So, Faithless Looting got banned in Modern.

I think it’s fair to say in hindsight that the card was just too powerful and that it warped the format around it. While it did enable a variety of decks, from Hogaak and Dredge, to Hollow One and Phoenix, most of the decks that used it were too good. This may leave a bit of a power vacuum, allowing Ancient Stirrings decks like Tron to take over, but it’s still a bit early to say.

Instead, I wanted to look at some of the alternatives to Faithless Looting. Just because this card is gone doesn’t mean decks like Vesperlark Reanimator are dead and gone; there are plenty of other options out there, and each one fills a slightly different role. Depending on the requirements of the deck, this will inform your choice of Looting replacement. There are a lot of options out there, so I’ve tried to break this list down into groups of similar cards.

One quick note before we begin: while there are also plenty of ways to mill yourself, like Stitcher’s Supplier and Thought Scour, we’re going to focus on discard effects instead. Self-mill is often going to be a faster way to get a lot of cards into your graveyard for a quick Gurmag Angler or Hooting Mandrills, but it’s often nice to have a bit more control over what ends up there. Plus some decks, like Hollow One, specifically need discard spells.

Alright, with that out of the way, let’s see what we’re working with!


If you need to get cards from your hand into your graveyard as soon as turn one, these are going to be some of your best options. There are a few others out there, but these ones are among the most reliable.

Insolent Neonate
For most decks, Neonate is going to be the closest replacement for Looting; you’re only cycling through one card, not two, but it can also attack and block, so that has some value. Arclight Phoenix decks need an Instant or Sorcery to cast, so they’ll want to look elsewhere, but other decks, like Reanimator, could make use out of this Vampire.

Magmatic Insight
Excess lands getting you down? Magmatic Insight is here the help you replace those Mountains with new cards, for the low-low cost of only one mana! Any deck that can comfortably run on one or two lands may want to consider Insight, though decks like Dredge won’t benefit nearly as much from it. If your goal is to get specific cards in you graveyard, this won’t cut it, but if you just want to sculpt your hand this might be one of your best options.

Raven’s Crime
There are a myriad of cards that force a target player to discard a card, and while it’s usually a good idea to aim your Raven’s Crime or Thoughtseize at your opponent, it’s worth remembering that these spells can also be used on yourself, too.

One With Nothing
Extreme times call for extreme measures. Why discard two cards when you can discard them all? Ok, don’t answer that.

On a more serious note, Bomat Courier seems like a much better way to discard your hand; not only is it a hasty threat, but the pile of cards it can load up under it really help refuel your hand when you’ve run out of useful cards to cast. It’s no Goblin Guide or Monastery Swiftspear when it comes to attacking, but don’t dismiss this mechanical Raging Goblin entirely.


Discarding cards before you draw isn’t nearly as good as drawing the cards first, but in a world without Faithless Looting we have to make do. That said, there are some good rummaging options out there worth considering.

Cathartic Reunion
Most graveyard decks adopted Cathartic Reunion quite some time ago. It’s nothing new, but without Looting the Reunion may take the top spot for this effect overall. I’m hesitant to go too heavy on them, since they are awful to draw when your hand is empty, but getting three cards deeper into your deck is significant.

Tormenting Voice, Wild Guess
Tormenting Voice draws you fewer cards than Reunion, but it is easier to cast; if you don’t mind paying two mana for this effect, it may be worth having some sort of split between Reunion and Voice. Mono-Red decks could also consider Wild Guess as an alternative to Tormenting Voice, but most other decks will want to avoid the double-red mana cost.

Dangerous Wager
Dangerous Wager, I’ll wager, is unlikely ever to find a home in Modern; it lives up to its name, but personally, I don’t like those odds. I will give the Wager a couple of points in its favour over Voice and Reunion, though: it does draw you cards when you’re already empty handed, and it generally hurts less when it gets countered.


Sometimes you just have to pay two mana for your looting. That may seem like a high cost to pay in Modern, but there are still a few good options available.

Izzet Charm
Forget what I said about Cathartic Reunion taking the top spot for Looting alternatives; if you’re in blue-red, pack yourself an Izzet Charm. Not only does it have that old familiar draw-two-then-discard-two, but its alternate modes are extremely useful: Spell Pierce or a limited Shock, all on one card! You’re paying a bit of a premium for its versatility, but when each mode is good it’s worth using.

Chart a Course
It’s fair to say that I fell in love with Chart a Course when I started using it in my Simic Delver deck. If you’re on the market to fill your graveyard, Chart isn’t going to cut it. That said, it makes up for it by being a cheap way to generate actual card advantage. The catch? You have to attack with a creature. For some decks that’s almost impossible, but then those are the sorts of decks that probably want to discard that extra card anyway.

As a side note, I’m keeping my eye on Winged Words as an efficient draw spell; it reminds me a lot of Chart a Course. A flier-heavy deck like Faeries might want a discount Divination, if not for Modern then maybe for Pauper….

Merfolk Looter
A 1/1 is pretty tough to keep alive in Modern, but with Faithless Looting out of the picture the quintessential Looter should at least be part of the conversation. It brings up the question of whether repeatability or immediacy are more important for your deck.

More often than not you want to get immediate value from your cards in Modern, rather than building it up over time. For that reason I fear Merfolk Looter is just too slow for the format. Still, if things slow down significantly in this post-Hogaak world it may have a chance to do something. The same is true of other looters, too, like Magus of the Bazaar or even Smuggler’s Copter; if you can keep them alive for a few turns they’re going to prove their worth.

I’m not all that optimistic, mind you. Modern is typically fast and unforgiving, and having to wait a turn for your cards to do anything is so often disastrous. This is the kind of problem I ran into with Deeproot Champion and Quirion Dryad about a year ago; they’re powerful cards in isolation, but they take too long to get anywhere in this format.

Free looting, just add artifacts. No tapping required! And that’s what sets this Artificer apart; you can loot with him the turn he comes into play, as long as you have the artifacts to cast.

Riddlesmith doesn’t really fit in the various Faithless Looting decks in Modern, but every time I come across one I feel like it should have a home somewhere. It’s possible this particular looter could work in Cheerios, or in an Eggs-like deck, but I’ve never seen it given a chance. If you’re after a replacement for your Looting, Riddlesmith probably isn’t it, but who knows? Maybe your Salvage Slasher combo deck needs a helping hand.

Wait, does this mean I need to invent Salvage Slasher Combo, now?


Do you feel lucky? No? Then these cards aren’t for you. If, on the other hand, you don’t mind discarding cards at random, please consider any of the following Looting alternatives.

Burning Inquiry
The perfect gift for players who want to discard cards but don’t care what ends up in their graveyard. Hollow One decks popularized this highly random card, and in the void left by Faithless Looting I expect several other decks will at least try out Burning Inquiry. Decks that operate almost entirely out of their graveyard, like Dredge, are probably happy enough to use Inquiry, but decks that used Looting for card selection and the ability to dig for a specific card should opt for something that gives them a bit more control over their fate.

Mind you, Burning Inquiry makes both players draw and discard. If you’re running Narset, Parter of Veils you basically get a free Hymn to Tourach for your troubles. It’s a good way to empty an opponent’s hand, and an even better way to lose friends.

Goblin Lore
Do you like the randomness of Burning Inquiry? Then you’ll love Goblin Lore! Hollow One players happily shuffled up their hand, hoping for a good outcome with this one. Two mana to draw four cards is quite something, even if you might not get to keep the cards you want. I suppose the only other downside is that unlike Inquiry this doesn’t affect your opponent.

Desperate Ravings
What sets Desperate Ravings apart from every other spell on this list is Flashback. Decks that run almost entirely out of the graveyard, like Dredge, might consider a blue splash to get full value out of a Ravings, especially since it lets them use it if they mill it into their graveyard. The fact that this spell is an instant is also worth mentioning; it helps protect Dredge cards from Surgical Extraction and Scavenging Ooze, and it lets decks keep up interaction like counter-magic or removal for longer.

Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded
Ah, the whipping-boy of planeswalkers. Poor Tibalt never gets any respect since his first card was so underwhelming. There are a handful of brewers who still try to make him work, and he usually ends up in the sort of decks that also run Burning Inquiry. At two mana he has the potential to be useful, but only if you aren’t that picky about the cards you throw away.

Tibalt is a repeatable way of discarding cards that is, arguably, more resilient than a creature of a similar cost. Even still, his impact is so minor that you’re almost assuredly better off paying a bit more mana to get a Nahiri, the Harbinger, Jaya Ballard, or even a Sarkhan, Fireblood instead. At least those planeswalkers let you choose which card to discard. Sorry, Tibalt; I like your new card, at least.


That’s going to be it for this week, but don’t worry, there’s plenty more to come. What cards are you looking at to replace Faithless Looting? Do you think your graveyard-based decks still have a chance at being competitive in a world without it?

Please join me next time for Part 2 of A World Without the Faithless.

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