Wednesday, 29 January 2020 13:55

10 cards you should be playing in Modern (but probably aren’t)

Written by
10 cards you should be playing in Modern (but probably aren’t) WOTC / MAGIC UNTAPPED

Despite the recent emergence of Pioneer, Modern is still a heavy-hitting format in Magic: The Gathering thanks largely to just how far back it goes (all the way back to mid-2003 with 8th Edition).  With nearly 17 years worth of cards, there’s a lot to choose from.  Unfortunately, many of those cards get overlooked for one reason or another.

Now, while the odds of playing (or even wanting to play) something along the lines of Trapfinder’s Trick or Chimney Imp are slim to say the least (we wouldn’t suggest it anyhow), there are myriad cards that rarely make their way into people’s decks that just might deserve a little consideration at the very least.

Thankfully, many of them are on the budget friendly end of the spectrum.

Here are ten such cards:

Esper Charm // WOTC

Esper Charm (76¢) – This card is absurdly versatile and great against more Modern decks than it isn’t.  A Swiss Army Knife for control decks, this three drop has three relevant modes: Board (read: enchantment) control, card draw, and hand disruption.

Is your opponent’s Stony Silence, Rest in Peace, or Leyline getting you down?  Just get rid of it.  Need to refill your hand or do a little digging?  Draw two at instant speed.  Trying to disrupt your opponent’s plans?  Make them discard (you can even do this at the end of their draw step)!

You see?  There’s a whole lot of good that this modal instant card can do for you in your esper decks.

Glittering Wish // WOTC

Glittering Wish ($6.14) – Many of the most popular decks in Modern toe the line of linear gameplay.  Tron, Amulet Titan, etc.: They all have more-or-less the same playlines every time.  And, of course, sideboarding key cards to defeat said playlines can really turn the tide for games two and three.  But, what if you didn’t have to wait to sideboard?  What if you could just grab your sideboard answers at the get-go?  That’s where Glittering Wish comes in as it lets you pretty much do just that.

Tron got you down?  Wish for a Gaddock Teeg.  Burn burning you up?  Kitchen Finks is there for you.  Does your opponent have an affinity for affinity?  Fracturing Gust wishes to have a word.  And there are a wide variety of other answers.  And while these wishable cards do need to be multicolored in order to be grabbed, having them there in game one when they’re needed is a whole lot better than waiting to board them in game two.

Knight of the Reliquary // WOTC

Knight of the Reliquary ($3.59) – While a 2/2 for three (in this case, 1GW) isn’t all that good on the surface, Knight of the Reliquary will almost never be a 2/2 thanks to the prevalence of fetch lands in the Modern format.  Getting a +1/+1 buff for each land in your graveyard, it’s not difficult to get this knight up to 5/5 or larger quite early in the game.  A good beater in GW Zoo decks and a combo piece with cards such as Battle for Zendikar’s Retreat to Coralhelm (thanks to it pretty much being a walking Crop Rotation), the card also dodges many of the format’s popular removal cards such as Lightning Bolt, Dismember, and a (non-revolted) Fatal Push.

Knight of the Reliquary sees play in Legacy, so there’s really no reason why it can’t be brewed around for some cool Modern shenanigans – especially with cards like Giver of Runes now available to better protect it.

Leonin Arbiter // WOTC

Leonin Arbiter ($1.57) – While some Modern players have recognized the power of this card (Here’s looking at you, Vince), it seems that many others simply overlook it.

A great hatebear, this 2/2 for 1W, Leonin Arbiter has the potential of winning games seemingly on its own.  It all but takes the downside of your Path to Exile away, it can turn Ghost Quarter into a Strip Mine, it makes your opponents’ fetch lands, tutors, and so on extremely inefficient – especially when you have multiple on the board at the same time.

That Expedition Map suddenly doesn’t look so good with a Leonin Arbiter in play, does it Tron players?

GG, bro.  GG.

Mana Tithe // WOTC

Mana Tithe ($1.17) – For all intents and purposes, Force Spike isn’t exactly a powerful card.  Force Spike in white, however, certainly can be (if nothing else) because, like the Spanish Inquisition, nobody really ever expects it.  Furthermore, unlike other and more commonly played Judge’s Familiar, Mana Tithe can hit any spell – not just instants and sorceries.

Did your opponent just tap out for a Liliana of the Veil?  How about a burn spell for the win?  Maybe you’re looking at a T1 Amulet of Vigor?  If they’re tapped out, it doesn’t matter.  It’s countered.  And in white, no less.

Mark of Asylum // WOTC

Mark of Asylum ($1.50) – Is burn an issue in your local meta?  If so, then Mark of Asylum just might be the card for you as it protects all of your creatures from receiving non-combat damage.  In short, your opponent’s Shocks, Bolts, Anger of the Gods, etc. suddenly don’t to such a good job at board removal.  Heck, even your opponent’s fight effects are moot (and yours improved) with Mark of Asylum out.

Plus, if coupled with the artifact Dolmen Gate, it makes your creatures not only more difficult to destroy, but it allows for some very aggressive strategies.

Shadow of Doubt // WOTC

Shadow of Doubt ($4.43) – There are very few cards in Magic that shut the library off (as in completely off).  Shadow of Doubt is one such card.

The card shuts down so much.  And in a format where deck searching is an essential tactic, a well-timed Shadow of Doubt has the potential of shutting down entire decks.  Expedition Map, Eladamri’s Call, Sylvan Scrying, Scapeshift, Primeval Titan, etc.  All nerfed.  Oh, and casting Shadow of Doubt in response to, say, a Scalding Tarn is essentially efficient land destruction with a cantrip kickback.  Not too shabby.

Squelch // WOTC

Squelch (42¢) – Sure, it’s no Stifle, but Stifle isn’t Modern legal so is that really a fair criticism?  For a cost of two (one generic more than Stifle), the card allows you to counter a non-mana activated ability.  This, of course, includes those of fetches and planeswalkers.  A well-timed Squelch can foil your opponent’s best-laid plans.

Perhaps they kept a two land hand with one of those lands being a fetch?  It’d sure be a shame if their fetch’s ability never got to resolve.  The same could be said for that Teferi, Hero of Dominaria or Liliana, the Last Hope ultimate they just fired off (or, at least they thought they were going to fire off).

Oh, and the card replaces itself.  Yay, cantrips!

Spreading Algae // WOTC

Spreading Algae (24¢) – Repeatable land destruction is nice.  Repeatable land destruction for one mana is crazy.  Sure, Spreading Algae (an Urza’s Saga original which saw its only modern reprint in 8th Edition) is only able to affect swamps and it doesn’t actually destroy said swamp until it becomes tapped, but still.  And, after all, Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth is a thing, as are modern-legal dual lands that contain land types such as Overgrown Tomb and Godless Shrine.  In short, it forces opponents into a use-it-and-lose-it mindset, which can really hamper their strategies by limiting their resources in a risk-and-reward setting.

Weathered Wayfarer // WOTC

Weathered Wayfarer ($9.66) – As mentioned many times before on this list, tutoring for cards is a popular and effective tactic in Modern.  Weathered Wayfarer, reprinted in 9th Edition, is one such tutor option.  Unlike most such cards, however, with the Wayfarer you can tutor over and over again (so long as its condition is met, of course, which can be easily set up through cards like Path to Exile).

A repeatable white ramp card, Weathered Wayfarer can do much more than just find you that extra basic land.  Indeed, the land you fetch doesn’t even have to be a basic.  That means that you can search for defensive cards such as Ghost Quarter and Field of Ruin.  You can look for color fixing such as with a Hallowed Fountain or get a combo piece such as Field of the Dead or Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth.

The card could have a place in decks such as GW Hatebears, a D&T variant, or even a Naya landfall/”lands matter” deck.

So, what are some of the more peculiar cards that find their way into your Modern decks?  Tell us what they are and why in the comment section below.  Your card and rationale just might find its way into one of our future lists.

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter all the required information, indicated by an asterisk (*). HTML code is not allowed.