Twenty-five years. Over eighty expansions. Nearly 20,000 cards. With all those cards comes a lot of history. In this new article series, we will be taking a look at some of the most iconic cards in the current Modern and Legacy metagame and seeing where those cards started. How did the community react when they were spoiled? What was their impact on Standard? How did they affect the Modern meta? Legacy? Vintage? And more.

Initial Reactions

The community reaction was almost unanimous. This card was busted. This was the blue Tarmogoyf. This card was going to single handedly flip Modern on its head.

“1U for a 7/8 that wraths…
This is fine. Everything is fine”

-DUB_ble, top rated comment in Reddit spoilers

How wrong they were though. The idea was there: play a blue deck with cheap instants and sorceries to flip Thing in the Ice. Unfortunately the card just didn’t line up in either Standard or Modern, for different reasons.


Thing in the Ice largely went unplayed in Standard. There were no one-mana cantrips around to transform it quickly, so you were stuck playing the much less exciting Anticipate. Thing in the Ice started off slow and finished slow in Standard. Thierry Ramboa took a Izzet Thing in the Ice control deck to a 7-3 finish at Pro Tour: Shadows over Innistrad. He would be the only player to register Thing in the Ice and have a 7-3 or better Standard record at this PT.

Pedro Carvalho had a much more proactive take on a Thing deck, with a 9-1 record in Standard at Pro Tour Eldritch Moon. He combined Thing in the Ice with cheap red removal, Thermo-Alchemist, and Fevered Visions. Todd Anderson took down the SCG Syracuse Standard classic a week later with the deck before it quickly fell off the map.

The most notable finish with Thing in the Ice in Standard was Shota Yasooka’s Pro Tour: Kaladesh win with Grixis Control featuring four copies of Thing in the Ice. His deck never really caught on after the Pro Tour, though, and Shota even called it a “Pro Tour deck.” Nothing would ever come close to touching Thing in the Ice’s victory at Pro Tour: Kaladesh, and it largely went unexplored in Standard afterward.


Modern was where Thing in the Ice was supposed to change everything. People joked that Tarmogoyf was the best blue creature, but now blue had it’s Tarmogoyf. At least that’s what people thought. Unfortunately, the metagame wasn’t friendly to our little Goyf in the Ice.

After Eye of Ugin was banned in 2016, the format quickly settled back into Jund being the most popular deck. Thing in the Ice was relegated to seeing fringe play in decks like Blue Moon and occasionally in the sideboard of Izzet Storm. Near the end of 2016, Thing in the Ice found decent success in Izzet Kiln Fiend. However, this was at the World Magic Cup where the format was Team Unified Modern. Small fields and inbred metagames can lead to weird decks posting good results.

2017 didn’t change much. Some people tried to keep the Izzet Kiln Fiend dream alive, but the banning of Gitaxian Probe in January quickly stopped any chance that deck had. In 2018, the metagame changed quite a lot. We saw the surge of a new deck, Humans. Following that was a wave of UWx Control to  prey on this new archetype. Blue Moon had decent game against both of these decks and pushed Thing in the Ice from fringe to slightly less fringe.

Which brings us to the end of 2018, and where we see Thing today. The printing of Arclight Phoenix gave the “Izzet Spells” deck another enabler that cared about cheap instants and sorceries. You no longer have to needlessly spin your wheels for no payoff. You don’t need to play Kiln Fiend and hope you untap with it. You now get the payoff of attacking for nine in the air, or Evactuation to swing with a 7/8.

For now it seems that Thing in the Ice has found a home in what many believe to be the de facto best deck. All it took was nearly three years of fringe play purgatory to get there.


Legacy and Vintage are formats flush with cheap instants and sorceries. One might think Thing in the Ice would be right at home, but it never really found its spot.

Oddly enough, a 7/8 that evacuates your opponent’s board isn’t good enough. You can play more powerful effects with less investment required. True-Name Nemesis can effectively Moat your opponent’s creatures. Monastery Mentor with some Moxen can win the game in a couple turns. Only the best of the best make it in Legacy and Vintage. Thing just isn’t there.

Thing in the Ice’s Future

There are two big concerns with Thing in the Ice’s future in Modern: Faithless Looting could get banned, and GBx decks could rise to the top of the metagame again. Faithless Looting is the glue that holds the deck together. Without the Arclight half of the deck, we’re right back to 2017. Golgari-based decks like Jund have discard, cheap removal, and graveyard hate to punish Izzet Phoenix and Thing in the Ice.

That’s all that’s been written for Thing in the Ice’s history so far. From near Standard unplayable and the Modern fringe, to the top of the Modern metagame. Few cards cards can claim to come from such humble beginnings. Only time will tell if Thing in the Ice keeps its crown, or fades back into obscurity. Will it claim a Mythic Championship trophy this weekend, one that it can call its own?

If you have another card you’d like me to dig into the history of, feel free to shoot me a message @DankConfidant or the Team Nova Twitter account.

Don't Miss Out!

Sign up for the Hipsters Newsletter for weekly updates.