First things first: In last week's comments, people came out mostly in favor of Rebecca Guay's cycle of basic lands from Commander 2016 and their throwback paint-and-canvas style. Today, Guay's cycle isn't in the top 5, or the top 10, or even the top 20. That's a bummer.
This column has its own set of patterns and tendencies. Cards tend to stick to the list better than they fall off. Sure, there's the occasional Skred takeover, but for the most part, the usual suspects — Aether Hub, Harnessed Lightning, Blossoming Defenses, stuff of that ilk — aren't going anywhere. But Guay's lands vanished without a trace.
The human temptation to turn noise into a signifier is omnipresent. I fell for it last week, after all:
"Hopefully WotC's paying attention to how much attention these lands are getting (they certainly are), and their success heralds card flavor that can't be summed up in '[GOOD GUY CHARACTER] TRIUMPHS OVER [MONSTER MADE OF HELL SPAGHETTI].'"
Chalk up another win for the hell spaghetti. The hype over Guay's Commander 2016 basics was a flash in the pan. I still have hope that the attention they got moved the needle even a little bit towards more art like hers, but yeah. None of those cards hit the top ten this week. And that's a bummer.
Red's most efficient removal spells — Harnessed Lightning, Galvanic Bombardment — don't go to the dome like they did in years past. This is a good development; now R&D can design red removal spells to be strong without having to worry about them ending the game single-handedly by going toward a player's head. Galvanic Bombardment would be a better Lightning Bolt if it hit players too, and Lightning Bolt's one of Modern's best cards, so it's probably for the best that Galvanic Bombardment can only hit creatures.
Cathartic Reunion sees moderate play in Standard, but is a bonafide game-changer in Modern, rocketing the already-powerful Dredge deck to the top echelon of decks in the format. Spirebluff Canal also enjoys cross-format play. I got a good Panharmonicon combo in last weeks' comments; keep them coming! The rules for Panharmonicon infinite combos:
-It has to use at least five unique cards
-One has to be from Ice Age
-One has to be from Mirage
Whichever infinite Panharmonicon combo I like the best will get a prize: my eternal respect. This can be exchanged for a Facebook like.
Time to break out that dual-land boilerplate!
Here's what makes dual-lands good: basic lands create only one color of mana. That means the baseline value of a land is that it makes one mana of one color. Any time a land is able to cheat on this principle, its value is higher than the value of a basic land. This is why lands like these generally have some sort of qualifier, or drawback, built in. Sometimes the drawbacks are too great, like with Lotus Vale or Cinder Marsh, for them to have more value than a basic land. However, the drawback on the Kaladesh rare dual-land cycle is barely a drawback, yielding value way past the value of a basic land. That is why Concealed Courtyard and Blooming Marsh are Good Wizard Squares.
Remember when this card was poised to take over the world? When there were 32 out of 32 Smuggler's Copters in that first Kaladesh-legal Open? Those were the days, am I right?
Thraben Inspector is a great, solidly designed card that will hopefully see many more iterations, if not reprints. I've played a lot of it since Shadows over Innistrad was released, but my fondest memory of it will be having it completely dunk on Bomat Courier. I get the appeal of playing Raging Goblin, but in a world with Thraben Inspector? Noooooo thanks.
Whenever I'm driving to a GP or PPTQ these days, I'm listening to Limited Resources. I can't recommend it enough. On a recent episode, Luis Scott-Vargas notes that a card that does lots of things can be great even if it doesn't necessarily do them well. The point is that flexibility is a trait that often goes underrated on cards. Blessed Alliance is one such card, but the trick here is that not only does it do a lot, but it does them all well.
I said it last week, but it bears repeating: most of the time, stuff like Servant of the Conduit sucks; Sylvan Caryatid may have seen play, but Utopia Tree didn't. But Servant of the Conduit is another card that does lots of things: fuels energy synergies, fixes mana, and more.
Team Unified Modern seems a lot more fun on paper than it actually ends up being. Being a format dictated by linear decks and the powerful sideboard cards that fight them, having only one of three decks able to access Rest in Peace, Stony Silence, Blood Moon, Choke, etc. gives players even more incentive to play fragile linears than before. The fact that they don't take cards away from other decks is a fringe benefit; Infect and Dredge saw a ton of play last weekend because those two decks don't steal cards from the black/green-based midrange decks Modern stalwarts are so fond of.
Ravenous Trap surfaced last weekend as a Team Unified Modern-friendly answer to Dredge. Don't expect it to hang around this column long-term; Rest in Peace is still miles better.
Ranger's Guile for Grown-Ups! Blossoming Defense is a good card. It's kind of surprising that it's seeing Modern play, but it checks a lot of the boxes for the format: it's efficient, it's flexible, and it stops Infect from losing. Pretty deece.
I thought this card was bad, once upon a time. Ha! What is knowledge, anyway? And who cares? It snowed two feet in Syracuse last night. I'm going to build in igloo and live in it forever. Eternal winter starts today.
The coldly efficient energy cards — Harnessed Lightning, Aether Hub, Servant of the Conduit — are desired in all energy decks. Not all energy decks want all energy cards, but these three are vanilla and efficient enough that any energy deck will want them given that the deck in question is red and green (most are). So expect to see those three cards in this column for a long, long time.
Thanks for reading. See you Friday.