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Brewer's Minute: Why Not in Modern?

Hey, everyone. It's time for another Brewer's Minute. Along with the release of Kaladesh came a ton of questions asking if card X, Y, or Z is playable in Modern, so for this week's Brewer's Minute, we are going to look at four Kaladesh favorites and break down why they aren't quite good enough to see play in the format. As I mention in the video, this does not mean you shouldn't play with the cards in Modern—they could be amazing in fun, casual Against the Odds–style decks—simply that you shouldn't expect them to show up in tournament decks any time soon. 

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Hello everyone, it's Seth, probably better known as Saffron Olive, and it's time for another Brewer's Minute. Ever since Kaladesh released, there have been a few cards that I've gotten a bunch of questions about, asking, "How can I make this work in Modern?" Unfortunately, my answer has typically been, "I don't think you can." So, today, we are going to talk about four Kaladesh cards that seem really powerful and are very good in Standard but just aren't quite up to snuff when it comes to Modern. More importantly, we are going to talk about why these cards don't work in Modern, which will hopefully be valuable when it comes to analyzing cards from Aether Revolt, Amonkhet, and other future sets. 

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First up, we have Aetherworks Marvel, a card that has been borderline broken in Standard and was the namesake card of the most played deck at Pro Tour Kaladesh. In Standard, Aetherworks Marvel is most commonly used to throw an Emrakul, the Promised End or Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger into play on Turn 4, and I assume the plan would be the same in Modern, except with Griselbrand and Emrakul, the Promised End

The problem with making Aetherworks Marvel work in Modern is threefold. First, it takes a lot of work to generate enough energy to make Aetherworks Marvel work, and while you can get away with playing Attune with Aether and Woodweaver's Puzzleknot in Standard, the Modern format is much more powerful and efficient, which makes taking turns off just to make energy difficult. Second, there are easier ways to do the same thing with cards like Through the Breach, Gifts Ungiven (getting a creature and Unburial Rites), and even Goryo's Vengeance, which don't come with such an extreme deck-building restriction. Finally, unlike in Standard, where the best Aetherworks Marvel hate is the sorcery-speed Fragmentize or the three-mana Appetite for the Unnatural, in Modern, many decks are playing cards like Ancient Grudge and Stony Silence to fight Affinity, and these same hate cards hose Aetherworks Marvel as well. 

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Electrostatic Pummeler has found itself pummeling opponents to death in Standard with the help of pump spells as early as Turn 4, and since Modern has even more powerful pump spells like Become Immense, Vines of Vastwood, and Mutagenic Growth, on its face, it seems that the energy combo deck could be even better in the older format. The problem here is that, just as Modern has better pump spells, it also has better creatures to target with pump spells, especially creatures with infect like Inkmoth Nexus, Glistener Elf, and Blighted Agent. While the Modern version of the energy combo deck would be able to kill on Turn 4 consistently (assuming the opponent doesn't have too much disruption), Modern Infect can regularly kill on Turn 3 and sometimes even Turn 2 with a nut draw. As such, there simply isn't a reason to play a deck that's not only slower but also picks up on artifact hate cards and requires sub-par energy producers to work efficiently. 

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Panharmonicon is probably the Kaladesh card I'd like to make work in Modern the most, because the idea of drawing four cards with Mulldrifter for three mana or killing two creatures for two mana with Shriekmaw seems amazing, but once again, we have a problem. Unlike with the first two cards we talked about, it isn't so much that there are popular hate cards that invalidate Panharmonicon (it's true that Torpor Orb does, but it doesn't currently see all that much play) or that there are better options for the same effect (Panharmonicon is very unique) but rather that the Modern format as a whole simply isn't a place for four-mana cards that don't impact the board immediately. If you look at some of the most popular decks in Modern—Infect, Affinity, Death's Shadow Zoo, Dredge, Burn—they can all kill on Turn 3 or 4 with some amount of consistency, which means that by the time you play Panharmonicon, you're probably already dead. 

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Finally, we have Metallurgic Summonings, and while it might seem like Modern is the perfect place for the enchantment—considering we get more powerful and efficient ramp like Search for Tomorrow, Explore, and Rampant Growth to get it on the battlefield early—sometimes things aren't as perfect as they appear. Apart from the speed of the format, the biggest problem with Metallurgic Summonings is there are much better options available. If the plan is to ramp into Metallurgic Summonings, hope we live long enough to untap, and then cast a bunch of spells to win the game, why not just play Primeval Titan to get Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle and win the game on the spot, or ramp a couple of additional mana for Scapeshift

The point of all this is not to discourage you from playing any of these cards in Modern—I'm a big fan of playing what you want, whether the strategy is tier one or not—but instead to illuminate some of the problems that new cards have with breaking into the upper tiers of Modern. While I think all of these cards could work in a casual Modern deck or a Modern Against the Odds deck, it seems unlikely that any of them will be breaking the format anytime soon. 


Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at 

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