Before Modern Horizons 2 spoiler season officially starts, let's take a look back at the impact of the first Modern Horizons, what we could expect in the upcoming set, and the spoilers so far.

Kuang Wu

by Kuang Wu 14/05/2021

Hogaak

First, let’s address the Avatar in the room…

Modern Horizons initially looked to be a set where several prominent Modern decks received new additions. But there was a new outrageous deck that spawned:

Creatures: 28

4 Bloodghast

4 Carrion Feeder

4 Gravecrawler

4 Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis

4 Insolent Neonate

4 Stitcher's Supplier

4 Vengevine

Spells: 14

4 Faithless Looting

2 Darkblast

4 Altar of Dementia

4 Bridge from Below

Lands: 18

4 Blackcleave Cliffs

3 Blood Crypt

4 Bloodstained Mire

2 Godless Shrine

4 Polluted Delta

1 Swamp

Sideboard: 15

2 Flamekin Harbinger

2 Ingot Chewer

4 Leyline of the Void

2 Lightning Axe

2 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben

3 Wispmare

The menace that would be known as Hogaak, featured the namesake, along with Altar of Dementia, and Carrion Feeder that were reprinted directly into Modern through Modern Horizons.

This deck would play cheap creatures like Stitcher’s Supplier and Insolent Neonate to dump Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis, Vengevine, and Bridge from Below into the graveyard. Playing a second cheap creature in a turn would trigger the Vengevine(s) which could then be used to Convoke a Hogaak into play.

With Bridge from Below, the deck could also make an army of Zombie Tokens and if you weren’t able to attack through, due to something like Bridge from Below, with Altar of Dementia and the ability to recast Hogaak over and over you could mill the opponent out too!

This was the strongest deck to come out of Modern Horizons, it led to the banning of Bridge from Below, but after it continued to dominate the Mythic Championship (Pro Tour), the deck and format saw the banning of Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis, and Faithless Looting.

Winners

As previously mentioned, Jund was a big winner of Modern Horizons, with the inclusion of Wrenn and Six, Seasoned Pyromancer, and Nurturing Peatland in the main deck with Collector Ouphe, Plague Engineer, and Weather the Storm as sideboard options.

Control decks also received an initial buff with the printing of Force of Negation. It allowed the deck to tap out to cast a threat while still being able to counter any noncreature threats the opponent played. Prior to its printing, if a Control player was tapped out, it meant you were free to combo off or do as you pleased, but this will make players think twice.

Although not used a lot on release, both Archmage’s Charm and Kaya’s Guile have featured in current iterations of Control, largely in the popular Esper variant, providing the deck further flexibility.

Urza, Lord High Artificer was the card several Artifact decks in Modern were looking for. Due to its mana generating ability, Urza is able to generate an infinite amount of tokens with Thopter Foundry, and Sword of the Meek, this was often put together with the help of Goblin Engineer. 

Urza was also featured in Artifact control decks that spawned, with Food Tokens from Throne of Eldraine being used to generate mana to hold up Archmage's Charm and Cryptic Command

The dominance of Urza led to the eventual ban of Mox Opal, followed later by Arcum’s Astrolabe. With an early peak of Modern Horizons 2 suggesting some synergy, a comeback is inevitable, more to come on the new cards…

Creature decks received a boost from the set, with the printings of Ranger-Captain of Eos, Giver of Runes, and Eldamri’s Call, these currently see play in one of the top decks in Modern, Heliod Company.

Ephemerate and Soulherder have created a fun archetype utilising Enter The Battlefield triggers. Working well with Ice-Fang Coatl, Eternal Witness, Skyclave Apparition, and Thragtusk!

Modern Horizons provided Goblins some much needed additions, reprinting Goblin Matron and the addition of Munitions Expert, Sling-Gang Lieutenant provided a solid foundation for Goblins in Modern, with the later printing of Conspicuous Snoop in M21 giving the deck access to an infinite combo!

Reprints

Modern Horizons offered many direct reprints into Modern. Apart from the aforementioned Goblin Matron and Eladamri’s Call, the set also provided Lava Dart which has been a nucleus in UR Blitz. Unearth, Fact or Fiction, Wall of Blossom, Pillage, and the Cycle Lands (Secluded Steppe, Lonely Sandbar, Barren Moor, Forgotten Cave, Tranquil Thicket), are all reprints that have seen play.

With 42 more direct-to-Modern reprints to come in Modern Horizons 2, there should be many more cards that can fit nicely into existing Modern decks.

Modern Horizons 2 rumours

There have been some rumours floating around regarding what may be reprinted in Modern via Modern Horizons 2. Only time will tell if these rumours hold true, but let’s have a look at their potential impact on the format.

Shardless Agent

First printed in Planechase 2012, this card saw immediate play in Legacy.

Initially being utilised in Hypergenesis, using Elvish Spirit Guide and Simian Spirit Guide to cast a Shardless Agent or another 3 mana Cascade spell in order to Cascade into a Hypergenesis. From there, simply play as many large creatures as possible, Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, Iona, Shield of Emeria, and Griselbrand to name a few.

But the iteration that would become a top tier in Legacy, was the midrange deck filled with the best cards in Blue, Black, and Green.

Shardless Agent was played alongside Deathrite Shaman, Baleful Strix, Tarmogoyf, Brainstorm, Hymn to Tourach, and Ancestral Vision, which could all be cast off a Cascade trigger!

Should Shardless Agent be printed in Modern Horizons 2, it could be paired immediately with Ancestral Vision and Tarmogoyf. Together, they will form the core of a Sultai midrange deck, with a similar playstyle to Jund.

Shardless Agent can slot into the new Blue Living End Modern decks, which are currently Violent Outburst, and Ardent Plea. Shardless Agent would be an upgrade over Violent Outburst as it is Blue and can be pitched to Force of Negation.

Fortunately, Hypergenesis is banned in Modern, and the Cascade interaction with double-faced cards has been errataed, so a printing of Shardless Agent in Modern Horizons 2 would be tame, solidifying Sultai Midrange as a deck in Modern and an upgrade to Living End.

 

Solitary Confinement

Another card that has been heavily rumoured is Solitary Confinement. I haven’t played against this card outside of Commander, but in my experience it can be frustrating to face.

Not being the target of spells or abilities (by either player)—or having Shroud—is quite a powerful ability. It means you cannot be targeted by Burn or Discard spells. 

It also prevents all damage dealt to you, so pesky triggers like Eidolon of the Great Revel and attacks from large creatures like Death’s Shadow and Tarmogoyf are also nullified by this card.

The cost of discarding a card from your hand every turn is a high price to pay, especially when Solitary Confinement also takes away your draw step.

The effect seems strong as long as your deck can draw additional cards, and if your opponent cannot deal with Enchantments well—generally decks heavy in Red and Black.

The need for Enchantment removal is at an all time high due to Heliod, Sun-Crowned so it may not shine immediately, should it be printed. Solitary Confinement could find its way into Sideboards as Modern inevitably changes, like many cards in the first Modern Horizons.

 

Sneak Attack

Sneak Attack is a card that is prominent in Legacy, due to its ability to cheat Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, and Griselbrand into play, and then having either Creature devastate an opponent’s board with Annihilator 6 and whacking for 15, or drawing 7 or more cards—sometimes even both! 

This is done with the fast mana available in Legacy (Lotus Petal, City of Traitors, Ancient Tomb), something that is limited in Modern and even more since the banning of Simian Spirit Guide.

Through the Breach is a deck that is currently well positioned in Modern, putting up numerous results in recent online events thanks to the addition of Prismari Command from Strixhaven.

This could be transitioned to something like the Legacy deck, replacing Through the Breach with Sneak Attack as the ability to cheat Creatures into play—it also stays on the battlefield instead of having a one-time use. 

Including Griselbrand as another option to cheat into play, and drawing 7 until you hit an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn and attack for 22, should you have two Red mana.

Without access to much fast mana in Modern, Sneak Attack provides Modern brewers who love Emrakul, Griselbrand, and other big Creatures a fun build-around card. 

Confirmed for Modern Horizons 2

Counterspell

A classic card enters the format, the original and unconditional Counterspell!

The obvious candidate this card replaces in Modern Control decks is Mana Leak and in some cases, Logic Knot.

For Control decks running three or more colours, Blue/Blue is certainly taxing on the manabase compared to a Mana Leak, and can sometimes cost you an extra 2 life finding a shock land. 

Counterspell is just better than Mana Leak, no more paying 3 mana and resolving an often devastating spell!

The upgrade will most likely be experienced in the Control vs Tron matchup. Many times, the Tron deck simply plays another Urza’s Tower and laughs at the prospect of Mana Leak. But now Counterspell can ensure their first haymaker is countered, buying you more time to disassemble the Tron manabase, or take over the game with your Planeswalkers.

Just make sure you untap lands that produce Blue/Blue with Teferi, Hero of Dominaria!

 

Sanctum Prelate

Much like Flusterstorm for Modern Horizons, Sanctum Prelate is only available as the Buy a Box promo and not in the Booster Packs for Modern Horizons 2, but it is legal in the format.

There were two decks that sprung to mind when Sanctum Prelate was confirmed— Death and Taxes, and Humans.

Both decks are quite susceptible to the arsenal of Burn spells available to Prowess variants in Modern (Lava Dart, Gut Shot, Burst Lightning, Lightning Bolt), and have seen a decrease in the metagame.

Sanctum Prelate provides some much needed resistance to Prowess. Acting as a pseudo Meddling Mage for a mana value, that makes both players unable to cast noncreature spells of the chosen number. Choosing 1 against Prowess will shut down all their spells except Expressive Iteration, Light Up the Stage, and Manamorphose, while still allowing your deck to play all its one-drop creatures. This will balance out what was previously a bad matchup for Death and Taxes and Humans.

 

Urza’s Saga

Urza’s Saga is a first-of-its-kind design, combining a Land with a Saga Enchantment. The upside is that the abilities are unaffected by counterspells, as it is a Land.  FREE as it acts as your Land drop for the turn.

It then gains the ability to create Urza’s iconic Construct Tokens, followed by the ability to search for a specific Artifact in your deck that costs exactly 0 or 1.

Note: This doesn’t find Lotus Bloom or Mox Tantalite, as they have no mana cost, not  the specific 0 or 1 mana value.

Amulet Titan is a deck that can utilise the 3rd stage of this Saga to find the namesake Artifact, Amulet of Vigor. To start comboing off with the Ravnica bounce lands. The other would be a revival of the Lantern Control, with many of the key components of that deck being 0 and 1 cost Artifacts, Mishra’s Bauble, Codex Shredder, Lantern of Insight and Pithing Needle, amongst others. 

Plus creating Construct Tokens could provide a way to keep opposing Creatures at bay or provide a faster win condition.

Conclusion

Expect Modern Horizons 2 to be similar to the first iteration, in the sense of impactful reprints into Modern, new designs that can spawn new archetypes, cards that will become staples of the formats, and overall creative design.

Some cards may not make a splash immediately but as we’ve seen with the first set, as the metagame shifts, cards will rise in popularity over time.

Official spoilers start in a week or so, I look forward to seeing the new entrants into the format!

 

About the authorKuang Wu has played Magic since the original Zendikar set. Qualifying for both Player’s Tours in 2020 and finishing 10th at Grand Prix Brisbane in 2017. He primarily plays Modern at Good Games Central and Town Hall. You can follow him @kuangfupanda on Twitter.




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