With the end of the preview season for Wilds of Eldraine this Friday, we started our review season at Cards Realm, where we analyzed the set for the major Magic: the Gathering formats.
While the expansion picks up on some of the main themes we saw in its predecessor, Throne of Eldraine, Modern's power level has been amplified in recent years to the point where it's become as mana-efficient as Legacy.
Therefore, a complete review seems redundant given that most of their cards don't reach the level necessary to enter the competitive scene, and in this article, we evaluate and rank the ten most viable cards in the set for the format, based on their potential presence in the competitive Metagame, or function in a specific archetype.
Top Ten Wilds of Eldraine Cards for Modern
10 - Royal Treatment
Royal Treatment is an "upgrade" from Snakeskin Veil for most archetypes with green that care about protecting their threats with combat tricks. The fact that it puts an aura that offers ward 1 makes it difficult for the opponent to interact with your creatures in later turns.
It might be worth space on Infect, but doesn't seem to replace Snakeskin Veil on Hardened Scales (which barely runs it anyway), as that strategy cares about +1/+1 counters.
9 - Rankle's Prank
Rankle's Prank is a strange spell. On the one hand, it's a Barter in Blood on steroids, on the other, it's an amplified Smallpox that doesn't remove lands. Its effects are powerful on their own, but there are few if any strategies in Modern today that actually take advantage of this spell and can afford to pay four mana for it.
8 - Hearth Elemental
Hearth Elemental is a decent option for decks that haven't done impressive results in a while, such as Dredge, which can benefit from the full hand discard, while having a decent number of spells to be able to cast Hearth Elemental if the match extends.
Izzet Phoenix could also be interested in it, although I believe it doesn't dig the idea of discarding its entire hand for two cards, and it doesn't do enough to bring the archetype back from the dead either.
7 - Candy Trail
Candy Trail is a functional artifact that interacts with a few distinct Modern strategies that run Urza's Saga. Because it has an immediate effect the moment it comes into play, and offers a relevant lifegain against Burn coupled with a draw, it is possible for it to appear as a one-of in decks like Jund Saga, Whirza, or Asmo Food.
6 - Elusive Otter
Elusive Otter would rank higher in this ranking if the current Metagame were not defined by Orcish Bowmasters, which punishes interactions that would lead to a blue 1/1 with Prowess seeing play in the format.
It's likely worth some testing on the recent Prowess lists that have come out since Preordain was unbanned. However, when competing with Soul-Scar Mage and Monastery Swiftspear, both 1/2 creatures that can survive Bowmasters' ping, and Sprite Dragon, which gains +1/+1 counters rather than a temporary buff, its future in the format looks unpromising.
5 - Up the Beanstalk
Cards with effects that trigger when you cast a certain type of spell don't tend to have a lot of space in Modern. However, Up the Beanstalk is a step ahead of other enchantments, such as Garruk's Uprising, by guaranteeing a draw the moment it comes into play, and by having an affordable mana value.
This card's obvious interaction in Modern is on Goodstuff lists, especially those that take advantage of Fury, Solitude, and Leyline Binding to deal with the opponent's board. However, Up the Beanstalk still does very little on its own to compete with other cards that see play in the format, and it doesn't seem to have enough qualities to replace other value engines on these archetypes.
4 - Syr Ginger, The Meal Ender
After receiving Ozolith, the Shattered Spire in March of the Machine, Scales gains yet another creature with good interactions with its strategy, as Syr Ginger grows as artifacts are sent to the graveyard, and closes a super efficient interaction alongside Arcbound Ravager, where both creatures grow exponentially while Syr Ginger grants a means of filtering the top of
in the process.
Furthermore, Syr Ginger is a soul seeking revenge for the murder of her lover by Garruk Wildspeaker, and this is reflected in her first ability, which makes her an immediate threat if the opponent controls a Planeswalker, being useful against Teferi, Time Raveler and Wrenn and Six, and she even sacrifices herself and grants another interaction between her, The Ozolith and flying threats.
The problem is where the new creature can fit, as the Scales lists are well-defined. Perhaps, reducing the number of Patchwork Automaton could be a good start.
3 - Beseech the Mirror
Last week I published an article where I explore Beseech the Mirror's potential in major competitive formats. In Modern, Wilds of Eldraine's most powerful spell finds a home alongside two of the best Lords of the Rings cards: The One Ring and Orcish Bowmasters.
Like Bring to Light, Beseech the Mirror transforms into any card in your deck - as long as you respect its conditions. Given the popularity of The One Ring, the idea of sacrificing the artifact you've already used and needing to get rid of counters to cast another Ring is as tempting an idea as sacrificing the Orcish Bowmasters token to fetch Grief, or any other essential card for a given moment in the game.
The problem with the new spell is its cost: is a heavy mana value even for two-color decks in an environment where Blood Moon exists. So Beseech the Mirror's biggest potential in Modern seems to revolve around Mono Black Coffers, which have little to no problem generating enough mana for the card, while running both of the above examples, and still has Karn, the Great Creator as a tutor for any other Sideboard piece.
Outside of it, there can be several archetypes that will try to extract some value from Beseech the Mirror, and on its own and a bit of effort from players, the card can establish new strategies in the Metagame.
2 - Agatha's Soul Cauldron
Agatha's Soul Cauldron is Wilds of Eldraine's greatest combo enabler for Modern. Outside that side of the artifact with other cards whose competitive potential is questionable, it's also another excellent piece for Hardened Scales.
With the artifact in play, any creature you control with a +1/+1 counter on it can use the activated abilities of any creature exiled with the cauldron. Meaning any creature on your board becomes an Arcbound Ravager and/or a Walking Ballista, and can create great interactions between your creatures and The Ozolith.
Also, Agatha's Soul Cauldron is a graveyard hate, and we can use it to exile Grief or Fury in response to the trigger of spells that return them to the battlefield, or even to exile other creatures whose activated abilities might benefit the artifact's controller.
1 - Not Dead After All
Not Dead After All isn't the most impressive card, nor does it add anything new to Modern, it just amplifies even more the added value of Rakdos Evoke's main play today: casting an Elemental for free and returning it to the battlefield with Undying Malice or Feign Death
What sets it apart from the top picks for this effect on Rakdos today is the fact that it doesn't add a +1/+1 counter. Instead, it creates an Aura that gives +1/+1 to the enchanted creature, and this opens up more room for players to add Undying Evil instead of other options, as the creature will then return to the battlefield untapped.
Although it seems little and even redundant, Not Dead After All is a one-off upgrade to the best deck in the format, and will serve to further solidify its position.
Wilds of Eldraine's power level is noticeably lower than some other Standard sets in recent years for Modern, with only a few additions, while other cards are just interesting options for specific strategies.
Barring further direct intervention, the RCQs season will likely be driven by the same Metagame we've seen on Pro Tour, only with some lists like Izzet Breach rising in popularity due to testing with Preordain.
So, regardless of your choice, keep in mind where cards like Orcish Bowmasters and The One Ring stand in today, and have a plan in place to deal with Crashing Footfalls as well, since these are the three main strategies in the current Metagame.
Thanks for reading!