Core Set 2020 releases at the end of the week. With it comes the much-anticipated London mulligan rule. It is no secret at this point that the London mulligan rule is going to have a noticeable impact across all formats, and there is going to be an increase in the metagame share of lynchpin decks trying to abuse the new mulligan rule. Many of these decks are going to try and win or lock their opponents out on turn one or two.

The best way to fight these decks is with free spells that interact. Legacy has access to the most versatile of these spells, Force of Will—a format staple that serves exactly that purpose. So what is the best card you can play in Modern to counteract these lynchpin decks? Force of Negation.

Force of Negation is evidence that Wizards of the Coast does not want Force of Will itself in Modern, but does want the safety valve that the free counterspell provides. Force of Negation is especially elegant because it cannot effectively be used to protect combo turns like Force of Will is sometimes used in Legacy. The restriction on the timing for pitch-casting Force of Negation, along with its much more reasonable casting cost, makes it the ideal candidate for the previously-too-clunky fair decks in Modern.

Azorius Control, by shadow_PT

Creatures (5)
Snapcaster Mage
Vendilion Clique

Planeswalkers (8)
Narset, Parter of Veils
Teferi, Time Raveler
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
Jace, the Mind Sculptor

Spells (23)
Path to Exile
Detention Sphere
Force of Negation
Spell Snare
Logic Knot
Mana Leak
Cryptic Command
Supreme Verdict
Wrath of God
Timely Reinforcements
Surgical Extraction
Lands (24)
Flooded Strand
Scalding Tarn
Celestial Colonnade
Glacial Fortress
Hallowed Fountain
Field of Ruin

Sideboard (15)
Rest in Peace
Stony Silence
Dovin’s Veto
Disdainful Stroke
Force of Negation
Celestial Purge
Monastery Mentor
Vendilion Clique
Baneslayer Angel
Timely Reinforcements
Supreme Verdict

The applications in Modern don’t stop there either. Azorius Control, Izzet Phoenix, Humans, and Golgari Midrange decks are widely considered to be the “fair” decks of Modern. They tend to be slower than other decks at winning, and therefore interact with their opponent to supplement their proactive gameplan. Three of these four decks can support Force of Negation at least as a sideboard card.

With the threat of the new Neoform combo deck on the horizon, free interaction is more necessary than ever. Playing only two copies of Force of Negation will not be acceptable much longer.

Neoform Combo, by __matsugan

Creatures (19)
Allosaurus Rider
Chancellor of the Tangle
Simian Spirit Guide
Wild Cantor
Laboratory Maniac
Street Wraith
Autochthon Wurm

Spells (28)
Serum Visions
Eldritch Evolution
Nourishing Shoal
Summoner’s Pact
Pact of Negation
Life Goes On
Edge of Autumn
Safewright Quest
Lands (13)
Botanical Sanctum
Gemstone Mine
Breeding Pool
Waterlogged Grove

Sideboard (15)
Pact of Negation
Slaughter Pact
Autumn’s Veil
Dissenter’s Deliverance
Gaea’s Blessing

Whether or not Hogaak leaves the format, Force of Negation will quickly become the best tool for fighting the linear combo decks in Modern.

Force of Negation should make waves in Legacy too! That format has plenty of linear combo decks trying to win the game on turn one or two—Storm, Sneak and Show, BR Reanimator, and Dredge just to name a few. On top of those decks, there are decks using Chalice of the Void and Blood Moon with fast mana to lock opponents out from casting spells on turn one. While Force of Will remains the primary defense, adding Force of Negation provides extra copies that become much easier to cast later in the game.

The “fair” decks of Legacy already play four copies of Force of Will, but some have already started to pick up copies of Force of Negation for the sideboard. We already Force of Negation popping up in Chad Harney’s Izzet Delver deck, but I also expect decks like Miracles, Grixis Control, and Stoneblade to start playing some number of Force of Negation. Last weekend at SCG Pittsburgh, I played the Legacy classic with multiple Force of Negation in my Izzet Delver sideboard, and they overperformed. Not just against the unfair decks like Storm, but against decks like Miracles where I am fine paying three mana to cast it.

Note: When you do decide to put Force of Negation in your deck, you must be wary of your blue card count. Force of Will math has been discussed for years, and the exact number of blue cards you want to include depends on when you wish to cast it. When I play Legacy, I prefer to have eighteen total blue cards in my deck, including Force of Wills, to be able to cast one before my first draw step. If you can get your blue card count higher it will certainly help, but I would not go below fifteen when playing four Force effects. You have a little more flexibility when playing less copies of Force of Negation, and in Modern you will not have to cast it on the first turn of the game as often as you do in Legacy; but your blue card count will still matter.

Needless to say, Force of Negation has been a fantastic option in both Modern and Legacy so far. After the adoption of the London mulligan rule, playing only two copies in the sideboard won’t be enough. I expect most of the decks I have mentioned in this article to end up playing three or four copies, with many pushing to playing some in the maindeck.

If you have not yet bought your copies, I would pick up at least three. Force of Negation is going to be a requirement for the next few months at least. I expect it to be a format staple for years to come.

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