Hello friends, cavedan here with some quick hits on the most exciting War of the Spark cards for Modern, from the perspective of brewing new archetypes. Everyone loves lists, so I decided to make this a Top 8. It just so happens that the cards I’m most excited about are also cards that many people seem to be evaluating differently (or, you know, wrongly) so you’ll also get my take on why the hive mind is missing the boat. If I end up being right, I will now officially be able to say “I told you so,” and if I’m wrong, we can all have a good laugh at my expense. It’s a win-win! Without further ado…
#8 Karn, The Great Creator
They say: A great option for Whir Prison decks, or anyone looking for a colorless Stony Silence. Potential main deck build-around thanks to Mycosynth Lattice.
I say: A great option against Whir Prison decks. Often better than Stony Silence, because Karn will break their Chalice lock and can take down Ensnaring Bridge in conjunction with creature removal (you left in removal for Sai, didn’t you?). Pithing Needle will reduce him to a mere Stony Silence, but that’s still not bad. If building around Karn’s tutor ability, I would consider reviving the Blue Steel archetype, in addition to things like U-Tron, Eldrazi Tron, or Colorless Eldrazi.
#7 Saheeli, Sublime Artificer
They say: Extra copies of Young Pyromancer for decks that want it.
I say: Extra copies of Sai, Master Thopterist for artifact decks, and key enabler for Mox Amber. Between Sai, Saheeli, and perhaps Fblthp or Erayo at the 2-slot, “8-Mox” might finally be a thing. Saheeli can still fit in a spells-matter deck, but 3 mana is a million (see: Monastery Mentor), so you really want to be getting something out of the fact that she creates artifacts and is a legend.
#6 Davriel, Rogue Shadowmage
They say: An interesting option for 8-Rack, splitting the difference between The Rack and Liliana of the Veil.
I say: This is a nice clean 3-for-1, with upside to boot. Davriel can help any deck that wants to win by attrition, not just the miserable discard strategies (although he is great there too). Since you don’t get punished for drawing multiples, I would rather re-build from scratch with 3-4 Davriel than try to shoehorn him into an existing 8-Rack template or make him play second fiddle to Lily.
#5 Kiora, Behemoth Beckoner
They say: Interesting Garruk Wildspeaker variant, could be good in Green Devotion or if Wild Growth makes it into Modern Horizons.
I say: Wild Growth is too powerful for Modern, so let’s shelve that dream. I like the potential with Utopia Sprawl, but Green Devotion is a pretty narrow (and pretty poor) deck. Kiora is more flexible than that, however, because her static ability is very powerful. Worth exploring in various shells with creatures like Tarmogoyf, Grim Flayer, Knight of the Reliquary, Thragtusk etc.
#4 Dreadhorde Arcanist
They say: “Smashcaster Mage.”
I say: “Spark Confidant.” Snapcaster is never a turn 2 play, and always gets value. Arcanist is a turn 2 play, and he needs to survive to get value, just like Bob. This incentivizes pairing him with discard spells rather than cantrips (although cantrips are not out of the question). Upsides compared to Bob: Arcanist defends decently, doesn’t pressure your life total, and actually generates mana by casting the cards for free. Izzet Wizards might be worth exploring again with this guy. Just don’t pair him with pump spells, that is not a winning strategy—if you want a large attacker, there are plenty of beefy creatures to choose from.
#3 Bolas’s Citadel
They say: Experimental Frenzy meets Ad Nauseam. Cool draw engine, but likely unplayable.
I say: Yawgmoth’s Bargain meets Channel. Insane mana engine, for some reason also stapled to a card draw engine. Unlike most engine cards, Bolas’s Citadel has no drawback, gives you mana immediately, and can be cheated into play if necessary. Yes, 3BBB is too much for Modern, so there is work to be done before this card breaks in half. I’m sure I will write more about this card in the future. For now, let me just tease that my first Bolas’s Citadel brew yielded a clean turn 2 kill in its first game, followed by a turn 3 Lantern lock in its second game—all in a deck that played four copies of Ancient Stirrings, Mox Opal, AND Faithless Looting. This is a card to watch.
They say: Awesome card. Competes with Chord of Calling and Eldritch Evolution in creature toolbox or combo decks.
I say: Awesome card. Great in creature combo or toolbox decks, but also has applications in aggro or midrange. I already wrote at length about my Bant Monkeyform brew, so check out that post for an example of a deck that makes full use of Neoform’s cheaper mana cost and +1/+1 counter. Eldritch Evolution was great, it just required too much mana (1GG is basically your full turn, plus the turn you spent playing sacrifice fodder). At 50% cheaper, Neoform has the skills to see widespread play in many different shells.
#1 Niv-Mizzet Reborn
They say: Bulk mythic. Timmy/meme card, useless outside of Commander.
I say: Constructed powerhouse, multi-format build-around. The lack of hype for this card is pretty astonishing. Apparently a CMC 5, 6/6 flying with ETB: draw 3-6 spells is not a card anyone is interested in exploring? But hey, people missed on Arclight Phoenix too. I will definitely be writing more about Niv-Mizzet Reborn, and the various shells he can go in. For now, I will just note that Niv is currently the cheapest mythic in the set, preordering at a paltry $2.50. Seriously, if any card in WAR is the next Arclight Phoenix, Niv is it. Laugh if you want, but don’t say I didn’t warn you!
So what did I miss? What do your top-8 lists look like? Hit me up in the comments, and as always, thanks for reading!