We are back with another installment in the Ideas Unbound series. This is a more experimental series where we look at what could be rather than what is. It is easy to present a handful of Legacy cards that you want to see in Modern. It is much more difficult to brainstorm and develop new cards for the format. Today I would like to share my ideas for new cards that uplift existing cards, fixed versions of banned cards, and a fresh take on fetchlands. Afterwards, please come and share your ideas in our discussion group.
Missing Pieces of Nearly There Decks
I believe that the Modern format’s greatest trait is diversity. As a result, my favorite new cards are those that spawn new archetypes. An example would be the one-two punch of Kitesail Freebooter and Unclaimed Territory bringing Humans to the forefront; I was never impressed by the Bant Company builds. One upside of format diversity, apart from unique gameplay experiences, is the effect on the secondary market. Card prices are a function of supply and demand. The fewer playable decks in the format, the greater demand for the finite supply of staples. My goal for Modern Horizons is the genesis of at least three new Modern decks. Of course, I do not want these all to be Tier 1 decks that upend the current format. I just want them to be playable. So I am looking at old favorites that have yet to break through. I have always had a soft-spot for Isochron Scepter for example. We have Dramatic Reversal to net infinite mana with three mana worth of non-land mana producers but this asks too much. We would need the Scepter, the Reversal, the rocks/dorks, and a win condition. A game-winning, two-card combo would likely be too powerful as it is a four mana win that is immune to creature removal and lacks summoning sickness. Perhaps a two drop blue spell that says “Untap target land. Untap target artifact. Draw a card. It may be a little too on the nose but I do expect a bit of that considering that this set is designed to slot right into the format. In a Scepter deck with Karoo lands it would allow you to draw your deck and finish off the opponent with Simian Spirit Guide and Lightning Storm. This is just one idea and there are many hypothetical decks just waiting for the right card. Other cards just waiting to break would be Training Grounds, Protean Hulk, and Artificer’s Intuition.
Fixed Versions of Banned Cards
Simply put, there is nothing fun about a ban. It should always be a last resort as it takes the time and money that players have put into a deck and casts it into oblivion. While I personally do not buy into them, there are conspiracy theories about this sort of thing. A popular example is the banning of Birthing Pod immediately before the printing of Collected Company. I do not think that this was a conspiracy plot, but I would support it even if it was. Pod is and was too good for Modern and Collected Company gave a path forward for players to utilize the persist combos. I would like to see such things happen for other banned cards intentionally through Modern Horizons. A great example would be Deathrite Shaman. Drop him to a 0/1, leave the mana ability, but put the other two abilities together. Cost that ability at BG and word it as “Exile traget nonland card from a graveyard. Each opponent loses 1 life and you gain 1 life.” Another example would be the Delve cantrips; Dig Through Time and Treasure Cruise. Maro has stated that they dislike Delve as it is too difficult to cost. I personally believe that they are not utilizing restrictive costs effectively. Is Treasure Cruise an issue if it costs 5UB and says “Draw three cards. You lose three life.”? I do not believe so. I also loathe the unplayability of equipment in Modern. Is Jitte too powerful if we change the wording to “combat damage to a player“? Again, I do not believe so. A power level adjustment sweet spot exists for every banned card and I want to see WotC take another crack at them.
Painless Single-Type Fetchlands
The most direct and simplistic new card idea I want is a slam dunk. I want fetchlands that find only one land type and do not cost life to use. For example, Scalding Tarn in Izzet Phoenix is great as for the low cost of one life it finds Steam Vents, Island, and Mountain. However, the choice of secondary blue fetchland is irrelevant. Flooded Strand, Polluted Delta, and Misty Rainforest all find only Steam Vents and Island; they are strictly worse than Scalding Tarn in this deck. My proposition is that Modern Horizons prints one painless fetchland for each land type. Izzet Phoenix would then run Scalding Tarn and the blue version of the proposed card. The land would still be unable to find basic Mountain but it would not cost life and could find Island or Steam Vents; any blue shockland really. It would simply say “Sacrifice ~: Search your library for an Island and put it onto the battlefield. Then shuffle your library.” Along these lines we would see Burn run the red one, Golgari Rock would run the black one, Titanshift would run the green one, and so on. I suppose that mono-colored decks like 8 Whack could even utilize them for landfall, deck thinning, and grave stocking. So you may be asking, “What is the point?” Well first of all, it is a small but tangible reward for running bi-color decks. It makes little sense for bi-color decks to be forced into the same level of fetchland life payments as tri-color decks. More important, would be the effect on the secondary market. The announcement that Modern Horizons would not feature Modern-legal reprints triggered a significant price jump for all fetchlands; especially the enemy-colored set. Again, this is a function of supply and demand. This announcement locked in the supply for the foreseeable future. So what can we do to reduce their prices? Simply decrease the demand for them. The availability of single-type fetchlands would reduce the overall demand for all existing fetchlands. They would still be superior and more expensive than the single-type set but we would start to see their prices drop as, for example, Polluted Delta begins to only appear in UBx decks. This would be a huge win for WotC and the Modern community at large.
I had a lot of fun writing this one as game design is a hobby of mine. I honestly do not believe that Modern Horizons will be quite this exciting but I am trying to be optimistic. What do you expect from it? Do you have a nearly there deck and what card does it need? What banned card would you fix and how would you do it? Would your deck run single-type fetchlands? I love discussing this stuff so please bring your ideas to our discussion group. Or if you would like to take a swing at writing content for the site you can contact us directly here. We will be back tomorrow with our Modern spoiler review for War of the Spark. Until then my friends.