Surprise! Modern is very modern right now. All things are new, bannings, Eldrazi, and a recent Pro Tour really shook everything up. Are spaghetti overlords a massive threat? Everything is up in the air. I think with so much commotion, this is a perfect time for a Top 10, specifically Top 10 Modern cards. I’m sure this article will spark up a lot of debate. Some people will love the choices, some will hate them. Feelings are high right now and the dust hasn’t yet settled. So let’s get at my Top 10 Modern cards and why I think they’re great.
NOTE: this top 10 tries to evaluate cards in a vacuum rather than their role in the current meta-game. Sometimes it won’t work as some cards are designed to be synergistic with tribal strategies. And sometimes it’ll just rate a card higher because they’re cool. Simple as that.
10. Collected Company
Oh yeah baby! It’s time to look at six and drop two on the table like it’s hot. I have to admit, Collected Company took some time to grow on me. When I first saw the card, I was like, “This might not even do anything and it costs four mana!” Boy was I wrong. It turns out that six cards are a lot, and some of the best creatures in Modern cost 3 or less.
The best part is that Collected Company opens up avenues for creature-based combo decks. It fits naturally into Elves and helps you find the key cards you’re looking for. But at the same time it’s a great fit in Abzan Company. And even non-combo based decks like Zoo have been embracing it.
And it’s no surprise to me that this card will pretty much stay in Modern forever. It’s never strong enough to ban but always relevant enough to be played. Which means, from now on and forever onwards, we’re all gonna be crazy for CoCo.
9. Liliana of the Veil
Here’s the real deal guys and gals. Liliana is the best planeswalker available in Modern. Maybe the new Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy could give her a run for her money, and he’s certainly seeing more play right now, but you can’t deny that Liliana has been around for ages and commanded threat.
There’s not much to say about Liliana really. All of its abilities are relevant and I think that’s what makes a good planeswalker. It protects itself with removal, it lets you tax your opponent and most importantly, it’s cheap. It has all the things that make a good Magic card, and the cool factor can never be ignored.
8. Thought-Knot Seer
This card is new, big and exciting, and you might argue that it should probably be even higher on the list. Look at that gloopy eye! It’s like it’s dripping custard. Man, I love custard. That alone should score it extra points. But let’s have an even closer look at this eye monstrosity.
It’s been long established that eyeballs in Magic are 4/4 creatures, so everything is correct there. And a 4/4 for four is also perfectly reasonable but nothing to write home about (in fact, if you are dating a Though-Knot Seer, definitely don’t write home about it – people will think you’re weird). But I’m in love with this cutie for its ability rather than the hunking body.
A Vendilion-Clique effect is great to begin with but this is better. They don’t get the card unless he skitters away from the battlefield. Which on its own makes this guy worth playing. But add that Eldrazi subtype and we’re cooking with gravy. The only reason this guy is at #8 is because it’s hard to say whether Eldrazi are gonna get banned or not. But even if they do, I think this guy will stick around. (Notice the number of “thought not” puns in the article = 0)
7. Scavenging Ooze
You know those Pride and Prejudice and Zombies style mashups? They should have one of those for Scavenging Ooze. Like, To Kill a Scavenging Ooze, or, Of Scavenging and Oozes. Because this card is like a mashup in itself. It’s the perfect marriage of value and versatility. A 2/2 for two is a classic, but the ability is just through the roof. It gains life, it clears graveyards and it grows bigger. It’s all you want in a green card.
Whilst graveyard strategies aren’t necessarily the cream of the crop in Modern, that’s only because cards like Scavenging Ooze keep them in check. But it’s not just about eating up an Emrakul before they hit it with Goryo’s Vengeance whilst the trigger is on the stack. It perfectly neuters infinite strategies from Kitchen Finks and Murderous Redcap, or simply lets you trade 1 for 1 with those cards.
But most importantly the Ooze is a threat on its own. Once you land it, your opponent will be forced to eventually deal with it. Because if it’s not kept in check – it will simply overtake the game on its own. A 2/2 isn’t a big deal, but with very little investment it can soon become a 5/5 or even bigger. To be fair, the meta game is not in a place right now where Ooze is great or really that important, but these things shift and change. The ooze will ride again. I promise.
Wait a minute. Isn’t Tarmogoyf the most expensive card ever printed for Modern? Isn’t it like legendarily the best thing ever since sliced goblins? Why is it only number 6? Well, yeah, it’s expensive. It’s also really good. But it’s not number 1 material.
What the Goyf is good at is being a big dumb threat. I remember when I started playing Magic I just didn’t get what the fuss was all about. It’s just a creature. It doesn’t even do anything, just attacks or blocks. That’s it. Once I started playing a bit more competitively, I totally got it. The Goyf is immense, and it only costs two mana. For very little investment you get one of the most pro-active cards in Magic. And in a game where you’re forcing your opponent to do a lot by doing very little – well, that’s just the best.
But lately the Tarmodaddy has been getting a run for his money. Cards like Tasigur, the Golden Fang and, more importantly, Gurmag Angler can certainly present equal threats, and certainly in the case of Tasigur, it lets you utilize your mana to draw extra things. And once again, we bounce back to Eldrazi who, at the moment, can make stronger propositions. But outside of that, Tarmogoyf is a solid, solid card.
5. Kitchen Finks
Undeniably, the best creature type in Magic. Not because it’s a super powerful tribe (it’s really not), not because there’s amazing Ouphe synergy (there’s none of that, actually), but because it’s amazingly fun to say. Don’t believe me? Just say it out loud with me. Are you ready? Three, two, one… OUPHE! Now, wasn’t that just incredibly satisfying? Ignore the people staring at you. You know you’re in the right.
Cards are great when they give you value, and you might think something that destroys your kitchen is the opposite of that (seriously, have you renovated recently? Kitchens ain’t cheap). But that’s not the kind of value we’re talking about. The body on this adorable Ouphe is perfect, great at attacking, great at defending. And he just keeps coming back. So few removal spells take care of this guy efficiently.
But wait, he’s also a part of an infinite life combo with Melira or Anafenza. That’s what really seals the deal on this destructive maniac. The only thing that I don’t get is – why is destroying your kitchen a life-gain ability? Just doesn’t make any sense.
4. Chord of Calling
I always always loved Chord. It’s an enabler for an entire archetype. Rather than jamming your deck with four copies of each card to promote consistency, we have a chord of gluing that lets you have a salad of eclectic one-offs that present answers to many questions posed by your opponent. You don’t need to draw any of them – you just need to draw Chord.
Not only that, but Chord offers an avenue for various creature-based combos. Whether it’s Kitchen Finks + Melira or Archangel of Thune + Spikefeeder or any other kind of infinite shenanigans – it’s all there at the strum of a chord.
But what I like most about Chord of Calling is that it promotes high skill play. Pilots of any kind of Chord deck should know their deck very well. If you’re presented with numerous options then you have to be able to identify what the right card is for any given potential situation (and there’s probably an infinite number of potential situations in Magic).
3. Cavern of Souls
Lands. I love lands. I think they are the coolest cards in Magic (yes, cooler than planeswalkers) because they have the most potential to be broken. Just look at all the awesome lands printed in Magic’s history. Strip Mine, Ancient Tomb, Cloud Post, Karakas. As time went on, Wizards got more careful about what lands can do and the lands we get in Modern aren’t as broken as the ones that came before them. But what we have is also pretty good.
I like Caverns because the card promotes something very specific and does it really well. It fixes colours, but restricts you to a creature type. And it makes a tribal strategy stronger against control type decks. They are already vulnerable to wrath type effects and Cavern doesn’t deny that to control players. It’s just an incredibly elegant design and everything Cavern does, it does for a reason.
And in theory, as long as there isn’t a broken tribal strategy, the card is incredibly balanced. However, when talking about tribal strategies right now we can’t ignore the fact that we have Eldrazi and that’s what takes Caverns completely over the top.
2. Cranial Plating
We all have a cranium, but if we think about it – none of us are really Wolverine. This card, however, this can make you Wolverine. We have loads of amazing equipment available in Modern – Swords, Batterskull and even Skullclamp… NO WAIT! That last one is definitely banned. But Cranial Plating is probably the best piece of equipment in Modern and here’s why.
On the face of it, Cranial Plating is very simple. It doesn’t have any fancy value abilities like a Sword of Feast and Famine. It doesn’t have any recursion like Batterskull. But most importantly it is super cheap, and its Attach ability makes it incredibly unavoidable.
The downside of Cranial Plating is that it really only works in one deck and that deck is Affinity. But it doesn’t just work, it pretty much makes the deck (together with Arcbound Ravager). I’ve played my fair share of games against Affinity and each time Cranial Plating landed on the table I instantly had that “uh-oh” moment, desperately trying to figure out how to deal with it. Unless I have an infinite supply of chump-blockers or an incredibly sizable board presence, I know that there’s not much I can do if it survives.
1. Eye of Ugin
It’s funny how things change isn’t it? Two months ago this card wouldn’t have scratched the Top 10. Sure, it saw play as a one-off in Tron decks but it was hardly impressive as it gave a discount to cards that cost 10 mana to begin with and was only ever there to give inevitability to the deck with its search ability. But this new wave of Eldrazi was costed a lot more reasonably.
Now here’s the thing. Mana discounts are one of the most busted things in Magic. Look at how long it took before Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time got banned pretty much in every Eternal format.
You see, it’s all in the maths. If I can do a 4 mana thing on turn two and you’re doing your 4 mana thing on turn four – I clearly have an advantage. But if you follow Modern at all, I don’t really need to explain what’s going on to you right now – free Eldrazi Mimics followed by turn two Thought-Knot Seers is proving very hard to beat and just incredibly crippling. Things might change. Eye of Ugin might or might not get banned. But for the time being – it is undeniably number one.
So here’s my Top 10. Some controversial choices I know. Some of them are based on meta and some not at all, but rather looking at the broader picture that has been Modern for the last four years. But mostly they’re just cards that I love to play or love to play against. Simple as that.