Modern Thoughts from Guilds of Ravnica


By Byron King


Originally, I planned on talking about several of the new cards in Guilds of Ravnica.  I could write a blurb about all of the rares in the set, and maybe some potential homes for the cards.  But dozens of people write those reviews before each set, and I rarely feel like I hit on anything new.  Instead, I want to spend some time with just a few cards and really dive into some of their homes in Modern.


I strongly predict these will see widespread play in Modern.  I offer no proof to back up my claim.



If I ever wanted to call a sure thing, here it is.  Well, ignoring my last prediction, since that is an actual guarantee.



WAIT, STOP!  DON’T LEAVE YET!  Jund is going to play Assassin’s Trophy, and it will be the definition of “fine, but not exciting”.  Plenty of people are losing their minds about blowing up Urza’s Tower and friends.  I’m not excited to say it, but Assassin’s Trophy isn’t going to change that matchup.

Jund’s problem against Tron comes from Jund’s fundamental game plan.  Jund wants to trade card for card until nobody has anything, then win by drawing stronger individual cards.  Tron just laughs at that, since it can just naturally cast Karn and friends before Jund can close out a game.  Well over half the deck is mana or finds mana, so turning off Tron just delays the deck a few turns.  Meanwhile, Jund is taking off turn two or three to cast Assassin’s Trophy, making Tarmogoyf come down even later.  If blowing up Urza lands really solved the Tron problem, Jund would have already adopted Field of Ruin

Jund runs a mix of Lightning Bolt, Fatal Push, Terminate, Abrupt Decay, and Maelstrom Pulse.  Assassin’s Trophy should take the place of all the 2+ removal spells without touching the cheap removal.  You can’t just ignore cards like Noble Hierarch and Goblin Electromancer, and removal that gives them a basic land doesn’t accomplish much.

The real benefit of Trophy in Jund will be against midrange mirrors and control decks.  Jund can get overwhelmed by specific threats (think Teferi, Jace, and Gideon).  Instead of a single Dreadbore or Maelstrom Pulse, a set of Assassin’s Trophy could actually cover whatever slips through Thoughtseize and Liliana of the Veil.


Death’s Shadow

Death’s Shadow decks that run Traverse the Ulvenwald will want some copies of Assassin’s Trophy.  That deck can actually apply a fast clock, and the cost reduction on Maelstrom Pulse will be greatly appreciated.



These Overgrown Tomb decks are pretty much strictly worse than something else.  They can grind a little better than Jund, but U/W already has a stranglehold on that end of the spectrum.  Jund is the faster deck due to Bloodbraid Elf and Lightning Bolt.  If you decide to pick either of these decks up for some reason, definitely cram 3-4 Assassin’s Trophy into your deck


Hollow One/Bridgevine

These decks are both traditionally Rakdos, but it isn’t hard to slip in a green shock land or two.  It certainly doesn’t mesh with those decks’ main plans, but it is a good counter to sideboard hate.  Rest in Peace and Leyline of the Void are real downers, and you need something to kick them to the curb.  Maelstro Pulse would do the trick, but that means your deck won’t start doing it’s thing until turn four at the earliest.  That extra turn means a lot.



See Hollow One/Bridgevine, except Dredge already runs green.


Bring to Light Scapeshift

If you had a Maelstrom Pulse in this deck already, keep it there.  Don’t add Assassin’s Trophy.  It was probably a tutor target, and you don’t need mana efficiency in a deck that tutors for bullets with Bring to Light.



Lantern has completed the shift to Whir of Invention instead of base Golgari, so Assassin’s Trophy doesn’t really fit anymore.  If you are still playing Abrupt Decay, make the switch.  The land search can actually be a bonus, since it gives you an emergency shuffle if you need it.



Knight of Autumn screams Collected Company target.  It combines Reclamation Sage and Lone Missionary/Obstinate Baloth, allowing you to stretch your sideboard slots a little bit further.  Spirits, Viscera Seer combo, and G/W Value Town now have the option for a Reclamation Sage with some additional bonuses.

G/W Elves won’t be interested, since Reclamation Sage covers the most important mode with a better creature type.  A random “gain 4 life” creature won’t swing the burn matchup significantly, and the elf synergies are more important than the 4/3 creature option.



Death’s Shadow could rework itself to include Mausoleum Secrets, but I don’t expect that it will.  On the surface, there is some good synergy with Street Wraith, Death’s Shadow, and Mausoleum Secrets, but Death’s Shadow doesn’t need any more grindy elements.  Snapcaster Mage and Kolaghan’s Command already do this job better, and the deck has been shaving those cards for a while now.  Kolaghan’s Command essentially adds three options to Mausoleum Secrets for a single red mana, and it doesn’t get completely hosed by graveyard hate to boot.

Now that I’ve covered a traditional deck, it’s time to go a little deeper.  There was an As Foretold Living End deck that made a splash several months ago.  I’m not going to make any claims about the validity of that deck, but all the cards in that deck line up great with Mausoleum.  You just need a way to actually find As Foretold when you need it.

If you do give Mausoleum Secrets a shot, make sure to add a copy of Slaughter Pact to give it a guaranteed target.



I’m sure some people will try Nullhide Ferox in place of Obstinate Baloth, and they are going to be disappointed. Obstinate Baloth serves as a sideboard card against multiple decks, and Nullhite Derox is only good against decks with Liliana of the Veil.  You also need access to non-creature spells in Modern, or you are simply going to get run over by someone doing unfair things.  The extra 2 power isn’t worth the loss of versatility.



The spiritual successor to Snapcaster Mage, Mission Briefing essentially trades a 2/1 body for Surveil 2.  Beyond that, Mission Briefing has an additional blue pip in the cost, which is a large downside.  Targeted graveyard hate is worse, since Mission Briefing doesn’t require a choice until it is resolving.  Lastly, Mission Briefing lets you recast the card instead of giving it Flashback, which is a mild upside.

I’m struggling to think of a good reason to include Mission Briefing anywhere over Snapcaster Mage.  Realistically, the only thing that comes to mind is budget; if you can’t afford Snapcaster Mage, you could play Mission Briefing as a replacement.  I never want to recommend this, since you will be better off picking a deck with an optimal build within your budget.

Ioschron Scepter seems absolutely adorable with Mission Briefing.  Check Webster for the definition of value and you’ll find an imprinted Mission Briefing on a stick.

If you really wanted to reach, Mission Briefing allows for alternate casting costs.  Archive Trap is the only alternate cost card that comes to mind, so I guess you could try it in Mill.  I’ll see myself out now.



Quick Hits

Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice has an extremely outside chance of making it into the Humans deck.  Being a Militia Bugler target goes a long way, and it does a good job of being a brick wall against Mantis Rider.  I’m not sure where Humans really wants a giant monster, but Aurelia could be that card.

Beast Whisperer will probably be a miss, even in Elves.  It is a little too expensive to Chord of Calling into, and Green Sun’s Zenith isn’t legal.

Bounty Agent is worth noting, since it is an option for toolbox decks.  Bounty Agent is a reasonable Chord of Calling target, along with a passable hit with Collected Company.  I’m just not sure there are enough targets to justify it yet.

Chance for Glory does have a combo available.  I’m not sure exactly what you do with this, but Sundial of the Infinite with Chance for Glory does make your creatures indestructible for the rest of the game.

I don’t ever see Storm reaching for a card like Firemind’s Research.  It needs 20 cast spells to win the game, and that is just an absurdly high number.  If that seems reasonable to Grapeshot with, just remember that you need eight mana after you cast all those spells too.  Maybe this works with a sideboarding strategy, letting you spread your storm count over multiple turns.  I still doubt it.

Lazav, the Multifarious copying Hunted Horror is funny, but a little too fragile.  I wouldn’t’ expect anything out of this version of Lazav

Stick with Goblin Rabblemaster if you are considering Legion Warboss.  If you’ve already maxed out on those, I still think you should look elsewhere.  Goblin Rabblemaster turning into a large creature is leagues better than making a bunch of 1/1 tokens into 2/2 tokens.

Mnemonic Betrayal is probably a sweet sideboard card against someone?  I’m not sure exactly who that is yet.

If your deck really wanted Experiment One 5-8, now you have access to Pelt Collector for a second playset.

There have been some whispers about using Tajic, Legion’s Edge out of the Human’s sideboard to fight Anger of the Gods.  Tajic does a lot of things, but I’m not sure I want any of them more than I want Selfless Spirit.  Mentor and First Strike both rely on extremely small creatures on the other side of the board.  I can’t imagine Tajic doing anything besides chump attacking most of the time.  Or it hangs around until the opponent finds a bolt to clear the way for Anger of the Gods.

I suppose Umnoored Ego is a better version of Lost Legacy, but I don’t think you should be playing that card either.  Unmoored Ego also works against Tron lands, but that isn’t even useful unless you are on the play.  I would steer clear of Unmoored Ego unless you have a good reason to think otherwise.  Like, you local store has half a dozen Ad Nauseum players kind of reason.

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