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. We’re getting very close to the top of the list! Today I have #20-11 to share with you.
20. Mishra’s Bauble
Mishra’s Bauble is a zero mana way to draw a card. Not only that, but it’s also a way to trigger prowess, create an artifact, fill your graveyard and add a useful card type for the purposes of delirium or massive Tarmogoyfs.
Through its many uses, Mishra’s Bauble peaked when Lurrus of the Dream-Den (#38) was legal as a companion. A low-cost, zero-mana permanent that you could recur turn after turn for free value became one of the best cards in the format. Even today, it maintains its value because of prowess, delve, delirium and a handful of other great uses.
Ah Tarmogoyf… for so long it was the undisputed best creature in MTG. Today it’s merely… the disputed best creature in MTG. There’s no easier way to get a massive amount of stats on the cheap. Tarmogoyf dominates combat and is very difficult to kill with red burn spells. This was especially true before the printing of Unholy Heat (#48).
Tarmogoyf is at its strongest when attacking and blocking on the ground are important aspects of the format. It’s one of the best cards you can have when decks like Zoo, Burn and Red Prowess are popular.
18. Mox Opal
Mox Opal was the best thing to happen for artifact-based strategies ever in Modern. It was a key card in the classic Affinity deck, but has also made an appearance in some of the most broken decks ever to see the light of day, like Krark-Clan Ironworks and Urza.
Mox Opal is currently banned, and I can tell you that it’s the highest ranked card that has at any point been banned in Modern. The fact that it’s ranked so highly while having missed the last two years of play is a testament to its power.
17. Inkmoth Nexus
Among dozens of highly-relevant creature-lands, Inkmoth Nexus is very likely the best. Affinity and Hardened Scales use Cranial Plating and Arcbound Ravager (#27) to one-shot opponents. Colossus Hammer does it with its namesake Equipment, while Infect can do it with a flurry of pump spells capped off by Become Immense.
Such a low-cost, colorless creature-land slots into so many powerful strategies, and pairs well with some of the other best cards in the format.
16. Primeval Titan
Primeval Titan has been a pillar of the Modern format since day one, and remains so today. In the old days it would’ve found Cloudpost and Glimmerpost while at other points it would’ve searched up Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle (#37) or Field of the Dead. Today, it’s all about Amulet Titan with bounce lands powering out Titans that can win the game in a variety of different ways.
This is the closest thing Modern has to a “one-card win.” Primeval Titan is remarkably reasonable to cast, and almost always generates enough value that it will lead to a win, even if the opponent winds up getting one more turn before it’s lights out.
Whether you love it or hate it (I’m guessing you hate it), Urzatron is one of the most iconic strategies of Modern. The most successful version has been Mono-Green Tron, which maximizes the chance of turn three Tron by using Expedition Map (#51), Ancient Stirrings (#36) and Sylvan Scrying (#91). But over the years we’ve also seen Mono-Blue Tron, U/W Tron and Eldrazi Tron.
Lands that tap for multiple mana are broken, and tend to be well worth building around. In Modern, there’s no shortage of game-winning plays you can make when you find yourself with seven or more mana to spend way ahead of schedule.
14. Basic and Snow-Covered Lands
Okay, this one is a little boring, but at least I didn’t use my whole top 10 list the way I originally wanted to, on the five basics and the five Snow-Covered basics.
The fact is that basic lands, Snow-Covered or otherwise, are a big deal in Modern. Path to Exile (#23), Field of Ruin (#49) and Ghost Quarter keep everyone honest with playing at least a modest number of basics in their deck. More than that, having untapped, painless sources of mana is crucial when facing fast aggro decks like Burn, Zoo or Humans.
With the release of Modern Horizons, Snow-Covered basics became hugely important again, with decks featuring Arcum’s Astrolabe (#63) and Ice-Fang Coatl (#84) running roughshod over the format for quite some time.
13. Dragon’s Rage Channeler
Dragon’s Rage Channeler is one of the new kids on the block that now challenges Tarmogoyf for the title of best creature in MTG. Channeler is cheap, aggressive, evasive, filters your draws and even fills your graveyard for a variety of other uses.
12. Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer
In Modern Horizons 2, Dragon’s Rage Channeler (#13) came hand in hand with another amazing red one-drop: Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer. It’s incredible that these creatures have been around for such a relatively short amount of time, and are nearly topping the list of most defining cards in the history of the format. They even compete against each other for slots!
Ragavan runs away with games like few cards ever have. If someone has an unanswered Ragavan on the play, their chances of winning skyrocket. The legendary Monkey is banned in Legacy due to the unhealthy play pattern of casting him early and protecting him with free spells. The same treatment has been discussed for Modern, though Ragavan remains legal and incredibly potent.
11. Cascade Spells
Using cascade cards to cheat out one key spell is a long and proud tradition in Modern. Hypergenesis was an old Extended deck which was preemptively banned when the Modern format was born. However, that didn’t stop Living End (#94) from becoming a longstanding pillar of the format. Restore Balance, Glimpse of Tomorrow, Tibalt’s Trickery and Valki, God of Lies have all been desirable cascades at varying times and in varying archetypes. Over the past year, Temur Cascade with Crashing Footfalls has become one of the most successful decks in Modern.
In the comments section below, I invite you to predict a card that you believe is so iconic that it will appear in the #10-#1 slot.