Written by SSquirrel76
Welcome to the 4th and final piece of my set review of Modern Horizons 2 from a competitive point of view. I hope you have enjoyed what I’ve written so far, and just know, it’s an awful lot of words, URLs, and images. It’s also a lot of fun, so let’s dig into the Black cards!
Black looks chock full of goodness in this set, so let’s see if I can’t summarize things a bit more quickly during this part, because I still have a long way to go. First up is a pair of cards that are fantastic Reanimator targets: Archfiend of Sorrows and Archon of Cruelty.
Archfiend of Sorrows has that classic Massacre Wurm enter the battlefield effect and can come back to do everything again with a 5 mana Unearth ability, whereas Archon of Cruelty looks like Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath and Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger had a baby dragon, then fed it till it was freaking huge and mean. It’s enter the battlefield trigger is also an attack trigger, putting it on par with the 2 Titans I just mentioned, as well as the classic ones from M11 and M12. This one costs your opponent a creature or planeswalker, a card, and 3 life. Plus you draw a card and gain 3 life. Give it haste and double everything. Through the Breach is this guy’s best friend, just try to stay on his good side.
Bone Shards is a very cheap way to kill a creature or planeswalker, it just requires a creature sacrifice or discard to help power it. Great price, and the additional costs can work in your favor depending how you design your deck.
Break the Ice resembles Sinkhole, but it is the first serious snow hate we have had since Modern Horizen 1 and Kaldheim brought snow back into our lives. There was a long stretch of Modern where not playing Snow lands made no sense, because you could bluff having snow cards. Some of which were quite good, and playing non-snow basics was just considered less good. There are plenty of us who want to play cool looking basics though and I may just have some Happy Little Trees (Bob Ross Lands) or Mountains across the table from you instead of snow lands, because this card is no joke. The Overload is really destructive to decks like Tron (Mono-Green or Eldrazi), but remember that you can’t just have disruption like this, you have to also have pressure. Mono-Green especially should already have 7+ drops hitting the table before you can overload this one.
Damn. That’s not just what you said when you first saw the card, that IS the card. Damn is a BB sorcery speed creature kill spell that doubles as literal Wrath of God on the same card. So Orzhov decks can combine card slots if they want, although you can’t Inquisition of Kozilek a Wrath of God, and you can definitely knock Damn out of someone’s hands. Things to consider.
Dauthi Voidwalker is more efficient grave hate. We only have 1 other Shadow card in Modern, but the days of the Dauthi during Tempest Standard were great, I know I had a lot of fun attacking with those guys. So a 3/2 with shadow, so effectively unblockable unless you run into him across the table from you, that also exiles cards that get added to your opponents graveyard once he is in play. Then you can tap and sacrifice him to play one of those cards for no mana. Which would get stopped by Void Mirror, but go for broke and hope your opponent is running Breach Emrakul and you can cast her for free, plus that free turn from her cast trigger. I hope Magical Christmasland has hot chocolate, because a play like that might get me on Santa’s naughty list.
Flay Essence is 1BB to exile a creature or planeswalker, then you gain life equal to the number of counters they had on them. Hydra and super friends decks beware. This is definitely a very metagame dependent card, but if that’s what’s called for, it could be the right call. Another case of Sorcery speed may hold it back.
Kitchen Imp is a sweet 1 drop 2/2 flier with haste…at least if you make that Madness thing work out. Without Madness, this is never making it out of Limited, but if that works out, he’s solid for sure.
Magus of the Bridge has caused some consternation on Twitter. The original Bridge from Below didn’t work if you cast it, and only functioned from your graveyard, weird card. Some people only wanted the new Magus to function in the same way, but generally Wizards wants you casting your creatures, so this feels like the right compromise. Otherwise, it’s making zombies and getting exiled the same way that the original Bridge did. Not sure what deck wants the Magus, but it’s a cool card to consider.
Necrogoyf is Tarmogoyf’s dead cousin, gaining power from how many creatures are in all graveyards, however he has a consistent toughness of 4. This puts him out of Bolt range, and he is already outside of Fatal Push’s reach. Forcing discards and being castable cheaper via Madness makes him another potential for that deck, but I’m not sure if he shows up elsewhere.
Persist is a great reanimation spell, bringing back non-legendary creatures with an extra -1/-1 counter on them. This does a great job of mimicing the original Persist ability, but would make sure the ability wouldn’t trigger as that -1/-1 counter is already there. Still, it’s an efficient way to get cards from your yard onto the table, with the low price of 1B.
Sudden Edict is a strict upgrade to the Tempest classic Diabolic Edict, which made its venture into Modern in the original Modern Horizons set. We also saw Liliana’s Triumph printed in War of the Spark and now we have split second stapled onto what was once the best edict effect in Magic. Time to sleeve this bad boy up in your Black decks.
Tourach, Dread Cantor is a 2/1 with protection from white, but his kicker is what many were hoping we would see Reprinted into Modern. BB kicker makes your opponent discard 2 cards at random, and every card they discard happens to give him a +1/+1 counter. I’ve heard from people including him in decklists and he’s already showing his worth. Very cool to finally see the villain behind one of the most loved/hated discard spells of all time. I’m in the love camp, but I play Pox in Legacy so you shouldn’t be having any fun when playing against that deck, why start at the discard?
Unmarked Grave is a 2 mana Entomb, but only for non-legendary creatures. Obviously this is a cornerstone to making the new Reanimator decks function, so if that’s your thing, snag a set of these soon.
Young Necromancer you would assume is a close cousin or at least neighbor of Young Pyromancer, but the name is the only thing they have in common. 5 mana isn’t a terrible cost for a reanimation effect, and in this case, you also get a 2/3 Human Warlock on your side of the battlefield. May not make the cut, but reanimate him to bring something else back too seems like a decent chain of events.
Red has a solid group of cards to talk about today, so let’s get down to it.
Blazing Rootwalla is a Madness card with a nostalgic callback to its green brother, Basking Rootwalla. He doesn’t get the same toughness bump as the original, but the same 0 cost Madness ability is there. People are already trying it out in Madness decks, so time will tell if it sticks or not.
Bloodbraid Marauder is in the running for best red card of the set. A 3/1 for 1R that can’t block isn’t all that odd, but if you have Delirium, then he also gains Cascade, and that’s where the fun begins. Does he find a Bolt or a draw spell? That 0 cost Suspend card you were hoping he would trigger? He slices, dices, and does windows. This card is very strong and Delirium is easy to turn on, so look for him to do a lot of work in a variety of decks. Temur Cascade is already a thing on MTGO with playsets of him.
Chef’s Kiss is a conditional Counterspell of sorts for Red. If the spell only has one target, you can cast this to gain control of the spell, and copy it, then choose new random target for both. You and your permanents are not valid targets. This is a cool design and I’m waiting to see if it’s 3 mana cost holds it back or if people run with it.
Dragon’s Rage Channeler is quite the one drop. Noncreature spells let you surveil, then if you have Delirium, he becomes a 3/3 flier that attacks every turn. Delver becomes a 3/2 for a single blue mana by virtue of packing your decks with non-creature spells. Dragon’s Rage Channeler just wants you to play a variety of card types. Definitely something I’m in the market to be sleeving up.
Faithless Salvaging is Faithless Looting’s not-banned cousin. Instead of drawing 2 and discarding 2 at once with flashback, you’re discarding and drawing (rummaging instead of looting) then doing it again courtesy of Rebound. This can help you setup a multi-spell turn for things like Izzet Phoenix or Storm, and given that Gruul Storm is one of the limited archetypes, this isn’t surprising. I’m less sure this will see extensive play, but people love putting cards in their graveyard. It also does it in the correct order for Dredge to get a dredger out of their hand then replace their draw step.
Fast//Furious is part of a cycle of split cards where one half is an instant and the other is a sorcery. This gives Torrential Gearhulk several new targets to see an instant card then cast the sorcery half, but that’s beside the point. Discard 1 draw 2 for 3 mana at instant speed is a reasonable if not a fantastic rate, and 5 mana to hit all non-flying creatures for 3 is a bit expensive for what it does. Another situation of paying more for flexibility. May see some usage here and there, but not supper optimistic on its odds. Tried to include it more as a potential sideboard card than anything else.
Flame Blitz though, where was this 2 years ago when everyone was hating life under Teferi, Time Raveler? Since it triggers at end step instead of upkeep, the turn you play it, it will do its best to murder every planeswalker in play. It cycles if you don’t need it, but being an enchantment, it just keeps doing its thing turn after turn. I can’t imagine this as a main deck card, but planeswalkers who come into play and tick up to 6 are now definitely at a premium.
Galvanic Relay is a Storm card that lets you setup for a larger Storm the next turn. Cast a bunch of spells, end with this and it exiles a number of cards equal to how many you have cast this turn. You have till the end of your next turn to use them. This can be an awful lot of cards. Really curious to see if this makes its way into Storm lists in Modern or if it stays as something to enable a limited archetype. Storm has picked up a series of useful cards recently, so picking thru all of them to build the deck in the most efficient manner is a task. Keep tabs on Caleb Scherer for all your Storm needs, he’s fantastic at it.
Harmonic Prodigy is a 2 mana prowess creature, which generally hasn’t gotten a lot of play in older formats, but its non-prowess ability says if an ability a Shaman or another Wizard (not this card) triggers, then it triggers again. Doubling Prowess triggers makes your creatures big in a hurry. Not sure if this will make the standard Prowess lists, but it could be something to help try and make Izzet Wizards a thing again.
Mine Collapse is a cousin of Fireblast, except instead of 2 lands sacrificed anytime, its alternate cost can only be paid on your turn, and instead of 4 to any target, it deals 5 to a creature or planeswalker. I’ve already seen people claiming this card is a mistake, but generally, aggressive Red decks are lower in land counts, so sacrificing lands isn’t always something they can afford to do. This will be a great sideboard card though, so I expect to see it turning up in lists there as the metagame sorts itself out.
Obsidian Charmaw was the first preview people read and said “Man, Wizards hates Tron”. 5 mana 4/4 dragon that destroys a nonbasic land your opponent controls when it enters the battlefield, and it can cost as little as RR, depending on how many colorless producing lands your opponent is running. I don’t think this will be played as a Tron hate card, but if colorless lands are a big thing, having copies of this big guy in your deck where it makes sense seems like a solid plan.
Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer is the Red card currently fending off Bloodbraid Marauder for the title of Best Red Card in the Set, and that cheeky monkey’s pre-order price is thru the roof. We were first introduced to this little guy as a token generated when Kari Zev, Skyship Raider attacked. I pulled one in my Aether Revolt pre-release and someone slid me a copy of the token they pulled so I could properly attack people with a legendary monkey token all day. Now we have a red 2/1 for R that gets a treasure token and exiles the top card of your opponent’s library to play until the end of your turn is already pretty great. Treasure tokens let you fix your mana to cast your opponent’s stuff, but he also has Dash for 1R, letting you hold him back and send him in when the coast is clear, then pick him up at the end of turn. When Dash was first around in Khans block, Control decks hated Dash and Ragavan could make their lives miserable. As good as he looks to be in Modern, I’ve seen talk of him being even stronger in Legacy, because the power level of the format is higher overall. All hail Ragavan.
Spreading Insurrection is a 5 mana sorcery speed Threaten effect with Storm. Normally the 5 mana would have people saying no thanks for this effect, but the chance to grab a bunch of your opponents creatures and beat face with their own creatures? Yes please. Maybe just a limited thing, it’s a potential other kill option to sideboard in Storm for aggressive decks filling the board with monsters.
Strike it Rich is a R to make a Treasure token, then it has Flashback for 2R. This could definitely be a setup card for some bigger turns as you stockpile Treasure tokens or maybe you’re running Mechanized Production and are trying to win via Treasure tokens. Lots of possibilities here for sure.
Lastly we have Unholy Heat, which is R for a Shock that only hits creatures and planeswalkers, but if you have Delirium, it hits the target for 6 instead of 2. There has been a lot of anger among Red players the last couple of years for giving us Red spells to kill planeswalkers that deal 5, then print things like Oko, Thief of Crowns that goes to 6 and just keeps on going. Well that ends here. I said with Flame Blitz that planeswalkers ticking to 6 were at a premium, well 7 may be the new 6. Coming to a sideboard near you.
Green’s first card today has already seen print as a preview of MH2 in the Strixhaven Mystic Archives. Kind of an odd way to introduce a future card, but Abundant Harvest is cool so that’s fine.
A single G mana to pick land or nonland and reveal cards until you find one of what you stated. There is no feel bad of not hitting like Ancient Stirrings can give you, as long as you have what you named in your deck, you will find something. Consistency matters in Magic decks and this will certainly help provide it.
Aeve, Progenitor Ooze is another cool card from the Gruul Storm deck. 5 mana for a 2/2 isn’t a great rate, although it is better if you have a bunch of Oozes since you get a +1/+1 counter for each other Ooze you have in play. Did I mention it also has Storm? So cast several spells, gain some mana, then drop several of these legendaries on the table. Lucky for you, copies are not considered Legendary, so if you make 5 copies, Aeve and all her copies are actually 7/7s. Here’s to hoping Todd Anderson makes a Modern deck for this and calls it Chonky Green.
Blessed Respite has a pleasant sounding name and why shouldn’t it? It shuffles your graveyard into your library and fogs, protecting you from combat damage for the turn. Turbofog decks have been a thing in the past and getting cards back in your deck to reuse can definitely be a good thing. Probably a sideboard option unless a Turbofog deck develops again.
Chatterfang, Squirrel General is a card I’m probably contractually obligated to love just based on my screen name. Chatterfang loves tokens, just as much as he loves his squirrely minions. He looks at how many tokens are being made and then creates that many 1/1 Squirrel tokens as well. Not just creature tokens, so all those Treasure or Clue tokens you are making? Yeah, make yourself some squirrels. He can even send some of his minions to their doom to give a target +X/-X based on how many he sacced. This can pump one of your guys or it can be used as removal for some solid flexibility. I may as well go ahead and include Chatterstorm while talking about him.
Do you like Empty the Warrens? Well how about if it cost half as much, and made half as many tokens? Did I mention these tokens are also Squirrels? That’s it, that’s the card. Probably won’t replace Empty the Warrens in Modern decks, but there are possibilities it shows up.
Fae Offering is getting thrown into this paragraph too, because there is a combo with Chatterfang. Fae Offering is a 3 mana enchantment that lets you create a Clue, Treasure, and Food token at the end of your turn if you have cast both a creature and noncreature spell this turn. So if you jump thru that small hoop, you get those 3 tokens, plus 3 more Squirrels. Add in an Academy Manufactor from Part 3 of this review, and you will be making a LOT more tokens. This feels more like a durdley Commander thing than a Modern thing, but it would be pretty cool to see happen a couple of times in a tournament.
Ignoble Hierarch probably gets my vote for the top card in Green this set. Everyone loves Noble Hierarch, but it only helps out the Bant shard with its mana generation, plus it’s Exalted ability, which was a Bant thing during Shards of Alara. Well now the Goblins of Jund have figured out how to boost their warriors with Exalted and we have a B/R/G mana dork that mirrors the Noble nicely. Golgari Infect was one of the first decks I pictured slotting this and I’ve even seen people testing the traditional Simic Infect lists adding 2 copies of Ignoble just for the extra Exalted and green mana. Definitely going to be a playset of these in my collection ASAP.
Sanctum Weaver is another Enchantress card, tapping for X mana where X is how many Enchantments you have in play. Between cards like this and Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, look for Enchantress decks to be dropping Emrakul, the Aeons Torn on people’s heads.
Smell Fear is a 2 mana sorcery speed fight spell. Nothing unusual there, however, it also proliferates before the fight, so you can get an extra counter on everything you want before the fight. Make your creature bigger if it already had a +1/+1 counter and shrink their creature that has a -1/-1 before the fight. Add another Infect counter to them, lots of possibilities. Not expecting to see wide usage here, but certainly in the running for sideboard material.
Squirrel Sovereign is a 2 mana Squirrel lord. That’s right, 1G gets you a 2/2 Squirrel and all your other Squirrels get +1/+1 while he is in play. That’s downright nutty. If that isn’t making them big enough for you, try Sylvan Anthem out.
GG gives all green creatures +1/+1 and you also get to scry 1 whenever a green creature comes into play. Remember Chatterstorm? That’s a LOT of scrying.
Terramorph is an Explosive Vegetation that divides its benefit over 2 turns courtesy of Rebound, except its lands don’t enter the battlefield tapped like EV’s do. This is similar to how Faithless Salvaging is a similar take on Faithless Looting. Not sure how often you want to divide your ramp up like this, but I’m sure someone is looking for it.
Thrasta, Tempest’s Roar cost less mana based on how many spells you have already cast this turn, aka Storm. A Trampling hasty 7/7 for potentially 3 mana is already some good, but add that the turn it enters play it gets hexproof and has a new kind of trample, trample over planeswalkers? Yes please. This could see a role in a deck like Mono-Green Devotion or it could just be a good creature in a lot of decks. Maybe it’s just sideboard hate for walkers. It’s definitely something I’ll be watching out for though for sure.
Tireless Provisioner is a spin on Tireless Tracker, but instead of Clue tokens, you’re creating Food or Treasures. Again, pair this with Fae Offering for a multitude of tokens covering your side of the table.
Our final card today is Verdant Command. We’ve had several Command spells over the years, and they’re flexible modal cards that allow you to pick 2 of 4 given options. Creating Squirrel tokens, Stifling a planeswalker loyalty activation, exiling a card from a graveyard, or target player gaining 3 life are a decent set of options. This feels like something waiting for some sideboard space more than anything, but it could be main decked in the proper metagame.
This has been my first Magic review series of articles and I definitely picked a doozie for the first go round. Modern Horizons 2 has a deep range of strong cards that should have Modern feeling its effects for some time to come. I’m looking forward to crack my stock of products and seeing what goodies I get.
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