Written by SSquirrel76
We’re back, exploring the expansive world of Magic’s latest set, injecting flavor and power directly into the most popular constructed format, Modern. Today’s menu includes Artifacts, White, and Blue cards, and I hope you are saving room for dessert, because the final part will cover Black, Red, and Green, the colors of “Jund People” everywhere.
Academy Manufactor is a token multiplier, and given the push behind Food tokens and Squirrels in this set, there can be an absolutely huge number of tokens cluttering up the board at any given time. Every Clue, Food or Treasure token instead becoming 1 of all 3 adds up quickly, even more so if you start getting multiple Manufactors in play. After this set it looks really easy to make lots of any of these 3 token types, so while I have no clue if it will be good enough, pun not intended, there is definitely a possibility there.
To the surprise of no one, U/W Miracles decks in Modern are already experimenting with Brainstone and finding it to be good. Particularly if they don’t run any expensive permanents and are eventually bringing Brainstone back with Lurrus, they can setup the top of their deck practically at will. Still definitely seems like a very specific role player than a build around, but people will go to great lengths to get their Brainstorm on.
Kaldra Compleat is one heck of a Magic card. Equipment is generally pretty lackluster after the mistakes of the Cawblade era, but Stoneblade decks aren’t really popular at the moment and other decks don’t really run Swords, so maybe this mythic has a place. It costs 7 to cast and another 7 to equip, but it’s a Living Weapon, so it is automatically attached to its Germ token. An Indestructible 5/5 with haste, first strike, trample, and it exiles creatures it deals damage to. Wow! There are cards out there that allow you to reduce equip costs to 0, but I actually think a potential home for this card is in Mono-Green Tron. It’s a reasonable size, has a lot of keywords, and after you play a Wurmcoil Engine, you can tack this on and add deathtouch and lifelink to its list of keywords. Deathtouch + trample = most of your damage going to the opponent. I definitely want a copy or 2 of this one. Easily the artifact I’m the most excited by.
Ornithopter of Paradise, yes Ornithopter and Birds of Paradise had a baby, and this 0/2 is what we got. Don’t ask me how that worked out, as long as they’re happy, I’m good with it. Compare it to Utopia Tree and you can see the power creep in action. This could definitely see some play, but I also won’t be shocked if it doesn’t make the cut.
Scion of Draco is already joining Territorial Kavu in 5C Domain Zoo lists. Zoo has usually been pretty small creatures, but the new Domain lists are filled with fatties like this guy and Kavu, plus Tribal Flames to help burn the rest of your opponent’s life total away and send them to tell their bad beat tale while you drop off your win slip with time to go get a between rounds meal. This card is very strong and looks to make a name for itself quickly.
Sojourner’s Companion is a strictly better Myr Enforcer, as it adds Artifact landcycling (2) to the same card, minus the different creature type. Another speculative pick if artifact decks get a new lease on life from this set.
Sol Talisman. This is not the artifact you are looking for. Yes, you could potentially Cascade into this one from the new Bloodbraid Marauder (coming soon to an article near you!), but the best bet to get it in play otherwise is suspending it on Turn 1 or casting Whir of Invention or Reshape to find it. Yes you can use those spells to get it, because the null mana cost is considered as 0 for purposes of those spells. No you cannot grab it with Urza’s Saga, because it requires an actual 0 or 1 in the casting cost. I’m sure it makes sense when it isn’t 2 in the morning, I’m just trying to save you time googling.
Sword of Hearth and Home is like Sword of the Animist, only better most of the time. You get to Rampant Growth on attack with Animist vs player, same with (Sword of) H&H. However, you also get protection from green and white and get to flicker a creature you own when you hit your opponent. And it’s +2/+2 vs +1/+1. Obviously, if Animist was already good for your Commander deck, you probably want to squeeze H&H in as well. I see a lot of Yorion Stoneblade decks drooling for something like this, even if the colors you gain protection from aren’t the greatest pair.
Void Mirror caused a lot of gnashing of teeth and fortellings of doom on Twitter, but really, what doesn’t rile up Magic Twitter? Just a short list of card types hit by this artifact: Force of Negation, Cascade spells, Suspend spells, decks like Eldrazi Tron that normally run no colored mana. It’s a pretty widespread hate card and I would expect to see it a lot in the near future.
Zabaz, the Glimmerwasp is another maybe for Hardened Scales decks, as it’s another card that adds extra counters, and decks like that are always looking for more ways to do that. I would assume those decks would want to be able to use the extra abilities of the card if they’re going to run it, but even if not, it’s a 1 drop creatures with the Scales, that can’t be too bad. More speculation, but that’s what preview articles are for. Then I can write another article later about how wrong I was or how I picked things correctly. That’s what you call job security.
Blacksmith’s Skill is a cool pump spell, but also a good generic protection spell. We’ve had combat tricks that gave indestructible and pumping to an artifact creature before, but this gives hexproof and indestructible to a target permanent. So you can save an artifact, creature, land, planeswalker….anything. Not bad for one mana.
The next card to discuss is Blossoming Calm, and the things that Burn players want to say to this card, well they can’t be printed on a website geared toward a wider audience. So if you have this and someone tries to Bolt you, you get to counter their spell by giving yourself hexproof, avoid that 3 damage, and gain 2. Then it gets exiled to be played again next turn, because Rebound. If you have a Skullcrack and open mana to wait for their next upkeep, you can respond to the spell and keep them from gaining more life, but it’s already given them a 5 damage buffer against you for just 1 white mana. It’s way ahead on value and I’m not excited to see it across the table from me when I play Burn post-MH2’s release.
Esper Sentinel has drawn comparisons with Rhystic Study, which was strong in long ago Standard and Extended, and a pest at the table for Commander players everywhere. If you’re running other ways to increase Sentinel’s power, like anthems or equipment, it’s a significant tax for the other player. Expect to draw lots of cards if your opponent doesn’t kill this card quickly.
Glorious Enforcer is expensive at 7 mana, but is a real clock once it hits play. Swinging for 5-10 lifelink damage every turn will quickly pull you way ahead on life totals. I don’t expect to see this cast for its full cost most of the time, unless Control lists decide it’s a solid finisher. This is more than likely for the Reanimator limited win-con slot, but it could see play in a similar constructed deck.
Healer’s Flock is something Tom Ross suggested in the wake of the popularity of Llanowar Tribe from the first Modern Horizons set. It’s something I could see Soul Sisters running and while yes it dies to Bolt, at least Fatal Push needs a revolt trigger to kill it off. More speculation, but honestly it’s a cute card. Bird fan rejoice.
Late to Dinner is a 4 mana reanimation spell, plus you get a Food token. Value, value, value. More support for potential Reanimator decks.
Out of Time phases all creatures from the battlefield and gets a counter for each one, Vanishing one by one each turn. Obviously, if you kill the enchantment, everything comes back sooner, but you potentially clear the board for awhile with this card. This may not make the cut, but there are definitely decks that will want this.
Prismatic Ending is another card supporting playing lots of colors and it looks to be a really promising way to exile anything bothering you, so long as it costs 5 mana or less anyway.
Sanctifier en-Vec is a serious hate card. Not only is it safe from those colors, it exiles any cards of those colors already in the graveyard and any that would go to the graveyard while it’s out. That hits a lot of cards for Dredge and Living End both, plus many other decks. Definite promise, and of course, it’s a Human, so easy slot in for that deck if they need it.
Scour the Desert is kind of expensive at 5 mana, but it exiles a creature spell from your graveyard that you may not need anymore and gives you a bunch of 1/1 birds, where a bunch = said creature’s toughness. This may not be a world beater that shifts the metagame all on its own, but token producers are always being looked for and this is a good one.
Search the Premises is something for decks like Pillow Fort or maybe Enchantress to pile on more card advantage. Lots of Clue tokens means if you can afford all the mana, you’re drawing a lot of cards. Burying your opponent in card advantage doesn’t always win, but it sure doesn’t hurt your chances.
Serra’s Emissary is another Reanimation target most likely, and a hard counter to some tribal decks. If they can’t remove her, she just stops them from doing anything to you. It’s undone by a trigger from something like Reflector Mage, so it isn’t perfect, but it’s definitely something to add to the list of cards to consider when designing a deck like that.
Next up we have the Blue spells, but nothing starting before D, get those weak spells out of here!
Dress Down is only around for a single turn, but removing all creature abilities for the turn, not to mention cantripping to replace itself, is a strong effect. Creatures whose power and toughness is based on counting something lose all of that, maybe even die. That horde of Lifelink creatures swinging your way? Nope. Infect counters? Afraid not. This is a pretty versatile card, but it’s useless if you can’t survive the hit anyway, so not sure if it makes the final cut. I want to look into it though.
Filigree Attendant is similar to cards we have seen in U/R before, which normally are counting the number of instants or sorceries in your graveyard. Here the Toughness stays 3, but the Power fluctuates based on your artifact count. It costs 4 mana, but also has flying. If Affinity decks are a bit slower, this could maybe be a thing there.
Fractured Sanity, 14 cards milled for the low price of UUU. It also cycles for 1U, which still mills 4 from each opponent. Both abilities on the card are “each opponent” so expect this to be something Commander Mill players are considering. I’m not sure if the U/B Mill deck in Modern will pick this one up or not, but it’s pretty close to where they want to be on efficiency, so a definite maybe.
Junk Winder has Affinity for Tokens, which is a new spin on Affinity. Playing this and following it up w/token generation letting you tie up your opponent’s board so you can swing for the win. Doesn’t seem like the worst idea, especially when it only takes 5 tokens for it to come down for just UU. Again, not a lot of token decks currently, but this is one card looking to change that state of affairs.
Lose Focus looks like a great card that is being drastically overshadowed by the return of Counterspell. At its base rate, it loses out to Mana Leak, but every U you have extra to pump into it, it’s another 2 mana they have to tap or yet another counterspell they have to waste. Copies don’t pump Flusterstorm higher ,so if Lose Focus is just the 2nd spell cast, you only have 3 mana to cover on your end to pay for Flusterstorm. I think we will see a lot of decks running Counterspell initially, but this feels like it should be in strong consideration when looking at other soft counters. Admittedly, there are a LOT of options, so wait and see.
Murktide Regent was spoiled by the guys at Dominaria’s Judgment, and it does a lot. Delve is a frequently broken mechanic, so it has that going for it from the get-go, but it also grows as more instants and sorceries are exiled from your graveyard. It’s hard to stack too many Delve effects in the same deck, so not sure how many times you get to use the last ability, but a fat flier when its first played isn’t bad.
Mystic Redaction is trying to make sure you are getting exactly the card you want every draw step, and for 1 more than Search for Azcanta, it also mills your opponent 2 cards every time you have to discard. This may not be good enough, but I wanted to point it out to people, because the card is cool.
Rise and Shine is not what I want to hear in the morning, but the overload on this card is what should really be turning heads. Remember all those Food, Treasure, and Clue tokens we have been seeing all thru this set review? Yeah, each of those can get made into a 4/4 when you overload. I always enjoyed the Scissors decks when Ensoul Artifact was having its way of things, so I’m curious if this can work in Modern. 6 mana is a lot tho.
Steelfin Whale is a 3/4 that potentially comes down for just a single U mana, and untaps every time you have an artifact enter the battlefield. Not bad for how cheap it can be, it still isn’t likely a 4 of because you don’t want to get stuck w/multiple of this instead of artifacts to play.
Suspend is an instant speed bit of creature removal that exiles a creature and gives it 2 suspend counters. You have 2 turns to take advantage of its disappearance before it returns. Be Ahab and hunt that whale.
Svyelun of Sea and Sky is the first new Merfolk lord since Ixalan I think, and while she doesn’t pump their power and toughness, she does make targeting them more expensive and helps draw you cards. Keep a close watch on Nikachu’s Twitter to see how the deck shifts. The set is already live on MTGO (Magic the Gathering Online) so the odds he didn’t already run multiple leagues and at least 1 Challenge w/new builds of Merfolk are vanishingly small.
Thought Monitor, because you thought Thoughtcast was boring. For 2 more mana that you get to ignore with 2 more artifacts on the table, you gain a 2/2 flier in addition to that card draw that Thoughtcast gave you. Let’s get real here, this is doable on Turn 2 in an Affinity style list and drawing into more of them just helps you refill your hand more quickly to continue the assault.
Finally welcome to Tide Shaper. I already mentioned the Merfolk Master named Nikachu once, but he’s already said this card is replacing Spreading Seas in his lists, so again, keep an eye on his social media for updates on the deck.
That’s the end of Artifacts and the Azorious guild’s colors for this review. Stay tuned to this website for the final part of the Modern Horizons 2 set review, where we find out just how good a Jund producing mana Goblin can be. Hint: really good.
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