It has come down to this; we’ve examined the other options to replace Faithless Looting in Modern, and we’re down to a few remaining cards. Will they be the Cream of the Crop, or a Garbage Fire? Let’s take a look!
Some creatures need to get into combat for their trigger to discard cards. Most of the time it’ll be when they deal combat damage to a player, like Jeskai Elder and Daring Saboteur, but not always. Here are a couple of combat-based discard outlets that stood out to me.
This vampire has to survive until your combat phase to discard a card for you, but when it does it packs a sizable punch. This creature never really saw play in Standard, and even in Draft it was often overlooked. As such, I’m skeptical that it can cut it in Modern. Still, in the right shell it could be fun, like a Madness deck or a less random Hollow One build. Would it be good? Probably not, but when has that stopped me before?
Like Furyblade Vampire, Wharf Infiltrator needs a bit of work to get going, but it does have the advantage of being both a way of discarding cards, and a payoff for doing so. Two mana is a fair bit to pay in Modern for a token, but a 3/2 is nothing to sneeze at. It’s probably not the best choice for any of the old Faithless Looting decks, but it presents some interesting options in its own right.
Personally, I’d love to build an Astral Drift deck with the Infiltrator and Drake Haven as finishers; I’m just not sure what that list looks like quite yet. The other option is to cobble together some sort of Bloodrush deck with Wharf Infiltrator; it would be so clunky, but so sweet if it worked.
AND REMOVAL TOO
Sometimes you want your discard and removal in one handy package. If the mana cost is low enough, it’s actually a really good deal! I’m sure you were all expecting to see these cards earlier, but it’s better late than never!
The Axe was a great way to trigger Madness when it returned in Shadows Over Innistrad, and it stands as one of the better replacements for Faithless Looting in decks looking to fill the graveyard. Those sorts of lists don’t always have a lot of interaction traditionally, but by swapping out Looting for the Axe that could easily change.
Versatility and a way to discard multiple cards all rolled into a single card? Cue Collective Brutality! Not only that, but each card discarded provides an immediate benefit. Collective Brutality has really proven its worth in Modern, and every time I see it used I’m impressed. It doesn’t exactly replace Looting, but it’s unquestionably good in its own right. Jund loves it, and I could see more graveyard-centric decks adopting it over time.
Compared to Collective Brutality, the red card in the cycle certainly comes up short. That said, a one-sided Windfall is a reasonable way to fill your graveyard, and the other two modes on Collective Defiance are also relevant. I’m not sure this will ever find a home, given its high-for-Modern mana cost, but if you’re able to pay at least four mana to Escalate two modes out of this spell it looks pretty good.
Like Dangerous Wager way back in Part 1, these creatures still draw you cards when you’re empty handed, unlike a lot of other creatures that only draw you a card if you actually discard one. This makes these creatures a lot nicer to draw in the late game. Add to that their efficient mana costs, and these creatures are certainly worth looking into.
It’s no surpise by now, but Seasoned Pyromancer, or “Bill Weasley” as I like to call him, is definitely making his presence known in Modern. Some Jund decks have already adopted him as an alternative to Tireless Tracker, and I can say from personal experience that a top-decked Pyromancer can turn games around like few other cards.
“Bill” looks unsuspecting at first glance, like just another card in a long line of disappointing red Mythic Rares, but he’s actually all upside. Not only can he draw you cards when you’re empty handed or replace your excess lands, but if you do end up discarding spells he’ll even give you tokens for your trouble. Oh, and if that wasn’t enough you can even exile a Well-Seasoned Pyromancer from your graveyard for value! Expect him to keep popping up in various Modern decks for the foreseeable future; he’s part of the landscape now.
Rix Maadi Reveler
Rix Maadi Reveler is sort of a miniature Pyromancer. He doesn’t do nearly as much, but he’s still alright for being a 2/2 for two mana. If you can manage to pay his Spectacle cost he can definately work overtime, like a Bedlam Reveler, and in a lot of decks the Rix Maadi Reveler might actually be better than his Bedlam friend. He doesn’t rely on the graveyard, or force you to include a bunch of Instants and Sorceries to work, making the Rakdos Reveler the more flexible option.
I initially dismissed Rix Maadi Reveler because his Spectacle cost is so high, but if the card didn’t have that alternate cost it would actually still be pretty good. Looking at other two-mana creatures that draw a card when they enter the battlefield, like Fblthp and Elvish Visionary, Rix Maadi Reveler is not only the creature with the biggest body, but he’s the only red one in Modern. Does that mean he’s worth playing? Not necessarily, but he’s certainly unique, and that has some merit.
THRONE OF ELDRAINE
Almost right on the heels of the Faithless Looting ban we got two new toys to play with in Throne of Eldraine. They both look promising, and are instants to boot!
Thrill of Possibility
Just when you thought Tormenting Voice was one of the best replacements for Faithless Looting, we get one that can be cast on the opponent’s end step. Thrill of Possibility might not be the most amazing card to ever get printed, but being able to keep up mana for as long as possible before firing off your combo-enabling spell has a lot of value. It’s worth pointing out that Thrill of Possibility helps to protect Dredge cards from the likes of Surgical Extraction and Relic of Progenitus, since it can be cast in response to those cards. Just watch out for Dispel!
Merchant of the Vale // Haggle
Faithless Looting is too good? What if it only discarded and drew one card? No? How about if you discard the card before you drew anything? Good. Now, can we make that an Instant instead of a Sorcery? You drive a hard bargain, but I think we can come to some sort of arrangement. I’ll even let you cast it for one mana if you like, and while you’re at it I’ll throw in a 2/3 Peasant that you can cast later. Does that sound like a deal? Done. Have a Haggle.
All joking aside, Haggle looks like a great replacement for Faithless Looting. As we saw in Part 1, good one-mana options are hard to find, and the fact that this lets you cast a creature later on is a nice upside. Merchant of the Vale is even another way of discarding cards, and if his performance so far in Draft is any indication, he’s a good mana sink for the late game.
This last discard outlet I wanted to look at is a bit off-the-wall, but it’s a personal favourite of mine. It’s far from a replacement for Faithless Looting, but I’d feel remiss not to take a moment to mention it, especially with a return to Theros on the horizon….
Disciple of Deceit
Disciple of Deceit requires a bit more setup to function than just jamming it in a deck and hoping for the best. Any card with the Inspired mechanic wants some way to tap them other than just attacking, and ideally one that can be used the turn they come into play. My very first foray into Modern was a deck built around Disciple of Deceit, and while I would love to revisit the deck some day, it needed some serious work. Still, being able to effectively Transmute any nonland card for free is a really cool and unique ability. It’s a lot of fun, too!
THROWING YOUR HAND AWAY
So there you have it, an extensive, albeit far from exhaustive, list of notable discard effects in Modern. Faithless Looting is gone, but there are plenty of other options out there to choose from. Did I miss a card that you really like? What’s replaced Looting in your decks? Let me know in the comments!
I wonder if it’s worth combining some of these spells with a Bag of Holding…?