Hello everyone, and welcome back to Strictly Average MTG for more Modern content. Last week I spoke about the first week of Modern Horizons previews, which you can view here. Today I want to take a look at the second week of the two week preview season for this set.
So let’s go ahead and dive right in.
White usually tries to keep things in order, and offers both removal spells as well as protections that can be used to help you avoid a quick defeat. Here’s a few that can help in some strategies.
- Generous Gift: I did not think we would get cards shifted from one color to another, but here we have a color shifted Beast Within. While turning an opponent’s Planeswalker, creature land, or other non-creature permanent into a 3/3 creature can be difficult to understand, keep in mind for us Azorius Control players we can remove that with the Unsummon ability on Jace, the Mind Sculptor.
- Gilded Light: When Cycling was first released I was not playing Magic. However, being about to give yourself Shroud at instant speed can help defend you against decks such as Burn or decks with targeted discard. Used this way, it can be a pseudo counterspell; and vs decks that don’t target you, it is half of a Think Twice. This is a pretty solid card to keep an eye on.
- On Thin Ice: Last week I reviewed a few snow permanents, and now we have some more. While this may not necessarily better than Chained to the Rocks, it does have that same effect in decks built around having snow permanents. It’s “ok.” It will be interesting to see if this finds a home.
White still feels like a support color instead of a color that can stand on its own here in Modern. With that said, there might be enough to build a deck based on Cycling. With that archetype not even existing prior to Modern Horizons, it will be hard to gauge where it belongs in the format.
While blue offers spells that more often than not draw cards, it is also a color for those who wish to manipulate time, or even improve on artifact strategies. Here are this week’s offerings.
- Echo of Eons: Perhaps the card that most players are excited about, this is in essence a recosted Timetwister. Possibly the card closest to a Power 9 card that we will ever see in Modern, many are already wanting to play this while controlling a Narset, Parter of Veils or Notion Thief so they are the only one drawing cards. Six mana is a lot for a card that does not win the game when cast. I’m not sure where this will find a home, but perhaps someone with a deck taking extra turns (named “Oops, All Turns”) could run it.
- Mirrodin Besieged is the next card in a line of “named after sets” cards. Apocalypse, Future Sight, and Time Spiral all come to mind when thinking about this. Enchantments that provide you a choice when entering the battlefield are always interesting. I’m not sure if this will see any Modern play, as it is relatively inexpensive to cast, but this will find a home in many EDH decks.
- Tribute Mage comes from a long line of mages that search for artifacts. Trinket Mage, Trophy Mage, and Treasure Mage all before them have seen some level of play, with Treasure Mage appearing sometimes in Mono Blue Tron. There are a lot of good artifacts at the casting cost of two that are targets for Tribute Mage. I might even mention some in this article.
Currently blue decks in Modern are more control or combo based, but that doesn’t mean those are the only options. Keep this in mind when brewing as this color will always have tricks up its sleeve.
“Greatness, at any cost” is often the motto of black: finding ways to utilize your life total for greater effects, your creatures on the battlefield to provide additional effects (destroying creatures, sapping life totals, etc), or bringing the dead back to life. A lot of successful decks over the game’s history have had black involved in some manner. Could there be more here in this set?
- Endling: I love cycles. Cards where a color, or colors, are represented to make sure each possible combination gets something. Dual land design follows this principle, but other permanents have over the years as well. The “-ling” cycle started in Urza’s Saga with Morphling, and although it’s been over twenty years since the first in this cycle appeared, we now have it completed. I wish it had Undying on it without having to pay mana to protect it from Lightning Bolt, however this is a solid card that might get some players brewing.
- Unearth: While this was a pleasant surprise I’m honestly not sure where this could fit. One place that was mentioned to me by my friend Joe was that Jund could use this. Being able to discard a creature with Liliana of the Veil‘s first ability, and then immediately put a creature into play with Unearth can be pretty powerful. Cascading into this with Bloodbraid Elf should also not be overlooked. To be honest, I could see Dredge also playing this if the matchups where Darkblast does nothing become more commonplace. The thought of either getting a creature back, or cycling to dredge is rather appealing though.
- Yawgmoth, Thran Physician: A surprising legend to say the least. I honestly wish this card was Orzhov colors, as it would have been a great general for Cleric EDH players. However looking at this for Modern it does have the interesting “Protection from Humans” line. By the time you are able to cast him, the opponent’s Humans deck may have a lot of creatures well beyond the range of his -1/-1. It will be interesting to see if this has a home, and hopefully it’s not in the sideboard of other Humans decks. Maybe there is an aristocrat deck out there somewhere.
Black is still the most powerful color in Modern in my opinion. Being the most disruptive with removal spells, discard spells, and creatures difficult to remove puts this above a lot of other colors.
The most passionate color, and fanbase, red brings us even more spells that don’t necessarily do damage and show the flexibility the color can provide.
- Shenanigans: Not much says Shenanigans than the line “Dredge 1.” With the possible rise of Ensnaring Bridge in Modern, this card is perfect to deal with that pesky artifact allowing your creatures to attack. Watch out for Chalice of the Void on two though.
- Tectonic Reformation: Don’t sleep on this card. One of the ways that many decks (including Burn) lose the game is drawing cards that don’t do anything. For Burn it’s lands. That’s no longer the case with this card, where every land in their hand is a redraw allowing them to find the burn spell needed to secure the win. Also remember Wrenn and Six from last week? Yeah. Read these two cards again.
- Urza’s Rage: The card I never thought Tron needed, and here it is. Some of you may think I am joking, but how else are you going to get to 9 mana? Being able to deal ten (10!) to an opponent in one spell is always worth looking at, and Tron produces enough mana (ok I guess Amulet Titan players do too…) to help win the games quickly beyond the traditional planeswalkers used. Don’t sleep on this inclusion to Modern.
Red seems to be packing a punch on both ends of the mana curve. Which cards will make the cut in Modern? We’ll have to play the cards to find out.
Growth. Nature. Life. These are the things green is known for, and this second week of previews is no different.
- Collector Ouphe: I thought this thing would take control of an artifact. It has “collector” in the name afterall. However a Stony Silence that can attack for two is nothing to dismiss. This creature can be found via Collected Company, Chord of Calling, along with another card I will mention soon.
- Llanowar Tribe: I’m honestly not sure why we need this card, but the callback is rather interesting. Remember when the one mana elf was changed from Llanowar Elves to Elvish Mystic? A reason why this happened was due to only a single elf being pictured on a card with a plural name. Thus we have this. Now there is a line where one could play Karn Liberated on turn three with elves, but I doubt we’ll see a lot of that.
- Weather the Storm: NOW we’re talking! Look at this sweet card! Have you ever lost against Burn? Are you playing green? You need this in the sideboard. Gaining six life in response to a Lightning Bolt is well worth the sideboard inclusion. I know, I’m advocating for a green card. Weird, right?
Green will always have a lot to offer, as it’s the most flexible color in the game. It can be as much of a primary color as a support color, and there are many archetypes that tap into this color.
Multicolored spells are continuing to provide brewers possible options for new and existing decks. These will be no different.
- Eladamri’s Call: Most tutors are sorcery speed; this card being an instant allows you to find the exact creature you need. I can see this sliding into any deck with Primeval Titan. Also creature combo decks will want this.
- Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis: Easily the best named card in the set, this is going right into Dredge. “You can’t spend mana to cast this spell” is also the best sentence ever written in the game’s history. Bloodghast‘s do nothing the turn they come into play (unless the opponent is at ten or less life) so casting this early can put you ahead on the board. An 8/8 draws a lot of attention, so you might be able to focus on your Conflagrate plan while the opponent tries to deal with this.
- Kaya’s Guile: While I’m not a fan of Esper Control in Modern, this goes a long way toward making me want to try it. Any spell that gives you a choice, especially at instant speed, allows you the ability to make the correct decision (with the exception of Gifts Ungiven). Sometimes control players may have six mana open, and can cast this using all of the abilities on this card. This is one to watch, and can even go into Abzan, Mardu, or Orzhov decks.
Multicolored cards often times provide just enough utility to enhance a deck. Some even provide creatures that probably could not exist as a mono color spell. Make sure you choose wisely for your deck.
FINALLY! We have the Talisman cycle finished! I know this may not seem like a lot, but remember what Tribute Mage can do? These cards will see play. Modern? Maybe. EDH? Definitely. Keep in mind the colorless mana added with these can help casting some Eldrazi cards.
These lands from the Onslaught set make their inclusion into Modern, reminding us all of those who played during the era of Astral Slide. While these will help players draw past unwanted mana in their decks I’m not sure of their true purpose in existing decks. Dredge may play a pair of Forgotten Caves but perhaps they will spark a new archetype? Again only time will tell.
With the set in full view, I’m still disappointed in Modern Horizons. I don’t think the set delivered what the hype, and set up, led many to believe this set was going to deliver. It feels like another set like Conspiracy, or Battlebond. Those sets were marketed correctly, and understood to be a casual draft set that would only impact Draft, Legacy, and EDH. This set has the word “Modern” on it to help players understand these cards are going straight into Modern. However the impact this set will have, in my opinion, feels very minimal. I will go more into this next week.
Next week I’m going to be taking a look at the history of supplemental sets to try and understand why the promise of Modern Horizons fell flat for many of us (myself included).
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.