Keeping up with the metagame is a very important task for any player competing weekly, whether it’s for an FNM or even preparing for a Pro Tour. With the SCG Open Series taking place basically every week and the less frequent TCG Player events, there are plenty of decklists and cards to sift through week in and week out. Standard is the most played format, so knowing what to play and, more importnantly, why, may make the difference between winning an event or an 0-2 drop. Modern is quickly rising and hopefully maintains momentum, as the format is very fun and, outside of Jund, is pretty diverse. Every week we’ll take a look at a card from each of these formats and figure out why you should be playing them.
For Standard: Bonfire of the Damned. With the $30 price tag accompanied with this card, one might expect this to be an obvious choice. However, with the printing of Mizzium Mortars the discussion has begun for which of the two to play. Mortars is far more versitile because the four damage early game is important for dealing with cards like Loxodon Smiter and the ability to act as a six mana Wrath is good for the mid-game. So why is Bonfire better? The triple red requirement for Overload means you have to be very heavy red in order to reliably ‘kick’ it, and this is a very relevant downside. Red is a very key color in this format because of access to cards like Searing Spear, Pillar of Flame, Dreadbore, Izzet Charm and Rakdos’ Return, but red is a support color. In a format where you probably want to be playing more than two colors, Bonfire gets the nod for now. Bonfire only has one red requirement in both costs and deals damage to the bad guy. A non-miracle Bonfire is solid, but nothing exemplary. As a miracle it is one of the best cards you can be casting. So until decks can be more narrow, Bonfire of the Damned should be played in higher numbers than Mizzium Mortars.
For Modern: Deathrite Shaman. This guy gives the acceleration of Birds of Paradise and reach of Grim Lavamancer. Anyone who watched the coverage of Pro Tour: Seattle last weekend saw this fellow’s coming out party. He was a four-of in two of the three Jund decks in the top 8 and the third version piloted by Wily Edel most likely got it wrong, Playing acceleration is no new innovation for Jund as Rampant Growth and/or Explore saw play during Standard. So why play this individual in Modern? Because Deathrite Shaman is downright dirty, that’s why. He’s yet another creature that can give access to powerful three drops on turn two. Hits such as Doran, Kitchen Finks, Knight of Reliquary or even the spicy new innovation of Geralf’s Messenger. He also provides a bit of leeway to get those ‘enter the battlefield tapped’ lands in without setting you back. The recursive life loss is nothing to scoff at, and the ability to remove spells or creatures to shrink Tarmogoyf or in response to Snapcaster Mage increases his value even more. Long story short, whether you’re playing Jund, Doran or any other combination of colors involving green, you should definitely be playing this guy.
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