Why Leyline of the Void is the Most Popular Card in Modern

Leyline of the Void

Leyline of the Void was the most played card of Mythic Championship IV

Many decks played four copies of Leyline of the Void… Even if they couldn’t normally tap for black mana.

The winning “Mono-Green” Tron deck only has basic Forest for color-producing lands… But still ran the full play set. On the one hand, it can actually cast Leyline with Chromatic Star and Chromatic Sphere… On the other hand, “Plan A” is to drop the Leyline for free on turn zero.

There is some risk to the potential reward to playing a card you can’t cast… But there was a big enough problem at Mythic Championship IV to warrant so many.

Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis

Hogaak is a Real Problem in Modern

Almost immediately after it was printed, we asked if Hogaak should be banned.

With a Mythic Championship in the books… We’re even more certain!

There was only one Hogaak deck in the Top 8, but the card / deck(s) / strategy did remarkably well anyway. “Hogaak” was the most popular pure archetype in the tournament (at about twice the popularity of Izzet Phoenix)… And “Hogaak Dredge” was essentially the top performer on Modern record. (Remember: mixed format Mythic Championship Top 8s are heavily influenced by Limited records).

Of all the decks that went 8-2 or better, more than half played the Modern Horizons monster! More than half!

It’s crazy to think, but Hogaak was a top performer even with Leyline of the Void as the most popular card in the tournament… And that doesn’t even consider the popularity of alternatives like Nihil Spellbomb, Tormod’s Crypt, or Surgical Extraction.

The heavy anti-graveyard attitude of this Modern tournament looks to have been instrumental in holding down the former best archetype. It used to be industry standard to bring in Rest in Peace against Phoenix. Now folks have all four Leyline of the Voids… and might have two or three main deck!

The combination of open deck lists and so many anti-graveyard hate cards — not to mention the London Mulligan — made for some unusual incentives.

And again… Hogaak still performed great.

Where Does Modern Go from Here?

We predict “Tree of Tales”-level bannings. Tree of Tales never hurt anyone; all it ever did was cast the Oxidize that helped contain the Affinity menace… But Tree of Tales was close enough to the actual villains of the format that it got swept up in the bans.

So who should get the veritable Lightning Axe?

Faithless Looting – Is this card the real problem? It’s not just played in Hogaak and Hogaak Dredge, but Izzet Phoenix, Mono-Red Phoenix, and more.

Ancient Stirrings – If you’re going to ban Faithless Looting, it’s tough to justify keeping Ancient Stirrings… Especially given the winner of this Mythic Championship. Alongside the London Mulligan, Ancient Stirrings makes assembling turn three Tron just a little too consistent.

Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis – Hogaak itself, because we fear that just cutting Faithless Looting wouldn’t be enough!

… Izzet Phoenix would be a key winner with such changes; but this might just be setting up a domination of Urza-Thopter-Sword. Is the answer Mox Opal?

Lots to unpack this week.

We hit on Jund, Phoenix variants, and how much of a problem Wrenn and Six will be. Check it out!

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Goblin Engineer in All the New Modern Stuff

Goblin Engineer

Goblin Engineer

Creature – Goblin

When Goblin Engineer enters the battlefield, you may search your library for an artifact card, put it in your graveyard, then shuffle your library.

{R}, {T}, Sacrifice an artifact: Return target artifact card with converted mana cost 3 or less from your graveyard to the battlefield.

1/2

Goblin Engineer in Grixis Urza

… Mike initially thought (from the deck title) that this was a newfangled color combination for the classic Modern UrzaTron shell… Turns out it’s an all-new infinite combo deck!

The “Grixis” part just refers to some black mana to activate Nihil Spellbomb or hard-cast your Leyline of the Void after sideboarding.

Here, Goblin Engineer does a Stoneforge Mystic Impression, when you… Get your Sword of the Meek!

Sword of the Meek

In fact, Goblin Engineer puts the Sword right where you want it… In the graveyard! If you naturally draw a Thopter Foundry you have a soft lock already.

Adding Urza, Lord High Artificer to an Already Established Combination…

… Makes it “boundless” according to Patrick.

Urza, Lord High Artificer

Thopter Foundry and Sword of the Meek can already make lots of tokens and life points based on how many times you can produce one mana. Urza’s ability to turn every incoming 1/1 token into a blue-producing Llanowar Elves means you can make… lots.

This is to say nothing of the Construct that comes in and gets buffed for all the artifacts you have.

Not only are there multiple different flavors of Urza, Lord High Artificer decks emerging in Modern… There are distinct new Goblin Engineer ones, too!

Example: Goblin Engineer in Rakdos Prison

What if you use your Goblin Engineer to get essentially just Ensnaring Bridge and Nihil Spellbomb.

Did you notice that Nihil Spellbomb can pay you back for being sacrificed to Goblin Engineer if you have a spare black mana? Mondo combo or what?

Combine with Karn, the Great Creator and you have an all-new Modern deck!

Don’t look now, but Karn might just search up a Snare Thopter. Yes, that Snare Thopter. Not quite a Slash Panther; or kind of a Bloodbraid Elf without the Cascade, Snare Thopter is… Certainly a creature you could potentially get with your Karn.

There are so many things going in on Modern due to War of the Spark and Modern Horizons we couldn’t really write about all of them here… But we probably talked about most of them. Was all that Hogaak worry overblown? Is Izzet Phoenix still a top contender? Is Mike’s beloved Burn still viable at all?

Find out in this week’s podcast:

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Is it ALREADY Time to Ban Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis?

Meet Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis from Modern Horizons:

Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis

Clearly Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis is chock full of keywords. A one-card synergy squad, Hogaak rewards you for creatures in play, for cards in graveyard.

Ideally set up by Faithless Looting, Hogaak can exploit synergies with Bridge from Below, Vengevine, and a host of fast creatures.

Too fast.

Altar of Dementia isn’t Doing Anything Good for the Format, Either

Altar of Dementia

Altar of Dementia is back!

A source of sacrifice for zero mana; a way to win so long as you have any creatures… And in this deck a way to fill your graveyard (for Bridge from Below, especially)… Altar of Dementia is a powerhouse next to an 8/8 powerhouse.

Together, these cards are prohibitively fast. Check out this (representative?) Tweet:

You’ve got a Rest in Peace in your opener… But turn two is too slow? Eep!

In other news…

Chandra, Awakened Inferno is Just One Chandra in M20

Chandra, Awakened Inferno

After lots of Hogaak talk, Patrick and Michael muse over three new versions of Chandra Nalaar from the upcoming set. This one is particularly cool because of what the [+2] emblem does against a particular hated archetype.

But we’ll let you discover that in the cast. Give it a listen:

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Everything Great About Wrenn and Six

Meet Wrenn and Six from Modern Horizons:

Wrenn and Six

Wrenn and Six has three Planeswalker loyalty abilities. Two of them are pretty great.

Remembering for a moment that this is one of only two two mana Planeswalkers ever printed… Imagine going first.

  • [-1]: Wrenn and Six deals 1 damage to any target

Your opponent might have opened on Noble Hierarch, Birds of Paradise, Arcbound Worker, or any number of commonly played one mana, one toughness, creatures. Wrenn and Six comes down and can immediately punish the opponent.

You kill their guy and keep a Planeswalker with two loyalty!

Rakdos Spectacle cards like Skewer the Critics and Light Up the Stage have found fast homes in Modern. Not for nothing: Wrenn and Six and its [-1] ability are a great way to set up Spectacles.

But that’s not what this card is about…

  • [+1]: Return up to one target land card from your graveyard to your hand.

The [+1] ability on this card is one of the closest approximations of the mythical “personal Howling Mine” ever attempted. All you need is a single Wooded Foothills!

You break that Wooded Foothills (or whatever fetchland) in the first two turns to help cast Wrenn and Six and the party almost starts itself. Wrenn and Six almost implies that you never miss a land drop the rest of the game (or at least as long as your Planeswalker doesn’t leave play). Of course there are other applications…

Ayula’s Influence from Modern Horizons

Ayula’s Influence

This enchantment is very exciting!

Somewhere between a Zombie Infestation and a Bearscape, this enchantment is screaming its synergy with Life From the Loam. But! You don’t always have your Life From the Loam. You can slum it with the [+1] ability from Wrenn and Six just fine.

That said, Patrick suggests a combination with Beck // Call.

Beck // Call from Dragon’s Maze makes for a super cool — and super powerful — combination with Ayula’s Influence. Just cast the “Beck” side with Ayula’s Influence already in play. You can make 2/2 Bears — and draw cards! — pretty steadily.

At any point, if you draw (and discard) a Dakmoor Salvage… You should be able to draw your entire deck. Dakmoor Salvage is a land, so you can discard it to Ayula’s Influence. You make a Bear token and, as a result of Beck, can draw a card. Now just dredge Dakmor Salvage and start the loop all over again!

What Kind of Foolishness Can Echo of Eons Bring?

Get Ready for Echo of Eons
  • Lion’s Eye Diamond – There is all kind of material with this potential combo. But the simplest? Just discard Echo of Eons to your Lion’s Eye Diamond and then use the UUU you just made to flash it back.
  • Narset, Parter of Veils – “Seems like abuse” according to Mike. You draw seven, your opponent just discards his hand? Welcome to the new Modern.

More, much more, Modern Horizons right here:

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Ice-Fang Coatl and More Modern Horizons

Modern Horizons is an upcoming set designed specifically for Modern play. The cards so far look to be — in many cases, at least — not just functional, but flavorful as well. There are throwbacks to older sets and favorite mechanics.

So much so that some of the Modern Horizon cards are g-d keyword-tacular. Ice-Fang Coatl, one of our favorite cards, is a great example of, well… Everything.

Ice-Fang Coatl

Ice-Fang Coatl from Modern Horizons is Awesome

This Snow Snake has two broad things going for it. On the one hand, it is quite reminiscent of Baleful Strix. If you have three other Snow permanents in play, Ice-Fang Coatl is exactly a Baleful Strix once once the battlefield.

It draws a card when it comes down (regardless) and can trade with anything.

Baleful Strix is of course a defining card of the Sultai Legacy deck (forget about Modern)… So presuming you have sufficient Snow, this card is probably overpowered for Modern.

But wait! There’s more!

Ice-Fang Coatl — other Snow permanents or no — has Flash. As long as you are okay with trading in a blue mana for a colorless one, it’s just better than Elvish Visionary; a veteran of the First Place podium.

However when you combine Flash and Deathtouch… The card overall is largely a “cantrip Terminate” that can sometimes attack. Not bad. Not bad at all…

But What About That “Snow” Clause…

Haven’t collected enough Snow lands from the original Ice Age or Coldsnap? Not to worry! Modern Horizons has you covered!

Snow-Covered basic lands are back, with new art to boot!

Check out the Modern Horizons method for getting your Skred on…

Snow-Covered Mountain

Snow-Covered Mountain

But Wait! There’s still more!

Prismatic Vista is the Dual Land of Our Dreams

How about Prismatic Vista from Modern Horizons?

Prismatic Vista
Prismatic Vista

As long as you’re not, say, hunting for a Temple Garden or Godless Shrine, Prismatic Vista is the most flexible fetchland in the history of the Modern format.

Or, put another way, it’s what Evolving Wilds always wished it was!

Subtly, though not itself a Snow permanent, Prismatic Vista can get any basic land. That includes the aforementioned Snow-Covered Mountain (or any relevant Forest- or Island-types you might need to summon your Ice-Fang Coatl.

We’ve barely scratched the surface of Modern Horizons, but would love for you to join us. Give us a listen?

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Karn, the Great Creator Demolishes Modern

Meet Karn, the Great Creator from War of the Spark

Karn, the Great Creator

This week, Michael and Patrick review, among other things, the results from last week’s Modern MOCS.

The most impressive innovation — and there were a boatload of innovations — is around Karn, the Great Creator.

Karn, the Great Creator gets Mycosynth Lattice

BY FAR the most important interaction for Modern is Karn’s [-2 ability]…

[-2]: You may choose an artifact card you own from outside the game or in exile, reveal that card, and put it into your hand.

This ability lets Karn play “toolbox”. You can get all kinds of stuff, from Wurmcoil Engine (a giant, lifelink, monster to attack with), Walking Ballista (a threat, and an answer), or any number of so-called “Silver Bullets”.

But!

It is also a two-card combo.

Remember Mycosynth Lattice?

Mycosynth Lattice

Don’t worry, neither did we. Well, Patrick did because he helped design it way back when he was at WotC.

Mycosynth Lattice works with all three of Karn’s abilities.

Of course, as an artifact that presumably lives in your sideboard… Karn can go fetch it. But once it’s in play?

Because Mycosynth Lattice turns all permanents into artifacts, it becomes a one-two punch with Karn’s static ability.

Activated abilities of artifacts your opponents control can’t be activated.

Lands, too!

Your opponent will not be able to activate their lands — now artifacts — meaning they can’t tap for mana. This is a two-card Armageddon lock combo!

Liquimetal Coating: A Faster Mycosynth Lattice?

Believe it or not, WotC R&D thought Liquimetal Coating “might be a problem” back when it was about to hit Standard play. Liquimetal Coating could quickly enable some of its set’s signature interactions, and certainly turn on the specialized removal of the day.

How about now?

Well Mycosynth Lattice costs six. You might not have the mana to immediately go Karn into Lattice into Armageddon combo. Liquimetal Coating isn’t a full-on Armageddon, but it can certainly play Stone Rain machine gun.

Liquimetal Coating

Liquimetal Coating can turn the opponent’s lands — one at a time — into artifacts. Then we can combine with Karn’s last as-yet-unmentioned (in this blog post) ability:

[+1]: Until your next turn, up to one target noncreature artifact becomes an artifact creature with power and toughness each equal to its converted mana cost.

Land: You are now an artifact!
Artifact [Land]: You are now a 0/0 Artifact Creature!
See ya!

Conclusion? Karn, the Great Creator has already upended Modern. Both Patrick and Michael are excited to brew with this card in other decks than green-based Ramp. Colorless, it can go into many other strategies.

And poor Affinity… Karn doesn’t even need to spend loyalty to mess that once-storied strategy up.

Plus!

Give it a listen:

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Serra the Benevolent from Modern Horizons (and even more Modern)


Serra the Benevolent is an exciting Planeswalker from the upcoming Modern Horizons set.

Serra the Benevolent

Mana Cost: 2WW
Types: Legendary Planeswalker – Serra
Card Text:

  • [+2]: Creatures you control with flying get +1/+1 until end of turn.
  • [-3]: Create a 4/4 white Angel creature token with flying and vigilence.
  • [-6]: You get an emblem with “If you control a creature, damage that would reduce your life total to less than 1 reduces it to 1 instead.

Loyalty: 4
Expansion: Modern Horizons
Rarity: Mythic Rare

Patrick sees some immediate applications of Serra here… Spirits can cash in on her [+2] ability, and having any sort of creatures is great with the [-6].

An even better home might be a flying Tokens deck with Spectral Procession, Bitterblossom, or Lingering Souls. A deck that goes super wide with efficient flyers can really benefit from Serra’s [+2]!

The “fail state” of [-3] is really where Serra shines. Her worst implementation is to just make a Serra Angel for only four mana (instead of five). Plus you generally get to keep your Planeswalker in play, and might be attacking with a vigilant five the next turn.

Serra’s “Worship” [-6] is extraordinarily powerful. First off, people play with actual Worship in Modern sometimes. Being an emblem, hers is a “Worship” that can’t be removed by Cindervines! Try interacting with that!

The Best of the Rest

The Top Level Podcast boys spend only a short amount of time on Serra up there. Most of this monster Modern podcast is spent across the many events from last weekend: Classic, Open, and even Grand Prix!

Highlights:

  • Prismatic Omen – Mike likes this throwback for Valakut decks; Patrick loves the first one, whether or not a deck plays two or more. Prismatic Omen gives a Valakut deck a completely different chip-shot game plan so it doesn’t have to go all-in.
  • Tireless Tracker – Love it and love it (ditto). In Golgari, the presence of this three drop makes up for some of the missing red card advantage; meaningfully difficult (though clearly not impossible) to Fatal Push.
  • Bloodbraid Elf – Speaking of red cards… Is this one worth it going Golgari to Jund? Mike suggests spitting something very different out with it, though:
  • Anafenza, the Foremost! Awesome addition for Humans; may have wider applications in other archetypes. Incredibly high floor, but far from unbeatable (so not a great sideboard card). Just a great card.
  • Tempest Djinn… Would be bizarre playing next to Timely Reinforcements. Mike thinks this might be the Djinn’s moment, though; due to an all-time low in Grim Lavamancers.

… And a ton more!

Give it a listen:

Or a download

Much Modern

All About Amulet of Vigor in Modern

Amulet of Vigor

Amulet Titan is among the filthiest decks there is!

It has a lot of bad cards, a high failure rate, is mostly just air… But when it works, it WORKS.

This deck can start with an Amulet of Vigor to get incredible value from the “Karoo” cycle from the original Ravnica Block. Just imagine the fun of playing a Primeval Titan (ahead of curve, of course) and searching up a Slayers’ Stronghold and Boros Garrison.

The Garrison will enter the battlefield untapped, so you can immediately make RW to activate the Stronghold. Now your Primeval Titan can attack, searching up two more lands, for greater and greater nonsense.

Karoos usually slow players down. They bounce a land when entering the battlefield, after all; but in a deck with Amulet of Vigor, they can actually net mana before bouncing themselves; or make a mess with Tolaria West. Ever think about searching up Tolaria West and a Simic Growth Chamber with your Primeval Titan, tapping them both for mana, bouncing the Tolaria West… And then searching up a Pact of Negation to protect your incoming 6/6?

Nonsense!

The Most Miserable Card in Modern Is…

Possessed Portal!

Normally a Whir Prison deck will deck you with Ipnu Rivulet, recycled with its Crucible of Worlds… Or maybe get you over and over, two at a time, with Pyrite Spellbomb and Academy Ruins.

But mostly? It beats you by submission. By cruel and unrelenting horrible-ness.

Possessed Portal is even more cruel and more horrible than usual:

Step One: From Now On, Nobody Draws Cards

You feels me? 🙁

And it’s not like anyone pays eight for this thing. Not with Whir of Invention in their decks.

My Gosh is Modern Hostile to Burn Right Now

Mike’s beloved Red Deck is really, really badly positioned just this second. Not only is Dredge back in flavor — what with its innumerable free Lightning Helixes that cost neither a card nor mana — but other matchups can be equally challenging.

And by “equally” we mean…

Oh my God is that Mono-White Martyr of Sands?

More Modern:

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Izzet Phoenix in Modern… And Legacy?

Arclight Phoenix
Izzet Phoenix won a[nother] Modern Grand Prix, in Los Angeles


Izzet Phoenix in Modern

We saw Arclight Phoenix jump back into Top 8 action just last week… Standard’s Mythic Championship Cleveland was the stage. The player in question, none other than the legendary Luis Scott-Vargas.

But it’s not clear that Arclight Phoenix even belongs in the best Standard U/R deck! The same is not true of Izzet Phoenix in Modern. If anything, this is considered the strongest current deck in Modern… And it’s not hard to see why.

Izzet Phoenix has some stoopid stupid draws.

Here’s one:

  • Mountain, Fathless Looting; discard two copies of Arclight Phoenix.
  • Gut Shot you. Gut Shot you again!
  • That’s eight! Your go.
  • Is that the most common first turn? Obviously not. But it’s certainly an available one. Izzet Phoenix has a ton of perfectly fine regular draws that are super aggressive while remaining card advantageous.

    Cantrips, Cantrips, Everywhere

    Mike and Patrick discuss the various cheap card drawing spells in Modern.

    Most important might be Faithless Looting. Mike doesn’t think this one is long for the format. It’s certainly been a problem child in a variety of decks before!

    Patrick thinks that Manamorphose might be the most broken of the cheap card drawers; but Mike draws a distinction at the one-versus-two-casting cost line.

    This dovetails into Patrick wondering how Grixis players pick which cantips they play in Modern, and how many!

    Why isn’t Arclight Phoenix a Bigger Deal in Legacy?

    A different Izzet deck won last weekend’s Legacy Open — a Delver of Secrets deck!

    Izzet is a great strategy in Legacy, due to the strength of cards like Brainstorm, Ponder, Preordain… and now Light Up the Stage! Light Up the Stage is very Treasure Cruise-ish, and easily catalyzed by Pteramander or Delver of Secrets on turn one.

    But look at those cantrips: They’re great, but they don’t put creatures into the graveyard! There are no Faithless Lootings or Thought Scours in the Legacy builds. Therefore getting the Phoenix into the graveyard (where it can work its proper mischief) is a little more challenging than in Modern.

    But!

    There are some emerging Grixis deck lists that are looking to solve the Arclight Phoenix problem. And because it’s Legacy… The solution is pretty a good one.

    Learn how they’re doing it in this week’s podcast:

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    Supreme Phantom – How is This a Real Magic Card?

    Supreme Phantom
    Supreme Phantom

    How is Supreme Phantom a Real Magic Card?

    Not so long ago, our own beloved MichaelJ played a 1/3 creature for 1U. Its goal was just to slow down the many 2/1 creatures of the Standard Red deck of the time. The U in its upper-right helped to power up Master of Waves, but this card had to, more or less, contribute successfully on its own.

    This card served Mike super well. He sided it in in the Top 8 of the Regional PTQ, essentially cancelling all the Foul-Tongue Invocations his opponent had drawn. That card was, of course, Omenspeaker.

    Omenspeaker was fine. Unexciting, but Mike really wanted it for the 1/3 body. Compare that to Supreme Phantom…

    Supreme Phantom is also a 1/3 creature for 1U. But instead of a fairly minor Scry ability, it has two abilities… And they’re both doozies. Flying is maybe the best keyword evasion ability in Magic, and its +1/+1 buff ability makes the card a perfect anchor for the Bant Spirits archetype.

    Supreme Phantom in Bant Spirits

    Supreme Phantom is obviously a great card in Bant Spirits. The Grand Prix winning list by Peiyuan Zheng plays double-digit Spirits. That starts the Phantom off with tons of potential buddies to buff. But even better? Hexproof!

    With Geist of Sant Traft, or, perhaps more importantly, Drogskol Captain, many a Spirit will live to smash many a face.

    Bant Spirits in the Modern Context

    Besides its awesome sideboard options to dominate KCI or Dredge, Bant Spirits has a solid game plan of its own.

    It’s got the StOmPy draw enabled by the Phantom; Bant can turn up the speed sometimes! It’s got Spell Queller. But not only that, it’s got Collected Company off the green splash! This gives Bant Spirits essentially eight permission spells in Game One (as the Company can hit Queller).

    While not the most specialized archetype, Bant Spirits did win the Extended Grand Prix last week, and that makes it more than worth discussing / looking at.

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