Hello everyone, and welcome back to Strictly Average MTG for more Magic: the Gathering discussion. As many of you know I primarily discuss the Modern format, and there has been a development within the format I have not yet touched upon. This was primarily on purpose, but it was also announced while I was writing the Colors of Modern series highlighting 32 (!!!) known decks in the format. That said, it’s now time to sit down and take a look at the possibilities that summer could bring us Modern players. Today I shall discuss what we could receive in Modern Horizons.
But before I begin, I want to take a look at how we got here.
In the beginning…we Chronicled the past.
In the beginning, before social media, and when the internet was in its infancy, Magic: the Gathering was a relatively new hobby. For new players some of the older products were out of print even a year after being released, and there was no coordinated guide to truly predict a price of a single card. Players were left to the mercy of their local store’s price for a card, and buying singles online was not as widely common as it is now. With how popular their game became, Wizards of the Coast realized it was time to provide players with reprints of cards that they felt were popular.
Chronicles had originally been designed to be an access point, along with the Core Sets, for new players who were not able to buy cards from previous sets (especially the expansions). Chronicles included cards from the previous four expansions:
Each of these cards were printed with a white border, but retained the expansion symbol of their original set. At this time Magic: the Gathering was growing globally as well and these cards were also printed in Japanese.
Many players were upset that reprints might reduce the value of their cards over time. As this game is also a collectible item (and with collectibles still hot in the 1990’s), Chronicles sparked the dreaded Reserved List.
Bill Rose went on to state that: “Wizards has no plans for another reprint expansion. We will continue to publish new editions of the Core Set with new and different reprints, as well as include reprints in expert-level expansions,” and “We’re happy with the Standard cardpool size maxing out at around 1500. Two three-set blocks plus one Core Set is just over 1500 cards.” However, over the years both of these statements were reversed to a degree.
The birth of a new format, and first drafts of the Modern age
In the fall of 2012 Wizards announced an upcoming set. Since the beginning and quick end to Chronicles, Magic: the Gathering had gone under some changes. Shortly before this new set Standard had changed from a card pool containing two expansions and one core set to a card pool with two expansions and two core sets while still rotating in the fall each year. While the number of formats increased a lot since Chronicles was released, a new format had emerged early on this decade to keep players invested into their cards that were no longer Standard legal.
That was Modern.
Despite what Bill Rose said in response to the backlash from Chronicles, Wizards of the Coast provided a reprint set to provide an influx of now Modern-legal cards readily available for stores and players alike. This was the idea behind Modern Masters; a set made to draft, collect, and play. The set was announced at Pro Tour Return to Ravnica which was the third Modern Pro Tour (and the first with a set name attached to it). These sets were made for already existing players (often called Experienced players), and targeted cards from Eighth Edition to Alara Reborn block. It was during this era that player growth had (overall) increased from previous eras, and all of the card border designs were similar. That border came be be called “The Modern Border.”
Released in June of 2013, Modern Masters became a repeated product, usually released following the last Standard expansion before the Core Set in the summer. The Modern Masters series would continue every other year with Modern Masters 2015 Edition, and Modern Masters 2017 Edition respectively. By the second edition of that series Wizards of the Coast began to look further away from reprints just for Modern and gave us Eternal Masters, Iconic Masters, Masters 25 (celebrating the 25 anniversary of the game), and Ultimate Masters. With each of these products there were fewer and fewer quality reprints (although Ultimate Masters had a lot of quality). So much so that it was even a concern to those in R&D as these ancillary sets needed card slots, and if one set had all of the Modern reprints it left blanks in others.
The Masters series ended with Ultimate Masters, leading many to wonder where we go from here. We all wondered what was on the Horizon.
The introduction of Modern Horizons
Gavin Verhey mentioned that at the end of February we would receive an announcement about a product for the Modern format. He identified that one of the concerns around reprints in Standard-legal sets was that it was difficult to find spots for quality reprints.
- The card is too powerful for Standard.
- The card may not fit the set.
- The card may have been printed too recently in Standard to include.
Although many of us do not feel like printing Modern cards in Standard is a huge problem (as in my opinion Standard SHOULD be powerful) the scars of the Return to Ravnica block to Theros block still resonate with many players as well as R&D (although it was nowhere near the damage either Affinity had during Mirrodin block, or what Caw-Blade did during Zendikar block to Scars of Mirrodin block).
This led some members of the community ask for a Modern set where cards would be printed just for Modern, and never touch Standard.
Enter Modern Horizons.
This is a 254 card draftable set, released during the summer (just like the original Modern Masters), focused on injecting new cards directly into Modern. Of the 249 cards (the ones that are not basic lands) these cards will all be new to Modern. About 50 cards, from what I understand, will be reprints. These reprints will be from before Eighth Edition as they are currently legal in Legacy and older formats. There will also be a buy a box promo that is a reprint of a card currently legal in formats older than Modern.
During the video linked above they did show off two new cards that I will show here:
While these were the only cards previewed there’s been rampant speculation of what will be in the set. Now that we have an idea of the history of reprint sets in the Modern age, I want to dig into thoughts and predictions of some things that can be added to Modern. But first I want to talk about a card that will not be in this set.
Why are we trying to force Force of Will?
Players have been trying to force Force of Will into Modern with Modern Horizons since the set was announced. Let me cut to the chase.
It won’t be in the set. Period.
This card was recently printed in Eternal Masters, and was also a Masterpiece Invocation in Amonkhet. The card is perhaps one of the most important spells in the Legacy format. Force of Will in Modern would continue blending the two formats. Many people fear that Modern and Legacy could one day have similar power level as well as gameplay. I hope Wizards of the Coast wants to keep these two formats, Legacy and Modern, as different as possible. Including Force of Will in Modern does the opposite of that.
Yes I know the video said that a blue card is “the best card” of the set, but the best card does not have to be rare. Heck the card they mentioned may be a completely new card as well. We simply do not know.
Could this show up in the second Modern Horizons set (because YOU KNOW there will be one)? Yes. Absolutely.
What I feel will be in Modern Horizons
Now I am only going to go over six cards I think are in Modern Horizons. I honestly feel like this will be a set based on tribal themes. With the previous inability to inject a lot of quality reprints for Modern players, this could be an avenue for some creatures from the various tribes of Magic’s past to come forward into Modern. There are also strategies in Modern that could either use some help, or are really non-existent, that should be flourishing in a format like this.
So let’s take a look.
During the announcement video it was mentioned that the Buy-A-Box promo will be of a card currently legal in Legacy and older formats, so it won’t be a new card. This is the prime target for a card like Flusterstorm. The Storm mechanic will never be a part of a card going into Standard ever again due to the Storm Scale (which many of us feel is honestly the Dredge Scale) so this set would be a great chance to increase the access to this card that first appeared in Commander.
How cool would it be to get this as a free card for just buying a box? Maybe it will even have new art? We’ll have to wait and see.
A spell that creates a lot of 4/4 angels, when Entreat The Angels is already available, may seem strange. However, in a token strategy (especially with the Serra planeswalker) this card could be quite good. Cycling is a mechanic that could easily be in this set as there are many cards with that mechanic that might serve as a nod to older players.
This card was almost in Dominaria; however it was deemed too powerful for Standard. The Mono Blue Tempo deck would pack four of it, and perhaps be the top deck in Standard. In Modern, however, this card is perfectly fine, and completely reasonable to have.
Remember what Assassin’s Trophy did for Jund decks in Modern by reducing the number of different removal spells it needed? Counterspell will do the same for control decks.
Yes, cards like Mana Leak, Remand, and maybe even Logic Knot would be deemed inferior. What Counterspell will do is increase play in cards like Negate, and Spell Snare. In order to get you have to give, and I would trade in other two mana counterspells for actual Counterspells every day.
This is a stone cold lock.
Of the strategies not currently in Modern is Reanimator. Yes we have decks running Goryo’s Vengeance, but not a true Reanimator style deck. With Exhume that can change. No longer do you have to always target your Griselbrand; it could be anything. Plus the cost of this card makes Spell Snare better.
Of all the tribes in the history of Magic none have the popularity of Goblins. A mainstay in the hearts of many players, this tribe always seems to find new life through a card being banned, a reprint into Standard or another product, or even a player doing well with the strategy at a tournament. Goblin Warrens is not currently on the dreaded Reserved List, and a “2 for 3” deal is definitely Goblin-level math. Token are also a favorite among many Magic players, especially those who never turn down a Goblin token in their booster pack.
While it would be easy to say that a green reprint will be an Elf, I hope that this set truly embraces the concept of giving life to archetypes that can’t quite make it even at FNM. One of these archetypes is Enchantress. Currently these decks are very slow to start, and are susceptible to disruption when their pay-off creatures get removed before enchantments are put into play. With Argothian Enchantress players would not have that problem. Playing ramp spells such as Utopia Sprawl, and hate cards like Rest In Peace help this non-blue deck draw additional cards to keep their plan moving forward. The Leylines also become playable cards when drawn, as they replace themselves. I look for green to be the underdog with reprints in this set, and we won’t see the impact until it is too late.
Also did I mention Spell Snare perhaps getting better? I thought I did.
My wild card for the set was a powerhouse when in Standard, but has not seen the grace of Modern. Spiritmonger may be the creature that midrange decks need to close out a game. While Tarmogoyf is the current creature many midrange decks go to, it does take awhile to build, and has no built-in protection. Spiritmonger can not only regenerate, but also dodge a color-hate spell such as Celestial Purge. While I would not be surprised if this was not in the set, its inclusion could be what Golgari Midrange needs to separate itself from Jund in the Modern metagame.
Modern Horizons, just like reprint sets released after Modern Masters 2017 Edition, seems to be built on a lot of promise and hype. Will it deliver? It’s too hard to say, but outside of Ultimate Masters there hasn’t been a lot of good reprint sets to give us hope.
Next week I will discuss the London Mulligan, as well as cards that simply need to go in Modern.
TAP MORE MANA!!!
Scott Campbell, better known as MTGPackFoils, has been playing Magic since he was 17 (which was in 1993). He’s known for loving decks such as Azorius Control, Jund, and others (especially in Modern). He is a husband, father, and a former nightclub DJ.