Previews began last weekend for the highly anticipated new set, War of the Spark. The set looks to be eventful—we will see the conclusion to a five-set story. Despite only being a third of the way through the previews, the set has already made a big impression with thirty-six Planeswalkers lurking in booster packs.

This week I look at a handful of the previews already revealed to evaluate their potential impact in Modern. With the many new Planeswalkers, some will be “budget” planeswalkers that aren’t the most expensive new cards to obtain. They can’t all be expensive, or slot into the top-tier decks. That bodes well for fringe archetypes. So let’s focus there instead of the best decks.

Kiora, Behemoth Beckoner

In recent Magic history, we have a habit of undervaluing three-mana Planeswalkers. Liliana of the Veil set our expectations too high, perhaps. I believe Kiora, Behemoth Beckoner will change that, even though she’s only an uncommon with two abilities. Seven loyalty is enormous: she’s able to survive for at least a few turns. Plus she’s essentially a two-mana planeswalker if you untap a land. Untapping a permanent is a powerful ability in Modern. In this instance, I can see Kiora sliding into in Mono-Green Devotion strategies feauring Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx to accelerate on mana.

Kiora acts as an additional Garruk Wildspeaker in with the upside of drawing cards once you’ve entwined a Tooth and Nail, for example. Although I don’t expect to see Kiora be an instant four-of in these builds, she presents plenty of acceleration, protection, and card advantage. Kiora could also fit in Mono-Green Stompy sideboards as a means to gain value in the more extended, drawn-out matches. I’m surprised not to see Kiora talked about more, as I believe she’s one of the best planeswalkers we’ve seen in the set so far.

Davriel, Rogue Shadowmage

Davriel, Rogue Shadowmage becomes the latest addition to the long line of discard effects, It draws inspiration from an old classic, The Rack. Eight Rack has been a fringe and well-loved deck in Modern for some time. Davriel will give the archetype a much-needed boost that could end up increasing the number of racks in the deck’s name.

Uncommon Davriel doesn’t have a plus ability, but you’re still achieving resource denial and can deploy a second Davriel with ease. At worst he sit on board as a static Shrieking Affliction. Davriel could also improve the deck’s mana by replacing double-black spells like Wrench Mind. Doing that makes more room for colorless lands such as Hostile Desert alongside the typical set of Mutavault. I expect Davriel, Rogue Shadowmage to be a mainstay in Eight Rack strategies going forward. Even without the boost of Davriel, the archetype is well-positioned in current Modern—Whir Prison and Golgari Midrange are succeeding with a similar strategy.

Liliana’s Triumph

Here’s another card that will interest Eight Rack decks. Modern hasn’t seen much in the way of powerful edicts outside of Liliana of the Veil and Devour Flesh, which is cropping up in Sultai Teachings builds. Liliana’s Triumph looks to change this. It’s an upgrade over Devour Flesh (and Geth’s Verdict) as it doesn’t target the player, which evades Leyline of Sanctity.

I expect this to show up in black-based sideboards as it offers plenty of solutions to the format. I also expect some decks to play it in the main—mostly decks that play Liliana already. Despite Liliana’s Triumph hindering Bogles somewhat, I expect the hexproof archetype to adapt by adding Cartouche of Solidarity along with a potential second Dryad Arbor to protect against the edicts.

Emergence Zone

Emergence Zone is an exciting card with a high ceiling. Although I expect this to be a Commander staple, I can foresee application in Modern Eldrazi and Tron decks. The important question to ask is: does Emergence Zone improve on what these decks already have? In the case of Mono-Green Tron, probably not. Sanctum of Ugin and Ghost Quarter seem more useful in that deck. Many of the threats in Mono-Green Tron don’t benefit from having flash, especially the planeswalkers Karn Liberated and Ugin, the Spirit Dragon.

Mono-Blue Tron seems like a better fit, as it’s more reactive with countermagic. Does it improve the deck over Gemstone Caverns or Field of Ruin? The question warrants testing. Colorless Eldrazi and Eldrazi Tron have flex slots in the land base, and with Cavern of Souls not being desirable currently I could see a miser’s single copy included in future builds. Instant speed Thought-Knot Seer sounds potent but could be too cute for Modern. Keep an eye out for Emergence Zone.

Vivien’s Arkbow

Vivien’s Arkbow looks to be a fixed version of the classic card Survival of the Fittest. This is an exciting design and could have potential in builds such as Elves and Vizier Combo. Although it costs a lot of mana to get a big payoff, those archetypes can generate plenty of mana. Vivien’s Arkbow is a repeatable Collected Company effect and helps dodge counterspells, similar to Aether Vial. Also, you can discard any card to the ability, which synergises well with Eternal Witness.

With the potential that Vivien’s Arkbow brings, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this card tested out in Elves as another means to find Shaman of the Pack or Ezuri, Renegade Leader. It requires some building around, but the payoff is high if you do. At worst, it’s an exciting sideboard card that bolsters these strategies instead of being a targeted hate card.

War of the Spark looks to be a compelling set, and we are only a third of the way through the previews. Although the core focus is on Planeswalkers, there are plenty of non-Planeswalker cards poised to contribute to Modern and bolster fringe strategies going forward. Modern Horizons is predicted to add more to the format, but I wouldn’t ignore what War of the Spark brings to the table.

Emma is a writer and Modern enthusiast based in Suffolk, England. She has been involved in Magic since Khans of Tarkir’s release back in 2014, but won’t shy away from Cube and MTG Arena. Follow her on Twitter @emmmzyne to join in on the conversation!

Don't Miss Out!

Sign up for the Hipsters Newsletter for weekly updates.