Top 15 Most Annoying Magic: The Gathering Modern Decks To Play Against

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Image: Wizards of the Coast/Illus. by Lucas Graciano

Modern is a fun and incredibly diverse Magic: The Gathering format but it's also a format with a lot of "unfair" strategies that can take out the fun of playing Magic, especially if you're playing against decks that use them. A lot of these decks are annoying because of the way they restrict you from playing cards or the way they can combo off in one turn. 

I know that there are some less popular Modern decks I missed to include here like Sun & Moon and Spirits but I don't think they're as annoying as the decks in this list. I ranked them based on experience playing against them and also based on what my Magic-playing friends think about them. If you agree or disagree with the way I ranked them, feel free to discuss in the comments section below. 

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So let's begin this countdown...Here are the Top 15 Most Annoying Modern decks.

  1. Hollow One

    Image: Wizards of the Coast

    First on this list is Hollow One, popular Modern Aggro archetype that Japanese pro player Ken Yukuhiro popularized at Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan. The deck uses various discard spells to help you "cheat out" Hollow One as early as Turn 1 or 2. If you're lucky, you might even bring out two or more copies of the 4/4 Artifact creature early, and that would be extremely hard to deal with for your opponent. 

    Just watch 28:42 part of the video below: 

    Sure, the deck relies on luck to gain an unfair advantage but with cards like Goblin Lore, Faithless Looting, and Burning Inquiry, it's not that hard to pull off. Burning Inquiry will also let opponents discard cards at random so that's annoying. 

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  2. Infect

    Image: Wizards of the Coast/ Art by Jung Park

    Who cares about your life total when the Infect player can just give you 10 poison? It's like playing with just half of your life! And that's super annoying! 

    Infect is another Modern aggro archetype that uses cards that give Poison counters like Blinkmoth Nexus, Blighted Agent, and Glistener Elf but don't be easily fooled with their small Power and Toughness. The deck runs multiple "pump" spells like Might of Old Krosa, Blossoming Defense, and Become Immense! 

    So if you're planning to burn or kill one of their Infect creatures, think again because those same cards can also protect them. The deck also runs Spellskite and sometimes, even countermagic like Spell Pierce to protect their infectious plan. Sure, it's not as powerful as it used to be thanks to the banning of Gitaxian Probe but it's still seeing some play in competitive events and it even Top 8'd Grand Prix Prague 2018! 

    Yep! Infect is definitely alive. There's no cure for it. 

  3. Burn

    Image: Wizards of the Coast/ Art by Warren Mahy

    Burn's strategy is simple: burn your opponent's life total to 0 as fast as possible with Goblin Guide and other small creatures with Haste plus cheap burn spells like this bad boy: 

    Anyone can pick up a burn deck and just play aggressively without having to think much. That's almost like playing Eddy Gordo in the fighting game Tekken. You can just smash buttons and you'll be able to pull off insane moves that will win you the game. Compared to other Modern decks, its failure rate is low and taking direct damage even if you have great board position is a pain in the ass, so that's why this deck is annoying. 

  4. Merfolk

    Image: Wizards of the Coast/ Art by Svetlin Velinov

    Merfolk a.k.a. "Fish" is definitely an annoying Tribal deck to play against thanks to annoying creatures (Master of the Pearl Trident & Lord of Atlantis) that help buff up other Merfolks and "prison-like" like Chalice of the Void and Spreading Seas to ruin your chances of killing its fishes. Like Spirits and Faeries (which I also considered to include on this list), Merfolks have creatures that can help the play some serious tempo advantage and protect your aggressive strategy like this annoying fish: 

    There are also cards like Merfolk Trickster and Harbinger of the Tides to tap opposing creatures so if you have a huge Tarmogoyf on the field, and they tap it so they can swing for damage, I'm sure you'd be pissed inside. 

    Aether Vial can also bring out the fishes early and at Instant Speed plus Cavern of Souls can protect the fishes from countermagic so it's like you're swimming in deep waters and you're just too powerless to stop the fishes. It can even get more annoying post-board when they can bring in their own countermagic like Spellpierce. 

  5. Scapeshift

    Image: Wizards of the Coast/ Art by Fred Fields

    Scapeshift is the ultimate ramp deck that focuses on bringing out multiple copies of Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle and a bunch of Mountains to deal massive amounts of damage every time a Mountain hits the battlefield. 

    Plus, it uses the card Scapeshift to help you get those lands and landfall triggers you need fast. 

    How could you possibly interact with lands pre-board? Sure, there are cards like Field of Ruin or Ghost Quarter to help get rid of Valakut but they can always just get another one. It's also hard to prevent the burn from Valakut triggers unless you have Leyline of Sanctity in play. Prismatic Omen also helps make all their lands Mountains so any land they play can deal 3 damage. Plus it runs a bunch of fetchlands so it can deal 6 damage when they play and fetch. Any deck that's tough to interact with is annoying to me. Some builds even board -n or main-deck Primeval Titan and if they resolve that, can get annoying because they can bring out and trigger Valakut fast when they play it. 

  6. Prison

    Image: Wizards of the Coast/ Art by Mark Zug

    There are different kinds of "Prison" decks in Modern but the ones we'll focus here are red-based Prison decks, not Mono White Prison or Lantern Control (Trust me, we'll get to that later). Mono Red or Red/White Prison use cards like Chalice of the Void, Ensnaring Bridge, Blood Moon, and various other sideboard Artifact cards and Leyline of the Void to disable your opponent from playing their spells or attacking their creatures. 

    A turn 1 Chalice of the Void is one of the most annoying openings in Modern. How can they do that? With Simian Spirit Guide, of course! That stops Path to Exile, Lightning Bolt, Inquisition of Kozilek and other important one-drops. 

    And if you manage to resolve any of your creatures, who cares? They can just imprison them with Ensnaring Bridge. Prison even main-decks four copies of Blood Moon so that could totally mess up a Tron player's lands or a Jeskai Control player's mana base. The deck also runs Desperate Ritual and Pyretic Ritual so they can play Planeswalkers early while you're holding a bunch of spells you can't play. 

  7. Bogles

    Image: Wizards of the Coast/ Art by Dave Allisop

    Bogles, a.k.a. Aura Hexproof is an Aura-heavy deck that uses Hexproof creatures like Slippery Bogle and Gladecover Scout so your opponents won't have any chance of killing them unless they play a mass removal spell like Wrath of God but even that could be useless thanks to Auras that can give their creatures Totem Armor, which protects their creatures from dying. 

    A turn 1 Slippery Bogle then Turn 3 Daybreak Coronet is super annoying especially if you don't have any Enchantment removal to weaken it. 

    Many players I know think Bogles is annoying because it doesn't much skill to play it. Its strategy doesn't have as much decision trees as other top-tier decks in Modern. Just play Slippery Bogle and play Auras to make it stronger and you're good to go! 

    The deck can even get more annoying when they board-in cards like Gaddock Teeg to protect their creatures from mass removal cards.

    No wonder that old Kithkin creature is worth $40 at the time of this writing. Just look at Teeg's mischievous face. That itself is annoying! 

  8. Taking Turns

    Image: Wizards of the Coast/ Art by Jon Foster

    Like a lot of Modern decks in this list, Taking Turns can stop you from having fun. Of course, the Taking Turns player is probably having fun taking extra turns thanks to cards like Time Warp, Part the Waterveil, and Temporal Mastery.

    If you think those are the only cards that can rob you of your turn, think again. They also run Gigadrowse, Cryptic Command, and Exhaustion to tap your stuff. 

    To help them go off, they play cards that help you and the Turbo Fog player draw extra cards each turn. Howling Mine and Dictate of Kruphix do the job. 

    Most of the time, this helps them more than you thanks to their extra turns. Sure, this plan could backfire but when they go off and take extra turns, all you can do is watch them do their magic and get pissed.

    Taking Turns is not considered top-tier in Modern but it can still win if it works. Daniel Wong even took the deck to Top 8 at Grand Prix Las Vegas 2017, and it's sweet to watch. Just imagine his opponent's reactions when he took those extra turns. 

    You can watch Daniel Wong pilot the quadruple-sleeved Taking Turns deck below: 

    Sure, he may have lost but Wong proved that fun but annoying decks like Taking Turns can succeed in Modern. 

  9. Ponza

    Image: Wizards of the Coast

    Ponza is the classic Land Destruction Modern deck that uses a bunch of cards that destroy well...lands! Cards like Stone Rain, Mwonvuli Acid-Moss, and Beast Within can slow you down big time, and it can get even more annoying if they can play one of those by turn 2 thanks to Utopia Sprawl and Mana Dorks like Birds of Paradise and Arbor Elf. Primal Command can also hurt your chances of playing your spells fast enough once they put your land or any other permanent on top of your deck. 

    Resolved small creatures? No problem! They have Anger of the Gods to deal with that. It also main-decks Blood Moon to slow down Tron and Valakut decks. 

    It's almost like Prison decks because of the way it restricts you from playing the spells you want but I ranked Ponza higher than that because I think getting mana-screwed big time is more annoying than being Chaliced of Void. 

  10. Death & Taxes

    Image: Wizards of the Coast/ Art by Jana Schirmer & Johannes Voss

    Death & Taxes (D&T) is another Modern deck that can totally ruin the fun of Magic. It's a deck loosely based on the Legacy deck of the same name. It's a white-based deck that plays small creatures that can control some elements on the battlefield. Its plan is to out-tempo the opponent by creating dead cards their hand and using taxes to slow down their strategy. Creatures like Leonin Arbiter and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben accomplish this nefarious plan. 

    Leonin Arbiter also provides a land destruction plan as it synergizes well with land-destroying lands like Tectonic Edge, Ghost Quarter, and Field of Ruin. 

    Death & Taxes' ability to out-tempo you while providing creatures to deal damage makes it one of the most annoying Modern decks ever. 

  11. Tron

    Modern Tron or "Urzatron", particularly the green-based kind, is a powerful deck that uses Urza's Mine, Urza's Powerplant, and Urza's Tower to create insane mana advantage and enable the Tron player to cast big cards like Karn Liberated or Ugin, The Spirit Dragon as early as Turn 3. Being able to make Tron "online" by turn 3 is called "Natural Tron" and it's so annoying when you can't do anything against a Turn-3 Karn Liberated. 

    The insane amount of mana advantage when you get Tron online is just unfair. Sure, there are land destruction cards that could ruin their plan but sometimes, you don't get the answers soon enough. And even if you manage to slow them down by destroying one of their Tron pieces, they could reach a point when they already have enough lands for them to cast their big Eldrazi creatures like Ulamog, a huge Walking Ballista, or Ugin. 

    Cards like Sylvan Scrying, Expedition Map, and Ancient Stirrings can help the Tron player get the Urza's land they need early. 

    Thanks to its versatility, consistency, and power, Tron is considered one of the most powerful decks in Modern, but it's also one of the most annoying to play against. 

  12. 8-Rack

    Image: Wizards of the Coast/Illus. by Richard Thomas

    Being able to cast your spells is fun but discarding them isn't. That's the ultimate plan of the classic 8-Rack. The card uses is loaded with a bunch of discard spells like Thoughtseize, Inquisition of Kozilek, and Raven's Crime to ruin your game plan before you can cast them. The deck uses The Rack to deal damage each turn. 

    Shrieking Affliction acts as an additional copy of The Rack to give you more damage each turn for having 0 or few cards in your hand. Even if you manage to resolve creatures, you won't be able to attack them thanks to their Ensnaring Bridge. 

    The deck also runs Liliana of the Veil as an additional means to make opponents discard. I'd also include Smallpox decks in this list but since 8-Rack has a similar annoying strategy, I chose to include this instead. Smallpox decks don't usually run The Rack, so this one made it. Just look at the face of that doll in The Rack's artwork. Just looking at it would make you want to flip a table. 

  13. Storm

    You know a Modern deck is annoying if the game feels more like a gimmicky sideshow rather than an actual game. That's how it feels like when you're playing against a Storm player. 

    Storm or "Gifts Storm" is a combo deck that wins by casting tons of spells in one turn, followed by Grapeshot or Empty the Warrens. They pull this off by playing a lot of cheap spells that replace themselves (cantrips) and cards that make mana like Desperate Ritual, Pyretic Ritual, and Manamorphose. 

    Sometimes, a Storm player can take more than 5 minutes to pull off their combo in one turn and all you can do is watch them count their mana and Storm count before they can unleash their win condition. And because Storm lets you copy the spell multiple times, Grapeshot and Empty of the Warrens are extremely difficult to counter. 

    I remember feeling annoyed when I played against a Storm player at a Grand Prix event a few years ago, and it drained the fun out of me. 

    But if you think this combo Modern deck is annoying, just wait for the next one...

  14. Krark-Clan Ironworks Combo

    Image: Wizards of the Coast/ Art by Tim Hildebrandt

    UPDATE: Praise our Wizards of the Coast overlords! KCI has been banned! Popularized by Matt Nass when he won Grand Prix Hartford 2018 with it, Krark-Clan Ironworks Combo or simply "KCI" is an Artifact-heavy combo deck that uses a lot of cheap artifacts like Mox Opal, Chromatic Sphere, and Chromatic Star to help fuel the engine of this deck, Krark-Clan Ironworks.

     It's even annoying for the player using the deck because of its complicated strategy, and often times, players make misplays because of it. Unlike Burn, you can't just pick this deck up and expect to play smoothly with it if you've never played it before. There's a lot of triggers and sequencing of abilities that you need to do to combo off. The card wins with Pyrite Spellbomb after it makes a lot of mana with Krark-Clan Ironworks, Scrap Trawler, and other artifacts. 

    It's definitely one of the most annoying decks to play against because it's so hard to interact with once they go off. Even if you have Artifact-hate spells, they can just bring it back with Scrap Trawler or Myr Retriever. Some players even called to ban a key piece of the deck from Modern because of its insanity. Like Storm, sometimes all you can do is just sit down and watch them play Magic as if it's a one-player campaign. 

  15. Lantern Control

    Image: Wizards of the Coast/ Art by Tim Hildebrandt

    And the #1 Most Annoying Modern Deck to Play Against goes to...

    Lantern Control! 

    Surprised? Of course not! If you are, you've probably never played against it or you've probably never seen it in action. This is the kind of deck that makes you want to quit Magic

    Lantern Control combines Lantern of Insight, "millrocks", and Ensnaring Bridge to lock your opponent from playing the game of Magic. Playing against blue-based Control decks is annoying but Lantern Control is in another level. Who needs Counterspells when they can just control what you draw and prevent you from doing anything at all? Even if you have Artifact-hate cards to disrupt their control power on the board, you would need some extra luck to draw it before they can lock you up. 

    Luis Salvatto won Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan piloting this extremely annoying deck: 

     

    So what do you think is the most annoying Modern deck? What other Modern decks do you find annoying? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.