A Little Historic, a Lot of Modern

Time Warp was Banned in Historic Last Week

Time Warp… Clearly the problem

… But we recorded this episode before that was announced.

So opener is discussion on a now-defunct Jeskai Turns deck. Hopefully everything else on that topic (structure of the deck’s engine, other key cards) makes sense though!

Speaking of which…

Commence the Endgame is a key over-performer

Commence the Endgame
Commence the Endgame

Forget about how folks are ultimately abusing their Izzet-engines for a second. Yes, yes… Time Warp itself might not be legal any more but the rest of the Jeskai Turns deck — which shares 50% or more of its DNA with Jeskai Control or even Izzet Phoenix — works just fine.

On that note, Commence the Endgame is a perfectly positioned sideboard card.

  • With Fry such an important sideboard card, the fact that Commence the Endgame makes a black Zombie turns off Fry.
  • Cycling a Shark Typhoon is a two-for-one. Commence the Endgame is a three-for-one! Key for grinding.
  • Speaking of which, sideboard games are all about grinding. Commence the Endgame is great for that while ignoring the opponent’s Aether Gust (again the creature is black) and Mystical Dispute (while the spell is blue, it can’t be countered)

Modern Horizons 2 is Already Making Huge Waves in Modern

  • Should Counterspell be played in the main deck of Merfolk?
  • Tron was NOT a big winner. Modern Horizons 2
  • Domain Aggro is one of the most exciting new-old archetypes. Vigilant Knight of the Reliquary and the many tricks of Scion of Draco are killer incentives
  • Damn or Damnation? Damn or Go for the Throat for that matter!
  • Chaining The Underworld Cookbook
  • Gingerbread Cabin in Urza decks?
  • Cursed Totem is the coolest catch-all sideboard card

So there is a LOT going on in Modern thanks to Modern Horizons 2. Consequently… The format is fresher than it has been in long months.

Direct Download


The Most Powerful Cards in Modern Horizons 2

Shardless Agent Joins the Modern Format

Shardless Agent…
Now in Modern Horizons 2!

Shardless Agent looks to be one of the highest impact cards to be printed — or in this case reprinted — in Modern Horizons 2.

This card is awesome in a number of ways. You can gang up with lots of Cascade action with cards like Bloodbraid Elf. This kind of a deck can probably overwhelm faster or more powerful combo decks by flipping over lots of disruption like Duress, Inquisition of Kozilek, or Thoughtseize.

Or you can flip over lots of removal! Remember, Shardless Agent is a 2/2 creature as well as a purveyor of Black Lotuses. Removal can just clear the path to get in for damage.

And of course, it is a three mana card with Cascade. Like Ardent Plea or Demonic Dread, this is a card that can aim for a Balance, Living Death, or now Replenish.

Damn from Modern Horizons 2 is Damn! Good


What is Damn?

Other than the best ever at what it is?

It’s a sorcery speedTerminate for players who don’t have access to red mana. Don’t sleep on this one! That’s not a bad use case.

It’s a Wrath of God that has play against Gaddock Teeg. That’s not bad at all, right? Maybe you can get caught by Spell Snare or Inquisition of Kozilek now… But this card’s functional equivalency to Wrath of God kind of can’t be exaggerated.

Of course in a deck that can tap for both black and white? Damn! That’s a good card!

Will Vindicate be Good in Modern?

Mike wants Vindicate to be good.

Patrick doesn’t believe that Vindicate can’t be good.

Who’s right?

From Mike’s perspective… Molten Rain is often too slow against Tron (especially when you’re on the draw). How can Molten Rain that doesn’t deal extra damage be good?

But you know what won’t be too slow against Tron?

Break the Ice
from Modern Horizons 2

Break the Ice is really exciting against Tron! Even on the draw it can potentially disrupt their mana engine before it’s too late.

Mike wants this card to be good enough for main deck but is a little incredulous. Many other decks where Break the Ice has text are either aggressively too fast or have Aether Vial to get around it. But you know who doesn’t?

Skred Red.

That deck that has 20+ Snow-Covered Mountains and specializes in midrange three mana permanents and / or 4/4 Dragons? The Overload is legitimately going to get them.

Don’t Look Here! It’s just a two-card infinite combo

Sanctum Weaver

So Modern Horizons 2 has given us a new and viable two-card combo. Let’s start with Sanctum Weaver.

This card is basically never worse than a 0/2 creature that taps for one mana of any color. Yes, it’s twice as expensive as a Birds of Paradise; but as an enchantment itself, it’s fail state is not that deep into failure. Where it gets exciting is with Freed From the Real:

Get ready for infinite mana!

Here’s how it works:

  • On Turn Two, play Sanctum Weaver for 1G
  • On Turn Three, cast Freed from the Real on Sanctum Weaver; ideally leaving up Sanctum Weaver
  • Now you can tap Sanctum Weaver for [at least] UU. With Sanctum Weaver and Freed from the Real, you now have two enchantments in play. You can spend U of your UU to untap the Sanctum Weaver, rinse, and repeat. Every time you do this you leave yourself U.
  • What can you possibly do with infinite mana of not just blue, but any color?

The answers to all these burning questions (and more) in this week’s podcast! Listen up:

Direct Download

Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer Seems Amazing

Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer from Modern Horizons

Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer
  • Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer
  • R
  • Legendary Creature – Monkey Pirate
  • Whenever Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer deals combat damage to a player, create a Treasure token and exile the top card of that player’s library. Until end of turn, you may cast that card.
  • Dash 1R
  • 2/1

So this card is probably the best red one drop in the set.

Probably not the best red one drop OF ALL TIME… But it’s in the running.

This card is like a one mana Ophidian. Or double Ophidian? One card is always a Lotus Petal and the other one has to get cast this turn; but we think this one will work well. Very well, in fact.

Like Robber of the Rich, Ragavan is going to be very commonly played as an aggro card on the merits… But it will also crush out of Control sideboards (e.g. Jeskai). Why would you still have Fatal Push in your deck, am I right?

Imagine this kind of a dream draw:

  1. Turn one – Mountain, Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer
  2. Their turn one – Hallowed Fountain (tapped of course)
  3. Turn two – Swing in with Ragavan; make a Treasure and chuckle at their top card. Fetch land, sacrifice your token Lotus Petal, make THEIR Teferi, Time Raveler. Smiling face emoji.

Dragon’s Rage Channeler from Modern Horizons

Dragon's Rage Channeler
  • Dragon’s Rage Channeler
  • R
  • Creature – Human Shaman
  • Whenever you cast a noncreature spell, survel 1 (Look at the top card of your library. You may put that card into your graveyard.)
    Delirium – As long as there are four or more card types among cards in your graveyard, Dragon’s Rage Channeler gets +2/+2, has flying, and attacks each combat if able.
  • 1/1

So Dragon’s Rage Channeler is not as good as Ragavan; but it’s still really impressive. Important to note: 1) Red doesn’t get a lot of Surveil… It’s more a Dimir ability. 2) You don’t have to get your Delirium online with the Surveil. Tossing a Lava Spike at the opponent’s face, flashing back a Lava Dart, and popping a Mishra’s Bauble are all going to help get you there (along with the Surveil, of course). And since those are all things you might want to do anyway, the rate on this card can be excellent.

Modern Horizons 2 is Lousy with Lethal One Drops

Ignoble Hierarch

You know how Noble Hierarch is widely played in like every format where it’s legal? Ignoble Hierarch might be even more popular.

The card is a very close parallel, down to Exalted. Mike does not approve on Exalted on a Jund card by the way. But there is something a little extra going on here.

Check out those types!

Ignoble Hierarch is going to do damage like every other one mana green accelerator. But on top of that, it will be played in Goblins Decks. Turn two Goblin Warchief anyone? Exalted is better than ever with haste.

There are all kinds of sweet Modern Horizons 2 cards that aren’t even one drops! We talk about lots of them in this episode. Check it out:

Direct Download

Tainted Pact and More (and More!) This Week

Tainted Pact Rocks Historic… Wait a Second, New Headline

Tainted Pact

So Tainted Pact was recently reprinted in Strixhaven. The good thing (if you can say that) is that it spawned a new archetype. By last weekend the most popular strategy in Historic was a mostly singletons deck playing two copies of Tainted Pact and two copies of Thassa’a Oracle.

The simplest way of thinking about this deck is that — in a deck with almost no doubles — it was easy to remove your entire library and cast Thassa’s Oracle to win the game. You could also essentially “Demonic Tutor” for whatever card you needed [as the deck was full of cool tools].

We’d say more about this engine but before we went to the mics this week, they had already banned Thassa’s Oracle. So you can still use the engine to win with Jace, Wielder of Mysteries. Which is slower than Thassa’s Oracle, but — if we learned anything from Inverter of Truth decks — still a serviceable combo kill spell.

We’ll call this a “developing story” and move on to Moder Horizons 2.

Grief from Modern Horizons 2 will Give a Lot of Grief

Bring on the Grief
  • Grief
  • 2BB
  • Creature – Elemental Incarnation
  • Menace
  • When Grief enters the battlefield, target opponent reveals their hand. You choose a nonland card from it. That player discards that card.
  • Evoke – Exile a black card from your hand.
  • 3/2

Short story: Grief seems superior in most ways to Unmask. Unmask was a high Extended and Standard performer in years past, and remains a Vintage option even today. For full mana, Grief leaves you a 3/2 creature with Menace. That’s a heck of an upside.

It’s a Bridge from Below-triggering tool regardless, and (presumably in Modern) a nice combo with Ephemerate.

Think about the dream draw (turn one). You play a white-producing land and Evoke Grief. Before too late, you target it with Ephemerate. So yo get multiple triggers and keep the 3/2 instead of not ever seeing it.


Mondo combo Batman? You get a heck out of white mana on turn one, and there is even the Rebound coming next turn for even more card advantage!

Speaking of White Mana…

Timeless Dragon

For those of you who only know Mike as a Red Deck zombie… He’s probably cast more Eternal Dragons in formats past than any other mage. This Eternal Dragon update is his favorite of the Modern Horizons 2 reveals to date; though our hosts differ as to how much better it is than the seven mana version.

What do you think?

Let us know after you check out “Tainted Pact and More (and More!) This Week”:

Direct Download

Breaking Clever Lumimancer in Modern

  • Clever Lumimancer
  • W
  • Creature – Human Wizard
  • Magecraft – Whenever you cast or copy an instant or sorcery spell, Clever Lumimancer gets +2/+2 until end of turn.
  • 0/1

So many turn-two kills with Clever Lumimancer in Modern…

Start with a first-turn Clever Lumimancer.

Play your second land and a Manamorphose (2), and another Manamorphose (4). What are you going to do with all that mana? Certainly not cast Mutagenic Growth (6, then 8). An Assault Strobe will put your Human Wizard to 10, dealing 20!

There are lots of ways to get there with Ground Rift on turn two as well! The red-white build of this Storm-esque Red Deck in Modern has tons of “free” spells. In addition to Mutagenic Growth you get things like Gut Shot and the back side of Lava Dart as well.

Never has “the Lava Spike” deck needed Lava Spike less… To be so fast.

Don’t like white? The Blue Burn in Modern has something new for you, too!

Expressive Iteration

The blue-red version of Modern Burn is a bit less fast than red-white… But also has a ton of play. Expressive Iteration is a nice card to set up Lightning Bolts and land drops (or both at the same time!) Look for this card to be best buddies with Sprite Dragon and Vapor Snag.

Weirdly enough, Expressive Iteration seems less desirable in the legitimately “blue” blue-red decks. It’s not great with permission (and might be a liability for deck with more expensive curves or especially kill conditions). So, unlikely the returning Counterspell plays much with this one.

Monastery Swiftspear likes lots of these teammates, though. Patrick thinks maybe even Counterspell itself!

And More Modern Strixhaven

  • How to play Silverquill Silencer in Humans
  • Witherbloom Command in Golgari Midrange… One at least
  • The return of Temur Delver… Now with Expressive Iteration!
  • Why Sedgemoor Witch is a more exciting Modern card than Standard card

Intrigued? Listen up:

Direct Download

Portable Hole, Prosperous Innkeeper & Modern Horizons II!

Prosperous Innkeeper, Power Word Kill, the villainous Tiamat… There are so many new — even newer — cards for Standard, the format is about to burst! But first? What’s on the horizon for Modern?

UU: Counter Target Spell

Remember way back when, when we did an episode about how Silumgar’s Scorn was a messed up Magic card?

I mean, on the back of that card — which was pretty restrictive on deck building cost (i.e. you had to have a Dragon in your hand or a Dragon on the battlefield to fully turn it on) Mike qualified for the Pro Tour after a ten-year hiatus!

But with Modern Horizons II… They’re just letting us have the original.

Don’t go too gaga on that spoiled image from our good friends in Renton, WA. Just because it says “Standard” under one version doesn’t mean that Counterspell will be Standard-legal. That’s just in reference to the art-type, not format legality.

Modern Horizons II *AND* Dungeons & Dragons?

We’re barely two weeks into the all-new Strixhaven Standard, and there are spoilers from not one — but two — new tournament legal sets! Modern will certainly get a facelift from Modern Horizons II… Counterspell alone is going to boost traditional Control decks; but also the reprinting of enemy fetchlands. This will be a great opportunity to pick up the Zenikar classics:

  • Arid Mesa
  • Marsh Flats
  • Misty Rainforest
  • Scalding Tarn
  • Verdant Catacombs

Wait a second… Did you say “Dungetons & Dragons”?

Yeah! What do you think about this one?

Portable Hole from Dungeons & Dragons

Portable Hole
Portable Hole
  • Portable Hole
  • W
  • Artifact
  • When Portable Hole enters the battlefield, exile target nonland permanent an opponent controls with mana value 2 or less until Portable Hole leaves the battlefield.

So is Portable Hole the white Fatal Push?

On the one hand, this card is sorcery speed instead of an instant. It can’t punch up and take out more expensive creatures [given the right circumstances]. Still, Portable Hole seems pretty exciting!

Not only is it a fast and great removal card (you can take out a first turn mana creature or a Death’s Shadow)… It can also deal with cheaper non-creature threats. For example: Mazemind Tome or upcoming equipment Vorpal Sword.

How about this one?

Just How Great is Prosperous Innkeeper?

Prosperous Innkeeper
Prosperous Innkeeper
  • Prosperous Innkeeper
  • 1G
  • Creature – Halfling Citizen
  • When Prosperous Innkeeper enters the battlefield, create a Treasure token. (It’s an artifact with T:, Sacrifice this artifact: Add one mana off any color.”)
    Whenever another creature enters the battlefield under your control, you gain 1 life.
  • 1/1

Our hosts agree… This one is awesome!

First off, it’s got a lot of Wily Goblin to it. In fact, Prosperous Innkeeper is easier to cast (1G rather than RR). That said, Halfling Citizen is a lot worse than Goblin Pirate… But regardless, Wily Goblin has been popular in multiple sets.

But it’s got even more text than Treasure-making! Prosperous Innkeeper is a slightly easier to land Wily Goblin but has a lot of Soul Warden to it as well.

We are confident this one will see play in multiple archetypes.

Seems like the new set fun this summer is just beginning. Check out now:

Direct Download

Blade Historian is Just Incredible

The Rate on Blade Historian

Blade Historian
Blade Historian
  • Blade Historian
  • (r/w)(r/w)(r/w)(r/w)
  • Creature – Human Cleric
  • Attacking creatures you control have double strike
  • 2/3

This card is not out of the question when considered purely on rate. A 2/3 for four mana isn’t anything to write home about, but — even without wide-going teammates or buff spells — it is essentially a 4/3 on offense. And of course you only play Blade Historian with teammates.

This is a card that really makes our old pal Alpine Houndmaster look good. You were already in red and white, right? One Alpine Houndmaster gives you plenty of material to give double strike to, and this is a red-white card that can in fact magnify the power buffs on the Houndmaster or Igneous Cur.





Blade Historian is Basically a Seven Drop Human

Winota, Joiner of Forces
Winota, Joiner of Forces
is always looking for a good hit

The real gas for Blade Historian is in the old Agent of Treachery role. Play Winota on your fourth turn, swing with some Dogs, make the Strixhaven Human Cleric, and hit really really hard.

Again, all these cards are already in red and white; so unlike with Agent of Treachery, you don’t have to bend on colors or anything. In fact, you can just cast either four on four to set up a high impact attack.

To that end, you can also not cast one of your big four creatures on that critical turn. If the opponent is holding back a key removal spell, you might be better off showing them Showdown of the Skalds for a similarly powerful play that doesn’t play into a removal-heavy hand.

All That and a School full of Wizards

Direct Download

Lots of ways to be a Prismari Command guy…

Prismari Command
Prismari Command
  • Prismari Command
  • 1UR
  • Instant
  • Choose two —
    • Prismari Command deals 2 damage to any target
    • Target player draws two cards, then discards two cards
    • Target player creates a Treasure token
    • Destroy target artifact

The Command is already showing up in multiple kinds of decks. Welcome to Standard, Strixhaven! Whether a new addition to Temur Adventures or backing one of many brand spanking new Izzet — sorry Prismari — u-r decks, this card is surprising no one with its contribution.

Prismari Command draws and discards two cards

One style of Prismari in Standard is focused on drawing and discarding cards. The Royal Scions and Teferi, Master of Time power the engine of the archetype. On the one hand it’s boosting this two drop enchantment:

Improbable Alliance
Improbable Alliance

At the same time, it generates extra cards by playing with Escape. Ox of Agonas and Phoenix of Ash give it additional paths to card advantage.

Or… Make a Treasure token!

The other new Izzet build plays a ton of cards that make a Treasure token. Consider Magma Opus:

Magma Opus
Magma Opus

This card can make a Treasure token on turn two. Consequently, you can play a four mana spell on turn three! A Torrent Sculptor appreciates its total casting cost. So does a Draconic Intervention. Galazeth Prismari will just replace the Treasure on the spot!

Our Command might not be as fast at producing a Treasure to Ramp. But it’s certainly on plan!

Direct Download

Gnarled Professor, learns, Lessons, and more Strixhaven

Gnarled Professor from Strixhaven

Gnarled Professor
Gnarled Professor

There was a time when Gnarled Professor would have been about the best creature there was.

A 5/4 for 2GG mana is not too far off of the legendary Erhnam Djinn (4/5 for 3G)… And old Ernie had a disadvantage while Gnarled Professor has two clear advantages. It starts off with trample and you essentially draw a card via learn.

More than that, “learn” is like drawing drawing with selection; it’s Demonic Tutor-ish.

Gnarled Professor is near the top of the efficiency list for learns and Lessons. For the most part, the learn cards are a little inefficient and the Lessons are a little overcosted. The trade-off being that you got card advantage along the way. How about another?

Let’s go on a Field Trip!

Field Trip
Field Trip

Field Trip is pretty similar to some other cards that people play in Standard. The main difference on the front side is that Field Trip can only get a basic Forest; whereas Cultivate or Fertile Footsteps can get any sort of a basic land.

So the color restriction is a definite disadvantage on the front end. On the first card, this is a little weaker than the market at 2G. The real question is how you value the learn ability.

Would you rather have the option of buying a Beanstalk Giant from exile? How about a second basic land [that may or may not be a basic Forest]? How might you rate those against the front-side learn on Field Trip?

The answer, of course, depends on how much space you set aside for Lessons. None of the Lessons is particularly efficient, but you can stockpile removal, dig for basics, or draw cards… Essentially on-demand; and generally care of card advantage. Both Gnarled Professor and Field Trip here grant a Lesson on top of doing something you might want to do for a reasonable amount of mana.

Lessons from Strixhaven (that might not be Lessons)

  • A modal double-faced Gnarled Mass
  • The return of a beloved Planeswalker card as… kind of one Planeswalker card
  • Michael loving one kind of 40/40 (and Patrick trying to get him to like another flavor)
  • “More” Lots more!

Direct Download

Expressive Iteration Will be Good in VINTAGE

Expressive Iteration
Expressive Iteration

Expressive Iteration Will be Good in Vintage…

… And great in Standard. It’ll be all over Historic, Modern, Legacy…

So what’s so exciting about this card?

Here’s the secret: Don’t play it on turn two (in non-Vintage). If you play it on turn three, you can exile a land card (and play it that turn). Sure, there will be times that you have to Iterate Expressively on turn two… Just know that that won’t be the norm.

In Vintage the rules will be a little bit different. Not only can you play this with a Mox Sapphire or Mox Ruby (without first making your second land drop) you can also just exile stow a zero casting cost artifact.

In a sense Expressive Iteration is just better than drawing two cards. You get to “draw” the best two of the next three. (As long as you know the play pattern). But now you do!

More Strixhaven Hits and (near?) Misses

Mike absolutely loves Body of Research! Not only is this a 40/40 (or so) for six mana, it can be part of a killer two-card combination. Deceiver Exarch + Splinter Twin required seven mana; but could be awkward to set up due to timing. Body of Research + Fling is only one more mana and still a reliable kill.

… Did we mention it’s also a 40/40 (or so) for six mana?

Body of Research
Body of Research

What’s up with Shadrix Silverquill?

Shadrix Silverquill
Shadrix Silverquill

There is a LOT going on with this Elder Dragon. It’s essentially a four power flyer on offense… Maybe more with its self-buffing ability.

Our hosts are only medium on it. Lots of hoops to jump into before it even gets interesting… Do they have any creatures? How many? Can we kill 2/1 creatures without using a card?

But the bigger issue is that — between white and black — Standard has plenty of competition at the “four power flyer” category… Especially after all those Angels in Kaldheim.

Whether you want to murder the opponent’s creatures or fight fair, “Expressive Iteration Will be Good in VINTAGE” has got some great Strixhaven takes for you. Listen up now!

Direct Download