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Early Winners From Modern Horizons 3!


Oh boy Modern Horizons sets are doozies!

Just like Modern Horizons and Modern Horizons 2 (and to a slightly lesser extend Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle Earth), Modern Horizons 3 enters Modern as one of the most powerful sets in the entire format. There's always truth in humor, so it makes sense players have joked that Modern has become Modern Horizons block constructed because they really are that impactful.

This of course means that Modern Horizons 3 cards have been having a monster impact on Modern since the release, as well as in Timeless and Historic on MTG Arena and other older paper formats like Legacy and Commander.

As such, there are a lot more winners in this set than in your average set! I'll be going over some cards in groups to try to cover them all.

Nadu, Winged Wisdom

Nadu, Winged Wisdom

It would be impossible to talk about Modern Horizons 3 without taking about the elephant in the room, Nadu, Winged Wisdom. While Modern Horizons sets are always full of pushed and powerful cards that end up as format staples, each Modern Horizons set has also featured a truly broken outlier or two that has required the use of the ban list.

The original Modern Horizons saw Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis terrorize a Pro Tour and be banned shortly after, and also Arcum's Astrolabe getting the axe as well, while Fury from Modern Horizons 2 ran amok at the most recent Modern Pro Tour and also hit the ban hammer.

Outrider en-Kor
Thassa's Oracle

Well Modern Horizons 3's outlier is Nadu, Winged Wisdom, an absolutely ridiculous 3/4 flier for 3 mana that joins up with any effect that can target indefinitely like Shuko or Outrider en-Kor to effectively draw your whole deck, generate mana as it puts lands into play untapped, and eventually cast Thassa's Oracle to win the game. This can happen as early as turn three (perhaps even turn two with Mox Amber shenanigans) and doesn't require than mana concessions in deck-building.

Aside from the power level and the fact that requiring specific interaction pushes many types of decks out of the format, the deck also has the Second Sunrise combo problem of being a non-deterministic and labor-intensive combo that takes 5-10 minutes to execute, which is a drain on tournament clocks as well.

It will be very interesting to see how Nadu shapes up at Pro Tour Amsterdam in two weeks, but I would be surprised if it was a legal Modern card this time next year.

Ugin's Labyrinth and Eldrazi

Ugin's Labyrinth
Devourer of Destiny
Kozilek's Command

Aside from Nadu, one of the biggest stories in Modern Horizons 3 is the return of the Eldrazi, the alien spaghetti monsters that have cast triggers and huge mana costs. Mana is always the big concern with the Eldrazi, and with Eye of Ugin banned, Eldrazi Temple just hasn't been enough to shoulder the load of casting these big monsters early enough.

Enter Ugin's Labyrinth.

The deck-building cost is high, as having around ten cards that cost seven or more mana is not easy, but it is subsidized a ton by Devourer of Destiny, which acts as a sort of split Once Upon a Time effect to smooth your draws at the start of the game that also fits nicely under Ugin's Labyrinth, as well as being a perfectly reasonable spell to cast.

Once you've got a functional Ugin's Labyrinth to go alongside Eldrazi Temple, you've got enough redundancy to really make the colorless spells tick. Perhaps most exciting of those is Kozilek's Command, which brings a level of modality and flexibility to colorless that it has never had before. Being able to kill things, draw cards, make blockers or mana, and all at instant speed is awesome for a deck that is usually more blunt and straightforward.

There are about a million different versions of Eldrazi decks floating around, running the full spectrum of zero colors to multiple colors, aggro to prison to ramp, and which is best is very unclear, but make no mistake that the alien spaghetti monsters are a big winner from this set.

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The Flip Planeswalkers

We first saw the original "flip walkers" in Magic Origins, a cycle of five cards that depict famous planeswalkers as their pre-spark creature forms on the front and planewalkers on the back.

Jace, Vryn's Prodigy

Jace, Vryn's Prodigy was the standout of the bunch, proving to be an extremely powerful card in Standard that saw a little play elsewhere, showing the power of what was effectively a 2-drop planeswalker. Nissa, Vastwood Seer and Kytheon, Hero of Akros saw a little bit of play also, but for the most part the cycle was all about Jace.

Well we've got a new flip planeswalker cycle in Modern Horizons 3, and in true Modern Horizons 3 fashion they've all be showing up in a lot of different places.

Ral, Monsoon Mage // Ral, Leyline Prodigy
Grist, Voracious Larva // Grist, the Plague Swarm

Ral, Monsoon Mage // Ral, Leyline Prodigy has revitalized Storm alongside Ruby Medallion, proving to be a huge player that, while being limited to one archetype, has proven to be a game changer. Meanwhile Grist, Voracious Larva // Grist, the Plague Swarm has shown up in various Yawgmoth decks, but is still looking for a larger place in the format.

The other three however have been showing up in a lot of different places.

Tamiyo, Inquisitive Student // Tamiyo, Seasoned Scholar
Ajani, Nacatl Pariah // Ajani, Nacatl Avenger

Tamiyo, Inquisitive Student // Tamiyo, Seasoned Scholar is cut from the Jace, Vryn's Prodigy cloth and is seeing play in various Izzet Murktide decks and basically any other place a blue deck wants a cheap, snowbally threat. Ajani, Nacatl Pariah // Ajani, Nacatl Avenger is the most multicolored-focused of all the planeswalkers, as you really want to have a Red permanent in play to make use of his second ability, but has been showing up in a bunch of different places.

Sorin of House Markov // Sorin, Ravenous Neonate

The one oddball of the group is Sorin of House Markov // Sorin, Ravenous Neonate, but the card has been showing up in a few spots like Necrodominance decks featuring March of Wreched Sorrow as well as in Mardu decks featuring Phlage, Titan of Fire's Fury.

Speaking of Phlage...

Phlage, Titan of Fire's Fury

Phlage, Titan of Fire's Fury

Whoa boy Phlage is a house.

Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath is currently banned in Modern, but brother in arms Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger is playable and shows up occasionally as a one or two of in Rakdos Decks.

Well, Phlage is much better than Kroxa.

The biggest problem Kroxa has, as well as the biggest boon of Uro, is that casting the front side for 2 mana to make your opponent discard a card is very bad. However, a three-mana Lightning Helix is perfectly serviceable, and most importantly extends the game so you can get your escape on.

This is just one example of Phlage finding a home, but it's also seeing play in Jeskai Control, the sideboard of Storm decks, Mardu decks, multicolored Omnath decks, and more.

Those energy cards are pretty good though, right?

Energy... Everything

Energy was of course extremely powerful in Standard when it was legal, getting a few cards banned and being perhaps the most important mechanic in the format while it was legal.

As such, it's not surprising that with energy being a main theme of Modern Horizons 3 that it would be coming back with a vengeance, and it most certainly has!

Guide of Souls
Amped Raptor
Unstable Amulet

As we see in the above decklists, there are a ton of powerful energy cards making the waves. Amped Raptor has been leading the way as a mini-Bloodbraid Elf that plays well with a lot or a little energy, but even cards like Guide of Souls and Unstable Amulet that look like limited cards have been making major waves in Modern so far.

And it's not just for midrange.

Wrath of the Skies
Tune the Narrative
Galvanic Discharge

Wrath of the Skies is one of the most powerful energy cards in Modern Horizons 3, providing a very cheap sweeper effect that can kill a wide variety of things, lining up especially well against Urza's Saga. This is the kind of game changer that archetypes are built around. Throw in Tune the Narrative, which is a perhaps even better version of the banned-in-Standard Attune With Aether, and the best energy card of the bunch in Galvanic Discharge, and you've got an excellent package to graft onto all of the other great control cards already in the format.

We'll be seeing these energy cards, especially the ones that don't require that much commitment like Galvanic Discharge, Amped Raptor, and Tune the Narrative, a ton in Modern going forward.

Draft Mythic Common

Writhing Chrysalis

Hey wait, Writhing Chrysalis isn't playable in Modern... is it? Well no, but it does deserve a special mention as one of the best limited commons printed in a long time.

The numbers don't lie, Writhing Chrysalis is a true mythic common.

Three percent may not sound like a lot, but in the grand scheme of things across a large sample size it is completely unprecedent, especially when stacked up against a murderer's row of the best commons of the last few years.

The cards in Modern Horizons are definitely pushed for Limited, making for a powerful and exciting format, but the long and short of it is, don't pass this card!

On To The Pro Tour!

As you're reading this, I'm currently in transit across the Atlantic Ocean on my way to beautiful Amsterdam for Pro Tour Modern Horizons 3!

This is going to be a wild Pro Tour, as considering how impactful Modern Horizons cards are to the Modern format, we're looking at the wild wild west of Modern for this Pro Tour. Look for my predictions article next week and tune it to the Pro Tour to see how I do!

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