On the brink of the Horizon
When sitting down to write a follow up article on Modern Horizons 2 (MH2) I was faced with a significant dilemma. The classic ‘Top 10 cards for Modern’ article would leave out most of the super interesting designs featured within the set, but equally I can’t write the 5 or so articles that would be needed to talk in depth about all of the sweet cards coming out in the set. So that leaves this article, I’m going to be talking about a few cards of each colour in super quick evaluations to hopefully get through as many cool things as possible.
In my last article about MH2 I proposed that this set would be as broken, if not more broken, than its predecessor and I can happily say that I’ve been proven wrong. This set looks like everything we were promised from MH1, new sweet designs and exciting pre-modern reprints but done in a way that doesn’t completely reshape the face of every eternal format (looking at you Wrenn & Six, Urza and Hogaak).
A quick note before I get started, as there are a lot of cards being discussed we won’t be able to have pictures for all of them, a full list of cards for MH2 can be found here: https://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/card-image-gallery/modern-horizons-2
Out of Time – Super interesting ‘wrath’ effect, I like that it gets better if your exiling more creatures. I also like that their phasing out rather than exiling as this won’t trigger and ETB effects when the come back in, although this does limit the number of decks that would abuse it for that feature.
Serra’s Emissary – Very unique effect, I wouldn’t be surprised if this became one of the go-to reanimate targets in modern going forwards allowing you to essentially ignore decks that predominantly use a single card type like humans of storm.
Solitude - Probably the hardest to cast of its cycle this will still see plenty of play as a free removal spell.
Sanctifier en-Vec – This is a very good hate card against graveyard decks, which often tend to be black/ red by design. This will give dredge, storm and any deck looking to leverage Kroxa a very bad day and may even be playable in the mainboard depending on the current shape of the format.
Search the Premises – This is a pretty powerful card draw engine for any white commander deck, the high cost and inconsistent ability likely makes this unplayable in modern.
Subtlety – Probably the weakest part of the cycle in terms of effect, I’d expect this to crop up in tempo decks that can make use of the body in addition to wanting a cheap answer to something like an early Karn or Primeval Titan.
Svyelun of Sea and Sky – Another great tool to push merfolk into the more competitive scene, she will easily replace Kira or Kopala in the 3-drop slot in the deck. Also featuring some fantastic artwork by Seb McKinnon.
Counterspell – Finally counterspell comes to modern! Will it ruin the format? no. Will people play it? Probably. Is it just worse than mana leak and the one mana counter magic we’ve currently got access to? That awaits to be seen.
Upheaval – This is the single card spoiled so far that I believe could be too powerful. The decks that use this often rely on artifact mana to remove the symmetrical downside to the
card allowing them to rebuild the same turn as casting this. I’d expect this to crop up in Urza decks and may well get banned or lead to the banning of something else out of that deck.
Archon of Cruelty – A devastating ETB effect promises to make this card a go to for reanimate strategies both in modern and commander, giving you a life buffer and a card draw while interacting makes this ideal to bring back in almost any matchup.
Grief – Probably the most powerful part of the cycle Grief represents free turn one hand disruption allowing for some truly miserable opening hands of decks that can support it. Coupled with tools like Ephemerate from MH1 I’d expect this card to make waves in modern and maybe even legacy.
Persist – A very unique reanimate spell this adds some amount of deck building complexity to the strategy. No longer being able to rely on Griselbrand, Elesh Norn and Iona these decks must put some serious effort into the best target for this card,
Tourach, Dread Cantor – An interesting nod to Hymn to Tourach, this card seems perfect for a discard heavy commander deck. The relatively small body and fairly expensive cost, if the kicker is paid, will likely mean he’s too slow in the majority of modern decks that may want him.
Braids, Cabal Minion – Speaking honestly I’d prefer if this wasn’t in the format. Braids is usually a miserable card to play against in decks taking advantage of it, it’s very rarely a symmetrical effect and leads to some super feel bad games.
Dauthi Voidwalker – A very powerful maindeck piece of graveyard hate which giving a deck that can abuse it game against a wide array of opponents. Using a discard spell to take your opponents big threat and casting it instantly on turn 3 can lead to some devastating turns against Primeval Titan decks or Tron.
Chef’s Kiss – Apart from the fantastic name this is a super interesting design for a red counterspell. The almost random element makes it fun to cast and may completely turn around a game by redirecting a removal spell and killing two of your opponents things.
Bloodbraid Marauder – On the face of it this doesn’t seem too powerful, but this is actually the lowest mana cost ever printed on a cascade card. With the right deck construction this can be turned on quickly and used as a tutor for some powerful 0 mana suspend cards. This can even be paired with Bloodbraid Elf and a card we’ll come to later to create a pretty devastating cascade chain if luck is on your side.
Obsidian Charmaw – This dragons is here for one thing, chomping on Tron lands. With the right sequence of cards this can be devastating for any opponent attempting to leverage colourless mana, whether that be an Eldrazi deck or good old fashioned Tron, no-one is safe.
Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer – Making a return from Kaladesh, Ragavan isn’t here to play around. As early as turn two you can start stealing cards from your opponent and, since modern is mainly made up of powerful 1-2 mana cards, you’ll be able to starting casting them that turn. I’d love to see a deck that can leverage this advantage well but for now I remain sceptical.
Imperial Recruiter – This might just be the biggest reprint out of the set, the ability for Aether Vial and Collected Company decks to have access to an efficient tutor creature will almost certainly push their power level up. Also who’s that lurking in the background of the alternate art? A certain Goblin and Faerie combo will for sure love having access to this tool.
Aeve, Progenitor Ooze – A creature with storm is definitely an interesting design space, especially a green one. Green storm is a bit of a theme for in MH2 and the majority of the cards don’t need more than a storm count of 2 or 3 to take over a game.
Chatterfang, Squirrel General – I could write a whole article about Chatterfang and the rest of his squirrel companions but in the interest of time this is definitely the fan favourite card of the set, easily the most popular EDH commander of the legends and finally gives an answer to the age old question ‘can 15 squirrels group together to kill an Emrakul’.
Endurance – This is probably the strongest of the cycle in terms of stats. Being a relatively cheap big creature means that this is likely to be cards properly in a good number of games. Being a good body also increases its potential for main board play, giving decks that can support it access to graveyard hate in the mainboard which can be essential in the right match ups.
Gaea’s Will – This is an incredibly powerful effect, suspending on the first turn means that you get time to set up a massive combo turn on turn 5, or just use it for value. This is another example of green heavy storm within the set and makes me worried for the future legality of cards like Manamorphose.
Ignoble Hierarch – A fantastic name for a very powerful card, obviously made to resemble Noble Hierarch this gives green aggressive decks like Infect and Zoo access to up to 8 of this effect. I’d expect this guy to be a format stable going forwards.
Thrasta, Tempest’s Roar – Big angry storm dino is here to wreck your day. Simply by casting 4 prior spells will let you cast this thing for just two green mana giving you a massive creature potentially very early in the game. As I mentioned, Manamorphose’s days might be numbered.
Titania, Protector of Argoth – This is an incredibly powerful tool for midrange decks to have access to going forwards. The ability to simply bring back a fetch land for an additional 5/3 is almost game ending by itself and an I a shell that can abuse a card like Knight of the Reliquary this can get out of hand very quickly.
Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar – Aside from the ridiculous name this card seems like a pretty powerful card for a discard heavy modern deck. With tool like Lotleth Troll and other cheap discard outlets its possible to get this in play pretty early and in an aggressive shell could be devastating.
Chainer, Nightmare Adept – Originally printed in a commander pre-constructed deck Chainer contains the ability for some very explosive turns when accompanied by the right cards. The weak body however may result in him not getting the amount of play he could have.
Garth One-Eye – This is textbook commander in my opinion, it does a very unique thing in a way that’s interesting but by no means powerful enough to see consistent play in modern.
Grist, the Hunger Tide – Another super interesting planeswalker, being a creature in the deck and graveyard allows for Grist to be cheated into play in a number of different ways, from stuff like Collected Company to being searchable with Imperial Recruiter there’s definitely the potential for Grist to be playable in modern, if there’s a good shell for it that is.
Shardless Agent - This is one card that many modern players have been anticipating for years. A simple 3 mana cascade creature when accompanied the the powerful 1 and 2 mana cards in modern will almost certainly make this a format stable in midrange decks. Accompanied with Bloodbraid Elf with can make for some very powerful turns.
Territorial Kavu – Domain Zoo or Tribal Flames Zoo decks have been a format staple of modern in the past, and with the addition of a Jund coloured Hierarch and with Triomes this could easily carry the archetype back into the frame.
Stirling Grove – This is the single card giving me hope for the enchantress archetype in the modern format, protecting all of your other enchantents and having the ability to search for other options will give the deck the ability to build their board to the point where they can win the game.
Dermotaxi – I really like this card, it’s a super interesting use of the vehicle mechanic. The pseudo reanimate side of the card is likely to make for some interesting game play, although being an artifact does make it susceptible to a lot of the commonly played removal in modern so it’s not without drawback.
Kaldra Compleat – The manifestation of all of the Kaldra equipment into one giant monsters. I like the return of the Living Weapon mechanic and this may even be a competitor to Batterskull, although the lack of lifelink does hurt its chances.
Scion of Draco – Who wouldn’t want a 2 mana 4/4 flier? With Triomes, Shock lands and Fetch lands this is an easily castable creature on the second turn of the game, which giving other relevant abilities to your creatures. There’s a chance this is good enough for a spot in the Domain Zoo deck if it does make a reappearance.
Sword of Hearth and Home – This makes up the 8th card in the Sword of X and Y cycle which has been building for years. Green and white are among the most important colours to have protection from in modern and the abilities to ramp and ‘flicker’ a creature are quite powerful. I wouldn’t expect this to replace sword of Fire and Ice but it may replace Feast and Famine as the second best sword in modern.
Void Mirror – The Tron hate is strong with this one. This is another powerful hate card against moderns colourless decks, although the contention between this and Damping Sphere in the sideboard may result in this not seeing as much play as it should.
Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth – This makes me very scared for the completion of this as a cycle. While this and Urborg are currently fine in modern, the other parts of this cycle have some bad interactions with cards like Boil, Flashfires and Valakut which will likely prevent them from seeing the light of day.
Cabal Coffers – Possibly the most needed reprint from the set Coffers is a staple of every black commander deck alongside Urborg to create an absurd amount of mana for very little cost. I could see this becoming a combination in modern although there currently isn’t a deck that can assemble this consistently and make use of that amount of mana.
Riptide Laboratory – When paired with powerful wizards (Snapcaster Mage) this can ensure that your best creatures never truly die which they keep generating value with ETB effects. I’d expect this to turn up as a one-of in some of the blue based control decks.
Thank you very much for sticking with my rambling if you’ve made it to the end, remember to pre-order your pre-release pack from Athena Games and join us for release on 18th June.