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By: Procrastination, Christopher Giovannagelo
Oct 06 2014 12:00pm
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Welcome to a brand new day for The Modern Perspective! While usually has the bulk of its Modern content up on Thursdays, the unpredictability of my work and home life was making it difficult to work on articles during week nights. I shot the idea of Monday past our ever attentive site lord, Joshua Claytor, in the hopes that having the weekend to put in any "final touches" would smooth this out. He agreed to let me give it a go (he is pretty awesome like that). If you love Modern, be sure to stop by this site on Mondays and Thursdays to get your fix.

One of my favorite inclusions in Khans of Tarkir is a new cycle of Charms. First appearing in Mirage, Charms are Instant spells with 3 modes to choose from. The original Charms were one mana of their color to cast and each color had one. This design carried over to Visions, where each color received another Charm, bringing the original total up to 10. The Charms wound up being fan favorites, even if most of the original ones didn't put up strong tournament results. (Oh, the fine line of game design between giving players more or less choices to make.)

Charms didn't return again until Planeshift several years later. Unlike the original Charms, these new Charms were multi-colored. They each cost three mana, centered on a color and its two allied colors (what we now refer to as shards). Their modes were also more powerful, making them useful for both Limited and some Constructed play. Other than a brief return to mono-colored Charms during the Onslaught and Time Spiral Blocks, every cycle of Charms printed since follows the "gold standard" set by these Charms.

The Khans Charms bring a huge, yet effective, change with them: the available modes to choose from are now presented in a bulleted list. The older Charms, or any other modal spells, ran all of the modes together in one big paragraph. It could be confusing figuring out what choices the card was giving you. Now a quick glance tells you where one mode stops and another begins. This might not sound like that big of a deal, but as I've learned from writing this column, how you present your information is very important. Some people dislike the new formatting, complaining that it ruins the aesthetic of the cards. (Oh, the fine line of game design between making your information visually useful or giving the game flavor.)

Instead of just discussing the five new Charms in Khans of Tarkir, I got the crazy notion that one article talking about every Modern legal Charm would be a great idea. While the new Ravnica block Charms are still fresh in our minds, almost half of the Charms may have slipped from the Modern consciousness. I've gone back and reassessed each one to see if there are some hidden gems among the dust.

Talking about all 26 Charms makes for a very lengthy article, so you might want to read it over multiple sittings. To assist with that, I've provided section links for each block. If you only care about my thoughts on the new Charms, those are only a click away, otherwise, let's start from the top.

The Time Spiral & Planar Chaos Charms
The Shards of Alara Charms
The Return to Ravnica & Gatecrash Charms
The Khans of Tarkir Charms


The Time Spiral Block Charms are the only mono-color Charms in the format. The new Charms in this cycle were made at a time when Wizards was starting to balance out the power between creatures and non-creature spells. As such, I think they didn't try to push the power of these Charms. The whole "designed for drafting" argument could be part of the problem as well. Also, they break the design rule that all Charms have exactly the same converted mana cost across a block cycle.

Funeral Charm

Funeral Charm

  • Target player discards a card.
  • Target creature gets +2/-1 until end of turn.
  • Target creature gains swampwalk until end of turn.

Due to the quirky, yet awesome, surprise of the Time Spiral Bonus Cards, Funeral Charm is the only pre-Mirrodin Charm that is Modern legal. While none of its effects are extremely strong individually, having the first two modes together for a single B mana is nice. While the discard effect isn't as potent as Thoughtseize or Inquisition of Kozilek, it's one of only about half a dozen Instant speed ones available in Modern. (Oddly enough, almost all of them are Charms.) The second mode can pick off mana dorks, Dark Confidant, Grim Lavamancer, Pestermite or any other x/1 toughness creature running around.

It doesn't see much use outside of 8-Rack decks, but it's not a bad choice if you need restricted removal and minimal disruption in your deck and you don't have much room left.

Dawn Charm

  • Prevent all combat damage that would be dealt this turn.
  • Regenerate target creature.
  • Counter target spell that targets you.

Sporting an almost useful set of abilities, Dawn Charm has never quite had a home, especially in Modern. Being a White "counterspell" gives it some novelty for sure, and used in that capacity, it's not half bad. Two mana to shut down a Gifts Ungiven or game winning Lightning Storm is worth it just to get a response out of an opponent (odds are it's not a nice word). Still, it doesn't stop enough cards to be useful for just that mode.

That means the other two modes have to carry their weight, but they don't accomplish that very well. Two mana for Holy Day is pretty lousy. If it was a one sided Fog effect, then it would be a little better, but no such luck. A surprise creature regeneration could swing a game unexpectedly, but most creature decks aren't going to want the defensive modes of the Charm.

If there is any hope for Dawn Charm, I've always thought it lies with Isochron Scepter. While not as back-breaking as Silence, the Charm on a Scepter enables "soft lock" options that some decks can't get out from under.

Dawn Charm
Evolution Charm

Evolution Charm

  • Search your library for a basic land card, reveal it, put it into your hand, then shuffle your library.
  • Return target creature card from your graveyard to your hand.
  • Target creature gains flying until end of turn.

Poor Evolution Charm. Its land search ability, while only two mana, is expensive enough that even the Charbelcher decks can't use it. The creature returning ability is alright, but for one mana more you can have Eternal Witness that gets back any card while providing a 2/1 body. If you need the Instant speed, then playing the right colors will get you Naya Charm instead, which also gets you any card (and a few other options).

It is one of the only Green cards that lets you give something Flying. Thanks, Planar Chaos!

Fury Charm

  • Destroy target artifact.
  • Target creature gets +1/+1 and gains trample until end of turn.
  • Remove two time counters from target permanent or suspended card.

Shatter with perks isn't the flashiest card ever, but Fury Charm is a "strictly better" version of a different card, so it does have that going for it. Since destroying an artifact in Red only costs one mana now (Smelt), it's up to the other modes to give Fury Charm any chance what-so-ever of seeing play.

The time counter mode is almost useless in Modern. The most commonly played Suspend cards are Rift Bolt and Search for Tomorrow. If they aren't your spells, then there is no need to speed them up. Even if they are yours, there's almost no reason to pay two mana and a card to speed them up either.

The pump and trample isn't so bad. If you are playing a Red deck with some beefy monsters such as Thundermaw Hellkite or Koth animated Mountains, the trample could come in handy.

In the end, there is probably no good reason to run this other than budget concerns. Maybe in some kind of 'Modern Pauper' format all of this in one card could be useful?


Fury Charm
Midnight Charm

Midnight Charm

  • Midnight Charm deals 1 damage to target creature and you gain 1 life.
  • Target creature gains First Strike until end of turn.
  • Tap target creature.

I think since Black already had Funeral Charm, they decided to play it overly safe when designing Midnight Charm. The mini-Drain effect is very fair. Too fair. So many other Black spells can eliminate a creature of various sizes or colors for one mana, that this effect is almost insulting. The First Strike could swing a combat step in your favor, if you have a creature out to take advantage of it. Finally, you can tap something down, but that's almost never as good as killing something outright, which is what Black can do better than any other color.

There's really no hope for this Charm.

Piracy Charm

  • Target creature gains islandwalk until end of turn.
  • Target creature gets +2/-1 until end of turn.
  • Target player discards a card.

The last Planar Chaos Charm is also the most interesting. While Piracy Charm is the "planeshifted" variation of Funeral Charm, putting this combination of abilities together on a Blue card is very interesting. Blue usually can't kill small creatures (or any creatures for that matter), so that -1 to Toughness can take care of many problem critters. Most decks won't fear tossing down a 1 Toughness creature when all you have left open is a Blue mana source.

Discard for Blue, the lightly supported "shifted" mechanic, wasn't pushed too hard, but the surprise value on this one could catch an opponent completely unaware.

Piracy Charm's main competition, at least in Blue, is probably Vapor Snag. Snag will always get a creature out of the way and cause life loss compared to Charm's less predictable nature, but Snag can never get cards out of hand. It's probably a meta call, but testing Charm against Snag is probably worth it.

Fun Fact: A few months ago, Eternal format master Rich Shay won one of our local Legacy tournaments thanks to Piracy Charm. He proudly displayed the Charm in one hand and his victor's cookie cake in the other for a photo. Seriously, we have a store that gives out cookie cakes when you win. Pittsburgh has a fun Magic scene.

Piracy Charm

Since Wizards really wanted the tri-color decks of Shards of Alara to have some power, these Charms got a significant boost compared to the previous cycle. At the time, producing three colors of mana was considered a difficult enough feat that giving these Charms very good individual modes wasn't threatening. When the modes combined together, the cards were potent. Most of them saw Standard play; some of them have already seen Modern play as well.

Bant Charm

Bant Charm

  • Destroy target Artifact.
  • Put target creature on the bottom of its owner's library.
  • Counter target instant spell.

All three of Bant Charm's modes are solid for Modern. Aether Vial, Birthing Pod and almost every card in Affinity are juicy targets to keep the first mode relevant even in your main deck. Putting a creature on the bottom of its owner's library is easily the best mode on this Charm, dealing with any sized threat in the format. Wurmcoil Engine and Persist creatures are particular targets that it feels good to banish. Even the counter spell is useful. Stopping Cryptic Command, Path to Exile or the many flavors of Red burn is worth it.

Even with mostly positive traits, Bant Charm hasn't seen much play in Modern. There hasn't been a deck that needs a card with these three modes yet. During its time in Standard, Bant decks were either Exalted powered beat sticks, Mythic loaded Good Stuff Decks, or synergistic Sovereigns of Lost Alara/Eldrazi Conscription monstrosities. None of these strategies have found a foothold in Modern. Even the Bant frameworks that people have been working on haven't been using Bant Charm. I'm a fan of the Bant color combination, so I'm hoping that Windswept Heath and Flooded Strand help perfect the mana enough that more people give Bant some testing time.

Grixis Charm

  • Return target permanent to its owner's hand.
  • Target creature gets -4/-4 until end of turn.
  • Creatures you control get +2/+0 until end of turn.

When it comes to unclear Charm modes, Grixis Charm is up there. The first two modes lean heavily towards a control deck. Giving a creature -4/-4 will kill most of the heavily played creatures in Modern. Bouncing any permanent deals with any pesky non-creature that slipped past discard or counter spells. Ok, so alright, two modes for control. Check.

Then there's the creature boosting third mode. Most control decks only run minimal finishers. Most of them won't need a temporary +2/+0 to power. When you look at all three of the modes combined, it looks like the spell wants to be used in some kind of Grixis Tempo deck. However, Grixis colors are already chock full of cheap spells that work in tempo decks; why would they want to use a 3 mana one that does some alright things that other cards can almost always do better?

It'll be hard for Grixis Charm to find a solid home in Modern.

Grixis Charm
Esper Charm

Esper Charm

  • Destroy target enchantment.
  • Draw two cards.
  • Target player discards two cards.

Here's a Charm with some real oomph. The back two modes on Esper Charm are very good in control decks. As I mentioned before, there's minimal instant speed discard in the format and two cards at the end of the draw step can really put an opponent on the back foot. Also, drawing 2 cards at Instant speed is fairly strong in Modern as well. The first Mode does have main deck targets in Modern: the Theros enchantment creatures, Splinter Twin, the Charm's old nemesis Bitterblossom and a lot of cards in Bogles.deck.

Esper Charm is another card that could see a boost now that its allied Fetches are available.

Jund Charm

  • Exile target player's graveyard.
  • Jund Charm deals 2 damage to each creature.
  • Put two +1/+1 counters on target creature.

Like its name sake Shard, Jund Charm has made more of a mark on the format than almost any other Charm has. All of the modes on Jund Charm are great at hitting different aspects of the meta. Exiling graveyards is powerful against Living End, Melira Pod combos, Unburial Rites, Academy Ruins and more. An instant speed Pyroclasm is also something that many creature decks, from Pod to U/R Delver, don't anticipate. The Charm can devastate a board and leave an opening for beefy survivors like Tarmogoyf to take over a game. While the last mode isn't as strong as the other two, helping your Goyf win a "Goyf Fight" is always nice.

Jund Charm has seen main deck play in high finishing Grand Prix decks. It won't always be meta-appropriate, but it's a weapon that Jund players should never forget is part of their arsenal.

Jund Charm
Naya Charm

Naya Charm

  • Naya Charm deals 3 damage to target creature.
  • Return target card in a graveyard to its owner's hand.
  • Tap all creatures target player controls.

Naya Charm also suffers from unfocused modes. It's half a Lightning Bolt, a Regrowth and a weaker version of a Cryptic Command mode. It's all over the place. It doesn't lend itself to aggressive decks very well (even if that's probably the best fit). Mid-range decks can usually find better options in the three to four mana range than the Charm provides. The three modes aren't a horrible idea in a control deck, but Naya colors usually don't offer much in the way of "good" control decks.

I think once Naya decks had a half dozen or more 4cc Planeswalkers to pick from, Naya Charm was doomed to gather dust in card boxes everywhere.


Going back to Ravnica didn't just give us Shock Land reprints; it also gave us a new Charm for each of the 10 different Guilds. The new Charms all cost two mana, one mana from each of the Guild's colors, so the initial expectation was that they wouldn't be very powerful. Turns out that wasn't true at all. We can see that several of the Guild Charms are pushed compared to the 2 cost Charms from Time Spiral block. While every new Ravnica Charm isn't a Modern staple, several of them have made appearances in the format. At the very least, all of them can be Imprinted on to an Isochron Scepter; results would vary.


Azorius Charm

  • Creatures you control gain lifelink until end of turn.
  • Draw a card.
  • Put target attacking or blocking creature on top of its owner's library.

Azorius Charm may have been the bane of Standard for the last two years, but it doesn't do enough in Modern. It's most useful Mode is probably putting the creature on top of its controller's library, but the attacking and blocking restriction falls short compared to cards like Path to Exile or Dismember. Cycling for a single card at two mana is also unexciting. The lifelink could come in handy if you have enough mana to activate a Celestial Colonnade and cast Charm to stabilize against an aggro deck, but if you have that much mana, you probably already have.

The creature flipping mode could create a "soft lock" on Isochron Scepter, but that isn't enough to make this Charm useful.

Boros Charm

  • Boros Charm deals 4 damage to target player.
  • Permanents you control are indestructible this turn.
  • Target creature gains double strike until end of turn.

A staple in R/W/x Burn decks, Boros Charm's damage to cost ratio is exactly what Burn decks want. 4 damage for 2 mana, at instant speed, is excellent in a format where most players will pay 4-6 life in the first few turn of the game to establish an operational mana base.

But wait, there's more. The other two modes aren't bad either.

Making all of your permanents indestructible for the turn can thwart many cards, from Abrupt Decay to Supreme Verdict. The Standard "Lucky Charms" combo of Boros Reckoner with Lifelink dealing infinite damage to itself to gain infinite life is available to Modern as well.

Granting a creature double strike can end the game on many an unsuspecting opponent. It takes the right kind of creature to make this mode worth more than "4 to the face" mode, but when it does work, it's helping a creature deal 8+ damage in a swing.

I'm a fan of Boros Charm in Naya decks. There, all 3 modes are useful. Burning for the win, making your creatures sweeper proof or hitting for 12 with a Knight of the Reliquary are all fun things to do for two mana.


Dimir Charm

  • Counter target Sorcery spell.
  • Destroy target creature with power 2 or less.
  • Look at the top three cards of target player's library, then put one back and the rest into that player's graveyard.

Dimir Charm is, well, odd. It's not that any of its modes are bad, they are just a little too restrictive. Countering only Sorcery spells is a liability in Modern. Stopping Scapeshift is huge, but the next most played Sorcery is probably Supreme Verdict and Charm isn't doing much about that. This leaves more fringe cards, such as Genesis Wave. (Maybe the upcoming threat of Treasure Cruise will make this better?)

Killing creatures at power 2 or less will usually have targets, but it was a lot more dependable when Deathrite Shaman was around. Besides, there are so many other removal spells to compete with.

The library manipulation could help lock up a game, or dig yourself out of a bad situation, but all of these modes together don't provide enough power compared to the staples in Blue and Black.

Golgari Charm

  • All creatures get -1/-1 until end of turn.
  • Destroy target enchantment.
  • Regenerate each creature you control.

Thanks to True-Name Nemesis, this Charm has already seen more Legacy playtime than it has Modern. If the meta conditions are right, there's no reason it couldn't see more Modern play too.

What kind of environment would Golgari Charm excel in? One where creatures with 1 toughness run rampant. Charm wreaks havoc on Young Pyromancer, unpumped Souls Sisters, Pod decks that have over committed to mana dorks and any number of Pestermites that might be on the board. It's also good against Splinter Twin, Courser of Kruphix, Pyromancer Ascension and others.

Actually, if the Jeskai Ascendancy combo deck starts to put up results, then Golgari Charm should become a sideboard staple that can attack the deck from multiple angles.

The regeneration mode is a nice extra perk against removal of various kinds. With enough blockers, it's a Fog Effect. Although, any time you get to trade up creatures thanks to this surprise it's very good.


Gruul Charm

  • Creatures without flying can't block this turn.
  • Gain control of all permanents you own.
  • Gruul Charm deals 3 damage to each creature with flying.

As I was writing this article, I started to wonder if the team making Gatecrash tried to be little too "clever" when making the set's Charms? Sure Boros Charm is brimming with power, but cards like Gruul Charm lack the straight forward nature you'd expect from the R/G color pair.

The modes are things that Red and Green would do: preventing blocking, hating on a mostly Blue mechanic and especially dealing damage to Flyers. Yes, these things are Gruul, just not in a form that current R/G/x decks can take advantage of. I think the third mode is the most useful in Modern, 3 damage can tear down most cheap flyers, but enough flyers have 4 toughness that it's a moot point. Especially since it's lacks enough flexibility to be in the main deck.

A Charm that lacks flexibility is not a very useful Charm.

Izzet Charm

  • Counter target noncreature spell unless its controller pays 2.
  • Izzet Charm deals 2 damage to target creature.
  • Draw two cards, then discard two cards.

A great combination of abilities, Izzet Charm has earned its spot in Modern. A staple in various U/R/x combo decks, this is the model that all future Charms should be designed by. The abilities all work well at Instant speed and each of them can serve a different, yet synergistic, purposes.

The creature removal might not deal much damage, but 2 is a sweet enough number to take care of many of the commonly played creatures. The Spell Pierce counter is strong enough to deal with cards from Karn Liberated to Birthing Pod. Finally, the dig can find your win condition or even some Lands if you are hurting for them.

There's not much more to say about a Charm that's obviously as good as this one.


Orzhov Charm

  • Return target creature you control and all Auras you control attached to it to their owner's hand.
  • Destroy target creature and you lose life equal to toughness.
  • Return target creature card with converted mana cost 1 or less from your graveyard to the battlefield.

Probably the wordiest Charm in the game, Orzhov Charm does somethings that only a niche deck would need. Off the top of my head, that deck would be a Edge of the Divinity All in Aggro. You know, load up your Nip Gwyllion or Nightsky Mimic with Edge of the Divinity or Gift of Orzhova then, save it with Charm when your opponent tries to remove it. Gain a bunch of life and use the removal mode. Or EoT, if you have a Nip Gwyllion in the yard, get it back then load it up with Auras that are stuck in your hand.

Yep, that deck loves this card. Most other decks will pass on it.

Rakdos Charm

  • Exile all cards from target player's graveyard.
  • Destroy target artifact.
  • Each creature deals 1 damage to its controller.

Probably the least words on a Charm (I'm so glad they were right next to each other), Rakdos Charm is a solid sideboard card for a Melira Pod/Splinter Twin/Affinity heavy meta.

Against Pod, all three modes can do harm. Exiling the graveyard if they go for either infinite combo is always awesome. Being able to destroy a Pod that they paid 2 Life for will usually keep a Pod deck on the ropes. Finally, if they have gummed up the board, the last mode might clinch the game.

Against Twin and Affinity, the uses are a little more narrow, but turning the tables on "infinite damage" is smile worthy, a timely response to Snapcaster Mage can save a game and "Destroy target artifact" is 99% of the time good against Affinity.

Like a lot of the Guild Charms, Rakdos needs the right environment to be good.


Selesnya Charm

  • Target creature gets +2/+2 and gains trample until end of turn.
  • Exile target creature with power 5 or greater.
  • Put a 2/2 white Knight creature token with vigilance onto the battlefield.

I always wish that Selesnya Charm was just a teensy bit better for Modern. An Instant speed 2/2 isn't horrible (if a little behind the power curve of Modern creatures), the pump and Trample could let Loxodon Smiter or Knight of the Reliquary crush past a chump blocker and the removal can handily deal with Wurmcoil Engine or large goyfs. These are all nice modes.

It's really the same issue that Bant Charm has; there isn't a good home for this card right now. In the future, maybe some kind of Abzan Tokens deck, with Lingering Souls, Intangible Virtue and Gavony Township could be a thing. The slots in that deck would fill up pretty fast, so even in that ideal deck, there might not be room for this Charm. I think that build could be worth testing for a future article. For now though, Selesnya Charm will have to hang on the sidelines.

Simic Charm

  • Target creature gets +3/+3 until end of turn.
  • Permanents you control gain hexproof until end of turn.
  • Return target creature to its owner's hand.

Early on, people tried Simic Charm in U/G/x Infect decks. +3/+3 is a great boost when you only need to deal 10 damage. The hexproof could protect your Infect creature and the bounce could get a blocker out of the way. On paper, all 3 modes looked great, but in reality, getting only one of those modes at a time was too slow for two mana. Two mana is too slow for the Infect deck.

Still, Simic Charm does pack a nice punch and the abilities have a strong synergy if a Simic Tempo based strategy (that isn't Infect) could flourish in the format. I use a few copies in my casual Simic Delver-Gro deck. It can protect my fragile Delver of Secrets and Quirion Dryad from harm, boost them for the extra 3 damage or bounce pesky creatures. If that kind of deck sounds like something you'd want to develop, then I'd suggest you pick up a few Simic Charm.




Finally, we come to newest set and the Charm's that inspired this huge article. All five of the new Charms are actually quite powerful. Not every mode on every Clan Charm is a home run for Modern, but three of them (Abzan, Mardu and Sultai) could see main deck play if the decks of their colors want to run them. I know that's a big claim, but there's plenty of time for testing to see which Charms can make the cut.


Abzan Charm

  • Exile target creature with power 3 or greater.
  • You draw two cards and you lose 2 life.
  • Distribute two +1/+1 counters among one or two target creatures.

B/G/W is already a proven color combination in Modern and Abzan Charm is strong enough that it could make the cut. In most Melira Pod lists, there is a two card flex spot usually taken up by Abrupt Decay or Thoughtseize. Both of those cards are extremely powerful at their assigned tasks, but I think in an unknown meta, Abzan Charm could be the best of the three.

The exile mode can remove a large number of threats in Modern. Tarmogoyf, Wurmcoil Engine, Kitchen Finks, Celestial Colonnade, a single pumped Scavenging Ooze, creatures wearing a Cranial Plating; all of the usual suspects. It does miss Dark Confidant, the Splinter Twin creatures and Young Pyromancer, so it's not a 100% complete removal spell. Still, some of the former cards can present serious problems for Pod decks; potent removal is a nice new option.

The +1/+1 counter mode, an upgrade of the one on Jund Charm, is still useful in Pod to reset Persist creatures or to buff an x/2 in response to Lightning Bolt. So even the weakest mode is still good.

What's really interesting for Pod decks is the instant speed Night's Whisper. Pod can be suicidal on life points, but it can also sit pretty thanks to Kitchen Finks and Spike Feeder. When that's the case, grabbing some extra cards helps dig for the combo or win an attrition war.

I can't wait to test this card to see if it's the real deal.

Jeskai Charm

  • Put target creature on top of its owner's library.
  • Jeskai Charm deals 4 damage to target opponent.
  • Creatures you control get +1/+1 and gain lifelink until end of turn.

The love child of Boros Charm and Azorius Charm, Jeskai Charm's modes really beg to be in a tempo deck. That would mean a Geist of Saint Traft type deck. In that respect, the Charm is good. Removing a pesky blocker lets Geist swing through unharmed. Dealing 4 to the face can help win the damage race. Even the lifelink mode on this card is useful because it actually pumps the creature that tiny bit too. That can make the difference between Geist dying to an 2/x creature and the Angel token can deal 5 damage. An 8 point life swing isn't too shabby either.

The only thing holding Jeskai Charm back is the staunch competition it has in such a deck: Lightning Bolt, Lightning Helix, Electrolyze, for a mana more Cryptic Command and the looming threat of Treasure Cruise. That's not even looking at the full on Counterspells. Still, Jeskai Charm should probably be tested as a 2-of in a proactive UWR decks.


Mardu Charm

  • Mardu Charm deals 4 damage to target creature.
  • Put two 1/1 white Warrior creature tokens onto the battlefield. They gain first strike until end of turn.
  • Target opponent reveals his or her hand. You choose a noncreature, nonland card from it. That player discards that card.

Devoted fans of B/W/R Control have been trying to make a Control deck work for the last year or so in Modern. Mardu Charm might be the piece of the puzzle they have been missing. The convenient package of removal, a slow win condition and discard all in one package helps free up some space in a crowded deck. Not as strong as any of the individual cards that do roughly the same things, flexibility is what makes Charms so great.

The token making mode is particularly good at ambushing any brave Dark Confidant or Young Pyromancer that decided to stroll into your empty side of the battlefield.

The Mardu Control players set to testing this card the second it was spoiled, so we should know pretty early into the new format if this gives the deck the legs it needed to become a contender.

Sultai Charm

  • Destroy target monocolored creature.
  • Destroy target artifact or enchantment.
  • Draw two cards, then discard a card.

If there was ever a Charm that had enough raw power to make a new deck type, this is the one. Sultai Charm is the new contender for "Most Versatile Charm in Modern". Does it have what it takes to dethrone Izzet Charm? Only time will tell.  It has to find a true home first.

There's a lot here to work with though. Destroying a mono-colored creature is great against a majority of the field. The Naturalize mode is insanely flexible and almost every Modern deck has a target these days. (Don't forget that Eidolon of the Great Revel and Courser of Kruphix are enchantments.) Finally, the "looting" mode makes sure that the card is never dead in your hand.

With everything this Charm has to offer, a Sultai deck could become a true archetype in Modern. B/G/x is already such a strong combination, taking some strength from Blue could be very good for the assist. Some combination of Abrupt Decay and Sultai Charm is a removal dream. The rest would be filled out with the strong Rock core and some Snapcaster Mage to get back good spells.

It sounds downright grindy and that's how B/G/x likes it.


Temur Charm

  • Target creature you control gets +1/+1 until end of turn. It fights target creature you don't control.
  • Counter target spell unless its controller pays 3.
  • Creatures with power 3 or less can't block this turn.

Temur Charm is probably the hardest Khans charm to get a handle on for Modern. It has "tempo" written all over it, but it wouldn't play nicely with the pre-existing Tempo Twin frame. That's not to say that some tweaking couldn't get it there, but I don't feel that the modes it offers are worth the retooling.

Mana Leak mode is the strongest this Charm has to offer. Coupled with some fight removal is nice, especially since the +1/+1 lets Goyfs win over other Goyfs. The anti-blocking mode is good for alpha strike situations, but that's about it. None of these modes are that compelling, even all jammed onto one card.

This Charm really requires you to be ahead of the game when it's in your hand. Once you are behind, the modes it provides aren't very good at turning a game around. The fighting is the best in that regard, but counterspells can't do squat against resolved permanents. Likewise, preventing your opponent from blocking doesn't do much if your aren't aggressively attacking.

If you plan to use this Charm, keep in mind exactly what kind of deck you need to be playing. Don't get mad at Temur Charm if it's not pulling its weight when you are already losing the game.

That brings us to the end of this huge article. Do you have a pet Charm you've been trying to make work in the format? Results to share about some of the ones I wanted to test? Maybe you completely disagree with some of my assessments? If so, drop a comment (here or on Facebook) to discuss.

This was the longest article I've written since my return a few months back. I really considered breaking it into two parts, but something about that didn't feel right. I was certain that if I was going to write about all of these Charms, it needed to be in one place. That being said, I don't plan on writing another article this long in the foreseeable future. My advice to other writers (and myself): Too short is better than too long.

While Khans is now available online, I probably won't have all of my fetches for a few weeks (no need to pay the inflated pre-release weekend prices). As such, my article for October 20th will be another casual deck list that I've been tinkering with that delivers an unexpected knockout punch. After that, I want to get back to some semi-competitive builds to see if we can't find some new FNM worthy decks.

Cradle of Vitality

Until next time,

- Gio

The Modern Perspective Archive

You can follow me on Twitter @TehGioSays (still kind of new at it!)


As the resident, by Kumagoro42 at Tue, 10/07/2014 - 09:15
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As the resident, self-proclaimed Pod expert, I have to say that Abzan Charm is very much NOT a card Pod decks want. And not just because the 3-mana slots are clogged, or WBG are the colors of Melira Pod, but not Kiki Pod.

Pod decks need to reduce non-creature inclusions to the bare essential (so you'll have 2-4 free slots beside Pods and Chords at best), because you never know when you'll have to re-start a Pod cycle from scratch. Drawing into a Charm after a sweeper is cringeworthy. As a result, you have to make creatures do everything for you.

Now, card-drawing is always good, but Pod decks don't particularly rely on random from-the-top drawing, because they have about 7 flexible tutors in the deck already. If card-drawing was needed in Pod combo builds, you'd see cards like Elvish Visionary, Phyrexian Rager or Sea Gate Oracle, that nobody uses instead.

Killing a 3-powered dude: There's a reason why you choose Abrupt Decay (actually, there's two: it's also because you need the tempo, or you'll end up wasting an early turn taking out a threat instead of developing the board, and Pod strategies are all about fast board development, or your mentioned 7 tutors will do exactly nothing). The reason is that Abrupt Decay kills Delver of Secrets. Abzan Charm doesn't. It looks like it does (at least when it's transformed, which, again, tempo), but it actually doesn't. Plus, you already kills them by podding Murderous Redcaps. For killing bigger dudes, you can fetch things like Shriekmaw.

Putting counters on creatures: I find very hard to believe a deck with 25-30 creatures would care enough to save a random Kitchen Finks very often, especially with a card that, in turn, made your creature density lower. If that's something concerning the Pod player, for the same 3 mana, and two color requirements less, you can play Bow of Nylea. Which also kills Delver(s), by the way. And fights self-inflicted life bleed and burn.

Any thoughts on the way they organized the clan colors, so that they are based on one color that however is not the central color of the wedge, making it harder to memorize the names? Like, Sultai is based on a black philosophy, but it's actually wedge green (green and its enemies). And Temur is very clearly "the green clan", but it's actually the wedge centered on blue. I find it a confusing decision.

Centering of clans by longtimegone at Tue, 10/07/2014 - 19:00
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Mark Rosewater has said a number of times now that the centering of the clans on the colors they chose will make sense once the whole block is revealed.

I'm assuming it has to do with the time travel theme. I suspect that Sarkhan's actions in the past will change clan alliances, and therefore shift the colors they are in.

Eh, that would make by Kumagoro42 at Tue, 10/07/2014 - 22:21
Kumagoro42's picture

Eh, that would make remembering what Sultai or Jeskai are even more confusing. I fear we're not looking at a definite name for the wedges, then. After Alara, it was pretty easy to associate the new shard names with the color shards. I see people (even Gio in this article) already trying to adopt the KTK names, saying for instance "Mardu deck" to mean a WBR deck. If that's not what Mardu will be come next Spring, it'll be a mess.

Kuma Josh essentially ordered by Paul Leicht at Tue, 10/07/2014 - 23:00
Paul Leicht's picture

Kuma Josh essentially ordered writers to use the new names so as to reduce confusion and increase flavor across the site. This should mean that people who regularly read these articles will become fluent in the names and also if you have to deal with the charms for any length of time they should sink in.

As for the color combinations changing in each set, well change is to expected but I also expect some continuity. Without it any change would be without context and definitely more confusing.

Personally I think the names suck but I don't work for WOTC Creative so nothing I can do but say so. As I said on FFTR last week if the names resonate they will stick. Even if we hate them. I don't think these names do except for Sultai and maybe Temur, both of which hint at the flavors of their wedges.

A comment on Clan names, by Procrastination at Wed, 10/08/2014 - 00:02
Procrastination's picture

A comment on Clan names, Marketing and writing:

First, I got off easy because the Clan names are right there in the Charms. After writing them out a few times, I'm more familiar with the names and what colors they pertain to.

I used Mardu Control because I think the word Mardu is alright. As far as descriptions for WBR go, I like it more than Dega and there isn't any other competition. It's short and simple and has a smooth enough "flow" that I don't mind "saying" it.

Most of the others lack the simplicity and impact of the Alara Shard names. None of these new names have anywhere near the bluntness of Jund or Bant. The multi-syllable names don't have the repeating consonants like Naya or Grixis, or the smoothness of Esper. Over all, these new made up words feel artificial in a way that the previous made up words didn't.

Though,as a Modern writer, most of this is inconsequential. What really matters is whether the Clan names stick in Standard. It's not like the Shard names immediately became a thing in Extended and Legacy, or actually, even Standard really. That took time. The Shards trickled down from the format that they mattered most in and went from there. I'm certain the Clan names will do the same, eventually.

It's late here, so I will reply about Abzan Charm and Pod tomorrow!

- Gio

I think it's going to be more by longtimegone at Tue, 10/07/2014 - 23:31
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I think it's going to be more that the clans lose a color or cease to exist in the same form rather than changing to a different 3 color mix. Another thing that has been stated is that Khans is a wedge set, but the block is not.

My guess is something like by Procrastination at Wed, 10/08/2014 - 08:48
Procrastination's picture

My guess is something like that. In the changed past where dragons continue to thrive, the 5 clans never become the way they are in Khans. Instead, the races are all one big "clan" that fights for survival. Each color keeps a clan mechanic:

White - outlast
Blue - prowess
Black - delve
Red - raid
Green - ferocious

That is one way to do it. They will probably have new mechanics instead, but if so, I expect them to play nicely with the ones I listed.