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Ixalan previews are coming in hot and heavy!
Last week I was pretty low on a lot of the cards revealed, but today I think I have some real winners to share. I'll look at some of the cards that have my curiosity and my attention, not only for Standard but for Modern as well, and some of the decks they might fit into.
I've got a lot of Opt-pinions on the subject, so let's dive right in!
Opt is a big deal and not the type of card we usually see printed, or in this case reprinted, nowadays! Cheap blue card draw? Sign me up!
I know it may not seem exciting to some, but I personally look forward to casting Opt with Torrential Gearhulk, or at least having the Opt-ion to do so.
So in Standard it's good, but what about Modern!?
I've actually wished Opt has been in Modern on many occasions and it looks like that wish is coming true. In retrospect, I probably should've wished for something better.
Oh, and there's also Ancestral Recall.
Let's start with Opt versus Sleight of Hand. I think Opt is better than Sleight of Hand, thanks to it being instant-speed. If they were both sorceries, it would approximately be a tie, with Sleight of Hand being slightly better since it gives you more information when you make your choice, although Opt is better if you have two good cards on top of your deck when you cast it, so I'm not sure.
Here it starts getting close, and I don't think there's a clear answer, but it might very well be better in decks where it being an instant is important. For one thing, Opt works incredibly well alongside Snapcaster Mage, allowing you to keep up mana until the end of your opponent's turn.
Opt also wins if you need to hit a specific card immediately (for example, your land drop for the turn), since you scry before you draw the card, whereas you scry after with Serum Visions. Waiting to cast Opt until your opponent's end step or when a spell is on the stack so you can find an answer also makes it a bit more useful.
Sorcery-speed Opt would basically be Sleight of Hand, and Serum Visions is a little better than Sleight of Hand, but overall I think Opt gets the win since it's an instant, although Serum Visions may be the better choice if Snapcaster Mage isn't in your deck.
Opt is within the realm of power occupied by Preordain and Ponder, but falls short in most cases. Upgrading from sorcery to instant is nice, but it's nowhere near as good as the extra scry. People aren't exactly clamoring to play Opt in Legacy, but in Modern, where Preordain and Ponder are banned, Opt is going to be the new go-to blue one-drop card draw spell.
So what decks does Opt fit into in Modern?
Combo decks like U/R Gifts and Ad Nauseam that already run four copies of Sleight of Hand and Serum Visions will start by replacing Sleight of Hand with Opt and then consider running some amount of Sleight of Hand anyway as copies nine through twelve of cheap card draw.
Search for Azcanta low-key has a lot going for it.
The ideal use for Search for Azcanta is if it's acting as a blue Rampant Growth that also has "scry 1" on your upkeep before flipping. It's absolutely Magical Christmas Land to imagine it reliably flipping on your third turn, but possible with a couple Thought Scours, fetch lands, and/or Street Wraiths.
A more realistic idea of how it will play out is as a Thassa, God of the Sea for control decks. Investing your second turn to get a scry on your upkeep for most of the game isn't the worst deal. Then, once it flips in the late-game, you're talking about a nice extra amount of value being generated each turn you can activate it.
This is a slow card. Look at it as a two-drop planeswalker that's going to slowly generate value as long as you're staying alive, just like Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded. Thankfully, Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded is worse than Search for Azcanta, but it's also worse than everything else… and I mean every other Magic card.
Also keep in mind the transform effect is a may ability, which gives a little extra bonus.