We have finally come to the end of our 2018 retrospective. Many of you looked over color week and asked “where are the multicolor cards?”. We have heard you and today we are breaking them down. These are the dominant cards that were excluded from the mono-colored rankings.
The following cards have been ranked by dominance rating using data from mtgtop8.com. 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. These cards have had their mainboard and sideboard dominance ratings summed when applicable. Cards with a mixed color identity, even if it is not in their mana cost, are the focus.
Honorable Mention Bloodbraid Elf: 0.28
This honorable mention would have made the lists if our methodology differed. As it stands, a card that is not truly multi-colored but has a dual-color identity pushed it out of the Top 5. However, this once banned card is extremely powerful and should not be overlooked. Cascade is an all but guaranteed two for one and when stapled on a sizable haste creature you have the perfect balance between aggression and card advantage. This card put Jund back on the map and we will talk more about that tomorrow.
#5 Meddling Mage: 0.31
A key to the success of Humans in 2018, Meddling Mage did not see considerable play until this past year. At most it was a sideboard bullet for Bant Company decks but all of that changed with printing of Unclaimed Territory. In the Humans deck it has the obvious tribal synergies however it goes above and beyond in conjunction with Reflector Mage and Kitesail Freebooter. Either card in conjunction with Meddling Mage will let you know exactly what to name. This card rewards format knowledge but in the Humans deck you will often have additional information and it makes a world of difference.
#4 Mantis Rider: 0.31
The Humans deck is not purely about disruption though. Mantis is a key piece of their most aggressive starts. The mana cost is strict but the Humans deck rarely has trouble casting it with their dozen five-color lands. The reward is a 3/3 for three mana with keywords that work together perfectly. Vigilance is better with flying as it allows you to take advantage of the evasive attack without giving up the ability to block opposing flyers. Furthermore, Haste means that you may use the evasion immediately and Vigilance means that you will never encounter the awkward situation where you want to make use of Haste but need a blocker. It is simple, effective, and quietly efficient.
#3 Reflector Mage: 0.32
Yet another creature from the Humans deck makes an appearance. We have seen many takes on Man-o’-War over the years but in more recent times they have been underpowered. Reflector broke the mold and actually had to be banned during its time in Standard. They decided that this unsummon-on-a-stick needed to be a 2/3 and buy an additional turn. This tempo gain is absurd in normal play as you will play your creature, have it bounced, be prevented from recasting it for a turn, take a turn to recast, and then finally get to attack with it on the following turn. So if you expected to play a creature on Turn 2 and attack with it on Turn 3, you now must wait to attack with it until Turn 5. At which point you have paid for it twice and it may be outsized by the opposing board. This power level leads to it seeing play in non-Human decks as well such as Bant Spirits.
#2 Lightning Helix: 0.36
Last week I covered in detail how ridiculously powerful Lightning Bolt is in the Modern format. Well it turns out that if you staple it on the much less powerful Healing Salve, it is still quite powerful. For two mana at instant speed this card allows you to swing a race in your favor by six points or perhaps more when used as removal. Burn decks utilize it to stay ahead in close games and heal off Eidolon recoil. Jeskai decks use it to control opposing boards while buffering their life total. In a Bolt format, one of the best things you could do is play a card that effectively is a Bolt and reverses the effect of an opposing Bolt. It says a lot when a weaker Bolt is the second best multicolor spell in the format.
#1 Ancient Grudge: 0.36
Finally we come to the mixed color identity card that pushed Bloodbraid out of the Top 5. As explained before, this is one of the best sideboard cards in the format and was the only card requiring multiple colors to make that list; dominance ratings favor fewer colors. It is the format’s best Shatter effect as the flashback keyword allows you to set up a two-for-one. To really put it over the top though, Faithless Looting decks commonly bin it and then utilize the flashback without ever casting it normally. This card advantage and the mana efficiency motivate some decks, such as Hollow One, to splash green for just this one card. This popularity allows it to take our top spot as the format’s most dominant multicolor spell.
While I have enjoyed writing pieces for our 2018 retrospective, I am very excited to finally move on and focus on the format as it stands. It is an exciting time with the B&R update coming to pass and Ravnican Allegiance dropping on Friday. We will have articles on the effect of each later this week but we will be back tomorrow with a new member of the writing team presenting his tournament report for SCG Worcester. Bloodbraid fans stay tuned we are getting ready to Jund ’em out.