I covered the biggest hits from Modern Horizons before, and today I’m going to tackle the biggest misses for Modern. Let’s get into it!
Flusterstorm is a buy-a-box promo and will be in non-foil, a change I’ve wanted for a while. Only this time they did it to a card that already has non-foil versions, which is a bizarre time to choose to do that.
Flusterstorm is interesting as a sideboard option. On the one hand, it has incredible upside against a deck like Storm that’s already fading into obscurity, while on the other hand it’s worse than Spell Pierce against a variety of planeswalkers, enchantments, and artifacts; it won’t be playable against a deck like Tron. Flusterstorm is also often worse than Dispel at protecting something like Thing in the Ice or forcing through a threat in the late game of a grindy matchup. I expect to see people incorrectly putting Flusterstorm in their sideboards when the other options are better, especially with Force of Negation occupying similar sideboard space.
It will be correct to play Flusterstorm sometimes, but I mostly think this is just a card we will rarely use as there are not many decks that put multiple spells on that stack at once currently. I’ll call it a miss even though it will see play, because it’s just not going to be the format staple people expect.
Fact or Fiction
This makes me feel really nostalgic. Fact or Fiction was once the premium card draw engine in Magic. Power creep has certainly caught up to it, but I still think that as far as instant-speed card draw goes for a deck like U/W Control, this may be the best bang for your buck. The introduction of this with Force of Negation allows you to potentially protect it for free when that comes up, but I don’t think Fact or Fiction is going to be played in heavy numbers. Modern is just too fast of a format for four-mana card draw outside of specific matchups. I could see U/W Control playing a copy or two, but it’s competing directly in the four-mana slot with Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Jace is only cast at sorcery speed, but its ability to end the game and generate cards every turn is just too much for FoF to compete with.
I wouldn’t worry too much about learning to split piles of five cards correctly. Fact or Fiction will see play here and there, but it’s not going to see a ton of play.
I love this card—it’s such a sweet way of making Evolving Wilds playable. This won’t be played heavily in Modern, but where we may see this is decks like U/W Miracles in Legacy that play a high basic land count with Back to Basics, and this is potentially better than non-Flooded Strand fetch options because of that. We will also likely see this in Eldrazi decks that are playing at least one color. The deck doesn’t even need to be two colors, just the ability to find basic Plains or Wastes gives the deck added coverage against Blood Moon.
Prismatic Vista will see very little play in Modern, but it does cover all the bases as the Eldrazi fetch for all colors. I’ll call Prismatic Vista a miss because Eldrazi is just a fringe deck.
This makes me think we won’t see Baleful Strix, which may be a good thing for creature decks. Ice-Fang Coatl is a tough card to play. There are not many Simic decks around, and especially not many that want to play a bunch of basic lands to turn on the deathtouch. Jacob Nagro, a young and very talented Magic player, pointed out that the existence of this card means that in Simic decks with basics you should be playing Snow-Covered lands over basics now just to bluff Ice-Fang Coatl. There may in fact be other cards in the format with a similar effect, so it’s likely correct to just always play Snow Lands to keep your opponents thinking.
I think Ice-Fang Coatl is Modern-playable if you’re able to put enough snow lands in a deck with these colors, I just find that unlikely to happen so I don’t think we’ll be seeing the Coatl all that much.
This is one of my least-favorite cards ever. No, it’s not because I hate shroud, It’s because people always convince themselves to put this card into their decks. Nimble Mongoose has simply failed to pass the test of time. It’s too slow and low-impact for Modern. There’s no Maze of Ith to dodge, and people play creatures that outsize it. I know we’ll see people trying to build Delver-style decks and “set the goose loose,” but I suspect they will ultimately fail when they realize that threshold is no easy task, and the juice isn’t quite worth the squeeze.
This goose is loose.
I saw people excited about the prospects of Lava Dart with Arclight Phoenix, but I don’t quite think Lava Dart has what it takes there. Gut Shot is a much better card for matchups where Lava Dart would be acceptable and while I like the idea of flashing back the Phoenix easily, that hasn’t been my issue with Arclight Phoenix decks—it’s mostly drawing both Arclight Phoenix and Faithless Looting. Yeah it’s cute we can pitch it to Looting and recast it, but I still think it’s rare you’ll want to sacrifice a land too early to bring back a Phoenix.
I think Lava Dart will be tried in these decks and ultimately removed as they are just not quite what the deck is looking for.
A throwback to Astral Slide, Astral Drift gets rid of the awkward “when either player cycles” clause, and adds the ability to cycle itself for three mana to blink a creature until the next end step. There are plenty of toolbox creatures to blink in and out for value—which is how you’d likely build a deck with Astral Drift—but I think combos like that are mostly too cute for Modern.
Ultimately, Astral Drift will be more of a fringe card in the format that won’t compete for top-tier status. It’s worth nothing that Street Wraith does give you a zero-mana cycler to speed the archetype up a bit and protect not only yourself from something like a lethal Arcbound Ravager attack, but also protect the creature you’re tapping out for.
While I’m skeptical this deck will be a good archetype, I’m certainly not the type to have the vision to build an Astral Drift deck to be able to defeat a wide enough range of archetypes to make it playable, much like a Birthing Pod deck, so I’ll admit there’s a chance I’m wrong here. My gut says this card is more fun than good, so I’ll call it a miss.
Giver of Runes
I’m loving the throwback to all the cards people wanted but were just too good for Modern. I see Giver of Runes as too weak for Modern. It’s noticeably not a Human—if it were, Humans is the one deck I think would most benefit from Giver of Runes. As is, there are not many decks looking for a card like this. Not being able to protect itself feels like a big problem for the Giver. The best scenario I can think of is something like White Eldrazi decks using it to protect Eldrazi up the ladder, but the biggest strength of those decks is Chalice of the Void for 1, meaning the deck doesn’t want to really play one-drops.
I’m sure this card will see play, in fringe decks like Modern Death and Taxes and Hatebears, but I don’t expect much from Giver of Runes.