Hello Magic players and welcome back to the second half of my Top 10 new cards for Modern of 2018. If you missed the first half, numbers 6 through 10, you can read about it here. Just like last week I will be looking at cards printed in a Standard set that make an impact on the Modern format.
5. Knight of Autumn
Magic players love to capitalize on enters-the-battlefield abilities. Cards such as Restoration Angel, Collected Company, and Chord of Calling are prime examples of cards used in decks to put these creatures into play when their abilities will be most useful. Knight of Autumn is just the recent example of creatures used this way. Jasper Grimmer achieved a 10th place finish at GP Liverpool with such a deck.
Ever since the banning of Birthing Pod, decks that assemble a creature combo have still appeared in Modern even if they have not been consistently at the top tables. The reason these remain around is that they are mostly creature based. While the cards themselves may not appear in the same set, there comes a time when there are enough creature cards to assemble a strong deck. This is no different. Using cards such as Chord of Calling, Collected Company, and Eldritch Evolution it help makes the deck into a toolbox deck of sorts, allowing the player to always find the best card for the situation. Knight of Autumn is not in the main deck in most decks like this, but just because it’s in the sideboard does not diminish its impact.
Getting your choice of a 4/3 creature, destroying an artifact, an enchantment, or gaining 4 life is a lot to choose from; that versatility is what puts this card on my list.
4. Assassin’s Trophy
When this card was revealed many of you wondered what my thoughts were. This card has not only been great for Jund decks to streamline removal spells, but it also has caused the rise of The Rock over Jund. Yes players have been dropping red cards in favor of a more streamlined mana base, and perhaps a better removal suite.
However it’s not just in those decks. It’s also showing up, often times over Abrupt Decay in other Modern decks: Dredge, Traverse Death’s Shadow, and Tezzerator. The card even shows up in Legacy to either supplement or replace Abrupt Decay. This is a card you will want to have in your collection so get them now while they are in Standard.
Here is my current Jund list.
4 Liliana of the Veil
4 Blackcleave Cliffs
4 Verdant Catacombs
3 Bloodstained Mire
3 Raging Ravine
2 Overgrown Tomb
1 Blood Crypt
1 Stomping Ground
1 Treetop Village
1 Twilight Mire
1 Wooded Foothills
Before Guilds of Ravnica was released the removal suite in Jund had a lot of 1 or 2-ofs in the deck. It was difficult to win vs decks like Tron, Grishoalbrand, or Titan Shift when you draw an Abrupt Decay instead of your Terminate, or 1-of Dreadbore or Maelstrom Pulse. Assassin’s Trophy fixes that by streamlining the removal spells in the deck, allowing them to focus on what they do best.
Midrange decks are always well oiled machines when the best cards for the deck are consistently drawn throughout the game. This is why there are four copies of most cards, including Bloodbraid Elf. Coming off the banned list back in February really helped put Jund back on the map, and even though there may be some difficult matchups it still does well in most tournaments currently. However with that said if you experience more opponents where Fatal Push is an absolute dead card consider replacing it with cards that will be more beneficial to your overall plan without diluting the deck a great deal. Terminate, Dreadbore, and Maelstrom Pulse are spells that come to mind while Tireless Tracker can provide some more offense.
3. Creeping Chill
Do you feel it? There’s something in the air. A cool breeze? A ting of winter? Nope. It’s Creeping Chill. Perhaps the most talked about card during the first week of Guilds of Ravnica’s release, this card appears to have been made to use with the Surveil mechanic in Standard. However, it has provided power to one of the current known decks in Modern while also causing players to feel the deck is overpowered (again): Dredge.
One thing you may notice with the deck on first glance is that all of the spells are sorceries. Another thing is the lack of fetchlands. Yes I understand that this may hamper bringing back Bloodghasts from the graveyard, however I wanted to build it in this manner to highlight that not only could you build a budget version, but show that it is still good enough for FNM play.
What Creeping Chill has done is provide a FREE Lightning Helix for Dredge. This card can help put games away very early depending on the sequence of cards seen while Dredging, but do not be afraid of simply casting this spell for its mana cost. Sometimes that alone can give you the win.
2. Arclight Phoenix
The Phoenix has not only been a known fantasy trope, but one that the designers of Magic: the Gathering has trying to make great for a long time. Few Phoenix cards have made much of an impact, unfortunately. Chandra’s Phoenix worked well when paired with a Chandra planeswalker, Rekindling Phoenix has been a good card in Standard since it’s been printed, however Flamewake Phoenix has been the one that has had the most impact on Modern. Until now.
How would you like having up to 20 power in play before you attack With this deck, ran by Ross Merriam winning the SCG Baltimore Open, the deck was moved from it’s mono red version to incorporate blue for Thing In The Ice, and card draw. A lot of decks with this color combination focused on Thing In The Ice, and Snapcaster Mage to tempo the opponent, but this version is far more aggressive.
Not only is this deck quite powerful, but is also another home for Faithless Looting which improves the diversity of Modern. That is always a good thing. With the cheap costs of the spells one can consistently bring back Arclight Phoenix from the graveyard, and can hastily spell the end of your opponent.
How do you get 20 damage? Well you start with a Thing In The Ice in play, cast at least 3 spell, have 4 Arclight Phoenix in the graveyard to bring into play, and cast a Monastery Swiftspear. That seems pretty strong. Also bonus points for a deck that has given Izzet Charm a home.
1. Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
Was there ever any doubt? Those of us who enjoy Azorius Control have had quite the renaissance over the last year haven’t we?
- Search For Azcanta was released in Ixalan in fall of 2017
- Jace, the Mind Sculptor was removed from the banned list in February 2017
- Teferi, Hero of Dominaria was released in Dominaria in April 2018
These color combinations have not been this great since Eldrazi Winter a few years ago due to the dominance of the Eldrazi from Battle For Zendikar, and Oath of the Gatewatch. We are fortunate that those decks are no longer around, but that does not mean there are less threats for us to deal with.
While many will point out some “mistakes” with how Teferi was designed, however this “three mana planeswalker” still requires 5 mana to play. I’m not saying it’s not powerful (it is!), but this appears more of a piece to a puzzle than a build around type of card.
Long time readers will know I love Azorius Control decks. The fewer creatures the better. If you are like me then this is the deck for you. Each format always needs a deck that truly counters what the opponent is playing, and this deck does exactly that. One thing to keep in mind when evaluating Teferi, Hero of Dominaria is it reminds me of a card Azorius players once used many summers ago.
While they are truly different cards, what Sword of Feast and Famine showed us was that untapping lands to leave up counterspells is AWESOME for us to progress our game plan. Teferi, Hero of Dominaria does a similar stunt allowing you to untap 2 lands ready for use on your opponent’s turn. Unlike the sword, untapping with Teferi feels very powerful, and locks you into playing solely at instant speed (which is where we always want to be). Teferi’s power can not be argued, and it is far and above the best new card for Modern in 2018.
The power level of Modern, in my opinion, is in a balanced place at the moment. If the current level of new card design is not only to give us similar cards, but keep the Modern format diverse like it is now, then I for once am looking forward to what the next year brings.
Next week I will look at the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly from 2018. Instead of specific cards these will be highlights or events that have happened this year.
Until next time…
TAP MORE MANA!!!
Scott Campbell, better known as MTGPackFoils, has been playing Magic since he was 17 (which was in 1993). He’s known for loving decks such as Azorius Control, Jund, and others (especially in Modern). He is a husband, father, and a former nightclub DJ.