Staples of Modern 2018: Sideboard #5-1

Today we will be closing out the list that we started in yesterday’s article. These five cards are the cream of the crop for sideboard cards in 2018’s Modern format. As with previous articles this ranking is based on’s dataset of over 6,000 results from paper and online tournaments in 2018. We will continue to approach the 2018 Modern format as a single, 100-player tournament.

The following cards have been ranked by dominance rating. This is calculated by multiplying the percent of decks they appear in by the average number of copies that appear in said decks. For frame of reference, a card that appears in 25% of decks as a two of will have a 0.5 dominance rating. For our hypothetical, 100-player tourney this means that there would be 0.5 copies of said card per player in the room.

#5 Ancient Grudge: 0.36
Here to kick off today’s list is the only card that requires more than one color to utilize effectively, Ancient Grudge. Cards with multiple colors are the inverse of colorless cards as far as dominance ratings are concerned; fewer decks can run them so they do not dominate. Despite this, Grudge has broken through and that is a testament to its power. Being able to destroy any artifact instantly for two mana is a solid rate and being able to do it again even cheaper really puts the card over. The Flashback keyword allows decks such as Dredge to get use out of the card without ever hard-casting it at all. Artifacts beware, the Gruul have a bone to pick with you.

#4 Damping Sphere 0.37
Really driving home the breakout success of Wet Ball described in last week’s article is this Top 5 placement. It is a potent hate card against Storm style combo decks and big mana decks such as Tron with no color restrictions of any kind. Expect to see it again in tomorrow’s article. It is a reasonable option for nearly every deck that it is not hurt by it. This ranking is even more impressive when you consider that this card did not even exist for the first four months of the year. If it were legal for the full year at this rate it would have been the most dominant sideboard card of 2018.

#3 Rest in Peace: 0.43
White is often described as the best sideboard color in the format and RiP is one of the key reasons. The lower half of our Top 10 contained three pieces of graveyard hate but they all pale in comparison to this card. Unlike Cage it will still have had an effect if removed, unlike Relic it cannot be overloaded, and unlike Surgical it entirely nukes the graveyard. At the very end of the year we even saw it begin to sneak into UW Miracles mainboards. Against some decks, such as Dredge, it is nearly two mana “I win the game” if not removed. Against others, such as Hollow One, it neutralizes half of their threats.

#2 Stony Silence: 0.44
The second piece of the puzzle for White’s sideboard dominance is Stony Silence. Stony and RiP have the same card type, identical mana cost, and were printed in the same block; coincidentally Grudge was as well. They were an intentional shot in the arm for White strategies and they have been extremely effective. What RiP does to graveyard decks, Stony does to artifact decks. Grudge can destroy two artifacts, but Stony often nerfs the entire opposing board. When it sticks, Stony is the best answer to artifact decks in the format.

#1 Nature’s Claim: 0.46
I imagine that many of you reading this were not expecting Nature’s Claim to be the top dog and honestly neither was I. After all, Green is perceived to be the weakest sideboard color and the other nine spots seem to fall in line with that. However, all of these decks we have talked about that do not function under RiP, Sphere, etc need a way to fight through them postboard. For most of those decks, Nature’s Claim is the answer. Some users like KCI do not care about giving the opponent life. Others, like Dredge, value the mana efficiency enough to make peace with it. This is the sideboard card that beats other sideboard cards, half our our Top 10 actually, and that is how it became Modern’s most dominant sideboard card of 2018.

This concludes our examination of the best sideboard cards of Modern 2018. The White options were pretty easy to predict but a few of these came way out of left field for me. Did anything catch you off guard? There has been significant curiosity from our readers about certain cards that missed the cut in previous articles so we will be getting more specific starting tomorrow. We will be back to close out the week with the Top 5 Artifact cards of the year. I hope to see you there.

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