VIDEO: 25 Cards from Zendikar Rising That Could See Play in Modern!


In Zendikar Rising, we got powerful cards like Omnath, Locus of Creation as well as compelling reprints like Lotus Cobra. In this Price of Knowledge video, Dan from MTG Tavern lists the top 25 cards from the new set that are powerful enough to make it in the Modern format and where those cards show up.

Time StampTranscript
00:00 What is up? My name is Dan, normally of MTG Tavern. Today I am back with the people at Cardmarket, and in today's video, we are doing the 25 most likely rares or mythics from Zendikar Rising to see play in Modern.
00:19 Zendikar Rising is finally with us, and even though there are no eldrazi – I am not too sure I like that Wizards of the Coast – this is, still, a really interesting set with plenty of fun cards to play with; and in some cases, very powerful cards. In this list we are going to be looking at 25 cards from Zendikar Rising that may just see Modern play. Before we get into it, I just want to say that, certainly, for the first 15 we are going to skip through it quickly and talk more about the top 10. From 25 to number 15 it is not going to be in any specific order. If you are in that lower bracket you might see a bit of play but you are probably not going to whereas from the top 10 onwards, they are more likely to have room in a Modern deck.
01:04 The top 10 will be in order of my opinion of likeliness to see play, but the bottom 15 not so much. Before we get straight into this, because it is going to be a long video if I do not otherwise, do not forget to go down below, hit the subscribe button, and give a thumbs up to this video because Cardmarket likes subscriptions as, that way, they know that you like the content and they will keep making more.
01:27 Hello everybody, it is Dan here in post-production, and I have just realized when it comes to editing that I missed out on one card which was Valakut Awakening // Valakut Stoneforge in this top 25. This would have made the top 25. I do not know if that would have reached the top 10, but I will just give my opinions on it now. It says that you could put any number of cards from your hand onto the bottom of your library and, then, draw that many cards plus one. As a Living End player, I like the idea of being able to ditch additional Living Ends but, I do not know what decks want this in Modern because, most of the time, if you are putting cards away you want to put them into your graveyard, not onto the bottom of your library.
02:02 I just do not know what decks want this. The fact that it is a land that comes out tapped as well does not really help in a potentially burn deck or similar. I just do not think a deck needs this in Modern right now, but I do think that, at some point, one might want this, especially Living End. Let's start with number 25 Yasharn, Implacable Earth. I do not know if a particular deck that wants it. Perhaps some kind of green/white Taxes or something that is built around this. Stopping your opponents – I guess yourself as well, but you are building your deck in such a way that it does not matter – from being able to search a library, pay life of things, that is really important in Modern. I am a little bit worried about that high converted mana cost at four mana that might be a little bit too late for it to do its work; hence, why it is quite low down on this list. But stopping your opponents from paying life really important against Thoughtseize, really good against fetchlands, and just generally a nice thing in Modern.
02:53 Moving into number 24, we have got Ashaya, Soul of the Wild. This one might see play in Modern for creature decks in general, but especially the Elemental decks because this can be tutored up with the elementals. It is really powerful because it means your opponent's removal becomes somewhat worse at times. Yes, it does not get around board-wipes that destroy all creatures, but anything that destroys a non-land permanent like Abrupt Decay cannot destroy it. I am not entirely sure that Ashaya will see Modern play because it does not get around board-wipes which is the biggest problem. Moreover, there are other alternatives out there. You will never know. Definitely, down at number 24 for a reason.
03:27 Next up we have got something that probably should be close to the top 10, but we are going to have it somewhere on the list. Nissa of Shadowed Boughs, this one might seem Modern play in a deck that wants to have an alternative way of putting things from the hand onto the battlefield instead of from the graveyard to the battlefield. I am thinking of myself with Living End or something like a weird sideboard Dredge strategy. But Nissa is really strong. This planeswalker is being very underrated. At four mana you play her. Then, you play a fetchland straight; afterwards, she gets two additional counters on her. That means you can instantly reanimate something from your graveyard with cmc five or less and put it onto the battlefield. Then, if this sticks around to turn your lands into creatures which is of high relevance. I am not saying for sure that it would see Modern play, but I do think some weird decks may want that alternative strategy of being able to put the creatures from your hand onto the battlefield, or even from your graveyard onto the battlefield. Even something like Jund. It would not be completely out of the question for Jund to just put one of these in the sideboard because, why not?
04:26 Moving on to number 22 we have got Turntimber Symbiosis // Turntimber, Serpentine Wood. It really could have made it into the top 10. It probably should not really be out at 22, but as I said, the list is not in any kind of order. This one will see Modern play at some point, but I am not completely sure if a deck wants it right now. Certainly, the top tier deck I was thinking about was Grull-Utopia because they can ramp into Turntimber; but the fact that the land on the opposite side of this is not a forest is really important; particularly for that deck. To see play in there, it is really good that you have got a land so that can keep you hitting your land drops early as well as getting you a big creature later on the game, which is really nice. I am just not sure about this one, I do not think it can quite make the top 10 because no particular deck I can think of wants it right now. Perhaps I am wrong and Grull ends up playing it.
05:11 Coming in at number 21, we haveScourge of the Skyclaves. When I first read this card, I was thinking: Death’s Shadow all the time. Death’s Shadow already wants to lose its own life anyway, and then, I re-read it. It is the person with the highest life total. That makes it a little bit worse because that is more caring about your opponent's life total rather than yours like Death’s Shadows. I do think a Death’s Shadow variant could still play this card. You could be playing Death’s Shadow zoo where you are doing lots of damage to your opponent, and in the meantime, taking lots of damage yourself; thus, I do think this could see play in some weird Death’s Shadow builds which are more aggressive than traditional grixis and even Jund Death’s Shadow.
05:49 Moving into our top 20, we have got a one drop which is Wayward Guide-Beast. This one is, obviously, not Goblin Guide, or even, a Monastery Swiftspear. It has haste, it has trample… Trample on a 2/2 is not overly relevant most of the time, but when it attacks and deals combat damage to a player you get to return a land from your side of the battlefield to your hand. That is actually quite a good ability and I can see some kind of landfall deck wanting this creature. I think that the upside of this – outside turn one or two – is quite high. Being able to trigger landfall on your other creatures is really nice.
06:20 At 19 we have got a Thieving Skydiver. I do not think, right now, that this will see play in Modern, but if we ever get back to a meta where we are playing many small artifacts, this card can just go and steal something very cheaply from your opponent. Besides, it does not have the clause ‘until this leaves the battlefield’. It is permanent. You permanently keep the artifact. Even in Modern right now you get to keep the likes of Aether Vial, Chalice of the Void– if you really want to steal your opponent’s Chalice of the Void – a Tormod's Crypt to make your opponent cracks it straight away. It is going to be relevant. I think this card, when you can steal enough from the opponent, in certain metas and in blue decks – especially merfolk – it could be a sideboard card.
06:57 Going back to black spells now, this is going to be Hagra Mauling // Hagra Broodpit. An overpriced Murder, or potentially just a Murder, but the key part is: it is attached to a land. The problem is that the land has to come out tapped and, usually, if you are playing black in Modern you like those turn one Thoughtseize or Inquisitions; there are not many decks that play black and Modern that do not have those in their deck. This card could be excellent in Modern because it just so happens that you can just play an extra removal spell that can also be a land without a problem. The fact that the land comes out tapped may prevent it from seeing Modern play. Definitely, a cool little card.
07:34 Coming in at number 17 we have got Glasspool Mimic // Glasspool Shore. This one would have been a bit lower down if I were going to put in any kind of order the top few cards. This one is, obviously, a bad Phantasmal Image. It costs one man extra, can only target creatures you control. However, it can be an Island and that is probably relevant to Merfolk when there are Boils or Chokes going around. For Merfolk, being able to have something that taps for blue mana but is not an island is, sometimes, quite relevant. Merfolk does not always care about having a land coming out tapped. Also, they have a lot of lords, and although they do have Aether Vial to play on turn one, it is not the end of the world if they do play this tapped on one assuming no Aether Vial. The fact that you could have this be a slightly worse Phantasmal Image might make merfolk be able to use it.
08:15 At number 16 we have got Valakut Awakening // Valakut Stoneforge. If you are playing this card there are two ways of going about it. One is that you can just try and accumulate card advantage like red usually does, from exile, by playing lands – that sounds pretty good; but, for myself personally, as a Living End player, I am really loving the idea of revealing my Desert Cerodon – a six drop – from the top of my library, or a Titanoth Rex – a nine drop – from the top of my library, and doing nothing. ‘Opponent, we go to the end-step, you take six, nine, whatever points of damage’. That is going to be a nice alternative win condition, and who is bringing in enchantment hate against Living End? But the most common thing with this is going to be card advantage, it is just three mana, which is pretty cheap.
08:57 At number 15 I have got Kazandu Mammoth // Kazandu Valley. I do not have a particular green deck that wants this; perhaps mono green stompy or something similar but I do not see this thing never seen Modern play. Yes, it comes out tapped as not a forest, but the fact that it is a land that can be a creature is going to be relevant to some decks. This one can see play, although I am not too sure what deck wants it, but some decks will want it at some point. Now that we are inside the top 15 – in fact, we are now at number 14 – these cards are going to be, somewhat, in order.
09:30 Next up we have got Leyline Tyrant. At first, I was really high on this card. I figured that a deck like mono-red prison would love this card because of all the ritual effects they can draw off the top later on in the game; also, the fact they have Chandras, excess red mana that they cannot use and just dump into this. If your opponent never kills it, your opponent dies. There are a few niggling problems I have with this card which is why it does not quite reach the top 10. First of all, you can only really tap red mana to store, which is, obviously, going to be pretty bad if you are not playing all red lands. The next issue is that your opponents can somewhat ignore it unless you can kill it yourself. Yes, a 4/4 fly is pretty damn big but in Modern a 4/4 fly, whilst it can win you the game, in the grand scheme of things there are bigger things that do not win games in Modern. If you cannot kill it yourself, your opponent has the option of just not killing it. In fact, they can use Path to Exile it and it does nothing. I am really hoping I am wrong on this one. I am hoping it does turn out to be something really cool and something different. I could see a Fling effect with it or something along those lines, but he fact that your opponent has the choice to whether it dies or not, most of the time is going to be a problem.
10:34 Coming in at number 13. This one I could see being in a White-Weenie or Humans deck. It is going to be Luminarch Aspirant. This is not Thalia's Lieutenant, let’s get out of the way straight away, it is not as good as that. But this is still a creature that puts a counter on one of your creatures every turn. That is sometimes relevant when you think about Humans which can sometimes stall out. If you keep putting the counter on that Mantis Rider every turn and hit for four, then five, six, that is sometimes going to get you over the line. I am not entirely sure this one will see Modern play. It is a maybe. Now that I think about it, this one should be a bit lower down, but it could see Modern play in a Humans deck.
11:19 At number 12 we have got Archon of Emeria. This one has two very relevant pieces of text on it. One is that ‘your opponent can't cast more than one spell a turn’ which is very relevant. Think about Storm. The problem is that, just because your opponent cannot cast more than one spell a turn, it does not mean it should go into your sideboard because, although you hate on Storm and even my deck Living End, it does not do much against other decks in the format. But it has that added piece of text to make it more playable in sideboards where your opponent's non-basic lands come out tapped. There are a lot of non-basic lands in Modern. If you pair this up with a Thalia and with Leonin Arbiter, all of a sudden Taxes has a flyer – granted we would like it had that fourth point of toughness for a bit more safety, but that is probably getting a greedy. Taxes would definitely love a card like this. That three mana though, I guess it has to be three mana. Otherwise it might be broken at two.
12:12 Just not making it into our top ten, we have got Crawling Barrens. This one is something that could go into Tron or Eldrazi Tron as a weird way to store mana. You do not literally store mana, but if you have got untapped mana at the end of each turn, you can put numerous counters on this land. You do not need to turn it into a creature if you do not want to, and that is a threat for later on in the game. Think about a deck that plays Expedition Map like Tron, like Eldrazi Tron, they could play one these in the deck, and then they can just search it as a win condition later on in the game.
12:41 At number 10, one of the more likely cards at rare that is going to see play from Zendikar Rising in Modern is going to be a Branchloft Pathway // Boulderloft Pathway. This does not mean this particular land, but this entire land set that you can play it as a green source, or a white source a red source, or a blue source. There are plenty of decks in Modern that do not play fetch lands, and if you play a fetch chances are you do not want this card because you want your lands to be fetchable, but some decks legitimately do want this card. If you are playing one predominant color but just splashing a second, then, you still have the main source of color if you have to play it early but then you can play a bit later on for the other side. Decks like Storm – for example, that wants to play blue or red, but different points of the game may want different types of lands – they may play them as well because they do not play fetchlands. I believe this land cycle is playable in Modern, but I cannot narrow it down to which particular land is needed by which particular deck. For now, these lands are playable in Modern; I just do not think they can see play in every single deck.
13:39 At number nine I have got Agadeem's Awakening // Agadeem, the Undercrypt. A lot of people would have had this card a lot higher, but I still have some reservations. I do think this card will see play in Death’s Shadow mainly because the fact you can pay three lives to have it come out untapped and on turn one, which is ideal for Death’s Shadow decks as they want to play Thoughtseizes or Inquisition on one. The problem is that, if you do not have Thoughtseize or Inquisition, the rest of their spells are usually blue or red and this does not give you access to them like a shockland would do, so I am somewhat concerned about that. The Agadeem's Awakening side, though, is relevant to Death’s Shadow because they play one drops. Sometimes they are playing Jund, they play Tarmogoyf, Snapcaster Mage in Grixis, etc. Agadeem's Awakening side is still relevant, but it is not exactly the most powerful spell ever. Moreover, I am a little bit concerned that the paying- life side is only going to be for black mana which might be a hindrance. Outside Death’s Shadow decks it will not see play.
14:34 At number eight we have got Forsaken Monument. I do see an Eldrazi Tron deck playing this as, at least, a one-off in the sideboard. Karn does usually go ahead and get Ensnaring Bridge, a Wurmcoil Engine, but sometimes, Karn comes down and you have got a few creatures out already. Therefore, you should go for Forsaken Monument and kill your opponent by giving all your eldrazi +2/+2. But it is also relevant because it is something against burn. Later on in the game against burn, if you can stabilize with a chalice or similar, you can go and get one of these. Whenever you cast a colorless spell, and there are plenty of them in the deck, gain a couple of life. You are just getting a little bit more out of reach.
15:02 At number seven we have got Moraug, Fury of Akoum. This card can definitely see Modern play in Amulet Titan, and in a Valakut deck as well, as an alternative win condition. Those decks have no problems playing lands and that is just ignoring all the fetches that some decks play as well. Six mana is quite a lot which is why it needs to be those ramping decks. Playing a land, and then, making your team bigger. You attack, you have played land this turn. Go ahead and attack again. You played another land this turn; go ahead and attack again. This card is a good alternative win condition either main board, or even sideboard, for those ramp decks.
15:47 At number six we have got Ruin Crab which is a fixed Hedron Crab even though it is essentially the same thing for a Mill deck. Perhaps not being able to mill yourself is a downside. Decks like Crabvine, for example, like to mill themselves, and then, reanimate all their creatures. But in the grand scheme of things, it is more crabs for Mill which is going to dominate – hopefully with this one – but most importantly, as you will see in the next one as well. The fact that it does not target your opponent instead it is all opponents means that you can get around Veil of Summer, you can get around Leyline of Sanctity which is paramount for Mill which, especially with Leyline, can struggle when they come down.
16:24 As I alluded to, just beating the crab into number five because I think it is quite good for the Mill deck; maybe they do not play the full eight copies of them. Maddening Cacophony for me goes either alongside Glimpse the Unthinkable, and I think it is a better card. Although you do not mill the full 10 cards and you only mill eight, which is a two-card difference, the fact that matter is that you avoid targeted removal, which is crucial. Sometimes in mill, as with many other decks in Modern, you get mana flooded; thus, making that kicker ability able to catch you right back up. For me, this makes the top five because I do not think there is any way a Mill deck does not play this card.
17:03 At number four I have got what I think is the best land sorcery out of this set for its particular deck and that's going to Emeria's Call // Emeria, Shattered Skyclave. You may be thinking about other better lands than this one and maybe they are. This one is what a control deck wants. Control is looking to keep the game under control in the early game. They do not want to be tapping out at sorcery speed until they feel perfectly safe to do so later in the game. Typically speaking, that has always been the case with planeswalkers in recent years, but now, you have got something you can play as a land early in the game and then return to your hand with a cryptic command later on your opponent's end step. Then, recast it to get a couple of 4/4 and, unless your opponent kills you literally the next turn – remember that you probably have the game under control at this point – then you are probably going to win. You have got two genuine win conditions right there. I think that if this sees Modern play in a control deck it is probably a one or a two of. They do not care about the land being tapped on turn one although, sometimes, they may have to pay three life which is not ideal. However, the downside is way outscaled by the upside.
18:06 Moving into the top three cards that I think definitely see Modern play. This one, for me, is in a burn sideboard hands down all the time. We have Roiling Vortex. This screams anti-Force of Negation. They could use Force of Negation to counter this, but if they do not have it right then this card will deal, every time they cast that Force, five points of damage. In fact, your opponent is incentivized not to use Force of Negation unless they hard-cast it. Also, the fact that every single upkeep of your opponents they take a damage. Sure, we take a damage as well, but most of the time we do not care about that as a burn player. Paying one red mana means that your opponent cannot gain life. That is huge. This means that you have to always leave a red mana open, but the fact that you can just stop your opponent from literally countering your deck for one red mana is crucial.
18:53 Number two, and just missing out because there is a much better card at number one, we have Skyclave Apparition. The key part here is that it has spirit on it. For one and two white, that narrows down how many decks can play it in a Modern. If it had just one white, then it would playable hands down – it probably would be number one – but two white makes only Spirits that might want to play it.; Some other decks as well like Blue/White Emeria. This card is insane, it is going to be quite powerful in pioneer as well. It comes down, you exile something with cmc four or less. That could be a planeswalker, an enchantment, creature, anything on the board other than a land. Then, whereas usually with the likes of detention sphere, if your opponent removes it, they get the spell back, with this, they just get some crappy little token that is, at best a 4/4. Why would I care about a 4/4? I have just removed your 6/7 Tarmogoyf, your Jace, the Mind Sculptor which is going to win the game, and instead, you get back a token. This card is insane especially in decks such as Blue/White Emeria or Sun Titan. Like me and a friend of mine have been discussing, you can reanimate that from the graveyard every single turn. I would go as far as saying it is probably the thing that Spirits needed at least out of the sideboard. A hard piece of removal, not just counter spells because Spirits, when they do get behind on board, they can get absolutely snowballed, but this one gets them back into the game.
20:21 At number one we have got Confounding Conundrum. A two-mana enchantment that, when enters the battlefield, draws a card; already it replaces itself which is quite nice. If your opponent has a land enter the battlefield under their control, if they have already had a land previously enter the battlefield under their control, they must return a land from the battlefield back to their hand. At first, I was thinking ‘well, this slows down fetchlands even though your opponent can somewhat play around it later in the game; when your opponent has many lands out it is, probably, not going to matter too much. Maybe because of that it does not see as much play some kind of weird Blue/White Taxes build’. Where it definitely sees play in Modern is in blue sideboards against Amulet Titan when they play multiple lands in a turn. You want to play a bounce land? Okay, that is the last land you are playing this turn. It does not matter that you have Azusa, Lost but Seeking out or that you play a Primeval Titan, you are not playing any more lands this turn. You are going to be net down lands. But, most importantly, it is excellent against Escapeshift and Valakut. For those of you who do not know, Valakut says: ‘whenever a mountain enters the battlefield, it checks then how many mountains you have to put the trigger onto the stack, but it also checks after the trigger resolves. Therefore, if your opponent randomly does not have seven mountains on the battlefield any more, then, all of a sudden, the trigger resolves but there is no damage. With it being your opponent's turn, their triggers go on the stack first. Confounded Conundrum's triggers go on the stack second; second resolves first, Confounded Conundrum triggers resolve first and all those Valakut triggers get blank. Your opponent puts all of their lands back to their hand and they pretty much lost the game. This could see play as well in a new brew which is going to be like a Blue/White Taxes. If your opponent wants to go ahead and play a land on their turn you have got Thalia so, first of all, their spells are going to cost a little bit more. Add to that the fact they have just played a fetchland, which means they cannot fetch this turn thanks to the Conundrum. That entails they are going to be waiting another turn. Then, you have Leonin Arbiter, Ghost Quarter them on their own turn, Field of Ruin them on their own turn. Path to Exile them on their own turn. All of a sudden, you are Stripmining your opponent. You are going ahead and Path to Exile, which become literally better than Swords to Plowshares with Conundrum out. For me, this card absolutely sees Modern play, at least, in sideboards for blue decks because, at the very least – even if you topdeck it later in the game and the damage has already been done – it cantrips. If it did not cantrip we would be having a different story.
22:39 Anyway guys, that is my top 25. Tell me down below where you think I went wrong –particularly in the top 10. My name was Dan, normally of the channel MTG Tavern. I was back today with Cardmarket. I will see you next time.

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

1 Comment

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docholiday81(14.10.2020 20:26)

Hello from Greece! Maybe Cleansing Wildfire at top 10, I think will be a staple hate card in sb for many red decks.