It’s been almost a month since the release of Guilds of Ravnica. Standard is in a fresh and exciting position, with rotation gone and various Standard grand prix now promoting what the format can offer. As a result Standard has become more welcoming, which was predicted before release. But what about Guilds of Ravnica’s influence in Modern?

When spoilers started rolling out in anticipation of its release back in September, strong claims were made in that certain cards were going to reshape the Modern format. How do these claims fair now? With the dust settling on the Guilds of Ravnica release and people now playing with the cards, I reflect on a few cards that were over-hyped, cards that lived up to the hype, and what was unexpected to come from Guilds of Ravnica in the Modern format.

What was over-hyped?

When first spoiled, Mission Briefing was heavily compared to Snapcaster Mage given the effect. It is a fair evaluation to make initially. However, it meant Mission Briefing was never going to live up to the expectation made given how good Snapcaster Mage is in Modern. The 2/1 body is very relevant, and that hurts Mission Briefing. It’s like comparing Sylvan Advocate to Tarmogoyf; they may have similar stats or effects, but the delivery won’t live up compared to the original.

Since Guilds of Ravnica’s release, Mission Briefing has not seen much Modern play, and as such the hype has died down. The card still has some redeeming features, however. It’s an actual instant for decks that need to maximize the card type, perhaps in Pyromancer Ascension Storm. More importantly, though, it creates an acceptable budget replacement for Snapcaster Mage‘s effect. The original is at $75 currently, so that can save you serious cash. Or you could play both cards together. Copies five through eight of an effect sometimes leads to fireworks.

Mausoleum Secrets generated a lot of buzz when first spoiled, as there was plenty of build up for the Undergrowth mechanic. Tutoring up an extra copy of Death’s Shadow at the end of turn seemed pretty good. But since release, this has seen very little to no play in Modern. It should do great work in Commander, however, given how powerful B/G decks are in the format. I expect this be the case for a long time to come.

Overrating Assassin’s Trophy may have been inevitable given how high we set our expectations during spoiler season. On the surface, it’s an excellent removal spell which can remove anything on the field for the low cost of offering a basic land to your opponent in return. Seems good right? Jund and Abzan players already have to pick and choose between their wide range of similar removal spells. Assassin’s Trophy adds more headache to that choice.

It does push in favor of playing simple Golgari Midrange, which can also play Field of Ruin to reduce the downside of Assassin’s Trophy. However, its real presence currently is in Dredge sideboards as an answer to Leyline of the Void and Rest in Peace effects. As a Guilds of Ravnica uncommon is making waves (or chills?) across Modern currently, the aggressive tilt of the Modern metagame favors Dredge over Jund or rock-style decks.

What was unexpected?

I don’t think anyone could’ve predicted how good Creeping Chill would be in Modern Dredge. Even in concept it looks relatively innocuous and comes off as a worse Sovereign’s Bite. Dredge has never cared about casting spells other than the enablers such as Faithless Looting or Life from the Loam, but with Creeping Chill this becomes a free, almost uncounterable effect. The potential to chain-off multiple Creeping Chills is a scary concept, and helps Conflagrate get the job done.

SCG Dallas proved this to be the real deal as seven Dredge decks featured in the top 32 of the Open and two in the top 8. Creeping Chill provides some extra power that Dredge has desired since the rebanning of Golgari Grave-Troll, and it looks like to be lingering for a long time to come.

I don’t think many could’ve foreseen Arclight Phoenix being played in Modern, including myself. It has been making waves in Mono Red and Izzet Decks in new Standard, proving to be better than initially predicted. But what about Modern? Daniela Díaz (@h0lydiva on Twitter and Twitch) has been brewing various lists with Arclight Phoenix in Modern to great success.

The phoenix demands plenty of resources to trigger its ability, which on the surface looks underwhelming. But with Faithless Looting and myriad ritual effects, it’s not difficult to be rewarded with multiple recurring phoenixes. This proof of concept currently tested in Mardu Pyromancer lists as a new finisher given how spell-dense the deck is, and marries well with the next card on our list, especially in Standard.

Runaway Steam-Kin received plenty of anticipation from a Standard perspective when first spoiled, but I don’t think many predicted how good it could be in Modern. Now it’s a build around in Mono-Red spell-heavy decks along with Archlight Phoenix, and becoming a variation (and arguably budget a version) on the Burn archetype. It’s different from traditional Burn builds as this has card advantage from Bedlam Reveler and Risk Factor to give the deck some longevity. “Runaway Red” is posting results on MTGO and SCG Invitational Qualifiers, using similar lists such as the one below.

Michael Walker, 1st Place SCG IQ on 10/13/2018

Creatures (16)
Arclight Phoenix
Bedlam Reveler
Monastery Swiftspear
Runaway Steam-Kin

Spells (27)
Desperate Ritual
Fiery Temper
Lightning Bolt
Risk Factor
Faithless Looting
Insult // Injury
Lava Spike
Tormenting Voice
Lands (17)
17 Mountain

Sideboard (15)
Dragon’s Claw
Shrine of Burning Rage
Tormod’s Crypt
Blood Moon
Lightning Axe
Surgical Extraction
Anger of the Gods
Shattering Spree

Runaway Steam-Kin has plenty of application and there’s an abundance of red spells to support it, especially Modern. However, this is just the beginning, meaning there may be a build in the future that can really break Runaway Steam-Kin in Modern. It’s looking promising right now even a month into Guilds of Ravnica’s life, and I’m confident “Runaway Red” will be making an appearance at GP Atlanta coming up. A final note is that if these spell-matter decks are your preference in Modern, I highly recommend checking out Daniela Díaz’s content on Twitch and Twitter (@h0lydiva).

What we expected?

We all knew Knight of Autumn was going be great, right? It has lived up to the expectation and replaced Reclamation Sage in most cases, the small case is being in Elves where the creature type is relevant. Knight of Autumn removes a lot of issues with sideboarding by being a modular creature, which fair decks are always in the market for. This is going to be a staple in Modern for a long time to come.

The Shocklands. Maybe a little too obvious? Turns out, they are still great in Modern.

What could be good?

The Modern metagame has shifted toward the aggressive over the last month, resulting in Control archetypes falling out of favor. Although if we take SCG Charlotte as an example, big mana decks such as Scapeshift and Amulet Titan could push the metagame back again. That would provide an opportunity for Control archetypes to be on the rise, and U/W Control in particular always had a few flex slots for card advantage. Hieroglyphic Illumination and Glimmer of Genius all fell into these slots, but what about Chemister’s Insight instead?

Chemister’s Insight ticks a lot of boxes and is an upgrade to Glimmer of Genius already. The Jump-Start bonus means Insight becomes better as the game progresses, which is something Control decks are in the market for. Although with Hieroglyphic Illumination you have the flexibility of cycling instead of drawing more cards, the ceiling on Insight is much higher. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few Chemister’s Insight pop up in U/W Control lists, maybe even in Jeskai Control soon too.

Guilds of Ravnica has offered a lot to Modern already, and a handful of cards are making an impression which is a testament to how good the set is. Who knows how the set will fair in months to come and I’ll be eager to see how Ravnica Alliegance supports Modern in late January. Until then, we have the opportunity to brew with new cards for our Modern decks, and that’s pretty sweet, right?

What are your thoughts on Guilds of Ravnica so far? Has it lived up to your expectations since the spoilers? Don’t hesitate to get in touch on Twitter or Facebook to share your opinions!

Emma resides in Suffolk, England and started playing Magic back in 2014 when Khans of Tarkir first hit the shelves. She dabbled in Standard for a while then shifted into Modern, in particular playing Eldrazi Tron and Commander where she has found her home. Follow her on Twitter @emmmzyne to join in on the conversation!

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