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Modern Horizons's Effect on Modern

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When Modern Horizons was first announced, there was a lot of excitement about the new set. Everyone was super pumped about a set that contained cards that could bypass the Standard format entirely, which was a fairly prohibitive barrier of entry. It was also pretty exciting that the set was going to contain only cards that had never been legal in Modern before.

Then there was a bit of disappointment. As more and more cards began to leak out, people began to fear that the set was an excuse to print more cards for Commander, or Pauper, or whatever format that wasn’t Modern. Truth be told, this is kind of how the cookie crumbles when it comes to most new sets that promise something in their title.

As it turns out, though, all of the cries were seemingly for naught, as a ton of new cards from Modern Horizons have already begun to shake up the metagame, not even days after the Prerelease!

Today I want to talk about some of those cards, along with the decks that they have been upgrading or enabling in Modern. The first one was easily the most shocking for me.

Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis / Altar of Dementia / Carrion Feeder

Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis
Altar of Dementia
Carrion Feeder

This is an arisen necropolis. As far as I’m concerned, that means this is literally a building that has come to life. You can call it an avatar all you like, WotC, I know a building when I see one!

Truth be told, when I first read this card as a spoiler, I didn’t really think anything of it. The first time I actually cared about this card was during a Modern Horizons Draft over on stream last week with my buddy Rob. Rob began imploring me to take the card, and I wasn’t sure what all the fuss was about. Then he told me it was making huge waves in Modern, and the price was going crazy. Sure enough, it was about $16 at the time on Magic Online and decks like the following:


Altar of Dementia, huh? In a Modern deck? It’s more common than you think. (Naw, just kidding. It’s clearly a rare.)

Well, at least in the current metagame that is. Would you believe this Hogaak deck took 10 of the Top 32 decks in the most recent Modern Challenge? That’s an insane number of slots for a brand new archetype, and two copies went 7-0! In fact, Hogaak was the 6th most played card in the entire event!

The basic premise of the deck is that you have a bunch of cheap creatures that either mill you, or let you sacrifice things to loot, or dredge, etc. You want cards like Hogaak and Vengevine and Bridge from Below to hit the bin as you’re milling, while Altar of Dementia allows you to basically go infinite when you have a Hogaak in the yard, milling for an additional eight cards, and selecting the worst of those to delve with, along with making more Zombies and more Vengevines, etc. Carrion Feeder is also a four-of in the deck, giving us another great sacrifice outlet. It’s also a Zombie, which helps us to actually cast our Gravecrawlers from the, uh, grave.

If you thought basic Dredge was oppressive, this deck seems to be on the next level. While it should be susceptible to graveyard hate, that was never a nail in the coffin for regular Dredge, and this deck seems to be a lot more explosive.

Ranger-Captain of Eos / Unearth

Ranger-Captain of Eos
Unearth

Gotta be honest: this was another unassuming card for me. I mean, the card looks powerful in the way Dauntless Escort looked powerful. It was a 3 mana 3/3 with a sacrifice ability, but the fact that this can put a Death's Shadow into your hand is a pretty big difference.

Check out the other 7-0 decklist from the Modern Challenge:


Ranger-Captain of Eos isn’t the only addition to the newly built “Esper” Death's Shadow. We also have two copies of the newly legal Unearth. This card is fantastic in the deck, allowing you to Unearth something like Snapcaster Mage, target the Unearth with it, then cast Unearth again targeting something like - you guessed it - Ranger-Captain of Eos. That’s a lot of card advantage for 3 mana: a 2/1, a 3/3, and a Death's Shadow in hand.

There’s also a pretty sweet Kaya's Guile in the sideboard, for the situations that may call for some life, or a graveyard being removed, and if the first deck we went over is any indication, those situations definitely exist.

The fact that both of the decks that went 7-0 in the Modern Challenge have at least three cards from Modern Horizons in them is a pretty great sign, especially considering the set hasn’t even been out for a week yet.

Magmatic Sinkhole / Archmage’s Charm

Magmatic Sinkhole
Archmage's Charm

Now these two are actually in quite a few different decks, such as this one:


Magmatic Sinkhole actually seems to be a pretty solid removal spell for the format in decks that can fill their graveyard efficiently. There should be a lot of situations where this costs one or 2 mana, similar to Dismember, but can also hit planeswalkers, which is immensely useful.

Similarly useful is Archmage's Charm, which I actually assumed would be a cycle, but here we are: a lone triple-Blue spell. But it’s a very good lone triple-Blue spell, combining a hard counter, an instant speed Divination (similar to Esper Charm), or a way to gain control of one of the aforementioned Death's Shadows. This card is amazing because it’s basically never dead.

I was somewhat surprised to not see Fiery Islet in this deck, but the recurring damage might be a little too much. Instead, we have a copy of Prismatic Vista as an eighth fetch land to search out our basic lands in the case of Blood Moon, which the deck is also sporting two copies of.

And then we have the sideboard, which is hosting two copies of Force of Negation. This is a card that appeared in some other Top 32 decks as well, occasionally in the main deck, so we can be pretty confident that it isn’t just a fluke here.

Serra the Benevolent / Aria of Flame

Serra the Benevolent
Aria of Flame

These weren’t the only cards that made appearances in the very first real Modern event where Modern Horizons was legal. You could also find multiple copies of Serra the Benevolent in the wu Spirits deck. You could find multiple copies of Aria of Flame in the ur Storm deck, along with Flusterstorm. And you could find various copies of Fact or Fiction and Winds of Abandon in some wu Control lists. That’s a lot of cards found only in a single event, and I can’t wait to see what other gems find homes in the format, along with what new archetypes might emerge!

What do you guys think? Is this a lot of cards? More than you expected? Less? Lemme know your thoughts in the comments below, along with what Modern Horizons cards you hope find homes in the format. As always, thank you so much for reading, I love you guys, use promo code FRANK5 to get 5% off, and I’ll catch you next week!

Frank Lepore

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