With Magic Origins looking like one of the most interesting and powerful core sets in a long time, I’ve been pretty excited to test new Standard for the upcoming Pro Tour and Grand Prix San Diego. That being said, some folks have PPTQs to win, and Modern is still the name of the game there so I thought I’d give a run-down of what I think will be major (and in some cases minor) players from the newest set. I love Modern because the decks are quite powerful, but not so powerful that new cards are incapable of shaking up the format.
Archangel of Tithes
This one is definitely more of a niche player, but reminds me of what was secretly the best Birthing Pod hate card that no one really played in Angel of Jubilation. With the same mana cost, the Archangel won’t fit easily into a lot of decks, but should be pretty powerful against anyone attacking with a swarm of creatures such as Affinity, Merfolk, Elves, and maybe even Splinter Twin. I don’t think this card will see a ton of play, but if you were playing Ghostly Prison before, consider replacing it with this tough-to-kill Angel instead—if your mana base can support it.
This card is almost a shoe-in to see play in a bunch of different sideboards as an answer to some of the more unfair things that people get up to. I don’t recommend it against Twin, as it only buys you a turn and won’t really have a lot of other upsides in the matchup, but it’s great against the terrifying new Grishoalbrand deck! Remember that they don’t have to put their fatty into play with Through the Breach, so while it effectively counters it, it doesn’t net you the same 2-for-1 that it does against Goryo’s Vengeance.
I love that this is also maindeckable in the same way that Shadow of Doubt is, although the number of decks that have no viable “targets” is almost certainly higher. I would expect some decks that occasionally struggle with Collected Company strategies, such as UWR Control, to probably add a few copies.
I’m not really sure if this card comes at a good enough rate to see any play, but I do love a Grizzly Bear with upside. Part of the problem for Relic Seeker might also be that equipment is at what might be an all-time worst in Modern with the uptick in Kolaghan’s Command. For now, I’d advise staying away, but keep this guy in mind in case we get some sick new equipment.
This is a card that really excites me! The prospect of being able to jam effectively 8 Thalias and get more than one copy of this effect stacked up definitely has some potential. My first thought was of Owen’s old 45% Zoo deck (so dubbed because he kept playing it despite it having only 45/55 matchups across the board) but I actually think it will be best in a non-combo Collected Company shell. While it is somewhat of a nombo with Company itself, the two cards incentivize you to play similar creature-heavy strategies so I think it should work out just fine. Consider the following rough list based off of Jacob Wilson’s Bant Company deck:
This deck could easily just lock your spell-heavy opponents out with a quick mana creature and a double-Sphere-effect draw! I can’t imagine you want any of these if you’re not already playing Thalia, but it is exactly the kind of effect that gets better in multiples.
Frank Karsten already did a pretty good job covering this one, so I’ll leave it to him.
Harbinger of the Tides
This card is pretty appealing for Merfolk decks, giving them some much-needed instant-speed interaction that they can put into play with Aether Vial. Outside of that, most decks that can support the UU cost are probably not super interested in the effect, although I wouldn’t be astonished if it showed up somewhere like Shouta’s Eternal Command deck as an additional tempo play that’s great with Aether Vial.
This is a pretty good hate card against Burn, but probably too narrow to be considered over something like Negate or Flashfreeze. However, if it’s a matchup you really need a card against, keep this one in mind.
This kind of card isn’t exactly my specialty, but the effect is pretty potent. I think ultimately if this card is successful it’s more likely to be in Legacy where the rituals of the Dark and Cabal variety can power it up. Modern Storm decks really can’t afford to stretch their mana base to accommodate it, so it would likely require a whole new deck.
I’m somewhat high on this guy right now in any deck that has Chord of Calling or Fauna Shaman. I almost always want access to at least one copy of a “destroy target creature” effect and for a long time that meant Shriekmaw. However, with the rise of Tasigur and Siege Rhino lately, ‘ol Shrieky has lost some of his luster. Add to that that Winnower isn’t 100% dead against Affinity (although it’ll still be one of the first cards to hit the sideboard) and I think we’ve got a winner.
The Elves deck is gaining some new toys in this set that may make them want to reconsider their white splash in favor of a darker side. Giving an attacker deathtouch is nice with Ezuri’s Overrun ability, and could help you break through Tarmogoyfs in your non-Ezuri games. In Standard, it might be more challenging to try and play a mana base that can support both a black and green 1-drop, but that should be trivial in Modern with Cavern of Souls and shock/fetch mana bases.
Most of the time when Tarmogoyf decks are boarding in Damnation, they’re not doing so to deal with other ‘Goyfs and Rhinos. This means that Languish will often be good enough to kill off whatever swarm of creatures you’re looking to deal with. The only problem I forsee is that Arcbound Ravager will often be able to mostly negate your would-be wrath, which might be a bit of an issue. However, if a wrath for the various Voice/Finks decks is what you’re in the market for, I think this is where you want to be.
The rate here isn’t too much worse than Boros Charm, and against slower decks that you expect to be packing a lot of countermagic, this could be exactly the kind of finisher that you’re looking for. With Dispel’s stock at an all-time high, being a sorcery isn’t nearly the kind of drawback that it used to be!
This little guy is pretty awesome and could certainly herald the return of Goblins as a competitive Modern deck. Protection from blue is actually hugely relevant here as it means that you’ll be able to attack through a Snapcaster Mage and avoid being tapped down by a Deceiver Exarch. There are definitely some potential obstacles to Goblins becoming a super competitive deck, but they’re mostly the same ones that the Elves and Merfolk decks face and both of those decks have won Grand Prix in the last month.
Any time a card has such a low cost for such a powerful effect, it’s worth looking into. It’s likely that this is just a worse Faithless Looting in Loam decks, as once you have your engine going, the difference between discarding one and two lands is relatively small. However, it’s also possible that a Loam deck is interested in a few more virtual copies of what is usually their best card, or that there’s some other use for this that I haven’t been able to think of yet.
It seems extremely unlikely to me that any card that wants to make good use of this effect couldn’t afford to just play Seismic Assault instead. They’re both going to want heaps of red mana and being able to activate Assault for free is just too important.
Probably not a big deal, considering how much worse this is generally going to be than Reclamation Sage, but this is the cheapest version of this creature I can remember. Keep it in mind if you find yourself needing a Ranger of Eos target that has this effect.
Dwynen, Gilt-Leaf Daen
The Elf deck is typically more interested in the +1/+1 half of a lord than the body attached, and also don’t usually max out on Elvish Champion meaning that they’d probably turn to that before adding a 4-mana lord.
I haven’t fully wrapped my mind around this card yet, but anything that goes well with Voice of Resurgence and Kitchen Finks is enough to excite me. Here’s a (very very rough) first draft of something you could do with this:
Evolutionary Leap Midrange
I know I mentioned before wanting Winnower over Shriekmaw, but the prospect of sacrificing it with the evoke trigger on the stack is just too appealing to pass up. Collected Company also obviously plays well with the same kind of cards you’ll often want in this kind of shell, so that avenue is worth exploring as well.
Another reprint that could be extremely impactful, the Elvish Ringleader can help the Elf deck grind through removal. I’m a bit wary that it doesn’t help you interact with opponents who are trying to do something more broken than you, as 4 is a ton of mana for a card that doesn’t immediately have a huge impact on the board. Still, this should be a solid sideboard card at the very least and I wouldn’t be remotely surprised to see a few copies make their way into the main deck.
A potential Twin creature that has better stats than most. Not being able to tap down a land before going off and dying to Lightning Bolt probably means that this is not where you want to be.
Shaman of the Pack
This is the big payoff for playing black in your Elf deck. There will be games where you just find a couple copies of this guy and that’s enough to finish off your opponent. It doesn’t help insulate you from sweepers any, which obviously is a big problem for a deck like Elves, but keep this one in mind if Ghostly Prisons or Ensnaring Bridges are becoming a big problem for you.
That’s all I’ve got for this week. Are there any cards from Origins that you’re itching to try out in Modern? Sound off in the comments!