Bloodbraid Marauder Is The Best Card In Modern Horizons 2

Modern Horizons 2 is full of goodies, but which one is the best of the bunch? Gerry Thompson explains why Bloodbraid Marauder is the easy answer to that question.

Despite Modern Horizons 2 being filled to the brim with powerful cards, the best among them is easy to identify.

Bloodbraid Marauder

The other candidates (Vindicate, Ignoble Hierarch, Grief, and Esper Sentinel) are format-defining for certain, but none of them have the word cascade on them. Historically, cascade has been a frustrating part of any format where it’s legal. Both fair decks using cascade for card advantage and unfair decks that only cascade into a certain card are often the most powerful things to be doing.

Bloodbraid Marauder is unique in that it only costs two mana, which reduces the deck-building restrictions if you only wanted to cascade into Living End, Ancestral Vision, or Crashing Footfalls. It’s also aggressively costed and allows you to live the dream of Bloodbraid Elf into Shardless Agent into Bloodbraid Marauder. 

Let’s be real though/ Bloodbraid Marauder has a real restriction.

Delirium — This spell has cascade as long as there are four or more card types among cards in your graveyard.

Achieving delirium in Modern isn’t difficult, although the best ways to accomplish it are by using cheap cards like Mishra’s Bauble. Cascading into Mishra’s Bauble is fine for some decks but definitely not ideal in others. If the floor on Bloodbraid Marauder is Silvergil Adept, I think we’re doing alright.

Let’s ignore the restriction for a moment. If Bloodbraid Marauder is online, what’s the strongest thing you can do with it? Dream big first and see if you can beat the restriction later. It’s the only way to find the truly broken interactions. In many color combinations and strategies, you won’t even feel a restriction.

Shardless Agent

Naturally, Shardless Agent will be Bloodbraid Marauder’s partner in crime in some of these decks. Shardless Agent will be the star of her own Modern decks, but in this article, she’s relegated to the supporting cast. I’m sure I’ll have an article where Shardless Agent is the star in the near future.

First up, I built Rakdos Death’s Shadow. Combining Bloodbraid Marauder with Mishra’s Bauble, proactive discard, and Kolaghan’s Command plus Lurrus of the Dream-Den to recur it seemed like a very strong home. 

Disruption and a clock is a tried and true recipe for success. When you add in the ability to grind, it starts getting scary. The Lurrus grind is solid but unwieldy. With Bloodbraid Marauder alongside Kolaghan’s Command, it’s hard to imagine ever running out of gas. 

In many instances, cascading into a discard spell won’t be ideal. On Turn 2 or Turn 3, it’s pretty damn good though. Thanks to cards like Seal of Fire, enabling delirium is trivial, but it’s a double-edged sword. Seal of Fire is awkward in that it’s one of the best delirium enablers but usually one of the weakest cards to cascade into.

Seal of Fire Break the Ice

Break the Ice is a powerful sideboard option, but I don’t think it’s better than Cleansing Wildfire at the moment. I’m far more worried about Oops! All Spells and the Goblin Charbelcher decks than I am in beating up a random snow control deck. Against Mono-Green Tron, Cleansing Wildfire seems stronger because cycling is more valuable than overload. I could see that changing depending on the archetype but it’s not true here.

This deck isn’t much different than the one above except that I dipped into green for Traverse the Ulvenwald. Since I wanted the toolbox to be robust, Lurrus can’t be played as a companion. Oddly, it might be stronger as a maindeck tutor target anyway, especially when you take into consideration how powerful some of the bullets are.

Traverse the Ulvenwald

Splashing doesn’t have much of a downside when Death’s Shadow is in the mix since you’ll be taking the extra damage anyway. Traverse the Ulvenwald is slow and powerful, although not necessarily what you’d prefer depending on the metagame. I prefer the leaner Rakdos as a default but that could change.

I’ve looked at trying to slot Bloodbraid Marauder into traditional Jund Living End, but the outlook doesn’t look promising. Getting artifact, creature, and land into the graveyard is easy, but finding that last card type will prove difficult. You can’t add it to your deck and choose to hold onto it until you have delirium because your cascades might hit it at some point. On the bright side, Grief is a fantastic addition to the archetype.

Electrodominance As Foretold

Izzet, on the other hand, is a perfect home for Bloodbraid Marauder. The decks that rely on Electrodominace and As Foretold to cast Living End are inconsistent. Both require you having a Living End in hand, which is why the newer versions began adding a cascade spell. With Bloodbraid Marauder, you still get to play two-mana spells, which means you can still function like a real deck. 

Building these decks highlighted how difficult it is to get a sorcery in your graveyard when you’re trying to avoid playing one-mana spells. I did a fair amount of research but still came up short. In theory, we could play Assault, Reason, Cut, Boom, Discovery, or Edge of Autumn, but I didn’t think I was that desperate. In hindsight, I probably am.

Despite looking like a real deck, it will always cascade into a free spell as long as delirium is active. I’ve gone through several hoops to ensure that’s the case. If you’re not trying to cast Living End, Restore Balance, or the like, Crashing Footfalls and Ancestral Vision are your best options. 

Crashing Footfalls Ancestral Vision

I’d much rather hit Footfalls early but we need enough suspend cards to naturally draw them for As Foretold. We could potentially cut As Foretold and play fewer suspend cards. That would open the door to playing more interaction like Brazen Borrower or Bonecrusher Giant. 

If this deck functions as well as I think it does, I’m going to be very happy playing Modern for the foreseeable future. This deck feels like home. 

If the Death’s Shadow variants are the best and Temur Cascade is the coolest, this is a cross between the two. 

Anyone who has played Hollow One knows how sweet the draw involving multiple copies of its namesake can be, but they also know that the chip damage from Flameblade Adept and things like Flamewake Phoenix matter a ton as well. Hollow One can’t do all the work on its own. Thankfully, Modern Horizons 2 has gifted us with multiple excellent threats.

Hollow One Blazing Rootwalla Dragon's Rage Channeler

Blazing Rootwalla is the perfect card for the archetype. The random discard from Burning Inquiry and Goblin Lore can be aggravating but that impact is lessened when you have cards you don’t care about discarding. It’s also aggressively costed and far more generous than I would have expected. 

The other new addition is Dragon’s Rage Channeler. Honestly, I expected more aggro delirium support and was somewhat disappointed. However, if this is the shell they envisioned, maybe that’s good enough. 

This archetype is light on Bloodbraid Marauders, although we could easily play more copies. It could even play fewer if you wanted Burning Inquiry to make Hollow One and Vengevine stronger. I envisioned it as a single card you could Fauna Shaman for that would always return Vengevines in longer games, although maybe that’s not necessary. Imperial Recruiter could accomplish the same task, albeit for more mana.

Quirion Ranger

If I can stress one thing from this deck, it’s how underrated Quirion Ranger is. Those who critique the card or suggest cutting it are exclusively folks who have never played with the card. In a deck with a low land count and several mana creatures, Quirion Ranger will often be generating two mana per turn and occasionally a third on your opponent’s turn. It’s what allows you to play such a low land count and remain functional. 

Without Quirion Ranger, Fauna Shaman might be too slow. You wouldn’t be able to get multiple activations in a turn and make Hollow One castable. It can even pick up a Dryad Arbor to feed to Fauna Shaman, meaning any fetchland can be a creature in hand.

Quirion Ranger, Ignoble Hierarch, Imperial Recruiter, and the evoke creatures add significant gains to archetypes like these. The fact that Imperial Recruiter into Felidar Guardian into Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker exists is fairly egregious as well. Hollow One and Vengevine might not be the best version of this archetype but it’s where I want to start. 

There’s no shortage of cool things to build around in Modern Horizons 2. Bloodbraid Marauder happens to provide both a fascinating deckbuilding puzzle with the promise of incredible power, which is why it’s captured my attention. It may take some time to figure out the correct home, but when all is said and done, it will be clear that it’s the best card in Modern Horizons 2.