Modern Set Review: Throne of Eldraine

Spoiler season has come to an end on Throne of Eldraine and there was a lot to be excited for. Going into it, players said that WotC would look to drop the power level after War of the Spark’s peak but that clearly was not the case. On todays list we will look at the most interesting Modern cards from the new set with a Top 5 and what looks to be the next great Modern staple. The full spoiler is available here.

Dishonorable Mention: Deafening Silence
We already trashed this one on our Facebook page but I have to at least mention it here. I am glad that they finally pushed a Rule of Law effect. Three mana was a ludicrous cost. This is functionally identical at a steep discount; nobody was boarding this in to stop creature spells. That being said, it is not attractive in 2019 Modern at all. Spell-based combos like Storm and Neobrand are Tier 3 at best. No, these effects are not good against Burn; they play one spell on their turn and one on theirs so it barely slows them. We will need to see ramp decks virtually disappear and spell-based combo explode for this to be worth running over Damping Sphere. It will be good when WotC inevitably breaks the format with a spell-based combo though.

Honorable Mention: Drown in the Loch
I have a lot of trouble evaluating this card. The ceiling is a two mana modal instant where you choose Murder or Counterspell; the best interactive spell ever printed? The floor is that it literally lacks text. Most of the spells in Modern cost one or two and most Modern decks put that many cards into their own graveyard early. Who will run it though? The only currently succeeding UBx deck is Grixis Shadow and between Fatal Push and Stubborn Denial their interactive suite is already great. Perhaps a couple copies show up in the rare UBx control decks? Of course the greatest home for it will be Mill, where the ceiling is very easy to reach. We are already working on this one. Stay tuned.

#5 Brazen Borrower
Thanks to our #1 spot, I have mostly neglected my testing of adventure cards but this mythic representative of the keyword shows promise. In general, bounce effects are quite underwhelming. Disperse fails to even see Standard play when it is legal. They are temporary answers to permanent-based problems and are card disadvantage. This one is not card disadvantage though. After you fire it off you have a Vendilion Clique body, flash included, waiting in the wings for the rest of the game. This seems great for the near-extinct Faerie decks. Between Vendilion and Spellstutter the deck always had pseudo-targeted discard and a counterspell. Now they will have a way to force opposing permanents back to the opponent’s hand or onto the stack. It may also be playable in Stoneblade and control decks. It is a fine card that will see fringe play. I do have to point out though that the flavor of this card sucks. Theft and borrowing have nothing to do with the effect of the card. This was very clearly switched out during development and they never adjusted the naming or art.

#4 Hushbringer
They finally put their foot down with a Torpor Orb effect. The artifact itself was not worthwhile if you could not Whir for it. Tocatli Honor Guard was too mopey even for the creature toolbox decks. This one, in the current format, has potential though. Tocatli Honor Guard has given up a single point of toughness to gain flying, lifelink, and the ability to shut off death triggers. This is amazing against Humans, SFM decks, and even shuts down the Thopter Sword combo. An unnoticed large chunk of the format is disrupted by such an effect. The hard part is finding a deck where you are not disrupting yourself by playing it. The first three that come to mind are Burn, Devoted Vizier, and Bogles. These decks generally do not care about the effect and would love to gain some point in the matchups mentioned. It is only a sideboard card, but one that we all will be quite familiar with soon.

#3 Charming Prince
Of course I had to give a shout out to the fresh prince. Will is the most enticing human printed since the Ixalan block put it on the map. The bugle boy is a close second though. This one though may just be more than a flex slot. This could be the human that finally pushes us to modify the maindeck. The best way I have found to look at this card, is as a Serum Visions. Would Modern Humans pay one more for Serum Visions if they could cast/Vial it and the drawn card was always a zero mana 2/2 human? What if you had the option to gain three life or flicker a creature instead of scrying? That is absurd flexibility and intense value potential. It is a human, it is a two drop, and it gets better with Aether Vial. This card was tailor-made for Modern Humans and you can expect to see it in a sideboard guide as early as next week.

#2 Emry, Lurker of the Loch
I must admit that I overlooked the lady of the lake during spoiler season. I saw a three drop that dies to Bolt and requires a turn to start netting value so I kept scrolling. Turns out that this little lady will usually cost a single mana and in Modern Whirza it can happen as early as Turn 1; it plays eight cheerios after all. That being said, only Foundry and Bauble will naturally fill the graveyard for her to take effect. Thankfully, she starts that value train on her own by milling you for four. The typical Whirza list plays twenty-eight artifacts and the resulting probabilities of her ETB are below.

Artifacts Probability
0 7.4%
1 28.5%
2 38.4%
3 21.5%
4 4.2%

You can use these odds to find the weighted average: 1.87 artifacts upon entry. She is particularly great in conjunction with Mishra’s Bauble as you will be drawing an extra card every turn for the rest of the game. While this all sounds great, I must admit that she is quite random and slow. She may be more efficient than Goblin Engineer but finding exactly what you need in a combo-toolbox deck is invaluable. Furthermore, she works great alongside Goblin Engineer; not in lieu of.

So I am not entirely sure where Whirza goes from here. Do they just add a couple copies? Do they add more sacrificing artifacts and max out on her? Or just pass on her entirely? Beyond that, she may enable an archetype of her own or revive a dormant one. Traditional Whir Prison or maybe even Jeskai Ascendancy? Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government but this one has a lot of potential in Modern.

#1 Once Upon A Time
If you follow our social media, you likely already know how I feel about this card. I believe that, apart from Hogaak, this is 2019’s most powerful Modern card. This goes toe-to-toe with Noble Hierarch as the best green spell in the format. When you add a playset of these to your deck, 39% of hands will come with a free Ancient Stirrings. This Ancient Stirrings can find any color of creature though; the drawback being it misses non-creature artifacts and planeswalkers. If you have played a green Eldrazi deck, you know how powerful this effect can be. Free spells are always alarming and this one is no different.

Even when it is not free this is a solid effect. If you are playing a low-curve deck you will often be able to cast this and play the creature you find immediately. If you are playing a high-curve deck you will be able to use this to hit your land drops; think of it as a Rampant Growth but the land enters untapped. This will be powerful in combo decks, ramp decks, and creature decks. I have been testing it for about two weeks now and have been blown away. The reduction in mulligans alone is an absurd boon; I can only imagine its potential under the old Vancouver rules. Next week we will have an entire article focused on the statistics and applications of this card in Modern.

I do believe that covers the strongest contenders for Modern playability from Throne of Eldraine. I was extremely excited for the flavor of this set and though I was a bit underwhelmed on that front, the power level was exceptional. How do you think we did on the ranking? Anything over or underrated? Was there anything that we left off? Please share your thoughts with us in 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 another article for you to enjoy. Until then my friends.

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