Ultimate Masters is on our doorstep! With the set so close to release it seems valuable to know what cards are most sought after right now. Keep in mind that because this is a Masters set the cards we are talking about should be familiar to those who play older formats like Modern and Legacy.
This one you might find somewhat surprising. Vexing Devil isn't a card that sees play in most tier one Modern decks. That said, it does have a place in the format, as a card players love to play with. Giving the opponent a choice in a game of Magic is always fun, and there will often be times when the opponent will take the four damage, or let Vexing Devil stay in play when they should be doing the opposite. The home for Vexing Devil is in aggressive red based beatdown decks like this one.
Experiment One and Pelt Collector play very well alongside Vexing Devil, as they are looking for cheap creatures that can allow them to evolve. There is a good argument for Vexing Devil being more important than Lightning Bolt in this deck because of that synergy.
Here is a card that has been one of the best and most played sideboard cards in Modern over the past few years. It is mostly better than a straightforward Stone Rain effect because it is also a creature. By being a creature you can not only attack and block, but also sometimes there are going to be cards like Liliana, the Last Hope or Scavenging Ooze that play well alongside other creatures. This is mostly a way to attack Tron, Valakut, and control decks, but can get sideboarded in for other matchups as well.
There is one deck that comes to mind that does make good use of Fulminator Mage in the main deck: Living End.
The ability to use Fulminator Mage and then return it from the graveyard to play can be backbreaking. Most decks in Modern play a mana base that consists primarily of nonbasic lands.
Being able to cast a spell without paying mana for it is extremely powerful. The price point is also low as getting this card for $2-3 seems more than reasonable. Nourishing Shoal does have a home in the Grishoalbrand deck.
The idea here is that you can kill your opponent in a single turn after getting a Griselbrand on the battlefield. Nourishing Shoal allows you to gain enough life to continuously activate Griselbrand and then win by getting Borborygmos Enraged into play. The card is also naturally great against aggressive deck like Burn.
Fauna Shaman is a really fun tutor effect green decks have access to. There are definitely a variety of green decks that are relying on finding specific creatures to combo off and win the game. The Postmortem Evolution deck not only uses Fauna Shaman as a tutor but also as an important discard outlet.
Phyrexian Altar is a card that was printed what seems like forever ago, back in Invasian block. Now that the price has come down it is a much more attractive buy, as it sees play both in Legacy and a variety of more casual formats as well.
There are multiple Goryo's Vengeance cards on this list. That indicates that players have been looking to try out Goryo's Vengeance decks, but may not have had access to the cards until now. This is a card that often is going to straight-up win the game for only two mana, as it is played in decks that have very high impact legendary creatures to put into the graveyard. Griselbrand is the creature we are most used to seeing perhaps coming into play from a Goryo's Vengeance, but here is a deck that revolves around getting Emrakul, the Aeons Torn into play instead.
Spoils of the Vault is a card decks like this can play to find a combo piece when there is no better option. Sarkhan, Firebood is interesting here to go alongside Squee, Goblin Nabob to be able to loot through your deck if there is no early Goryo's Vengence. The key is properly timing when your Emrakul, the Aeons Torn goes to the graveyard. You want to discard it, and then with the trigger on the stack of it shuffling into your library, bring it into play with Goryo's Vengeance.
We know where Celestial Colonnade fits – White-Blue Control. In many cases this card becomes a very important way to win the game. After sideboard specifically, decks will have very little removal to deal with Celestial Colonnade. Putting this card in your control deck should be a given, and right now White-Blue Control is one of the best decks in Modern.
The fact that Foil has been reprinted at common is why it has gotten so much hype, as it may very well become a Pauper staple and should play quite nicely alongside of Gush. This card is very similar to Force of Will. It will sometimes see play in Legacy, though normally after you put four Force of Will in your deck.
Here is another card that plays well along with huge gamebreaking creatures. There are definitely plenty of decks Through the Breach fits into from Sneak and Show to Goryo's Vengeance strategies. I also have been really liking it alongside of Primeval Titan to start getting those Valakut, the Molten Pinnacles to trigger earlier in the game.
Noble Hierarch might be the most played nonland card in all of Magic right now, so it should come as no surprise to see it at the top of the list here. This is the best creature mana accelerator we have ever seen, and it goes well into most green creature decks. This is a card that allows you to get your most powerful cards on the table a turn earlier, and the exalted allows for better attacks. There are a bunch of decks to choose from that play Noble Hierarch, but I'm going to go with one of my favorites right now, Bant Spirits.
The fact that Noble Hierarch is played in this deck should speak to its power level since it's the only non-Spirit in the deck.
This was my first time writing an article like this, hopefully I will get a chance to again!
Thanks for reading,