Diamonds in the Rough: Four Modern Cards Seeking Homes
Looking for cards to brew around? Something that is powerful but also hasn't found the right deck? You've come to the right place, as this week's article revolves around four of Modern's most interesting cards that have yet to find its footing. Find out which cards are waiting to be broken in the right shell!
Modern has over 11,000 cards in its card pool, and with that number of cards to choose from, it's inevitable that there are going to be cards that don't fit in anywhere despite how powerful and unique their effects might be. In this week's article, I wanted to introduce and go over the four cards that have inherently unique and powerful effects that seem primed to take over the format if they can find a home somewhere. You may know some – heck, you may know them all – but here's to hoping that this article can get your brewing juices flowing to come up with a deck that we haven't seen before!
1. Monastery Mentor
The poster child for "cards that have yet to find a home in Modern," Monastery Mentor has made waves in both Legacy and Vintage, formats that are much more powerful than Modern. Why hasn't Mentor taken off like it has in older formats, and what would it take for it to do so?
The effects that Legacy and Vintage have access to don't exist in Modern: namely, Modern lacks "free" cards like Gush, Force of Will, Daze, the zero-cost Moxen, and cantrips that provide consistency in Mentor decks' game plan. The combination of these cards in conjunction with Monastery Mentor protect Mentor, help advance the board via Monk tokens, and draw cards to keep the spells flowing. In other words, Monastery Mentor takes advantage of some of Magic's biggest design mistakes. In Modern where these mistakes have been culled or excluded (see: Gitaxian Probe), Mentor doesn't have as large of a pool of cards to take advantage.
This is all to say that Mentor has the power level to take over Modern if it were to one day get access to similar cards that Legacy and Vintage have. Cards such as Mox Amber show that Wizards is willing to print dangerous cards, and Monastery Mentor may be in the position to benefit down the line. Today, however, is not that day.
2. Day's Undoing
"Draw seven cards." There are few sentences that are as or more powerful than that in Magic, and Day's Undoing makes sure that the requirements for its effect are steep. Regardless, drawing seven cards is drawing seven cards, and at three mana, this card is waiting to be buh-roken. The question then becomes: What kind of deck would be able to take advantage of Day's Undoing's riders?
The first thought that comes to mind is that a deck that dumps its hand by turn three would benefit the most from Day's Undoing's effect. After all, drawing seven cards isn't impressive if you have to shuffle in a hand with five cards, and it's not just you that will be drawing seven cards – your opponent will be, as well. Then again, the second clause of Day's Undoing that ends the turn if it's yours also incentivizes the deck to somehow cast it on your opponent's turn, as allowing your opponent to untap with eight cards after the draw step isn't a position that you want to find yourself in.
What if we go off the wall and figure out a way to play a blue-black Day's Undoing deck that plays Leyline of Anticipation, Hive Mind, and One with Nothing. What, too cute? Okay, okay – you have a point.
3. Enduring Renewal
What a strange card to be legal in Modern – then again, we're talking Time Spiral so anything goes, I suppose.
Essentially, this four-mana enchantment allows zero-mana creatures to be looped for infinite cast- and death triggers. For all intents and purposes, the first line in this enchantment doesn't mean much: if a deck is going to abuse the effect of this card, it's not going to care whether or not the opponent knows what is in your hand or not. And for good reason – infinite triggers are a powerful output that's worth jumping through hoops for. EDH players are probably familiar with how powerful they can be, and cards such as Zulaport Cutthroat are staples in Commander where they play the role of game-ending finishers once combos are assembled.
What does Enduring Renewal need to see play? We have new additions to our pool of zero-mana creature with the printing of Walking Ballista and Hangarback Walker from Kaladesh, and we have cards that have similar effects to the Cutthroat we mentioned earlier. Unfortunately, Modern lacks cheap tutors for enchantments, and something like Academy Rector would be needed to provide consistency in an all-out combo deck that Enduring Renewal would power. Would a card of similar stature be one day printed? It's unlikely, but you never know!
4. Trash for Treasure
The baseline converted mana cost for reanimation spells in Modern is four (with exceptions, such as Goryo's Vengeance and Claim//Fame), and Trash for Treasure is a reanimation spell that costs only three mana. The rider that the card being reanimated must be an artifact and that an artifact be sacrificed as part of the cost isn't as big of a barrier in a format as deep as Modern; yet, Trash for Treasure has yet to find a home in a tiered strategy. What does the card need to find the right deck?
There are enough big artifact beaters to reanimate: Blightsteel Colossus, Sundering Titan, Wurmcoil Engine, and Noxious Gearhulk are some of the most powerful options that come to mind. Hangarback Walker and Chromatic Star provide value when sacrificed while also doubling as cards that can be played to advance the board and dig through the deck. With these cards serving as the core of the deck, it might seem strange that Trash for Treasure decks have yet to make any waves in the format. What could be holding this strategy back?
Two possible reasons for the lack of a breakthrough may be the constant presence of hate cards and the payoff being too fair. From Kolaghan's Command to Rest in Peace, Modern decks play cards that hate on artifacts and/or graveyards in main decks and sideboards. A deck that relies on Trash for Treasure gets hit hard by the number of relevant cards that opponents will board in against them and combined with the threats that other decks play to back up the hate, Trash for Treasure decks most likely fall behind too quickly under pressure. This brings me to the second reason why Trash for Treasure hasn't made a name for itself might be because of how fair its payoffs are: while cards such as Wurmcoil Engine are powerful, they're nowhere close to being game-ending. Reanimation targets that are only situationally great will naturally match up poorly against lethal combos and efficient cards that are good at all points of the game. As interesting of a card as Trash for Treasure may be, it's going to need a better and stronger payoff for the deck to find itself in tournaments.
That's all for this week – are there any other cards that you think I should have mentioned? Let me know in the comments below!
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