Oh boy has it been an exciting few weeks of previews.
Modern Horizons 2 is an extremely exciting set, as the impact the first Modern Horizons had on many of Magic's most beloved formats like Modern, Legacy, Cube, and Commander can't be understated. Without the need to go through Standard first, Wizards of the Coast was able to pull out all the stops and make an extremely powerful, fun, and impactful set, that also had the added bonus of adding some of Magic's history into the Modern format.
Modern Horizons 2 looks to be more of the same, with an extremely exciting array of cards old and new to spice up Modern, flesh out our Cubes, and more. With previews finally done and the full card list available, I'll be providing my usual first impressions of the set right here, going over the cards that jump out to me as being underrated (love) or overrated (hate).
Love - Vindicate
Our first card of the day is the only "new to Modern" reprint I'll be going over, but it is a doozy.
Vindicate one of the most flexible and powerful removal spells ever printed, seeing play in every format it has ever been legal in. The biggest counts against Vindicate in Legacy are cards like Daze and Wasteland, which make playing a three-mana sorcery not a given, but those don't exist in Modern. The ability hit actual anything is monumental, with perhaps its most important mode being that of a simple Stone Rain.
Stone Rain as a card is extremely narrow, only operating as a piece of a complete land destruction strategy not often seen because of how poor it can be against fast or aggressive decks mostly built around one and two-mana threats. You don't want to be playing Stone Rain against someone playing Goblin Guide!
This has often been the issue with fair decks in Modern; there are so many different kinds of threats to deal with it is very difficult to have the right answers at the right times. You don't want Path to Exile against Tron or Thoughtseize against Burn, but sometimes that's just how things line up. If you get paired with something like Tron, Valakut, or Bogles, you're often left reaching for your sideboard to find some sort of interaction.
Vindicate is a huge push for fair decks against decks like Tron, Amulet Titan, and Valakut that tend to prey on midrange decks because it gives them a solid disruptive element they can maindeck, but that is also perfectly capable of killing anything from a Death's Shadow, to a Jace, the Mind Sculptor, to an Ensnaring Bridge.
This is a big one.
Hate - Dauthi Voidwalker
Dauthi Voidwalker is the most overrated card in Modern Horizons 2 by a very large margin.
I get it; people love stealing their opponent's stuff, they love graveyard hate, and they love living in alternate realities where everything goes perfectly for them. However, Dauthi Voidwalker has a laundry list of red flags that will keep it as a very fringe option in Modern.
The dream scenario is:
- You play Dauthi Voidwalker on turn two.
- You Thoughtseize their Karn Liberated on turn three.
- You sacrifice Dauthi Voidwalker to play Karn Liberated on turn three and crush them with it.
There's just a lot of problems here however.
Modern isn't a format you can wait around, so that discard spell is likely going to need to be cast on turn one. Dauthi Voidwalker isn't particularly sturdy, as it dies to a stiff breeze, while also not really helping out at all if you're on the back foot and need a blocker. To top all of this off, even if you are able to untap safely with Dauthi Voidwalker and fire off your discard spell (or cast a spell that they have chosen to cast and exile with it), you also need to have to have a spell that you actively want to cash in your Dauthi Voidwalker to cast.
So much of Modern is populated with cards that either are very cheap and efficient, or very much synergy-based with whatever deck they are played in. You ain't doing much with a Devoted Druid or Daybreak Coronet, nor is casting a Lava Spike or Inquisition of Kozilek that impressive. Even if you do manage to nab a Tarmogoyf, Teferi, Time Raveler, or even Primeval Titan, is it really going to be overwhelmingly impressive for you after all the work that went into it?
Yes, Dauthi Voidwalker is a decent graveyard hate card, but nothing compared to what already exists in the format. If you're really looking to beat a graveyard deck just play Rest in Peace, Grafdigger's Cage, or Leyline of the Void proper.
A difficult to cast and vulnerable creature with summoning sickness that needs a lot to go right for the potential to be good is just not an exciting prospect in a very powerful Modern format.
Love - Grist, the Hunger Tide
Even without the "planeswalker is a creature" passive (which we will get to), Grist, the Hunger Tide is an impressive planeswalker.
A starting loyalty of 3 that goes right to 4 is exactly where you want to be in a Lightning Bolt format, and a +1 ability that can make a constant stream of 1/1s is excellent and above rate on cards like Nissa, Voice of Zendikar or Daretti, Ingenious Iconoclast. This makes Grist easy to defend as well as a consistent and sticky threat.
The -2 ability is also right where you'd want it to be, dealing with any creature or planeswalker for the low cost of a token (or other creature). You can play Grist and use it immediately without dying, or you can use it later on after making tokens. The ultimate is a reasonable amount of finishing power that is well within reach of normal gameplay, but not overwhelming or anything.
All this is well and good, but then you get to that passive...
We've obviously never seen a planeswalker like Grist before, and being able to Collected Company or Aether Vial a planeswalker is extremely awesome. Cards like Collected Company and Aether Vial require very high creature counts to function, which means they can at times feel one dimensional. Being able to play a planeswalker in these decks is awesome, as is recurring it with cards like Kolaghan's Command.
Grist, the Hunger Tide is going to see a nice amount of play and I can't wait to try it out in a sacrifice-style deck!
Hate - Kaldra Compleat
Nobody is putting Kaldra Compleat into their deck with the intent to cast it normally, but rather to search for and cheat it into play with Stoneforge Mystic's ability. As such, its direct competition is Batterskull.
Offensively, Kaldra Compleat is much more impressive. A 5/5 with haste, trample, and indestructible is quite the threat, although still weak to things like Path to Exile or bounce. However, no lifelink and no vigilance means that Kaldra Compleat is much weaker on the other side of the ball. What makes Batterskull so impressive is its ability to completely shut down decks from attacking or killing you while also being a threat that can end the game.
However, the reality is that like most things in life, it comes down to cost.
In Magic in general, but Modern especially, 7 is miles away from 5. When you play Stoneforge Mystic against a deck with removal, you still have the Batterskull in your hand to cast. When you've traded resources and the dust has settled, playing it on turn five or six really isn't that embarrassing considering you're already up a card on the exchange. This goes the same for if your Germ token is removed; paying five mana to equip Batterskull to a Snapcaster Mage or the Stoneforge Mystic itself is very reasonable.
Hardcasting Kaldra Compleat or paying seven mana to equip it are not reasonable things to do in an average game of Modern.
This essentially nixes Kaldra Compleat's chances as a maindeck card in Modern, given how bad it is against interactive decks. It may have a place as a sideboard option to board in against non-interactive decks that lack removal or can't kill it (or Stoneforge Mystic), but that's likely it.
Love - Glimpse of Tomorrow
Of all the "no mana cost suspend cards based around old cards" that exist, Glimpse of Tomorrow is perhaps one of the oddest. While Ancestral Visions is based around Ancestral Recall and Lotus Bloom is based around Black Lotus, some of the best cards of all time, Glimpse of Tomorrow is based around... *checks notes* 9 mana sorcery Warp World?
So why is the card based around the casual favorite rare good?
Because frankly, Warp World is an extremely powerful effect. It's not that difficult to put a large amount of permanents in play in Modern, be it creature tokens or things like Clue or Treasure tokens, and when you can cash in enough of them for a bunch more stuff from your deck, that's very exciting. Something as simple as Terror of the Peaks could make for a kill, but I'm sure there's a million other possible paths as well.
This is a sleeper card that I'm very excited to build around.
Ten New Brews!
I'm not gonna lie, Modern Horizons 2 packs a wallop. There's just so much here to play with that we're gonna be spending the rest of the year figuring out how all of these cards fit into Modern, as well as every other format.
As such, I'm going to be doing a very special Ten New Brews for Modern Horizons 2 on my stream and YouTube! Normally I build ten new decks and play five best of one games with them on MTG Arena for each new set, but because MTGO doesn't have ladder play and because I'm so stoked for all the fun stuff that Modern Horizons 2 has to offer, I'm just gonna spend the better part of next week playing ten new brews in complete leagues on Magic Online! That's five full matches with each deck over Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday!
All of these leagues will be live streamed, as well as end up on my YouTube, and my article next Friday right here on www.CoolStuffInc.com will go over all ten decks with my usual thoughts on how they performed as well as their future prospects!
I can't wait!