olaw's picture
By: olaw, Oliver Law
Jul 02 2019 7:27pm
2.27778
2931 views


Hello!

Welcome to another Modern Musings!  It feels like we have had an endless stream of new Magic cards hitting Modern in recent months.  I think a lot of people are a bit burnt out on the perpetual spoiler season that we have been having.  It's nice to have a bit of space to let a new set breathe but unfortunately that hasn't really happened with WOTC's recent schedule.

Core Set 2020 is due to hit stores in early July we have now seen the full spoiler for the set.  So, without further ado let us get into the cards that may have potential in Modern.

THE CARDS

White

Brought Back
Brought Back
This is card that has had a lot of people talking.  It's a much narrower Second Sunrise, which is banned in Modern due to the Eggs deck.  The cheaper cost has led to some people advocating this as a ramp spell along with the fetchlands but that really doesn't feel like a great reason to use this card to me.  The fact that you are limited to returning just two permanents, rather than all as with Second Sunrise, and that the permanents come into play tapped prevents this from being degenerate but WOTC is certainly playing with fire with this one.

Devout Decree
Devout Decree
On the face of it, this looks like Celestial Purge with Scry 1.  However, Purge is an instant and can hit any black or red permanent while Decree is restricted to creatures and planeswalkers.

Sephara, Sky's Blade
Sephara, Sky's Blade
After Hogaak, it's important not to misevaluate cards of this nature.  That said I think Sephara is a stretch too far in terms of its alternative casting cost.  If it were just four creatures it could be achieved speedily but the fact the creatures need to fly is an extra kicker.  Certainly Lingering Souls is a nice enabler but I think casting Sephara on Turn 4 is just too slow for Modern purposes.  Sephara has potential but it feels too slow and cumbersome to see Modern play.

Starfield Mystic
Starfield Mystic
I would say in general there are better enchantment/aura enablers like Kor Spiritdancer.  I can't really see this getting played but the cost reduction is a nice element which may come in handy some day.

Blue

Brineborn Cutthroat
Brineborn Cutthroat
A decent two-drop in the Merfolk tribe but not one that sees out the existing option of Lords and Silvergill Adept.

Spectral Sailor
Spectral Sailor
Spectral Sailor is an interesting new one-drop.  While not exceptional it is a decent one-drop which can be flashed into play and becomes a draw engine in the long game.  I am not sure it sees out Mausoleum Wanderer in UW Spirit decks but may still be a card of interest for those decks.  Spectral Sailor is also a nice card to pair with the new Ninjutsu cards from Modern Horizons.

Tale's End
Tale's End
In a similar vein to Trickbind, though slightly broader.  Being able to counter Legendary spells allows you to counter a number of prominent cards in the format as well as planeswalkers.  However, in general I think Tale's End is likely to be too narrow for Modern play.

Black

Blightbeetle
Blightbeetle
Protection is making a return in Core Set 2020.   A pretty powerful card against Hardened Scales Affinity but otherwise a pretty narrow hate card.

Embodiment of Agonies
Embodiment of Agonies
This is a unique design for a card and one with some real potential.  I think you want to be getting 4+ power and toughness on this for it to be really worthwhile but it would be interesting to see how difficult that is.  Thought Scour and Dredge cards seem like some of the most obvious enablers.  I'm really unsure just how powerful this card is but in a world where graveyard hate is very prevalent I think it will struggle to impact Modern.

Seems like a fun back-up to Soulflayer in Soulflayer Surprise decks but sadly it has the same weaknesses to graveyard hate.

Knight of the Ebon Legion
Knight of the Ebon Legion
A decent one-drop for Vampire tribal.  While not insane it is a growing threat and a late game mana sink.  Having your opponent lose 4 life is quite a big ask though - it would be interesting if it triggered on the loss of 2 or more life as you could then net counters off Ravnica duals but the bar seems too high.

Legion's End
Legion's End
A solid hate card against the Devoted Druid/Vizier of Remedies combo if that starts to gain real prevalence in the format.  It's also a tidy answer to Bloodghast but that doesn't seem like a terribly good use of your energies.  Potential sideboard roleplayer for the future.

Rotting Regisaur
Rotting Regisaur
Holy power creep!  Rotting Regisaur is a 7/6 for just three-mana which is pretty insane even by Modern standards.  That said currently people are casting Hogaak on Turn 2 so maybe it's not so insane after all.  The card does come with a very real drawback but it's aggressive enough that it could see play.  As a Zombie and with a lot of other solid Zombie support cards printed in Modern Horizons I am intrigued if we might be getting to a point where Zombie tribal is viable.  The main problem is that there doesn't seem a lot of reason to try that when you can just play Hogaak Vine for a much more explosive deck.

Scheming Symmetry
Scheming Symmetry
A cheap and powerful tutor effect but obviously the symmetry, reflected in the card name itself, is the problem.  Much like Day's Undoing, in normal circumstances your opponent will get to draw their choice of card first.  There are numerous ways around that - including using a draw spell to obtain your card first or milling your opponent after casting this.  It's tricky to think of a deck at the moment that gains enough from this kind of tutor enough to make that kind of effort though.  UB Mill is probably the deck best set up to use this card but it's questionable whether it's worth the risk of assisting your opponent.

Vilis, Broker of Blood
Vilis, Broker of Blood
Griselbrand this is not but certainly untapping with Vilis in play presents a very scary picture for the opponent.

Yarok's Fenlurker
Yarok's Fenlurker
Potentially of interest to Mono-Black Devotion decks as a worse Kitesail Freebooter or Mesmeric Fiend but one that gives you a couple of black mana symbols and permanently deals with whatever card it gets rid of.

Red

Chandra, Acolyte of Flame
Chandra, Acolyte of Flame
The three-mana Chandra seems like the most Modern playable to me.  Let's run through young Chandra's abilities:

  • +0 - This is essentially a +1 do nothing unless you happen to have multiple red planeswalkers in play which seems unlikely most of the time.
  • +0 - This creates two temporary 1/1 elementals that can attack in with haste.  Not terribly good as they cannot protect Chandra but it's a couple of extra points of damage on an empty or tapped out board.
  • -2 - This is really where it's at for Chandra.  Flashback on a spell in your graveyard is decent and if Chandra survives for you to activate it more than once you are really getting a good deal for the three mana paid.  It can also be abused by casting cards like Ancestral Vision and other 0-cast cards for immediate use.

I think the young Chandra is probably a little slow to see Modern play, however, if Chandra can live beyond the turn you cast her then she can be a real problem for opponents.  Also, with 4 starting loyalty she takes a bit of effort to deal with.

Drakuseth, Maw of Flames
Drakuseth, Maw of Flames
Give Drakuseth haste and it's pretty insane.  It can easily wipe a board of creatures or deal 11 damage to the dome in one fell swoop.  In simpler times this would be a sweet reanimation target.  Destined to be a sweet Commander though I'm sure.

Fry
Fry
Splinter Twin unban confirmed?

Goblin Ringleader
Goblin Ringleader
This is a tasty reprint for Goblin decks.  Ringleader provides a powerful card advantage engine for Goblins decks and with the recent boost from Modern Horizons it could make a real impact.

Leyline of Combustion
Leyline of Combustion
An interesting card but it feels like a hate card that nobody asked for.  Clearly very good against Grapeshot, Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle, Burn and 8-Rack decks but they don't occupy enough of the metagame to be worth dedicating large numbers of sideboard slots to.

Thunderkin Awakener
Thunderkin Awakener
This card is quite exciting.  Haste means you can get value out of this immediately and its reanimation ability is pretty tasty.  Lightning Skelemental is a prime target for Awakener's ability and one that keeps returning itself to the graveyard for repeated use.  As an Elemental Shaman you can also combine it with Rage Forger to get back bigger Elementals.  This card is a really fun build around.

Green

Barkhide Troll
Barkhide Troll
Unlikely to see out Strangleroot Geist as the Mono-Green Stompy/Devotion's two-drop of choice but it's a decent alternative.

Elvish Reclaimer
Elvish Reclaimer
A solid creature that does a nice impression of Knight of the Reliquary.  I fear it's too slow to become a threat, even with fetchlands, to be a real contender in Modern.

Ferocious Pup
Ferocious Pup
Market Research must really be pushing these cute dog/cat/animal cards because we seem to get one in every set now.

Leyline of Abundance
Leyline of Abundance
A new Leyline for green which has had a bit of a raw deal with its previous Leyline options.  Leyline of Abundance seems like solid combo fodder or perhaps just mass mana generation in an Elves deck.  Leyline of Anticipation + Birds of Paradise/Noble Hierarch + Freed from the Real allows you to generate infinite mana and make an infinitely large attacker as early as Turn 2.

Season of Growth
Season of Growth
Potentially useful card for Bogles, though I don't know if Kor Spiritdancer just does a better job.  Certainly makes for an alternative draw engine that is more difficult to remove that is still in keeping with the enchantment theme of the deck.

Veil of Summer
Veil of Summer
A decent if fairly narrow hate card.  It replaces itself provided you are casting it in response to a black or blue spell, which naturally you would, and it protect you, your creatures and your spells for the rest of the turn.

Woodland Champion
Woodland Champion
A creature that could very easily get huge pretty quickly.  Sadly there are far crazier things to be doing in Modern and creating a huge Elf is not generally a priority.

Multi-Coloured

Empyrean Eagle
Empyrean Eagle
Another Lord for UW Spirits, though it seems worse than Drogskol Captain in most scenarios and I'm not sure the deck is necessarily looking for more Lord effects (at least not at three mana).

Moldervine Reclamation
Moldervine Reclamation
Some serious combo fodder here but paying 5-mana for this seems hard to justify in the speedy world of Modern.

Skyknight Vanguard
Skyknight Vanguard
More flying Humans!  It's actually quite annoying how many flying Humans there are in Modern now despite there being no logical reason for Humans to have flying.  This is a decent two drop for Humans decks but unlikely to see out other available options - certainly if the tokens it made were Humans then the position would be very different.

Artifacts

Mystic Forge
Mystic Forge
An Experimental Frenzy, of sorts, for artifacts.  Note that you cannot cast lands off the top of your library which makes you more likely to fizzle but Forge comes with a built in way of clearing the top card of your library.  Also, unlike Frenzy you can still cast cards from your hand so it isn't a nonbo with Ensnaring Bridge and other Prison deck staples.  Lantern Control seems like the best home for this card as you have a lot of control over the top of your library already with that deck but other Whir of Invention decks may be interested.

Pattern Matcher
Pattern Matcher
This is a unique ability that we haven't seen before on a card, which is always something to watch.  Pattern Matcher is a decent package and can tutor up an additional copy of any creature you control.  Tutoring for a creature you already have isn't the most exciting generally but this could have its uses in a Toolbox deck or something similar.

Lands

Cryptic Caves
Cryptic Caves
You get a Horizon Canopy!  You get a Horizon Canopy!  Everyone gets a Horizon Canopy!  On the heels of the new Horizon lands in Modern Horizons, it appears that colourless is getting a pseudo-Horizon Canopy of its own.  It's not as good as Horizon Canopy as you have to wait until you control five lands to get the draw but it still has the late game advantage.

Lotus Field
Lotus Field
This a really powerful card and one that has got Amulet Titan players excited.  Lotus Field is good but coming into play tapped avoids it being too crazy.  However, with Amulet of Vigor in play you get immediate access to the mana is promises which is a nice mana boost.  I'm not sure how well it actually fits in Amulet Titan decks because it doesn't work particularly well with the Ravnica bouncelands that the deck is known for.

MY TOP 8 CORE SET 2020 CARDS FOR MODERN

There isn't a ton to choose from here but that's not too surprising given the set contains a significant number of reprints and isn't designed to contain anything too powerful. Here are my picks for Core Set 2020 cards:

  1. Mystic Forge
    This Experimental Frenzy for artifacts feels like it could be a powerful new tool for Whir of Invention decks.
  2. Brought Back
    While I don't think Brought Back is as crazy as people are making out it definitely has potential to do busted stuff.
  3. Rotting Regisaur
    This card is really powerful.  It will be interesting to see how it plays in Modern and whether that drawback is too punishing for this to work.
  4. Goblin Ringleader
    Goblins has received a lot of support recently and the deck is gradually pushing towards its Legacy counterpart.  Ringleader is another piece to that puzzle as a big card advantage swing.
  5. Embodiment of Agonies
    I would be interested to see how this card plays.  It can be a huge flying threat for a pretty cheap mana cost.
  6. Thunderkin Awakener
    A powerful two-drop that could actually become pretty exciting with some better support cards.  Turn 1 Faithless Looting, discard Lightning Skelemental, Turn 2 Thunderkin Awakener attack return Lightning Skelemental to play attacking is a line I want to play.
  7. Leyline of Abundance
    This card has real combo potential that may be realised.  At the very least it's a quirky Turn 2 kill with Birds of Paradise or Noble Hierarch.
  8. Lotus Field
    I doubt this will achieve its potential in Modern.  I am no Amulet Titan player but I think the fact that this doesn't interact well with bouncelands is likely to be a problem.

CONCLUSIONS

I feel pretty confident that Core Set 2020 will have a minimal impact on Modern.  However, after the upheaval of War of the Spark and Modern Horizons the format could probably use a bit of stability.  I think there is a ban necessary to deal with Hogaak Vine and then we can see how the newer cards are really shaking out in the format.  With such an influx of cards in recent times I would appreciate some respite.  The set also provides some nice Modern reprints such as Grafdigger's Cage and the Leylines, which improve availability of those cards in paper.

The more meaningful impact on Modern is likely to be the rules change coming with the Core Set marking the arrival of the London mulligan in all formats.  A lot of words have been spent discussing the pros and cons of the London mulligan but it is likely to be a boon for combo decks.  Force of Negation might have its work cut out for it in the coming months.

The next banned and restricted announcement might be an interesting one too, though we haven't had any major Modern events so I can see Wizards holding off for more data.

Thanks for reading,

Oliver Law (olaw on MTGO)