Modern Horizons 2 is the newest expansion for Magic: the Gathering. A continuation of 2019’s original Modern Horizons set, this new set includes a mix of reprints from older sets and all new cards designed to be played in the Modern Environment. As with the original Modern Horizons, the power level of this set is significantly higher than what you’d typically see in a Standard-legal set and several non-evergreen mechanics have been revisited in Modern Horizons, including Suspend, Shadow, Evoke, Affinity, Overload, Echo, Madness, Modular, and Unearth. There’s also a sub-focus on Food, Treasure, and Clue tokens, and a huge number of callbacks and references. We’ve long had a greater and lesser Gargadon, finally, we now know what they are lesser and greater than.
Oh and finally there’s a legendary squirrel commander with more than one color, so the long-held dream of squirrel tribal is finally at hand.
In this review we’ll be talking about the most notable cards in the set as well as some of our favorites, mostly through the lens of their playability and potential in Commander. Today we’re focusing specifically on the set’s monocolored cards. In our next review article we’ll be looking at the set’s multicolor and colorless cards.
BPhillip York: This whole cycle of flash creatures castable via evoke with control abilities is strong, and particularly for a white one, where you can potentially blink it via something like ephemerate, to avoid the sacrifice effect and double (or triple) your etb, that’s a really really strong effect. Even in in commander dropping a respectable 3/2 lifelink creature on turn 1, and using it to exile a couple of your opponent’s creatures and then just turn it into a beater is a valid strategy, but mid or late game it can be used to shut down combo pretty easily, especially because players typically discount the ability of non-blue decks to interrupt a combo. And since most commander decks are based around creature-based commander combos, this makes it even more valuable.
FromTheShire: A free Swords when you need one is absolutely worth the card disadvantage.
BPhillip York: This is a good white card draw, via a tax effect. This is a great card, and it’s an artifact, which is mostly going to be a huge bonus.
FromTheShire: White’s version of Rhystic Study mixed with Mystic Remora and I’m all about it. This is some great draw for white.
BPhillipYork: This is virtually a reprint of, but not exactly, of Eternal Dragon, and both are probably in the zone of medium playable. For white to get card advantage it has to engage in weird strategies like this, but plainscycling in and of itself is a pretty decent mechanic, letting you both fetch land and manafix and then with these two dragons you can recur or eternalize them later. The problem is it’s painfully slow, but it could be used in conjunction with repeated board wipes. There are a lot of “plains” cards now so this gives you a lot of variety, though sadly the new indestructible artifact lands lack the plains type.
FromTheShire: Fine as a mana fixing card in a Dragon deck with upside. The actual dragon isn’t that impressive.
BPhillip York: Pretty playable, permanent removal via exile is good, but it’s sorcery speed, which means you can’t save yourself from a combo or something like that with it, which is a major downside.
FromTheShire: Hitting any nonland permanent is good, sorcery speed and the Converge are less so.
BPhillip York: Dinner themed resurrection is okay, but in commander there’s just better resurrection cards in black.
FromTheShire: Solid if you’re not playing Black.
BPhillip York: This sort of reminds me of Iona, and it seems like you’ll either be choosing creatures or instants, basically every time, in which case it’s pretty good as a fattie reanimator target.
FromTheShire: A nice piece in an Angel tribal deck but this is expensive just for the effect.
BPhillip York: Really nice graveyard removal and a strong hatebear vs reanimator and underworld breach.
FromTheShire: Good graveyard hate on a relevant creature type, though not hitting green can be a big problem.
BPhillip York: This is a cool card, and unlike most cards of this ilk it’s an end-step trigger, and if you have no valid creature target you gain a life, which I think definitely makes it playable. There’s a ton of strong 1 cmc utility creatures running around.
BPhillip York: Really strong card in the right deck, has the potentially lock out enemy commanders for a long long time, in a way that is very difficult for your opponents to deal with, since being phased out isn’t a zone change, they can’t activate the state-based trigger to get them back into the command zone. One of the top cards of the set for commander, easily.
FromTheShire: Seeing phasing and vanishing always makes me happy, and this is a very interesting piece of temporary removal.
FromTheShire: This can be an absolutely game ending card in any life gain deck where you are gaining big chunks of life rather than small increments.
FromTheShire: Extremely powerful effect, especially if you can cheat it rather than waiting for the suspend. If you play it fairly it is going to draw a lot of hate, or at least get your graveyard exiled.
FromTheShire: Another good way for white to draw cards, this is also useful in decks like Akiri, Line-Slinger that care about the Clues being artifacts.
BPhillip York: This is like the worst card in the game that starts with Rishadan. Okay not really but, its 1 for a 1/2 merfolk with islandwalk, which could be okay in tribal type situations.
FromTheShire: Not very impressive in EDH, but this could be a real player in Modern. As currently constituted the Merfolk decks have slots to play with, especially at 1 CMC. It may turn out that Tide Shaper makes the cut over this, but either is preferable to Cursecatcher
BPhillip York: This card, I hate it, because, IT OUGHT TO HAVE FLASH. Suspend? Are you kidding me? Everyone knows that it’s a sudden and inevitable betrayal.
FromTheShire: It’s very good, but it suffers from the suspend issue where everyone at the table targets you. In Modern I can see it being a good sideboard card for the Electrodominance decks against creature matchups like Through the Breach.
BPhillip York: Playable to exile commanders and combo pieces, for sure. Also some niche utility uses to protect your own creatures, since it’s an instant if cast on an opponent’s turn you are only going to miss it for 1 turn, and this could potentially be combined with nice enters battlefield triggers.
FromTheShire: Gives you a couple of turns to find a counterspell for the problematic thing you weren’t able to stop the first time.
BPhillip York: This is a power card, shutting down an opponent indirectly with a humility type effect, but without targeting or countering any of their spells. Easily can shut down a combo mid go, or be used to stop an attack, and since it’s a cantrip it pays for itself nicely.
FromTheShire: Great way to avoid dying to a combo.
BPhillip York: Strong counterspell. Eminently playable, especially with a ton of magecraft triggers now running around.
BPhillip York: Playable, essentially required if you are going to try a mill strategy.
FromTheShire: I don’t know if this does enough in a mill deck, I think this goes in something like a Nekusar shell that is playing a bunch of Windfall effects.
TheChirurgeon: It definitely seems like something you can build a combo around.
BPhillip York: You definitely could probably build a merfolk tribal deck around this, I could see possibly including it in some semi-tribal deck.
FromTheShire: Not a bad piece of protection, but there are much better merfolk to build around.
BPhillip York: I think this card signals that mill decks are going to get relatively serious in commander, and it’s potentially hugely dangerous. There’s a number of cards in combination with this that are potentially game-ending, like Syr Konrad or Bloodchief Ascension. The backup cycling cost to me is what makes it really shine, and is probably the way it’ll be used most often, during predator end-step to force milling and net you a card.
FromTheShire: There are a couple of good mill decks already that will be stoked to have this. Modern mill has also become a real thing recently and this could potentially find a home there.
BPhillip York: This is yet another of this very strong elemental, flash, evoke incarnations, eminently playable, especially since the easiest choice is the enemy commander being cast, and bluffing that you have a way (or having a way) to rearrange your opponent’s library.
FromTheShire: Pretty good, but a lot of time the thing you really need to counter or you’ll lose the game isn’t a creature or planeswalker. EDH has quite a few unconditional free counterspells, I’m not sure you’ll actually play this unless it’s in a flicker deck.
FromTheShire: Nothing crazy, just a straightforward win condition an artifact heavy decks.
TheChirurgeon: Cards like this make it clear that there was in fact quite a bit of meat left on the bone with Overload in Return to Ravnica and it’s cool to see some of those other opportunities finally get explored.
BPhillip York: Another amazing card, another entomb essentially but at sorcery speed. Notably it’s non-legendary card, not non-legendary creature card, and while you’re typically going to grab a creature, there are plenty of scenarios where you might want another card in your graveyard, for example, Past in Flames
FromTheShire: Getting another copy of an Entomb effect is great, even if it is only for nonlegendaries. In Modern a lot of the time the things you really want to reanimate are legendary so I’m unsure of how much play this will see there unless it’s hitting a combo piece, but there are certainly some very powerful cards this still hits.
FromTheShire: On the surface it’s nice to get another Demonic Tutor, but I think in practice the suspend is going to draw a ton of hate, even more so than other cards since it’s an unlimited tutor, and you’re going to have a hard time convincing people that you just needed to hit your land drop and not that you’re getting a combo piece. Also requires you to know what you’re going to need a couple of turns in advance, which isn’t ideal.
TheChirurgeon: The incredible RKF art on this means it’s always going to be worth 50% more than it should be. Glad it’s a rare.
FromTheShire: There’s a ton of buzz about Grief and Ephemerate on turn 1, and for good reason. You get to take two of their best nonland cards and you still have a 3/2 with menace in play, perfect for when it rebounds the next turn. Not only are you aggressively stripping their hand, you also have extremely useful info about what they are doing. Time will tell if it’s as busted as some people fear, but I’m certainly up for starting a game in that position.
TheChirurgeon: Yeah this feels like a more modern (ha) imagining of Hymn to Tourach, only with more versatility.
BPhillip York: Totally playable draw effect, 2 mana value so you can recur it with Lurrus, of the Dream Den repeatedly, or virtually any reanimation spell.
FromTheShire: Lots of decks like this kind of effect, only knock against it is it’s not in a particularly useful tribe.
BPhillip York: Strictly better Wrath of God is obviously a good card, and the ability to choose between board clear and targeted removal is really important.
FromTheShire: Extremely useful to have the flexibility of the two modes, this card is outstanding.
TheChirurgeon: Everything about this card rules.
BPhillip York: Probably the strongest card in the set, amazing hate bear, with shadow, 3 power, and the ability to cast exiled cards. This seems obviously targeted at commander, like Opposition Agent and Hullbreacher, a game defining effect that requires you to control the board.
FromTheShire: I don’t think I agree that this is aimed at Commander, but otherwise yes, this card is fantastic. A Leyline of the Void on an evasive, undercosted body with the upside of being a Rogue and also letting you cast the best thing you’ve exiled for free….hell yes. I’m personally geeked that is a Dauthi as well, I loved them in Tempest.
TheChirurgeon: Yeah I don’t think this guy will have a problem making it into some Modern decks.
BPhillip York: Great card, just amazing, great card, the -1/-1 can actually be a bonus since it can be combined with Undying to set off a combo, or to simply return a creature with a strong ETB or Death effect. Just a really strong card.
FromTheShire: Agreed. Nonlegendary is sometimes an issue but this is a great reanimate spell for EDH and Modern.
BPhillip York: Uncounterable forced sacrifice is pretty good. Definitely playable but a bit unpredictable. But with cards like Tergrid, God of Fright running around this will definitely see a bit of play.
TheChirurgeon: I’m usually a bit underwhelmed with edict effects in practice since they tend to just mean “your opponent sacrifices their worst creature,” and that makes them a bit too unpredictable to be reliable. Still, the Split Second rider means that the opportunity for shenanigans is much lower, and that’s a big help.
BPhillip York: Totally cool callback to Fallen Empires, the first “bad” expansion, but with a cool backstory and a few playable cards.
TheChirurgeon: After all these years it kills me that people still think The Dark was a good expansion.
FromTheShire: Hymn to Tourach is an iconic card, and it’s awesome to see him get his own card at last. I’m don’t think he’s the best general for a discard deck, but he’s a great inclusion who can grow out of control quickly.
BPhillip York: Card selection and putting cards into your yard can be a powerful effect, but 3 mana to see 4 cards, and gaining some life isn’t a sufficient pay off.
BPhillip York: This is a difficult card to judge, the flexibility of creature or planeswalker is nice, but the speed is too slow. Gaining life is a near meaningless bonus, so I think this won’t see a lot of play. In mono black decks though it’s unconditional removal combined with exile, and many times black struggles to kill other black creatures.
BPhillip York: This is a cool card, and a cool callback, potentially in combination with cards that trip graveyards like the Dauthi Voidwalker could be potentially strong.
FromTheShire: I think this is actually a terrible callback. The whole thing that made Bridge from Below the weirdly useful card it was was that it worked from your graveyard. I don’t know that anyone has actually cast a Bridge in Modern. The magus completely misses this, turning it into more of a bad Xathrid Necromancer than a nod to Bridge, which is pretty disappointing.
TheChirurgeon: I mean, that’s also what made Bridge from Below broken and non-interactive. I can see why they think they can get away with attaching the effect to a creature without breaking everything and they’re likely right. It’s a fine callback but yeah, throwing it on a body makes it much, much worse.
BPhillip York: In discard decks this could see play, black has a number of ways to leverage discarding situations or clear out everyone, combining that with control from a card like this could be useful, especially for commanders such as Anje, Falkenrath in particular, madness cards are still discarded, so you’d both get the trigger and then be able to activate the madness effect. The 4 cost downside might be too much though. At 3 this would definitely be playable, but at 4 I think it’ll just be too costly a piece for a deck that is very all in.
BPhillip York: A graveyard tutor is definitely potentially playable, and zombies can often be reanimated, also usefully has 2 power which makes it a valid target for some reanimation effects.
FromTheShire: Pretty much does what it says on the tin and Entombs something. Definitely useful, especially in a Zombie deck.
BPhillip York: Totally awesome card, with a powerful effect on top of it and madness to boot. I think definitely playable in madness decks as a threat and a control effect.
BPhillip York: 5 is a lot for a reanimation effect but with 2 power and a human there are ways this could be used.
FromTheShire: A little expensive, but anything that returns a creature directly to the battlefield is worth looking at.
BPhillip York: This is an awesome card. I don’t think it’s good, but it’s awesome. And it goes with Chatterfang, Squirrel General which makes it even more awesome. Obviously, you can do cool things like reanimate this, sac it, then use victimize or dread return to reanimate it again, generating tons of etbs and death triggers and tons of squirrel tokens.
FromTheShire: I’m not sure how much devotion to black you will have in your Squirrel deck, but I’m certainly game to find out.
BPhillip York: A valid reanimation target, with a very powerful control effect, though it’s going to make you a table enemy or really make one player angry at you.
FromTheShire: This is absolutely the ideal payoff you’re looking for when you’re drafting reanimator in this set. Extremely powerful, especially in decks like Through the Breach in Modern.
BPhillip York: You could abuse this with tokens, other than that, I am not seeing it.
FromTheShire: Potentially fun, but usually I’m trying to play something like Warp World instead of this.
BPhillip York: Playable as a hate card vs planeswalkers given it has cycling 2 to dump it when you don’t need it.
FromTheShire: Pretty solid sideboard card in a bunch of Modern decks to deal with walkers.
BPhillip York: I hate this card. This is really good, probably second strongest card in the set for commander. It’s a strong 1-drop for red, and it’s potentially game-defining, generating treasures and exiling cards off the top of opponents libraries is just amazing.
FromTheShire: Great to see Ragavan getting his own card rather than just being a token, and boy is he strong. Cheap, aggressive, generates card advantage, makes mana to cast the cards you steal… love it. The biggest problem for it in Modern is that it’s a 2/1 and cards like Gut Shot and Lava Dart are all over right now.
BPhillip York: Definitely playable, especially in decks that want to bury cards or flashback a lot, or go off with Underworld Dreams, or in combination with Birgi, God of Storytelling and Storm-Kiln Artist.
BPhillip York: Definitely red style card selection and fills your yard for later combos.
FromTheShire: It’s no Faithless Looting but that’s kind of the point.
BPhillip York: Doubling triggers is powerful, especially in beater style prowess type decks. Tons of wizards have amazing ETBs, and Nabban, Dean of Iteration essentially creates a similar effect, which could easily let you do some truly absurd things.
FromTheShire: Prodigy is outstanding. Prowess is great and this triggers off of two relevant creature types.
BPhillip York: Definitely goes well in coin-flip decks.
FromTheShire: It only goes in a few specific decks, but it’s perfect for them.
BPhillip York: Very playable, searchable as an artifact and lets you use up some of those new clue and food token triggers everywhere.
FromTheShire: Great little value engine.
BPhillip York: Definitely playable in pirate decks, and spell spamming decks. Also an okay call back.
FromTheShire: This seems like a lot of work for not that much payoff.
BPhillip York: A really strong counterspell/steal spell that nets you a copy, potentially game-winning especially since you get to retarget a spell and generate a copy, but fairly random.
FromTheShire: The name is perfect because this is just… muah! I’m a huge fan of randomness and this will absolutely save your life.
BPhillip York: Definitely playable for card selection, nice to have a recast from the grave as a control card.
BPhillip York: It’s called the storm scale for a reason. Card is nuts, and there are a ton of ways to generate unreasonable card advantage off this or end the game. Combination with Birgi and Storm-Kiln incredibly powerful, also sets off other magecraft triggers, also just a ton of card advantage.
FromTheShire: Storm card is gonna storm. Keeps your chain rolling.
BPhillip York: Usable in decks that need to generate a lot of coin flips, though not a very mana efficient way of doing so.
FromTheShire: I like this in either coin flip decks or just generic goblin decks.
BPhillip York: Like the rest of the cycle very playable, 4 damage is generally enough to kill a combo piece, though sadly lacking flash so far less powerful than some of the other elemental incarnations.
FromTheShire: It’s very good but boy does the lack of flash hurt this. Against creature decks, especially ones like Elves or Goblins, this is an absolute beating.
BPhillip York: Definitely playable, blowing up key lands for RR is very likely and giving you a 4/4 flier early game.
FromTheShire: This is kind of fine in EDH, but the place I am looking forward to windmill slamming this is in a Ponza deck in Modern. One of the problems the deck can have is that you have a bunch of ways to blow up lands but no way to apply pressure, and your opponent has enough time to build back up again and kill you, and Charmaw goes a long way towards helping you solve that problem.
BPhillip York: A good way to sac your clues and food and treasures if you’re generating excess of them.
FromTheShire: Seems fine, though I usually like my sac outlets to be free.
BPhillip York: Storm cards are, uh, good though you’ll want either a way to combine this with a sac outlet or something like that to get full value by destroying everything you’ve taken. Also potentially could be used to steal a bunch of mana dorks or other such creatures and play off your opponent’s decks.
FromTheShire: People don’t really play Insurrection anymore, and I don’t think having to storm off first is going to change that. If you’re chaining things together enough to make this worthwhile, just finish storming off and kill everyone.
TheChirurgeon: Yeah I’m not sure on this one, even in Commander where it relies on your opponents having a board full of stuff worth grabbing.
BPhillip York: This is a funny way to spell Yawgmoth’s Will. Suspend G means you can just balls-out it turn one, but also just cascade it out.
FromTheShire: Boy they really are all in on green can do anything at this point. Obviously the suspend makes this a bit different but there’s a reason Yawg’s Will is banned in Legacy and restricted in Vintage. There pretty much has to be a way this gets broken.
BPhillip York: Obviously this is playable. Very playable. Tapping for Jund colors, exalted, yet another mana dork.
FromTheShire: Really like this, whether it’s Heirarchs 5-8 for the decks already running it, or as a replacement for Birds of Paradise in a lot of decks. If you’re playing some kind of Gruul Aggro or Ponza deck, the exalted trigger makes this strictly better in my opinion.
TheChirurgeon: Can’t wait for this to be a $50 rare that we clamor for reprints of in a couple of years. Just bonkers good.
BPhillip York: Definitely playable in enchantress since you’ll get repeated cheap draw triggers, though paying 1 is a tough cost to pay.
FromTheShire: I think a lot of time you’re going to be in the awkward situation where you don’t have the mana up when the trigger happens.
BPhillip York: Creating a bunch of squirrel tokens is potentially quite powerful. Storm scale. Dear WotC please make it so cards aren’t just phoned in.
FromTheShire: Another card where I feel like if you have a high enough storm count to make this actually be impressive in EDH, you can probably just win the game instead.
BPhillip York: Obviously combo card, 1 enchantment + Pemmin’s Aura and this goes infinite. Oh, right it is an enchantment so… Also going to generate absurd amounts of mana in enchantress decks.
FromTheShire: Completely busted in the right decks. Even if you’re not doing shenanigans with untapping, this is going to make just so much mana.
BPhillip York: Generating extra tokens when you already generating tokens is a potential infinite combo source and a good value source. Having a built-in sacrifice is really really strong. This is a potentially really powerful card either as a commander or as part of a deck. The interaction with Pitiless Plunderer is hilarious, letting you clear the board of 1 toughness creatures while generating a ludicrous amount of etbs and deaeths, as well as artifacts entering your grave (for cards like Disciple of the Vault)
FromTheShire: I’m one of the weirdos who has been clamoring for a good Squirrel commander for forever, and boy did we get a good one. Realistically this is probably better using more conventional big token producers and then using the accompanying squirrels to ping off threats, but there’s no way I’m not slamming a Krosan Beast into play just because I can.
BPhillip York: This card is so cutesy so, I dunno. But for squirrel tribal yeah, definitely.
FromTheShire: At least it makes tokens, cause otherwise this has the Door of Destinies problem, where as soon as it gets actually scary it will eat removal.
BPhillip York: Another flash evoke elemental incarnation, stops combos or lets you reshuffle your grave into your library.
FromTheShire: Instant speed free graveyard hate is great.
BPhillip York: This is potentially quite strong since it’s each end step, but then you need to be casting creatures on other people’s turns. In a lot of ways it’s a win more card, but in the right kind of deck, focused on casting on other players turns could generate huge value.
FromTheShire: Yeah I’m kind of on the fence about this one. The effect is certainly good, but jumping though the hoops is pretty rough.
BPhillip York: Sleeper power card, generating a treasure generally off land falls is huge, another lotus cobra but you can hang on to the mana, and you get a sac effect and an enters graveyard effect. Or you can have a food if you really want for some reason, though generally, it’ll be a treasure. Also an elf, plenty of ways to search for elves.
FromTheShire: Definitely a good value engine, though I’m not sure that green necessarily needs the extra ramp of Treasure tokens.
BPhillip York: This has definite potential in combination with cards like pestilence and giving it a +1/+1 could just keep giving out counters, which is potentially game-winning. But t hat’s a lot of pieces to set up.
BPhillip York: I mean, so it’s a storm commander, so I dunno, that’s a thing. Storm oozes I’m sure there’s a way to break but this mostly just seems like a gimmick.
FromTheShire: Seems powerful but also not really the kind of thing that I’m interested in building. Storm just isn’t a particularly fun and friendly mechanic, and advertising it in your command zone is going to draw all kinds of hate.
BPhillip York: So a sort of storm legendary commander with haste and hexproof but not uncounterable meant to beat down planeswalkers. It just seems like a gimmicky thing to me. Fun though, especially in go-wide beater green decks.
FromTheShire: Very interesting. This is the kind of expansion of green’s abilities that I would like to see, introducing trample over planeswalkers which is pretty cool. In Modern this can definitely be a massive threat pretty early with chaining together cards like Manamorphose in a kind of combo-ish deck. It probably won’t be particularly consistent, but it will be fun as hell at least.
FromTheShire: Similarly to Gaea’s Will, green is now also doing anthems the same as white but better. Not only is the rate better than most white anthems, you also get to scry just for doing your game plan of casting creatures.
Next Time: Multicolored, Artifacts, and Lands
That wraps up our look at the noteworthy monocolored cards of Modern Horizons 2 but join us in a day or two when we finish our review by looking at the set’s multicolored and colorless cards. In the meantime if you have any questions or feedback, drop us a note in the comments below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.