Top 10 Best Modal Cards – Riley Ranks

Black Market Connections is one of the most popular cards from Battle for Baldur’s Gate, much of the time feeling like a juiced-up Phyrexian Arena. It shows the power of modal cards – as I’ve said before, perhaps the attribute more valuable than any other when it comes to the playability of a Magic card is flexibility, and that’s just what a modal card offers. With cards that let you choose from a range of different options, you’ll often have exactly the right tool for the right job – let’s get across some of the best modal cards ever printed!



10. Demonic Pact

Demonic Pact

We can start with a fun one: Demonic Pact hasn’t ever been a spiky tournament staple and isn’t generally included in EDH decks “for value”, but you can do all sorts of silly things with it and its fourth mode. Some people like to squeeze all the good modes out of it then give it away with a Donate or a Harmless Offering, while others prefer to find ways to blink it after having used the three good modes, so as to start the countdown again. This card is perfect for anyone who loves wriggling their way out of promises and bargains!

9. Drown in the Loch

Drown in the Loch

Most of the time, Drown in the Loch is a Doom Blade/Counterspell split card, which feels hideously unfair. At its best when it was a centerpiece of the Dimir Rogues deck in Standard last season, this was the sort of card your opponent just always seemed to have. It’s more or less impossible to play around, will almost always trade favorably with something of yours, and generally offers such incredible flexibility as a two-mana answer to virtually anything, resolved or unresolved. Drown in the Loch is a hell of a card. 

8. Umezawa’s Jitte

Umezawa's Jitte

One of the best pieces of Equipment ever printed, there’s a very good reason Umezawa’s Jitte has been banned out of Modern. I remember someone describing it as the sort of card that, with one hit in combat, you’ll never lose another combat step, and it’s easy to see why. You hit once, get the counters, then use those counters to grow or shrink creatures in future combats to win those combats as well. With the way Modern is these days, it might be okay to unban Jitte – but then again, with Stoneforge Mystic in the format, maybe it would still just be too good. 

7. Farewell


This card quickly became an EDH sweeper of choice, challenging even the mighty Austere Command in its position of dominance at the six-mana slot. This is due, of course, to its flexibility – it can, like Austere Command, wipe the artifacts and enchantments while leaving your creatures untapped, but it can also wipe out all the creatures for good measure, and graveyards too, if you like. The power of this card is its versatility – the fact that it can be surgical, or simply just blow up the table. 

6. Black Market Connections

Black Market Connections

Here’s the new EDH hotness. Sure, the card draw costs you two life, instead of Phyrexian Arena’s one but you can get a Treasure token too, and a 3/2, all for the bargain price of six life! When you start on 40, and if you have reliable ways to gain life, you’re in business. Being able to choose which modes you do and don’t want is huge, as well, although not many players I know would turn down the draw-a-card-for-two-life mode. This card is terrific, and if you haven’t already got your copies for your EDH decks, I wouldn’t delay too much longer in picking them up!

5. Breya, Etherium Shaper

Breya, Etherium Shaper

Breya has remained a very popular commander over the years, and comes second only to Osgir, the Reconstructor when it comes to leading artifact-based decks. With her wide-ranging suite of abilities that can turn stray artifacts into burn, life gain or removal, Breya is very good at what she does – especially as she brings a couple of artifacts along with her as she comes down. None of her abilities are spectacular in their own right, but combine the opportunity to use all three, and all of a sudden she’s a card worth talking about. 

4. Boros Charm

Boros Charm

A staple in Modern Burn decks even today, Boros Charm isn’t known for its versatility – it’s generally just two mana, four damage, thank you very much. It can, however, come in clutch when it comes to saving your team from a sweeper, and there are instances when it will give a five-power creature double strike so as to output more damage than the four-damage mode would have done. Boros Charm is a workhorse card that has done countless damage over the years, and probably will continue to do so in the future. 

3. Archmage’s Charm

Archmage's Charm

Archmage’s Charm didn’t muck around – more or less as soon as it was printed, it became a rock-solid regular in the Modern format, and once it entered Historic it also put in the work there. A Counterspell/Divination split card is bonkers, and then you have the steal-something-small mode as well for massive blowouts. Sure, the mana cost is restrictive, but this isn’t the first time we’ve all jumped through hoops to have triple blue for a powerful modal counterspell!

2. Kolaghan’s Command

Kolaghan's Command

You have to work so hard not to get a two-for-one with Kolaghan’s Command. I mean, technically it’s possible – two damage, target you, discard, target me – but the overwhelming majority of the time, Kolaghan’s Command offers the cleanest two-for-ones three mana will get you. Particularly devastating is casting this in your opponent’s draw step, to make them discard the card they just drew before they even get the chance to play it. Backbreaking. 

1. Cryptic Command

Cryptic Command

Cryptic Command is an absolute classic. This card does so much and is incredible in every single situation – when behind, at parity, or ahead. It doesn’t matter what your situation is, Cryptic Command will improve your position in the game, either by keeping you alive with tap/bounce or pulling you further ahead with counter/draw. This card does it all, which makes it all the more hilarious that they printed a textless version of it. Given how perfect Cryptic Command is in so many situations, new players are left feeling like you just make up the text as you go, and that the card can just do whatever you want it to do!


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