Top 10 War of the Spark cards for Modern and Legacy

modern legacy top ten

War of the Spark prerelease is over and with the eyes of the Magic community scouring the set for possibilities, competitive players have been scouring the set for impactful additions to eternal formats. Like its prior two Ravnica sets, War of the Spark does not disappoint in this regard, showcasing prime additions to both Modern and Legacy. While many of these additions may be fringe, it’s important to have a metric for evaluation, and I’ve decided to rank cards mostly based on excitement level, with a recognition that each card on this list has potential in each format.

10. Blast Zone

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Frequently discussed in hushed whispers and offering a traumatic flashback for any avid Game of Thrones fans, Blast Zone is a much-debated addition to the cast of utility lands. Naturally drawing a comparison to Engineered Explosives, Blast Zone differs in crucial ways. Firstly, is that Blast Zone is a land. An often misunderstood aspect of Magic deckbuilding is how much more powerful a land is when compared to its spell counterpart. Lands don’t take up a spell slot, and the opportunity cost to including them is thus immensely decreased. To compensate for occupying a portion of your mana base, most utility lands only produce colorless mana, and Blast Zone is no exception. While this may exclude certain decks from running utility lands, the choice to decrease early access to your colors is a conscious one that increases deck diversity.

The ability to cast other spells notwithstanding, Blast Zone gains additional benefit over Engineered Explosives due to being a land. When using it to eliminate smaller permanent, Blast Zone can’t be countered with Stubborn Denial, and it can’t be taken out of hand by Thoughtseize. While still vulnerable to the same pitfalls of any utility land *cough*Field of Ruin*cough*, Blast Zone makes up for this with varied functionality. Unlike Engineered Explosives, Blast Zone can increase the number of counters on it, making it more difficult to play around, while being able to be found with Primeval Titan or Expedition Map. This flexible board wipe can combine with Crucible of Worlds or Life from the Loam to convert a mana advantage into a board advantage, and may shift the priorities of current big mana decks. Amulet Titan may take a more controlling role, while Tron may be able to justify trimming Oblivion Stones. While regaling the virtues of Blast Zone, it is important to note a crucial distinction for many decks — Blast Zone cannot hit permanents with a converted mana cost of 0, while Engineered Explosives can. This means that Blast Zone is not an effective tool against Chalice of the Void, Thopter Tokens, or a cackle of Welding Jars. Understanding the importance of these cards will determine the value of Blast Zone in the changing Modern landscape.

9. Finale of Promise

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Heralding in a new era of Izzet Phoenix, Finale of Promise…promises (yeah, I know) to shift the distribution of main deck removal spells in Modern’s premier Blue deck — Izzet Phoenix. Counting as three spells rolled into one, Finale of Promise can replace Snapcaster Mage as a threat that triggers Arclight Phoenix, while giving the deck the ability to play a better control game. The interaction with Pyromancer’s Ascension can trigger it the same as Snapcaster Mage, but each spell is copied as well as the Finale. While little is needed to improve the consistency of Ascension, Finale of Promise can smooth out the topdecks by functioning as multiple cantrips, and important casting the Finale at X=1 gives Phoenix a true card advantage spell. This aspect of the nonaggressive games should improve otherwise poor matchups where interacting is key, like Humans, although the interaction with Thalia should be noted.

8. Ilharg, the Raze-Boar

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Ilharg is perhaps one of the most hyped cards in War of the Spark, offering Goryo’s Vengeance decks a revitalizing breath. Similarly to Through the Breach, Ilharg can cheat in a giant Eldrazi or a Griselbrand, turning Goryo’s Vengeance or other reanimation effects into additional copies of this powerful instant. While an often derided archetype, Goryo’s Vengeance decks could use a boost in playability — they are far easier to hate out than Dredge or other graveyard-based decks. Ilharg also has applications in an often forgotten Legacy archetype — Monored Sneak Attack. This deck runs a similar mana base to Mono Red Prison, but uses Sneak Attack and Through the Breach to put in Griselbrand and Inferno Titans. Ilharg not only serves as an additional threat, but is another means for getting a Griselbrand onto the field. One advantage that Ilharg has when compared to other threats in this interactive ape tribal deck, is the recursive nature of the newest God cycle. Ensuring that Swords to Plowshares or Diabolic Edict are only temporary answers gives this archetype a much-needed boost in resiliency. Both of these decks often face opponents who play exceptionally safe post board, giving enough time to recast Ilharg after a timely removal spell.

7. Bolt Bend

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Eternal formats are no stranger to redirection effects, and both Misdirection and Ricochet Trap have been format staples in prior times. Bolt Bend is the latest in playable redirect effects but has a few notable distinctions that place it this high on my list. While overcosted for its ordinary cost, Bolt Bend has an easy to acquire alternate condition. Bolt Bend may make the cut in Modern as a sideboard option for Hollow One or Grixis Shadow against Assassin’s Trophy, but also has utility against Detention Sphere or Teferi, Hero of Dominaria. By being able to redirect abilities, Bolt Bend differs greatly from prior templates of this effect. Perhaps the most immediate interaction is redirecting an opposing Wasteland activation, powered out by an early Gurmag Angler or Hooting Mandrils. While the applications outside of this are minor, the impact of Bolt Bend in fair matchups is no doubt high, and the ability to blow an opponent out with their own Thoughtseize is similar to that of Divert — an already playable Legacy card.

6. Dovin’s Veto

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Earning praise for its unique status in the upcoming Standard format, Dovin’s Veto has applications beyond countering a Wilderness Reclamation. One of the few multiformat playable, Dovin’s Veto isn’t defined by innovative card design or complexity. As a straightforward Negate variant, Dovin’s Veto fills a role in Modern as a replacement for the widely played sideboard card, but understanding the implications of Dovin’s Veto is important for navigating counter wars. Similar to Overwhelming Denial or Counterflux, Dovin’s Veto is an uncounterable counterspell, trading the flexibility of the other two for a lower cost. Unlike Dispel and Stubborn Denial, Dovin’s Veto primarily serves as a defense tool, similarly to Negate. However, Dovin’s Veto is no more an effective tool than Negate when attempting to resolve your own threat, as a common sequence can occur. Say I cast a Search for Azcanta to which my opponent casts a Negate. I can counter their Negate, but my Search for Azcanta is still left vulnerable to a second counterspell. This line of play means that Dovin’s Veto is an upgrade over Negate on defense but offensively is only better against Negate + Dispel when attempting to resolve a permanent. This is a narrow distinction but will come up in Azorius Control mirrors. The safety of countering an Ad Nauseum or Past in Flames improves troublesome matchups for Modern’s best control deck, and the effect of Dovin’s Veto in mirror matches may encourage creature heavy sideboard plans, depending on the number of Vetos in sideboards.

5. Davriel, Rogue Shadowmage

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Garnering hype for its reintroduction of low hand size effects in Standard, Davriel also has applications in Modern as an additional Shrieking Affliction for aspiring evildoers 8-rack players. While Davriel allows these decks to increase consistency, the best asset for Davriel is the associated increase in card quality. 8-rack is a deck that suffers from a multitude of one-dimensional cards — most cards are either discard spells or payoffs for discard spells, and there is little room for deviation. Davriel gives 8-rack an additional payoff attached to a discard spell, and thus improves often lackluster hands. The combination of discard and payoff lets 8-rack fight against sandbagged lands in hand by minusing Davriel to ensure a tick of damage on the next turn. Davriel can also fight against small bursts of card draw by functioning similarly to Liliana of the Veil when combined with other discard spells. Against an opponent who just drew two cards (perhaps off of a Teferi plus), a Davriel minus and a topdecked discard spell can ensure another two or more points of damage.

4. Karn, the Great Creator

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Immediately drawing a comparison to his current Standard counterpart, Karn, Scion of Urza, War of the Spark’s latest take on the original colorless planeswalker offers unique deckbuilding opportunities. Utilizing big mana and Mycosynth Lattice, Karn can shut off a myriad of activated abilities, the primary serving as a tool against aggressive Mox Opal decks. While Damping Matrix already exists, Karn’s ability to both shut off mana abilities and ignore your own artifacts results in mirror breaker potential not seen often on colorless cards. Slotting effectively into the sideboard (or main deck) of Whir Prison, Karn can function as an additional tutor for various lock pieces, and can even act as a bit of Surgical Extraction protection, by means of finding a card in exile. In Tron, Karn is a way to remove Chalice of the Void, albeit for a premium cost, and can recur Relic of Progenitus or search up a crucial Walking Ballista. While animating artifacts is less important in Tron, the ability to improve poor Mox Opal matchups is a powerful boon to this big mana archetype, and the toolbox element opens up diversity in an otherwise solved decklist.

3. Liliana’s Triumph

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As touched upon briefly in a prior article HERE, Liliana’s Triumph gives Midrange decks in both Legacy and Modern access to a powerful edict effect. While in many ways subtle, the impact of Liliana’s Triumph is vast, and may radically change the way entire sideboards are built. Firstly, Liliana’s Triumph is the strongest edict effect we’ve seen in Modern’s history, as Diabolic Edict and Innocent Blood are absent from the format. While we have alternatives, like Cruel Edict and Devour Flesh, these have drawbacks that are too high for competitive viability. Additionally, Liliana’s Triumph does not target a player, a subtle twist that improves the viability in a Leyline of Sanctity and Witchbane Orb filled environment. Liliana’s Triumph also excels at removing both Thing in the Ice and Gurmag Angler — a tough ask for any current removal spell. Liliana’s Triumph may improve the viability of non-Death’s Shadow decks that play both Snapcaster Mage and Thoughtseize, as these decks play enough Liliana planeswalkers to eke out 2-for-1s. For such decks, like Grixis Control, leveraging maximum card advantage off of a Snapcaster Mage is the most effective route to victory, and fixing the traditionally poor Bogles matchup lends to the merit of testing.

In Legacy, Liliana’s Triumph has similar applications, but the lack of a hexproof oriented deck, along with a more combo-heavy metagame, diminishes the Game 1 applications of edicts. While some decks have traditionally played such cards, such as Grixis and Four-Color Control, the limitations on two mana spells are high. However, Legacy sideboards have been rife with sacrifice effects for years, and the prevalence of Diabolic Edict indicates a solid place for Liliana’s Triumph. Noticeably lacking in Legacy are the grindy 2-for-1 spells commonplace in Modern. Stoneforge Mystic, Jace, and Young Pyromancer round out many of the 2-for-1s in the format, and the ability of Liliana’s Triumph to strip away additional resources makes it more than just a flexible answer to True-Name Nemesis.

2. Narset, Parter of Veils

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Ixalan has taught us that Legacy and Modern offer new homes for noncreatures, and Narset may prove to be a format-defining aspect of these cantrip heavy formats. Limiting the effectiveness of Faithless Looting against both Dredge and Arclight lets Narset act as disruption against two of the top decks in Modern while acting as card advantage in more fair matchups. Typically main deck hate cards are limited by conditional effectiveness but in Azorius Control the ability to use Narset to find a Supreme Verdict or Path to Exile give her powerful flexibility. In line with many other cards, like Cryptic Command, Narset is never a dead draw and improves other Game 1 matchups slightly. While minor, Narset does slightly decrease the ability of Tron to dig deeper, and can cripple Hollow One draws in the mid-game.

1. Finale of Devastation

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Perhaps the single card in War of the Spark with the most potential, Finale of Devastation resembles Green Sun’s Zenith, a currently banned card in Modern. While Green Sun’s Zenith can only grab Green creatures, Finale improves upon this powerful tutoring effect by expanding this effect to any creature. Similarly to Chord of Calling, Finale of Devastation serves as a powerful component for any Devoted Druid deck. Finale also has similar applications in Modern as Green Sun’s Zenith — the worst case scenario of grabbing a Dryad Arbor lets Finale act similar to Wall of Roots for ramping into Collect Company or other threats. Finale also has application in Legacy as an additional “Craterhoof” that has value in the early game, mitigating the drawback of an 8-drop wincon. Beyond simply tutoring up whatever threat is needed, Finale also acts as a reanimation spell, making one of silver bullet creatures more powerful than they ordinarily would be. Not having to take convoluted lines of Eternal Witness to get back a creature of choice makes Finale a true toolbox piece to potentially follow in Birthing Pod’s legacy.


Thanks for checking out our latest Top 10, and as always let us know what your Top 10 is in the comments section below. You can follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/PariahPopular.