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Expanding Your Horizons, Issue #2: Modern Horizons 2 in Review Part 2

Written by SSquirrel76

Introduction

Greetings programs!!

In the first part of this article series, I talked about all of the Printed Into Modern cards. These were the cards that many of us used to play and have sometimes huge nostalgia for. Now we can consider using them in our favorite Modern decks or to use them as build arounds for whole new ones. This time I’m going to write about all of the brand new cards that feel like they were aimed at Constructed. As stated before, I’m skipping the cards that feel like they only exist to make a draft run smoothly and while I may mention Commander or Pauper a time or 2, generally I plan to stick to what will fit into current decks or could show up places if things go a particular way in the metagame. So without further ado….

Cycles:

There are 5 cycles I am going to discuss in this article today: 0 cost Suspend cards, Evoke Mythics, Planeswalkers;, Zendikar fetches, and Bridges. There are likely other cycles spread throughout the set, but these are the big things that stand out to me.

Suspend:

We have 5 Suspend cards in the set: Resurgent Belief; Inevitable Betrayal; Profane Tutor; Glimpse of Tomorrow; and Gaea’s Will. These are in the same vein as the Time Spiral Pact cycle, having no mana cost in the upper right corner, instead having you pay a mana cost described and you exile it with however many Suspend counters the card indicates. Each upkeep one is removed and in X turns, the spell is cast. This allows you to spend for a spell and it isn’t countered at that time, but it does let your opponent prepare for it to be cast later, trading surprise for efficient costs usually.

First up in WUBRG order is White’s contribution, Resurgent Belief. If you played during the original Urza’s block (aka the most broken block of all time), then you likely remember people playing Replenish and Opalescence. We don’t have Opalesence here, although Starfield of Nyx can handle that side of things, but this is a suspend version of Replenish. Wait 2 turns and bring any enchantments from your graveyard into play. Some amount of self mill or Entomb style effects and you can bring back very expensive enchantments to wreak havoc on your opponent. If Starfield is one of them, your enchantments get the Pinocchio treatment and are real creatures now, the better to attack you with. Enchantress is set to become a thing with the additions this set makes, and we could easily see this card find a role somewhere.

Next we have Inevitable Betrayal, better known originally as one of the few good non-Rebel cards from the Mercadian Masques block, Bribery. This lets you go through your opponents library and find their best creature and just make it your own till it dies, no strings. Bribery has been an important card for Blue at different times in the past, and is itself Modern legal via 8th Edition, so I will be very curious to see if the suspend version sees a bit more play.

Black brings us a Suspend version of the OG tutor from Alpha, Demonic Tutor, here known as Profane Tutor. Same price, just wait 2 turns to go find a deck in your library and put it in your hand. Clean, straightforward and waiting to be abused. Modern has already been said to be slowing down a bit, so if that decrease continues, you can expect to see more time for this card to be a thing.

Red gives us Glimpse of Tomorrow, a Suspend version of the original Ravnica card Warp World. The original card was 5RRR, whereas this is RR and wait 3 turns. If you’re playing a deck that produces a lot of permanents, especially things like tokens, you could end up way ahead of your opponent in your board state once the spell goes off. I don’t have a current deck in mind for this one, but it could easily be a build around. Lots of permanents with ETB (enter the battlefield) triggers for extra advantage seems like a plan to me.

Lastly, Green gives us Gaea’s Will, a Suspend variant of one of the most broken cards of all time, Yawgmoth’s Will. Yes this is Green instead of Black, and I don’t think anyone is all that surprised, given how Green’s color pie has expanded over the last decade. It feels like they are capable of anything. Letting you play lands and spells from your graveyard for the entire turn can lead to some very broken turns. In MH2 Limited, this is likely a key part of making a Gruul Storm deck happen, but in the wider expanse of Modern, we could have a problem on our hands. Only time will tell.

The elephant in the room with all of these Suspend cards is the Cascade keyword, as well as the card As Foretold. We already had several Cascade cards in the format that saw play, including different versions of the Living End deck, and As Foretold decks have shown up here and there over time. As Foretold has since spiked and so have some Suspend cards, like Crashing Footfalls. I’m writing this on the first Saturday that the set is live on MTGO, and we are already seeing lots of testing with things like Temur and Sultai Cascade decks. Modern is a format full of strong cards and can likely handle this to some degree, but if the metagame can’t correct itself, I can easily imagine a couple cards see their way to the door.

Evoke Mythics:

This is another WUBRG cycle of cards and they are a callback to a run of cards from original Lorwyn, probably best known in the tournament scene for Mulldrifter and Shriekmaw. Today’s examples are: Solitude; Subtlety; Grief; Fury; and Endurance.

White’s contribution is Solitude, a flash 3/2 with Lifelink, which is already reasonable at 5 mana or the cost of a spare White card, but when it ETBs, it also gets to Swords to Plowshares a creature on the battlefield. Generally this is when you target something big from your opponent, but it isn’t unheard of to hit something big of your own for the life gain, because a mage has to do what a mage has to do. I’m expecting this card to show up a good bit, especially in U/W/x Control lists, however it means they likely need to start running more White cards. I’m not going to be surprised if they pick up more White, but even at 5 mana it isn’t a bad deal.

Subtlety is Blue’s card, a 3/3 flier with flash that also puts a creature or planeswalker on the top or bottom of that player’s library. Again, something you can target yourself with to save something you need to stay alive, but Memory Lapsing your opponent is hardly a bad thing. It should be noted that it’ spells on the stack, not permanents already in play, so not quite the same as something like Aether Gust. More aggressive decks could use this to clear a path, especially if they can remove a larger creature with lifelink, but I would expect this to show most in Control and Tempo decks. Solid card for sure.

Black’s card is Grief, a new take on the old favorite Unmask. This card was shown off on StarCityGames VS Live with Todd Anderson absolutely rinsing Ross Merriam with turn 1 Grief paired with Ephemerate. Play a land, exile a black card of your own, then after the discard trigger resolves, with the death trigger on the stack, cast Ephemerate. When it returns, it’s a new copy of itself, forcing a new discard from your opponent, but it isn’t dying as you didn’t Evoke this version. Brutal turn 1 action, and there are other spells that function in a similar way, so you don’t have to have exactly Ephemerate to make this work. Grief is already doing work this week, keep your eye on it for sure.

Red’s card is, in the tradition of Red mythics, a bit underwhelming to most. This is a new take on Pyrotechnics, which has been making people playing weenie creatures hate life since all the way back in Legends. Alliances had another free version of this, called Pyrokinesis, and this version lets you hit planeswalkers as well as creatures, so that is cool. The 3/3 double strike body left behind is probably being undervalued, even though it dies to Lightning Bolt. Heavily Red decks could easily slot this in their sideboard to handle hordes of small creatures without any real shame.

Green brings our Evoke section to a close with Endurance. I don’t know of a direct analog existing before, as it shuffles the graveyard of the target player and then puts them all on the bottom of the library, but it is likely a play on a card like Gaea’s Blessing. There’s a lot of graveyard hate present in this set, and this is the first piece of it.

Planeswalkers:

This set provides us 3 new Planeswalkers, none of which have had a Planeswalker card before: Dakkon, Shadow Slayer; Geyadrone Dihada; Grist, the Hunger Tide. Dakkon showed up originally in Legends and tons of his white border version were printed in Chronicles, but Geyadrone was from a comic series that explored Dakkon’s backstory more fully and showed him as a Planeswalker. No idea where Grist came from, but some Vorthos out there reading this is likely to post some links about it.


I’m not going to talk a lot about these cards, as their abilities are reasonably straightforward, but Grist has a pretty major difference. The only place that Grist is only a Planeswalker, is when they are in play. Everywhere else, in your hand, library, graveyard, in exile or on the stack, they also count as a 1/1 Insect creature. This means you can’t Negate Grist, bc it says noncreature spells. It also means you can use this Planeswalker as your Commander, if you don’t believe me, believe Matt Tabak. What I’ve heard of Dakkon so far is that he’s been cool but not insane, and Geyadrone does some really gross things when it comes to stealing stuff. For many years in Magic, the rule of thumb was 3 mana walkers always found a place. Geyadrone is the only one more expensive than that, and she is only 4. Look for people to be working on making these cards happen ASAP.

Zendikar Fetchlands:

So far, outside of some Secret Lair versions, the only reprint the enemy fetchlands from Zendikar have had was in Modern Masters 2017. This made the prices dip down pretty far for a couple of months, but Modern is a big format with a lot of players, demand will alway begin to outstrip supply. Hopefully this set has a high supply, unlike Time Spiral Remastered, and we can feed the hungry beast that is Magic players’ desire to pay 1 life to find a Ravnica shock land. Arid Mesa; Marsh Flats; Misty Rainforest; Scalding Tarn; and Verdant Catacombs can’t have enough copies printed. I need to pick up a total of 8 to finish my playset of 20, so I’m hoping my set booster box and pre-release kit show me some fetchland love.


Bridges:

The original Mirrodin block of 2002-2003 had 5 mono-colored Artifact Lands (and a colorless one), which were part of one of the largest individual Standard bannings of all time. Artifact blocks and Magic have a closely entwined history with the banned list, and boy was Mirrodin no different in that regard. The only land to survive the purge was Darksteel Citadel, which has shown up in multiple reprints and generally been a good citizen. The craziest it’s been since that block was when people were turning it into an indestructible 5/5 with Scissors decks, chock full of cards from Magic 2015 and Khans of Tarkir block.

Mana fixing used to be something that only happened at higher rarity until WotC decided it was important for limited and started cycles of 5 enemy or ally color pairs or all 10 dual color combinations to be printed at common. The tweak they did this time is that all 10 of the cards are artifact lands, and they are also indestructible. Did I mention they also ETB tapped? Yeah, that alone makes them less interesting for competitive play, although a friend of mine who loves Pauper says that even being slow they will still provide needed mana fixing for Pauper. I’m not too high on the odds of these cards showing up in competitive play, but I’m sure someone will make it happen sooner rather than later. You can see all 10 cards down below, I’m writing enough that I don’t need to pad my word count out listing each of them.


Lands:

We don’t have a lot of brand new lands in the set that don’t fit into one of the 2 aforementioned cycles, however the ones we do have are: Power Depot; Urza’s Saga; and Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth.

Power Depot is another artifact land, and it also ETBs tapped, its mana can only be used to cast artifacts or pay for artifact abilities, and also has Modular 1 if it is destroyed. Sam Black wrote an article on StarCityGames about some of the cards he helped influence during his time working on this set, and he said that originally the card came in untapped and was way too good. This could easily see a place in a new Affinity (real Affinity or the popularly deemed Robots style of the last several years prior to the Mox Opal ban) deck or maybe in a Hardened Scales list, as saccing that land will make another +1/+1 counter to get multiplied by other effects. Or it’s deemed too slow, who knows.

Urza’s Saga has had a ton of hype and it’s pre-order price exemplifies this, although pre-order prices for this set have been ridiculously high and I don’t recommend anyone pre-order much if any of this set as a result. Most prices should come down significantly once product is in hand. Ari Lax discussed this card in an episode of the Dominaria’s Judgment podcast and said the optimal play of this land is to use it the turn it comes into play, then the next turn make a construct, then with the sacrifice trigger from the 3rd chapter on the stack, make a 2nd construct. With an artifact heavy deck, you can easily be swinging for the win the following turn. This card will not get suspend cards with no casting cost on them and it will not get 1 cost colored mana artifacts. It has to be 0 or 1 generic mana exactly for the 3rd ability. I expect this card to hit the ground running, but if the price drops on it, pick it up sooner rather than later, because it’s likely to be spiking again before long.

Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth is a green color-shifted version of Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth. Instead of all lands also being swamps, Yavimaya makes them all into Forests in addition to their other types. Urborg has bounced around in price and amount of competitive play, but I would expect its price to be sustained by Commander play as well, so it’s probably worth picking up reasonably soon. I’m not planning to go deep on financial stuff in this article (or in other articles either probably), but a general rule for Magic is that having mana bases is of utmost importance, so having the lands to be flexible and build around them is only a good thing.

Gold cards:

First up in the new gold cards is Arcbound Shikari.

Obviously this card is there in the set to support the R/W draft archetype, but spreading around +1/+1 counters can be very big game. I can easily see Hardened Scales making sure to support Red and White so they can cast this spell. Cool card, and being just an uncommon likely to be cheap.

Our second card is a character who showed up in the flavor text for Granite Gargoyle all the way back in alpha, as well as showed up in the Arena novel Wizards produced in the mid-90s: Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar.

Gesundheit. Don’t ask me to pronounce it, I’ll let Ethan Fleischer handle that. You’re welcome. She is unique in that, besides having the longest name in Magic…so long that a mana symbol can’t fit on her name line, she is also only able to be cast if you have discarded a card this turn, where she will cost either Black or Red mana. This leads us into an artifact, The Underworld Cookbook, which can generate food or be sacrificed to return a creature from the graveyard.

There is a lot of Food support in this set, but it’s unclear how much of it will make its way into tournament caliber decks, so I’m not going to talk a lot about the Cookbook, but with Asmor’s other ability to sacrifice 2 Food tokens to make a creature deal 6 to itself, she can serve as removal as well. She could turn up in a revamped take on Hollow One decks or if there is some sort of Jund Sacrifice deck like we saw in Standard and currently in Pioneer. Early results from MTGO have her showing up and doing some serious work, along with her favorite recipes.

I’m not sure if Carth the Lion has a home in Modern or if he’s just someone cool to run in Commander, but you can get extra walkers from your deck and your walkers get bigger quicker, so it’s hard to imagine him not making his way into some sort of Super Friends decklist.

Chrome Courier is a fun addition to a U/W Skies sort of deck or some potential artifact based deck. You frequently want cards in your graveyard and replacing itself in your hand doesn’t suck either. Add 3 life gained and it makes aggro’s life hard, because trust me, we aggro players hate lifegain.

Combine Chrysalis can pump out 4/4 Beasts, but its primary purpose is being a cheap card to give your army of tokens have flying. Evasion abilities are important, so if a token heavy deck forms that will want it, it can be a major part of said deck. Again, it could also just be bulk.

Dihada’s Ploy is another card representing the story of Dakkon and Geyadrone, and seems like a cool card for some sort of Dimir self-mill deck. Having Jump-Start lets you cast it twice, the second time also giving you a +1 life gained because you already discarded a card to help cast the card the second time.

Ethersworn Sphinx needs an artifact heavy deck to become a thing, but it also has cascade. Cascade is already decent, but giving a 9 mana card cascade gives you a wide range of things to cast from its Cascade trigger.

Garth One-Eye is a card to let you create and cast copies of iconic Magic cards, but I’m not sure it’s really doing work in the meta. He may just be something cool that shows up randomly in a 5 Color list here and there, but is generally just here to be a cool Commander. And no, there are no Black Lotus tokens being printed alongside Garth, the copy is created and you cast it. Ask your friendly local judge if you need the current oracle text of any of these cards.

General Ferrous Rokiric is being talked about for Domain Zoo lists and after we saw the power of Hero of Precinct One from the most recent return to Ravnica, imagine getting 4/4 Golems instead of 1/1 Humans. No contest. This is a cool and powerful card in the right list.

Goblin Anarchomancer is a Gruul version of the Izzet classic Goblin Electromancer. Storm is the G/R draft archetype in the set, so creating this card definitely helps make that happen there. But Izzet Storm is a pretty solid thing list wise, so we have to see if it came earn a spot in the existing deck or if the deck shifts to be more Temur.

Graceful Restoration costs 5 mana and it’s a sorcery, a couple of strikes against its possible success in a fast format like Modern, however, the flexibility of bringing one creature back with a bonus +1/+1 counter or 2 smaller 2 power or less cards back to the battlefield is nice. Reanimator has been pushed pretty hard in this new set, and initial testing has Reanimator looking good, so look for this one.

Lonis, Cryptozoologist has some cool art and even having the non-token restriction on it, you could potentially see a lot of Clue tokens on your side of the table once Lonis is in play.

Master of Death will fill your graveyard and is easy to bring back to hand, so you can surveil 2 more, and pick him back up to do it again.

Moderation is just plain weird. It puts the restriction on you, not your opponent, but it can lead to a lot of card draw. This is another Sam Black card and he think it won’t see play, so I’m happy deferring to him.

Piru the Volatile is designed in the classic style of the original Legends Elder Dragon cycle, except it’s a wedge (2 allies and 1 enemy color, in this case Mardu) vs 3 allied colors. When he dies, you are potentially gaining a lot of life, maybe prompting you to kill it yourself to wipe the board and gain you a lot of life.

Priest of Fell Rites is another Reanimator card. It’s showing up in lists I’m seeing talk about this weekend, so I’m less dismissive of it than I was before.

Rakdos Headliner is much more obvious that it can be a thing. His Echo requiring a discard can help stock the yard for a variety of graveyard focused decks, so except for Living End, he may be a thing somewhere.

Road//Ruin is a 3 mana Rampant Growth, but also lets you hit a creature for however many lands you have in play. Seems like a future sideboard card at best to me.

Sythis, Harvest’s Hand, here is another Enchantress plant. 2 mana for a creature that gains you a life and draws you a card for every enchantment you cast adds up real fast. If you want to run Enchantress in the new Modern, I don’t see how she isn’t part of the list.

Terminal Agony is another card that has a shot of showing up if Madness decks become a thing. Otherwise 4 mana sorcery speed to kill a creature is way above rate and not worth casting.

Territorial Kavu has been getting a lot of press, and for good reason. He is one of the cards singlehandedly pushing people to run Domain Zoo again. He can get big fast and his abilities on attack are also solid. The price has already jumped on it, so the word is out about it.

Wavesifter is another speculative card. As a 5 mana 3/2 flier, isn’t a great rate, but gaining 2 Clue tokens is good. Lots of token multipliers out there could make it a serious card, but only time will tell.

Conclusion

I think this is long enough for one part, so stay tuned for Part 3 where I cover Artifacts, White, and Blue spells.

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