Insider – Revisiting Modern

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It’s time to take a look in on Modern. It’s a format that has so far mirrored old Extended – cared about when it’s relevant, forgotten when it’s not. While that is probably not a great sign for the format overall (though it has plenty of time to grow), it’s good for us as speculators.

And right now we’re sitting at the last moment before a new spike in Modern comes along. With Worlds going on right now, there will be some good Modern decklists coming out of it. Because Standard hasn’t been played at a high level in a few weeks, it’s possible there will be more attention directed toward it than Modern, but I think it’s more likely that the good Modern decks will push soon-to-be Modern staples up, and they won’t be coming down again until Modern PTQ season is over.

That means it’s time to move on these staples now. I’ve been telling you about the more-obvious things such as lands and Zoo cards, so today I want to look at some of the more off-the-radar things that you should look to pick up on the cheap at FNM tonight.

We have some lists from PT Philly that figure to still be good after the last round of bannings, so we should be able to pull a few gems from them as well, even though they were designed for a different metagame. There’s also Magic League, which has shown some important innovations in the past for those watching.

Let’s dig in.

The easy ones

The cards on this list you need to be on the lookout for immediately. They are proven winners that stand to gain a fair amount of value between now and the end of Modern PTQ season.

Cryptic Command

I think one of the major developments of the Modern world is that Blue is Back, and this weekend will show it. Apart of that has to do with our friend Snapcaster Mage, but if Blue is good, so is Cryptic. These aren’t actually that easy to find in binders anymore, so snag any you can, because it could easily spike hard after this weekend.

Elspeth, Knight Errant

Losing Green Suns Zenith hurts the Zoo decks, but Zoo was good before Zenith came out, and will continue to be, particularly versions that load up on >2 toughness creatures, since Grove of the Burnwillows will certainly be metagame-defining. In these Zoo decks, including ones like the Big Zoo deck Brian Kibler used to win Pro Tour: Austin a while back, Elspeth fills a key role. She’s a Planeswalker that’s getting further and further out of print, so this seems like an easy bet to gain some value.

Bloodbraid Elf

Whether it’s cascading into Boom/Bust or just a ‘Goyf, there’s no reason to not think this will come up some, especially if a Jund deck is viable in addition to more traditional Zoo.

Other Zoo cards

Noble Hierarch, Knight of the Reliquary, Tarmogoyf, Path to Exile. You get the idea.

Also keep an eye on finding some Gaddock Teeg. With Zenith gone and combo down but not out, expect Zoo decks to run Teeg as more than a 1-of, and he could see some rises accordingly.

Maelstrom Pulse

With the format slowing down, I see Pulse becoming a larger part of it. It fits into Jund, BG Rock decks, Living End, and probably a few others as well.


The cards in this list aren’t a sure thing, but they also offer some of the best upside in the format.


I’m not sure if this will make it big, but it certainly has a place in Zoo decks, particularly in a Grove-dominated world.


Already a valuable Uncommon, if 3 toughness becomes the new standard, then this could see a rise accordingly.

Fiery Justice

I’m pretty sure this is actually just the go-to card in the Zoo mirror, though I could be mistaken. At very close to bulk prices right now, this could be the big winner of this list.

Cloudstone Curio

It wasn’t that long ago that Elves was a very real deck, and they did it without Zenith. Curio is a big part of the deck’s going infinite, and in Old Extended this deck could kill on Turn 3. Another bargain at bulk prices that could explode once Matt Nass picks up Elves. The biggest danger to the deck is, of course, Punishing Fire/Grove.

That said, I’m fairly certain that most everyone will be aware of Grove and therefore might stay away from cards that lose to it, leading to a cycle where Elves could find its time to shine. And with so much redundancy and the ability to kill quickly, it’s not like one Punishing Fire isn’t something the deck can fight through.

If so, also be ready to move on things like Summoners Pact and Heritage Druid.

Death Cloud

I really want this to be good. Thoughtseize is an easy bet to add to its already-expensive price tag, and it fits right at home in this deck. Garruk Wildspeaker and Kitchen Finks are also boss in this deck.

Glen Elendra Archmage

This card pops up a number of times in decks that survive the bannings, such as Birthing Pod and Faeries. It also will serve a noble purpose in the Snapcaster deck mirrors, particularly if a Blue deck turns out to be one of the breakout decks of the weekend.

Chalice of the Void

Useful for stopping Cascade decks, of which there might be a few, and is at its best in a Prison deck like this one. RW Prison is a pet favorite of mine that I loved in Old Extended and tried hard to make work in Modern before the bannings. It seems decently positioned now, though I doubt it’s going to be one of the top decks.

But seriously, give this deck a look. Who doesn’t love Magus of the Tabernacle, Trinisphere and Ghostly Prison?

Doran the Siege Tower

It’s sad to me that Doran doesn’t seem to be making a showing anywhere, but the big guy could still make a return. Not only was he the star of the Extended Pro Tour last year, but it’s possible there’s also merit in and old version that splashed Blue for Rhox War Monk. It all depends on where the meta ends up, and if Zoo runs away with it or Control and Combo make a return.

Flagstones of Trokair

RW Landfall was the toast of Old Extended for a time, and the slowing down of the format means that lengthening games by another turn or two could put this deck, and Flagstones, back into the spotlight. It’s also one of the best targets to Boom/Bust on yourself.

Braid of Fire

Hearing rumors about this making waves in Modern testing. Be ready to pounce if it starts to show up.

That’s all I’ve got at this point in Modern. We can see, from the best information available to us, what the best decks appear to be coming out of the gates, and we’ll find out more this weekend. The staples on this list you need to get into as fast as possible before interest in Modern sparks back up. The speculative cards you should look for as your chance to really score big.

You guys see anything I missed? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for  reading,

Corbin Hosler


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