While most of the decks that are performing well in the Modern portion of Pro Tour Philadelphia are souped-up descendants of decks that have performed well in previous Standard, or Extended formats, there are still plenty of cards that have never before seen play in competitive Constructed decks which now serve oh-so-crucial roles in Modern.
For example, who would have thought that Blighted Agent would be a key component in the fastest combo deck in Modern? Then there are other cards, like Dragonstorm, that are being used in ways that few people ever could have imagined they would be a few weeks ago.
Think you're ready to take a look at some of the strangest sights that Modern has to offer? Then read on!
When You Absolutely Can't Wait
If you've been keeping up with Modern for the past few weeks, then you probably already know that Amulet of Vigor is a staple card in most Cloudpost decks.
Amulet of Vigor speeds these decks, which are full of enters-the-battlefield-tapped lands like Cloudpost and Vesuva, up by a turn or more. Getting your mana just one turn earlier can be the difference between casting an Emrakul, the Aeon's Torn that you use to ravage your opponent or losing to a barrage of attacks from Wild Nacatls and Tarmogoyfs or a million copies of Deceiver Exarch.
Amulet of Vigor works well in multiples allowing you to tap your brand new lands for mana while the other Amulet of Vigor triggers are still on the stack, and they even combine with Primeval Titans to give you your mana immediately.
If you feel like your Cloudpost deck is a bit too slow to compete, then Amulet of Vigor might be just the card you're looking for.
Two Creatures Enter
Gerry Thompson and Michael Jacob have been seen searching up Arena with Knight of the Reliquary this weekend. Yes, that Arena.
The land has been used to kill off Dark Confidants that were threatening to draw players into all sorts of good cards, Gaddock Teegs that were locking out key spells, and even Deceiver Exarchs while Splinter Twins are on the stack.
Turn Two Wall of Roots, Turn Three Nekrataal, Turn Four You're Dead
Have you ever seen someone play a turn-two Wall of Roots then follow it up with a turn-three Nekrataal? If you've been playing long enough you almost certainly have as that was once a common sequence of plays. But have you ever seen someone then use both of those creatures to set up a turn four kill with the aid of only one additional spell? Even if you've been playing religiously since 1994, I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that you probably haven't.
How does it work you ask? Pretty easily actually.
The player simply plays a fourth land, adds a mana with Wall of Roots, and casts Birthing Pod. The player then sacrifices Wall of Roots to fetch a Pestermite (or a Deceiver Exarch) untapping Birthing Pod – which is then activated again to upgrade Nekrataal into a Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker (which is in turn used to make a copy of Pestermite that untaps Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, which makes another copy of Pestermite...).
Alfred, I've Been Poisoned
Dragonstorm has been a key component in combo decks for years; cast a couple of Seething Songs and Rite of Flames, then once you're up to 9 mana cast Dragonstorm and fetch out four copies of Bogardan Hellkite to burn your opponent for 20. This weekend, players have been seen running Dragonstorm in decks that don't even have any Dragons in them!
John Stolzmann, Sam Black, and Zaiem Beg were seen pitching Dragonstorm to Blazing Shoal to set up turn-two and turn-three kills with infect creatures like Inkmoth Nexus and Blighted Agent. Why are they playing Dragonstorm as an expensive red spell instead of something like Greater Gargadon that might have utility even when it isn't being used as a part of the combo?
No, as Zaiem explained, it's not because they're trying to be cute; it's because they can find Dragonstorm with Peer Through Depths while they would need to naturally draw Greater Gargadon.
Modern as a format is still in its infancy, so who knows what other orphaned cards will find homes in the months and years to come.