Hey everyone and welcome to another Modern Musings, we have a ton to cover this week, so lets get right to it.
It seems like this round of spoilers was even more insane than the last, especially since in addition to our Ixalan spoilers, we got Iconic masters as well. If you haven’t seen them yet, I suggest you check them out, because it feels like almost every modern and edh staple is in the set. Focusing back on Ixalan, it looks like this set might be primed to shake things up a bit as we got a slew of powerful legendary enchantments.
First up we have Search for Azcanta//Azcanta, The Sunken Ruin. The front side of the card isn’t too exciting, being a kind of Thassa, God of the Sea, except instead of putting the card on the bottom of your library, you get to put it into your graveyard. This effect is marginally better than scry 1 because you can interact with the graveyard. But ultimately, we really care about just getting seven cards in our graveyard as quickly as possible. It’s safe to say that with the existence of Thought Scour that this isn’t hard to pull off. Because Tasigur, the Golden Fang and Gurmag Angler are played in modern frequently for one mana, they make a pretty good case for the ease of getting a lot of cards in your graveyard by turn three or four.
So what’s the payoff? What do we get for all these cards in our graveyard? A pretty insane card advantage land as it so happens. Anyone who has played Eldrazi Tron can tell you the power of Sea Gate Wreckage, this is basically that on steroids. The downside to this card is that it can’t grab creatures or lands, but that’s pretty easy to work around. This ensures that whatever deck plays it will never run out of gas.
That sounds great, but what about the disadvantages to playing this card? There are a couple interesting deckbuilding questions that this cycle of card brings up. For starters, do you count this card as a mana source? It certainly doesn’t start as a mana source, but it almost certainly is going to turn into one since the deck that its in will be designed to flip it. Then you have to decide how many of this card do you want to run. Because it’s legendary my instinct is to run it as a two of, but I guess we’ll have to see.
Four words about this card: Gaea’s Cradle in modern. Well it’s close as we’re ever going to get at least. The front side of this card appears to just be a bad Oath of Nissa, only grabbing creatures and nothing else. The flip condition actually seems pretty easy to obtain in a lot of decks, and it triggers on your end step instead of your upkeep. The fact that it transforms the same turn that you play it is actually an incredibly important detail, as it enables you to cast things like Collected Company and Chord of Calling on your opponent’s turn. Having four creatures in play to flip it is extremely doable in decks like elves and abzan company. Both of these decks actually have ways to utilize the crazy amounts of mana this card can generate as well. The next thing to ask is do these decks even need the mana upgrade? Probably? This card does take up valuable non-creature slots in collected company decks, but it certainly is powerful enough to justify the slot.
I don’t think anyone predicted that Opt was going to get reprinted. I’m not sure how I feel about this card to be honest. On the one hand, it sees fewer cards than Serum Visions, on the other hand, it’s an instant. To me, it looks like an alternative to Peek, though notably you trade the information about your opponent away to see one card deeper in Opt. One of the things that I think people don’t take into consideration though is the effect that this can have on control decks. The ability to hold up counterspells or removal spells while also being able to hold up things that fix your hand like Opt and Think Twice is important. First, it can allow you to bluff your opponent. The second thing that it allows you to do is be mana efficient.
If this were a merfolk, I think it would come very close to making merfolk the best deck in modern. Alas, it is not, but this card could be good nonetheless. The ability to protect your important creatures, like say Knight of the Reliquary in bant knightfall, is paramount and this card allows you to do just that. What’s interesting about this card is that unlike Cursecatcher, it’s a hard counter.
Lastly, I thought I’d mention this ferocious little guy. He’s a 3/3 for three that has three abilities, which is pretty darn solid, but most importantly one of those abilities reads “Players can’t gain life.” This text line alone could make him a great sideboard card in a lot of zoo decks, and the fact that he has menace as well makes it that much better. Now his third ability is interesting, and outside of strange Hunted Phantasm synergy, and the odd tokens match up, will most likely do more damage to you than your opponent since your deck is more likely to be trying to swarm your opponent with creatures. This is actually fine and is reminiscent of Eidolon of the Great Revel‘s ability, and in most cases because you are the aggressive deck, the damage you do to yourself most likely will not matter. It is a nice design touch that because he has menace he forces the opponent to play more creatures to block him, and takes more damage as a consequence.
Anyway, that’s all for this week, let me know what you think of the Ixalan spoilers so far as we gear up for the prerelease next week.