My Guilds of Ravnica Picks for Modern
We are right at the start of Guilds of Ravnica. Everyone is brewing new Standard decks while prices are going up and down. In this article, Rone tries to predict which cards are Modern material. Let's jump into it.
What a time to be alive! New set, new cards, new guild mechanics, and more importantly: reprints for Modern. Before anyone mentions it, shock lands are the sweetest thing Guilds of Ravnica brings to the Modern table, keeping the price in check and also making new players more eager to jump into the format.
Aside from those, I have my picks for the cards that should see play in Modern, at least in the next couple weeks.
First, there are some cards that fall into the category of Modern "wannabes"; they have the potential to be played in very specific decklists, so that means their impact will be minimal to non-existent.
Of course, they might end up surprising us all, but the card quality in Modern is high and it's not likely that these will be knocking our socks off.
Humans is a good example. There are a couple of new contenders that I want to mention briefly, Plaguecrafter and Tajic, Legion's Edge. Both are three drops with interesting abilities, but the main issue is their color combination.
Plaguecrafter is very effective against planeswalkers like Liliana of the Veil, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, or Teferi, Hero of Dominaria but the black mana requirement and the card's CMC is quite crowded. With the new addition of Militia Bugler and all-time favorites Mantis Raider and Reflector Mage both competing with Plaguecrafter, this makes it difficult to justify the addition.
Tajic is a 3/2 with haste and the new Boros ability mentor that can get first strike if needed, but he costs three mana. He also beats board sweepers based on damage like Pyroclasm and Anger of the Gods. Sadly for him, Terminus and Supreme Verdict are the mass removal seen most often, so my guess is that neither of them will see play on the main board but occasionally they could come from the sideboard against certain matchups.
Deafening Clarion says choose one or both, either deal 3 damage to each creature or your own creatures gain lifelink. It's pretty hard to take advantage of this card, but in Sun and Moon, the White Red Prison deck popularized by Todd Stevens, it could replace Anger of the Gods as it can give your Gideon planeswalkers lifelink. Moreover, paying 1WR is a lot easier than 1RR in a deck full of basic plains.
|2Blood Crypt||4Bloodghast||4Cathartic Reunion|
|3Bloodstained Mire||2Golgari Thug||3Conflagrate|
|1City of Brass||4Narcomoeba||4Creeping Chill|
|4Copperline Gorge||4Prized Amalgam||4Faithless Looting|
|1Gemstone Mine||4Stinkweed Imp||4Life from the Loam|
|3Ancient Grudge||2Darkblast||3Lightning Axe|
I am no Dredge expert but after playing against this list, I can assure the incremental damage that basically Lightning Helixes your opponent's face will greatly improve the strategy which currently finds itself overshadowed by Hollow One and Bridgevine.
Finally, before moving on to the highlights of the set, a card that almost no one has mentioned in other reviews I've read is Risk Factor. Personally, I'm loving it in the Standard Mono Red deck and it has some serious potential in Modern.
At first glance, it looks very reminiscent of Browbeat, the type of card that allows your opponent to either choose to take the damage or draw 3 cards. But folks, Risk Factor is an instant and what's more important, it has jump-start, so you can replay it by discarding an extra land.
Burn could easily make room for a couple of copies moving forward in order to win those close matchups where they tend to get flooded. Maybe I'm mistaken, but this card might be the sleeper of the set.
Suitable decks: Mono Green Stompy, Bushwacker Zoo, Elves Aggro.
Verdict: playable, future Modern Staple.
Starting with another card I am also excited about, Pelt Collector is a new twist on Experiment One, a card that has seen play both in Mono Green Stompy and Bushwacker Zoo. This version though comes with a couple of nice upsides; it cannot be regenerated but when he gets three or more counters it gains trample. And what's even greater, when a bigger creature dies it also gets a pump.
This elf warrior is going to be played alongside the Experiment as aggressive one drops in the aforementioned Green Stompy, a budget deck that has improved lately thanks to Steal Leaf Champion and Nullhide Ferox from this set too.
In the Zoo version, the Collector finds another great buddy to pair with, the infamous Vexing Devil that will grow him twice if the opponent chooses to take the 4 damage, allowing you to attack with a 4/4 trample on turn 2 if we played him on turn one followed by another creature.
Other builds are even adding black for Death's Shadow so Pelt Collector can become a 5/5 or bigger. Below is a recent list from last week:
|1Copperline Gorge||4Burning-Tree Emissary||4Atarka's Command|
|1Forest||4Experiment One||4Lightning Bolt|
|1Mountain||4Goblin Guide||1Devastating Summons|
|1Temple Garden||4Kird Ape|
|2Sacred Foundry||4Pelt Collector|
|2Stomping Ground||4Reckless Bushwhacker|
|3Windswept Heath||4Vexing Devil|
|4Arid Mesa||4Wild Nacatl|
|2Alpine Moon||1Burrenton Forge-Tender||3Destructive Revelry|
|1Forked Bolt||2Grim Lavamancer||1Kataki, War's Wage|
|2Path to Exile||1Remorseful Cleric||1Rest in Peace|
Suitable decks: Sultai Midrange, Grixis Control, Grixis Death's Shadow, UB Midrange.
Verdict: fringe play, really depending on the metagame.
This Dimir card is the best version of the Cranial Extraction spells that we've been seeing the past few years. Obviously, Surgical Extraction is easier to add in any sideboard thanks to the Phyrexian mana, but it needs a card in the graveyard to function, so in some situations you are not able to find the card you want to remove.
The main upside of Unmoored Ego though is that it can name lands, like the infamous Tron lands or even Valakut, the Molten Pinacle. Add being able to pull basic lands (only four) or any key card from any combo deck, and you have a powerful new sideboard card in any deck playing blue and black. Since Modern sideboards have a hard time trying to fight the vast metagame, this could be a flexible spot to work as a Tron and combo hoser at the same time that can be replayed with Snapcaster Mage in blue decks like Grixis Control or Grixis Shadow, straight UB shells, or Sultai strategies that might arise thanks to the newly printed Assassin's Trophy.
Suitable decks: Mono Green Stompy, G/W Midrange shells, Auras.
Verdict: occasional play.
Nullhide Ferox is the second green creature in this list and it will fit in the Mono Green Stompy deck paired with Pelt Collector. But aside from that shell, it is uncertain if this big beast will find a place in other Modern decks.
Let's dissect his stats. A 6/6 hexproof for four mana is quite respectable. Four mana is tough in Modern though, so the real power of this card comes from the Obstinate Baloth effect tacked onto the end of him.
First and most obvious is Burning Inquiry from Hollow One decks. If it hits our Ferox, it might be game over for them, as it's bigger than a Gurmag Angler or Hollow One and can only be destroyed with a revolted Fatal Push plus paying two extra mana. Liliana of the Veil is another discard threat that could allow us to play Ferox for free.
If Assassin's Trophy ends up shaking the metagame and Jund and Bgx decks have a rise in popularity, it would be very effective to play this creature against the Liliana plus ability. Finally, Kolaghan's Command is also played in Grixis and Mardu Pyromancer, so from now on they should be aware of this card when forcing green mages to discard cards.
Last but not least, Ferox' main drawback is the fact that you can't play noncreature spells unless you or your opponents pay the 2 mana tax to make him lose his abilities. Bad news is that aside from Mono Green and Ponza, not that many decks will include Nullhide Ferox immediately. Maybe GW Auras could make some slots in their sideboards to fight Liliana but it's quite a fringe answer mainly because you can't to cast your auras afterwards.
Suitable decks: Blue based ones, W/U, Grixis Control, UR Moon.
Verdict: occasional play.
When this card was first spoiled it was hyped and rapidly compared with Snapcaster Mage but, from my perspective, it's not even remotely close to the best blue creature ever made.
It has some advantages when you compare both that might be useful in some formats. First, it says "you may cast the card this turn" rather than giving flashback, meaning alternative costs (i.e. Force of Will pitching a blue card or Daze returning an Island) can be played.
Even more importantly, Mission Briefing doesn't target the spell in your graveyard until the spell has resolved, so you can play it with an empty grave and still pick a card even if your opponent removes the spell you intended to cast. Additionally, your opponent can't respond to your selected card by removing it, so it's much harder to blow Mission Briefing out.
Now the disadvantages: it costs double blue rather than 1U which makes it much harder to cast (especially when you have to cast the other spell too) and the main difference, it surveils 2 instead of giving you a 2/1 body. Snapcaster can either block if you're playing defensively, attack on an empty board, or you can even reuse it by bouncing it with Cryptic Command or rebuying it with Kolaghan's Command.
Will Mission Briefing end up seeing play in Modern? I doubt it as long as Snapcaster Mage is in the format since there are few decks that would choose the new instant over the creature. There is an argument for playing both and that I could see but which deck needs more than 4 Snapcaster effects? Please let me know in the comments what your thoughts on Mission Briefing are.
Knight of Autumn
Suitable decks: Collected Company decks, G/W, Bant, Abzan Midrange.
Verdict: Modern Staple.
There is not much else to say that Christian's article about the Top 5 cards in Standard doesn't already say:
Knight of Autumn will definitely see play in Modern; it would at the very least replace Reclamation Sage in the sideboard slot but could also see play in the main deck because of its flexibility, especially in Collected Company decks. In Standard, I am pretty confident when I say that Knight of Autumn will also see a lot of play. Although I guess this still depends on how many artifacts and enchantments will be played because using its second ability is its strongest value.
Basically, this card is flexibility at its best, Knight of Autumn works either as a Reclamation Sage, a Lone Missionary, or a Prowling Serpopard with no abilities depending what you need. That makes the card great almost in every spot - against Burn and aggro decks with the life gain, a 4/3 beater if you need to attack, or a piece of hate when facing artifact or enchantment decks.
Knight of Autumn is a Modern staple that will help GW decks facing a bunch of strategies with only one card, get yours "asap" and start enjoying them.
Suitable decks: B/G/x shells, Jund, and Sultai.
Verdict: All-Star Staple.
Make Jund great again! That's what many of us thought when we first saw the card during spoiler season. Assassin's Trophy is such a pushed card that you have to read it twice to really understand that it can target A-N-Y permanent for only two mana.
Instead of comparing it to other format defining cards from one mana like Path to Exile or Fatal Push, it's better to compare it to its primary competitor: Abrupt Decay. Same cost, same type of card and "almost" the same effect.
Abrupt Decay can't be countered, which is nice, but it's effect is restricted to nonland permanent CMC 3 or less. Every Jund or B/G/x player knows how frustrating it is to have a Decay in hand against W/U control with a Celestial Colonnade.
Assassin's Trophy deals with Tron lands, it kills planeswalkers like Teferi or Jace, and what's more important, it's never be a dead card like Fatal Push and Path.
There is a small drawback though in that you end up giving a basic land untapped and ramping the opponent, but that's a minor issue overall. In fact, you can run your opponent out of basics if you pair Assassin's Trophy with cards Path, Field of Ruin, and Ghost Quarter.
At this point everyone knows this is the most impactful card from Guilds of Ravnica and could revitalize B/G strategies, giving Jund, Abzan, or even Sultai a new chance to be a tier contender in Modern, improving bad pairings like Tron, W/U, and Jeskai.
These are my Modern picks from Guilds of Ravnica. I am looking forward to seeing how these cards pan out in the coming weeks, and how they might shift the metagame from its current state.
As usual, please let me know your thought in the comments below and I hope to meet you again within 15 weeks and, in the meantime, I will be preparing the MKM series in Zaragoza.
Until next time,
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.