Modern Thoughts: Supplemental Products
One of the interesting options for adding new cards to modern is to tap into the pool of cards from supplemental products, things like Commander decks or Conspiracy.
We’ve already had a few cards make the jump from supplemental product to being legal in standard (and thus modern): Scavenging Ooze and Hornet Queen. One of these has become a huge player in modern, the other not so much. There are a lot of cards in these products that are not really designed for a format as quick as modern and would have little impact there if printed (for example: Damia, Sage of Stone).
Animar was one of my favorites of the original commanders. The card has a lot of “build around me” flavor that I think could be abused pretty easily in modern. The problem? It’s super slow. You would have access to mana acceleration, which works great with growing Animar and making creatures cheaper, but the problem you run into is creating a deck that works well with Animar in play AND when he doesn’t show up. Including a bunch of expensive creatures is no good when you actually have to spend the full cost to play them, so you would need to be able to strike the balance of cards that are playable on their own.
As far as the stats on Animar go, it’s both excellent and horrible. The combination of starting as a 1/1, protection from white, and protection from black makes him immune to all but the most common of modern removal spells (Lightning Bolt), at least for a turn or two. Once it gets up and rolling, however, the creature side of things becomes great. At 3 counters it makes most of the creatures you’re casting as cheap as possible, and if you can find a way to draw extra cards you can quickly go wide with meaningful bodies.
Animar is an example of a card that probably wouldn’t do much in modern UNLESS somebody found a way to break him (which Travis Woo probably would do fairly quickly). I think the card would be extremely good in standard, however, as the format is a lot slower and it’s easier to get away with just playing reasonable creatures (would go well with Avaricious Dragon here). The interesting bit is: I could easily see this card showing up on Zendikar as it really seems to fit the flavor of the set….
While Animar was one of my favorites from the original commander product, Karador was the commander I wanted to use all the time. The initial impulse with this card is to look at the converted mana cost of 8 and quickly rule it out. The truth is, however, that you just can’t do that when cards like Golgari Grave-Troll are legal, and you could fill up your graveyard very quickly. Once you can get him onto the battlefield, you suddenly get a lot of options. Removal in the form of Shriekmaw, so long as you don’t mind operating at sorcery speed. gets plenty of options for powerful creatures, and being able to get one back each turn would allow you great inevitability for fair matches.
Depending on the set it was printed in Karador could be either very strong in standard or very week. The power of the card is dependent on his enablers, which would be great right now (between Satyr Wayfinder, Gather the Pack, and Commune with the Gods), but at other times would be really poor.
Moving beyond some of the legendary creatures, Dualcaster is another card that would be quite interesting to play with. There are few decks in modern that are super heavy on creatures to the point you wouldn’t be able to get value out of him. The biggest issue? Most spells that see play in modern are only 1 or 2 mana total, so it’s somewhat of a feel bad to copy it and pay extra for the 2/1 body. Other times they are casting spells that you won’t get a ton of advantage out of copying (Gifts Ungiven or Unburial Rites). Then again, there’s always the possibility of copying your opponent’s Collected Company and proceeding to dump a ton of power onto the battlefield.
Dualcaster could possibly make appearances in Twin type decks as well as or Control builds. The flexibility of being able to copy any of your powerful spells for 3 extra mana plus get a body that can start swinging is great, especially when you can do it at the end of your opponent’s turn. Granted, it would be a lot better if we had instant speed card filtering….
If only they’d give us Opt already.
One of the biggest issues that decks in modern has is the lack of quality removal. Part of this is that there is no good 1 mana removal (hence the widespread hope for Innocent Blood to join the format). The other part is that the best targeted kill spell forces you into as well, so you can play Terminate. The other options are all very limited, either not hitting creatures, artifacts, or the restrictions on Victim of Night. While Affliction has multiple issues compared to these (the cost of and only hitting non-black targets), there is a huge potential upside for when you get to kill two things.
Absent is another great removal spell, and nobody will argue that is a bit lacking in power at the moment in modern. While some advocate giving them more powerful creatures (Stoneforge Mystic, Mother of Runes, or Containment Priest). This card is such a powerful catch all answer that it could really give players a reason to want to play , as you now have a maindeck removal spell that can hit anything. Maybe for only a few turns, but with how common fetch lands and other shuffle effects are it could end up being permanent.