Would Daze, Vindicate, Or Seeds Of Innocence Play Well In Modern?

Patrick Chapin is curious: Wouldn’t some “Legacy style” cards play really well in this Modern world of combo? You know things are strange when Humans is as fair as you can get! The Innovator picks his prospective Modern favorites here!

Half the top 16 of the Modern Grand Prix Vegas was packing a playset of
Chromatic Stars, including both finalists…

Why would that be weird?

Okay, okay, to be fair, it’s probably more about this little number:

I wonder if there’s any chance they’ll unban Stoneforge Mystic before they
come for Ancient Stirrings

You know, between Ironworks, Tron, Affinity, Eldrazi, and Lantern, there’s
kind of a lot of (basically) colorless decks in Modern, these days.

First of all, let’s just make sure we’re all on the same page about the
opportunities for edge in Modern when one puts in the work, plays their
style, plays it well, and is well practiced with all of its matchups, as
well as tuning their list well.

Matt Nass, Grand Prix Vegas 1st

Matt Nass, Grand Prix Hartford 1st

Matt Nass, substantially less happy about his below expectation 3rd
place at GP Phoenix.

You know, because 36-6 in his last three Modern events is totally normally,
perfectly reasonable…

Now, if it was just Matt Nass that was trawling out of control, maybe we
could dismiss his claims of Ironworks being the best deck. After all, one
of the game’s most prolific combo players, it would not be outrageous to
think that maybe he makes Ironworks look good.

Of course, at this point, Eli Kassis’s top 8 and a 9th place by Andrew
Baeckstrom add evidence of the deck’s staying power. However, as impressive
as these finishes were, it’s actually Tron that put up the biggest finishes
this weekend.

Spot removal is so bad right now, which really benefits decks like
Tron and Ironworks that don’t actually want to play any. I mean, who do you
want it against? And how much does it matter in those matchups?

Consider the top 16 metagame of GP Vegas, weighted by finish:

Modern GP Vegas*


GP Vegas Top 16 Metagame







Grixis Death’s Shadow


Bant Company


Jeskai Control


B/R Hollow One


*The 12th place list was missing from the official coverage page, which
will add an additional 4.3%.

Like, where would spot removal even be good?

  • Tron – Tough deck to fight with spot removal.
  • Ironworks- Most spot removal isn’t going to be real great here.
  • Humans – Spot removal’s decent here, but it’s not like it’s the
    whole story. It takes so much spot removal to keep up if
    you want to do it that way.
  • Grixis Death’s Shadow – Some spot removal is okay, but not
    everything is going to line up right, and it’s just so hard when
    the threats are so deadly and so cost efficient.
  • Bant Company – Again, spot removal can be solid, but you can also
    just get ground out by Spell Quellers and Collected Companies.
  • Jeskai Control – Definitely not a great matchup for spot removal.
  • B/R Hollow One – While there are uses and some removal is better
    than others, spot removal is a tough way to fight Bloodghast and
    Flamewake Phoenix.

In many previous Modern formats, Tron has felt pressure to dabble in black
for Collective Brutality and Fatal Push, or red for Pyroclasm or the like.
Without such pressure, Tron can afford to be more proactive, more
consistent, and more “all-in.”

For instance, without needing to splash black, finalist Yuri Ramsey was
able to pack a full fourteen major threats:

What’s more, without needing to play black lands, he was also able to fit a
Field of Ruin, a Sanctum of Ugin, and an Urza’s Factory, making his
Expedition Maps and Sylvan Scrying particularly strong.

Mono-Green isn’t without some options for spot removal, of course. It’s
just that the options are narrow enough that they’re best saved for
sideboarding in for matchups where you know they’ll hit, and even then,
only in small numbers.

Thought-Knot Seer is still generally a better proactive four-drop for
Tron’s sideboard games, but it’s nice to see Karn, Scion of Urza making an
appearance for grindy matchups against midrange and control, particularly
against opponents with access to mana denial (since it gives us another
potent threat at a much lower mana point).

Max Mick also cut black, but his top 8 list was not quite as “pure,”
maintaining two Dismembers and an All Is Dust, leaving him with one less
big threat, one less utility land, and less Relic of Progenitus.

That said, he does have a wild card in his sideboard, Emrakul, the Promised
End, giving him a surprise trump for going over the top against midrange
and control matchups.

That’s a nice Krark-Clan Ironworks you’ve got over there. It’d be a shame
if anything happened to all your artifacts…

Yeah, yeah, sometimes we’ll just combo off for the KCI player, but then
point all the Pyrite Spellbomb activations at their face instead of ours.

Basically, once you get Scrap Trawler going with Krark-Clan Ironworks, you
can quickly cycle through your deck, drawing more and more cards to play
and sacrifice (all the while getting more cards back with Scrap Trawler).
Every Ichor Wellspring you sacrifice can get back a Chromatic Star, and
every Star can get back a Mox Opal. Once you’ve got a second Scrap Trawler,
things spiral quickly.

Ironworks is a lot like the old Eggs decks, in that it’s almost all air.
It’s just cards making mana and drawing cards. Having to play removal would
be a serious blow to the archetype.

I can’t help but wonder what Stoneforge Mystic would do to these people…

Eli Kassis’s list was a little fancier…

With both Emrakul, the Aeon’s Torn and The Antiquities War, Eli’s list is
less all in on plan A.

I’m not sold on relying on Emrakul to get it over with, as it’s not the
games where we get Ironworks going that are the ones we need the most help
with, in my experience. That said, this deck is so impossible to pilot, I’m
not sure Matt Nass would even advise most folks to run without an Emrakul
to clean things up (maybe).

The Antiquities War seems a metagame call, sacrificing edge against fast
aggro and fast combo, in exchange for a robust and durable plan of attack
against midrange and control.

For instance, Jeskai doesn’t have all the counterspells in the world, and
if you can stick The Antiquities War, you can quickly cycle through your
deck accumulating key artifacts while also putting them on a two-turn clock
to find a Cryptic Command just to not die in one hit.

Teferi is so good with Logic Knot and can lock people out very quickly.

This style has become a defining strategy in Modern since the printing of Dominaria, and Tierney’s list is fairly representative of the

One of the challenges with Jeskai (as opposed to U/W), is how much less
room we have for mana denial. With just two copies of Field of Ruin, one
Damping Sphere, and one Blood Moon, Tierney has tools; it’s just that if we
were just U/W, we’d easily be able to play a playset of Field of Ruins, and
who knows? Maybe we could even run Spreading Seas?

I think this is a great week to be looking at Spreading Seas. Obviously, it
can break up Tron, but it also provides important interaction for Cavern of
Souls, Celestial Colonnade, Inkmoth Nexus, and Gavony Township, just to
name a few.

Spreading Seas on a legendary land is particularly effective, since the
legendary land doesn’t actually change name or lose its legendary status.
If they play a second Inventors’ Fair, they’ll still lose the other land.

Spreading Seas is also a potentially potent weapon against three-color
decks long on fetchlands. For instance, consider the implications of
Spreading Seas against Ben Friedman’s top 8 Grixis Death’s Shadow list:

With just two Blood Crypts and a Steam Vents, you can actually lock the
Grixis Death’s Shadow deck out of red mana, especially once you add Field
of Ruin to the mix. Even going after black isn’t out of the question. Four
dual lands and a Swamp? Well, Field of Ruin can really do damage, with just
two basics to find, in the first place. What’s more, one Spreading Seas on
that Swamp and the options may quickly dry up.

Ben’s specific list of Grixis Death’s Shadow is kind of interesting, really
speaking to the pressure in the format to play like a proactive fast kill

When was the last time you saw a Grixis Death’s Shadow deck with zero
Kolaghan’s Commands maindeck? Instead, he’s maindecking Stubborn Denial to
break up combos and running multiple copies of Temur Battle Rage to enable
his own fast kills.

Of course, the lack of artifact removal is dangerous in this
Ironworks-laden world…

While Bant Company doesn’t have the most Stubborn Denial targets, they are
high leverage. Here’s the list Luke Renaud took to the top 8 before falling
to Friedman’s aforementioned Death’s Shadow deck:

Once again, we see a strategy that has frequently been more “fair” and good
at grinding instead focus on the fast combo kill, all the while avoiding
spot removal spells.

Infinite mana makes it trivial to win with Walking Ballista or Duskwatch
Recruiter, of course. Is every deck just a combo deck these days? I mean
even Jeskai feels like a combo deck sometimes, when they try to stall long
enough to set up Teferi’s ultimate.

Okay, Humans is the “non-combo” deck, I suppose. Still, Phantasmal Image on
Thalia’s Lieutenant sure feels like a combo, and obviously, once again, no
spot removal…

The proactive attacks are just so much better than the interaction, which
is fine, I guess. Maybe I just daydream about a modern-legal Daze reprint…

Daze is kind of a messed up Magic card, but it does have the potential to
get everyone to slow down just a little.

See, Modern is doing alright for itself, and we’d do well to not overreact
to Matt Nass being a veritable Modern monster. Ancient Stirrings and Mox
Opal are pretty clearly near the top of the Modern watchlist (and don’t
think we’ve forgotten about you, Manamorphose…) Still, what I wonder is
what other Legacy legal cards might make interesting Modern-legal reprints.

It would be very impactful, but I think it’s just too much.

Man, I might kind of love it if Vindicate were reprinted. What a sick land
destruction spell to maindeck…

While not out of the question, it’s just so loudly the Legacy experience, I
worry that it would take over the format in a way that could never be put
back in the bottle. That said, no card in the game’s history is as
effective at getting people to play fair.

Whoa there. Settle down.

No, really.


It would probably be completely unreasonable for Standard, but would Mana
Drain really be out of the question for Modern?

What the hell? What’s wrong with you, man?

I don’t know… It’s probably too much, it’s probably a bad idea, but I’m not
sure it’s as crazy a consideration as it looks like.

Mana Drain? There’s not even Counterspell, and you’re talking about
Mana Drain?

Okay, and that’s fair. It’s also totally not an exercise in anchoring bias;
though you’ve got to admit, Counterspell would be extremely reasonable
compared to Mana Drain!

Seriously, eventually Counterspell will make its way to Modern. It has to.
That is its destiny.

Maybe… Seems kind of a potentially large amount of unsatisfying RNG,

Sure… once they reprint Counterspell. And don’t give me that Guttural
Response. Pyroblast goes upsides Teferi and Jace’s head.

Seriously. Just think about it…


Look, maybe the options would open up if they took a harder stance against
fast mana?

Look, I’m just saying, you might be surprised.

Did you see the deck Nass won the GP with?

Sure, but if you just clamped the format on the mana production, you know,
like KCI and Mox Opal

I know people might ascribe good intentions to this card.

They are all lies.

You know, just in case you’d rather play a format with Blood Moon in every

There we go!

The total wrong way. Next.

Obviously City in a Bottle would be a little much in the format, but then
the game would be too pay-to-win once everyone has to make a run on Summer
Magic Serendib Efreets.

Of course, there’s also the question of possibly unbanning cards like
Stoneforge Mystic, Deathrite Shaman, and Green Sun’s Zenith

Too far.

Too far.