Top 5 Cards That Should See More Play in Modern

Modern is a vast format with dozens upon dozens of viable archetypes. To me, it's the most diverse, fun, stimulating, and overall best format in Magic. However, people sometimes tunnel vision on a narrow subset of cards that they keep playing over and over again and forget the cards that need exploring.

pithing needle

Here are the top five cards I believe ought to be played more in the Modern format.

Bloodchief's Thirst

bloodchief's thirst

I do believe Bloodchief's Thirst deserves a bit more love. It's not going to replace Fatal Push anytime soon, but it's a great contender for the fifth one-mana black removal spell. It does fulfill the job of killing all the early cheap threats, and it's easy to squeeze in on the curve. Sorcery speed is annoying, but then again we cannot possibly play five copies of Fatal Push. The kicker makes it a valuable asset in the late game as it kills any creature or planeswalker. So for four mana we've got a main-deck kill spell for Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, or Teferi, Time Raveler with no need to run a specialized answer. Even without the kicker it dispatches Wrenn and Six cleanly.

Pithing Needle

pithing needle

Pithing Needle has always been here and there in Modern, especially popular when Whir of Invention was at its best. You could often find it in main decks of shells revolving around Urza, Lord High Artificer or in Lantern of Insight prison decks. However, the current metagame features plenty and plenty of targets for Pithing Needle where it can be fully utilized and perform the function of a highly versatile sideboard card, which is narrow in effect but wide in its application. Let's look at some of the top decks …

Walking Ballista and Spike Feeder come to mind immediately as parts of combos centered around Heliod, Sun-Crowned. The Needle can actually shut off the abilities of all of the aforementioned cards, though its use can be tricky. Since it can only name one card at a time, it closes off either the Ballista or the Feeder route. Against Green Tron it turns off a lot of the scariest elements: Karn Liberated, Oblivion Stone, Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, or Karn, the Great Creator. It hits Elvish Reclaimer out of Green-White Call Titan, Giver of Runes, Aether Vial, Stoneforge Mystic, or the equipments from white decks, Goblin Charbelcher in the namesake combo deck, Hammertime's Inkmoth Nexus, or walkers such as Jace, the Mind Sculptor against control. As we can see, its application is wide, powerful, and basically any deck gets to play it thanks to its generic mana cost. More decks should.

Emry, Lurker of the Loch


Emry, Lurker of the Loch has fallen more or less far from favor since the banning of Mox Opal. But it remains a powerful enabler and payoff in artifact decks. In Modern specifically it can be played as soon as turn one with the help of zero-mana artifacts such as Mishra's Bauble and Mox Amber. Emry used to play a role in fair decks, because it allows you to keep replaying Mishra's Bauble and draw essentially two cards a turn. Additionally, it provides a lot of utility because it gives you a good excuse to maindeck Engineered Explosives, which is one of my personal favorite cards in Magic. With Emry you can justify two or even three main-deck Explosives, as they also count as another zero toward turboing the Lurker out, and you get a great catch-all answer that can be replayed, possibly several times, later.

Emry is a pretty powerful tool alongside Urza, Lord High Artificer, mostly in combination with Thopter Foundry, but also in some Paradox Engine decks. Another shell to utilize the card is a Grinding Station/Underworld Breach combo deck, where it can find and recur one of the namesake cards while helping to jumpstart the other. Emry can also replay any card taken from the sideboard via Karn, the Great Creator, which essentially means that all the singleton artifacts such a Tormod's Crypt are available more than once. Finally, the card works well with Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath. Between Emry milling and Mox Amber's mana boost, it's not unreasonable to escape Uro as early as turn three, which seems a pretty decent plan B.

Wilderness Reclamation

wilderness reclamation

I'm really happy that Wilderness Reclamation has been picking up in popularity recently. When control decks started incorporating Field of the Dead, its purpose was to outgrind other control decks or midrange strategies in the late game. Naturally, all control players had to adapt and run Field themselves in order not to keep losing the mirror match. Now they can't realistically cut the Field in order to improve their mana, because that would destroy the balance and make them lose the endgame against Field every time. However, if one can find a different way to survive the endgame, that changes the dynamic considerably. This is where Reclamation comes in.

By playing two or three copies of Reclamation alongside Fact or Fiction and a copy of Nexus of Fate we get a sheer unbeatable endgame of taking all the turns. We also acquire a great card advantage engine in the form of Fact or Fiction, which can be put back on top with Mystic Sanctuary. We do not need to control the game all the way through, because we have a quasi-combo kill by abusing all the doubled mana. At some point we will have cast enough Fact or Fiction and naturally drawn Nexus along the way, and the opponent won't get another turn. Now what if we use such an over-the-top Reclamation shell and combine it with Field of the Dead? The outcome will result in a truly unbeatable endgame.

This is a list Corey Baumeister used to reach the Top 8 at one of the recent Modern Challenges. A great solution to avoid playing a Four-Color Omnath soup and still have the best late game in the format.

Ice-Fang Coatl

Ice-Fang Coatl

At the time of writing, before the release of Kaldheim, Ice-Fang Coatl is more of a speculative pick, but I do believe that the Coatl will be on the rise with the introduction of Rimewood Falls. The main reason why I think that's the case is how this land allows players to have a deathtoucher ready on turn three without making any concessions to the mana base. Now we are able to fetch for the Falls on turn one and then keep playing Islands, which enables both Mystic Sanctuary and Archmage's Charm at the earliest opportunity—both very powerful blue cards.

Until now people had to fetch out a Snow-Covered Forest if they wanted Coatl with deathtouch by turn three, which, as mentioned above, clashes with Charm and Sanctuary. I think tempo-wise Rimewood Falls also works perfectly fine, as control decks are already used to fetching out a turn one tap land all the time, typically a Triome. It probably best fits into a straight-up green-blue control build alongside, obviously, Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath.

rimewood falls ice-fang coatl

When Arcum's Astrolabe was still legal, Autumn Burchett championed a version of Green-Blue Reclamation, and they intentionally eschewed playing the Astrolabe, as quote: "We don't need the mana fixing and it being a sorcery-speed spell matters a surprisingly large amount, as the more sorcery-speed spells you have the more likely you run out of things to spend your Reclamation mana on." This was their list back then.

Yes, we could still play this exact same deck card for card. If it was so good then, why not run it back now? In conjunction with the aforementioned Wilderness Reclamation, we can play a classic Control Reclamation game, benefit from a super smooth mana base, and abuse four Mystic Sanctuary. With the addition of the new fetchable snow gate, however, the shell is greatly improved. I will soon start tinkering with the deck, and this is going to be my starting point:

Thanks for tuning in. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to ask them in the comments down below or seek me out on social media. Until next time—hold my hand and let's pass the turn together. Cheers!

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.

1 Comment

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LeoLuchs(09.02.2021 20:56)

Hey Skura,

Wanted to thank you for keeping up the good work! Great article about playing control by the way (Turning the Corner). You implemented the tempo-aspect in control quite nicely. I wish we would see a little more diverse meta in terms of playing control to be honest. It kinda feels like everything is going over the top right now. I'd appreciate if we could play some clean control without Valki, Uro or Omnath.

Well, maybe u wanna write something about the latest menace? I played against Valki and I was surprised how 1 card was able to race ahead so quickly. I thought about maindecking Celestial Purge... Or in the end do we need to adapt and play Valki ourself? Is there a ban needed?

Greetings :)

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