Modern Horizons appears to be a replacement product for Modern Masters, and it’s going even further this time. Modern Horizons will introduce new cards to the format that will not be legal in Standard. This gives the design team a chance to design some cards that are too strong for Standard, but right at par for Modern, hopefully helping some archetypes that haven’t felt the love from normally released Standard sets.
I spent some time looking through all the possibilities. I compiled a list of cards I’ve seen some buzz about, and whether I think they’d work in Modern Horizons. This list of speculative additions and omissions from the set out to at least be fun to go back and look at after the set is finally fully released.
I’ve got 10 cards I think absolutely have no place in the format lined up for later in the week, but let’s start out with some of my wish list cards:
Misdirection can interact unfavorably with cards like Thoughtseize, but is also a reasonable way to fight through counterspells. While this card is unlikely to see play as it won’t impact the format too much, it’s an interesting tool to have in the format that you’ll get the occasional blowout with. Divert is a similar card I can see being printed that would also likely only see fringe play.
This one will definitely see some play in a deck like Abzan Midrange. The fact that it can hit Tron lands makes the card much more appealing to fair decks. This card is perfectly balanced for Modern, and is likely to be printed in a Modern Horizons at some point. Assasin’s Trophy has been all but a flop because even Tron doesn’t mind too much when it gets to put an additional land into play. I think this card will see play in low numbers, since its 3-mana cost is a bit slow for the format, but it’s a perfectly balanced card and Modern will be better for having it.
8) Fact or Fiction
Draw spells have been fairly bad in Modern, and I think Fact or Fiction is an upgrade to what we have available at its mana cost. It’s slow enough to see play almost exclusively in slow control decks, and certainly doesn’t breach the appropriate power levels. Gifts Ungiven is a more exploitable card that already exists in the format, and it resembles FoF in some ways. I think a lot of players will enjoy playing with and even against Fact or Fiction. Additionally, I think it’s a great nostalgia boost for older players to play with an all-time favorite draw spell.
7) Sylvan Library
Sylvan Library is an excellent card engine against decks that don’t pressure your life total, and passable at best against decks that do. Sylvan Library is also les valuable in multiples. Where fair blue decks have Search for Azcanta, green-based fair decks could have Sylvan Library, and we’d be likely to see a lot of 1-of Sylvan Libraries in sideboards against control. Sylvan Library is certainly slow and fair enough to contribute to Modern in a meaningful way, without going over the top.
6) Dack Fayden
Dack seems like an awesome addition to Modern. It randomly hates on artifact strategies, provides a 3-mana playable planeswalker for Izzet decks, and adds a mana appropriate discard outlet for decks trying to utilize the Faithless Looting effect. I can definitely see this as a sideboard card in decks like Izzet Phoenix, Jeskai Control, and Grixis Shadow. Discard outlets are often exploitable, and this one is slow enough and has enough utility to see play, but isn’t totally busted like Faithless Looting. I’d love to see how Dack could impact Modern.
5) Baleful Strix
A value creature that trades up with creatures like Gurmag Angler and Tarmogoyf. Baleful Strix seems like it will fit well alongside Liliana, the Last Hope just like it does in Legacy. Baleful Strix will promote grindier, interactive games, which I’d like to see more of in Modern. I don’t think Baleful Strix would do anything drastic to the format, but it’s appropriately powered and would likely see some play.
4) Swords to Plowshares
This might be pushing the envelope a bit too far. Swords to Plowshares would be a premium removal spell in Modern. Fatal Push has already seen print and had a reasonable impact on the format, and Swords to Plowshares is more versatile than that. A 1-mana exile removal without the huge downside of Path to Exile would likely give decks like U/W Control a nice new toy to play with, especially with cards like Bloodghast, Arclight Phoenix, and Death’s Shadow in dominating positions. I think Swords to Plowshares would shake up the format. I personally welcome fair decks getting powerful removal options if the threats are going to be as powerful as they are right now. Swords to Plowshares could potentially put Jeskai Control out of business, as it doesn’t work well with the Bolt-Snap-Bolt wins, and Lightning Bolt would be much less desirable with both Swords and Path to Exile as options.
Counterspell is such an iconic card, and is certainly appropriately powered for Modern. Logic Knot is a much worse version of the card, as is Mana Leak, but where Counterspell will outshine these counterspells is mostly in long, drawn out interactive games where both Logic Knot and Mana Leak go dead. I’m totally fine with having stronger permission in these types of matchups, especially if other fair decks like Jund get boosts in power level as well.
2) Hymn to Tourach
Jund was once the premier deck of Modern. There have been times where it was considered the best, like right after the unbanning of Bloodbraid Elf, but that was mostly because of an unsettled format trying to break Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Jund hasn’t had too much success since then, and I think Hymn to Tourach would provide an incredible tool for these fair midrange decks to attack combo and control. Hymn will also punish decks that mulligan aggressively for specific pieces by decimating their total resources early in the game. While it’s potentially too powerful, I’d rather they push harder in favor of these slower fair decks than try something that could potentially break the format and lead to bannings. I don’t think Hymn would do that, just push black-based fair decks back into the top tier.
1) Containment Priest
Every time I see someone talking about what the best decks in Modern are right now, I see both Izzet Phoenix and Dredge on the list. I think these decks are both meaningfully better than the rest of the field, and Containment Priest would do a decent job against both. It’s possible Containment Priest doesn’t even put a dent in these decks, but the fact that Arclight Phoenix and Prized Amalgam triggers are a must means there are excellent windows to punish these decks when Rest in Peace may not be enough. A Phoenix player can see the Rest In Peace in play before committing their resources, but a surprise Containment Priest could make a world of difference on these key turns.
Next time, I’ll get to some of the cards I’ve seen floating around that are too good for Modern or that would fundamentally change the format. Make sure to check back later in the week!