Four Underrated Sideboards for the Current Modern Meta
- Hans Davidson
Everyone knows Stony Silence and Rest in Peace, but how about the hard hitters that don't see as much play in players' sideboards? Hans has decided to highlight four cards that, despite their effectiveness against the current meta, don't see enough play in sideboards.
8th Edition is filled to the brim with cards that are throwbacks to a time when Magic cards weren't necessarily designed or developed with balance in mind, and Worship certainly qualifies as one of them. The card is a classic case of "Oops, I win" depending on your opponent's deck, similar to the ilk of Blood Moon, Choke, and a certain artifact that will get a nod later in this article. Worship is a great card to play in creature decks and against decks that don't have an easy way of removing enchantments and/or the creatures on your board. For example, plopping down a Worship against Humans makes the game incredibly more difficult for them to win. Now the Humans deck has to dig for the Knight of Autumn to deal with Worship, and barring that, the advantage has swung favorably in your direction.
While situational, Worship can be great against Dredge as well. The biggest issue with the game plan of relying on a Worship to carry you to victory is that Dredge has a couple of outs – they can cast a large Conflagrate to take out your board if your creatures are small enough or outright destroy Worship with an Assassin's Trophy. Thankfully, the more recent builds of Dredge don't play Collective Brutality in the 75, so they can't drain the last two points of your life – something that Worship doesn't protect the player from.
2. Hallowed Burial
With graveyards in Modern functioning more as a second hand rather than a place where cards stay for good, destroying creatures is oftentimes not good enough when dealing with the opponents' threats. This is why cards such as Settle the Wreckage can be so powerful, because once a card is exiled, it is for the most part going to permanently remain in exile. Another way to deal with a board full of creatures, however, is to send them right back into the library, and Hallowed Burial does just that. It's not a Terminus, which can be cast for one mana if its Miracle condition is met, but some decks simply don't have the luxury of relying on Jace, the Mind Sculptor to set up the discount Terminus, which otherwise costs six mana.
Hallowed Burial pulls its weight against Dredge, sending the opponents' creatures back into the library where they needed to be dredged back out again, but it can also be a great card against something like Bogles, as well. The hexproof clause of Bogles' creature suite makes targeted removal a moot point, and Hallowed Burial is another "sweeper" to deal with cards like Slipper Bogle. Against Humans, the card is an insurance against Meddling Mage – by diversifying the sweeper package, a deck playing Hallowed Burial can make sure that one of the sweepers will be castable in order to stabilize the board.
3. Yixlid Jailer
The designers of Future Sight went out of their way to create as many unique, never-seen-before card effects as possible, and Yixlid Jailer certainly ranks as one of them. By removing all abilities of cards in graveyards, the 2/1 zombie wizard shuts down the recursion effects of cards such as Narcomoeba and Prized Amalgam as well as doing away with the flashback ability of Lingering Souls and Faithless Looting. Going back to the point about graveyards in Modern functioning as a second hand, doing away with the powerful emphasis graveyards have in the format makes Yixlid Jailer a little-known yet effective sideboard card.
The rise of Arclight Phoenix decks has once again stoked the interest of players to up their graveyard hate – perhaps this little oddity out of Future Sight could be the Chord of Calling target that your sideboard needed!
4. Ensnaring Bridge
Our final card Ensnaring Bridge is a card that is loved – and hated – by many for turning games of Magic into non-games. Decks that run Ensnaring Bridge are generally prison decks such as Lantern that aim to limit the range of meaningful game actions that you can take until they can win decisively with a unanswered win-con. However, looking at Ensnaring Bridge solely as a card for prison decks is limiting the potential of the card and how it can fit into the sideboards of the general meta. Ensnaring Bridge, because it is so powerful, can be used by your deck to stymie the plans of your opponents' deck that isn't built to play with it. Because Ensnaring Bridge's ability is dependent on the number of cards in your hand, as long as you carefully take that into account, you can play it in a way that allows you to attack on your turn (with a 1/1 Lingering Souls token, for example) while preventing your opponent from doing likewise. With the emphasis of the combat phase in Modern's current meta, Ensnaring Bridge could be a card that you bring in just because it's a card that your opponent did not consider facing in post-sideboard games!
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