After years of writing Deck of the Day, it became pretty tough to find new things to talk about. Many of the top decks are the top decks for strong reasons. Going over iterations of R/B Aggro and U/B Midrange will leave you with similar deck lists and occasional innovation, and it felt weird describing to readers who care about competitive Magic why Bomat Courier was good or what it did. So instead, I’m going to focus on single cards and what make them good or bad.
There’s been some debate in the Magic world over the inclusion of M19 standout Militia Bugler in Modern Humans.
A 2/3 creature for 3 is nothing to write home about, and that is even more pronounced in a high-powered format like Modern. Adding vigilance also does little as there aren’t a ton of matchups where your 2/3 is going to shine on both offense and defense, so clearly you’re going to need more.
The Bugler gives you card advantage. Getting to look at the top 4 cards of your deck and add a useful creature to your hand is very real value. Now, in order to be card advantage, the 2/3 body is going to have to be worth an actual card, and I think in Humans that’s the case.
The Humans deck is full of synergy. Having Champion of the Parish to pump is great, and combo’ing with Thalia’s Lieutenant either before or after it enters the battlefield are both useful. You’re also playing a deck full of cards that tend to have varying power levels depending on the matchup. Against some opponents, being able to find Meddling Mage or Thalia, Guardian of Thraben can be the difference between winning or losing.
The Bugler also has excellent synergy with Phantasmal Image. Being able to chain together Buglers to provide a formidable board state is a real way to win games of Modern.
The card that helps Bugler most is Aether Vial. Ticking a Vial up to 3 with Buglers in your deck creates an incredibly tough position for your opponent to win through. It helps to make sure you’re always stocked with action, which is incredibly important in games where Humans doesn’t have the nut draw.
The #1 way that Humans loses games is through mana flood and the Bugler contributes greatly to making sure that doesn’t happen. The games where you play a few lands and then have to use your turn to sacrifice Horizon Canopy are the games where you lose to many decks in the field. The Bugler can’t grind out Lightning Bolt decks on its own, but it definitely helps. There will be plenty of games and matchups where it won’t look impressive, but this is Modern! This is the format with 40 viable decks, so sure, your Bugler might not be great in some matchups, just like how your Thalias or Reflector Mages might not be great in others.
In the end, the Bugler isn’t the strongest card in the world, but it’s a level above the cards it’s currently replacing, and I feel that you should be playing it in your Humans decks.