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Understanding the Hate Cards and Hosers of M19


Over the past couple of years of Magic. much has been made about how narrow, targeted answer cards have been missing from new sets. In fact, the problem got so bad that at one point, we had a Standard format where there wasn't a single card available to interact with the graveyard (and this format was unsurprisingly dominated by Emrakul, the Promised End and other graveyard-based decks). 

If you track back through the rough patch of Standard over the past two or three years and the lack of hate cards, the path will lead you to one place: the end of core sets. In this Modern age of Magic set design, staying true to the flavor and story is very important to Wizards, which means if a card doesn't happen to be on theme for a set, it doesn't make it into the set, even if the card is potentially important for making Standard function as intended. In the past, the problem was solved by core sets, which tend to have much looser themes (and more reprints) than other Standard-legal sets, which allows Wizards to simply dump in random cards that were important for Standard but perhaps not totally on flavor for Kaladesh, Ixalan, or whatever other planes we happen to be visiting for the rest of the year. It seems like Wizards may have made this connection as well because not only are core sets back with Core Set 2019, but Core Set 2019 is also overflowing with powerful but narrow hosers and hate cards! 

By their very nature—being 10/10 against a very specific subset of cards but often 1/10 against everything else—hosers and hate cards are difficult to evaluate. In evaluating new planeswalkers and creatures, you're often thinking, "how good will this card be in my deck?" With hate cards, you're trying to figure out how good they will be against your opponents' decks or the metagame at large. With this in mind, we're going to take a few minutes today to break down the new hate cards and hosers from Core Set 2019; discuss what cards or decks they are targeted to fight in Standard, Modern, and maybe even Legacy; and try to come away with a better understanding of these cards' power and playability across formats. 

Alpine Moon

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What Is It? Perhaps the easiest way to think of Alpine Moon is as an Pithing Needle for nonbasic lands. You simply choose the most problematic land your opponent controls, and Alpine Moon turns it into a painless City of Brass. While giving your opponent a City of Brass might sound like a bad idea, it's actually a great trade when you consider that the alternative is being beaten to death by a Celestial Colonnade or your opponent casting a Karn Liberated on Turn 3 with the help of Tron. 

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Primary Target? It seems likely that Alpine Moon was designed with Tron in mind. The big-mana deck has been near the top of the Modern format for a long time now thanks to its ability to make seven mana with just three Tron lands. Alpine Moon comes down on Turn 1 and shuts off Tron (by removing the "Tron" type) for as long as it is on the battlefield. Of course, this plan isn't without downsides: because of Blood Moon, Tron is prepared to deal with artifacts and enchantments out of the sideboard with Nature's Claim, so if you are using Alpine Moon as Tron hate, make sure you also have a fast clock to try to kill your opponent before they draw an answer to Alpine Moon, cast their huge threats, and win the game in short order. 

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What Else Does It Hit? In Standard, Alpine Moon has a handful of targets, but I'm not sure any are powerful enough to justify dedicating a sideboard slot to a do-nothing hate card, especially when Field of Ruin is still in the format. This being said, Alpine Moon does provide an answer if you are really struggling to beat the sac Deserts, the flip enchantment lands like Search for Azcanta and Arguel's Blood Fast, or the Memorial to Folly cycle. 

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Meanwhile, in Modern, apart from Tron, Alpine Moon shuts down several heavily played creaturelands like Celestial Colonnade, Blinkmoth Nexus, and Inkmoth Nexus; the Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle kill from Scapeshift decks; random artifact-synergy lands like Inventors' Fair and Academy Ruins; and the card-drawing power of Horizon Canopy. Oh yeah, and it also shuts down the land-destruction ability of Field of Ruin, Ghost Quarter, and Tectonic Edge, which means that along with being played to hate on Tron, it could also be played in Tron as a way to shut off the opponent's ability to destroy Tron pieces. 

How Good Is It? In Standard, Alpine Moon is unlikely to see play at the moment, although it is a fine safety valve to have in the format for the future. It could go up in value if our post-rotation format is heavy on the flip-into-lands enchantments or a cycle of creaturelands sees print in the future, although for now, it's probably best to use a couple of copies of Field of Ruin to answer the stray Search for Azcanta or Arguel's Blood Fast, since Field of Ruin doesn't put you down a card.

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In Modern, Alpine Moon has the advantage of coming down two full turns earlier than Blood Moon (one of the problems with Blood Moon is that if you are on the draw and don't have any fast mana, your opponent can assemble Tron and play Karn Liberated before Blood Moon even hits the battlefield), although the combination of Blood Moon and now Damping Sphere means there is suddenly a lot of competition for the "hate on Tron" sideboard slot. If you aren't in red, Damping Sphere is certainly the way to go; if you are in red, you need to choose between Alpine Moon (the best Tron and Valakut hate), Damping Sphere (good Tron and Storm hate), and Blood Moon (reasonable Tron hate with free wins against other decks). My guess is that the free-win potential will be too much for Alpine Moon to overcome, but Alpine Moon is a great sideboard option if you are only interested in hating on specific lands like the Tron lands and Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle.

Suncleanser

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What Is It? Suncleanser hates on counters of all kinds, both on opposing players and on creatures. It's essentially what everyone hoped Solemnity would be for Standard but without the sweet combo potential. 

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Primary Target? While it's roughly eight months too late, it's pretty clear that Suncleanser was designed to be the solution to the energy problem that has plagued Standard for more than a year. Not only does it remove all energy counters from an opponent when it enters the battlefield, but it also keeps the opponent from getting more counters in the future while also dodging the energy deck's primary removal spells, in Abrade and Harnessed Lightning. It's possible that we might have avoided the latest round of energy bannings if Suncleanser had swapped places with Solemnity and was printed in Amonkhet block. 

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What Else Does It Hit? As it stands, I'm not sure that Suncleanser hits enough important cards to see play in Modern or Standard. Technically, it kills Walking Ballista in Standard and does hate on random energy cards that still show up in the format (like Glint-Sleeve Siphoner) while also doing weird, fringe things like taking explore counters off Jadelight Ranger or Verdurous Gearhulk counters off whatever creature they are dumped on, but this might not be enough to make most decks play a 1/4. 

Meanwhile, it's even more useless in Modern. Because Suncleanser says "target opponent" rather than "target player," it doesn't actually hate on Infect, and while it can remove random Arcbound Ravager counters, reset a Kitchen Finks, and keep cards like Tireless Tracker or Champion of the Parish from growing, this likely isn't enough to make room for Suncleanser in Modern sideboards.

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How Good Is It? The answer is not very, at least as far as tournament formats are concerned. If Suncleanser had been printed a year ago, it would have been hailed as the savior of Standard, but at this point, Standard has already been saved from energy by several rounds of bannings, which means Suncleanser is a hate card without anything to hate on. While it is a fine safety valve card to exist in both Standard and Modern—mechanics involving counters come up pretty often, and Suncleanser will help ensure nothing gets too out of whack—it will likely be relegated to trade binders for now, waiting for its moment to shine. However, if we look beyond tournament formats and into the world of Commander, Suncleanser can actually be quite powerful in some playgroups, shutting down Ezuri, Claw of Progress and Meren of Clan Nel Toth, both of which show up on the EDHREC list of the 25 most popular commanders of all time. So, while Suncleanser might be waiting for its turn in Standard and Modern, keep Suncleanser in mind as a surprise hoser if someone in your playgroup is wrecking you with one of these powerful commanders.

Isolation Tower

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What Is It? Isolation Tower is hexproof hate for both creatures and players, suddenly making untargetable things targetable. Plus, it's on a land (lowering the opportunity cost of putting it in your deck) and repeatable (for just a single mana each turn), which makes it even more powerful.

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Primary Target? This is a tough one to answer. My guess would be that Wizards was worried about Carnage Tyrant being too dominant in Standard and decided that Isolation Tower would be a good safety valve just in case, although it's fun to imagine that Wizards hates Modern Bogles as much as I do and decided to stick it to the untargetable one-drops Slippery Bogle and Gladecover Scout

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What Else Does It Hit? Wizards learned a hard lesson with Invisible Stalker (namely, that cheap, evasive hexproof creatures are extremely unfun), so it has really toned down the power of hexproof threats in recent years, which means most of the powerful hexproof options are relics from the semi-recent past that occasionally show up in Modern. Along with the Bogles, the only hexproof creatures that see heavy play are Geist of Saint Traft and sometimes Thrun, the Last Troll. While this might not seem like much, there's also some weird upside to Isolation Tower

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For one thing, Isolation Tower doesn't care how your opponent's creature gets hexproof, so it can be used against a deck like Infect in Modern (or Steel Leaf Stompy in Standard) to counter a Blossoming Defense. More importantly, the ability to remove hexproof from a player can be surprisingly relevant. For example, Shalai, Voice of Plenty gives its controller hexproof, which means you can't simply Settle the Wreckage away your opponent's creatures. Isolation Tower gives you a way to break through this lock. In Modern, this gives decks a way to fight through Leyline of Sanctity as well. 

How Good Is It? In Standard, the most likely immediate home for Isolation Tower would be some sort of control deck that struggles to beat Carnage Tyrant and can take advantage of the ability to Settle the Wreckage through a Shalai, Voice of Plenty. As for Modern, finding a home for Isolation Tower is challenging. While the card is clearly a great answer to Bogles, one of the primary characteristics of the Modern format is that a ton of decks are playable, so even if Bogles is tier one, that means it's something like 7% of the metagame. Is it worth running Isolation Tower to beat a deck you might play a single time in a 15-round tournament? The answer is probably no, since Isolation Tower doesn't do much in other matchups.

However, there is a glimmer of hope for Isolation Tower: it's possible that some decks will want to use the card offensively to fight through Leyline of Sanctity. While Burn comes to mind, it might be better off using Destructive Revelry to destroy Leyline of Sanctity (although Isolation Tower suddenly becomes much more appealing if you are playing budget Mono-Red Burn, since the mono-red builds of Burn don't really have an answer to Leyline of Sanctity). Perhaps the best answer is TitanShift, which doesn't like playing against Leyline of Sanctity and can find Isolation Tower at will, even as a one-of, with the help of Primeval Titan tutoring out lands. While naturally drawing a non-Mountain is clunky, comboing off a turn slower is better than not comboing off at all against decks with Leyline of Sanctity, which could make Isolation Tower a one-of sideboard option for various Primeval Titan / Scapeshift decks.

Isolate

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What Is It? Isolate is sort of a fixed version of Mental Misstep, only dealing with permanents and costing real colored mana. While it might seem limited at first glance by only exiling things with a converted mana cost of one, hitting any one-mana permanent is actually a pretty great deal for just a single mana, especially in older formats like Modern and Legacy that put a high value on efficiency.

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Primary Target? While its very possible that Isolate is simply a narrow but powerful removal spell with no primary target in mind, there have been a lot of rumblings about Deathrite Shaman in Legacy. Isolate might be Wizards' last-ditch effort to give players another efficient answer before banning the one-drop outright. 

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What Else Does It Hit? In Standard, Isolate is fine but not overly exciting. Its primary purpose will be to exile one-mana creatures like Bomat Courier, Dread Wanderer, and Soul-Scar Mage against various aggro decks, although it does come with the upside of randomly exiling sideboard hate like Authority of the Consuls and Silent Gravestone along with annoying enchantments like Legion's Landing and Curious Obsession

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Meanwhile, Isolate has a ton of targets in Modern. Most obviously, it deals with any one-mana creature, which includes Birds of Paradise and Noble Hierarch along with Goblin Guide, Champion of the Parish, Flameblade Adept, and Signal Pest, but just talking about creatures undersells the power of the instant. The true value of Isolate is that it can not only deal with aggressive creatures but also a wide range of noncreatures (like Lantern of Insight, Rancor, Aether Vial, and Expedition Map) along with sideboard all-stars like Pithing Needle, Relic of Progenitus, and Grafdigger's Cage). While I'm far from a Legacy expert, Isolate might be even better in the older format, since Deathrite Shaman shows up in nearly 50% of decks. This doesn't even consider the plethora of playable one-mana cards in the format, ranging from Delver of Secrets to Grim Lavamancer to essentially every Elf and Pithing Needle

How Good Is It? Isolate has the look of a sideboard staple across formats. Standard is the least certain of the bunch, mostly because cards like Magma Spray and Abrade offer the ability to remove every one-mana creature along with some two- and three-mana creatures as well, but when you consider that the next-best options in white are cards like Gideon's Reproach and Slash of Talons (discounting enchantment-based removal like Seal Away, which is probably already in your main deck), the flexibility of killing one-drops and random sideboard hate might be enough for Isolate to sneak into sideboards in small numbers. The card is even better in Modern and Legacy. The ability to exile a Pithing Needle on Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, a Goblin Guide against Burn, and a Relic of Progenitus shutting down your graveyard makes the card an appealing sideboard option for control decks, especially those with Snapcaster Mage, and the fact that Isolate is so efficient and hits such a wide range of targets means that it is certainly in the sideboard conversation for other decks as well. One of the tricks of building a Modern sideboard is to include cards that do something relevant in a wide range of matchups, since there are simply too many decks to dedicate sideboard slots to each one individually, and the fact that Isolate hits a very diverse range of targets and is live against nearly every deck in the format could mean that it ends up as a sideboard staple.

Remorseful Cleric

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What Is It? Remorseful Cleric is one of the only hosers and hate cards from Core Set 2019 that is actually in the conversation for main decks. A 2/1 flier for two mana is already a fine enough deal (see: Selfless Spirit), offering a fairly good, evasive clock, which means the ability to randomly beat graveyard decks with its Tormod's Crypt sacrifice ability is nearly all upside. 

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Primary Target? I'm not sure that Remorseful Cleric is targeted at one deck or card specifically in the same way as Suncleanser is. Instead, it offers a ton of fringe value against a bunch of different decks in both Standard and Modern. If I were forced to narrow it down to a single target, I'd probably go with God-Pharaoh's Gift, although as we talked about a minute ago, Remorseful Cleric is more of a good creature that also happens to be hate for specific matchups than a narrow hate card like many of the other cards on our list.

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What Else Does It Hit? In Standard, Remorseful Cleric is at least a little bit relevant against nearly all of the best decks in the format. Many of the red aggro decks have Scrapheap Scrounger and Rekindling Phoenix; control decks have Torrential Gearhulk, The Scarab God, and / or Search for Azcanta; and God-Pharaoh's Gift decks are all-in on their graveyard plan. Plus, we have more recursion coming in Core Set 2019, with Bone Dragon, Liliana, Untouched by Death, Rise from the Grave, and Crucible of Worlds.

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Meanwhile, in Modern, it seems like most of the top-tier decks in the format use their graveyard to some extent. Decks like Dredge, Storm, Hollow One, Living End, KCI, and even Mardu Pyromancer are primarily based around their graveyards; various control decks play Snapcaster Mage, and even non-graveyard decks like Counters Company (which uses Eternal Witness), Death's Shadow (Gurmag Angler), and Jund (Tarmogoyf) have at least some cards that are powered up by their graveyard.

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How Good Is It? In Standard, the biggest problem with Remorseful Cleric is that it dies to Goblin Chainwhirler. If it weren't for this issue, it would be more than worth a main-deck slot in at least some decks, but as it stands, the Spirit might be relegated to sideboard duty for the matchups in which it is especially powerful. In Modern, Remorseful Cleric will likely show up in the main deck of decks that can tutor out creatures at instant speed with cards like Collected Company or Chord of Calling, and it might be maindeckable in Aether Vial decks like Death and Taxes / Eldrazi & Taxes and various Spirit-based brews as well. Even if it doesn't manage to sneak into main decks, it's almost assuredly a sideboard staple for all of these decks, where it's significantly better than Loaming Shaman as creature-based graveyard hate. On the other hand, cards like Rest in Peace and Relic of Progenitus are still likely better for most controlling decks that don't really care about having a 2/1 body and don't have any meaningful creature synergies. In the end, this means that Remorseful Cleric might sneak into main decks and will almost certainly be a sideboard staple but only in a specific subset of decks in Modern, thanks to the abundance of graveyard hate options in the format.

Infernal Reckoning

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What Is It? Hates on artifact creatures and other colorless creatures like Eldrazi in a very efficient manner and with some sweet lifegain upside.

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Primary Target: Based on the Eldrazi-squishing art, my guess is that Infernal Reckoning is Wizards giving Modern (and Legacy) players a good option for hating on the various Eldrazi decks (Eldrazi Tron, Eldrazi and Taxes, Bant Eldrazi) that are popular in the format while also having some additional flexibility to deal with artifact-based decks like Affinity. 

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What Else Does It Hit? In Standard, Infernal Reckoning doesn't have a ton of targets, but the few targets that it does hit are extremely heavily played. The trio of Scrapheap Scrounger, Bomat Courier, and Walking Ballista come in as three of the six most played creatures in the format, while Karn, Scion of Urza (which makes colorless artifact tokens) and Heart of Kiran are among the top 10 most played non-creature spells in Standard. As for Modern, Infernal Reckoning targets basically come down to three decks: Affinity (where Infernal Reckoning kills everything), Eldrazi (where Infernal Reckoning kills between everything and most things, depending on the specific build), and Hollow One (where Infernal Reckoning only kills Hollow One itself), although it does pick off the random creature finishers from traditional Tron decks like Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger and Wurmcoil Engine along with KCI combo pieces like Scrap Trawler and Myr Retriever as well. 

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How Good Is It? In Standard, the biggest issue for Infernal Reckoning is that everything it exiles also happens to die to Fatal Push, which means, at least for the time being, Infernal Reckoning is more like copies 5+ of Fatal Push rather than a card you'll build your deck around. While it certainly could see play thanks to the upside of exiling and lifegain, a less flexible version of Fatal Push doesn't feel like a format or even a sideboard staple. In Modern, the biggest problem is there are so many strong removal spells already in the format. It's hard to construct scenarios where a card that only kills Eldrazi and artifact creatures is a better sideboard option than something like Dismember, even considering the upside. While it could sneak into sideboards as a one-of Eldrazi / Affinity hate card right away, it's more likely that Infernal Reckoning will stay on the sidelines for the time being in favor of more flexible removal but can be a potentially potential option for the future if the metagame moves in a certain direction. 

Mistcaller

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What Is It? Mistcaller is basically a one-shot version of the Legacy sideboard staple Containment Priest, designed to hose reanimation and other ways of cheating big creatures into play, along with having some weird, fringe upside against other cards.

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Primary Target? Here, the most likely target is in Modern, where Collected Company has developed into one of the staples of the format, although it's also possible that Wizards had cards like Through the Breach, Show and Tell, or even some of the reanimation effects in Standard like Liliana, Death's Majesty or Rise from the Grave in mind while designing Mistcaller

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What Else Does It Hit? In Standard, Mistcaller targets are fairly limited, in large part because the primary reanimation engines (The Scarab God and God-Pharaoh's Gift) are token based, so Mistcaller doesn't actually stop them. While you can stop The Eldest Reborn, Liliana, Death's Majesty, or cards like Rekindling Phoenix and Scrapheap Scrounger from coming back from the graveyard, there are only a handful of heavily played cards in our current Standard format that scoop to Mistcaller

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On the other hand, Modern has more potential. Using Through the Breach or Goryo's Vengeance to cheat an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn or Griselbrand into play is a popular way of ending games, and Mistcaller provides a great one-mana answer. Fizzling Collected Company is also a huge swing, while other weird targets include Aether Vial (although be warned that your opponent can choose to not put the creature into play after they see you sacrifice Mistcaller), Dredge, Hollow One (where you get Bloodghast and Flamewake Phoenix), and strange blink decks involving Flickerwisp and Restoration Angel

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How Good Is It? The biggest upside of Mistcaller is its relevant creature type. Merfolk have been a tier deck in Modern for a long time, and there's a chance that the tribe will break out post-rotation in Standard as well, since many of the top decks are losing several cards while Merfolk will remain unscathed. The bar of playability is much lower for a card that can work in a tribal deck (see: Cursecatcher in Modern and Mist-Cloak Herald in Standard), so the floor for Mistcaller is that it ends up a good option for Merfolk tribal decks. 

Beyond Merfolk tribal, the downside of Mistcaller is that it's just a 1/1, meaning it doesn't present a very fast clock and dies to Goblin Chainwhirler, which probably keeps it out of main decks in both Standard and Modern. This being said, especially in Modern, it's unique and broad enough that it has a reasonable chance of showing up in sideboards, at least in some decks. Hating on Collected Company, Goryo's Vengeance, and Through the Breach is a big deal all by itself, and when you throw in all of the other weird cards that Mistcaller happens to be good against, it wouldn't be surprising to see people try to squeeze a copy or two into their sideboards.

Amulet of Safekeeping

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What Is It? Amulet of Safekeeping is reminiscent of Damping Sphere, in that it hates on two very different and not at all connected archetypes. Most obviously, it is great against token decks, turning Legion's Landing, Servo Exhibition, Lingering Souls, and Bitterblossom tokens into useless attackers, but it also provides a reasonable answer to combo decks like Storm, where the first ability on Amulet of Safekeeping works like a Flusterstorm that's always sitting on the battlefield against a card like Grapeshot

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Primary Target? The combination of Amulet of Safekeeping, Goblin Chainwhirler, and Rampaging Ferocidon makes it pretty clear that Wizards was very worried that tokens would be very good in Standard, which makes sense considering all of the good token producers, with Anointed Procession as a payoff. As such, it seems that Amulet of Safekeeping was primarily designed to keep Standard tokens in line, with the Mana Tithe aspect of the card being added to give the card more Modern potential by making it relevant in multiple matchups. 

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What Else Does It Hit? As we talked about a moment ago, in Standard, the token hate is—by far—the most important aspect of Amulet of Safekeeping. While Goblin Chainwhirler is doing a good job of keeping the token archetype in check, if it does end up being banned, Amulet of Safekeeping will be even more important to the format. On the other hand, the Mana Tithe aspect of Amulet of Safekeeping is more annoying than game breaking in Standard, making cards like Settle the Wreckage, Marionette Master, and Walking Ballista a bit clunkier and more expensive. While making the opponent pay one to ping you with Walking Ballista is nice, without tokens being a part of the metagame, I'm not sure Amulet of Safekeeping does enough to show up in sideboards in our current format, although it's a great safety valve to have around for the next 15 months of Standard in case something changes. 

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In Modern, things flip, with the token hate being a nice bonus for fringe matchups and the Mana Tithe ability taking center stage. While shutting down the Grapeshot kill from Storm and the Scapeshift / Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle kill from TitanShift is nice, Amulet of Safekeeping is also surprisingly effective as Burn hate, where every Lava Spike and Lightning Bolt costing an additional mana slows the deck down significantly. The artifact also makes discard spells like Thoughtseize or Inquisition of Kozilek much less efficient, while taxing a ton of random things like Liliana of the Veil's 2 or Kitesail Freebooter taking a card from your hand. 

How Good Is It? For right now, Amulet of Safekeeping seems unlikely to show up in Standard, mostly because Goblin Chainwhirler has already pushed token decks out of the format, but there are a ton of powerful token strategies available, including Saprolings and Anointed Procession, so things could certainly change in the future in a way that makes Amulet of Safekeeping into a sideboard staple. Meanwhile, Amulet of Safekeeping has a lot of appeal in Modern. In the best case, players discover that hating on Storm, Burn, TitanShift, and random token decks is enough to put Amulet of Safekeeping into their sideboards, while in the worst case, Amulet of Safekeeping provide an interesting budget substitute to the very expensive Leyline of Sanctity. While the artifact isn't as hard of a lock as Leyline of Sanctity, it does offer additional upside as token hate, and it's still going to be very difficult for combo decks like Storm, Burn, or TitanShift to kill you with Amulet of Safekeeping on the battlefield.

Hate Ranking - Standard

  • #8: Suncleanser - Would have been #1 a year ago, but it's a bit too late to hate on energy.
  • #7: Alpine Moon - While a fine safety valve, it's hard to imagine the enchantment beating out Field of Ruin in our current format.
  • #6: Amulet of Safekeeping - With Goblin Chainwhirler around token decks aren't really a thing, but if a banning happens Amulet of Safekeeping could shoot up our list.
  • #5: Mistcaller - While Mistcaller will probably see play in Merfolk, it doesn't hate on all that much in Standard at the moment which will probably keep it out of other decks.
  • #4: Infernal Reckoning - At least until Kaladesh rotates there's a reasonable chance that Infernal Reckoning will sneak into sideboards in small numbers.
  • #3: Isolate - Outside of control many of the best decks in Standard are playing one-drops, giving the instant plenty of targets.
  • #2: Isolation Tower - While more of a post-rotation pick, it's very possible that Carnage Tyrant vs. control is a defining matchup of Guilds of Ravnica Standard. Isolation Tower gives control decks a lot opportunity cost way to beat the Dinosaur. 
  • #1: Remorseful Cleric - The combination of a solid body and a ton of relevant targets makes Remorseful Cleric a great sideboard option, and perhaps even a main deck play for some builds despite it's weakness to Goblin Chainwhirler.

Hate Ranking - Modern

  • #8: Suncleanser - Perhaps the two-drop will have a day in the sun eventually, but at the moment Modern is a bit overcast. There's simply not enough good targets to put the Cleric in your sideboard.
  • #7: Isolation Tower - If you really want to beat Bogles Isolation Tower will get the job done, but unless Bogles develops into the most played deck in Modern it's hard to see Isolation Tower beating out other powerful colorless lands. If Bogles is a huge part of your local metagame though, it's worth keeping Isolation Tower in mind. 
  • #6: Infernal Reckoning - While very good at what it does, there are so many strong removal options in Modern it's hard to see a card that only hates on a small number of specific decks beating out broader removal options for the limit number of sideboard slots available. 
  • #5: Amulet of Safekeeping - Amulet of Safekeeping is one of the hardest cards on the list to rank. It does something against a lot of different decks, but is only really devastating against Storm, Burn and dedicated token builds. It's level of play will depend mostly on the metagame from week to week and what decks your deck struggles to beat. 
  • #4: Apline Moon - Great against Tron and TitanShift and somewhat relevant against decks with lots of creaturelands, the challenge for Alpine Moon is beating out Blood Moon and Damping Sphere which are less efficient but good against a wider range of decks.
  • #3: Remorseful Cleric - While not all deck will want a creature-based Tormod's Crypt over cards like Rest in Peace and Relic of Progenitus, Remorseful Cleric is almost guaranteed to see play in decks with Collected Company and Chord of Calling
  • #2: Mistcaller - Thanks to a relevant creature type Mistcaller will see play, giving the fish a chance to keep up with degenerate combo cards like Through the Breach and Goryo's Vengeance, while the Collected Company hate aspect might put it in the conversation for other decks as well.
  • #1: Isolate - There's so many good targets in Modern that it's hard to imagine a world where Isolate isn't a sideboard staple. 

Wrap-Up

As you probably gathered from our card discussion, especially for Standard, most of the hate cards from Core Set 2019 will likely be somewhere between fringe and unplayed in our current format. While that might sound like a bad thing, it's actually ideal. If a card like Amulet of Safekeeping or Suncleanser sees heavy play, it's generally a sign that the format is out of whack, with one archetype being dominant. Rather than being format staples, the ideal life for a hate card or hoser is to lurk on the fringes of the format, mostly unplayed, waiting to show up in sideboards and play the hero if a certain theme or card suddenly becomes way too good for the format. 

Between all of the Core Set 2019 hate cards, we have a lot of different themes and archetypes covered: tokens, counters, cheap permanents, colorless creatures, energy, spell-based combo, hexproof, reanimation, graveyards. The list reads like a who's who of sometimes broken and unfun decks in Magic's history. This means that, at least for the next year of Standard, if any of these themes are archetypes suddenly becomes the best in Standard, a safety valve is available in the format to put the deck back in line.

These hate cards and hosers have been missing over the last couple of years, and while it might not be all that exciting to sit down to a draft and crack an unplayable Amulet of Safekeeping as your rare, in the long run, having hate cards and hosers available in the format is for the greater good. Hopefully, we never need to play any of these cards and the next year of Standard is amazing, but it's nice to have a net to fall into if things do go wrong. This net was missing over the past few years; as a result, we fell all of the way into bannings when things went badly. Moving forward, the worst-case scenario of bannings will hopefully be less likely because with these hate cards and hosers, the Standard format will have the necessary tools to self-correct and fix itself before drastic action is needed.

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today! What hate cards or hosers from Core Set 2019 are you most excited for? What other applications do these cards have that I might have missed? Which will be best in Standard? In Modern? Let me know in the comments! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.


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