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Magic 2019 Modern Review

The Magic 2019 full spoiler is now live and, as with every set, I dove right in looking for cards that might be able to make a splash in my favorite Constructed format — Modern! I think there are a lot of possible gems in this set so let’s get right to it, shall we?

This card strikes me as something potentially very powerful. In general cards that can cheat powerful cards into play are often worth looking at. While Tezzeret, Artifice Master cheats things into play kind of slowly, he does a good job protecting himself while he works toward his ultimate. Not only does he create bodies that can chump block attackers, but the fact that his starting loyalty is fairly high is also a big deal.

I think the biggest thing people will get hung up on evaluating this card is the idea that we “need” artifacts to enable his 0 ability. In practice, I think his zero ability is likely fine as just drawing one card, and if it happens to draw a second card, that is upside. To be more specific, I do not think we should necessarily limit ourselves to testing Tezzeret inside of artifact based shells.

As for his ultimate, in Modern the best thing to be cheating into play is simple to find:

Emrakul, the Aeons Torn

This means the one deck-building constraint I would want to have when building with Tezzeret in Modern is an ability to stick Emrakul back into our deck, either via something like Jace, the Mind Sculptor or a looting effect such as Izzet Charm or Desolate Lighthouse.

Up next we have a pair of pieces of White removal that could see play based on the flexibility they offer:

Cleansing Nova is a card that helps solve what I like to refer to as “control deck problems” in Modern. More specifically, it is a flexible answer that helps us avoid having answers in hand that do not line up well against our opponent’s deck. While a sweeper costing five mana instead of four can be a big deal, the fact that Nova can be live against a deck like Bogles or Lantern Control as well as Humans could possibly be an even bigger deal.

Isolate is a card that may or may not be useful depending on what cards are seeing play in the current format. For example, having a card that can kill Goblin Guide, Lantern of Insight, and Hyena Umbra can sometimes be very good. However if we are playing in a format full of Young Pyromancers and Eldrazi, Isolate is probably far less useful.

This is an interesting card that is hard to evaluate. While I am by no means a Taking Turns expert, I think the fact that Nexus of Fate is an instant speed effect is particularly interesting. Being able to take two turns in a row with all of our mana available for both is potentially very powerful. The fact that this card shuffles itself back into our deck every time it leaves our hand also seems important.

A two mana elf lord is something that we have lacked in Modern prior to Elvish Clancaller being printed. I could easily see this card being something that slots into bg Elves moving forward. Previously, this archetype was always clogged on 3-drops, so having more powerful 2-drops could allow the deck to curve out better in games where we do not have an accelerant on the first turn. If I was going to start with a traditional bg Elf list I would likely trim some number of Ezuri, Renegade Leader, Elvish Visionary, and / or Nettle Sentinel to start testing Clancallers.

It of course would not be a spoiler article of mine if we did not touch on the new creatures toolbox decks were gaining access to in M19:

Remorseful Cleric is a card my creature toolbox decks have been wanting for some time now. While Scavenging Ooze is decent graveyard hate, faster draws out of decks like Dredge and Hollow One can often overwhelm our ability to make Green mana. While it may seem like having to sacrifice Remorseful Cleric is a drawback, it can actually be good in many ways. Being a sacrifice effect instead of an enter the battlefield means we can put the Cleric into play and apply pressure with it until we really need its effect, instead of needing to hold it in hand until our opponent’s graveyard is full of goodies.

While Mistcaller is not as powerful as something like Containment Priest, being able to stop things like Collected Company, Goryo's Vengeance, Through the Breach, and other graveyard shenanigans could be useful even as a one shot effect.

This is a card that if we had 30 sideboard slots in Modern, I would be certain it would see play. With every sideboard slot being precious though, there is a very real chance that this card might not make the cut except in very specific metagames. Infernal Reckoning gives bg decks a clean answer to things like Wurmcoil Engine and Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre out of Tron, while also being able to efficiently remove Eldrazi. A big part of why it might not be good enough even when Eldrazi and Tron are popular though, is the fact that Eldrazi Tron tends to play Chalice for one. This means that against one of the decks where we would really want this effect, we could easily be locked out of casting it.

This is a card that seems like it could be a reasonable finisher in Modern. Unlike a card like Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Nicol Bolas, the Ravager provides a 4/4 body on the board the turn we play him, while also generating card advantage by making our opponent discard a card. Especially in Modern, I think this is how we want to evaluate this card. If his front side is worth his mana cost, he will be playable. While his flip side is certainly powerful, the games of Modern where we manage to spend 11 mana and not be dead tend to be few and far between.

The last card I am interested in playing in Modern is this obvious gem:

I have heard other people evaluating this card at varying extremes. Some people enjoy making bold claims such as the end of archetypes such as Tron and Valakut. Others imply that this card will do very little or even stone nothing.

I find myself falling somewhere in the middle. While this is certainly far from a one card “win the game” tool against any deck in Modern, I think this is a very important tool in a winning puzzle for fighting big mana strategies. The most important thing to note about Alpine Moon is its mana cost. Unlike cards like Blood Moon, or even the more newly printed Damping Sphere, Alpine Moon costs only a single mana.

Modern is a format that is very much about getting and keeping tempo. Our disruption only costing a single mana goes a long way towards allowing our decks to disrupt our opponent without having to take an entire turn off ourselves to do so. This allows us to pair our disruption with a meaningful clock more easily, which is what we want for a game winning combination.

While Alpine Moon is the last card that I am specifically interested in testing in Modern, it is not the last card I want to mention out of M19 today. The last card I want to talk a bit about is one that I think looks very good on the surface, but is likely a bit of a trap:

While this card looks tailor made for beating Storm Combo decks in Modern, the important thing to recognize is that this card only deals with the Storm player’s eventual win condition. While this may seem like a good thing, what we need to keep in mind is that when a Storm player goes off, they generally see a good deal of cards. This means they are likely to find something like Echoing Truth to bounce our Amulet before killing us. The best disruption against decks like Storm are cards that can not only stop their combo turn, but also disrupt them while they are getting set up. This is why Damping Sphere is so good — it taxes our opponent’s cantrip turns as they work toward taking our hate off the table and comboing.

Wrapping Up

What cards in M19 do you have your eye on for Modern? Is there anything that I did not list here that you think might make a splash in Magic’s most popular non-rotating format? Let me know in a comment below!

Magic Core Set 2019 is available for Preorder!