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Top 100 Most Defining Modern Cards – #70-61

As a fun exercise here on ChannelFireball.com, I’ve compiled a list of the most defining Modern cards over the format’s long history. Today I have #70-61 to share with you. If you want a sneak preview of the list before it comes out in written form, you can follow us on TikTok at @ChannelFireball, where I’ll be releasing the list one card at a time. 

 

 

70. Lava Dart

Lava Dart

I’m a big fan of Lava Dart, and played with it in the very old days, before the Modern format even existed. It’s one of the cards I most wished was legal in Modern, and I was very happy when it was introduced to the format through the first Modern Horizons set.

Beyond being just happy, I was amazed at how well Lava Dart has held up over the years. It’s a great card as a standalone, and even matches up well against a lot of the format’s commonly-played creatures. Best of all, it’s an amazing pairing with prowess creatures like Monastery Swiftspear!

Lava Dart was a key card in revitalizing the Red Prowess archetype, which has been one of the strongest decks in Modern at various points since Modern Horizons came out. 

69. Street Wraith

Street Wraith

Drawing a card for zero mana is powerful and abusable. This becomes even more true if you can take advantage of paying life, discarding cards or filling the graveyard. Death’s Shadow, Hollow One and Living End are just a few of the decks that’ve made great use of Street Wraith over the years. 

68. Lingering Souls

Lingering Souls (Timeshifted)

Historically, Lingering Souls has been the defining card of “fair Magic” in Modern. Decks like Zoo and Birthing Pod would sideboard it in to win grindy, removal-heavy matchups. Jund and Golgari decks sometimes went as far as adding a color to access Lingering Souls as a weapon for the mirror match. On top of all of that, it’s also facilitated token strategies, and played a role for folks trying to get value from their graveyards. 

67. Horizon Canopy Lands

Horizon CanopySunbaked CanyonSilent ClearingWaterlogged GroveNurturing PeatlandFiery Islet

At #67, you get a six-for-one. For many years, Horizon Canopy stood as a unique and powerful land that was a big draw towards the white-green color combinations. Some decks would even play it just for the ability, even without having cards of both colors. The first Modern Horizons set added an enemy-color cycle of these lands, greatly expanding their accessibility. 

The Horizon Canopy lands are great with Wrenn and Six and Life from the Loam, and also great for anybody who simply doesn’t care about having a bunch of lands in play.

66. Relic of Progenitus

Relic of Progenitus

Relic of Progenitus might just be the most important graveyard hate card in Modern’s history, played in huge numbers across both main decks and sideboards. One big thing about Relic is that, being colorless, it’s accessible to any deck. Another is that it’s uniquely strong against Tarmogoyf, reducing it to 0/1 for a single activation. This allowed decks which otherwise would’ve struggled against the green monster to deal with it profitably. 

I can tell you that, at #66, Relic of Progenitus is the highest-ranked card that I would consider to be primarily a sideboard card. 

65. Treasure Cruise

Treasure Cruise

Now very banned, it’s hard to imagine that there was a time when you could actually play with four copies of Treasure Cruise. Delver decks with Treasure Cruise were kind of like the Izzet Murktide decks of the day, with an abundance of cheap cantrips and interaction, highlighted by the backbreaking draw three. 

64. Lightning Helix

Lightning Helix

After Lightning Bolt, Lightning Helix makes a decent case for being the most important burn spell in Modern’s history. It’s been a main deck staple in decks like Zoo, Burn and Jeskai Control, as well as being a sideboard option for anyone with red and white mana. 

Helix is uniquely good with Snapcaster Mage, which has made Jeskai Control a great deck at various points, and a stone cold killer of aggro strategies. 

63. Arcum’s Astrolabe

Arcum's Astrolabe

Arcum’s Astrolabe is another card that’s now banned, but we can’t forget that this facilitated some of the most broken decks in the format’s history. For one thing, it was legal alongside Mox Opal and Oko, Thief of Crowns, so a cheap artifact that cantripped and stuck around on the battlefield was uniquely desirable. Astrolabe was also incredible with Urza, Lord High Artificer.

In addition to all of that, Arcum’s Astrolabe facilitated decks that played four or five colors of mana, and yet operated almost entirely off of basic lands. This meant being invulnerable to cards like Blood Moon, and sometimes being able to play with them yourself!

62. Walking Ballista

Walking Ballista

Walking Ballista has some very sweet combos in Modern. A few that come to mind are Heliod, Sun-Crowned, Karn, the Great Creator, Hardened Scales, Arcbound Ravager and even Basilisk Collar! In addition to all of these things, Ballista is a great standalone card, and represents a way to convert a ton of colorless mana (say, from Urza lands) into a threat, and a way to interact with cheap creatures.

61. Wild Nacatl

Wild Nacatl

One of my favorite cards! Wild Nacatl doesn’t see a ton of play these days, but it spent a ton of time on Modern’s banned list, and we shouldn’t forget how much impact it’s had on the history of the format. Zoo was the go-to strategy for the early days of the format, and Wild Nacatl was the best creature in Zoo. It’s also appeared in Burn, and in decks designed to swarm the battle with Burning-Tree Emissary and Reckless Bushwhacker

 

Header - Predictions

In the comments section below, I invite you to drop either (or both) of two predictions. First, guess a card that’ll fall into the next installment, covering #60-51. Second, guess a card that’s so iconic you think it’ll appear in the #10-#1 slot. 

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