Rampaging Ferocidon
4, Jan, 24

These MTG Hidden Gems for Your Sideboard are Extremely Underrated!

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Article at a Glance

Part of what makes MTG so enjoyable is the constant ebb and flow of the metagame as new cards are introduced to a variety of different formats. Since the release of The Lost Caverns of Ixalan, for example, we’ve seen the Standard, Pioneer, and even Modern metagames shift rather drastically. In Standard, the introduction of Cavern of Souls only heightened the presence of five-color ramp within the format.

In Pioneer, the breakout of Abzan Amalia Benavides Aguirre combo forced players to be able to adjust accordingly. In Modern, Tishana’s Tidebinder helped fix some of the weaknesses with the Crashing Footfalls Cascade deck, cementing its position as arguably the best deck in the format.

Now that The Lost Caverns of Ixalan has been out for quite some time now and these formats have begun to settle, it’s become increasingly important for players to adapt to these metagame shifts. In some cases, adapting can be as simple as preparing your sideboard in a way that helps handle some of the more popular matchups you might face. Today, we are going to go over some of the most underrated sideboard options in these three formats that have become increasingly more prevalent and important in recent weeks.

Jace, The Perfected Mind in Standard

Jace, the Perfected Mind

First up, we have a rather interesting card that serves a very specific purpose in Standard sideboards. As mentioned, five-color ramp has become a massive portion of the metagame. As such, if you are going to play five-color ramp, you need to be prepared for the mirror more than ever. The five-color ramp mirrors are often exceptionally long and drawn-out. In some instances, the games will even come down to decking or running out of time as the match ends in a draw.

Despite the deck being filled with game-breaking bombs like Atraxa, Grand Unifier, the lack of counter magic and the presence of cards like Leyline Binding and Sunfall can make it hard to actually close the game. This deck has also adopted Up the Beanstalk, and much like the Modern Up the Beanstalk Cascade mirrors of old, you can draw cards rather quickly.

This is where Jace comes into play. Having a way to mill your opponent for a bunch of cards can be the difference between winning and losing the mirror match. Unlike in Modern, you don’t have cards like Endurance to shuffle your graveyard back into your library at little cost, so milling your opponent for a big chunk of cards is a great sideboard plan.

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Shadows’ Verdict in Pioneer

Shadows' Verdict

Next up, we have a sideboard card that appeared in the top 4 of a recent Magic Online Pioneer Super Qualifier out of Rakdos midrange. As a five-mana board wipe that is somewhat restrictive in what it can hit, this inclusion may seem a bit puzzling. However, this card fills a very important role against Abzan Amalia combo, one of Rakdos midrange’s tougher matchups.

Typically, we will see cards like Path of Peril or Languish utilized in this slot. While both of these cards are a bit stronger against Boros Convoke, they each have a glaring weakness against Abzan Amalia combo: they are weak to Return to the Ranks. Not only does Shadows’ Verdict exile all Creatures with mana value three or less from the battlefield, but it also exiles Creatures from the graveyard.

This is also useful against Extraction Specialist, which is a naturally strong card against Rakdos. Given that this effect hits nearly every Creature out of Abzan Amalia combo, it seems like a solid sideboard consideration.

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Quakebringer in Pioneer

Quakebringer

Another card that is quite solid against Abzan Amalia combo is Quakebringer. Stopping your opponents from being able to gain life completely disrupts the combo and makes Amalia and much less concerning individually. While you can play this card turn four via Foretell, the card is still a five-drop, meaning it is immune to Skyclave Apparition.

As such, many Abzan Amalia combo lists have no answer for the card once it hits the board. It’s also quite effective against Angels decks as a result. More aggressive decks may still prefer Rampaging Ferocidon and black-based decks can maximize Knight of Dusk’s Shadow more effectively given its efficiency. Nonetheless, Quakebringer is an underrated sideboard card in decks with a slightly higher curve, such as Gruul Scapeshift combo or even Gruul midrange.

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Cursed Totem in Modern

Cursed Totem

Moving on to Modern, we have a colorless hate-piece that is extremely effective in a couple different matchups. Given the fact that it doesn’t have a color restriction and provides a very specific effect, many decks can utilize it as a sideboard card. Where it shines the most is against Yawgmoth, Thran Physician combo and Hardened Scales decks.

Against Yawgmoth combo, shutting off Yawgmoth is essential. However, Cursed Totem does more than that. It also shuts off the mana dorks in the deck, such as Delighted Halfling or Wall of Roots. The addition of Agatha’s Soul Cauldron from Wilds of Eldraine has made it difficult to simply play a Pithing Needle, name Yawgmoth and call it a day. Fortunately, Cursed Totem shuts down Yawgmoth’s ability on any creature that may have it.

Versus Hardened Scales, you completely blank a lot of the deck’s scariest cards. From Walking Ballista being unable to kill your threats to Hangarback Walker not being able to grow, many cards in the deck get a lot worse. Perhaps the biggest effect Cursed Totem has in this matchup, though, is shutting off Arcbound Ravager. The deck is a lot less scary when it’s full of mediocre Creatures without activated abilities.

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Bonecrusher Giant in Modern

Bonecrusher Giant

Finally, we have Bonecrusher Giant. Bonecrusher Giant is an excellent card in Pioneer but isn’t quite efficient enough for most decks to want to utilize it in Modern. That being said, it fills a unique role for decks like Prowess. Obviously, Bonecrusher can be strong in matchups like the mirror, acting as removal and a threat in one card.

What makes Bonecrusher more versatile than one might expect, though, is with its ability to help you cross the finish line against The One Ring. Thanks to the “damage can’t be prevented” clause, once your opponent taps out to cast The One Ring, you can cast “Stomp” targeting yourself, swing with your team, and close the game like normal. This is mostly important for decks like Prowess that can build a decent board of Creatures in short order, but for those decks, Bonecrusher can be a sneaky card against mono-green Tron or mono-black control.

It’s always important to think outside the box when it comes to sideboard cards, as the ebb and flow of the metagame in each format can dictate when certain cards get stronger or weaker. Cards like Quakebringer seeing play showcase that hidden gems can serve a particular purpose. This is certainly one of the joys of deckbuilding in Constructed, and using these cards to your advantage can help give you an important edge in a variety of matchups.

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