledger Shredder able to block a rhino after just two Connive triggers and 4c running Unholy Heat once again, it's probably best to steer clear for the time being.
August Rank: C
Earlier in July, we saw two weekends completely dominated by Hammer Time. The deck placed 2-5 in the Top 8 of one MTGO Challenge (7/10/22) while taking down the 7/17/22 Challenge and nabbing third place in the process.
However, the next week, we saw one lonely copy in 10th place with no others to be seen.
Hammer Time is a bit of a mystery right now as it seeks a solid identity in the wake of Lurrus' banning. There doesn't seem to be a consensus on the right build, despite a shift towards The Reality Chip. We haven't seen much innovation from this list since Giver of Runes became stock earlier this year.
However, it feels like Hammer Time is on the brink of a resurgence. If it can find the spark it lost when Lurrus died, this deck could come right back to being one of Modern's premier builds. It will be interesting to see how players innovate over the next few months until someone finds something that works.
Likewise, with both Dominaria United and The Brother's War expected to be artifact-heavy sets, Hammer Time could have its key piece coming in a short while.
In the meantime, a turn-two win is always a threat. While Hammer Time hasn't perfected its build yet, don't count this deck out.
August Rank: B (or maybe the best deck ever? depends on the weekend)
This deck is in a bit of a weird place. It has a fairly strong matchup against Izzet Murktide. However, it struggles against 4c. This makes your results very dependent on your matchups. Although this is always something to consider, it is especially impactful for Yawgmoth.
While this deck can combo off with consistency, its backup plan is pretty weak. A bunch of dorks and undying creatures won't be enough to pull out the game if your opponent can disrupt your original plan.
Still, in the hands of an experienced pilot, Yawgmoth is capable of putting up some strong performances. This probably isn't the time to pick up the deck if you haven't played it before. However, it could be a decent choice if you know what you're doing and want to bring something different to an RCQ or big tournament.
August Rank: C
Burn is always capable of taking a tournament by surprise. Right now, it is capable of beating the two best decks in the format with consistency. Both Murktide and 4c are vulnerable, with the latter being a great matchup for the burn player.
With Rhinos on the downswing and Hammer Time also remaining absent, that's another point in the deck's favor. Add in the fact that relatively few decks are packing dedicated hate for Burn as they hedge against other matchups and you've got a recipe for success.
It's interesting that we haven't seen more high finishes from Burn. Perhaps not enough people are playing it to claim those Top 8 spots.
Everything on paper points to Burn being strong against the meta right now. Don't be surprised to see it do well in the next few weeks.
August Rank: B (though could be higher or lower depending on meta shifts)
Decks to Watch
While the above decks make up most of the Modern meta right now, there are a few interesting lists to point out. This month, we're looking at an old tier deck that is coming back to life after being hit by the Lurrus ban as well as a super fun archetype that never seems to perform as well as it should.
Grixis Death's Shadow (GDS)
This deck fell off the map when Lurrus was banned. Most players pivoted to Izzet Murktide. Others chose to find something else entirely.
However, thanks to Ledger Shredder being added as a premier threat, GDS is finding its legs again. The most popular list has found a new companion in the form of Jengatha, the Wellspring.
The build-around restriction is easy thanks to creatures like Ragavan, Kroxa, DRC, and Death's Shadow. Although Jengatha means no Counterspell, this deck benefits from Down in the Loch as well as a huge suite of removal.
It's still unclear if it is strong enough to contend with the biggest meta players without the resilience provided by Lurrus. However, players are hopping back on the GDS train and that means it's only a matter of time until someone Top 8s with it.
August Rank: C
Temur (or 4c) Creativity
There has been lots of buzz about a new list centered on Indomitable Creativity shared by Gabriel Nassif (aka Yellowhat). It shifts away from the control-focused Creativity builds we've seen in the past in favor of a faster, more linear plan.
It ramps hard with four copies of Explore and Fable of the Mirror Breaker. The latter also lets you sift through your library to find the right combo pieces. You can drop two copies of Archon of Cruelty as soon as turn four thanks to this plan.
Although this deck does lack some consistency, it is fun to play and seems stronger than its 4c cousin. It will be interesting to see how players continue to innovate and whether this deck can become a staple of the meta.
August Rank: D
What do you think of Modern right now? What deck will you be bringing to an RCQ this August? Let us know in the comments below or on social media!
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