In Modern it gets a little better since it’s an answer to both Goryo’s Vengeance and Through the Breach, combines well with Snapcaster Mage, and Containment Priest isn’t legal. Still, it’s a bit narrow, and it does compete with cards like Grafdigger’s Cage and Surgical Extraction.
Despoiler of Souls
Wizards has printed a ton of black creatures that recur, and this is one of the few that does so without being super busted. All they had to do was put a mana cost on it instead of some alternate cost like a landfall trigger or exiling something or being the only creature in the graveyard or what-have-you.
Priest of the Blood Rite
Now we’re cooking with gas. The black Blade Splicer comes with a bit of pain, but holy smokes is he worth it, and I can’t wait to start generating an army of 5/5s.
This card is closer to Wolfir Silverheart than Nessian Wilds Ravager, which is a good sign. It’s still not on the same level of Silverheart since it’s not nearly as versatile and the P/T boost takes at least a turn to kick in, but if you can find a way to give it trample (ahem Temur Battle Rage) then it could be quite the undercosted threat.
When people first started messing around with Pyromancer Ascension in Extended, they used Time Warps and Cruel Ultimatums. It didn’t take long to cut the Cruel Ultimatums, but copying Lightning Bolt turned out to be pretty strong.
That’s the real trick. Trying to make bad cards good doesn’t tend to work out, but copying good cards is sweet, and stuffing a deck full of Lightning Bolts, Lightning Helixs, Kolaghan’s Commands, and Electrolyzes sounds way better to me than trying to play a 5-mana card that you’ll only live to cast if you’ve already essentially won the game.
The effect is powerful, but sadly ramp spells that need to be ramped into (see Gilded Lotus) are too slow in Modern. 5 is a ton of mana, and while copying a Lightning Bolt with Goggles on the turn you play it is exciting, most of the time it’s going to rot in your hand until you’ve already stabilized the game. If Pyromancer’s Goggles finds a home, it’ll be in Standard.
Between Hordeling Outburst and Goblin Rabblemaster there are enough good Goblins in Standard for this guy to see play, and I look forward to losing to him there, but that’s not what I’m really excited for.
I have messed around with the Shared Animosity version of Modern Goblins, which is a lot of fun but only loosely competitive. Its main strength was Legion Loyalist combining with Shared Animosity to create a horde of high-powered, trampling, first-striking Goblins. Every Krenko’s Command token became a mini-Goblin Piledriver that was impossible to block profitably.
While the old gang isn’t quite back yet, with Goblin Warchief, Goblin Ringleader, and Gempalm Incinerator still missing, Modern does have some spicy interactions. Legion Loyalist and Goblin Piledriver is a new one, and Goblin King plus Magus of the Moon is hot too.
Collected Company ensures that you actually find the creatures that matter in various situations, combining them in ways for whatever synergy happens to win the game. Most of the time, Goblin Chieftain will be the best hit, but I like that there are situations where a 1-drop (Legion Loyalist) can be the best hit because it scales so well into the late game.
In Legacy, there used to be a Stompy version of Elves that played this guy. It was a bit larger than regular Elves, and featured lock pieces and other forms of fast mana besides mana dorks.
I don’t think the cards are there for that build of Elves in Modern, but that said Messenger has some pros and cons. Unlike Collected Company, it doesn’t put the cards directly into play. On the plus side, it’s uncounterable with Cavern of Souls and a fine hit for Chord of Calling, and there’s a solid chance it does something interesting in Standard.
Grixis Delver Update
This list has nothing to do with Magic Origins, but I’m crazy about it. When I’m streaming or making videos, I’m playing this deck. When I’m not streaming or making videos, I’m playing this deck. When I’m doing things not related to Magic at all, I’m raving about this deck.
If I were trapped on an island with someone that didn’t know how to play Magic, I’d make proxies out of charcoal and painfully teach the poor soul how to play so that I could keep grinding it.
When playing this deck, it seems like there’s almost always a winning line that you can reason out if you’re willing to look a few turns ahead. In most matchups, there’s a delicate balance between disrupting the opponent and applying pressure that’s a lot of fun to figure out, and it’s rare that you take a purely aggro or control role.
Why Delver instead of Grixis Control? Because Delver is your best threat against non-interactive combo and gives you a lot of free wins. Meanwhile, there’s essentially no drawback, and it’s better here than it is in pure UR Delver. At its worst it dies to Lightning Bolt, but even then the opponent is actively helping you fill up your graveyard for delve.
Delver might be better in Modern than Legacy (not the decks, the card). When you look at the cantrips, Modern has an edge in synergy. Serum Visions is great at setting up Delver (perhaps the only way it’s superior to Preordain), and Thought Scour is another way to turn the Delver trigger into a free scry. In Legacy, you can use Brainstorm to set up your Delver flip, but if you’re doing that then you’re probably casting a bad Brainstorm, and it’s much more common to Brainstorm as a sorcery before a fetch.
The above list is highly tuned for the current meta. With all the delve cards floating around, people are going out of their way to tap low to conserve graveyard resources, and Mana Leak has never been better.
Rough // Tumble is one of the more important cards in the RUG vs. Elves matchup in Legacy because it disrupts the opponent while leaving flipped Delvers alone, and it does much the same thing here. Like Forked Bolt, it’s also great against the Chord decks.
In my last video with the deck, I was testing out a wonky sideboard plan with a miser’s Hallowed Fountain and quad-Rest for the Weary. After I actually got a chance to test the matchup more, I realized it’s different from straight UR Delver, as a fast 4/5 or 5/5 combined with a counter or two could actually beat Burn in game one, which is something that UR Delver couldn’t reliably do since all of its creatures die to Searing Blaze and are terrible at blocking.
After cutting the Rest for the Wearys, I added a few more counters (I wanted another Dispel for the mirror where Dispel, Angler, and Terminate are the key cards) and a pair of Vampiric Links. The Links can run away with the game on a fast delve creature, but their most brutal (and most humorous) application is on an Eidolon of the Great Revel. The Eidolon doesn’t attack for anything, your spells deal you a net 0 damage, and the opponent continues to take damage while gaining you life. If you counter a burn spell, you gain life from the exchange.
Worst-case, they have a burn spell for their own Eidolon (which is still awesome) or they blind boarded in Destructive Revelry, which isn’t nearly as brutal as it is against Dragon’s Claw.
Dragon’s Claw has to come down as soon as possible, and at 2 mana it’s hard to protect with countermagic. Vampiric Link comes down turn 3+ and only costs 1 mana. It’s much easier to protect, and it’s often a better topdeck.