Today I'm going to go over some cards that players need to be taking a closer look at when building their sideboards. In Modern, there are so many options that inevitably some cards get overlooked. This is especially true in the case of midrange decks, as they must carefully choose what matchups they want to target most with their sideboard.
A card that many players are familiar with, yet it very rarely sees play nowadays. Kor Firewalker is sometimes played in the sideboard of Burn for the mirror. The main uses of Kor Firewalker are against mono-red decks like Burn and Goblins. However, Burn remains one of the most popular decks in Modern, and many decks struggle against it. I understand not wanting to play a sideboard card that is narrow, but I don't understand playing worse life gain options out of the sideboard.
For instance, the typical life gain card in the sideboard of control decks right now is Timely Reinforcements. This is a card that is primarily for the Burn matchup, and if your opponent happens to draw a Skullcrack it may not do anything. In the case of Kor Firewalker, if you can get it down on turn two, you will win the game unless it immediately gets hit by Path to Exile. Kor Firewalker is a card I want to be playing if I think Burn is a top five deck in Modern, which will depend on the metagame.
Want a nice answer to Death's Shadow or Tamogoyf? Rather than killing the opponent's creature, how about taking it for yourself? Threads of Disloyalty can be a three-mana Mind Control in the right matchup. This is also a solid card against Collected Company decks. Taking a powerful two-drop like Devoted Druid or Voice of Resurgence with Threads of Disloyalty tends to be quite effective. The downside to Threads of Disloyalty is that some of the decks that it is good against may have access to enchantment removal. Overall this is still a niche sideboard card, but it should be seeing more play than it is currently.
Struggling against control, while playing a midrange green deck? I have a solution: Thrun, the Last Troll. This card will single-handedly destroy control decks. The fact that you can regenerate it provides a way to get around even sweepers like Supreme Verdict. This is essentially the Carnage Tyrant of Modern, the card that you can start putting in your sideboard when players are loading up on removal and countermagic. Thrun also is a solid option against the Black-Green based midrange strategies as well.
With Scapeshift and Chord of Calling decks becoming increasingly more popular, having a way to prevent the opponent from searching their library can be gamebreaking. You can also use Shadow of Doubt as a Stone Rain by casting it in response to the opponent activating a fetch land. There are ways to stop decks that aim to abuse tutor effects – dig deeper to find a card like Shadow of Doubt. Since Shadow of Doubt cantrips it is actually main deckable as well, and it will definitely catch the opponent completely off guard.
Most players are familiar with the effectiveness of Stony Silence against Affinity. The problem is you need to have white in your deck to play it, and there is no other card that provides a similar effect, right? Well Damping Matrix is very under the radar, but it does do a good job at shutting down cards like Cranial Plating and Arcbound Ravager. This is also a good card against Abzan Company decks, as cards like Walking Ballista, Duskwatch Recruiter and the untap effect of Devoted Druid are prevented. This is a card that any deck can play out of the sideboard, though it is true that artifact removal is more prevalent than enchantment removal.
Gaddock Teeg is one of the most powerful creatures in Modern. So how come more decks don't play Gaddock Teeg? The answer is that it hurts the opponent, but it can also hurt you. It is similar to a hate card like Blood Moon or Chalice of the Void, you need to construct your deck in a way that can effectively use it. Many green-white decks also play Collected Company, and unfortunately you can't cast that card with a Gaddock Teeg in play.
Right now, it is at its best as a sideboard cards in Bogles, but it should see play in more decks. One of the decks that struggles with Gaddock Teeg is Storm, as they really can't win while it is on the battlefield. I could see Gaddock Teeg making its way into a Naya Zoo deck, but right now that archetype isn't very popular.
Over the past few weeks, players have started to realize the strength of Runed Halo. The card can make it into your main deck as a versatile removal spell of sorts, but more often we see it in sideboards of control decks – and it can completely stop the opponent's best card, whether that's a hexproof creature with lots of auras attached to it, Eidolon of the Great Revel or a land like Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle. Expect to see Runed Halo continue to see more play, as it has many uses and can be a way for control decks to win otherwise very tough matchups.
There is more than one way to deal with artifacts or enchantments, but this deals with both. Compared to Creeping Corrosion, Fracturing Gust is one more mana but also an instant and a source of life gain. Stony Silence is often not good enough to win against Lantern Control, as it gets hit by a discard spell like Inquisition of Kozilek or because it is still tough to get past an Ensnaring Bridge. Fracturing Gust clearly is going to be great against the various artifact decks of the format, but it also is a way to beat Bogles. Fracturing Gust used to be played in Bant Eldrazi, but now it seems players are forgetting about it as a valuable sideboard option.
Storm is considered by many players to be the best deck in Modern at the moment, so how come there aren't more hate cards running around? Ethersworn Canonist makes a lot of sense in an Aether Vial or Collected Company strategy. Even if not against Storm, there are other spots where you would want Ethersworn Canonist, like against Living End or other weird combo strategies. This is not a card I like bringing in as an Affinity player, because the opponent will likely also be sideboarding in artifact hate.
These three cards are virtually identical, so it doesn't really matter which one you use, though obviously Black-Red decks would rather have Slaughter Games. Being able to take one key card out of both the opponents hand and library is a gamechanger. This is at its best against combo decks, where you can take away the key win condition of the opponent. If you have played a discard effect earlier in the game, a Memoricide will be even more effective, as you will know some of the cards in the opponent's hand. Most black midrange decks should consider adding a copy or two of this effect to their sideboard.
Keranos, God of Storms is certainly one of the most powerful win conditions ever printed. The nice part about Keranos is that most of the time it isn't a creature, so you can't deal with it by simply pointing a Path to Exile at it. In fact, it is very tough to deal with Keranos once it's in play, which makes it a great alternative win condition. We saw Keranos a lot in Blue-Red Splinter Twin decks when Twin was legal. It is a matter of finding a good sideboard strategy that it works well with, a deck like Blue-Red Breach or Blue Moon should certainly keep an eye on Keranos.
Ratchet Bomb is extremely flexible, while not being overly powerful. We have seen Tron decks play Ratchet Bomb, and I think it makes sense in Eldrazi Tron and Mono-Green Tron. These decks often don't have access to a ton of options as far as removal. Ratchet Bomb may not be a fast way to get cards off the board, but it gets the job done. This versatile sideboard card has the potential to come in for a ton of different matchups.
We don't see a ton of Charms in Modern, but Rakdos Charm has three effects that all have the potential to be very relevant. There are decks that play Kiki-Kiki, Mirror Breaker in order to copy a creature like Pestermite or Restoration Angel. Making infinite copies of a creature normally would be enough to win the game, but Rakdos Charm can steal a win against that combo. More often though you will be boarding in Rakdos Charm as artifact spot removal or graveyard hate. Rakdos Charm is a nice one-of in a deck like Jund or another midrange strategy.
I find it a little surprising how much we see of Supreme Verdict, compared to how little Damnation sees play. A lot of this has to do with the fact that black control decks are much tougher to build than white-blue ones. Still, sweepers remain extremely powerful against any creature based deck. There aren't many decks, if any, that want to main deck Damnation, but as a sideboard card it makes sense. Abzan and Jund Midrange do sometimes play a copy of Damnation, but it feels like a very powerful card that is being mostly ignored.
With the rise in big-mana decks, you would think that would also mean a rise in land destruction. Crumble to Dust can target a Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle or Tron land and completely cripple the opponent. This is a good way to disrupt the opponent's gameplan without playing a deck with all land destruction spells in it. While Fulminator Mage is still good against big mana strategies, sometimes it's not enough. Crumble to Dust does often need to be backed up by other disruption though, because destroying a land on turn four may not be fast enough.
Many Chord of Calling decks have added in a copy of Reclamation Sage to their 75, but the card is still underplayed. All Chord of Calling decks want access to at least one Reclamation Sage, and this is of course a Collected Company hit as well. Collected Company decks want to be able to play removal in the form of creatures, and Reclamation Sage is perfect for this. If you have not gotten the memo on Reclamation Sage or are thinking of cutting it, I wouldn't recommend it.
Thanks for reading,