Modern Horizons previews are pouring in, and the set releases on June 14. Mythic Championship III in Barcelona is Modern, and both it and the accompanying MagicFest will feature Modern Horizons Limited. These supplemental sets tend to have fun Limited environments (and the Mythic Championship is a great excuse to play lots of it), but today I’m focusing on the potential Constructed impact of Modern Horizons. And there are a lot of staples waiting on the horizon.
The Best of Modern Horizons
The most obvious place to start is with the new lands, enemy-colored versions of Horizon Canopy.
These lands are good, and I mean really good. Horizon Canopy is played in most green or white proactive decks like Humans, Hardened Scales, Eldrazi and Taxes, Devoted Company, and others. Horizon Canopy gives you untapped, fixed mana and a way to turn flooding into spells without sacrificing much. It’s so powerful that it’s played in a deck like Hardened Scales, which doesn’t even need the white mana.
It’s great in Modern because many of the proactive decks don’t care about their own life total much. Secondly, the mana curve is so low that they seldom need more than three or four lands. This means that Horizon Canopy and its new siblings mean you can play enough lands to reliably curve out without the risk of flooding, cheating the crucial land-spell balance in Magic.
The decks that gain from these new powerful lands are proactive decks that are low-to-the-ground with a low mana curve. The losers are slower midrange or control decks that play fair with their land-spell balance. They can’t afford to take damage along the way with their own copies, as those lands will need to be tapped for mana too many times before being sacrificed. Expect to see them in Humans, Infect, Izzet Phoenix, and maybe even Dredge and Grixis Death’s Shadow.
Burn gains the most from the new lands—they’re perfect because they’re lands that turn into spells late in the game, offsetting Burn’s risk of losing to mana flood. Burn also loves that more opponents will run the new cards—they gain the most from people taking more damage from their lands. Burn wants to be as efficient as possible but has typically needed to expand past Lightning Bolt variants and to more expensive cards to fill out a deck. These new cards will change that and you can lower the curve even more.
3 Mountain 1 Arid Mesa 4 Bloodstained Mire 2 Sacred Foundry 4 Inspiring Vantage 4 Sunbaked Canyon 2 Fiery Islet 4 Eidolon of the Great Revel 2 Grim Lavamancer 4 Goblin Guide 4 Monastery Swiftspear 4 Lava Spike 4 Lightning Bolt 4 Lightning Helix 4 Rift Bolt 4 Searing Blaze 4 Skewer the Critics 1 Shard Volley Sideboard 2 Path to Exile 4 Rest in Peace 3 Searing Blood 3 Skullcrack 3 Smash to Smithereens
I cut Boros Charm over Lightning Helix for a lower curve because of all the painlands. Gaining life might be more important, but it depends on how often you face proactive decks trying to race you. While a great card, Light Up the Stage becomes less important when you have so much more gas coming from your six lands that draw cards. With six copies in the deck, I also went up to 20 lands as there will be less chance of flooding and it will let you curve out more often, stopping at three lands.
Next up, we have one of the most busted mythic rares I’ve seen.
Ranger-Captain of Eos
This card is pushed beyond belief. It’s a 3/3 for 3, a built-in two-for-one, and an ability that’s more than relevant. Hold on, we are not done—it’s also a Human! This is way better than Militia Bugler; it’s larger and has a more relevant additional ability. Sure, it can’t find a lot of stuff Militia Bugler can, but it also can’t miss and it gives you more interesting ways to build your deck around its ability, both in your sideboard and main deck. Here are some potential bullets for different occasions.
Dauntless Bodyguard seems sweet in combination with the Captain as they work together to protect you against sweepers from U/W Control. The Captain himself protects you against Terminus, as you can sacrifice it in response to your opponent triggering the miracle of Terminus, and Dauntless Bodyguard lets you keep something against Supreme Verdict. Protecting Kitesail Freebooter, Gaddock Teeg, or Deputy of Detention can be key in some matchups. Thraben Inspector and Law-Rune Enforcer didn’t quite make the cut, but the Enforcer is dope in creature matchups and Inspector is a nice hedge between both pressure and sustainability. Mardu Woe-Reaper is a nice tool to have multiple copies of, because together with the Captain it gives you graveyard hate without sacrificing deck space, and on top of everything it’s a Human.
1 Plains 4 Unclaimed Territory 1 Seachrome Coast 1 Silent Clearing 1 Sunbaked Canyon 4 Horizon Canopy 3 Ancient Ziggurat 4 Cavern of Souls 4 Champion of the Parish 4 Kitesail Freebooter 4 Mantis Rider 4 Meddling Mage 3 Ranger-Captain of Eos 4 Noble Hierarch 2 Phantasmal Image 4 Thalia's Lieutenant 4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben 2 Reflector Mage 1 Law-Rune Enforcer 1 Dauntless Bodyguard 4 AEther Vial Sideboard 3 Auriok Champion 2 Damping Sphere 2 Deputy of Detention 2 Dismember 2 Gaddock Teeg 1 Ranger-Captain of Eos 1 Mardu Woe-Reaper 1 Thraben Inspector 1 Fourth Bridge Prowler
While Ranger-Captain of Eos might most obviously slide into Humans, it’s powerful enough to find a home in other decks as well. It seems great in any type of proactive Collected Company deck or in an Esper Death’s Shadow deck. As a sideboard card in Bogles, it saves your deck from some annoying cards while fetching another Bogle. It also jumps in the way of Edict effects. With a Hopeful Eidolon in there as well, you can even fetch a lifelink Aura. In Soul Sisters, getting Martyr of Sands or Serra Ascendant is exactly what you want. Heck, it can even retrieve a Dryad Arbor if you need to hit a land drop!
Here’s some more sweet targets for el capitán:
Force of Negation can’t be cast for its alternative casting cost on your turn, making it a reactive card that’s fantastic when you need to regain tempo but bad at forcing spells through. The best home is a deck with powerful card advantage engines and win conditions that come at the cost of tempo, which is U/W Control in a nutshell! Force of Negation works wonderfully with Jace, the Mind Sculptor, but also Search for Azcanta, Narset, Parter of Veils, Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, and Ancestral Vision if the meta is right.
3 Plains 6 Island 3 Celestial Colonnade 4 Field of Ruin 4 Flooded Strand 1 Ghost Quarter 2 Glacial Fortress 2 Hallowed Fountain 3 Snapcaster Mage 1 Vendilion Clique 1 Oust 3 Cryptic Command 1 Detention Sphere 1 Dovin's Veto 2 Force of Negation 1 Fact or Fiction 2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor 1 Knowledge Pool 2 Logic Knot 2 Narset, Parter of Veils 4 Path to Exile 1 Spell Snare 1 Supreme Verdict 2 Teferi, Hero of Dominaria 2 Teferi, Time Raveler 3 Terminus 2 Opt Sideboard 1 Cataclysmic Gearhulk 2 Celestial Purge 1 Ceremonious Rejection 1 Disdainful Stroke 2 Flusterstorm 1 Dovin's Veto 1 Lyra Dawnbringer 2 Rest in Peace 1 Stony Silence 2 Surgical Extraction 1 Vendilion Clique