Suncleanser | Magic 2019 | Art by Mark Zug
27, Jun, 24

5 Sideboard Cards That Could Steal The Show At Pro Tour MH3

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It’s that time again, folks. The biggest names in Magic are gathering in Amsterdam, ready for a weekend packed with top-tier Modern gameplay. That’s right: Pro Tour Modern Horizons 3 is here! The titular set has already had a huge impact on multiple formats and, based on the official metagame breakdown for this weekend, that won’t be slowing down any time soon. These new cards and strategies are undoubtedly exciting. What’s more interesting, to me at least, are the cards players choose to combat them. Here are five spicy sideboard cards that could come into their own at Pro Tour MH3.

Tunnel Ignus

This one’s a real deep cut. Even if you’ve been playing since Scars of Mirrodin, where this card’s one and only printing took place, chances are you won’t recognize it. That’s because it has an incredibly niche ability that has never really been relevant in any format. Until now.

To no one’s surprise, decks centered on Nadu, Winged Wisdom are taking up a huge amount of the meta going into the weekend. Over 25% of it, in fact. These decks abuse cards like Shuko to stack up near-infinite draw/ramp triggers, typically ending things in a single turn with a Thassa’s Oracle. They’re very powerful, but they also need to put a ton of lands into play in order to function. Tunnel Ignus punishes that heavily.

Each time a Nadu player ramps a land into play, they’ll take three damage from Ignus. That only gives them seven additional drops to play with. Even less if you factor in damage from Fetches and Shocks. This basically stops the deck from comboing off until it can get Ignus off the table. This sounds easy enough, given that it’s a mere 2/1, but Nadu decks actually play very few answers to it, especially in the main deck.

For this reason, Pro Tour Modern Horizons 3 could finally be Tunnel Ignus’s time to shine. It does compete with Harsh Mentor for the same role, as a sideboard piece against Nadu decks, but Ignus has an old-school cool factor that Mentor simply lacks. Some more aggressive decks may even play both, who knows?

Damping Sphere

Next on our list of great Pro Tour MH3 sideboard cards in Damping Sphere. This is a certified classic, seeing play in all kinds of formats to counter all kinds of strategies. It has two particularly juicy targets in this weekend’s Pro Tour: Eldrazi decks, and Ruby Storm.

The new wave of Eldrazi decks, which take up around 9% of the Pro Tour meta, succeed largely based on one thing: their fast mana. Whether they’re assembling Tron or just using Eldrazi Temple and Ugin’s Labyrinth as Sol lands, these decks get ahead very quickly. An essential trait, given how much their key threats cost. With a Damping Sphere out, however, all of these lands will tap for one mana only. That’ll take the wind out of an Eldrazi deck’s sails for sure, and possibly just shred them entirely.

But wait, there’s more! Damping Sphere’s other ability is perfect against another Modern menace: Ruby Storm. At 9.5%, this deck has a similar overall meta presence to Eldrazi. For those unversed in its ways, Storm wins by chaining a bunch of Ritual and draw spells before winning the game on the spot with a Grapeshot. Damping Sphere forces your opponent to pay more mana for each spell they’ve cast in a turn, which prevents them from doing so.

Ruby Storm does run artifact hate in the sideboard, but sparingly. Given that these two decks make up around 9% of the Pro Tour meta, and that Damping Sphere is colorless and can go in any deck that wants it, it seems like an easy include to me.

Flare of Malice

From one card that’s great against Eldrazi decks to another. Flare of Malice is one of the most powerful Edict effects Magic has seen in years. Not just because it can come down for “free” if you sacrifice a black creature, but because it forces your opponent to sacrifice their priciest threat. This prevents Eldrazi players from just saccing a disposable Spawn token rather than their massive Titan.

Given how many huge Eldrazi are seeing Modern play at the moment, an effect like this is a no-brainer. Doubly so because it’s one of the few effective answers to Through the Breach strategies. These decks use their namesake card to drop an early Emrakul and swing, effectively ending the game right there in many cases. Since Emrakul has protection from instants, Flare of Malice is one of the few instant-speed options available for dealing with her.

The card isn’t limited only to sniping Eldrazi, mind you. There are plenty of other scary threats running about in Modern at the moment, whether it’s Nadu trying to combo off alone, or Phlage, Titan of Fire’s Fury, in all manner of Aggro, Midrange, and Control builds. Flare of Malice can deal with them all, at instant speed, for no mana. This seems like an obvious sideboard pick for most decks running black, but especially Golgari Yawgmoth, which has no shortage of disposable black creatures to sacrifice.

Disruptor Flute

Pro-Tour-MH3-Sideboard-Cards-Disruptor-Flute

This is another new addition from Modern Horizons 3, so it makes sense that it would be a great pick for this Pro Tour. Disruptor Flute is a lot like Pithing Needle, except it has Flash and also raises the cost of the chosen card as well. This makes it an ideal pick against some of the more problematic activated abilities in the format.

First and foremost among these: The One Ring. This card is a staple of the format at this point, sitting in around 25% of decks according to MTGGoldfish. Its raw card advantage can easily run away with the game if left unchecked, especially in the new Jeskai Control lists that have popped up post-MH3. Name it with Disruptor Flute, however, and it’s just a very, very slow Teferi’s Protection. With none of the Phasing fun. Since The One Ring is Indestructible, lateral methods like this are the best way of dealing with it.

Even if your opponent isn’t running the source of Sauron’s power, Disruptor Flute has plenty of other great targets. It totally shuts down Shuko, thus slowing Nadu decks down by a lot. Flute also pushes Phlage from an efficient threat to a sluggish beater. It comes down one turn before Phlage too, just to add insult to injury. Cards like Disruptor Flute are at their best in known metas. Going into Pro Tour MH3, where the scary cards are all well-documented, it makes a stellar sideboard pick.

Suncleanser

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We started with a curveball, and now let’s end with one too. Like Tunnel Ignus, Suncleanser isn’t a card that has seen a whole lot of play. Its two abilities, which remove all counters from an opposing creature or player, respectively, are incredibly narrow in scope. If it could target yourself it could be a nice answer to Poison counters, but alas, it cannot. What it can do, however, is hoover up Energy counters.

This hasn’t been relevant for a long time, but with Energy coming back better than ever in MH3, it could be time to crack out the Suncleansers. Galvanic Discharge has been the most-played new card in the set in recent tournaments. Chances are this will be true at the Pro Tour as well. Land a Suncleanser on an opponent playing Boros Energy, and a huge chunk of their deck will essentially be useless until they remove it. No more Amped Raptor, Unstable Amulet, or Static Prison.

This matchup alone is probably reason enough to run Suncleanser in your sideboard. Once it’s out it’s incredibly difficult for Boros Energy to remove, and until they do they’re essentially stranded. There may not be any good targets for the creature half of the ability in the current meta, but that doesn’t matter. A card this high-impact could easily see sideboard play at the Pro Tour. Get ready to cheer if you see one dropped this weekend.

Read More: The Most Expensive Modern Horizons 3 Cards

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