Aether Revolt has been fully spoiled, and while the focus has rightly been on Standard and Limited for the new set, I wanted to take a bit of time to discuss what I thought could see Modern play out of the set. Modern is after all, the greatest format of all time, and each new set should be celebrated for the important long term health of the format.
Ok, so what if I like casting Blood Moon and might be a little biased? I feel the same way about Modern as Frontier players on Twitter feel about Frontier. I need to get off the train of thought for a second, because there is a need for a format between Modern and Standard, and hopefully WotC will see this format need (I know someone addressed it on Tumblr) and get a filter for it on MTGO. We miss out on some really cool paper play options, like Frontier, or French Commander, or Tribal Wars (shade) because there are just no filters for it. Now my ideal format for the unnamed between Modern and Standard would either start at Return to Ravnica block, that way we get shocks and fetches, or it would start at Magic Origins, that way we don't have fetches at all, but the mana is still ok. I would rather it starts with Return to Ravnica block, because I like great mana, and do not want to leave recently printed sets out of the new format.
Regardless of how it happens, if it is Frontier with a banned list, or something else the new format will be great for Magic, as it's another way to play the game, and people should be happy with that. Playing Magic is great, and introducing (and remember right now it's just speculation) a new format lets players get more use out of their cards.
Anyways, I wrecked that train, and need to get back on the Modern track. I am not going to review every card in the set for the format, as well, Modern is a pretty specialized format, not everything is going to get a chance. It would take a very specific Modern format for (Airdrop Aeronauts) to be a powerhouse, or even played for that matter. If that ever happens I would assume that the worst has happened to Modern.
Sure there are cards that I like, (Alley Evasion) springs to mind, but just because I like it does not mean the card will see play. I love Wildfire but no one is really jamming that in Modern right?
People should be jamming Wildfire, but again, bias.
Let's start off with a look at the White cards that I think will see Modern play.
(Consulate Crackdown): At five mana this enchantment might be a little too slow against Affinity, where something like Wrath of God or Day of Judgment would be better at removing a ton of things (and let's be fair, the things we are worried about in Affinity are creatures anyway) and doing it quickly. However I do not see this card shining against Affinity. To me, this is a great card to have against Lantern Control. As it stands now (and of course this will change as the new set filters in to the metagame), they have two ways to get rid of it post board, with a copy of Nature's Claim and Seal of Primordium. Getting rid of their Ensnaring Bridge or milling win conditions is great, and while this is a later game play, it allows us to take full advantage of them and really get them for a lot of cards! There are some enchantment based RW decks in the Modern format, and that is where I would start testing this card. While Sun and Moon (the RW prison deck) is great it may not need this kind of effect. Soul Sisters might like this a lot!
I do think that Consulate Crackdown will be a sideboard card in the format, but in the right deck, it could be a killer silver bullet target, maybe in something like Enduring Ideal?
Moving on we have Sram, Senior Edificer. This is a Kor Spiritdancer that does not have a may before the card draw, and does not get bigger with each Aura on it. It also draws cards off of Equipment and Vehicles, and has two power, so maybe it is nothing at all like Kor Spiritdancer. Seriously though, I like this card a lot in Bogles, as it does not fall in line of making a terrible play much like Spiritdancer does. That play, is loading auras up on a non Hexproof dork by the way.
I mentioned Bogles, and think that the deck might see some play there, but with Legendary supertype, that will make things a bit harder. I know most Bogle decks play Spiritdancer as a three of, so it may not be a deal breaker there.
The final white card that I think will see play is (Sram's Expertise). Yes it's four mana which is a bit expensive for three tokens, but it also comes along with a free spell, so for four mana, you make three tokens and play an anthem, and suddenly you are looking at six power for four mana, which is not terrible. Making three creatures and getting a free Liliana of the Veil seems really cool too.
Looking at BW Tokens as it is built now, I can't really see a way for this card to upgrade any other card in the deck. Spectral Procession is where I would start to take out cards to test Expertise, as it closely matches the cost if you don't draw three white sources.
Other white cards that I considered were Felidar Guardian, which has the combo potential, but in three colors I just do not see it happening as often as it could in Modern. The colors may not be an issues but the amount of high quality removal will for sure hinder it. Decommission seems like a pretty nice spell, the life gain from Revolt might come in handy. Solemn Recruit seems kinda cute, but Mirran Crusader has protection from Black and Green, it's probably the better of the 1WW 2/2 Double Strikers. Other than that, white seems pretty weak for Modern.
If white seemed weak, blue probably seems uninspiring to say the least. I have seen people all about some Baral, Chief of Compliance, but it seems a little gimmicky for my tastes. The cost reduction is nice, but I am not sold on it otherwise. I've also seen people say Whir of Invention is the next big thing, especially for Eggs decks, but that card costs UUU. That's a prohibitive mana cost, even in the eggs deck. It's not a super exciting spell to me. It will of course see play, but I think Reshape is better than Whir, though in rare cases, Whir is better, like when you have UUU and no other artifacts to sacrifice.
Baral’s Expertise is one of the cards I am kinda cool with in the set. I love the Magic Christmasland play of bounce two of your threats and my Thought-Knot Seer, replaying my Seer for free and taking the best threat. I think this is a really nice tempo play, but I am not sure where in Modern that it fits. Maybe Bant Eldrazi? Maybe a Taking Turns deck? The downside of this, and probably the biggest strike against it, is the sorcery speed that it has. I do love the card though, so I am taking the risk of being incredibly wrong and saying that it will see some Modern play.
Disallow is next on my list of cards that should see play. It is easier to cast than Voidslime, does more than Squelch and a little less than Trickbind, but the hard counter ability of Disallow gives it much more flexibility over Squelch and Trickbind. Not having to pair this with green mana I think adds some points to it as well. It's a solid, if unexciting card that should find a home in the format.
Metallic Rebuke is a real spell, and it appears to be super annoying. Giving Lantern Control a piece of countermagic may not be needed, but having the option to play it may be something that the deck appreciates. Tapping a blue source and a Lantern of Insight and Pithing Needle to blow your opponent out will be satisfying for some. Affinity gets a cheap counter spell, as does the Krark-Clan Ironworks deck, which I think will really give this card a home. Being able to cheaply protect your Open the Vaults or Faith's Reward is something the deck cares deeply about.
The last Blue card that I think will see play is Trophy Mage. It gets three casting cost artifacts, and there are some super good ones in the format. What to lock an opponent out? Get Trinisphere! Want to return some lands, how about a nice Crucible of Worlds? Maybe you need some removal? Oblivion Stone can get the job done! Need some life? Crack a Bottle Gnomes. How about a combo engine? You can get Cloudstone Curio, Cloud Key or Extraplanar Lens. There are a lot of outstanding cards to get, Ensnaring Bridge, Damping Matrix, Loxodon Warhammer and a host of others are great targets.
Heck you can even get a Cluestone if you really need it!
We're 1600 words in, let's talk about the black cards that might see play in Modern from Aether Revolt.
Battle at the Bridge is an Improvise spell that kills a creature and gives you some life. Sorcery speed is again a negative to the card, but I think there is a home for removal that essentially costs B and gives you life as well in the format.
Of course Fatal Push is going to see play in the format, I'm just not excited about it. In Jund this is outclassed by stuff like Terminate which for two mana kills just about everything dead (outside of Kor Firewalker of course). Lightning Bolt also goes to the face. Abzan has Path to Exile. I like the idea behind Fatal Push, but the decks that it makes the most sense in have cards that out class it. So maybe Fatal Push does not see play in those established decks, and maybe makes a BG deck an opition. Maybe it brings back Death Cloud?
Or maybe it just gets a few copies added in Jund and Abzan and the world keeps spinning.
Yahenni’s Expertise is a real dang card and I can't wait to cast this, wipe the board and then draw three with Ancestral Vision. I think this Expertise may be the best card for the format out of the set. Four mana is not a huge cost in a color that all about hand disruption and removal, and pairing it with Blue could give a control deck a boost in the format. If you're not casting Vision off this, what about killing a large part of the board (or everything, whatever) and dropping half of the Thopter Foundry Sword of the Meek combo into play for free? What about killing everything and casting a Thoughtseize to take whatever they may have rebuilt with? Or killing everything and dropping a Bitterblossom into play? Gosh Expertise into Liliana of the Veil is going to be an annoying play.
Secret Salvage looks like a really cool, albeit, restricted tutor but I am not sure it has a place in the format. Five mana is a lot for a black spell, and typically if you are casting a five casting cost black spell in the format you should be winning the game when that resolves. Here's looking at you Ad Nauseam!. Gifted Aetherborn is pretty neat too but I am pretty sure it will not see play. I think it would fit in best in Abzan or Jund, but the competition for two drops is already fierce, and I am pretty sure that this card is not as good as Dark Confidant, Scavenging Ooze or Grim Flayer. Maybe this would be an okay sideboard card for a UB control deck?
I'm two thousand words in, and I am going to call it a day. The second part of this will be up tomorrow on the other site I work for so for thoughts on Red, Green and everything else make sure you stop by, or check my twitter feed for a link to it!
I hope that this generates some discussion, so if I failed to mention something that you think might see some play in Modern, please leave a comment!
Thanks for hanging out with us here at Puremtgo!