This is how it works
We asked our authors to send us their personal top 10 green cards of the Modern format. No multicolor cards. We will do those another time. Then we created an aggregated list, based on their top 10, to come with a unified Top 5 list of cards. We sent them the top 5 and asked for their comment.
Do they think this is a good top 5?
Are these the worthiest cards?
Were there any snubs?
Is the number one spot deserved?
What impact do those cards have on the format?
These and many other questions will be answered in this article. One more note before we dive into the wilderness of Modern. We will go straight through the top 5 and then also share the initial top 10 lists of our authors.
We really hope you enjoy this, have fun reading, and don’t be shy and discuss this in the comments. We would love to hear from you.
Fifth Place – Force of Vigor
In a format dominated by Urza’s Saga, Colossus Hammer, Dryad of the Ilysian Grove and many others, having an instant speed answer to two artifact/enchantments is great.
The strength of this card makes it a versatile tool: if you’re playing a combo deck (such as Living End or Rhynos) you can play Force of Vigor to remove Chalice of the Void / Engineered Explosives / Relic of Progenitus. But if you’re playing a more midrange deck or a big mana deck, you can play it to slow down Hammertime, Amulet or Affinity decks to gain some tempo to develop your game.
The first card on our list and just clinching a top 5 spot is Force of Vigor. Similar to the other Forces from the MH1 cycle it can be cast without tapping any mana, making it automatically very interesting in the fast Modern environment.
Additionally, its effect became even better over time with the introduction of Urza’s Saga and the metagame shifting towards more artifact-heavy synergies. Unlike Force of Negation, Force of Vigor usually does not lead to two-for-one oneself as it hits two things, even when cast without mana cost.
Although sideboard cards are always difficult to evaluate, I think Force has to be among the best five green cards in Modern. It is one of the best answers in the Hammertime matchup and keeps Affinity at bay. I have lost so many times against this card and sometimes with it, it is enough to convince me of its unique value, outclassing Ancient Grudge, Wear // Tear and even Shattering Spree.
The current Modern metagame has quite a few very relevant artifacts/enchantments, and Force of Vigor is the most efficient way in the format to destroy these permanents.
There exist multiple decks playing Urza’s Saga, the most popular being Affinity, Amulet Titan and Hammer Time, and Force of Vigor can regularly destroy two permanents for zero mana in these matchups. This efficiency is extremely relevant against all the above-mentioned decks, since they try to be as explosive as possible to overwhelm the opponent before he manages to stabilize.
Specifically against Affinity, a deck which has recently been seeing more play and has even managed to top 8 the last Modern Challenge, destroying two artifacts very early can prevent them from even playing their Thought Monitor, Thoughtcast, Sojourner’s Companions and other cards since they will lack the necessary amount of Artifacts to enable Affinity.
Force of Vigor is one of the many cards free spells which have been printed in the last years, and will remain a staple in sideboards for as long as Affinity, Amulet Titan and Hammer Time remain competitive in the format.
Force of Vigor has to be one of the stronger printed green sideboard cards for many years. Pitch spells are in genera
l great, you get to do something without paying its mana cost „just“ for pitching a same colored card into your chosen spell.
Although the 2 for 1 can empty your hand rather quickly, formats like Legacy and Vintage are literally build on cards like Force of Will and would be absolutely unplayable without it. Although Force of Vigor is not quite on the level of Force of Will, the card is still extremely potent as a sideboard card for a bunch of green decks. The fact that you get to interact at your opponent’s turn at instant speed without paying its mana cost, makes it already very strong and versatile.
The second part, being able to hit up to 2 targets, makes Force of Vigor absolutely game crushing vs. various decks and strategies like Hammer, Hardened Scales or Blood Moon. If you’re playing a green deck and have enough green cards to support Force of Vigor (around 16 others at minimum), the card should be almost a must-have in your sideboard which makes it a top tier candidate for the best sideboard options green decks can choose from.
Force of Vigor has been a multi-format all-star since being printed a few years back, and has solidified itself as the second-best of the Forces cycle from Modern Horizons, right after Force of Negation.
While the card has become a sideboard staple of green decks throughout Modern, it has funnily enough made the most impact in Vintage, where it’s a great card against all the artifact decks while also providing Bazaar of Baghdad decks a reliable answer to Grafdigger’s Cage and Leyline of the Void without requiring mana.
In the context of Modern, the card is great against Hammer Time and Affinity, while also being a flexible answer to cards like Blood Moon. One neat trick to remember about is that you can cast it to destroy an Urza’s Saga with its first lore counter trigger on the stack, which means your opponent would not get the chance to tap the land for mana.
At GP Barcelona in 2019, during the Hogaak Summer, I was playing Hogaak against Eldrazi Tron on Day Two and my opponent opened with a Leyline of the Void and Grafdigger’s Cage on turn one, on the play. However, I was fairly sto
ked about this opening as I had a Force of Vigor in my hand with a green card to pitch to it.
Unfortunately, I didn’t realise that unlike Force of Will, you cannot cast it via the alternative cost on your turn, so I decided to draw for my turn first to see which card I wanted to pitch to the Force, only to then try to cast it and have my opponent point it out to me and call a judge! In the end, I basically Time Walk’ed myself as I had to wait another turn cycle to cast it. I still won the game pretty easily though due to how powerful the deck was!
Fourth Place – Veil of Summer
Banned in multiple formats, Veil of Summer is still here in Modern. I feel Veil is one of the most unfair and annoying cards to play against as a Control player: Counter + Draw is basically Cryptic Command cmc1!
This card is currently mainly used by combo decks, like Scapeshift, to protect their combo. But it’s great also vs BGx strategy, blanking a Liliana downtick activation or a discard spell.
One of the coolest interactions you can do is with Chalice of the Void (where X is different from 1), casting Veil and making your spells uncounterable, blanking the Chalice.
I love Veil of Summer. I think it is a fair card for green to have given the ubiquity of good counterspells in Modern. It gives underrepresented green decks like Gruul Midrange or Infect a fair shot against the consistency of Azorius Control or Murktide decks.
And it is the only good answer to Thoughtseize and Inquisition of Kozilek, making it a unique card in the format. It is just a sideboard card, of course, but one of the best ones ever printed. Therefore, it is difficult to rank correctly, as it is a very powerful card but only occasionally useful.
I am still convinced that it deserves a spot among the top 5, simply because it is an evergreen interactive option for green decks in a format where the OG counterspell has just been introduced to the format.
The 1-mana Cryptic Command as it is often called, is another extremely strong “hate” card which gets played in the sideboard of many green decks. Like Force of Vigor, it is very efficient at doing what it does, and represents a two-for-one for a single mana.
The card is slightly situational, but when you get to counter a Thoughtseize or a Counterspell for a single mana, you will usually end up being very ahead in the game.
There is some counterplay in the format however, and in specific Teferi, Time Raveler often punishes people who bring in Veil of Summer against blue decks, since you will not be able to respond to any spell anymore. The prevalence of Teferi in Modern means that most people do not run Veil of Summer as a 3 or 4-of anymore, which used to be the case about a year ago.
Veil of Summer is an other card which is seen mainly in sideboards for various strategies. As „narrow“ as Veil of Summer is read at first, as ridiculous the card becomes when playing it in the right matchups. First of all, the card functions as an anti blue and black interaction spell to protect yourself from being targeted by discard, removal or counter spells.
In those scenarios, Veil of Summer acts as a 1 mana „hard counter“ by just stopping whatever your opponent is trying to do from previous mentioned options. Despite that effect for just 1 mana wouldn’t be too strong already, the card cantrips as well by replacing itself making the player not even lose a resource of it… With a resolved Veil of Summer you successfully crushed your opponent by letting him play a card, countering the effect and drawing a card of it just for a single green mana which overall feels just wrong from any perspective you’re looking at it.
Thank god this card doesn’t see much play in Modern because of its color restrictions. I think from a pure perspective of power balancing and card quality, no card should have this power for just a single mana in Modern.
That does not mean it needs a ban since it’s rarely played, but when it comes to playing against it, oh boy does this card feel wrong.
Another sideboard card, I personally rated Force of Vigor higher than Veil of Summer, but I was outvoted on this one! When Veil of Summer was first printed, it had a big impact on the format, with people even calling for it to be banned.
However, the card has dropped off significantly, with the card often not being played in green decks, and if it is played, it is usually just a one-off or two-off in the sideboard.
The big reason the card has dropped off has simply been because the green decks now have more powerful cards to play in the sideboard. Both Endurance and Force of Vigor are commonly played in the sideboard of green decks, and the space for sideboard slots has become more competitive.
The other significant reason has been due to counterspells becoming more mana efficient. Casting a Veil of Summer in response to a Cryptic Command was truly backbreaking, but it’s less powerful when you cast it in the face of a Counterspell and your opponent simply responds by casting another one.
This is the main reason Veil of Summer is less relevant in Legacy as well – it’s just not as good when counterspells are more mana efficient, as they can just cast another one to stop the Veil itself.
Third Place – Crashing Footfalls
This card was very popular in many rogue decks before Modern Horizons 2 came out. I remember people playing Land + Simian Spirit Guide + Electrodominance, slamming two 4/4s on turn 1.
Nowadays, Simian is banned, though MH2 brought us Shardless Agent, making cascade decks one of the pillars of the format. Crashing Footfalls is a great way to win the game, and the Rhynos deck is sweet and strong: you play a very good tempo game using a ton of free spells such as Fury and Endurance, and then you cascade and gain back the advantage.
Foothfalls itself is decent, and sometimes is problematic even if it gets suspended.
When MH2 was revealed and we got Shardless Agent in Modern, I quickly went to my LGS to get four copies of Crashing Footfalls and a playset of Ancestral Vision, before the Cascade-targets become too expensive.
And well, it turns out making two 4/4s is better than drawing three cards. While the card-draw spell did not make it into any competitive Cascade-list, Crashing Footfalls became the namesake card of a Tier 1 Modern deck, Temur Rhinos.
I personally do not like the card a ton, as it does not generate very interesting games in my opinion. Given the structure of the deck, which is completely consecrated to resolving a few copies of Crashing Footfalls, however, the card really is a house. In many games the deck accessed all four copies of the card and puts up the kind of pressure that can only be dealt with by clearing the board or by preventing the Rhinos to hit the battlefield in the first place. Zero mana for two trampling 4/4s.
What else can be said? It clearly is a pushed card given the easiness with which the Cascade decks can hit their little combo. I have placed it very high up on my own list as well, but I am not sure whether I really think it is better than Veil of Summer or Force of Vigor, given that it is just a dumb, head-through-the-wall type card and the others are very specialized but devastating interactive cards.
The namesake card out of the deck Temur Rhinos, puts two 4/4 tramplers in play when you Cascade into it with either Shardless Agent and Violent Outburst .
Temur Rhinos is the only deck playing Crashing Footfalls in the format, but it has been performing quite well in the recent past which is why the card made this top 5.
The deck is uniquely built since it cannot play any card which costs less than 2-mana due to the Cascade mechanic, so it profits from the multiple free spells in the format.
It is one of the decks playing the most “free” spells in Modern, so be prepared to face anything from Force of Negation , Subtlety , Fury or Force of Vigor when battling against it.
Crashing Footfalls, the card with its own shell around, has been heavily buffed since the printing of Shardless Agent.
The deck is very well positioned, it combines an aggressive game plan with versatile tools and is overall a top tier contender when fighting for meta game share and results. Although the Cascade mechanic can be disrupted rather easily by various colors and multiple cards, the deck mostly performs when the overall meta isn’t well-prepared for it and cutting down on sideboard interactions.
Because of this, I see the deck constantly switching between tier 1 and 2, depending on how the meta develops and how decks are approaching the field. Still Crashing Footfalls in one of the best green cards in Modern and therefore in the top 3.
Unlike the other cards on this list, Crashing Footfalls is exclusively played in one deck, but it is also the namesake card of the archetype, as the whole deck revolves around the card.
Having been printed in Modern Horizons, the Temur Footfalls deck is essentially based around casting one of the three-drop cascade spells to find the zero-mana suspend spell, which circumnavigates the suspend ability and leaves you with two 4/4 rhinos immediately. Although the card has been around for a while, it was only with the release of Modern Horizons 2 that the deck became competitive, as Fire // Ice and Shardless Agent were both big additions to the deck.
Unlike its other cascade counterparts, Living End and Glimpse of Tomorrow, the big advantage of Temur Footfalls is that it doesn’t involve any setup.
Living End involves putting creatures into the graveyard, while Glimpse of Tomorrow involves you filling the board with permanents, but Temur Footfalls simply just casts the cascade spell to get the pair of rhinos.
However, the rhinos are also susceptible to hate-cards like Engineered Explosives and Crime // Punishment, and often decks can beat a pair of rhinos simply by going bigger e.g. a big Murktide Regent or Death’s Shadow will outclass a pair of 4/4 rhinos.
Second Place – Primeval Titan
This angry giant was my pick for best green card in the format: He’s the green king, he’s been here almost since the beginning and it gets stronger almost each time something new gets printed. The Amulet deck remained top tier even after various bans – Summer Bloom, Once Upon a Time, Field of the Dead… – and it’s all due to this sick six drop creature.
But if you don’t like Bouncelands and you prefer shooting directly to your opponent, Primeval Titan has a place even in the RG Scapeshift deck, searching for the lands you need to win.
Remember people: When nature calls, run!
Amulet Titan or Bloom Titan, as it was called before, is a staple deck in Modern for years now. The namesake card and main win condition is the green six-drop that has the ridiculously strong ability of getting two lands onto the battlefield when it enters the battlefield AND when he attacks. With the help of Amulet of Vigor and the so-called “bounce lands”, Primeval Titan can be cast as early as turn two, instantly ramping you up to four mana and running away with the game.
At the time of Primeval Titan’s printing, the card Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle already existed. Dryad of the Ilysian Grove, however, did not. I therefore don’t blame the design team for completely neglecting the potentially broken stuff you can do with a Primeval Titan, but my guess is, that they did not think this through completely.
The raw power of the Prime-Time deck is just staggering at times. It generates so much mana so quickly and can easily rack-up 30 damage just through lands.
It also is one of the most elegant and difficult to play decks in Modern. It is always Tier 1 in the hands of an experienced player but never too dominant to become problematic. Every new land that gets printed is a potential Silver Bullet for the Amulet Deck, as we have seen with Boseiju, Who Endures. Primeval Titan, remember, can get you any land from your deck either in play or in hand (with a bounce land)! The 6/6 Giant is the main reason this deck has been so strong for years and thus deservedly gets the second spot on our list.
Just like the previous card in our list Crashing Footfalls, Primeval Titan mostly only sees play in one deck in the current Modern format, Amulet Titan.
Unlike Crashing Footfalls however, Primeval Titan has been around for many years already, has seen play in multiple other decks in the past (Scapeshift and Titan Breach) and is still kicking strong as a Tier 1 contender despite multiple bans (Summer Bloom, Field of the Dead) in the past.
After the Summer Bloom banning, the most popular Primeval Titan deck, Amulet Titan, stopped seeing play for a while. The deck resurfaced after the recent printings of Dryad of the Ilysian Grove and Urza’s Saga, which nowadays are both vital pieces of this extremely intricate puzzle.
Amulet Titan is considered one of the most complicated decks (if not the most complicated deck) to play in the format, so mostly only hardcore aficionados with many reps under their belt dare to touch the deck. As is the case with most complex decks, however, it is very rewarding to master the play patterns and win games with this sort of deck, so if you like puzzles and tutoring lands I recommend giving it a try.
Mainly seen in Amulet Titan, Primeval Titan is another key piece of its own deck.
Primeval Titan is the main win condition for Amulet Titan by representing a large attacker and a tutor for various lands, including the combo finisher of Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle in combination with Dryad of the Ilysian Grove. The deck is extremely well positioned in the field and offers tons of critical decisions making when navigating through the matchups.
With some of the newer cards printed liked Boseiju, Who Endures or previous mentioned Force of Vigor, the deck plays even well against a Blood Moon making it a tier 1 deck in Modern. Depending on its meta share and win percentage, place 2 and 3 of Primeval Titan and Crashing Footfalls are interchangeable.
Of the cards listed here, Primeval Titan is definitely the oldest of the lot, having been a key role player in the format since the beginning of time.
In fact, Primeval Titan has been the face behind some of the most degenerate decks in Modern, starting with the Cloudpost deck that was prevalent in the initial days of the format, to the Red-Green Valakut deck, and then the Amulet Titan deck – both in its degenerate form with Summer Bloom, and the more toned down version we see today with Dryad of the Ilysian Grove and Urza’s Saga.
Funnily enough, I had a quick look at the Cloudpost deck that made the Top 8 of the very first Modern Pro Tour in Philadelphia back in 2011, and the deck contained four cards that are now banned – Cloudpost, Eye of Ugin, Green Sun’s Zenith and Punishing Fire!
Primeval Titan also has a near and dear connection to me, as Valakut Ramp was my first competitive Standard deck back in mid-2010. I’d just gotten into Magic a year and a half back, and upon realising how expensive the game was and being a twelve year old with no source of income, I took two paper-run routes around my house and spent two hours every Wednesday and Friday before school delivering the local paper to save up enough money.
When Magic 2011 came out, I spent all the money I had saved up to get a playset of Primeval Titans, and then played the deck almost exclusively until it rotated out. During this time, I won Juniour Nationals – a tournament that ran alongside the normal Nationals. For winning, I got to be featured in a popular children’s TV show here called the Erin Simpson Show, but unfortunately I didn’t get to meet Erin as promised and instead had to teach one of her co-hosts how to play Magic!
First Place – Endurance
As a classic in these tier lists, the “best green card in modern” is a MH-MH2 card, today it’s Endurance.
This elemental was first overlooked, but as soon as the metagame settled Endurance got the spot it deserves.
First, it’s a 3 /4 cmc3 Flash, making it a very good card just by its stats. But its ETB ability is even better since it’s a flash hate vs all graveyard decks and a card you have to keep in mind while playing Delirium decks or Living End.
I really like this card, because I feel the effect isn’t oppressive or too powerful like Solitude and it keeps in check unfair decks.
The top spot is again occupied by a Modern Horizons 2 Mythic Rare. Who would have thought?
For three mana you get to shuffle an entire graveyard into it’s owner’s library while getting a ¾ reach-creature. Oh, and instant speed, of course.
And if that’s not enough you can Evoke the creature by exiling a green card from your hand without paying it’s mana cost. What could possibly go wrong? Endurance has been overlooked in the early stages of MH2, seemingly outclassed by its white and black Elemental-friends. But as the metagame continues to revolve around graveyard strategies such as Living End or Murktide, Endurance slowly becomes to most valuable of the cycle and solidifies itself as the best green card in the format.
Endurance is a very versatile card. If you play against a graveyard-based deck, it can singlehandedly win the game on the spot and if you don’t play against such decks, it still is a three mana ¾ with Flash and Reach. This makes it a “maindeckable” card in most green decks and thus a nightmare for graveyard opponents who have a hard time playing around the potentially free spell.
The first place of this list goes to yet another “free” spell, and is the third Elemental out of Modern Horizons 2 which features in our top 5 lists after Grief and Fury.
Even though Endurance is mostly played as a sideboard card, basically any green deck in the format plays it to fight graveyard based strategies.
It can even be very good against one of the best tier 1 decks in the format, UR Murktide, as it shrinks Dragon’s Rage Channeler, survives Lightning Bolt and removes cards to prevent Murktide Regent getting delved in at a discount.
Since the banning of Faithless Looting, many graveyard based decks like Dredge and Arclight Phoenix have struggled to keep up with the rest of the format, and Endurance is not making it easier for them to return to their former prevalence.
Living End is an exception here, as it can fight back against Endurance with its own recently acquired free spells in Grief and Subtlety, and is currently the only graveyard based deck in the format putting up solid results.
One of the most exciting cards printed for Modern, Endurance takes obviously the number 1 spot as the best green card in Modern. Endurance, as part of the “pitch cards and evoke cycle” of Modern Horizons 2, has multiple reasons what’s making it extremely good.
First the triggered ability of Endurance providing a graveyard hate interaction at instant speed. This effect is fantastic nowadays because tons of decks actually rely on the graveyard with Dragon’s Rage Channelers, Murktide Regents, Snapcaster Mages, Wrenn and Six and even reanimation strategies through Unburial Rite or Living End.
Playing with a mainboard answer to multiple graveyard strategies gives a lot of flexibility and edges when navigating through the matchups. Second of all, Endurance‘s stat line is great. Being 3/4 with reach and flash gives you so much game to block flyers or other threats while being Lightning Bolt proof which has a lot of value in Modern against aggressive red decks. And if this wasn’t enough, Endurance is also able to interact with graveyards without paying its mana costs by using its evoke ability.
The instant speed graveyard interaction Endurance provides combined with its stats, mana cost and evoke flexibility makes Endurance a great card in the field and the best card green currently offers. Although higher numbers of Endurances are found in sideboards than in the maindeck, I wouldn’t be surprised if decks include more Endurances maindeck already considering how much flexibility this card gives.
Unlike the other colours we’ve done so far, in green there hasn’t been a single card from Modern Horizons 2 up to now. However, at number one, is in fact, the one and only Endurance!
Part of the Force / Evoke cycle of creatures from the set, Endurance was funnily enough the least touted about when it was first spoiled. However, since then it has firmly secured itself as the second-best of the cycle, right after Solitude.
What makes Endurance so good is that it is the most mana efficient of them all.
Costing just three mana, it is the one that you hard-cast the most often – in fact, you will be hardcasting Endurance most of the time, and only pitching it when it’s very necessary to do so. The card is also really flexible – on its surface, it obviously just looks like it’s graveyard hate, but in actual gameplay it’s a well-sized body against creature decks and the flash ability makes it good against control decks as you can play around counterspells or flash it in at their end-step and pressure their planeswalkers. In fact, in Legacy, I board it in against both Death and Taxes and Jeskai Control even though neither deck really interacts with their graveyard, simply for the previously mentioned reasons.
The card has also been a multi-format all-star because it’s one of the best cards against each of the top decks in the non-rotating formats. In Modern and Legacy, it’s great against the Dragon’s Rage Channeler/Murktide Regent decks, while in Vintage it’s a maindeckable hate-card against Bazaar of Baghdad decks. In Modern, it’s also found a home in the cascade decks like Living End and Temur Footfalls, as it’s a graveyard hate you can play without it getting in the way of cascading into your namesake card.