Search for Azcanta, Growing Rites of Itlimoc, and Shaper’s Sanctuary in Modern

The journey that will take me to the next Modern Pro Tour in February is a long and tedious one. I succeed in formats that I know deeply, and now that I have months to prepare, I’m making the most of it. I’ve actually been enjoying the format a ton these last few months. I’ve tried many different decks to familiarize myself with everything, and the format is as healthy as it can get.

In fact, I’ve enjoyed it so much that it’s been jeopardizing my preparation for Nationals and the Pro Tour, since all I want to do is play Modern when I need to prepare for Standard.

With that said, I’m still going to do what I shouldn’t—prioritize Modern, for the love of the community.

Let’s see which Ixalan cards could make their way into Modern decks.

Search for Azcanta

This card might be too slow for Modern, since it is intuitively a card you want to play on turn 2 and it doesn’t interact for a couple of turns.

Yet with fetchlands, cantrips, cheap spells, and even Thought Scour, getting seven cards into the graveyard isn’t that hard, meaning that you don’t need Search for Azcanta to be active over multiple turns to flip itself. It’s also the kind of card you can hold on to until turn 4 or so when you can cast it and keep two lands untapped for interaction.

There will be matchups where not interacting on turn 2 isn’t a big deal, especially these days when the format is much slower than it used to be.

To get back to Thought Scourunfortunately, I don’t think the decks playing that card are controlling enough to actually want this enchantment, since the flip side won’t do enough. These decks usually play exclusively cheap spells, so the additional land that you get doesn’t do much, and then paying 3 mana to dig for a Serum Visions or Fatal Push is underwhelming.

I see this card shining in Blue-Red, Jeskai, and Grixis Control decks. Desolate Lighthouse is a fantastic late game land for these strategies, and Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin is a ton better. It comes with a small cost, but I don’t think it’s steep enough to stop them from playing it.

Growing Rites of Itlimoc

As a fan of Cryptolith Rite, I have to be excited about Growing Rites of Itlimoc. Creature-based combo decks like Elves and Counters Company immediately spring to mind.

If I theorize about my fake Gaea’s Cradle for Modern Elves, the first warning sign that makes me think it won’t see play is the fact that it only flips at the end of turn. That alone might not be enough to stop it. Now consider it in Counters Company and ask yourself, can my Collected Company really afford another noncreature spell? With Chord of Calling around, the answer has to be no.

It might be a nice Standard role-player, but Collected Company and Chord of Calling suppress the value of this card in Modern, and I doubt it will see play.

Shaper’s Sanctuary

This card is hard to evaluate, as nothing like it has ever existed. Leovold, Emissary of Trest is the closest thing we’ve seen, and that card isn’t remotely reasonable or legal in Modern.

A friend suggested it could be a good Affinity sideboard card against decks like Jeskai Control. I actually agree with that, because outside of Etched Champion, which gets countered or wrathed, there isn’t a specific sideboard card that is very good in this matchup.

With Path to Exile, Lightning Bolt, Lightning Helix, and Electrolyze, Jeskai typically always had decent matchups against small creature-based decks, so not only could Affinity benefit from Shaper’s Sanctuary in its sideboard—I think Infect, Elves, and all versions of the Vizier of Remedies combo could make use of it.

I’m worried that it’s too miserable of a topdeck, but it’s the kind of card that has a high ceiling and low floor. These cards are always hard to evaluate, depending on whether you can afford the low floor, and only time and testing will tell if they’re any good.


Scroll to Top