Updated: Jun 23
Magic: the Gathering is a diverse game. There are so many different formats for players to choose from and it can be tempting to dabble in all of them to figure out which ones you prefer. Each format differs slightly in how they approach the player. Standard is more or less a beginner friendly format due to having a card pool restricted to the latest 6 sets released, making it easier to collect a meta card pool for your decks and to understand what those cards do (If you’re starting to play Magic with the release of M21, I’m so sorry you have to experience Phasing. Abandon ship for the sake of your judges)! Modern is generally perceived as a more competitive format because of its larger card pool extending all the way back to Eighth Edition. It allows for the construction of some really powerful and streamlined decks and some incredibly cutthroat games. EDH is more of a casual experience; a chilled out kitchen table format. Most moments in EDH lead to some huge plays and laughs with friends. EDH is arguably the most popular format due to its relaxed nature and the creativity that deck building in EDH allows. When I started playing MTG, the first format I branched out to from Standard was Modern. It was kinda scary; I began playing some janky Rakdos Ingest Eldrazi deck that really wasn’t all too good. It got thrashed, over and over. Then I built Infect, started to win a lot more and everyone I played against hated me. Hooray! Modern has become one of my favourite formats in Magic. It’s a great way for me to release some of the competitive nature I get by attending LGS tournaments. It wasn’t long after I got into Modern that EDH started to pique my interest. I saw how much fun EDH was and how wacky some of the decks were. Tribal decks that focus on random tribes like Birds or Goats, Life Gain decks that gain you a billion life and swinging with the biggest Ajani Pridemate I’ve ever seen, I even know someone who has a deck that forces you to consistently shuffle your library, hand and graveyard (Spoiler: it’s was very annoying to play against). At first I personally found it hard to build a deck due to how limited my card collection was due to mainly being a Standard and Modern player. I had to expand my collection to accompany EDH. This was a useful process because I quickly found myself using cards I thought were good only to find out that outside of Modern, they weren’t as good (I’m looking at you Collected Company). The point of this article is to look at some Modern cards that translate to EDH and some that struggle to make the move. Let’s do some exploring in this article!
Modern cards that transition easily to EDH.
There is a selection of fantastic and powerful cards in Modern that you can easily consider for EDH. I found these by looking at the current meta of Modern and picked out the most commonly used cards that I feel slot into EDH decks with ease. The obvious cards that I will begin with are tutors. EDH players can’t get enough of tutors! Why wait when you can just search for the card you want and play it straight away? It’s brilliant. Popular tutor cards that are seeing viable Modern play are: [Eladamri’s Call], [Whir of Invention], [Chord of Calling], and [Stoneforge Mystic]. [Stoneforge Mystic] is great in Voltron decks such as [Sram, Senior Edificer] and [Uril, the Miststalker] being able to fetch up whichever equipment you desire! Of course, Bant Snowblade players who run SFM will most likely own the Sword equipments, most notable of the swords being [Sword of Feast and Famine]. This nifty artifact grants protection from Green and Black, +2+2 and is paired with added effects when the equipped creature deals combat damage. Not only does it untaps all your lands to help keep mana up for protection or additional set up, but it forces a discard which is especially fantastic when applying pressure on the table. [Eladamri’s Call] and [Chord of Calling] are fantastic creature tutor options for any deck that rely on creatures to win. Need to tutor up a [Craterhoof Behemoth] who bags you game the second you slap it onto the table? Need to tutor up a [Drannith Magistrate] because your opponents don’t deserve to play their commander? Then look no further with tutors! [Whir of Invention] is essentially a Blue [Chord of Calling] that can help you fetch for something game ending, like oh, I don’t know, [Blightsteel Colossus] perhaps? Most Modern players will also have access to a viable multi-colour land base with Fetches and Shock lands. These can be put into all decks helping you consistently thin out your deck while fixing your mana to play the right spells at the right time. They are a great option to help expand your land base. An under looked set of lands that can work well in EDH are the Tron lands; [Urza’s Tower], [Urza’s Mine] and [Urza’s Power Plant]. In my experience not a lot of EDH players play them in their decks when they should be. Most Green decks focus on winning by ramping an insane amount of mana and start swinging left, right and centre with giant beefy creatures. With cards like [Sylvan Scrying] being a viable ramp spell that searches out any land, consider partnering it with [Expedition Map] and creatures like [Elvish Reclaimer] to quickly gain access to 7 colourless mana! Madness! Tron players are lucky because a lot of their deck can easily transition into a powerhouse of an EDH deck. Most green ramp decks in EDH include Eldrazi titans such as [Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger] in their decks as a mana sink and a viable threat/win-con to put pressure on the table and close out a win. Nothing spells fear like swinging a giant spaghetti God at someone face and forcing them to exile the top 20 cards of their deck. Believe me, it’s not great being on the receiving end of that attack. Exile Eldrazi titans without hesitation. Finally, I would like to look at removal options. [Fatal Push], [Path to Exile] and [Abrupt Decay] are Modern favourites, being fantastic and solid spot removal spells. Another card that is worth considering for EDH decks is [Dreadbore]. A great card that deals with both creatures and planeswalkers! If you’re in the colour to run these cards, run them. You won’t regret it. Of course, it is obvious to look at [Wrath of God] and [Supreme Verdict] as board wipe options in both formats. They are feared in both by creature heavy decks.
Modern cards that are less effective in EDH
The problem with transitioning from Modern to EDH is that they are two very different formats. Certain cards work better in certain formats and decks. The discussion of Modern to EDH is that Modern is a more competitive format, decks in Modern are purposely created to be streamlined and consistent in order to secure you the win. Modern decks usually rely on 1 or 2 key cards to help you win. In order to be consistent, Modern players normally pack in a play set of popular and useful cantrips to help draw into them. Unfortunately, we see cantrips become less effective in EDH. Your ability to cast one of your 4 [Opts] or [Serum Visions] into a clutch [Lightning Bolt] or [Fatal Push] to keep you in the game is more effective in Modern. This is not to say that they are bad cards in EDH, they are simply less helpful than they are in Modern. I run cards like [Opt], [Impulse], and [Sleight of Hand] as viable card draw. Card draw is card draw and should be played in all EDH decks for your own advantage. But trying to find your [Demonic Consultation] or [Ad Nauseum] off the top of your deck with an [Opt] to close out the game is far less likely in a 99-card deck. A good EDH card is recognisable by its ability to impact multiple opponents or to help your deck achieve its intended purpose earlier than everyone else. This is where EDH players tend to lean towards tutors such as [Demonic Tutor] or [Mystical Tutor] to find which ever card they need with ease. Of course, EDH decks like [Talrand, Sky Summoner], love the ability to cast as many cheap cantrips in order to steal the win with an army of flying drakes. In terms of removal, a lot of removal spells played in Modern are designed to deal with threats that have a lower toughness. Burn spells like [Lightning Bolt] and [Rift Bolt] work better in Modern due to creatures having a lower toughness and players having a starting life total of 20, not 40. These cards are less effective in EDH as other removal spells such as [Chaos Warp] or [Swords to Plowshare] outshine them. [Simian Spirit Guide] is another card that pops up a lot in Modern decks. Nothing feels better than exiling a couple of these bad boys from your hand for a turn 1 [Blood Moon] in Modern. Just watch your opponent’s face drop as they look down at their hand of shocks and fetches. This is an example of a card that works better as a play set than as a single copy. Having a copy of [Simian Spirit Guide] in your EDH deck isn’t as effective as it is in Modern. You may get some use out of him for sure, but I feel like using mana rocks such as [Mana Vault], [Mana Crypt], [Arcane Signet] and [Sol Ring] are a much better early play mana ramp.
Modern and EDH are two wholly different formats that require different approaches and playstyles. The ethos is different in both. This is definitely seen with land destruction. While being paired against a Ponza deck in a Modern tournament is unlucky, travelling to a pub with your friends for some drinks and Magic games usually ends with salty faces if someone pops an Armageddon. I believe that the Modern player can make the transition to EDH with the cards they have access to. But, they become cards that are small pieces that fit into a much bigger puzzle, which isn’t a bad thing. EDH has a much larger card pool and a lot of combo’s rely on older cards paired with newer cards, such as [Laboratory Maniac] being often paired with cards like [Demonic Consultation] to win. This is the beauty of EDH; the ability to use cards from throughout the history of MTG to create some insane plays and unique decks that lead to some memorable games. I would argue that Modern players can make the transition to EDH effectively with the cards they have available in their Modern decks. However, they must consider that while they may feel they own a lot of good cards that can slot into an EDH deck, getting into a singleton format means that you’ve got a much wider card pool to dive into and consider. You are not as limited as you are in Modern. This may feel daunting at first but owning powerful cards that you use in other formats is a good first step into deck building in other formats. Another important point is that most Modern players are use to having 4 at the top of the mana curve in most cases. There is a lack of 5+ cmc cards in Modern whereas a lot of them are staples in EDH; [Craterhoof Behemoth] and [Expropriate] are examples of cards considered to be game finishers in EDH that cost 8 and 9 mana respectively! Overall, I do not see these as hindrances for the Modern player looking to expand into EDH. EDH is a fun and popular casual format that can offer you the fun you can’t get from Modern.
Wanna continue this discussion? Comment down below! I'd love to hear your points and opinions. Hearing other people's experiences from this wonderful game we all know and love is one of my favourite things!