There are two indisputably true about Modern right now: the format desperately needs help to solve the Scam/Up the Beanstalk problem and that very soon, The Lost Caverns of Ixalan will become playable. Naturally I’m hoping the second truth addresses the first.
While I don’t think there is much in the way of revolutionizing Modern from LCI, I do believe the set has some cards that can make an impact. With enough small changes, eventually we’ll be free from Scam n’ Beans, right?…..right?!
Anyway, let’s take a look at some new tools
Given Echoing Deeps only taps for colorless mana, it is kind of restricted to a few decks. Tron is potentially one, but there isn’t a lot of wiggle room in the manabase, and there aren’t as many lands going to the graveyard either.
But Echoing Deeps does fit in a niche, but seemingly powerful home in Hardened Scales. This is a deck with a lot of colorless utility lands and it importantly contains Urza’s Saga. In fact, Scales is arguably the best Saga deck in Modern given its high density of artifacts, ensuring the Construct tokens it produces are massive.
We’ve seen Jund decks in the past rebuying Urza’s Saga with Wrenn and Six, which was a powerful interaction in a deck with a relatively low artifact count.
Also not for nothing, Scales is also an Inkmoth Nexus deck, which will only go to the graveyard if the opponent removes it. But being able to copy it with Echoing Deeps adds a little more resiliency against the decks with a lot of black or red removal.
The Amulet Titan community seems to have already agreed that Spelunking will be a strong addition to an already strong deck. Spelunking operates as a blend of Explore and Amulet of Vigor, which is an interesting and powerful mix for a deck that wants very specific effects.
The way the “lands you control enter the battlefield untapped” clause works with lands that come into play tapped (like Simic Growth Chamber) is as follows: both Spelunking’s clause and the comes into play tapped clause on lands are both replacement effects, and since you control both replacement effects, you choose which you’d like to apply.
Explore sees on and off play as a flex slot in Amulet when the deck needs to win the game faster, but it isn’t a particularly desirable card in a lot of situations. However, if you strap it to an Amulet of Vigor, which also increases the deck’s access to its key engine card, the deck ends up being faster and more consistent, which is a scary thought.
Molten Collapse is so so close to being an absolute powerhouse…if it weren’t for that pesky Sorcery word. I get it, Molten Collapse would be way better than Modern mainstay Terminate at that point. But in a world of Leyline Bindings, I think we can make two color removal spells a bit better.
That being said, I can picture Molten Collapse showing up in Scam decks in small numbers, particularly when Hammer is popular. Part of the reason Hammer is so good against Scam is the deck has a lot of trouble removing Colossus Hammer and Sigarda’s Aid from the battlefield.
With either of those cards in play, Scam really needs to be able to interact at instant speed or risk every attacker being a lethal threat. Molten Collapse is a pretty easy two for one against a deck that really doesn’t operate well on minimal resources, and Molten Collapse gives Rakdos decks an easy out to the problematic noncreature permanents out of Hammer.
There are other matchups, like Hardened Scales and potentially Amulet, where Molten Collapse could shine. Really, it is about identifying decks with one mana engine cards, and enough creatures to make both halves active with enough frequency to turn this into a cheaper Kolaghan’s Command-esque card.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see a couple pop up in some Scam sideboards in coming weeks. Every time I see Molten Collapse, I’ll think about what almost was if it were just an Instant.
Terrain’s Soulcleaver looks kind of innocuous, but it is entirely possible that this pointy stick leads to some crazy Hardened Scales kills out of nowhere involving Arcbound Ravager. While I don’t think Hardened Scales wants to play enough copies of Tarrian’s Soulcleaver to draw it reliably, it happens to cost one mana in a deck with four copies of Urza’s Saga, which dramatically increases access to it while keeping the risk of drawing it minimal.
Arcbound Ravager all in kills already can surprise players from a low base with a Scales effect or two in play — but setting up a board with Arcbound Ravager, Hardened Scales, Hangarback Walker and Tarrian’s Soulcleaver doesn’t seem hard to assemble. And that combo will win games from ridiculous spots, as each creature sacrificed leads to four +1/+1 counters on the Ravager.
Urza’s Saga was already dangerous when it grabbed The Ozolith, and now Hardened Scales has a second, potentially game winning tutor target to be on the lookout for!
Souls of the Lost
Souls of the Lost has a ton of potential, but it’s kind of lacking a home. While heralded as the black Tarmogoyf due to its stat line, I think that is a misnomer. Souls of the Lost plays much differently than Tarmogoyf because of its additional cost.
Souls need to be in a deck that is excited about using its additional cost to do things like discard a Vengevine or sacrifice a Stitcher’s Supplier. Graveyard centric decks are a little on the rough side outside of Living End, which doesn’t really want Souls of the Lost since they’re going to sweep it away anyway.
Souls don’t fit into Dredge, either, as they want to be doing much bigger things. I could see Souls being an early stopgap in a reanimator shell that is interested in a combo discard enabler plus an early blocker.
Souls has the potential to be a strong piece in Hollow One, CrabVine and possibly even Asmo food shells. All of those decks are excited about discarding specific cards, and are good at filling out their graveyards with enough permanents to make Souls of the Lost a strong early game threat that continues scaling as the game goes on.
The question is if those decks have what it takes to hang in the Modern metagame. Hollow One and CrabVine have been off the radar for a bit, but it is possible with Souls of the Lost and other Descend cards that they make a return.
Asmo Food on the other hand, has been showing up on and off for a while, and Souls of the Lost could be the consistency boost those decks are looking for to gain some added relevancy.
As always with new set releases, I’m excited to see what decks get new toys to experiment with — plus which ones end up working long term. The Lost Caverns of Ixalan definitely seems to have what it takes to give some existing archetypes new options while bolstering some of the more fringe archetypes that need help.
I don’t think these typal cards are going to do a whole lot of lifting given how far behind those archetypes are in Modern or the kinds of cards they need to be good. However, the Descend/graveyard matters cards have a chance to make an impact, — though they’ll need to watch out for Dauthi Voidwalker and Endurance. Either way, I’m excited to see how things shake out!
As always you can find me on Twitter @RappaciousOne, and on BlueSky at @RappaciousOne.bsky.social for questions, comments and feedback. Until next time, be well and keep exploring!
Michael Rapp is a Modern specialist who favors Thoughtseize decks. Magic sates his desire for competition and constant improvement.