Throne of Eldraine spoilers are now fully underway. While David dissected the set’s mechanics earlier this week, today’s post reviews the cards themselves to see how they might fare in our shifting Modern format. It also revisits an old brew of mine using a certain exciting newcomer. Let’s dance!
So far, four cards stand out to me as clear includes in existing Modern strategies.
Which strategy does Deafening Silence fit into? Not-Storm, Not-Phoenix, Not-Whirza. But anyone looking to beat these kinds of high-velocity, spell-based combo decks should consider the enchantment for their sideboards. It’s white, sure, but so are most of the format’s best sideboard cards. And at just one mana, Silence provides a definite improvement over the previous best-of-breed, Rule of Law, whose ability to slow creature onslaughts isn’t so relevant in a format where decks looking to dump many bodies onto the field are trying to have you dead by the time Rule can even be cast.
The Royal Scions
After Wrenn and Six, Modern players may be a bit spoiled, making it tougher to evaluate new planeswalkers fairly. But I think The Royal Scions is nonetheless pushed for its mana cost, and will see play in decks that don’t need their planeswalkers to come down and immediately protect themselves. It’s a hard-to-remove card filtering engine mixed with Ancestral Vision, as three turns after cast, the Scions’ ultimate threatens to bury opponents in card advantage—and damage. Expect Blue Moon to sleeve these up for sure, and for other Izzet-colored decks to consider Scions as a bullet for the grindy post-board games where Saheeli or Keranos can shine.
Charming Prince is indeed a Human, but that deck is so stretched for space the 2/2 might not make it there. Instead, I expect Prince to make waves in the new set of Blink decks ascending online. While none of Prince’s effects are especially impactful, repeating any one of them over multiple turns should prove deadly in the right matchup. And the creature combines quite a bit of utility on one card, offering synergy, card selection, and help during a damage race.
Once Upon a Time
On to my favorite card of the set. A series of memes I’ve seen on social media lately compare Once Upon a Time to Ancient Stirrings, alternately arguing the card will break Tron or replace the one-mana cantrip when it’s inevitably (their word, not mine) banned.
But I don’t see Time excelling in Tron, where unlike Stirrings it can’t find many payoffs; besides, that deck is already in the habit of aggressively mulliganing into its lands, so settling for a free Ancient Stirrings isn’t really in the cards.
Rather, the two decks I expect Time to revolutionize are Eldrazi decks and mana dork decks. The former are always in the market for another copy of Eldrazi Temple, and are made up of mostly creatures anyway. In GR and GW Eldrazi, for instance, Time has about as many hits as Stirrings, and I’d rather grab Bloodbraid Elf or Stoneforge Mystic than a mana rock.
An eternal struggle of mana dork decks is how much better they are when starting with a dork on turn one. Of course, they also need a payoff spell, and a second land to ensure ramping to three mana on turn two should the dork live. Once Upon a Time helps on all fronts, helping what are already often combo-focused decks assemble their pieces quickly and efficiently. Devoted Druid combo decks seem like the scariest shell for Time so far.
Throne of Eldraine also includes plenty of cards that appear interesting on the surface, but may or may not make it into Modern as full-timers. These cards might already have homes, but at the cost of competing with established options for space. Their inclusion depends mostly on how the metagame shakes out.
Murderous Rider: BGx decks ran Hero’s Downfall years ago. Nowadays, the card is better suited to greenless black decks, as Assassin’s Trophy fills up the flex removal spots in Golgari, Jund, and Abzan. Grixis Control, UB Faeries, and Mono-Black are all lower-tier contenders that should appreciate the upgrade to Rider, a Downfall that turns into a creature after use.
Questing Beast: As far as Throne‘s pushed creatures go, Beast takes the cake. But its Modern viability is up in the air. Beast has uses against Jund and UW, decks that frequently hide behind Liliana of the Veil or Teferi, Time Raveler on turn three. Answering these walkers with Beast requires pilots to be ahead on mana and to have Beast at the right time, which may be too many demands; on the other hand, the card might slot into mid-size beatdown decks like Zoo as a curve-topper.
Wishclaw Talisman: With Whir of Invention-fueled combo decks on the rise, and Karn, the Great Creator increasingly relied upon as a finisher for any mana-generating strategy, Wishclaw may find a home in Modern. It turns both cards into tutors for any card in the deck, but players will need to find ways to capitalize on the search in a game-winning way for that to be enough.
Emry, Lurker of the Loch: Remember Blue Steel? That and other fringe artifact decks may find a friend in Emry, an easily castable grinding engine. For my part, I’m eager her alongside Mishra’s Bauble, Mox Opal, and Mox Amber to rush out some planeswalkers.
Giant Killer: Killer may prove a bit niche in the end, but the utility of a one-drop Human that keeps an opponent’s best combat creature at bay while offering the upside of sniping another one gives it potential in certain metagames. After all, we saw Big Game Hunter rear its head in Death’s Shadow-dominated Modern. If GW Eldrazi really is on the precipice of a format takeover, a creature that handles Batterskull tokens and Reality Smashers at once may have its day.
Hypnotic Sprite: Another adventure creature, Sprite’s front end is a bit pricey for traditional Modern play. The card could find more luck as part of a Faeries deck, though, as an all-in-one Snapcaster Mage, disrupting opponents and applying pressure without relying on the graveyard.
Stonecoil Serpent: Serpent enters with X +1/+1 counters, and has reach, trample, and protection from multicolor. Endless One and its ilk saw fringe play in Bridgevine strategies before Hogaak warped them into a format-destroying menace, but otherwise hasn’t done much in Modern. Serpent is a clear improvement for decks not on Eldrazi Temple, though, and should more functional 0-drops be needed somewhere, its addition of keywords should outweigh the supposed fragility of artifacts. After all, Kolaghan’s Command won’t save players from the Snake.
Vantress Gargoyle: Undercosted beaters are my favorite kinds of Magic cards. This latest one utilizes a peculiar resource—cards in an opponent’s graveyard. I’d write off Gargoyle immediately if not for Jace’s Phantasm, another card with a similar function and requirement. Perhaps the two of them together could amount to something. In any case, I’ll be testing to find out!
Bonus Brew: Rogue Runners
There’s one mythic-rare creature I left out of the tribal aggro section. Is Robber of the Rich actually red’s pushed two-drop? I sure hope not; in that case, it would invalidate my latest brew, Five Guys!
Robber has a creature type that I’m always looking for on new spoils: Rogue. I used to believe that enough playable rogues would turn Thieve’s Fortune into a forgivable cantrip, and one that turbo-charged Tarmogoyf at that. As such, I’ve brewed many decks featuring those blue and green cards.
Throwing red into the mix for Robber complicates things quite a bit, although my first two drafts of Rogues were indeed Temur-colored. I brewed that in pre-Fatal Push Modern, and before we received some critical one-drop enablers in Faerie Miscreant and Fourth-Bridge Prowler. Their addition moved the deck into Sultai.
Then there’s Stoneforge Mystic. When the card was unbanned, I toyed with the idea of splashing the 1/2 into Rogues as a Plan B with some gusto as well as a way to tutor up Cloak and Dagger. The equipment overperformed with cheap fliers like Miscreant and Faerie Impostor, but locating it early meant running multiple copies, which made the deck softer to enemy proaction and established boards. As part of a package that also insulated the deck from aggressive starts, Cloak appeared more promising.
Adding both Robber and Stoneforge meant going back to five colors. But as demonstrated by Five Guys, I ain’t skeered, especially when it comes to carving out a proof of concept.
Roguenbogen, by Jordan Boisvert
4 Faerie Miscreant
4 Fourth Bridge Prowler
4 Stoneforge Mystic
4 Robber of the Rich
1 Faerie Impostor
1 Spellstutter Sprite
1 Snapcaster Mage
3 Wrenn and Six
1 Cloak and Dagger
1 Sword of Fire and Ice
4 Thieves’ Fortune
2 Fatal Push
4 Traverse the Ulvenwald
4 Collective Brutality
4 Verdant Catacombs
4 Misty Rainforest
2 Polluted Delta
1 Blood Crypt
1 Temple Garden
1 Overgrown Tomb
1 Breeding Pool
1 Steam Vents
|Buy deck on Cardhoarder (MTGO)Buy deck on TCGPlayer (Paper)|
The idea here was to throw all my new ideas together and see which colors were the most expendable. Blue and green were locked in, as the concept itself revolves around Goyf and Thieve’s Fortune. So red, white, and black were all battling for dominion. Some quick thoughts on the deck after a few days of testing:
- Collective Brutality is crucial here as a way to unclog hands, turbo-charge delirium, and interact efficiently with opponents while setting up our admittedly terrible gameplan.
- Fire and Ice tested better than other swords given our density of fliers and need to interact with the board while attacking.
- Impostor, Spellstutter, and Snapcaster were all invaluable as Traverse targets.
- Wrenn and Six helps assemble all our colors and attacks opponents from a novel angle. The walker provides another draw to red.
- Prowler is quite hit-or-miss in this metagame. Another one-drop Rogue in a color other than black would make abandoning the color altogether a possibility. We could use Bolt as cheap removal, but would need a replacement for Brutality.
- The Stoneforge plan was obviously very useful in its own rite, but it’s far from flavorful. Nevertheless, having such unconditional access to Cloak and Dagger put serious hurting on attrition decks. Should we get more cards along Robber’s lines, we could maybe ditch white and ramp Cloak’s numbers back up again.
As for Robber itself, I was impressed with the card, but I don’t think it will see mainstream play. Asking to connect with a Rogue is all but impossible for most Modern decks, meaning if Robber dies, the cards it “drew” while alive won’t be of much use. Naturally, its utility depends on the kind of deck opponents are on, but against anyone playing fair, I found the 2/2 surprisingly adequate.
Reclaiming the Throne
After all the buzz surrounding Modern Horizons, Throne of Eldraine seems on track to remind format aficionados that Standard, too, can provide plenty of playables. Which new cards have you tinkering?
Jordan is the copy and content editor at Modern Nexus. He has played Magic since 2003, and Modern since its inception. Jordan favors card efficiency over raw power and specializes in disruptive aggro strategies. He always brings tuned brews to events.