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Early Modern Horizons 2 Winners


We've now had a few weeks of playing with Modern Horizons 2 in Modern and there's no doubt it is having a major impact.

From already established decks getting new toys, to brand new archetypes built around Modern Horizons 2 cards, all the way to old favorites getting a chance to shine once again, the impact of Modern Horizons 2 is already looking to be just as fruitful the first Modern Horizons was. There are a few extreme outliers like Urza's Saga, but nothing seems to be at Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis just yet.

Today I'm going to take a look at some of the biggest winners in Modern with the release of Modern Horizons 2 and there's quite a few surprises!

Winner - Real Affinity Cards

Urza's Saga
Thought Monitor
Razortide Bridge

There was a time when Affinity decks actually played Affinity cards!

Sadly, that time was over a decade ago, in formats that no longer exist anymore like Extended and Block Constructed. "Affinity" decks in Modern resembled those old Affinity decks, but culled out the actual Affinity cards over time as they just weren't effective without artifact lands.

Well that all changes now for a few big reasons!

While the banning of Mox Opal decimated the presence of artifact decks in Modern, the absurd power of Urza's Saga has brought them right back to the forefront. Urza's Saga is seeing play in a wide variety of decks, but is perhaps at its best in Affinity.


Four mana and a land drop for two huge creatures and a mini-tutor effect is an astounding amount of card advantage to get from a land, while also being uncounterable and difficult to interact with. Affinity is the deck that makes the best use of the Construct Tokens, as they're going to be very large, very quickly. One thing missing from EquipCranialPlating's (love the name!) deck, however, is a Shadowspear, which is an awesome tutor target for Urza's Saga.

Also joining the Affinity party is the awesome new Thought Monitor, which provides everything Affinity could want - card draw and an evasive body on a card that's also an artifact. If you thought casting Thoughtcast for one mana was great, just wait until you get a 2/2 flier for your trouble while also adding an artifact to the board!

And of course, while they aren't quite Seat of Synod or Vault of Whispers, the new artifact taplands do a very reasonable job of powering up all your artifact effects, which puts Frogmite and Myr Enforcer back on the menu. If Frogmite is playable in Modern, I am a happy Magic player.

Winner - Pronunciation Experts

The Underworld Cookbook

But wait, we're not done with Urza's Saga yet!

For better or worse, the food engine often seen in Standard and Historic has made its way to Modern, and it has done so on the back of the absurdly named Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar. While Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar feels like a nostalgia meme card, it is anything but, providing an engine, card advantage, removal, and a threat in a very neat little one-mana package. Furthermore, The Underworld Cookbook may look like a trinket, but a one-mana repeatable discard outlet with extra value is a very nice synergy piece.

However, there is significant dissent as far as what the proper way to build with Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar is.

The Golgari build focusing heavily on the food theme with Cauldron Familiar, Gilded Goose, and Witch's Oven was one of the first and still the most popular builds, and uses Feasting Troll King in a way that is scarily reminiscent of Hogaak.

Feasting Troll King
Ovalchase Daredevil
Finale of Devastation

The deck is capable of making a large amount of food very quickly with The Underworld Cookbook, which can also help deposit Feasting Troll King into the graveyard. Also, key is an odd draft common in Ovalchase Daredevil, which combos with The Underworld Cookbook to produce a food token every single turn as it will constantly return to your hand for each food token created. The big innovation for the deck was utilizing Finale of Devastation, which can get Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar into play for just two Green mana because it has a mana value of zero. Urza's Saga caps it all off as a win condition as well as a tutor for engine pieces.

There's a ton of moving parts in this deck and the optimal list is probably not there yet, but it's not the only way to build around Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar.

Devon "d00mwake" O'Donnell was one of the original innovators of the first Golgari versions of the Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar decks, so it only makes sense he would be on the forefront of the polar opposite way to build the deck.

Urza, Lord High Artificer
Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer
Thought Monitor

Rather than go the full-on food route, this version of the deck looks to Urza, Lord High Artificer and friends for inspiration. With Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer joining Emry, Lurker of the Loch as an early legend, Mox Amber enters the equation as well, leaving you with a deck that is high on individual power level but also has the ability to interact if needed with things like Galvanic Blast and sideboarded interaction. Being able to tutor up the various Spellbombs and then reuse them in Emry is awesome, as is hitting Ovalchase Daredevil off of Emry.

Wait, what's that? You wanted another way to build around Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar?

The most aggressive of the three takes by far, Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar Hollow One cares much less about getting an engine online as it does just killing your opponent dead. In this shell, Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar being a one-mana 3/3 is extremely relevant.

Hollow One
Burning Inquiry

We've seen this story before with Hollow One, based around Goblin Lore and Burning Inquiry to discard the cards to make Hollow One free, while also utilizing some graveyard elements because you're already discarding anyway. The new Blazing Rootwalla plays perfectly here, helping out the big Vengevine starts, while the deck can also grind a bit with Ox of Agonas. Even without all the extra food or artifact cards, Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar is still a very solid threat while The Underworld Cookbook is a perfectly reasonable discard outlet.

I doubt that the best shell for Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar or Urza's Saga has been found yet, but there's clearly a ton of power here.

Winner - Cascade Everything

Shardless Agent
Glimpse of Tomorrow
Living End

One of the bigger surprises of Modern Horizons 2 is just how much an improvement Shardless Agent is over the already existing suite of 3 mana cascade cards in the format.

Cards like Violet Outburst, Ardent Plea, and Demonic Dread are all essentially just blank combo enablers, but Shardless Agent provides a reasonable body to go along with the cascade for some real card advantage. It also has color advantages, lining up alongside Violent Outburst to put the best two cascade cards into only three colors, as well as being immune to traditional hate cards like Ethersworn Canonist and Deafening Silence because it's both a creature and artifact.

A more evolved version of a similar list I played in my Ten New Brews, Magic Online user Piccio36 had an explosive take on the Glimpse of Tomorrow combo deck. Looking to cascade into a Glimpse of Tomorrow on turn three or four with about that many permanents in play and flip into some fatty boom booms.

The deck is capable of being very explosive, if somewhat volatile, but is an exciting entry into the pool of combo decks in the format. Shardless Agent provides an extra permanent (for future cascades), as well as letting the deck have a purely Temur mana base which can fit in Khalni Garden.

But wait, there's more!

One of the most iconic cascade-based combo decks, Living End gets a very similar upgrade. Getting down to a three-color mana base is huge for a deck just looking to stay alive, and I love the use of Force of Negation as an interaction point which can defend against what your opponent is doing or deal with things like Rest in Peace. Being able to use Force of Negation on your opponent's turn to defend your Violent Outburst is also awesome.

However, the most interesting cascade deck and our last deck for the day is the one that really bucks tradition.

When we think of cascade-based combo decks in Modern we think of combo decks, but DFrank went undefeated in a recent Magic Online League with a fair version of cascade!

Crashing Footfalls
Shardless Agent
Violent Outburst

Spending three mana for either a 2/2 and two 4/4s or two 4/4s at instant speed is an unbelievable deal, even if it's not a "win the game on the spot" type of play. The issue of course is that the cascade decks have to avoid any cards that cost less than three mana, which is why they tend to all lean toward being combo decks - you can't afford to take the first few turns of the game off if you aren't going to make some huge play to get back into it.

Well, a number of additions from Modern Horizons 2 have allowed for the "fair" cascade deck to exist!

Fire // Ice

With Fire // Ice joining Bonecrusher Giant and Brazen Borrower, the deck now has a whole host of two mana interactive plays without breaking up the cascade chains. With Bonecrusher Giant and Brazen Borrower also filling in as extra threats, the deck is built with the ability to grind.

However perhaps the biggest addition is Subtlety, which joins Force of Negation to give the deck a whopping eight free spells that can cover almost all the bases of what your opponent can throw at you. Throw in some copies of Cryptic Command and Jace, the Mind Sculptor and you have a very unexpected control-combo deck that is capable of putting a bunch of power into play very quickly and also go late, which is a majorly important thing for any good Modern deck to do.

First Steps into a Larger World

This has been a very exciting few weeks for Modern.

Urza's Saga

While it didn't take too long to discover the outliers in Modern Horizons 2 when it comes to raw power, there's still a whole bunch more to delve into in the set. I expect there will be many more unexpected twists, just like how impactful Shardless Agent ended up being.

It's a great time to be playing Modern!

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