Shifts in the Meta: A Modern Update for Autumn 2019 by David Inglis

With a new sets, bannings and unbannings, Modern format has had a shake up over the last few months. David Inglis runs through his top 8 cards ready to shake up the new meta.

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Emry, Lurker of the Loch (full art)
Emry, Lurker of the Loch artwork by Livia Prema

The Modern meta has undergone a huge change in the last six months.

War Of The Spark was one of the most impactful Magic sets for just about everyone who enjoys this game, from Vintage fans to Kitchen Table players, offering access to lots of powerful Planeswalkers.

Stoneforge Mystic Promo
Stoneforge Mystic

Next came Modern Horizons, which – despite looking a little lower in power level from the initial previews – produced many new decks. M20 didn’t offer tons in the way of changes, but the subsequent updates to the B & R announcements allowed Stoneforge Mystic her first trip into Modern.

Now Throne Of Eldraine has added some hot ticket items to the format.

So let’s dive into the Top 8 Modern cards since War Of The Spark introduced many of our super friends, starting with the first straight to Modern set, Modern Horizons:

Urza, Lord High Artificer

Urza, Lord High Artificer from Modern Horizons (MH1)
Urza, Lord High Artificer has spawned its own architype. I played a little of the Urza deck when it came out; as long-time readers know I am a huge fan of artifact strategies (my first ever deck was Grand Architect).

This deck allows you to go infinite with Sword of the Meek and Thopter Foundry, with Cantrips and multiple routes to victory providing consistency. Thopter Foundry, for example, is an acceptable card in lots of match ups even without the combo.

With threat, mana and card advantage all in one beautiful package, Urza is just fantastic. Drawing Urza, Lord High Artificer onto an empty battlefield, feels even better than Jace, The Mind Sculptor: a bold claim, but one that I think is very true. I particularly enjoy the Splinter Twin-style aspect of the Urza deck.

Sword of the Meek from Future Sight (FUT)Thopter Foundry from Alara Reborn

Urza has a lot of angles of attack: do you lean hard on Graveyard Hate? Do you leave in all your spot removal? It’s a very challenging deck to play against and offers a lot of depth.

Wrenn and Six

Wrenn and Six from Modern Horizons (MH1)
If 3-mana planeswalkers were going to be dominating all the formats then its stands to reason that as a 2-mana one, Wrenn and Six was going to have an impact. I had dreams of playing this card in Legacy with Standstill, Grove Of The Burnwillows and Punishing Fire, although it turns out pairing it with Wasteland is a lot more potent.

Wrenn and Six has seen a lot of play in Jund, offering both removal and card advantage alongside a powerful ultimate. This card even knocked fan favourite Dark Confidant out of the format. Wrenn and Six is an excellent midrange card due to its versatility and will likely be a core part of Jund for a very long time.

Force of Negation

Force of Negation from Modern Horizons (MH1)
Force of Will is a well-known, much discussed card, particularly concerning its inclusion to Modern. A lot of people argue it’s potential for combo protection is overpowered, and something Modern doesn’t need. A deck like Splinter Twin getting to play Force of Will or even the recent Paradoxical Outcome Urza deck would have been very powerful.

Force of Negation solves these issues nicely by only allowing the free aspect of it to be cast in the opposing players turn. It even exiles the opposing card which can be useful in some niche situations. This card allows decks like UW Control to play a threat like Jace, The Mind Sculptor and still have some protection.

Plague Engineer

Plague Engineer from Modern Horizons (MH1)

Another riff on an old classic: Engineered Plague. This little 3-drop is more of a sideboard card but a potent one at that. A good hoser against Thopter tokens, but like many good sideboard cards in Modern this card is strong in multiple match ups and is useful for those times when you get caught out by Elves or a Modern deck you weren’t ready for. The best sideboard cards in the format are those that are versatile and can cover a lot of different match ups. Plague Engineer is a nice little tool and one worth picking up.

Stoneforge Mystic

Stoneforge Mystic from Worldwake (WWK)

A card I have wanted to try in Modern for a long time got freed from her prison.

Stoneforge Mystic is one of those cards who cast a very long shadow over Standard; when Modern was first introduced the trifecta of Stoneforge Mystic, Jace, The Mind Sculptor and Batterskull had just ruined a Standard format. So Stoneforge Mystic was placed onto the ban list and forgotten about. A lot of people argued that she should have been taken off the ban list because making a 4/4 lifelinker on turn 3 wasn’t powerful enough in the context of Modern. A common counter argument to this however is that the Stoneforge decks would play blue for cheap counterspells or black for discard.

Eventually Wizards decided it would be time to allow Stoneforge into Modern and from a personal stand point I am excited because while the card can be guilty of defining what white does in the format, it offers more deckbuilding decisions then one might first think.

Here are some deckbuilding decisions when I think about Stoneforge Mystic:
Batterskull from New Phyrexia (NPH)
1) What equipment do I want other than Batterskull?

2) Which Sword is the best in the metagame or with my splash colours?

3) What colours do I want to play with Stoneforge:
– Blue For counterspells and Spell Queller?
– Red for burn spells and for artifact destruction?
– Green for mana dorks which are good with equipment?
– Black for discard to help protect Stoneforge Mystic?

Once Upon A Time

Once Upon a Time from Throne of Eldraine (ELD)

We now move onto the latest set in Magic. Once Upon a Time has raised a lot of eyebrows as an (occasionally free) Impulse. Whilst in Tron paying two mana is less efficient than Ancient Stirrings’ one, it’s still in the market for consistency.

Once Upon A Time has also seen play in the other big mana deck in the format: Amulet Titan, another deck that wants to do the same thing every single game. Having a way to dig for your sideboard cards in a format that relies as heavily on them as Modern does is very appealing to a deck that is so concerned with its own gameplan.

Emry, Lurker Of The Loch

Emry, Lurker of the Loch from Throne of Eldraine (ELD)

A card that messes with Graveyards and Artifacts, those two staples of Modern fairness, Emry, Lurker of the Loch has been making waves with Jeskai Ascendency and Urza. This card is an engine that sets itself up. There is been a lot of talk about banning Mox Opal with the rise of Urza and maybe this card will push it over the edge. Emry, Lurker of the Loch is an excellent combo piece and recently MPL streamer Kanister went 7-0, matching Emry with all the most powerful recent cards to form a masterful combo monster.

Merchant Of The Vale

Merchant of the Vale from Throne of Eldraine (ELD)

Dredge is Dead, long love Dredge!

It has often been said that the best time to sleeve Dredge up is when it’s just taken a banning.

When Golgari Grave Troll was banned, Dredge top 8ed the next Modern GP. Merchant Of The Vale is of course no Faithless Looting, but few cards are. I think this could be a reasonable – if unexciting – addition to dredge and maybe some other archetypes are in the market for this one shot card.

So there you have a lot of different cards that are already making an impact on Modern. Tell me in the comments which are the stand out cards for you, and good luck in your next Modern event!

Find more of David’s articles, including his advice for players starting or returning to Modern format after a break, via his author page.

Join us for our weekly Modern FNMs (amongst other formats), here at Manaleak Tournament Centre, and for our popular Modern Saturday events, including our double offering of Modern win-a-boxes 12th and 19th October – find more details via our Facebook events page, or join in the discussion on our local player page.

Shifts in the Meta: A Modern Update for Autumn 2019 by David Inglis
Shifts in the Meta: A Modern Update for Autumn 2019 by David Inglis
With a new sets, bannings and unbannings, Modern format has had a shake up over the last few months. David Inglis runs through his top 8 cards ready to shake up the new meta.
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