Over the Horizon
Ten possible Modern Horizons reprints for the top ten decks in Modern
Modern Horizons is slated to be released June 14, 2019 and is possibly the most talked-about supplemental set since the original Modern Masters. Consisting of 249 cards new to the Modern format, the set is sure to shake up the format by bolstering existing decks and creating new strategies at the same time. Speculation on what is included has run rampant, and most modern players have made their opinions known- some of Legacy’s most powerful cards are eligible for introduction into the Modern format.
Rather than speculate on individual reprints or possible new cards, let’s take a look at how this new set could impact Modern’s current metagame. Looking at the top ten decks in Modern, what could we see that could take these decks in a new, stronger direction? Some of these are distinct possibilities, while others are pie-in-the-sky dreams.
10) Amulet Titan – Exploration
Exploration is a current mainstay in Legacy and could see its way into a good number of Modern decks. Its best home would probably be Amulet Titan, although any deck looking to cast an early Primeval Titan would likely slot it in.
Amulet lost a ton of ground when Summer Bloom got banned but has enjoyed a recent resurgence with the introduction of creatures like Sakura Tribe-Scout. Being able to play land, Exploration, bounce land on turn 1 would set this deck up to be a much more consistent turn 3 Titan deck, which unfortunately is too fast according to Wizard’s standards. However, with other hate cards possibly being introduced into the format (Having a Simic Growth Chamber hit by a Wasteland has to be a feel-bad moment), it may be passable.
9) GBx (Rock, Jund) – Hymn to Tourach
As someone who has played very little legacy but knows the feeling of being locked out by Hymn to Tourach hitting both lands in hand on turn 2, it hurts writing this. GB decks in Modern thrive on resource management and efficient removal and having a tool like Hymn would make them even stronger against combo decks.
Imagine being a Tron player and sitting down against GB, knowing you have a strong matchup here. Turn 1 on the draw, you play Urza’s Mine and Chromatic Star. However, your opponent’s turn two Hymn just took your other Tron land and your Sylvan Scrying. You’re stuck digging the hard way for Tron, and your strong matchup just got flipped in a hurry.
8) Grixis Death’s Shadow – Daze
Stubborn Denial is one of the most frustrating cards to play against in Modern. Even in Force Spike mode, having to play a turn slower to play around it is often the advantage GDS needs to execute its game plan and win the game. However, imagine if the deck was able to play 8 Stubborn Denials, except 4 of them hit creature spells as well, and could be played while the Death’s Shadow player was tapped out? Disgusting.
Of all the cards on this list, this feels like one of the best fits to me. Being able to bounce shock lands back to your hand to better manage your life total is an added benefit. While it’s not the most powerful card that could be printed, I believe it has one of the best possible fits in an already-existing Modern deck.
7) Affinity – Lotus Petal
Let’s face it – Affinity is one of those decks that you can expect at every tournament, even if it’s not always in the top 8. A Modern mainstay since the format’s inception, Affinity is well-known for dumping hands onto the table on turn 1 and daring the opponent to stop it. The best card in the deck, by far, is Mox Opal. However, there are drawbacks. Arcbound Ravager on turn 1 is an extremely strong play but requiring two other 0-cost artifacts to be active on turn 1 is sometimes a problem.
Lotus Petal would add a bit more consistency to an already consistent deck. Although being sacrificed is a definite drawback, the busted hands this could help generate could help keep Affinity in that top tier that it has occupied for so long.
6) Burn – Price of Progress
Some form of Red Deck Wins exists in just about every format, except for Vintage. Modern burn is one of those decks that, when sitting down across from it, you let out an audible sigh. Burn players love those sighs. The deck itself is simple- count to 20 as fast as you can. However, there are cases where three damage at a time is not enough.
Enter Price of Progress, which could punish Modern players for their greedy mana bases.
In the current Modern metagame, Price of Progress would likely deal 6-8 damage normally on turn 4 or 5. Most Modern decks can’t afford to play multiple basic lands, and Burn would seek to capitalize that.
Did we mention it’s an instant?
I think this would probably be way too powerful for Modern right now. Burn would immediately be tier 0 in this case, and I don’t believe this set is designed to catapult any one deck above the rest.
5) UWx Control – Counterspell
I know this is what most of you have been waiting for. The Counterspell vs. Force of Will debate. At a recent IQ I attended, the judge made a mistake of bringing this up during the player’s meeting. Luckily, the judge had a microphone to be heard above the fracas that ensued.
Personally, I don’t believe Force of Will would break Modern. It’s necessary in Legacy, where decks like Reanimator, Storm and Turbo Depths threaten to win on turn 2. However, as Modern is a turn 4 format for the most part, good old Counterspell would be enough.
Most UW based control decks currently run Logic Knot as their two-mana counter of choice. While it does a fine job in most cases, it’s sometimes not enough. It also conflicts with Rest in Peace, one of the most important sideboard cards in the deck. Counterspell would give UW more consistent early-game interaction.
4) Tron – Crop Rotation
Honestly, this was the hardest card to figure out. Tron already is a very tight decklist, with little room for movement. However, as it’s a deck that relies on getting three very specific lands into play, another tutor couldn’t hurt.
Being able to turn duplicate Tron lands into the land you need would definitely help the consistency of the deck, but it’s possible that Crop Rotation could serve a more important role- protection. Being able to Crop Rotation away a land targeted by Field of Ruin or Crumble to Dust could save the game in most cases, and even using it as defense against Surgical Extraction would help too. If an opponent destroys your Urza’s Tower and immediately Surgicals it, being able to go get a Tower from your deck before they’re all removed could be the difference between winning and losing.
3) Dredge – Cephalid Coliseum
A guy can dream, right? As a current Dredge player, the possibility of having a supercharged, uncounterable Faithless Looting is enough to make my mouth water. Unfortunately, Dredge is too much of a boogeyman to get an upgrade like this. However, if there is new, efficient graveyard hate being printed as well (spoiler alert: There 100% will be), maybe another tool will be made available to us.
This card makes me want to buy Lions Eye Diamonds so I can play Legacy Dredge. While on its own, it produces no mana that we would actually use (unless we’re on the hardcast Narcomoeba and Prized Amalgam plan), the Threshold ability would enable extremely busted turns- being able to dredge 15 cards for essentially two mana is insane.
2) Izzet Phoenix – Frantic Search
This card does everything Izzet Phoenix wants. Draw two? Yes please. Drop two cards into the graveyard? Don’t mind if I do!!
Wait, it’s FREE?
Frantic Search is like taking Manamorphose and Faithless Looting and gluing them together to form some monstrous beast that glues the deck together. While still card disadvantage, it would be the perfect opening spell on turn three to start trying to get Phoenixes to rise from the graveyard.
I believe this card would further entrench Phoenix as the top deck in modern and would be an immediate 4-of in the top deck in the format. It would also impact Storm, but Phoenix would be the big winner should Frantic Search enter Modern.
1) Humans – Too many to name, but one winner…
Although Humans isn’t the top deck in the format right now, I had to save it for last. There are a ton of possibilities for Humans that could be reprinted, and it was extremely difficult to pick just one. I had to settle on a top five.
Containment Priest is a card that could help shut down other decks, but it also shuts down Aether Vial. Although some people have discussed Priest in Humans, I don’t think it is strong enough to warrant the non-bo with Aether Vial.
Mother of Runes would immediately help the deck against spot removal and help push through the last few points of damage in creature-based matchups, but she would die quickly in a format where every deck seems to play some number of Bolts and Pushes.
Imperial Recruiter is Militia Bugler on sterioids. Instead of taking a creature of your choice out of the top four cards, how about grabbing one from the entire deck? Need a Thalia? Get a Thalia. Need her Lieutenant? Get Thalia’s Lieutenant. However, it may be a step too slow for the deck, as a three-mana 1/1 may be too slow in the format.
Shardless Agent was my pick for Humans until I started typing the article. Three mana for a 2/2 and another creature is a great rate. Shardless hitting Champion of the Parish or Thalia’s Lieutenant immediately makes them 2/2s and hitting Thalia in the matchups you need her is another bonus. You can’t even be upset hitting an Aether Vial.
As much as I think Shardless Agent is the one card Humans players want reprinted most in Modern, it’s possible that there’s one card that outshines it.
Prelate is a Chalice of the Void on a stick, but it doesn’t stop your creature spells. Putting a Sanctum Prelate on 1 risks stranding Aether Vial in your hand, but you are OK with that when your opponent’s hand is full of Opts, Bolts, Paths and Thoughtseizes. Especially when combined with Kitesail Freebooter, Prelate could lock most opponents out of playing the game.
Modern Horizons looks to shake up the format big time, and I for one am more excited to see which new decks emerge than seeing what reprints bolster the current slate of contenders. Is there a reprint to make Reanimator viable? Will a new Prison deck emerge for those degenerates among us? What new combos can we expect to emerge? On June 14th, we’ll find out.
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- March 27, 2019