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Surveying the Horizon - First look at Modern Horizons 2
For those not aware of what Modern Horizons is, a short history lesson is in order. Almost two years ago Wizards released an expansion of ‘direct to modern’ cards featuring cards that weren’t previously legal, such as Goblin Matron and Fact or Fiction, alongside a whole host of brand new cards, including eternal format all-stars like Force of Negation and Wrenn and Six. The issues started to arise with the power level of a few of these cards, namely Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis who was singly responsible for the banning of Faithless Looting, Bridge from Below and the re-banning of Golgari Grave-Troll before being banned himself. The reason I bring these up is that we’ve been promised a similar, if not higher, power level from the second Modern Horizons set, and so far Wizards have not disappointed.
Fetches Return With A Special Treatment
Although we’ve only had a handful of cards spoiled so far they’ve included a lot of big hits. The first is the Zendikar ‘fetch-land’ cycle, although already being modern legal these cards have always been highly sought after, generating a substantial price tag. Not only are we getting a reprint of the cycle, they’ll also be available in full-art versions and the new ‘timshifted’ card frame from Time Spiral Remastered, meaning that whatever your preferred style of pimp, they’ll definitely be something for you.
New Cards Heading To Modern
Another card revealed so far in the ‘timeshifted’ frame is the buy-a-box promo, Sanctum Prelate. Originally printed in Conspiracy, Sanctum Prelate has been a useful tool for the mono-white aggro or D&T (Death and Taxes) decks in legacy, allowing them to remove their opponents ability to interact with them while they set up their board. This is sure to see some amount of play within the modern variants of the deck, and being only three mana it is a reasonable card to play alongside one of my personal favourite cards, Collected Company. As with Modern Horizons, Sanctum Prelate will not be found inside booster pack, so you’d better get those booster box preorders in before we run out.
Another card coming into modern is the long awaited Counterspell. There is still a great amount of discussion over the impact Counterspell will have in modern, my personal opinion is that it will likely fall into the same category as Jace, the Mind Sculpter and Stoneforge Mystic, a useful tool for decks that can wield it, but far from format-warping.
The most interesting card we’ve been shown so far is the fantastically named Urza’s Saga. This follows the format of the previous sagas we’ve had, with one notable exception – its also a land! This gives you a much needed land to play in the early game, with the ability to make a token the following turn, and eventually search out a cheap artifact, giving access to a range of useful tools as early as turn 3.
Another good reference revealed so far is Diamond Lion, referencing Lion’s Eye Diamond. It’s hardly a subtle reference as the cards have the same text, allowing you to sacrifice them and discard your hand to get 3 mana of any colour. While Lion’s Eye Diamond remains a legacy staple, I don’t know if Diamond Lion can live up to the pedigree of its name-sake, but I’m sure a better player than I is already brewing up some nonsense with it, who knows maybe this will eventually get more cards banned from Dredge.
Modern Horizons 2 is shaping up to deliver some new powerful strategies into the format, in addition to bulking out some of the existing ones. The prerelease event will be starting on June 11th, with actual release the following week on the 18th so there is plenty of time to get in those pre-orders. I for one will be keeping a very close eye on the spoilers as they roll in, and I eagerly await the ability to get back across the table for some paper magic soon.