There’s one card from Streets of New Capenna generating more hype than the rest of the set combined.
This set’s prizefighter isn’t a tricolor card bringing glory to one of its crime families, but a big blue Bird that could easily have been printed anywhere (with minimal effort to reword the connive ability). In one sense, this is disappointing but not surprising – as much as we all enjoyed the Siege Rhino memes in the last major attempt at a tricolor set, the marquee monocolor prowess and delve cards have stood the test of time. When we look back on Streets in a few years, I expect Ledger Shredder to be this set’s godfather.
Scales of Power
Like many cards that care about chaining spells, Ledger Shredder’s power scales with the size of a format. You will see a lot more Ledger Shredders in Historic than in Standard at the New Capenna Championship this weekend, even though the bar for any new card to enter a larger format is typically higher. Likewise, the delve spells that we’ll see paired with Ledger Shredder later were mostly interesting and inoffensive role-players in Standard that quickly had to be banned in Modern and beyond.
At the other end of the spectrum, this new contender is already putting up results in Magic’s most cutthroat arena. The iconic Mox cycle that defined Magic in its early days and defines Vintage today is an ideal match for Shredder, letting you cast it on Turn 1 or get the boost from connive while discarding an unneeded mana source later. In a format where everyone is aiming to cast several spells a turn, you can expect to connive at least once per turn cycle – Shredder counting each player’s spells is crucial here!
In the more rational formats in between, Shredder is helping another member of its flock to dominate the skies.
Izzet Phoenix is a top-tier deck in Historic and Pioneer, and an early favourite in Arena’s young Explorer format. Each features a unique supporting cast, but the premise is the same: cast a flurry of cheap spells in one turn and churn through your library to set up interactions in your graveyard. Shredder’s flexibility shines through here: it’s the perfect enabler for your graveyard nonsense, as well as a strong backup threat that doesn’t rely on the graveyard in the face of hate.
Shredder also offers contextual advantages in each format. Many Izzet Phoenix players in Pioneer had moved away from Thing in the Ice, but there was no obvious replacement to turn to instead. That search may finally be over. Without Faithless Looting, these lists sometimes struggled to scatter Arclight Phoenix’s ashes and had to run explicit discard outlets like Chart a Course that wouldn’t make the cut otherwise. Shredder fills that role while also filling Phoenix’s shoes as another threat. In Explorer, Izzet Phoenix doesn’t get to make these choices because Thing in the Ice and other Phoenix staples aren’t even on the client. Ledger Shredder is essential here.
Meanwhile, Izzet Phoenix in Historic enjoys explosive turns with Dragon’s Rage Channeler and Faithless Looting at the cost of being much more reliant on its graveyard. It’s common to see maindeck Soul-Guide Lantern or Rest in Peace aimed squarely at Izzet Phoenix, and some counterplay to that is sorely needed. Shredder gives you that extra nudge towards delirium for Channeler or Unholy Heat and puts Ox of Agonas in its place while being a more versatile alternative to Sprite Dragon or Crackling Drake once the graveyard is closed for the night.
Despite its solid defensive stats, Ledger Shredder can also enable a much more aggressive spellslinger deck. These decks need to draw the right mix of threats and spells to power those threats, yet can’t always afford to spend time and mana spinning their tires with card selection. Shredder lets you develop your battlefield while ensuring a continued flow of relevant spells and filling the graveyard for a mid-game Treasure Cruise.
Izzet Prowess can stack up counters on its Shredders reliably thanks to its low land count. It can afford to run this few lands because it only needs a few lands to operate; if you have the choice between keeping your fourth land or a spell, you almost always want the spell. This tension makes the connive mechanic safe to push on cards like this, yet also engaging in gameplay.
Luckily for Ledger Shredder, it arrives at a time when even land-light decks have a lot of flood insurance thanks to utility lands and spells that are effective mana sinks. Izzet Prowess may only need two or three lands but in a longer game it may want access to Den of the Bugbear, the fifth land to activate it, or a legendary land like Otawara, Soaring City or Sokenzan, Crucible of Defiance. DFCs like Shatterskull Smashing cheat these ratios as mana sources that count as non-land cards for connive.
Reflecting on your deck’s goals, and Shredder’s role in them, helps to inform those decisions. A Prowess deck like this wants to be growing Shredder consistently to apply pressure and many of its card choices are made with that in mind – discarding a Play with Fire earmarked for the opponent’s skull makes sense if it locks in at least as much damage via a larger Shredder. If your Shredders are more of a backup plan or a card filtering tool, throwing away relevant spells just to chase short-term damage is an easy trap to fall into.
Unless, of course, throwing those threats away is the whole point.
Esper Greasefang fits a common profile for decks featured here: a graveyard-centric combo deck that wants to diversify its plans without diluting the main one. Greasefang, Okiba Boss is decent in combat when it’s not hailing Parhelion II as soon as possible. Between Greasefang, Ledger Shredder, and an eclectic mix of planeswalkers as well as Thing in the Ice, this list from musasabi is not as reliant on its namesake as some earlier versions.
Modern is the perfect playground for Ledger Shredder, and the most popular deck in the format is yet another low-curve Izzet deck open to its pitch.
You don’t need me to sell you on Expressive Iteration or the delve mechanic, but these cards are so strong in part because they encourage you to do something that’s already heavily rewarded by the game engine: playing a lot of cheap, versatile spells with a lean mana curve. Ledger Shredder fits snugly into these incentives. In one sense, it’s a shame we won’t get to pair Ledger Shredder with Lurrus of the Dream-Den or Gitaxian Probe, but you can understand why…
Shredder lines up oddly against two of the marquee removal spells in Modern. An unimproved Unholy Heat never kills Shredder; a Lightning Bolt can, but you have to be careful about the timing. If your opponent casts a Ledger Shredder with mana open, casting your Bolt on their turn risks disaster if they have any instant to trigger connive in response. Casting it on your own turn instead is probably safe, but that can force you to waste mana and sequence your spells in an awkward way. Against other red decks, a Ledger Shredder backed up by graveyard hate for Unholy Heat is tough to remove and can be a plan in its own right.
- 4 Ovalchase Daredevil
- 4 Emry, Lurker of the Loch
- 4 Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar
- 4 Academy Manufactor
- 4 Ledger Shredder
The Asmor decks dropped off the map months ago, but Ledger Shredder may be a new reason to believe. Shredder doesn’t set up Asmor quickly, but it does let you reach a safe density of discard outlets without having to load up on otherwise unwanted outlets like Street Wraith and is another way to actually net cards from shuffling your Ovalchase Daredevil between zones.
These Food decks have a lot of moving parts that you often want in exact quantities. You want an Asmor and a Cookbook, and ideally a Daredevil to go with them, but additional copies of any of these can have steep diminishing returns. Shredder mitigates this to some extent when it connives away a redundant spell and still gets something out of that itself.
No deck wants discard outlets more than Reanimator, and Ledger Shredder opens up a wider range of ways to play that strategy too. Dimir Reanimator is on the table now thanks to Tainted Indulgence but the Esper package of the Evoke Elementals like Grief and Solitude plus Ephemerate makes it easy to trigger Shredder early and often while tearing apart their hand or battlefield.
Elsewhere in Modern
The various builds of Affinity in Modern tend to have a bunch of Memnites and Ornithopters to power up their artifact payoffs, but these rapidly become useless. Shredder gives you another way to put these to good use, triggering connive immediately as early as Turn 2 and giving you an obvious choice to loot away later. As a rapidly growing threat in its own right that isn’t an artifact, Shredder offers some insurance against any heavy-duty artifact hate, yet also makes an ideal carrier for Cranial Plating or Nettlecyst if all is going to plan.
How about the more exotic combo decks in Modern? Izzet Breach has put up recent results in paper and online and is already in the market for creatures that contribute to at least one of its several interlocking plans. Even Ledger Shredder can’t fix some of the fundamental issues with Jeskai Ascendancy, but it’s a good start.
Over in Legacy, the ever-dominant Izzet Delver deck has all the same reasons to take a look at Ledger Shredder as its Pioneer or Modern cousins, but we can get more ambitious here too. In recent years, if you wanted to Reanimate Griselbrand, it was usually in the powerful but volatile Rakdos Reanimator shell. Ledger Shredder might be a good enough reason to revisit the blue cards instead.
Mono-Blue Affinity in Legacy is all but guaranteed to trigger Shredder on demand between Mox Opal, Lotus Petal, and Urza’s Bauble / Mishra’s Bauble, and could also use another legitimate threat that survives the likes of Meltdown.
Ultimately, the best reason to play Ledger Shredder is Ledger Shredder. When such a wide range of decks have an interest in a card that aligns with so many other strong deckbuilding incentives, that’s a compelling reason to try it – and when so many people are trying it, its inherent symmetry makes your own copies even better. If Ledger Shredder is a great enabler for Arclight Phoenix, it’s also a great foil to Arclight Phoenix – and the same is true more broadly, even when Shredder’s stats don’t line up so perfectly.