Flops of Modern 2018: The Failed Five

A far cry from the cards in yesterday’s article, the following cards came out to be disappointments in 2018. These are the cards that had significant expectations from Modern players during spoiler season but now see very little or no play. It is always difficult to evaluate new cards but these five in particular let us all down.

Honorable Mention: Karn, Scion of Urza
Expectations for little Karn were quite high among even pro players. It had no color requirements, high starting loyalty, and could generate tokens to protect itself so it seemed ideal. There was talk that Affinity would change significantly to run it as they could race it out on Turn 3 with Opal and Drum. Unfortunately, the card advantage has some hurdles and the tokens require you to run other artifacts to be efficient. Affinity seems to be the only home for it but so far it only shows up as a single sideboard copy if at all.

#5 Merfolk Mistbinder
Merfolk players, those that had not converted to Humans, rejoiced when Mistbinder was spoiled. They had nearly been pushed out of the format at that point and had recently had a couple green Merfolk printed. So a new lord in GU seemed to be just what they needed. However, Mutavault and a consistent manabase were their advantages over Humans and Mistbinder conflicted with each. What the deck truly needs is disruption on par with Thalia and Spell Queller. Tropical Merfolk did not last long and the few remaining Merfolk players have reverted to straight blue.

#4 Mission Briefing
Briefing gained a lot attention during spoiler season because of its similarity to Snapcaster Mage. Each one cost two mana and would allow you to get a second use out of a spell at instant speed. Proponents pointed out that it would allow you to use alternate costs on cards such as Archive Trap. Unfortunately, Snapcaster Mage is much better due to the body generated and less restrictive mana cost so Briefing has failed to break out in any way. Some still believe that an alternate cost card will put this over in the future though.

#3 Isolate
Many viewed Isolate as a new sideboard card for interactive white decks that do not have Bolt such as UW Miracles. There are many one mana permanents worth exiling in the format so why did it fall flat? The issue is that at best you will only ever break even on the exchange; each player spent one mana and lost one card. Furthermore, there are few decks that run enough one drops to ensure that you get to make that exchange in the first place. At best this card is breaking even and at worst it rots in your hand when your opponent fails to play a one drop.

#2 Blood Sun
Blood Sun was a divisive card from the beginning but believers went wild for it. I even saw mention of an emergency ban but of course this did not come to pass. It is mostly an inferior Blood Moon that allows you to draw a card. Admittedly, it is more effective than Moon against fetchlands and has fewer deckbuilding restrictions. In reality though it just has a very small effect against most decks in the format and prevents the Sun player from running fetchlands. There was mention that Tron players would use it to beat Ghost Quarter effects but this is a very narrow option. It is not generically powerful enough to make any mainboards and is not specifically effective enough for sideboard play.

#1 Mox Amber
From the dawn of Magic the word Mox has meant that a card is very good. They are always 0 mana and produce one mana, making them functionally better lands. Over the years WotC has tried and failed to fix Moxen. Chrome Mox had to be banned and Mox Opal is one of the best cards in Modern today. But finally in 2018 they pulled it off with Mox Amber. Many tried and failed to create successful Amber lists. There simply are not enough worthwhile, cheap legendary creatures or planeswalkers to get Amber online consistently. WotC pulled it off and made a bad Mox. It truly was the biggest flop of the year.

These cards truly were disappointing but 2018 was not all bad. On Monday I’ll be back with the most successful cards to come out in 2018. Do you have any predictions? I do hope you have enjoyed our first week here at Good Grief Games and we will continue to put out a new article every weekday.

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