Mastering the Modern: Unlocking the Power of the Modern MTG Format

July 17, 2023 · Usair Arshad
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Gather 'round, planeswalkers! Today we're diving headfirst into one of the most popular formats in Magic: The Gathering - modern. For those just starting on their magical journey, modern is a constructed format that allows cards printed in standard sets from the 8th Edition onward. So we're talking about some sweet spells and creatures from the last 15 years or so.


The power level of modern is off the charts compared to standard. After all, R&D has really stepped up their game over the years (even if they occasionally print a Smuggler's Copter). Some of the strongest cards and strategies from Magic's history are legal in the format. We're talking lightning-fast aggro, oppressive control, graveyard shenanigans, ridiculous combos - you name it. So strap in friends, because we're about to take a tour through the most busted cards you can sleeve up in a modern deck. Get ready for Tarmogoyfs, Snapcaster beatdowns, turn three Karn Liberated, and plenty of good old-fashioned burn to the face. This ain't your Scholar of the Ages standard deck, that's for sure! modern mtg format Let's jump right in, shall we?



Best Creatures in Modern MTG Format


When it comes to turning creatures sideways, these bad boys get the job done. Whether it's through efficiency, flexibility, card advantage, or just smashing face, these modern all-stars will be the MVPs of your deck.



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This lean, green, fighting machine will quickly become your opponent's worst nightmare. Starting as a dinky 0/1, Mr. Goyf rapidly grows into a format menace thanks to his unique ability to scale his power and toughness based on card types in graveyards. With fetch lands, removal, and card draw flying around, Goyf can easily become a 4/5 or 5/6 beater by turn 3. Your opponent will need to chump block for days or race to an answer before Goyf goes wild. Just be careful not to feed him too many instants and sorceries, or he'll get hit with an abrupt decay! Sleeve your growing Goyf in custom sleeve art to show your opponent the nightmare is coming!


Snapcaster Mage 

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Need to reuse that sweet Mana Leak sitting snugly in your graveyard? Look no further than Snapcaster, the flashiest wizard around. With his signature ability to flashback spells for a single turn, Snapcaster grants you insane flexibility and versatility. Leave up countermagic, then ambush your opponent with a surprise flashed back Cryptic Command. Or get extra value from your Lightning Bolts and Path to Exiles. Snapcaster enables all kinds of shenanigans, and with a 2/1 body attached, he can even beat down as an added bonus. Your opponent will be snapping their cards in frustration after getting blown out by the one and only Snapcaster Mage.


Dark Confidant

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If card advantage is what you seek, look no further than the mysterious Dark Confidant. With his signature ability to reveal the top card of your library and let you draw it at the cost of some life, Bob (as his friends call him) provides insane value over time. Sure, you may hit the occasional painful land or removal spell to the dome, but with Bob in play, you'll rocket through your deck and gain a key advantage. Just be sure to pack some incidental life gain in case Bob's curiosity gets the best of him. Your opponents will be confessing their undying hatred as Bob steadily feeds you more gas.



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At first glance Spellskite doesn't seem like much - just a simple 0/4 artifact creature for 2 mana. But don't be fooled! With his ability to change any spell or ability's target to himself, Spellskite provides invaluable protection and disruption. Did your opponent just destroy your key creature? Not anymore! Is a fatal burn spell coming at your face? Spellskite's got you covered. He even stops Splinter Twin dead in its tracks. Sure, Spellskite requires sacrificing precious mana to activate his ability, but it's a small price to pay to keep your team safe. Your opponents will be cursing as their carefully laid plans are skited away.


Delver of Secrets

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Looking to apply early pressure? Look no further than Delver, the peskiest insect around. He starts as a humble 1/1 for one mana but quickly transforms into a flying 3/2 once you play your first instant or sorcery. With cheap cantrips and removal, flipping Delver is easy, letting him get busy attacking for huge chunks of damage every turn. Your opponent will be on the back foot immediately, forced to deal with the relentless insect beating. Even better, Delver enables all kinds of tempo shenanigans, letting you leave up countermagic or removal. Your opponent won't know what hit them after Delver flies in, flips, and seals the game in just a few turns.


Slingin' Spells in Modern MTG Format


What's a planeswalker without their trusty spells? These magical instants and sorceries pack a serious punch, providing removal, card flow, and critical disruption to lock up games. Let's dive into the best magical missiles modern has to offer.


Lightning Bolt

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No surprise here - good ol' Lightning Bolt still reigns supreme as the premier removal spell. For the low cost of a single red mana, Bolt deals a swift three damage to any target. Is your opponent's Goblin Guide annoying you? Bolt it. Need to finish your opponent quickly? Bolt their face. With incredible flexibility and efficiency, this card advantage-free removal spell enables all kinds of aggression and control. Virtually every red deck plays the full four copies thanks to Bolt's strength. Just beware of the occasional Spellskite redirecting your Bolts astray. Your opponent will be bolting for the door after you aim this timeless classic their way.


Serum Visions

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When it comes to smooth drawing, Serum Visions is the most played cantrip in modern. For just a single blue mana, it lets you dig two cards deep and then cherry-pick the best card to draw the next turn. Setting up the perfect card order? Scry away chaff you don't need? Serum Visions does it all. Fueling delve and prowess is just gravy. The only downside is not impacting the board right away, but the long-term consistency and card quality is so worth it. For control and combo decks especially, Serum Visions is the perfect splash of card velocity. Your opponents will be visions of the future where you consistently overpower them thanks to your precise card filtering. Store your perfectly filtered deck in worthy deck boxes. Keep your velocity protected!


Path to Exile

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When creature removal is a must, Path to Exile gets the job a cost. For just a single white mana, Path instantly exiles any problematic creature. Permanently gone! But you also ramp your opponent with a basic land drop. Usually worth it to handle their Tarmogoyf or Titan, but giving them extra mana can enable some nasty surprises. Still, the powerful, unconditional creature exile makes Path a staple in white decks. Your opponent will be patting themselves on the back as you ramp them, only to path their best creature right to the exile zone.



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Need to stall for time or stop a key spell? Bring the beats back to your hand with Remand. For two blue mana, you counter that spell, then your opponent draws a fresh card. So Remand delays rather than fully stop spells, letting you leave mana up for other tricks or wait until you can stop the spell for good. Plus that sweet card draw lets you dig for an answer. Combo decks especially love Remand to set up their big finishers. Control mages will drive opponents mad as they remand key spells over and over again. Your opponent will be demanding better countermagic after you dunk their bomb with a Remand.


Cryptic Command

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Now here's a spell with some flex! Cryptic Command costs a hefty four mana but provides incredible versatility with its choices to counter a spell, tap all creatures, draw a card, or bounce a permanent. With so many potential uses in one card, Cryptic enables all kinds of shenanigans. Counter that lethal attack and tap their team? You got it. Bounce a permanent and draw deeper? Easy peasy. Cryptic is the ultimate multi-purpose tool for control experts. Your opponents will be cryptically trying to play around the card, unsure which mode you'll pick to quash their plans. For maximum Command power, combine with Snapcaster Mage for an encore performance!



Artifacts and Enchantments Galore in Modern MTG Format


These magical objects form crucial engines for all kinds of strategies. From cheating creatures into play to wiping boards to hosers, these artifacts and enchantments will supercharge your deck.


AEther Vial

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Like sneaking action figures into class, AEther Vial lets you cheat creatures into play. This artifact lets you exile a creature card and put a charge counter on AEther Vial. Then during your main phases, you can zap creatures directly onto the battlefield if their mana cost matches the Vial's counters! Completely bypassing mana costs to flood the board with threats is incredibly powerful. Plus Vial dodges countermagic, being activated from your hand. Your opponents will beveling in despair as you endlessly vomit creatures into play while holding up disruption.


Engineered Explosives

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When creature decks clog up the board, Engineered Explosives are there to clean the house. For the low cost of XX mana, you can destroy each nonland permanent with converted mana cost X or less when Explosives enters the battlefield or is activated. Wow! With fetch lands enabling any color of mana, you can tune Explosives to wipe small swarms of creatures or snipe a single bigger threat. The modular flexibility makes Explosives a versatile sweeper against go-wide and go-big strategies alike. Your opponents will be exploding with rage as you repeatedly board-wipe them.


Chalice of the Void

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Want to lock your opponent out of their cheapest spells? Chalice has you covered. This artifact forces your opponent to pay X more to cast a spell with that mana cost, where X is the number of counters on Chalice. Turn 1 Chalice on 1 mana? Goodbye, annoying one-drops! Chalice on 2 to stop removal spells? You got it! The disruptive power completely hoses decks relying on low-curve spells. Affinity decks especially love Chalice to shut down opposing interaction. Your opponent will be voided of all hope as they stare down a resolved Chalice neutralizing their main deck.


Blood Moon

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Nothing feels worse than having your lands inexplicably turned into mountains by Blood Moon. This nasty enchantment turns all nonbasic lands into basic mountains, shutting off any colors those lands could produce before. Decks relying heavily on nonbasics like fetch lands are devastated under a Blood Moon lock. Splashing multiple colors? Not anymore! Blood Moon enables some explosive starts by red aggressive decks that just run basic mountains. Your opponent will be blood mooning about the game loss as their carefully tuned mana base gets blown out.




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When you need a massive life-linking threat to dominate combat, Batterskull brings the beats. This living artifact equips for a hefty 5 mana but then serves up a super sizable 4/4 vigilance lifelink menace. Let's break that down: it attacks relentlessly with vigilance, sustains you with lifelink, and must be blocked by multiple creatures. That's a whole lot of upside! The lifelink especially helps race other aggro and burn decks. If Batterskull ever goes to the graveyard, just pay 3 mana to bounce and re-equip it. Your opponents will be battled and skull dragooned by this resilient combat machine. Showcase your resilient threats on custom tabletops. Display your combat dominance in style!


Pimp My Mana Base in Modern MTG Format


Now for the unglamorous heroes that energize our explosive plays - lands! These all-star utility lands provide essential fixing, speed, and disruption for our winning game plan.


Fetch Lands

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The OG fetch lands like Scalding Tarn and Polluted Delta form the core of every great modern mana base. Paying 1 life to grab any land from your deck is just insanely good color fixing. Fuel graveyard strategies? Check. Fix your colors perfectly? You know it. Enable landfall? But of course! Their only downside is shuffling a lot, a small price for raw consistency and speed. Any deck wanting reliable early plays runs a full set of fetches. Your opponent will be fetching for an answer as you smoothly curve out each turn.


Shock Lands

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The classic Ravnica shock lands like Steam Vents and Overgrown Tomb provides crucial untapped duals for the early game. Paying 2 life to enter untapped is trivial compared to getting your colors online fast. Shock lands combine seamlessly with fetch lands, giving virtually perfect mana right from turn 1. The life loss piles up quickly against aggressive decks, but ensuring tempo is often worth the payoff. Your opponents will be shocked by your stellar mana curve out the gate thanks to these staple duals.


Creeping Tar Pit

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When it comes time to finish off opponents, Creeping Tar Pit delivers the unblockable beats! This land enters tapped but hides a powerful mainland with flying and unblockable. Late game you can animate Tar Pit as a 3/2 threat that freely swings overhead, making it incredibly hard to stop. Especially nasty alongside discard spells or counterspells to force through the unblockable damage! Your opponent will be creeping for a solution as the tar pit swallows their life totally whole. Mouse over opponents with unblockable style on custom mousepads. Swallow life totals in style!



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When you need some extra beaters, Mutavault turns your land base into an army. This manland turns into a 2/2 creature for just 1 mana. On its own, that's a decent threat, but in tribal decks Mutavault gets ridiculous. Suddenly your team becomes a swam of 3/3s or 4/4s with exalted triggers! Mutavault enables lethal all-in attacks, and your opponent has to respect its blocking too. Just beware of getting blown out by Supreme Verdict. Your opponent will be muttering in frustration as their army gets overwhelmed by your beefy mainland squad.


Field of Ruin

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Nothing feels better than destroying your opponent's pesky utility land with Field of Ruin. This land enters tapped but hides a powerful activated ability. For 2 mana you can sacrifice Field of Ruin to destroy any land your opponent controls! Being able to answer problematic lands like Mutavault, Creeping Tar Pit, or Celestial Colonnade at instant speed is huge. You set your opponent back while thinning your own deck of lands. The fact that it cantrips by grabbing you a basic land is just icing on the cake! Your opponent will be ruined when you obliterate their best land at a pivotal moment.


Final Thoughts

And that's a wrap, planeswalkers! We've covered some of the most powerful spells, creatures, lands, and magical objects defining the modern mtg format metagame. From Tarmogoyf beats to Cryptic Command tricks, these cards enable all kinds of explosive, unfair shenanigans that will have your opponents crying out for a banhammer. Now that you know what sweet cards to play, it's time to sleeve up a shiny new modern deck and start brewing.


Just make sure you have a stylish playmat to represent! Nothing amps up the flavor like having cool custom art under your cards. We at Your Playmat offer tons of awesome designs so you can play in style. Snag an exclusive planeswalker mat, or design your own featuring your favorite art and colors! Don't forget sweet accessories like deck boxes and sleeves too. If you're gonna wreck your face in modern mtg format, do it with sweet gear!


Now get out there and start brewing the next great modern mtg archetype. Just try not to ruin the format for the rest of us - I'm still recovering from Hogaak summer over here! But careful tinkering is what makes magic great. You never know what crazy combo could take down the next GP. I believe in you, brewmaster! Go make magic history with style thanks to Your Playmat.