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Predicting Modern Horizons 3 Reprints

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Back in 2019, the original Modern Horizons set was released. In the leadup to the set, Wizards had announced that the set would largely be made up of entirely new cards, but that it would also feature a handful of reprints that are new to the Modern format. Given that, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to talk about exactly what could show up in the set. So, I went and did a thorough examination of every set that pre-dated Modern as well as several Legacy-only supplemental sets to see if there might be any interesting cards to bring to the format. This series was called History on the Horizon, and if you'd like to read through it, it's all right here on CoolStuffInc.com.

Now, we've since seen Modern Horizons and even Modern Horizons 2 come out and we've seen a ton of great reprints as a result. With Modern Horizons 3 right around the corner, I figured this would be an excellent time to speculate on other potential reprints we might see this time. At the same time, I could also take a look back at the last couple sets and see what we can glean from there.

Priest of Titania
Laelia, the Blade Reforged

We've already seen two reprints from Modern Horizons 3 during the set's First Look as well as a number of other cards since that can provide us with interesting context clues to glean from. Both Priest of Titania and Laelia, the Blade Reforged were each shown off to tremendous fanfare and will be interesting to see enter the format. These alone suggest some interesting themes we can look further into.

Before we jump into the meat of the topic, though, I want to take a moment and address a big elephant in the room: leaks.

Kappa Cannoneer
Meltdown
Sylvan Safekeeper
Orim's Chant

If you pay even the closest amount of attention to Magic discussion spaces, you no doubt have seen some truly horrendous quality images of purported Modern Horizons 3 cards. Wizards themselves took an unusual step and went out of their way to showcase a select handful of these leaks on April 30th to provide decent quality images for those cards. This only confirmed a handful of cards such as the ones pictured above.

While several leaks have been shown off and appear to be legitimate, there's also been plenty of rather dubious quality that haven't been confirmed at this point. What's more, there's also been some very apparent fakes in the mix, such as a Brainstorm being shoved in with a bunch of random legitimate leaks that was confirmed to not be real. Other clear fakes included a version of Drop of Honey, a reserved list card that's impossible to reprint, and Swords to Plowshares at common that was clearly missing a watermark that would be there if legitimate.

Because there's no way to tell for sure which of these are genuine cards and which aren't, I'll be ignoring all leaks. If it turns out I talk about something that's in the leaks and turns out is in the actual set, cool, but I'm not going to approach it from a manner of "this was in the leaks and so we know it's here." We don't, so instead I'd like to have fun speculating on the possibilities, even if we already "know" they're coming.

Now with that out of the way, let's kick things off by looking at all of the non-snow reprints in the first Modern Horizons set. Each of the five snow-covered basic lands (Snow-Covered Mountain and the like) already existed in Modern prior to the release of Modern Horizons, so it makes sense to remove them from this examination.

Here's the full list of non-snow reprints:

Going back through my old History on the Horizons articles, I took a note of just how many of these cards I covered in them. Turns out that of the 41 reprints (including the promo Flusterstorm) I tackled a whole 26 cards! Given that I was covering a few hundred possibilities, odds were decent I'd hit on a few cards, but that's a pretty respectable number!

Altar of Dementia
Lava Dart
Eladamri's Call

Many of this first round of new-to-Modern reprints were ultimately somewhat safe. Only a small handful ended up having a meaningful impact on the format and several were downright weak by modern standards. Cards like Future Sight, Krosan Tusker, and Urza's Rage may have been tremendous cards in their heyday, they simply can't compete at the current power level that exists in the format. Many others like Choking Tethers, Elvish Fury, and Nantuko Cultivator - all cards I wouldn't have even considered in my original articles - were even weaker and almost obviously unplayable.

Ultimately, several cards among these reprints did end up being tournament viable but they were often more interesting role players rather than format defining staples. Eladamri's Call enabled Devoted Devastation decks, Goblin Matron was an easy inclusion for Goblin typal decks, and Lava Dart allowed Prowess decks to go off that much faster. The big winners out of the gate here, though, were clearly Altar of Dementia and Carrion Feeder, which both fueled the powerful Hogaak deck prior to its banning shortly following the set's release. Carrion Feeder saw some minor play post-ban, particularly in Dredge decks, though it hasn't quite hit those same high notes sense. Pillage and Fact or Fiction both saw modest play over the years, and the five cycle lands have also shown up here and there as well.

All told, not bad for a first run of cool reprints! Even the ones that weren't huge on the playability front were welcome in other spaces, like how reprinting Battle Screech, Crypt Rats, and Spore Frog provided some better access to the cards in Pauper. That's about as good as you can hope for with a strong batting average among these reprints.

Now that we've looked at the first Modern Horizons set, it's time to look at the follow-up. This one had roughly about the same number of reprints, with the five snow basics being replaced with the pre-existing enemy fetch lands that desperately needed a reprint. The set also included a run of basics with art that had never been printed previously in the Modern card frame. Setting those cards aside, there were a total of 43 new reprints, each bearing a watermark of the set symbol from their original printing (except the release promo Sanctum Prelate).

Here is the full list of those cards:

Much like the first set, I went back and took a look through all the cards I covered in my original articles to see what I might've guessed accurately on. This time I managed to hit 25 of the possible cards, another rock solid call! I even managed to touch on some of the weirder ones in this case, such as Sea Drake (then an expensive card), Skirge Familiar (former Standard combo piece), and Soul Snare (Commander card that read a little better for Constructed).

As it happens, the reprints were far more impactful this time around. Outside of Altar of Dementia and Carrion Feeder basically breaking the format briefly out of the gate, most of the cards from the first set were just okay and appeared from time to time. With this set, several of the cards ended up becoming key components in a number of decks. Control lists ran Counterspell like nuts, Cabal Coffers sparked a new archetype, Fire // Ice and Shardless Agent both found a home in and helped define Cascade decks, and Cursed Totem proved instrumental in shutting down creature combo decks like Golgari Yawgmoth.

Even past those, many others saw more fringe applications, such as Enchantress's Presence, Sterling Grove, and Solitary Confinement driving Enchantress decks. Cursed Totem also proved instrumental in shutting down creature combo decks like Golgari Yawgmoth and continues to show up quite a bit in the format now. Some other cards making respectable showings in the Modern format include Titania, Protector of Argoth; Imperial Recruiter, Mishra's Factory, Sanctum Prelate, and Vindicate. All told, not a bad showing for impactful cards with this set, and once again we also saw couple interesting reprints that provided better accessibility for some Pauper staples in Quirion Ranger and Gorilla Shaman too.

So now this brings us to the latest set that starts being previewed next week: Modern Horizons 3. At this point, we know only a handful of reprints - six in fact (three of which I predicted in my History on the Horizon series). That may not be much, but there's still some interesting things that we can glean from these cards and the rest of the previews shown thus far. Let's take a look at some of those themes.

1. Colorless and Artifacts Matters

The big and obvious aspect of the set is the focus on Colorless cards. The main theming behind the set is the eldrazi, after all, which means there's naturally going to be a big emphasis on Colorless cards as a result. Now, given how the game has been made, we never really saw many non-artifact Colorless cards that predated Modern-legal sets. In fact, the closest you could get on that front would be morph cards from the Onslaught block. You could maybe put in something like a Blistering Firecat or a Willbender for the sake of having a throwback, but they're not going to be the most impactful.

Instead, we should look at actual Colorless artifacts and see what there might be to offer. Based on the track record with a lot of these past Modern Horizons sets, I decided to take a look back at my History on the Horizon pieces to see if anything stood out. Turns out there were a couple.

Ashnod's Altar
Junk Diver
Coercive Portal

Ashnod's Altar is a pretty solid choice, providing easy sacrifice options while also generating you a lot of mana. This might be a little too much in a world of Yawgmoth and Young Wolf loops, but it's still a notable possibility, as is Phyrexian Altar. Both would also work well with something like Myr Retriever, which the presence of that being in the format previously made me say if that's in Modern, why not Junk Diver? It'd be a solid inclusion if they do an artifact theme somewhere in the set. Last would be Coercive Portal, which is both a cool draw engine and a potential board wipe.

Endless Atlas
Gerrard's Hourglass Pendant
Retrofitter Foundry

I also took a quick peek at the various supplemental sets that have been released since the original History on the Horizon articles. Those cut off around Commander 2018 and ignored most of the cards in that set. What I found were three interesting cards that could maybe show up. Endless Atlas provides interesting card draw options that can't be used in many non-basic heavy decks while Gerrard's Hourglass Pendant both stops extra turn nonsense and gives you a chance to get stuff back. Last, and most shaky is Retrofitter Foundry - a card so strong it's been a pretty potent player in Legacy.

2. Graveyard Matters

Necrogoyf
Chthonian Nightmare
Wight of the Reliquary

We've only seen a small handful of cards coming in Modern Horizons 3, but it's clear as day that there's going to be a graveyard theme in this set. You don't include cards like Necrogoyf, Chthonian Nightmare, and Wight of the Reliquary in the same set without having some kind of graveyard-related archetype. Heck, you even also have something like Psychic Frog at your disposal to fill your graveyard up. So then, are there any cool potential reprints that engage in the graveyard? Yes, of course!

Necromancy
Buried Alive
Tortured Existence

Reanimator-style decks have been tremendously popular for a long time now and they got a pretty notable bump with Modern Horizons 2. While it's doubtful we'll see cards quite as strong as Animate Dead, Reanimate, and Entomb, I do still think we'll see some fairly strong cards all the same. Consider Necromancy and Buried Alive. Both are extremely powerful cards that see play in all kinds of Reanimator strategies, but in the context of Modern would probably be slow enough that the format could absorb them reasonably enough. Even if you're not going directly in the Reanimator vein, something like Tortured Existence could do some really fun things in the greater format.

There's also one other card that I think could be a prime candidate for the mythic slot here too:

Xiahou Dun, the One-Eyed

Back when I'd play Commander in the early 2010s, one card would get brought up quite often for being a really powerful player that just happened to be wildly difficult to find. That card was Xiahou Dun, the One-Eyed, a card from the extremely underprinted Portal Three Kingdoms set. Wizards has been pretty liberally reprinting major cards from that set and Xiahou Dun is notably one of the few that hasn't had such a reprint yet barring a judge foil circa 2012. The card would be an awesome reprint that would probably also be reasonable enough for the format at the same time, making it a primo target for a set like this.

3. ELVES!

This is maybe a little bit of a longshot, but seeing as this is totally my wheelhouse, I at least want to give it a bit of a mention. Priest of Titania being in this set and shown prominently during the First Look leads me to believe that there's going to be some kind of elf theme in this set. Elves, much like Merfolk and Goblins, has always been a popular typal theme and is due to get thrown a bone the way those other types have in the last couple Modern Horizons releases. More elves makes Priest better, so it makes sense that there's additional support potentially coming with it. Thankfully, there's also a ton of old and classic elf cards that pre-date Modern.

Fyndhorn Elves
Skyshroud Poacher
Wirewood Symbiote

Seriously, you look around old Magic and there are elves everywhere, especially once you get into the Onslaught block. That whole era was full of Constructed playable elves that made Elfball a viable archetype. If you want, you can go simpler with something like Fyndhorn Elves (what's a third Llanowar Elves variant at this point?) or maybe something like Skyshroud Poacher to tutor up elves? Once you get into Onslaught, you're spoiled for choice with cards like Birchlore Rangers, Timberwatch Elves, and my favorite in Wellwisher. I think, though, that the most likely option would be Wirewood Symbiote, as it has both tournament pedigree notably in Legacy and also provides your elves with a way to dodge removal that they're tremendously weak to.

Edric, Spymaster of Trest
Leovold, Emissary of Trest
Allosaurus Shepherd

There's even a few additional elves that came out in later supplemental sets as well that could be big players even outside an Elves strategy. From Commander 2011 you have Edric, Spymaster of Trest who can easily draw you lots of cards and just happens to be an elf himself. Oh, and speaking of Trest, Leovold, Emissary of Trest could be an especially mean addition to the format as well. Banned in Commander and once a major driver in Legacy during the Czech Pile era, Leovold would almost certainly have a home somewhere in the format and plays a more general role in the format simultaneously. If they really wanted to push it? Add Allosaurus Shepherd into the format and watch the Elves players really go nuts.

4. Pauper Staples?

While not necessarily a theme of the set that we've seen so far, one thing I've noted earlier on is how Pauper staples tend to get slipped into the set. Even if they don't have a big impact on the Modern format, it doesn't really hurt to add them into the mix and it also throws those players a bone by making old cards more accessible. So here, I've identified a couple of potential cards, why I think they could be included, and what their impact would be.

Dust to Dust

Artifact lands and Affinity have been major players in the Pauper format for years. Since the indestructible artifact dual lands (bridges) were printed in Modern Horizons 2, Dust to Dust has been a popular sideboard option for many decks to combat Affinity. However, in paper it only ever saw two printings in the really old sets The Dark and Fifth Edition. If there's an artifact theme as the set suggests, this would be a really easy inclusion that could benefit the Limited environment while also providing a much needed boost in accessibility to a card that's notoriously hard to acquire.

Snuff Out

This one is probably a bit less likely, however when the options for inclusions start to run a little thin, you might look at something like this. Snuff Out has proven a major player of Pauper decks like Dimir Faeries and Golgari Gardens, but it certainly isn't without its costs. It asks a massive four life to cast for free, requires you to actually be playing Black, and you can't target other Black creatures. The effect here is super powerful, but could benefit decks like Death's Shadow as well, so who knows. Never say never.

Tangle
Moment's Peace

There's also a couple rather potent Fog effects that are Pauper legal but have never really seen a proper reprint since their original sets. Tangle and Moment's Peace both show up a fairly solid amount in a number of decks. While the latter is far more prominent, Tangle is fairly crucial for something like Turbo Fog and as it was only ever an uncommon in Invasion (legal thanks to Magic Online sets), it's hard to come by when you need a set. I wouldn't be surprised to see one of these, but probably not both.


Admittedly, this has been a lot to go over and talk about, and I'm only scratching the surface here. However, it was fun to look at what happened in the past and what could happen next. No matter what ends up coming around, Modern Horizons 3 is certain to be one hell of an impactful set on the game as a whole. Previews officially kick off this upcoming Tuesday with the Weekly MTG stream, so make sure you check that out then to see what Wizards has in store for us.

Paige Smith

Twitter: @TheMaverickGal

Twitch: twitch.tv/themaverickgirl

YouTube: TheMaverickGal


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