27, May, 24

The 10 MTG Best Modern Cards!

Article at a Glance

Thanks to the upcoming release of Modern Horizons 3, the Modern format is going to get a massive spotlight. These Horizons sets, historically, have affected the Modern format so severely that they undergo a pseudo-‘rotation.’ Basically, the format looks entirely different at its most competitive level after their release.

As a result, we felt it would be interesting to take a look at the best Modern cards before Modern Horizons 3 hit the scene. Of course, once things do get shaken up, we’ll be sure to update this list appropriately.

While some of these cards will be the signpost ones that establish various archetypes in Modern, the absolute best cards in the format will be determined by usage and usage alone. For that reason, as we move up the list, the choices may seem strange, but these, according to MTGtop8, are simply the most used cards in the format currently.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the best cards in the MTG Modern format!

#10 | Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer

Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer

Oh, how the mighty fall. Ragavan was definitely a contender for the best card in all of Modern before Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth released. Following that, Orcish Bowmasters quickly took over the format and basically rendered this card useless.

Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer still remains quite a popular option Modern. Percentage usage according to MTGTop8 would suggest that Ragavan should be higher on this list, but Orcish Bowmasters is still prevalent in the two most popular decks in the format, which puts Ragavan on shaky ground.

That said, should you be facing a matchup that cannot deal with Ragavan early, you will absolutely run away in card and mana advantage. There are quite a few decks, like Tron, Living End, Amulet Titan, and more that give Ragavan a disturbing amount of time to accumulate advantage. While Ragavan was the best card in Modern for some time, it is now very feast or famine, carrying matchups or becoming Orcish Bowmasters food.

#9 | Urza’s Saga

Urza's Saga

This is going to look like a weird pick to some. Urza’s Saga is one of the strongest cards in the Modern format, and its usage in Legacy, Vintage, and Commander is a testament to that. That said, many of the archetypes that Saga enables aren’t doing too hot right now, so Urza’s Saga is not a big player in the current metagame.

The card is fantastic in Amulet Titan. Able to find Amulet of Vigor, Urza’s Saga adds a ton of consistency to a blazing-fast combo deck. The card also does wonders in decks like Hammertime, Izzet Grinding Station, Hardened Scales, and good ol’ fashioned Jund. Unfortunately for Urza’s Saga but all of those decks are fringe picks right now.

Modern Horizons 3 has a ton of artifacts and Affinity support coming its way. Urza’s Saga is likely to gain a lot of ground thanks to this set. If you’re thinking about trying some of the artifact synergies, or even the Ugin cards that look absolutely absurd, I would pick these up sooner rather than later.

#8 | Yawgmoth, Thran Physician

Yawgmoth, Thran Physician

Yawgmoth is much less popular in the overall Modern format than the other cards on this list, but the card is the namesake of one of the biggest decks in the format. Without Yawgmoth, Thran Physician, Golgari Yawgmoth would not exist. That deck is a contender for the best deck in the entire format at the moment.

This deck is rather complex, utilizing Yawgmoth’s activated abilities combined with Undying synergies to create infinite combos. Just get two Undying creatures into play with an effect like Blood Artist, and you’ve won the game. This, combined with fast mana in the form of dorks and tutoring effects like Chord of Calling creates a toolbox creature combo deck like the format has never seen.

#7 | The Force Cycle

Free spells are powerful in Modern, and the ‘Force’ cycle encapsulates all of the free spells from the original Modern Horizons sets. While there is a full cycle of these cards, only two of them are really utilized, and those are Force of Negation and Force of Vigor.

Similar to the Evoke Elementals, you can cast these cards for free by exiling another card of the same color from your hand. That said, you can only use the free cost on your opponent’s turns. Otherwise, you can cast these cards for free.

Force of Negation counters a noncreature spell and exiles it, while Force of Vigor destroys two artifacts or enchantments. Force of Negation sees a lot more play in Modern than older formats thanks to the existence of Force of Will, but Force of Vigor is the opposite, seeing tons of play in older formats. The card still sees sideboard play in Modern, but artifacts and enchantments are a little less popular at the moment. That said, this remains a powerful sideboard piece against decks like Amulet Titan.

#6 | The Evoke Elementals

Instead of listing all five Evoke Elementals separately, we decided to put them all into one category. These five cards completely transformed the Modern format when Modern Horizons 2 dropped. There is a very strong argument to put these higher on the list, but we decided to go with percentage usage for nominations above this one.

The usage of each elemental in this cycle is quite varied. Grief is the most popular one, seen in about 33% of winning Modern decks. Seeing play in Scam, Living End, Goryo’s Vengeance, and more, Grief ranges from simply being a free Thoughtseize effect to a card that rips apart your hand and provides a threat. This card is seriously dangerous in a variety of different decks.

Solitude is likely the second-best Evoke elemental that is still legal in Modern. You’ll commonly find this card in a variety of slower builds, utilizing it as a free Swords of Plowshares as well as a win condition. Both modes of this card can be quite powerful.

Subtlety saw a ton of play before Violent Outburst was banned thanks to being powerful cards in both Crashing Footfalls and Living End Cascade shells. Living End still sees play, but Subtlety struggles to see play outside of that and some control decks in the current Modern format.

Endurance still sees healthy play, but only as a sideboard option. Exiling graveyards isn’t always a relevant ability, which can make it underwhelming in the main deck in some matchups.

Finally, Fury was arguably the best Evoke elemental in the Modern format. Wizards of the Coast thought so, at least, because the card was banned right out of Modern. Whether this was the right decision or not is honestly a gigantic question mark, as the format just seemed to get worse after this decision was made.

#5 | The One Ring

The One Ring

From here on out, the list, instead of being defining cards for various archetypes, is now more based on percentage usage in the Modern format.

Alongside our #4 pick, The One Ring was one of two cards released in the recent Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth set that completely shook up the Modern format. Generally, playing a four mana artifact that doesn’t have any immediate impact is too slow for Modern, but The One Ring fixes that by offering its caster protection from everything the turn it enters play. This effect is so desirable that players utilize The One Ring just as much for the first effect as the second.

Past granting Protection from Everything for a turn, The One Ring can draw an absolutely obscene amount of cards. Sure, you’ll lose life as this is happening, but you can easily find another Ring, replace your current one, and negate all of the life loss. It’s easy to buy yourself tons of cards and time that you otherwise would not have with The One Ring.

#4 | Orcish Bowmasters

Orcish Bowmasters

Orcish Bowmasters, while better in Legacy, is still very powerful in the Modern format. Its existence is so prevalent that the viability of anything with one Toughness is put into question. Only Ragavan is considered somewhat viable, and in formats with heavier Bowmaster representation, even Modern’s previous overlord’s viability is put into question.

This is one of the two cards from Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth that completely shook up the Modern format, with The One Ring being the other card that caused a lot of metagame shifts.

While Bowmaster’s dominance of tiny creatures is certainly powerful, the card is even better at shutting down draw effects. Considering the card right above this one loves to draw an absurd amount of cards, Orcish Bowmasters is one of the best foils for that plan. Between various cantrip effects, Cycling out of Living End, and more, there is enough card draw for Orcish Bowmasters to punish many opponents for their antics.

Currently, Orcish Bowmasters mainly sees play in the Golgari Yawgmoth and Rakdos Scam archetypes, but that representation is enough to put it in about 33% of winning decklists according to MTGtop8. These are the two most popular archetypes in the metagame according to MTGgoldfish at the time of writing.

#3 | Fetch Lands

MTG Arena Fetch Lands

Fetch Lands are undeniably one of the identity-creating cards in the Modern format. Allowing you to flawlessly fix your mana while thinning your deck, Fetch Lands allows for some incredibly greedy mana bases to exist within the Modern format. The recent innovation of four-color Living End is a great example. While being mostly Bant, some variants of the deck run black mana to allow for hard casting of your various black spells that you would otherwise cheat in through various methods.

The downside, if there is one, is that using Fetch Lands in the Modern format can be expensive on your life total. Losing a life here and Shocking in a Shock land to lose two more can put you in danger faster than you expect. Honestly, the reward far outweighs the risk, putting Fetch Lands as the third-best cards in the current Modern format.

#2 | Lightning Bolt

Lightning Bolt

Originating all the way back from Alpha, Lightning Bolt is one of the most classic MTG cards in existence. Three damage to any target for one mana is too good of a deal to ignore, and most decks that can run this effect will run some number of them. Between killing opponents and acting as removal, Lightning Bolt is simply too flexible, and can easily create mana advantages depending on what it removes.

Lightning Bolt and our #1 pick commonly battle for the most used card in Modern depending on what two-week snapshot you look at. Even when Lightning Bolt isn’t at the top, it’s always near it. Regardless of how the Modern metagame looks, you can expect to see this classic MTG spell somewhere.

#1 | Boseiju, Who Endures

Boseiju, Who Endures is one of the five Legendary Channel lands from Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty. One of the biggest additions to Magic in quite some time, these Channel lands are staples in every MTG format nowadays. Boseiju is the most popular of these lands, but Otawara, Soaring City is also rather popular, even seeing play in Legacy.

Capable of destroying an artifact or enchantment for just two mana, Boseiju does a great job at offering players a removal spell at, basically, no cost. If you need to use this as a Forest, go right ahead. Otherwise, you have an extra removal spell that may otherwise be a land.

Why is Boseiju the best card in Modern? According to MTGTop8, this is commonly the most used card in the entire format. Of course, any green deck wants to run a copy of this, so there is definitely some bias there since the card is so accessible. The fact that this card beats out the Fetch Lands and even Lightning Bolt in terms of usage, however, is a real testament to just how powerful Boseiju, Who Endures truly is.

How Will Modern Horizons 3 Shake This Up?

Its no exaggeration to say that Modern Horizons sets routinely alter the landscape of the Modern metagame. Labeled by the community as ‘forced rotation,’ Modern Horizons 3 could completely alter the metagame. Old decks that aren’t considered competitive could rise from the ashes, and new archetypes we’ve never seen before could completely take over the metagame. Wizards of the Coast went out of their way to try and make this set less transformational to the metagame than the previous Modern Horizons ones, but the cards coming out in this set look kind of absurd.

Take a snapshot of this top ten, because things could be quite different after Modern Horizons 3 enters the battle and shakes things up.

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