Fact not Fiction – Breaking Modern by Michael Maxwell

Fact not Fiction – The Winners and Losers from Pro Tour Paris by Michael Maxwell


Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last week you all know that Modern is officially a format now, and that the upcoming Pro Tour in Philadelphia will feature Modern, as will Worlds in November. Deck lists are everywhere, and everyone wants to be the first to break the format. The initial ban list has a whopping 21 cards on it, listed here:

Ancestral Vision

Ancient Den


Chrome Mox

Dark Depths

Dread Return

Glimpse of Nature

Golgari Grave-Troll

Great Furnace


Jace, the Mind Sculptor

Mental Misstep

Seat of the Synod

Sensei’s Divining Top


Stoneforge Mystic

Sword of the Meek

Tree of Tales

Umezawa’s Jitte

Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle

Vault of Whispers


Everyone has their own opinions on whether or not some of cards that are on the list really need to be there, and I could go on for quite a while about why I don’t think some of those cards should be banned, but that’s not the point of this article (and it’s also quite likely that some of these cards will be unbanned in the future, it seems the initial policy with this list is better safe than sorry).

What I do want to talk about is which cards AREN’T on the list. I’m not going to bombard you with decklists, rather I’m going to take a look at cards that they might have banned but didn’t and see if we can start doing anything broken. Obviously cards like Tarmogoyf and Bob are extremely powerful, but they basically go in any deck playing those colours, so here I’m going to discuss build around me cards that have the potential for serious abuse.

Gifts Ungiven

It took me quite a while to notice this wasn’t on the list, since whenever I look at a banlist for any format I just assume this card is on it. Gifts Ungiven is a deckbuilder’s dream come true, especially since it lets you justify playing loads of sweet singletons that you’d never get away with otherwise. The aim of course is to be able to Gifts for 4 cards that are going to result in them being dead very soon regardless of how they split the piles. It also allows you to have packages that you can fetch for maximum value against certain archetypes, e.g. searching for Wrath of God, Day of Judgment, Engineered Explosives and Path to Exile against aggro. I fully expect to see this card popping up in decklists everywhere, and I wouldn’t even be surprised if the other 56 cards in those decks are different every time, such is the versatility of Gifts.


Bridge from Below

Dread Return and Golgari Grave-Troll are banned, so dredge must be dead, right? Well, maybe. Narcomoeba and Bridge are both still legal, as are Stinkweed Imp, Golgari Thug and several other dredge staples. There are still decent discard outlets such as Drowned Rusalka and Magus of the Bazaar, which along with blue draw spells or crazy red ones, such as Burning Inquiry or Goblin Lore, would allow you to get some serious dredging going. If a good dredge list exists, and I think one probably does, then I expect it to be a fairly strong contender early on until people start playing decks/cards that can interact with it in a meaningful way.


Tezzeret, the Seeker

Tezzeret is Sol Ring, Demonic Tutor, and an army of 5/5s all in one. Being able to fetch anything from land (Mox Opal, Darksteel Citadel isn’t banned) to removal (Engineered Explosives, Vedalken Shackles) to combo pieces (Birthing Pod?) is quite the range of applications. There are a lot of powerful artifacts out there, it’s possible you might even want to try putting both Tezzerets in the same list to take full advantage of that.



 Want to hardcast Emrakul on turn 4? Then this is the card for you. Between Cloudpost, Glimmerpost, and Vesuva you can make a LOT of mana. What you do with that mana, and how to reliably assemble a set of lands that make the Urza lands look pathetic, is the difficult part. In terms of getting the lands into play, Tolaria West, Expedition Map, Sylvan Scrying, and Primeval Titan are all viable options. Once you have all that mana, casting Emrakul is probably the best thing you can be doing, and he can be found easily by playing an Eye of Ugin. Turn 3 Karn also sounds like a reasonable thing to be doing.


Melira, Sylvok Outcast

No, you didn’t read that wrong. Turns out Melira lets you do some rather interesting things with the persist creatures from Lorwyn block. If you have Melira and a sacrifice outlet in play then Kitchen Finks will gain you infinite life or Murderous Redcap will deal infinite damage, since when they come back into play they can’t have a -1/-1 counter because of Melira. Green Sun’s Zenith can find all 3 parts of the combo if you play a Scarland Thrinax as a sacrifice outlet. Since you’re playing Redcap adding black seems sensible, and you gain access to disruption such as Thoughtseize, Bob, and more sacrifice outlets.


Those are 5 of the cards which I think could be the engines used to power some powerful strategies in this new and unexplored format. Whether the metagame will turn out to be conducive to strategies based on these cards being successful or not I cannot say, but if you’re looking for cards to try and break then I think these 5 are a good place to start.

What do you think? Which cards are just crying out to be broken? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for reading,

Michael Maxwell

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