There are few times in the year more exciting than Magic spoiler season. Luckily, with Throne of Eldraine coming up, we have an onslaught of new cards to play with. From the flashiest mythic rares built for Commander, all the way down to the commons that give the Limited environment its own feel and personality, every card serves a purpose. Today, I want to spotlight a few of the cards from Throne of Eldraine that I think have a real shot at breaking out of Standard and into Modern.
Deafening Silence reads a lot like Ethersworn Canonist and Rule of Law. Both cards have seen a small amount of play, but I would hesitate to call them Modern-playable. Comparisons between Deafening Silence and these cards are pretty clear: they’re white permanents that hate on decks trying to cast a lot of spells, and that’s about where the comparisons end.
Unlike Rule of Law (and, to lesser degree, Ethersworn Canonist), you can build your deck to break the symmetry on Deafening Silence. If I’ve learned one thing from recent sets (I’m looking at you, War of the Spark), inexpensive and asymmetrical hate cards can be very powerful.
The natural home for Deafening Silence is in a deck like Devoted Druid Combo. These Devoted Druid decks are largely creature-based, so having good ways to combat interaction is valuable. In a match-up like Jund vs Devoted Druid, it is reasonably easy for the Druid deck to go off through one removal spell on a critical turn, but two removal spells often may spell disaster.
Enter Deafening Silence. Now, Devoted Druid players get to go off with a single non-creature spell on their combo turn. Casting Chord of Calling for Duskwatch Recruiter once you have infinite mana will eventually find you a Walking Ballista, and you’ll be safe from your opponent’s interaction. I expect to see copies of Deafening Silence protecting small green and white creatures from control decks for a long time to come.
Just when we thought that we had seen the last of free spells, Wizards of the Coast has given us Once Upon a Time. This card has been hailed as a free Ancient Stirrings, and that comparison isn’t exactly wrong. I do believe that a lot of decks – namely Tron, NeoBrand, and Amulet – will want to have access to this card to add redundancy to their game plan. However, I think the decks that are most interested in this effect are those with a handful of early threats. Infect and Jund Death’s Shadow immediately come to mind when I think of homes for this card.
Infect’s threats include both creatures and lands, so Once Upon a Time goes up in value quite a bit. Infect’s biggest weakness is that it only has twelve threats, so hands without an infect creature are very often a mulligan. An Infect deck with Once Upon a Time has a 74% chance of hitting an infect creature if they go digging on turn one. Those borderline hands full of pump spells are a lot more attractive when you get to find a threat for free. The fail case of drawing this card later in the game isn’t as bad as it seems, either; most decks will have ways to interact with your creatures, so a card that can find more threats is never a bad thing.
Like Infect, Jund Death’s Shadow gets by on relatively few threats – namely, Tarmogoyf and Death’s Shadow itself. In the early game, there just aren’t other creatures that can compete with the size of Shadows and Goyfs. Also, much like other Death’s Shadow decks, Jund’s biggest concern is finding threats reliably. The Jund versions lose out on the cantrips that Grixis gets to play, but can do a bit to help themselves by adding Traverse the Ulvenwald. Supplementing Traverse with some copies of Once Upon a Time gives the deck some added consistency: Once Upon a Time has a 57.4% chance to find a Tarmogoyf or a Death’s Shadow on turn one, but it can also find fetchlands or Street Wraith to help enable a Death’s Shadow you already have. Additionally, Once Upon a Time is an instant that is easy to get into the graveyard, which can make your Tarmogoyfs and Traverses more potent.
I expect Charming Prince to be an excellent sideboard card in nearly every format it is legal in. In Modern, our charming lad slots pretty easily into a deck like Humans. This card can help you gain life while trading for creatures in aggressive match-ups, and it can flicker Thalia’s Lieutenant and Reflector Mage to fight for board control. Plus, its 2/2 body makes it a good attacker against control decks.
This prince comes with a wealth of options and will slot into any white creature deck.
Merchant of the Vale isn’t really the useful part of this card – I’m much more interested in its adventure, Haggle. Since the banning of Faithless Looting, decks like Izzet Phoenix and Dredge have struggled to find a replacement enabler. Some players have turned to Tome Scour, and others to Insolent Neonate. While these cards are easy giveaways that you’re playing Dredge, Haggle gives your opponent a little less information to work with.
Haggle also has other ancillary benefits, like potentially blowing out a Surgical Extraction. (Insolent Neonate can do the same thing, but your opponent will always see it coming and can change their play accordingly.) Coming attached to Merchant of the Vale is also just a bonus. While I can’t imagine Modern players will cast Merchant too often, the extra body is a great option in games that go long. I’d expect to see this card showing up in Dredge lists sooner rather than later.
Naturally, we’re saving the best for last with Emry, Lurker of the Loch. Whoa, this card has a ton of text. With what is effectively Affinity for artifacts, a self-mill clause to get things rolling, and the ability to cast artifacts from your graveyard, this one seems pretty stacked!
I imagine the natural homes for Emry are Whirza and Lantern Control, though some players have been testing it in a Jeskai Ascendancy shell. On its face, this card seems to be a personal Howling Mine combined with a Mishra’s Bauble. However, Emry could completely shut out opposing creature decks by protecting Ensnaring Bridge with an endless stream of Welding Jars. (The same goes for protecting Chalice of the Void or any other lock pieces.) Emry will undoubtedly form a great partnership with both Goblin Engineer and Sai, Master Thopterist to form a highly efficient value engine.
The potential for Emry, Lurker of the Loch is truly remarkable when you can combine her with artifacts in formats older than Standard. I’d be sure to keep my eye on how this card changes the format once people figure out the best shell for it.
Well, there we have it: five cards that may make their way out of the confines of Standard and into the wild landscape of Modern. Have any other cool ideas for these cards that I didn’t cover, or maybe just want to talk about other cards from Throne of Eldraine? Make sure to let me know on Twitter(@RappaciousOne)! Until next time, keep the brews flowing!
Michael Rapp is a Modern specialist who favors Thoughtseize decks. Magic sates his desire for competition and constant improvement.