Top 5 Modern Cards from Guilds of Ravnica

Whenever a new set releases, I find myself repeating this phrase at my Tuesday Night Modern tournaments:

“Wait, what’s card that do?”

To mitigate the time I’ll spend reading (and losing to) new cards, I dug into recent Modern results to see what Guilds of Ravnica cards have made their way into my favorite format. In the hopes of making your own tournaments a little easier, I’ve compiled a list of what I deem to be Guilds of Ravnica‘s Top 5 Modern cards. These are the cards you’re likely to see across the table from you at your next Modern tournament, and that you might want to pick up for your own decks.

Runaway Steam-Kin - Matt Plays Magic

5. Runaway Steam-Kin

Not many Guilds of Ravnica cards can claim to have brought an entire new deck into being, but Runaway Steam-Kin can.

At this point, pilots haven’t yet settled on the best version of the Mono-Red Steam-Kin deck. Some are packing fellow GRN stalwart Arclight Phoenix (Wow, I wonder if we’ll see that card on this list again?), while others are more Storm-focused, packing finishers like Empty the Warrens and Grapeshot.

But whatever the flavor, it seems the Steam-Kin versions of this deck have been faring better than the Young Pyromancer-headed Mono-Red Storm decks that have popped up in the past. The deck has a number of 5-0s across multiple days worth of MTGO League results, and it doesn’t seem to be losing any steam.

Arclight Phoenix - Matt Plays Magic

4. Arclight Phoenix

For a few weeks, Runaway Steam-Kin seemed like it was the runaway best Red card from Guilds of Ravnica. But since then, Arclight Phoenix has been rearing its head within not only Steam-Kin decks, but Izzet Spells decks built around Blue cantrips, Faithless Looting, Chart a Course, and Bedlam Reveler.

Even with graveyard hate on an upswing, the Phoenix decks seem to possess some staying power; they’ve been popping up in Magic Online Competitive Modern Leagues and Challenges fairly consistently. Whether the new Izzet Spells deck is any better than typical Storm or Izzet Tempo builds remains to be seen, but the ability to draw busted hands that let you reanimate two or three Phoenixes could put this deck in the same class as Red-Black Hollow One, eventually.

Creeping Chill - Matt Plays Magic

3. Creeping Chill

I did not think Creeping Chill was good enough to push existing cards out of Dredge, but I was wrong. October 7’s Modern Challenge featured no less than five Dredge decks in its Top 32, and all five were packing a playset of the free-to-cast Lightning Helix. (Update: And since writing this post, Creeping Chill has also posted significant Star City Games tournament results.)

Now, whether Creeping Chill is enough to put Dredge over long-term is likely up for debate, especially since the deck folds to the graveyard hate that most Modern players should already be packing. Still, Dredge is currently resurgent in tournament standings, and Creeping Chill’s the cause.

Knight of Autumn - Matt Plays Magic

2. Knight of Autumn

My friends and I have taken to calling this card Knight of Rec Sage, but if that’s all Knight of Autumn was, it wouldn’t have made this list.

What makes Knight of Autumn remarkable is its ability to act as not just one, but two game one sideboard cards, while remaining serviceable when neither of those cards is needed. Opponent packing Cranial Plating or Hardened Scales? Knight of Autumn’s got you covered. One Boros Charm away from death? Let Knight of Autumn pad your life total.

But if you require neither of those functions, Knight of Autumn’s still a 4/3 creature, capable of killing your opponent in just a few attacks. Abzan Company, Kiki Chord, Humans, and Spirits decks have all begun inviting Knight of Autumn to their round tables, and I don’t think the list of invitations is going to stop there.

Assassin's Trophy - Matt Plays Magic

1. Assassin’s Trophy

There’s not a lot new to say about Assassin’s Trophy, other than that Jund players aren’t the only ones who seem to have believed the hype. You’ll find Trophy scattered throughout a variety of decks in recent MTGO results, including Abzan Company, Lantern Control, Dredge, Jund Death’s Shadow, Green-Black Rock, and the list goes on and on and on …

What that says, to me, is that Assassin’s Trophy is actually going to be a format-defining card, a card that Modern players talk about in the same vein as Fatal Push, Thoughtseize, Ancient Stirrings, and Lightning Bolt. Now all we need to do is decide on its nickname.

Wild Card Pick: Risk Factor

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After getting trounced by Risk Factor in game after game on Magic Arena, I’ve decided it’s the real deal. The first four damage is nothing, but giving Red mages the ability to turn a land into four extra damage in the late game makes Risk Factor incredibly deadly. A “guaranteed” eight damage from “one” card, I fully expect to see some number of Risk Factors in Modern Burn decks going forward. Some of them have already begun trying it out.


Do you agree with my Top 5? Or do you think I didn’t give your favorite Guilds of Ravnica card its Modern due? As always, feel free to sound off in the comments; I’d rather know about good Guilds of Ravnica cards now than face them down unprepared at my next Modern tournament.

Until next time, remember to expect the unexpected.

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