Insider: Kaladesh, Modern and You

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Kaladesh has had and will continue to have a bigger impact on Modern than people realize, with enemy-colored manabases fundamentally changing the landscape of the format based on the new fastlands becoming immediate staples. It’s not good news for aggressive, damage-based decks – specifically Burn, but also extending to all flavors of Zoo decks. It’s a subtle change, but in the razor-close world of Modern, every edge is magnified. I expect to see a slight decline in Burn decks, and while I don’t think its staples are going to really decline in value, I don’t expect them to grow any time soon. We could see an increase in decks that Burn preyed upon, like Grixis, and its staples like Tasigur, the Golden Fang and Kolaghan's Command.

The deck that has started to immediately reap the benefits of the new lands is Blue-Red “Blooicide”, which uses Spirebluff Canal to power out its plan of aggressive prowess creatures backed by free spells, cheap interaction, and Temur Battle Rage. With Thing in the Ice, the deck has natural resistance against top creature decks like Bant Eldrazi, Dredge, and Infect, and with creatures – including Kiln Fiend – it’s capable of racing even the fastest opponents.

I expect that Blooicide will evolve into a fixture of the metagame as the premier blue-red deck. It’s also quite a budget deck, with the only expensive card being Scalding Tarn – and the deck can function without it using Shivan Reef as a replacement, which is itself made possible by Spirebluff Canal. The low cost alone could make it a popular list, so I like targeting its staples, including hard-to-find commons like Manamorphose and Gitaxian Probe, and newer rares like Thing in the Ice and Bedlam Reveler. Blood Moon is a staple of the sideboard and another good pickup.

Other powerful cards have made their way into top-tier archetypes and shifted the metagame, with implications for demand and card prices.

Specifically, Cathartic Reunion has brought Dredge from good to great. As a friend put it, Tormenting Voice is to Serum Visions as Cathartic Reunion is to Ponder – a card that is banned in Modern.

Dredge, which was already a top deck, has therefore gotten a significant upgrade to one of its staples. Both sides of Cathartic Reunion are upgrades; discarding two is better than one when the majority of the cards in the deck are better in the graveyard, but more importantly, drawing three instead of two means dredging an extra time. The graveyard cards all have synergy with each other, so any extra dredge is extraordinarily powerful, and it means Dredge’s average draw is now faster, more powerful, and specifically more difficult to beat by playing fair, because it’s going to have more creatures in play.

Dredge is the best deck in Modern, and people are going to have to adjust by playing different decks and/or loading up on graveyard hosers. It’s going to increase the demand for Grafdigger's Cage, Relic of Progenitus, Rest in Peace, and Leyline of the Void, which are now necessities for nearly every deck. Scavenging Ooze saw an increase in its buylist price this week on Trader Tools, and because its price is currently rock bottom, I think it has a lot of room to grow.

Infect, which some argue is the best deck in Modern, also received an upgrade in Blossoming Defense.

Blossoming Defense functions like a fixed version of Vines of Vastwood. It is less powerful overall, but at one mana is more efficient. Rather than using it as a replacement, players are including Blossoming Defense alongside Vines of Vastwood.

What this means for opponents is that Infect now has these hexproof effects in spades, with six or seven compared to only four before, so fighting against them against creature removal is even more difficult. Players will need to start fighting back with more extreme measures, so I like the prospects of cards like Night of Souls' Betrayal and even Curse of Death's Hold. Darkblast is a staple in Dredge decks and occasionally control decks against creature decks like Infect, so I think it’s a great buy in this environment.

Another big factor in the new Modern is Madcap Experiment, which in any deck with no other artifacts will find Platinum Emperion, keeping its controller alive. It will shut down opponents winning with damage, so it functions something like a red Worship that doesn’t require any additional help and even provides a way to win the game in the same package.

The fact that Emperion is available to nearly any red deck makes it an extremely potent tool, especially because it’s difficult for the opponent to predict. It’s going to be best in decks that don’t otherwise rely on creatures: control decks like Jeskai and Grixis, combo decks such as Storm and especially the already top-tier Scapeshift decks are all prime candidates to use it.

The price of Platinum Emperion has already spiked, but as more players begin to use it I think it will continue to rise. Platinum Angel is another alternative that could win in situations Platinum Emperion couldn’t, so it’s another possible spec target. I expect Madcap Experiment to come in alongside Blood Moon often, so it’s another win for the mana hoser.

Inventors' Fair has already earned itself a place in Lantern Control, where it functions as both a source of lifegain against its biggest weakness, burn spells, and more importantly, a tutor to find critical artifacts. It even creates a tutor engine when combined with Life from the Loam or Crucible of Worlds. It makes the deck, which with four Ensnaring Bridges is already attractive against an aggressive metagame, even better, so its popularity is on the rise. This should reverse the downward trend that has been occurring on many of its staples, including Ensnaring Bridge, Grove of the Burnwillows, and Lantern of Insight itself.

There are even more cards with potential, like Smuggler's Copter in Affinity, but there hasn’t been enough time or tournaments yet to know just how good they really are. There is an SCG Modern event coming in a couple weeks and Modern Grand Prix next month, so we’ll see soon just how much of an impact Kaladesh has. What do you have your eye on? Questions? Comments? You know what to do.

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