The Top 10 Spells in Modern Part 2 – Shared Discovery with Rob Wagner

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The Top 10 Spells in Modern Part 2

Hi all, looks like I ruffled a few feathers in part 1 of this look at the top 10 spells in Modern. A few suggestions have been made for the top 5 and most guessed at least a few of what I consider to be the cream of the crop.

One card which was suggested that I hadn’t really considered originally was Bloodbraid Elf. This card was the defining card of standard for the year and a half it was around, but is only seeing play in a single deck in Modern – Jund. As will become clear as this article goes on, I consider tapping out on turn 4 extremely dangerous in Modern and would need a very good reason to want to do it. I think Jund actually gets its power from some of the other cards involved in the deck.



Vendilion Clique – A high-value card due to its playability in every format it has been legal. Clique is excellent at being a creature you can plan to make vs combo and control which doesn’t leave you with your pants pulled down. However, since the format is very much gunning for creatures at the moment and there isn’t much particular-card tutoring to disrupt she remains simply a very good card to add to decks that want the plan she allows.

Liliana of the Veil – The only Planeswalker in this two-parter, being able to kill single large creatures while retaining value vs the combo decks which desire a hand-full of cards instead of particular spells. Also useful for killing things like Thrun, the Last Troll and Geist of St. Traft.

Mystical Teachings – People keep suggesting this one but I think that Gifts Ungiven is straight-up better as it does the same thing more powerfully. The cards warrant differently-built but similarly-styled decks  but I think that hoping you have the time to go through all the Teachings is a bit wishful.


#5: Path to Exile + Lightning Bolt

I think that Path is slightly better but really the important thing is having cheap and effective removal spells for creatures. You need to have a plan to not die to quick ones quickly (Steppe Lynx, or slow ones slowly (Knight of the Reliquary). In this context it appears that Lightning Bolt is strictly inferior, but it can easily take your opponent’s life total down a few notches and has actual use against the combo decks. Needless to say, Zoo, Jund and the Burn deck benefit greatly from this card’s existence.

#4: Past in Flames

The boogey man. I keep mentioning it because when you build a deck that can’t beat it, you can’t win the tournament. Yet I keep seeing people suggesting decks that look like limited decks compared to the sheer power of this monstrosity. If you’re reliably beating it in testing then you possibly need to get a better combo player because it often doesn’t care what you’re doing.

This deck is the reason you shouldn’t be planning to tap out on turn 3/4 without a really good reason.

This deck is the reason you need to be able to win the game on turn 3 if you can’t interact.

This deck is the reason you won’t win the PTQ.

#3: Dark Confidant

The Sex Bob-Omb himself. Dark Confidant was rendered unplayable in the theatre of Punishing Fires, but as I discussed in wake of the unbannings he gets better, as a card advantage source which doesn’t die to the recurring burn.

You do need to work for him, trying to avoid filling your deck with too many expensive cards. Bob doesn’t like you when you crave too much from him. However, if you’re willing to pay the price then having this guy on your side of the table will help you get very far ahead indeed.

#2: Snapcaster Mage

While Tiago Chan may not be as well-recognised as Bob Maher, his Invitational card is truly in the limelight at the moment. Part of the best (only?) deck in Standard, good in Legacy and even Vintage, it’s very unsurprising to see Tiago popping up as one of the best cards in Modern.

He really rewards you for filling your deck with cheap Instants and Sorceries (hey, I think I’ve named a few in this top 10) and the body comes in pretty relevant now that Punishing Fire is gone. The best thing about him is that he really helps to expand your deck in the direction you need each matchup. 4 Tiagos, 4 Counter Spells, 4 Removal Spells and 4 Discard Spells mean you can choose to re-cast the most relevant ones in each matchup, for example.

If you don’t have 4 of these then try to pick them up now while they’re being repeatedly cracked in packs of Innistrad. The number 3 and number 1 picks in this list should be a warning for what happens if you wait too long…

#1: Tarmogoyf

The best creature ever? Some would say so. Interestingly the only green card in the top 10, but certainly worth splashing by himself as has been repeatedly shown through Magic history since its release in Future Sight.

Innocuously good, since it is basically a Vanilla creature and dies to all the removal spells. Except it doesn’t exactly, since a lot of people lean on Lightning Bolt and a fetchland + another non-instant card type in your graveyard and suddenly he’s immune. There are definitely playable Artifacts, Instants, Sorceries, Lands, Creatures and Planeswalkers in this format so it’s quite possible to grow ‘Goyf up to a 6/7 without a great effort.

Reliably a 3/4 and often a 4/5 for 2 mana, the beauty of playing ‘Goyf is that he can threaten to very quickly eat your opponent’s face off, and is equally good at over-shadowing other creatures as it is racing Combo decks. There are many imitators but no creature is quite as powerful as Tarmogoyf, long live the king!


So, what do you think of the top 10 spells of Modern?

Do you strongly disagree with any of the inclusions so far?

This list is certainly subject to change with the release of Dark Ascension, but currently these are the cards which define the decks you need to build around if you’re to succeed in Modern. A lot of other decks will just fall into place once you’re able to answer the top dogs. Best of luck building your deck for the PTQ season!

Thanks for reading and thanks for sharing,


The Top 10 Spells in Modern Part 2 - Shared Discovery with Rob Wagner
Hi all, looks like I ruffled a few feathers in part 1 of this look at the top 10 spells in Modern. A few suggestions have been made for the top 5 and most guessed at least a few of what I consider to be the cream of the crop.

Please let us know what you think below...

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