If you’re looking for a snapshot of the event, you should probably check this out—the five cards that are representative of the event as whole! Modern has a huge cardpool, and there are many tools at players’ disposal.
#5 – Inquisition of Kozilek
Once again Abzan made up a plurality of the Day 2 field, and in a format with an array of unfair decks, it's the disruptive power of black that lets Abzan crash the party. Decks erred on the side of Inquisition of Kozilek as a nod to Burn's place in the metagame, because Thoughtseize is virtually a dead draw when you're trading two life for a three-point burn spell, usually cracking a fetchland to do it. Not only does Inquisition disrupt the enemy plans, it sets up your second-turn Tarmogoyf quite nicely. All weekend long players would chain fetchland into Inquisition for a creature or instant, then land 3/4 Tarmogoyfs starting turn two.
#4 – Spellskite
Oh, Spellskite. Nobody likes you, but everyone wants to hire you. Kind of like that jerky boss that always gets the job done right. When you're a colorless answer to some of the format's biggest problems, your phone rings off the hook. Want to stop Splinter Twin? Worried about pump spells from Infect? Maybe you're looking for something that can also step in front of medium-sized Tarmogoyfs and live to tell the tale. Spellskite will get what needs to be done, done. Spellskite has become such a common sideboard card, and even maindeck card, that more and more decks that get hassled by it have set aside sideboard space for Twisted Image. Talk about the right tool for the job, even if it is a little jerky.
#3 – Simian Spirit Guide
He's the little mana monkey who could. Amulet Bloom had yet another very strong showing this weekend, and one of the splashiest parts of that deck is this guy, Simian Spirit Guide. It can give you the extra boost of speed you need to get in under countermagic. It can also be the X-Factor that catches the opponent off guard when they think they've predicted what you can accomplish on your next turn.
But the sweetest plum has to be the Guide's ability to dupe the opponent into thinking a Pact is lethal when it isn't. In the quarterfinals Stephen Speck scored a perfect Nine-Card Charlie against Alex Hayne in the Amulet Bloom Mirror. He had to Summoner's Pact for Titan, then also Pact of Negation to stop Hayne from winning. He had seven mana in play, but his last two cards were monkeys. He used them to pay and won the game in style.
#2 – Etched Champion
Affinity's hallmark is its explosive openings. It scatters permanents across the board and overwhelms the opposition before they know which way is up. The problem comes when this initial assault gets stymied. How does Affinity close out those games? The Nexuses were one way, but the ubiquity of Lingering Souls in Abzan lists has cut into that. Flying blockers are a dime a dozen these days
Enter the untouchable Etched Champion. As shown in Finalist Robbie Schmidt's quarterfinal games, he slips past most defences, and with Liliana of the Veil showing up less often it can even rule the roost as a lone attacker. Add either a Cranial Plating or an Arcbound Ravager, and you've got an inevitable bell that tolls for your opponent every time.
#1 – Splinter Twin
If it ain't broke don't fix it. Antonio del Moral León showed the power of throwback Twin at Pro Tour Fate Reforged, and Dan Lanthier followed his lead. No messing about with Tarmogoyfs—just control cards and the combo kill. That efficiency frees up deck space for a variety of tools that accomplish the myriad goals necessary to win matches. In the finals, it wasn't just the Twin Combo that took the match, but also spells like Electrolyze, Ancient Grudge, Flame Slash, and Grim Lavamancer that controlled the board. Playing the old-school version allowed Lanthier to have just the card he needed each turn.
In some ways it is just the threat of the combo that gives the deck its power. Opponents have to respect it, whether or not you have it in hand. This can force them into conservative lines, or tax their mana by convincing them to keep mana open for reactive cards. Blue-Red Splinter Twin gets the best of both worlds—it can grind the opposition down like a classic control deck, or it can steal fast games with the combo on turn four. We were all reminded of the power of Twin once again, when Dan Lanthier closed out the third game of the finals by throwing it on a Deceiver Exarch and attacking for a million—the way the gods intended it.