It’s clear that the early winners of the Modern unbannings are attrition-oriented midrange and control decks. Jund and Jeskai are the most obvious homes for Bloodbraid Elf and Jace, the Mind Sculptor, and those are the cards everyone is trying to build around given their high power level.
Right now it’s Bloodbraid Elf that seems to be getting the best of it in classic Jund shells. The deck stuck around as a fringe option for awhile and now that it gets to add one of the best cards ever printed for the archetype, it’s looking like the best deck in the format.
But we’re only just scratching the surface of what these two cards can do in Modern. Thousands of cards have been printed since they last saw competitive play and that means countless new options to explore that could be potentially competitive homes for our new four-drop overlords.
One of those options is featured in today’s video, and it harkens back to an archetype that was popular in Extended formats a decade ago. The fetch + shock manabase in Modern allows even aggressive decks to play consistent manabases of three or more colors, which unlocks some powerful domain-themed cards, the most powerful of which has historically been Tribal Flames. In a shell like this the burn spell consistently deals four damage and five isn’t that difficult, giving an aggressive deck a cheap removal spell for Tarmogoyf and Gurmag Angler that doubles as reach–a combo that even the ubiquitous Lightning Bolt cannot replicate.
Bloodbraid Elf is perfect for an aggressive shell like this since haste bodies often double as burn spells, getting the opponent into burn range before they can stabilize the battlefield or forcing them to play very defensively, giving you more time to draw another burn spell. In this list, Bloodbraid pairs with another pseudo-burn spell in Mantis Rider, a card that wasn’t available a decade ago that has been making waves in Modern as a key element of Humans.
Both cards are excellent in this deck separately, but play even better together. Cascading into a Mantis RIder yields the best Ball Lightning ever printed, and in a deck that has fourteen quality burn spells, most of which double as removal in creature matchups, a single successful attack could be enough to end the game.
The sideboard lets the deck transition into a more resilient position–one of the other benefits of playing five colors. The raw power here is enough to contend with the Junds and Jeskais of the world for those of us who don’t have any interest in midrange attrition fests.