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By: olaw, Oliver Law
Mar 23 2015 12:00am
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I've been looking at the Dragons of Tarkir spoiler and thought I would share my thoughts on the cards that could have an impact on Modern.  Let's take a look at some new cards shall we:


Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit
Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit
The original Anafenza has seen some play in Modern.  Can the alternative timeline version of her make the cut?  It certainly has the potential to be very powerful but it is difficult to see exactly where it would fit or how good Bolster really can be.  Anafenza seems like it could lend itself to Death & Taxes, Soul Sisters or a Norin the Wary deck.  Any deck that can play a lot of creatures out quickly can use Anafenza as a pseudo-anthem effect - she also works well with cards like Restoration Angel which can get multiple activations out of her. 
Anafenza also has a great interaction with Kitchen Finks and Murderous Redcap being able to bolster them to remove the -1/-1 counter as they come back into play from Persist.  In that sense, Anafenza is an interesting alternative to Melira, Sylvok Outcast - it's just a shame that Melira Pod isn't a deck anymore.

Myth Realized
Myth Realized
This is one of the cards that I am most excited about from the set.  Myth Realized seems like an excellent finisher for a UW or UWx Control deck.  It's cheap mana cost and activation cost make it perfect for that type of deck - it's also only a creature when you want it to be so it can dodge a Supreme Verdict or sorcery speed removal.  It can be useful to finish off an opponent and is also capable of fending off a ground assault if you can grow it fast enough.

If you want to look at the disadvantage - it is still vulnerable to Abrupt Decay and Path to Exile (once activated) but I still think it's an exciting card.
There are various other available finishers for UWx decks but this is one that I am really interested in giving a try.

Radiant Purge
Radiant Purge
There are a number of interesting hate cards in Dragons of Tarkir.  These cards are often interesting as narrow but powerful effects can be very useful sideboard cards.  Radiant Purge is a good answer to Voice of Resurgence and Siege Rhino.  It may be that it is just too narrow to have a great impact in Modern but a niche and potentially powerful card.

Secure the Wastes
Secure the Wastes
This is a powerful token generator and instant speed to boot.  It pales in comparison to Raise the Alarm and Spectral Procession at lower costs but in the late game this can be a real house.  Not sure if it quite fits in with the existing Tokens decks and the generally low curve of the Modern format but worthy of consideration.


Encase in Ice
Encase in Ice
There are better and more permanent ways to remove creatures but in Blue it can be difficult.  Encase in Ice is a nice answer to a Tarmogoyf or Siege Rhino and a relatively cheap one at that - it can also be used at instant speed.  I have my doubts whether an Enchantment version of Tidebinder Mage will see any real play but I feel like it's worth looking at.

Living Lore
Living Lore
This card plus Cruel Ultimatum in the graveyard equals fun.  Not a competitive Modern deck idea but a super fun idea.

Mirror Mockery
Mirror Mockery
I'm not entirely sure what you want to be doing with this card but cheap and powerful copying effects are always interesting.  The problem is that the creature has to attack to create a token, which leaves it vulnerable to dying in combat, and that the copy only lasts through combat and doesn't enter attacking.  As such it's very niche and you really need an interesting ETB effect or something similar to make this worthwhile.

I guess the real intention of the card is for you to put it on your opponent's creatures to create a copy to trade with their creatures but that doesn't seem very exciting.

Probably not a real contender but an interesting card for those Spikes among us.

Try as I might I just couldn't really find anything worth talking about in Black.  Knowing me I've probably missed the key card in the set but I just couldn't find anything to get excited about in Black at all.  Let me know if I'm missing something.


Rending Volley
Rending Volley
This is an exciting new card.  Combust is a card that has seen a lot of play as a sideboard card in Modern.  Rending Volley is a card that costs one mana less, still can't be countered and does the job pretty much just as well.  Volley can still kill Deceiver Exarch and Restoration Angel which are two of the biggest targets for the card.  The only real difference I can see is that Combust is able to kill a Siege Rhino if necessary but I think this card is far more likely to come in against Splinter Twin decks that against Abzan so I'm not sure that is greatly consequential.

Thunderbreak Regent
Thunderbreak Regent
There are a number of powerful 4-drop creatures in Modern but generally they struggle to see play.  I don't think Thunderbreak Regent is really up with the top 4 drop creatures in Modern but it is certainly worth at least a mention.  It's a sizeable flyer with an ability which discourages opponents from targeting it.  You could certainly do worse and given this is 'Dragons' of Tarkir I thought I should at least mention one Dragon.

Twin Bolt
Twin Bolt
Forked Bolt saw some play fairly recently with UR Delver decks being very popular.  Twin Bolt is an instant speed version of Forked Bolt for 1 extra mana.  Forked Bolt is probably the preferred option but I could certainly see using Twin Bolt as an instant speed alternative.  Worth a mention I feel.


Assault Formation
Assault Formation
Doran, the Siege Tower is a much loved card and one that sees occasional play in Modern. This card has a similar effect but isn't symmetrical, meaning your Tarmogoyfs out-muscle their Goyfs, and is harder to remove due to it being an enchantment.  The other abilities can be relevant too, turning your Wall of Omens into an effective 4/4 attacker, or giving a mini-Trumpet Blast to your team.  I doubt it will have a huge impact on Modern but it's certainly a really fun build-around me card.
I also have visions of putting this in the sideboard of a Temur Twin deck and going aggro with Goyfs and 4/4 Deceiver Exarchs but that might be a dream too far.

Avatar of the ResoluteServant of the Scale
Avatar of the Resolute/Servant of the Scale
Mono-Green Aggro decks make an appearance in Modern every now and then and can be a lot of fun.  I've seen decks like that run Kalonian Tusker and this guy is considerably better than the Tusker.  It does require a little work but you can play creatures such as Experiment One, Servant of the Scale, Young Wolf, Strangleroot Geist and Scavenging Ooze to take advantage of its ability.  With reach and trample it can be good offensively and defensively, fighting through chump blocks or alternatively hanging back and fighting off Insectile Aberrations and Lingering Souls tokens.  I feel like the Avatar has a lot of potential in the right deck.

Collected Company
Collected Company
This card is just screaming to be broken but I just can't quite figure out how.  An instant speed way to drop up to 2 three-drops into play seems super powerful and great card advantage - it's just figuring out how exactly this can be abused to its best value.  From my recent time playing with Ghostway, my immediate thought was hitting an Eternal Witness and being able to buyback your Collected Company to further increase your board presence.
Being a four mana spell in Modern can be hard, unless you happen to win the game like Splinter Twin or Scapeshift, so Collected Company may have a hard time making a breakthrough.  However, it is just too interesting not to try.


The Command Cycle

Atarka’s Command
Atarka's Command
This card has been given obvious comparisons to Skullcrack thanks to the first two abilities, which combined are just about Skullcrack - though note Skullcrack states that damage can't be prevented which can allow you to kill creatures with Protection etc.  As such, Atarka's Command isn't strictly better than Skullcrack but regardless we can't simply overlook the fact that it has a more awkward mana cost.  Having options is always useful but I just can't see Red Deck Wins, which seems like the natural fit for this card in Modern, needing the other two abilities this card offers.  Ramping your mana is not something RDW is interested in and it doesn't usually run enough creatures for the +1/+1 to each of your creatures to be hugely relevant.
I'm not sure Atarka's Command is a card worth going out of your way for in RDW but it may find a home elsewhere.

Dromoka’s Command
Dromoka's Command
Dromoka's Command is a card that I am very excited about.  All of its abilities seem very useful and I can imagine myself using any and all of them in various situations.  The first ability can be an effective counter to a Lightning Bolt, Electrolyze or other burn spells.  The second ability can be an instant speed answer to a Splinter Twin or alternatively a Blood Moon, a Ghostly Prison etc.  Putting a +1/+1 counter on a creature can also save it from a burn spell, or can improve an attacking or blocking situation or just generally beef up one of your guys.  Then the final ability allows you to use one of your creatures as removal - killing or trading one of your creatures for one of your opponents.  The last two abilities work particularly well together as a way of removing an opposing creature and powering up your own guy in one fell swoop.
Dromoka's Command is really versatile and I think probably good enough to be played in the main deck of some decks, at least in some number.  It's good removal, a counter for damage based removal, a nice answer to Splinter Twin and a permanent pump for one of your guys - all rolled into one very neat package.

Kolaghan’s Command
Kolaghan's Command
Kolaghan's Command seems fairly disappointing.  It seems overcosted for what it does - unlike Dromoka's Command - and the only reason it's really worth mentioning is that it can be used at instant speed.  Instant speed discard is reasonably hard to come by but ultimately this is no Blightning and I'm not really impressed.

Ojutai’s Command
Ojutai's Command
Any card that makes you think of Cryptic Command is exciting.  That said Ojutai's Command is unfortunately not nearly as powerful and its abilities are considerably relevant.  Honestly, due to its cost, most decks that do run Cryptic Command aren't running a full playset.  I don't think there is really room for Cryptic's poor relative.
The most interesting ability on Ojutai's Command is probably the first one - in Modern that could buy you back a Snapcaster Mage which is cool but not cool enough to make this card worthwhile I fear.

Silumgar’s Command
Silumgar's Command
For the sake of completeness I will discuss Silumgar's Command though I don't feel it's really worth much of a mention.  At five mana it doesn't do nearly enough to warrant that cost.  The most exciting thing about it is the last ability to destroy a planeswalker, which sadly isn't nearly as relevant in Modern as it is in Standard.

Planeswalkers are always exciting and worth talking about but it takes a special kind of planeswalker to make it in Modern.

Narset Transcendent
Narset Trascendent
The cheaper of the two planeswalkers in Dragons of Tarkir, Narset probably has a better chance of seeing Modern play.  That said it's kind of difficult to see exactly what you want to do with it.  The +1 is a conditional draw, much like Domri Rade, which is good but not super exciting.  The -2 ability is really where it's at and can be really be powerful but you really want to be playing something exciting to do with it.  The most exciting thing I can think of to do with it off the top of my head is giving a Time Warp rebound, which would allow you to take two extra turns.  Obviously just getting to use a Path to Exile or something simple twice would also be good but would it be worth the 4 mana investment - probably not - you might as well use Isochron Scepter at that point.  Narset's ultimate is also decent but no guarantee you will win the game if they are a creature deck.
The high loyalty on Narset does mean you'll probably get some use out of it after casting it but I fear it's impact on the board just isn't good enough to make it a Modern playable.   

Sarkhan Unbroken
Sarkhan Unbroken
At 5 mana, Sarkhan hasn't made it easy for himself to be a Modern playable.  Currently I think Gideon Jura is the only five mana planeswalker who really sees any play in Modern.  Sarkhan is certainly powerful and exciting but I think he is just a little too expensive and not quite impactful enough to make a splash in Modern.

I doubt that Dragons of Tarkir will have a huge impact on Modern but there are some interesting cards in the set that I would like to try out.  Particularly interesting is that Dromoka's Command and Rending Volley are both powerful cards against Splinter Twin decks, which may impact that archetype's popularity in Modern.  I look forward to getting the cards online and giving them a try.
Here's my Top 5 list of cards in Dragons of Tarkir for Modern:

  1. Dromoka's Command
    I think this is an exciting card for the GW and Abzan decks.  It has great utility and is a powerful removal spell as well as being an answer to Twin and various other problem situations.
  2. Rending Volley
    I think this will replace Combust in most red decks sideboards - providing a cheaper answer to Deceiver Exarch, Restoration Angel and pals.
  3. Myth Realized
    I'm probably overrating this card but I feel like this has a lot of potential.  It can grow very large and be a nice finisher for an UWx Control deck that can also work on the defence against a ground attack.  A lack of evasion might be the thing that really holds this card back though.  Can't wait to give it a try.
  4. Atarka's Command
    Although it's not quite Skullcrack it is a powerful enough card that it will see play I feel.  This is a begrudging inclusion on my list as I really don't find the card all that exciting.
  5. Assault Formation
    I just love the Doran ability and having it on a two-mana enchantment feels exciting.  I doubt it will be really impactful but I think it will lead to some fun decks.

Agree? Disagree?  Completely missed the best card in the set?  Let me know your thoughts.

That's all I've got for this article.  Hopefully I will be back with another Becoming A Modern Man pretty shortly.  I'm currently working on the latest article but I've had a few video problems which have caused me some delay.  So look out for that hopefully soon.

Thanks for reading,

Oliver Law (olaw on MTGO)


Great article Olaw, It is by romellos at Mon, 03/23/2015 - 14:44
romellos's picture

Great article Olaw,

It is shame that there are no Modern playable Dragons in a very Dragon heavy set. I thought about Dragonlord Dromoka for a while, whether she can see some SB play. There are better options like; Batterskull or even Baneslayer Angel. Still, she can be a good budget replacement for some decks.

Here is my top 5,

1-Collected Company (Fact or Fiction for the creature decks, I'm so much excited for this card)
2-Myth Realized
3-Atarka's Command (I think it is better in zoo decks, rather than Burn)
4-Dromoka's Command

Thanks for the comment by olaw at Mon, 03/23/2015 - 14:53
olaw's picture

Thanks for the comment Romellos.

Collected Company could definitely have made my Top 5, in fact it probably should have had I thought about it more. It does seem really exciting I just can't quite figure out how it's going to fit in.

I also considered discussing Roast, but at two mana and sorcery speed I just feel like it's not going to be good enough. It's a good answer to Goyfs and Rhinos, which might be good enough, but with Dismember, Combust and various other removal spells available I'm not sure it makes the cut.

Anafenza would not be good by Rerepete at Mon, 03/23/2015 - 21:05
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Anafenza would not be good for Norin decks, as Norin will likely be getting the counter all the time.

Living Lore and Temporal Trespass ftw.

Assault Formation and Wall of Tanglecord.

I think, for me, the most exciting card of the set is Ojutai Exemplars.

Norin never gets the counter. by Paul Leicht at Mon, 03/23/2015 - 22:20
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Norin never gets the counter. He does his disappearing act as soon as you attack.

And apparently I was missing by Paul Leicht at Tue, 03/24/2015 - 13:59
Paul Leicht's picture

And apparently I was missing context there. Somehow I was thinking of the 'OLD' Anafenza.

I acknowledge that Anafenza + by olaw at Tue, 03/24/2015 - 03:42
olaw's picture

I acknowledge that Anafenza + Norin is a bit of a nonbo, as Norin will never have any use for a +1/+1 counter. My thinking was that you can at least pump your Soul Sisters and other 1 toughness guys. Also, if you have a Genesis Chamber out you can make your Myr tokens into 2/2s instead. Perhaps not the best home for Anafenza but just a thought.