Top Trades: June 10-June 17

Harvey McGuinness • June 20, 2024

Welcome back everybody! It's time for this week's edition of Top Trades, the series where we check in to see which cards are moving around the most here at Cardsphere. This marks the first week with Modern Horizons 3 on full release, and boy oh boy does it show in our list.

Before we get into our new Top Trades, however, let's check in with an honorable mention - a card which should be quite familiar to those of you who tuned in last week.

Honorable Mention - Disciple of Freyalise

Number of Trades: 26  --- Number of Cards Traded: 35

Last week, Disciple of Freyalise appeared on our list as the most traded card, and it's easy to see why it's so popular. Being both inexpensive and printed at uncommon in the newest set made for a widely available card, while it's effect - an MDFC (modal double-faced card) untapped land with typal synergies - meant that the audience of people wanting this card was far and wide. Well, that trend has only grown, as we can see that Disciple of Freyalise has more than doubled its number of trades from last week.

Now, onto our new contenders.

#5 - Galvanic Discharge

Number of Trades: 17  --- Number of Cards Traded: 26

At number five on our list is another nail in the coffin for Lightning Bolt in any Modern deck (outside of good ol' Burn) - Galvanic Discharge. At base rate, it's a Lightning Bolt that can't target players. Not too shabby, considering that the majority of use-cases for Lightning Bolt are as a removal spell. The real difference here, though, is that Galvanic Discharge synergizes with itself, and that's not even assuming you're playing it in a dedicated energy shell.

If the first Galvanic Discharge a player casts targets a permanent that costs less than the full three energy to remove, then suddenly the next Galvanic Discharge becomes all the better, as that player will have even more energy counters available. Lightning Bolt targeting a Birds of Paradise? Excellent, but that exchange left you with two excess damage that went nowhere. Galvanic Discharge targeting a Birds of Paradise? Now that two excess damage can actually be spent the next time you have a threat to remove.

#4 - Marionette Apprentice

Number of Trades: 19  --- Number of Cards Traded: 24

Move over Marionette Master, it's time for Marionette Apprentice to take the spotlight. Sure, it might not create as many Servos when it enters the battlefield or have base stats quite as big as Marionette Master, but Marionette Apprentice still has two very relevant effects: first, fabricate 1, and second, "Whenever another creature or artifact you control is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, each opponent loses 1 life." Taken together, it's easy to see why this card is so popular - the next in a long line of Blood Artist effects, coupled with a token of its very own, and all for two mana. Not bad for a creature that also drains life upon artifacts enter the graveyard. Speaking of which...

Part of what's made Marionette Master an iconic card is its numerous combos. Well, Marionette Apprentice might not have quite as many (this is where the fabricate 1 as opposed to fabricate 3 really starts to matter), but it does still have access to the most compact one: Marionette Apprentice, Nim Deathmantle, and Ashnod's Altar. Odds are any and every Aristocrats deck list is going to be on Ashnod's Altar already, and Nim Deathmantle is a colorless artifact, so this trifecta should slot pretty readily into any Commander deck that wants to amp itself up.

#3 - Flare of Malice

Number of Trades: 19  --- Number of Cards Traded: 24

Alright, we've talked about the MDFC cycle from Modern Horizons 3 (still more on that up next), now it's time to talk about a card from another cycle in that set - Flare of Malice. While it may have a mana value of four, Flare of Malice is really a free, instant-speed edict effect that costs you a nontoken black creature, causing each opponent to sacrifice their biggest creature or planeswalker upon resolution.

Few cards have alternate costs that synergize with what the rest of the deck wants to be doing, but the lists in which Flare of Malice shines brightly are exactly those - decks chock full of cards that reward you for sacrificing creatures, providing all the more incentive for you to pay anything but four mana for this card. You might not be able to sacrifice a token here, but rest assured that whatever nontoken creature you sacrifice will almost certainly be less of an investment than the biggest creatures/planeswalkers each of your opponents control.

#2 - Hydroelectric Specimen

Number of Trades: 19  --- Number of Cards Traded: 27

Now it's time for this week's MDFC of choice, Hydroelectric Specimen. Just like Disciple of Freyalise, the backside of this card is a land which taps for a single color - in this case, blue - and enters untapped, provided you pay three life. In short, an unfetchable Island. Not too bad, but also not great. That is, not great on its own - rather, the key here is all in the flexibility.

At a cost of two generic mana and one blue, the front face of Hydroelectric Specimen is a a 1/4 Weird creature with flash and "When Hydroelectric Specimen enters the battlefield, you may change the target of target instant or sorcery spell with a single target to Hydroelectric Specimen." So, what is this going to end up doing? Most of the time, I imagine Hydroelectric Specimen will serve as a pseudo-counter for a removal spell; rather than letting your best creature die, why not pay three and lose Hydroelectric Specimen instead? Not being able to redirect abilities is a bit rough, but overall a pretty solid effect, especially considering that it's stapled to an untapped land on the back.

#1 - Evolution Witness

Number of Trades: 22  --- Number of Cards Traded: 29

Here we are, our most traded card of the week, Evolution Witness. A retooled Eternal Witness with +1/+1 counter synergies, Evolution Witness costs two generic mana and one green for a 2/1 Elf Shaman Mutant with "Whenever one or more +1/+1 counters are put on Evolution Witness, return target permanent card from your graveyard to your hand," as well as the option to pay one generic and a green to adapt 2 (if this creature has no +1/+1 counters on it, put two +1/+1 counters on it). So, what should me make of this?

In comparison to Eternal Witness, Evolution Witness offers to trade immediacy and range for flexibility. Eternal Witness returns a card as an enter-the-battlefield trigger, as well as returns a card of any type, while Evolution Witness can only return permanent cards and doesn't return one immediately, instead waiting for a +1/+1 counter to be placed on it. Thanks to adapt 2, however, Evolution Witness can still bring a card back as soon as it enters, provided that you have an extra two mana lying around. Alternatively, if you don't need to return a card that turn but do want to start paying into your mana investment, activating the adapt ability a turn or more later effectively allows you to have the return-to-hand effect for a mana cheaper than what Eternal Witness offers.

Is Evolution Witness better than Eternal Witness? No, but there are most definitely decks out there that are going to want to run it. Eternal Witness is a popular and powerful Magic card, and Evolution Witness does a pretty good job impersonating it while simultaneously opening up new synergy space thanks to +1/+1 counters, but it isn't going to be looped anytime soon. Still, quite a card to keep an eye on.

Wrap Up

Modern Horizons 3 is finally out in the wild as a fully released set, and it has clearly made a mark. This week's Top Trades might as well have been a snapshot of some of this set's most popular cards, and odds are this trend is going to keep moving steady for the next few days, if not weeks. Tune in next week where we'll see just how much of our Top Trades are dominated by Modern Horizons 3, as well as if any surprises pop up.

Read More:

Cardsphere Picks: Modern Horizons 3

Modern Horizons 3 is Available for Trade!