10 Best Card Advantage Spells in Modern


A roundup of the best card advantage spells in Modern, featuring Expressive Iteration.
Card: Expressive Iteration | Art: Anastasia Ovchinnikova

Modern is a quick format. Managing your resources effectively (and efficiently) is the difference between winning in losing in many matches. Though there are countless strategies out there for drawing cards and getting ahead of the "draw one card per turn" rule, some are stronger than others.


Today, we'll look at some of the best card advantage spells in Modern.


From planeswalkers that recur lands each turn to spells that let you draw at an incredibly cheap rate, Modern is full of ways to fill your hand.



While we break down each card individually here, keep in mind that this is by no means an exhaustive list. With the abundance of strategies in Modern, card advantage can be gained in many ways.


These examples are some of the most impactful given the current state of the format.


For instance, a card here may not be as strong in terms of raw card draw. However, it might significantly impact the board while also helping you get ahead, thus making it stronger overall.


With that in mind, let's dive in and look at the best card advantage spells in Modern right now.



10.) MH2 Pitch Elementals (hard cast)

As they say, casting things for free tends to be good. That's especially true for the pitch elemental cycle from Modern Horizons 2.


Being able to Evoke these creatures to get their effect is format-defining, as we've seen over the past year.


However, many people ignore the fact that you can also hard cast them. Doing so can be a huge source of card advantage. Not only are you getting a decent creature on the board, you're also hindering your opponent's board.


The effect attached to each pitch elemental can be game-defining if unleashed at the right time. Though hard casting these creatures isn't typically the way to go, it can be a potent way to get ahead in the right situation.



9.) Archmage's Charm

A three-blue-pip, three-mana card that draws two would be pretty bad at face value. Fortunately, Archmage's Charm also has two other relevant modes stapled to it.


Being able to counter a spell or steal one of your opponent's key pieces is invaluable. The flexibility baked into this card makes it worth paying above rate for each of the modes.


Drawing two for three mana certainly isn't going to break the game open, but it can be enough to swing things in your favor late in the game when you don't have something better to do.



8.) Teferi, Time Raveler

In terms of raw card draw, T3feri isn't going to make this list. However, this is one of the most powerful cards in all of Modern. Much like Archmage's Charm, Teferi offers plenty of ways to attack your opponent while also giving you some card advantage.


His minus ability bouncing a creature, artifact, or enchantment already makes this a neutral exchange. However, you also get to draw a card when activating it, putting you ahead.



Not to mention shutting off instant-speed interaction from your opponent while Teferi is on the board.


If the game goes long and you can protect him, you can double down on the advantage by using his minus again. At that point, you've drawn really far ahead.



7.) Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer

Oh, the monkey. What doesn't Rag do? This card is on just about every list summarizing the best cards in Modern. However, monkey is deserving of a spot here.


Each time you connect with your opponent, you can play something off the top of their library. Even one hit is great value considering the fact you're also making treasure and pressuring their life total from turn one.


Of course, even if you don't hit, simply drawing removal out early in the game can be advantageous. It might be enough to delay your opponent from removing a better threat later in the game. Otherwise, if you can protect your monkey from the first removal spell, they'll often be forced into a bad situation to try and kill it again.



6.) Esper Sentinel

This is one of those cards that feels severely underplayed right now. With Fury running around, Wrenn and Six being featured in one of the best decks, and lots of one-mana interaction from the other, it's hard for Sentinel to stick.


However, when it's on the board, it can quickly snowball into a ton of cards. With the abundance of cheap non-creature spells in the format, your opponent either loses their tempo advantage or lets you draw a fistful of cards.


Either way, you're happy with it. Besides, in most cases, Esper Sentinel at least replaces itself if your opponent can deal with it right away since they usually can't pay the extra 1.



5.) Jace, the Mind Sculptor

Jace certainly isn't the most played Modern card on this list. However, it does see play---especially from the sideboard.


One thing for certain is that brainstorming every turn in a format with fetch lands is really, really good.


If you have even a slight edge, JTMS can put you miles ahead of your opponent. This is true of both his bounce ability and brainstorm ability. Fate sealing your opponent with an empty hand isn't bad either.


While Jace isn't as strong if you're playing from behind, he can draw you out of a tight spot by giving you a way to repeatedly dig for an answer.



4.) Memory Deluge

This is arguably the best draw spell that remains legal in the format. Deluge letting you see the top four cards of your library and drawing two of them is already pretty good.


However, it then sits around to do again with Flashback later in the game. If you have enough mana, you can turn this card into four new ones with excellent selection. That's the definition of advantage.


While the meta isn't super favorable to Memory Deluge right now, it is still incredible in any deck that can buy enough time to run it. If a traditional, non-4c control deck ever makes a comeback, expect this to be a key piece.



3.) Risen Reef

When the pitch elementals arrived in MH2, Risen Reef transformed from a random uncommon with decent synergy to an absurd card draw engine. Slotting into Modern's best deck doesn't hurt either.


As discussed, hard casting the pitch elementals is a source of card advantage. With a Risen Reef on the field, you negate the effect of pitching a card to Evoke them by drawing when they come into play. Or, if you find a land, you can put it directly onto the battlefield.



Combined with something like Ephemerate, an untouched Risen Reef and a strong elemental deck can easily draw you 6-8 cards in a single turn. That's basically impossible for any opponent to compete with.



2.) Wrenn and Six

What if you could guarantee that you'd never miss a land drop? Eliminating one of the worst scenarios in Magic is unsurprisingly strong.


Wrenn and Six allowing you to return a fetch land from your graveyard every turn is borderline broken. This lets you keep otherwise bad hands, discard extra lands while digging for your best spells, and slowly grind your opponent out of the game.


With the reprinting of channel lands, particularly Boseiju, Who Endures, Wrenn and Six can almost singlehandedly deal with artifact-heavy decks.


Meanwhile, more obscure combos like the one with Lonely Sandbar let you turn your extra land per turn into an extra draw step.



1.) Expressive Iteration

This card already ate a ban in Pioneer and it wouldn't be surprising to see the same happen in other formats. It is one of the best card advantage spells ever printed.


When used correctly, it puts you two steps ahead. You can use it to put a land onto the battlefield, dig for that essential removal spell, or find a cheap creature to cast. You're also drawing another card to your hand in the process.


There isn't much to say about EI that hasn't already been said. If you're playing Izzet colors, this should be a four-of in your deck.



Honorable Mentions

As mentioned, there are countless card advantage spells to choose from in Modern. While the top 10 discussed here are some of the strongest for the current meta, they are definitely not the only ones.


I wanted to point out a few honorable mentions. These cards are either limited to a very specific archetype, don't see much play in the format, or are just not as strong as some of the other options listed.


Thought Monitor

Who said Affinity can't top deck? Ripping a Thought Monitor with a battlefield full of artifacts is about as a close to an Ancestral Recall as you can get. Plus you get a body out of it. If you're playing a blue artifact deck, you almost certainly want this in it.


Sythis, Harvest's Hand // Enchantress's Presence

For those more fond of enchantments, Sythis is an incredible engine. Replacing every enchantment you cast lets you keep churning through your deck while filling the battlefield. Pair it with Enchantress's Presence and you can easily draw 10-15 cards in a turn.


Karn, the Great Creator

Though not quite as niche as the previous two, Karn finds himself in an odd assortment of toolbox-style decks. That said, in decks running a wishboard, he can be quite powerful. Hitting the field and finding you at least two cards if you protect him is huge in many matchups.



Mulldrifter

You'd think Mulldrifter would be around more given the prevalence of elementals in the meta. However, it has taken a backseat to MH2's pitch elementals. Still, evoking this card and hitting it with Ephemerate is a great way to draw a burst of cards.


Light Up the Stage // Reckless Impulse

These two cards fill roughly the same niche despite Light Up being the stronger choice. In an aggressive red deck or Burn list, running out of cards is a big problem. These temporarily fill your gas meter to push through lethal damage.


 

What are your thoughts on this list? Did we miss your favorite card advantage spell for Modern? Let us know in the comments below or on social media!



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