Spoilers and Magic Online
As of June 2nd the full list of cards has been spoiled and Magic Online players have received early access to the set on the very next day, giving us a first glance at which cards will have the most impact in the format and which archetypes stand to gain the most from this new influx of cards.
In this article we will be taking a look at the many cards of Modern Horizons 2 which are likely to see Modern play, be it by improving an already existing archetype or by creating a completely new viable archetype not yet represented in Modern.
Time to start building new decks
Modern aficionados all around the world have been extensively brewing since spoiler season, trying to find the ideal home for these new cards, and the first results can be evidenced in the most recent Modern Challenge and Magic 5-0 Decklists results featuring a plethora of new Modern Horizons 2 cards.
It looks like a lot of Modern Horizons 2 cards are already poised to make an impact in Modern, and a lot of cards still need to find a fitting home for us to see their full potential.
Without further ado, let us take a look at what Modern Horizons 2 has to offer!
You can find all our Modern Horizons singles on Cardmarket.
Seemingly the front runner for most impactful card in the set, Urza’s Saga is making its appearance in a myriad of decks and archetypes.
The colorless land can slot into any deck interested in making construct tokens and playing 0-1 mana artifact spells, and as it turns out there are numerous decks interested in doing so:
Amulet Titan can bounce Urza’s Saga multiple times and their namesake card Amulet of Vigor conveniently costs one mana.
Affinity and Hardened Scales, two former format pillars which lost their place over time are now making a resurgence thanks to Urza’s Saga.
Check out this current Hardened Scales list that finished 5th in a recent event by MRSERI.
Other new and noteworthy inclusions in Affinity and Hardened Scales are Nettlecyst and Thought Monitor acting as additional copies of Cranial Plating and Thoughtcast respectively, and Zabaz, the Glimmerwasp.
Food Decks – A new contender has arrived?
Check out this new food deck by BENNYBO that finished 3rd in a recent Modern Challenge.
Throne of Eldraine’s reign of terror may soon be ending in Standard, but is it time for the sets iconic food mechanic to leave its mark in Modern?
Multiple promising food based lists have been making their appearance in Modern, all featuring Urza’s Saga alongside other new cards The Underworld Cookbook and Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar.
These lists are looking to create a large amount of Food tokens to then abuse Cauldron Familiar, Feasting Troll King and Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar. Aggressive strategies struggle to keep up with the life gain and any deck relying on creatures ends up faltering to Asmora’s very impressive activated ability.
Urza’s Saga ends up being the glue which holds the deck together by tutoring up The Underworld Cookbook and making multiple giant construct tokens, a very real route to victory which ends up being especially relevant in the face of graveyard hate, something food based decks struggle with.
Kari Zev’s pet is making its comeback as a creature this time, and what a doozy! Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer is already being hailed as one of the best 1-mana red creatures ever printed and it’s not hard grasp why.
If left unchecked, Ragavan provides both card advantage and extra mana for the low investment cost of a single red mana. Decks most interested in this card are aggressive red decks and protect the queen type strategies like Delver or Death’s Shadow.
Check out this Death’s Shadow list that finished 10th in a recent event by MAGIC_DAN.
Although Ragavan is getting the most hype this early, it is not the only new powerful 1 drop red mages are gaining. Dragon’s Rage Channelers qualities are of a more subtle nature allowing one to sift through the deck and even dump cards like Lava Dart into the graveyard, therefore it is not surprising that the card is being tested in Mono Red Phoenix shells and the like.
The most iconic counter in Magic: The Gatherings’ history has long been deemed too strong for Modern by many, and control players around the world will happily unsleeve their Mana Leaks to make room for it. This will also eliminate the “nonbo” between Path to Exile and Mana Leak, incidentally making Path to Exile a better card in control decks.
Speaking of Path to Exile, Prismatic Ending will be giving the white removal spell a run for its money as the best white removal spell in the format. Prismatic Ending can hit problematic permanents like Aether Vial and Amulet of Vigor but fails to remove bigger threats like Thought-Knot Seer and Primeval Titan so both spells should see play.
The mythic Elemental cycle
Grief is similar to an already existing but not Modern legal card Unmask, and was one of the most hyped cards in the spoiler season. Lists trying to abuse Ephemerate and Grief were the most talked about until now, and it turns out to also be great in Living End.
White does not seem to have drawn the short end of the stick in this cycle, and Solitude provides the color with yet another great removal spell. Similar to Grief, Solitude also combines well with Ephemerate and generally any white deck will be interested in playing some copies of this card.
Albeit Fury has the best body of the cycle, it arguably has the worst ability which is what mostly matters here. I would have liked to see the card have flash instead of or in addition to Double Strike.
A viable sideboard option against graveyard based strategies. The card may see play depending on which graveyard decks are currently most prevalent in the metagame.
This card looks to be at its best against Amulet Titan decks and combo decks such as Neoform.
Cards featuring in new archetypes
Food is not the only new kid on the block, and a flurry of Modern Horizons 2 cards are seeing play in completely new decks or are revitalizing old archetypes fallen out of favour.
The two new cards Persist and Unmarked Grave make a good Exhume and Entomb impression, and Wizards was even so kind as to print additional good cards for this archetype – Priest of Fell Rites, Archon of Cruelty and Serra’s Emissary. The deck doesn’t seem to be a strong contender as of now but these cards all have a high power level and can potentially see play in the future.
Long past are the days when Wild Nacatl was a force to be reckoned with and it is hard to believe that the former Zoo staple was once banned in Modern. This 5-color deck gets to play a mix of the most efficient threats of the format and Territorial Kavu and Scion of Draco fit that criteria.
Check out this list and article about Domain Zoo.
Temur Rhinos is a control deck looking to cascade into the card Crashing Footfalls with the Modern Horizons 2 reprint Shardless Agent. The deck also benefits from the reprint Fire & Ice and features multiple Throne of Eldraine adventure cards to circumvent the cascade mana cost restriction.
Check out the list that finished 19th at the recent Modern Challenge.
Enchantress has always just been a fringe deck in Modern, but Modern Horizons 2 has given it multiple new toys and the deck is very good against strategies which lose to a resolved Solitary Confinement.
Modern Horizons cards making an appearance in this strategy are Sterling Grove, Enchantress’s Presence, Solitary Confinement, Sythis, Harvest’s Hand and Sanctum Weaver, making this archetype the one that gained the most amount of cards in the format.
Cards which slot into already existing archetypes
Ignoble Hierarch gives the Jund colors access to a mana dork of the same caliber as Noble Hierarch, and any deck from BG Infect to Goblins will be looking to try the card out.
Kaldra Compleat is an additional equipment for Stoneforge Mystics’ extensive repertoire of weapons and looks to be the best option when the plan is to win the game quickly against non-interactive decks. In comparison to the other living weapon Batterskull, casting Kaldra Compleat is not feasible so the card should probably not be played when you expect your Stoneforge Mystic to die.
Profane Tutor is one of the better tutors available in Modern, and as such has the potential to see play in certain combo decks. Ad Nauseam should be interested in the card as this comes off suspend at the same time as a turn 1 suspended Lotus Bloom.
Arclight Phoenix was a very prevalent card in Modern not very long ago, and Faithless Salvaging gives the deck another reliable way to recur the bird(s) on turn three. The card looks pretty underwhelming in comparison to Faithless Looting, I am not gonna lie.
Merfolk is receiving some long needed love, and all three of these cards should see play. Tide Shaper can replace Spreading Seas and Rishadan Dockhand synergizes very well with Aether Vial.
Another card inspired by an already existing legacy card Basking Rootwalla, the red counterpart is poised to find a home in decks looking to recur Vengevine and Hollow One.
Esper Sentinel punishes any deck looking to interact and is best supported by disruptive creatures to leverage the additional cards you may draw, making Humans the perfect home for Esper Sentinel. Other less prevalent archetypes like Death and Taxes will also be interested in this card.
New hate bears and other hateful cards
The box topper of the set has proven its worth in Legacy Death and Taxes and I expect it to see play in similar archetypes.
Dauthi Voidwalker has great stats and some very relevant abilities, any black midrange deck should consider playing some copies of this card. Rogues is a very strong deck in Historic and Dauthi Voidwalker would slot right into a Modern version of Rogues.
A good sideboard card against the new food based decks and any creature based combo deck like Devoted Druid or Heliod Company.
This looks to be a flexible sideboard card as it hoses dredge and also incidentally hits Death’s Shadow, Prowess and Burn with its protection from red and black. Auriok Champion sees some play and I expect Sanctifier En-Vec to replace the card.
Finally a good reason not to play Snow basics! Break the Ice is a watered down Sinkhole but is still a viable sideboard card against Tron, Enchantress and any other deck which dares to play snow basics.
This card is very good against any Cascade deck and Eldrazi Tron. Be warned, don’t play it against Tron since they can just cast their spells by tapping a Forest.
Foundation Breaker will be a roleplayer in Living End and Cascade Decks, giving them an efficient way to remove enchantments like Leyline of the Void.
Generic good interaction Cards
A classic card and just a great and versatile removal spell.
A strict upgrade to Diabolic Edict, Sudden Edict is now the best answer against strategies trying to cheat in the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Emrakul, the Aeons Thorn.
Another strict upgrade to an already existing card, Damn will replace Wrath of God in any deck also able to cast the front side.
Other noteworthy cards which have yet to find a home
Looks to be just rightly costed, as enabling this is hard even for Modern standards. Burning Tree-Emissary and Manamorphose are currently amongst the best enablers and if Wizards ever makes the mistake of printing a similar card to Manamorphose this would be one of the first cards I would be looking back at.
And that’s it! We’ve come to the end of our Modern Horizons 2 Set review.
All in all it seems that Modern Horizons 2 will be injecting a well needed breath of fresh air into the format and a lot of new and exciting innovations are already taking place in these very early stages of this refreshingly new format.
The design team seems to have done a good job at balancing the power level of the cards and the ubiquity of Urza’s Saga seems to be the only thing hinting at a potentially problematic issue down the line, but for now I am excited to continue observing the further development of the format and finding out which archetypes establish themselves as the biggest winners of the Modern Horizons 2 release.
Thank you for reading!
Ricardo Caetano da Silva