Once again the exciting time for everyone who is at least somewhat involved in Magic has come – the release of a new set!
I think that there are two types of Magic players when it comes to new cards – you have the “Brewers“ and the “Tuners“ – the first group will immediately try to abuse new potentially broken cards, build new decks, etc. Whereas the second group will focus on improving already existing strategies with new weapons that the new set provides.
I was never really a brewer myself, so today we are going to take a look at what the new set brings to the older formats – namely: Modern and Legacy.
Lately there has been some insanely powerful cards printed that completely shifted the existence of these formats and we even saw completely new decks rise up to dominate (cards like 《Goblin Engineer》, 《Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis》 or 《Teferi, Time Raveler》), but I think that that was an exception rather than a rule – the card pool in the older formats is so large that it’s very rare that the addition of 1 extra set makes such a huge wave – what usually ends up happening is that we get a couple of role players that make an already existing deck slightly better or we get a new spicy sideboard weapon.
I think that Throne of Eldraine is going to be a set like that and we are going to go through cards that can potentially end up being played.
Potentially Playable Cards in Modern and Legacy
This card is very interesting – I don’t think that its power level is high enough to see play in main decks, but decks that have a hard time dealing with a specific permanent can be quite interested in playing this in the sideboard. If you are playing a pure combo deck, then cards like 《Echoing Truth》 or 《Chain of Vapor》 still look more appealing, but decks that can actually win through damage might be interested in running this guy instead.
Let’s take a look at Modern UR Storm deck:
4 《Steam Vents》
4 《Shivan Reef》
4 《Spirebluff Canal》
-Land (17)- 4 《Baral, Chief of Compliance》
4 《Goblin Electromancer》
4 《Sleight of Hand》
4 《Desperate Ritual》
4 《Pyretic Ritual》
4 《Gifts Ungiven》
2 《Past in Flames》
Obviously the main game plan of Storm is to just win with the combo in a single turn, but sometimes the things don’t necessarily have to go perfectly and winning with damage is not out of question – you already have creatures (not to mention 《Empty the Warrens》) and you are packing 《Grapeshot》 (and potentially 《Lightning Bolt》) so an extra 3/1 flying beater can come handy in many games.
I am not really sure about this one, because it seems a little weak compared to 《Flickerwisp》 – it can’t actually blink any of your opponents’ permanents. On the other hand it’s cheaper and more flexible so I wouldn’t be surprised to see it in any of the viable 《Aether Vial》 decks – the other two abilities don’t seem spectacular and you will be mainly running this guy for his flicker ability but the extra option is extremely relevant when facing a Burn player etc.
This card seems like a perfect fit to the Modern Urza Combo deck – it’s basically an additional copy of 《Goblin Engineer》 – it obviously has a real downside because you don’t actually know if you mill anything relevant, but the fact that it can cost only 1 mana and it doesn’t require you to sacrifice an artifact while using it (sometimes you have the only 《Thopter Foundry》 in play, so even though you have a 《Sword of the Meek》 in the graveyard you cant actually assemble the combo) means that it’s a strong contender.
The milling ability also means that cards that care about graveyard like 《Magmatic Sinkhole》 become more appealing.
This is more of a Legacy card than a Modern card – blue isn’t popular enough in Modern to make it worth it, but the fact that most decks in Legacy are blue makes this card quite appealing – I don’t think that we are going to see people jamming 4 of these into their decks – after all the downside is quite big, but it’s nice to have a 《Pyroblast》-like effect that is still playable in the nonblue matchups.
We have already seen people maindecking 《Pyroblast》 in the past and 《Mystical Dispute》 is a nice upgrade to that not to mention that it costs 1 blue instead of 1 red, so playing this doesn’t actually open you up to getting 《Wasteland》.
《Vantress Gargoyle》 is the classic card we see every now and then – it’s extremely pushed while having a huge drawback – if you find a way around the drawback you end up with an extremely powerful card. I don’t think you can rely on your opponent to have that many cards in their graveyard even in a format full of fetchlands and cantrips and a couple of 《Thought Scour》 is not gonna get the job done either, but check out this already existing deck in Modern:
4 《Prismatic Vista》
3 《Shelldock Isle》
4 《Field of Ruin》
-Land (20)- 4 《Hedron Crab》
4 《Jace’s Phantasm》
4 《Thought Scour》
4 《Visions of Beyond》
4 《Glimpse the Unthinkable》
2 《Trapmaker’s Snare》
4 《Mind Funeral》
3 《Crypt Incursion》
4 《Archive Trap》
3 《Fraying Sanity》
The UB Mill decks in Modern has been already running 《Jace’s Phantasm》 as a way to race other goldfish decks without removal and 《Vantress Gargoyle》 is basically another copy of the same card and seems perfect for this strategy.
This card will probably end up being too weak to see a Modern play – 3 mana 《Rampant Growth》 is just sadly way too slow but there is a chance that the 《Scapeshift》 decks will want to play 1-2 copies – some games can become quite grindy and topdecking a huge monster instead of a useless land can be game-changing. This is especially relevant in the post-board games as an alternative win condition.
This card is a nice new spin on a 《Birds of Paradise》 type of a card – It’s probably worse than both 《Noble Hierarch》 and 《Birds of Paradise》 but there is a chance that the 《Collected Company》 decks want to play a couple of copies – the gain ability can be very relevant (especially as a target for 《Chord of Calling》 against aggressive decks when choked on mana) and it’s a way better hit from a bad 《Collected Company》 than a useless 0/1 in a late game.
I keep hearing everyone saying how broken this card is, but I actually don’t think that it is that good – what is nice about it is that reactive decks often draw blank cards game 1 because your answer doesn’t line up well against what is your opponent doing and this card is always going to do something, but the drawback is very real – you will often not be able to cast this card on turn 2 and trust me – it feels awful to actually draw a removal spell against your aggro opponent just to find out that it doesn’t do anything.
I see this card as a nice filler in the 60th card flex spot or as a nice option for sideboard in specific decks – for example the ANT combo deck in Legacy might be interested in playing some of these in the sideboard – it’s a way to kill annoying hate bear but also a card you can bring in in some of the grinder matchups – not a powerhouse card but a nice option if your sideboarding numbers don’t line up the way you want across the metagame.
The Castle Land Cycle
I think that most of these lands will play a smaller or bigger role at some point during Magic existence, but in my opinion, the 2 that clearly pop out are the green and black one.
It’s been a very long time since they printed a card that fits the 《Smallpox》 strategy as well as this black land does – the 《Smallpox》 decks operate on exchanging resources through cards like 《Thoughtseize》, 《Liliana of the Veil》 and 《Smallpox》 while generating small values at every step to eventually leave you with something while opponent doesn’t have anything.
The problem is that you don’t always draw your “win“ card and your topdecks are horrible and this land solves those issues perfectly – you just put it in play, execute your disruptive plan and you start drawing extra cards once the dust settles.
The card obviously screams only one thing: 《Primeval Titan》! The fact that this land occasionally comes into play tapped isn’t a big deal when you consider the fact that it’s basically a 《Ancient Tomb》 for one of your key cards and I am sure that decks like Valakut and Amulet will be more than happy to add this to their cabinet. The land slots in Amulet are kinda tight already and you don’t play many 《Forest》 so it probably won’t be a playset there but the card seems bonkers for the RG Ramp strategies.
The Common Land Cycle
All these lands have a very minor effect so you might be surprised that I am even mentioning them, but the reason why they are relevant is because you can actually fetch for them – we already saw 《Dryad Arbor》 being played as a way to get a creature in play for several reasons or to dodge edict 《Diabolic Edict》 etc. And I think that the same might be the case for this cycle (except for the white and green one).
I tried my best to come up with some useful predictions but there is always some unexpected gem hiding that I haven’t expected to be an all-star at all and that is a big part of why I love Magic so much! The game is so complex that it’s hard to fully comprehend it even after all these years.
I hope you liked my article
Until next time,
Petr Sochurek (Twitter)