Throne of Eldraine continues the trend of Standard releases having a huge impact in Modern, and last week I explored the most important cards that immediately made their way to the format. Now we've had another week to play with the set, so I went deeper down the rabbit hole to see if any other new cards appeared in successful decks, and I wasn't disappointed. A wide variety of new cards are being used in all sorts of applications, from being the flagship of entire decks to more subtle roles.
Fires of Invention stands out as one of the most potentially broken cards in Throne of Eldraine for Modern, so I was surprised to not see it appear last week. Now it has emerged in exciting fashion in a couple different strategies.
Fires of Invention breaks Savor the Moment by getting around its steep drawback, eliminating the need to actually tap lands for mana. That's a really strong interaction, especially when that extra turn comes with Fires of Invention's ability to cast a second spell for free. That makes this combination the perfect core for a new style of the Taking Turns deck, as played by none other than LSV to a 5-0 League finish.
Howling Mine and Dictate of Kruphix add even more value to extra turns taken by Savor the Moment, keeping Fires of Invention burning bright with plenty of fuel. The Taking Turns deck has long been a solidly tier 2 or 3 Modern strategy, but Throne of Eldraine has drastically changed its fortunes. Fires of Invention is an awesome innovation that makes the deck feel much more potent, bringing it closer to becoming a true combo deck and potentially the top tier. But it's not the most important addition to the strategy.
The real improvement is Mystic Sanctuary, which works incredibly well for reusing Time Walk effects. Last week I discussed it as one of the most important additions to the format and shared a Taking Turns deck that included a copy to fetch, but LSV's list makes the most of it with a full playset. He also includes Castle Vantress, an addition with low opportunity cost compared to an Island but plenty of upside in the grindiest matchups, where it can help filter draws in the late game.
Fires of Invention has also appeared in an As Foretold shell, where it offers the same functionality of being able to cast suspend spells with a converted mana cost of zero like Ancestral Vision and Restore Balance.
Fires of Invention adds some much-needed redundancy to the As Foretold strategy, which together with Electrodominance now really has as critical mass of ways to cast its free spells. Fires of Invention offers the upside of being able to cast all sorts of spells for free, and the deck takes advantage of that by adding a Fae of Wishes // Granted package.
While Fae of Wishes // Granted isn't exactly efficient, that doesn't matter with Fires of Invention in play. The ability to tutor for any spell outside of the game, and maybe even immediately cast it for free, is incredibly powerful.
First and foremost it's used to access a copy of Restore Balance in the sideboard, so it acts like additional copies in the maindeck. This illuminates the fact that, at its core, this is a combo deck based around its interaction with Greater Gargadon. The rest of the sideboard is full of hosers, but one slot is cleverly reserved for Finale of Promise, which can be used to cast any of the zero-mana spells from the graveyard. This deck is rounded out by Chalice of the Void, and the sideboard keeps this in mind by including hosers that get around it with things like the delve of Magmatic Sinkhole and the replicate of Shattering Spree.
The versatility of Fae of Wishes // Granted is so great that it's also being explored in fair decks, like this Stoneblade deck that is happy to play the Faerie as a flying creature to wear Sword of Feast and Famine.
A robust, evasive creature for wearing equipment is a nice bonus, but the real draw of Fae of Wishes // Granted for this deck is access to its sideboard full of hosers. Traditionally, midrange decks like Stoneblade live and die on the backs of their sideboards and are unfavored in game one against most opponents but improve considerably in games two and three. Fae of Wishes helps these decks get access to those cards in game one and steal some they might otherwise have no business winning. At four mana, this wish effect isn't cheap. It's downright slow for a format as fast as Modern, so the sideboard is built with efficiency in mind, featuring cheap solutions like Surgical Extraction and Pithing Needle that can hopefully be deployed immediately.
Another inclusion is the new Mystical Dispute, which is quite an efficient option against other blue decks. With Snapcaster Mage to recast spells like this and other spells like Timely Reinforcements, the deck can get further mileage from its wish package and further justify the inclusion of Fae of Wishes // Granted. Whether or not this is someone just playing around or the real deal remains to be seen. The deck has not only earned a League 5-0, but also narrowly missed the Top 8 of the Modern Challenge last weekend with a 9th-place finish.
A surprising Throne of Eldraine card being built around in Modern is Gilded Goose, where it joins Birds of Paradise as a mana accelerator that can produce all five colors of mana. It comes with the severe drawback of only getting one use before needing to produce Food, but that doesn't matter for this flying-theme deck based around Empyrean Eagle that can just start attacking with the Goose after it has produced a mana.
The spent body of Gilded Goose is also a fine target for Aven Mimeomancer or the +1 of Oko, Thief of Crowns, either of which turn it into a real threat. The printing of another one-drop mana accelerator is a big deal for this deck, which is essentially a tribal deck in disguise, held together by the flying keyword. Now it has the critical mass of these to consistently play one on the first turn and get the jump-start a deck like this needs to be competitive.
Gilded Goose requires Food tokens to function, but this drawback is also a whole secondary ability that offers great utility into the late game as a mana sink that generates value. It's not going to be effective in every matchup, but in those that it does, Gilded Goose will be an invaluable tool that functions like half of a Deathrite Shaman, which is not a bad place to be. This ability will be at its best in more controlling decks that can extend the game and grind out aggressive opponents, like this Sultai midrange deck that also takes advantage of its flying ability to help enable Ninja Ingenious Infiltrator.
When Grumgully, the Generous was spoiled, there was some discussion on social media about its combo with Murderous Redcap, which, as a fellow Goblin, opens up the potential for a combo contained entirely within the tribe—enabled by Skirk Prospector or Sling-Gang Lieutenant as a sacrifice outlet. Now that Throne of Eldraine is here, we're seeing the combo put into action.
This deck fits a copy of both Grumgully, the Generous and Murderous Redcap into a large toolbox of Goblins, leaning on Goblin Matron to assemble it. Grumgully's effect is pretty strong in general as an alternative sort of anthem, so it doesn't cost much to fit a copy in. Murderous Redcap is also a pretty strong card on its own, so with a set of Skirk Prospector in the deck anyways, it all adds up to a huge increase in potential power level for a low cost. It's the perfect capstone to the many other cards Goblins gained this year and one that could help the tribe finally make it in Modern.
The decklist takes a very conservative approach to Grumgully, but another take uses a full playset and shows it can be the centerpiece of a dedicated combo deck.
This list takes Grumgully further by putting it alongside not just Murderous Redcap but Putrid Imp, which at just two mana has the potential for a faster combo. Add Skirk Prospector, and the deck can generate infinite red mana as early as turn three. Pashalik Mons comes in as a mana sink to convert this engine to a win, and the deck plays two copies of Sling-Gang Lieutenant as an alternative sacrifice outlet that can win the game.
It's always scary when one of Modern's old established archetypes gains a new card, because these decks are so refined at this point that anything new must by definition be very efficient or powerful. A good example was when Skewer the Critics made it into Burn as an upgrade over previous options like Shard Volley. While it's not so easy to evaluate, the deck might have just gained another powerful tool in Bonecrusher Giant // Stomp.
The Adventure side of Bonecrusher Giant, Stomp, is simply a Burn spell—although an inefficient one—that comes with the value of a creature attached. Traditionally, Burn isn't super interested in creatures because they allow the opponent to just trade with removal, but Bonecrusher Giant helps get around that by damaging the opponent if they destroy it, much like Eidolon of the Great Revel. It is contained by blockers, but otherwise it's a large threat and real tool for the deck. Stomp's secondary ability of preventing damage being prevented will also be a very nice tool in the arsenal of the deck against hosers and can even turn off some of the functionality of protection from red on creatures like Kor Firewalker and allow them to trade in combat with red creatures.
Whether or not Burn actually wants to take this slower and grindier approach isn't clear, and I imagine in this combo-centric metagame with Amulet Titan and Urza decks that it's not ideal, but there are certainly matchups where it would excel. With this extra value combined with the fuel provided by Sunbaked Canyon, the deck would really be able to grind against opponents, whether it's taking a control role against an aggressive opponent or outlasting the disruption of a control deck.
There were also quite a few new cards that appeared this week that are not being entirely built around but add more subtle improvements to established archetypes.
A great example is Glass Casket, which has appeared as a one-of bullet for Whir of Invention in Whirza decks. The ability to tutor for a removal spell could prove critical, especially as an answer for a hoser like Collector Ouphe that the deck's traditional answers to creatures, like Ensnaring Bridge and Pyrite Spellbomb, won't deal with.
Wishclaw Talisman stands out as one of the more powerful cards in Modern—something like a Grim Tutor—but with a steep drawback. The best and easiest way to mitigate it is to just win the game immediately, before the opponent ever gets a chance to use it. The Ad Nauseam combo deck is the perfect candidate. Historically, it has been so hungry for the effect that it has turned to extreme measures like Spoils of the Vault, but it can now turn to the more reliable Wishclaw Talisman.
A subtle but significant upgrade to the Prime Speaker Vannifar strategy is Corridor Monitor, which can be used to skip through the chain of tutor effects to get to more powerful creatures. Traditionally the deck has used cards like Deceiver Exarch and even Breaching Hippocamp, but Corridor Monitor replaces them all by combining it with Renegade Rallier.
The chain starts by using Prime Speaker Vannifar to turn a one-mana accelerator into Corridor Monitor. It's then sacrificed to find Renegade Rallier, which returns it right back to play for another untap before being converted to Restoration Angel, which then blinks the Corridor Monitor and resets Prime Speaker Vannifar for another go. Restoration Angel is then converted into Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, which finally copies Corridor Monitor to create an infinite loop and a massive army of hasty Constructs to attack the opponent.
Add Once Upon a Time for consistency—not to mention the recent upgrade of Giver of Runes, and even a Stoneforge Mystic package for a secondary plan—and you have a deck that has come a long way from when Prime Speaker Vannifar was first printed but failed to gain a real competitive foothold.
Adam Yurchick is a competitive Magic player and writer. He writes about Modern and Eternal formats and keeps a weather eye on shifts in the metagame.