The Impact of Preordain's Unban in Modern

Ben Fraley
August 22, 2023


Only 2 Weeks ago one of the strongest card selection spells in Magic was unbanned in Modern. Very quickly the spell became a mainstay in archetypes far and wide, as well as a major discussion point. Although, at this point much debate has been settled, mostly by people casting and playing the spell to understand its power. In this article we will go over why the spell is so powerful, what meta- decks it is now included in, and some wild new lists.


Why is Preordain so good?

Preordain (Magic 2011 #70)

Preordain, unlike other cantrips in modern, provides a multitude of choices while also giving immediate value. While some other cantrips are instant speed (Consider, Opt) or see a similar number of cards (Serum Visions), none are as powerful as Preordain.

Consider (Innistrad: Midnight Hunt #44) Opt (Ixalan #65) Serum Visions (Fifth Dawn #36)

In Magic, the power of similar cards can often be simplified down to the number of choices they propose. Preordain gives you 4 options: Card A & B on top then draw, Card A on top and B on the bottom, Card B on top and A on the bottom, and Cards A & B on the bottom then draw. For Opt and Consider, while both have the benefit of being instant speed, each only propose 2 options. Likewise, both Ponder and Brainstorm are each more powerful than Preordain as both provide even more options (Ponder has 7 possible options and Brainstorm with 6+ Cards in hand has 20+ options). Another way to evaluate them is by the number of cards seen, in which Preordain has access to 3 Cards and Opt and Consider both only show 2. To conclude on this note, if you want to argue that Consider is more powerful you are more than allowed to, but I beg you to just cast Preordain once.


Preordain in Specifically Blue-Red Murktide

Murktide Regent (Modern Horizons 2 #52)

Preordain is great, however in Blue-Red Murktide it's even better. Prior to the unbanning lists often ran a mere 4 sorceries and many, many more instants. The inclusion of 4 Preordain makes Delirium substantially easier to achieve. Having such a premium card selection spell, and at sorcery speed, is a great boost to the deck that was suffering prior to the Pro-Tour.

This list from Andrea Piemonti (@piegonti on twitter) includes 4 Preordain, cutting an assortment of cards and including multiple 1-ofs which are much easier to find with a new premium card selection spell.

Preordain Showing up in Other Meta-decks

In just last Saturdays Challenge top 8, 3 decks got 4th, 5th, and 8th on 3 different archetypes each running a playset of Preordain. 

MTGO User WaToO went 7-3 getting 4th place with UR Control:

MTGO User crazybaloth went 7-2 getting 5th with 5c Goryo’s Vengeance:

MTGO User Suechtler went 6-3 securing 8th place with UR Prowess:

Regardless to say, Preordain is a fantastic spell that will see play in a vast majority of Blue-decks from now on. In last Saturday's challenge the only decks to top 32 that were blue and didn’t run the card, couldn’t play it as they were either a Cascade-based deck, a Keruga deck, or were the lone copy of 4c Omnath that opted for more expensive but more powerful cards. Overall, the card is powering up many blue decks, and in its’ wake revitalizing other awesome cards like Dreadhorde Arcanist. UR Murktide, Dimir Ring Control, 5c Creativity & Grixis Death’s Shadow are all seeing more play, and each with their own playset of the single mana spell.

Dreadhorde Arcanist (War of the Spark #125)

Dreadhorde Arcanist is a card banned in Legacy for its power when combined with cantrips, and now with the reintroduction of Preordain, the 2-drop is seeing a significant increase in play in Modern. In Murktide, Dreadhorde Arcanist recasts Lightning Bolt, Unholy Heat, Consider, and of course Preordain. In Death’s Shadow, it can replay Lightning Bolt, Unholy Heat, Preordain, and even Thoughtsieze. Having a 2-mana creature that essentially says “When this creature attacks you get to replay the best card in your graveyard” is wildly strong. In decks with Murktide Regent, the attack trigger also triggers your Murktide, as it triggers an Instant or Sorcery leaving your graveyard.

Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer (Modern Horizons 2 #138) Expressive Iteration (Strixhaven: School of Mages #186) Underworld Breach (Theros Beyond Death #161)

Playing UR Murktide with Ragavan, Expressive Iteration, Dreadhorde Arcanist, and Underworld Breach is wild as these 4 cards are all banned in Legacy but legal in Modern.

Lastly, for some more wild lists there is this UR Wizards list using Flame of Anor, Dreadhorde Arcanist and Snapcaster Mage that got a 5-0 recently. While I maintain that 5-0s are mostly noise and shouldn’t be paid attention to for competitive advice, this list is still super sick.

Additionally, I have been working on this list: 

Looking to maximize the power such a strong sorcery speed draw spell provides to delirium strategies. This deck is one of my personal projects as it plays a midrange game plan while both Urza’s Saga and Traverse the Ulvenwald play towards a more toolbox strategy.

Piracy Charm (Time Spiral Remastered #78) Archmage's Charm (Modern Horizons #40)

Another idea I have been working on is similar to the Izzet Wizards list but uses Piracy Charm as a highly versatile spell that can also pump the power of Dreadhorde Arcanist or kill a Ragavan or an Orcish Bowmasters. Piracy Charm was tech first innovated by Aspiringspike 2 years ago, before both Ragavan and Bowmasters were around. Piracy Charm pumping the power of Arcanist allows it to Flashback cards like Archmage’s Charm and Flame of Anor. Archmage’s Charm is great as it can be flashed back by Snapcaster mage as either a counter spell or draw spell, and it can be flashed back by a pumped Arcanist as a draw spell. Of course, in all of these lists Preordain is a lynchpin spell that holds it all together, acting as a premium card selection spell that can be replayed by both Snapcaster Mage and Dreadhorde Arcanist. Piracy Charm is also one of the few instant speed discard spells in Magic, meaning if your opponent is empty-handed this can be cast in their drawstep to make them discard it before they gain a chance to play it.

Preordain, while powerful, has been a great unbanning for Modern, making the format more interesting while not being more broken than any other card. Personally, I am a big fan of the unban announcement, and though Rakdos Scam continues to run amok I will enjoy casting my Preordains to get back in the game and dig deeper into my deck. As a final benefit, this card is very cheap so pick up your playset when you get a chance!