Modern Horizons has become one of my favorite auxiliary products to come out from Wizards in the past few years. The excuse to print more powerful cards than what is typically allowed can create brand new archetypes or breath life into decks that were considered dead. Disregarding the occasional Hogaak ruining Modern for a few months these sets have so much to offer for brewers. Today I’d like to share some brews of mine in anticipation of the release on June 18th.
Small disclaimer: I have no idea what the meta will look like after June 18th so for these brews I won’t be adding any sideboards to the decks I’m sharing. If anytime after that date you want my recommendations for sideboards feel free to contact me on Twitter @TuesdayTastic.
One of the first interactions everyone noticed during spoiler season was the powerful interaction between Grief and Ephemerate. For one mana on turn 1 you can Thoughtseize up to three cards from your opponents hand. It does require three cards from your hand as well, but you end up with a 3/2 menace when the dust settles. Nothing in Modern is capable of putting everyone down to such a low resource game as quickly as this combo. Building around it is a little challenging as you need to make sure you have enough cards to exile to Grief to enable that while also having cards that interact favorably with Ephemerate for when you can’t get that combo online. Tidehollow Sculler is a powerful option because if you respond to the etb trigger you can exile one card for free. Silverquill Silencer punishes them for whatever is left in their hand, and Liliana of the Veil is very difficult to combat when your starting hand is suddenly 4 cards.
Another card in the incarnation cycle that caught my eye is Subtlety. A free Mind Lapse for creatures or planeswalkers is fantastic tempo even if your opponent gets to choose where to put them. What really intrigued me was the 3/3 flash flyer attached to the spell. By using cost reducers such as Watcher of the Spheres it becomes much more reliable to use the other half of the card. Curious Obssession is a great way to overcome the card disadvantage from the free mode of Subtlety, and by filling in the rest of the deck with tempo flyers you can apply a lot of pressure in a short amount of time. Suspend also gets a chance to shine in this deck as a temporary removal spell for two turns which in modern is often enough to turn the tide of the game.
One mechanic that is unique to white can be found in Squadron Hawk. For two mana you get a 1/1 flyer, and more importantly you get to put three more into your hand. This fodder works excellently with Solitude as well as another card from the last Modern Horizons set Force of Virtue. These cards combined turn a dinky Squadron Hawk into one of the best draws of the deck. On turn two you can get a 1/1, exile their creature, and then play an anthem on your turn and you’ll still have a Hawk left over. And they said white couldn’t do broken things. Another card to showcase from Modern Horizons 2 is the brand new addition to the Stoneforge package in Kaldra Compleat. If doing cute things with Squadron Hawk isn’t enough to get the job done simply put a two mana 5/5 trample, indestructible, hasty creature into play by turn three.
Out of all the elemental incarnations building a deck around Endurance was the most difficult. Shuffling a graveyard back into the library is definitely more of a sideboard thing, but the front half of a 3/4 flash reach for three is quite respectable. This led me to consider some synergies the card could have with flash decks. 0 mana to trigger all of your permanents that care about flash is great tempo while also potentially disrupting your opponent. Slitherwisp and Brineborn Cutthroat both get free value when you evoke Endurance. If your opponent doesn’t block your Wildborn Preserver you can flash in Endurance to make it lethal. Ignoble Hierarch was chosen as a non-human creature who still has the lovely text of exalted. Finally, Nightpack Ambusher rounds out the top end as a powerful finisher that quickly closes out the game. Ultimately I don’t think this deck is good enough (especially for that price tag), but it shows some neat synergies that may be worth remembering when WotC revisits flash as a deck.
Out of all the decks I have made today none got quite as many cards from Modern Horizons 2 as this last one. Starting off with the reason behind the deck is of course Fury. Five mana 3/3 double-strike is a good body especially when it kills a creature or planeswalker on its way in. This led me towards Skred an archetype that has existed for almost as long as Snow-Covered Mountains have existed. This archetype got so many goodies from MH2 allow me to just name a few. Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer is simply one of the best one drops of all time and with all the removal this deck packs there won’t be anything that can block it. Flametongue Yearling, a cute callback to FTK, is a really efficient two for one that scales with your mana. Finally, maybe one of the best additions to Skred is Liquimetal Torque which turns Abrade into a nonland Vindicate. All of this combined breathes new life into a classic archetype and hopefully can bring it back to speed in the new modern metagame.
After building decks around these five cards I believe I have learned a few lessons. First is that you need a way to recoup the card disadvantage that comes from pitching so many cards. Unless you are winning the turn you evoke these creatures you’re typically going down a card to deal with one of your opponents. The second lesson comes from realizing how good these are when they are hardcast. Building your deck in a way that can reliably cast the more expensive side gives you game against slower decks that will try to outvalue you. Finally, it is important to build your deck in a way so that you reliably have cards that you want to or simply can pitch to one of these incarnations. Gold cards are good pitch fodder, but you have to be careful to not stretch too far and have nothing in your hand that shares a color.
This cycle is incredibly powerful and worth building around, and while it is inevitable they will be used in unfair ways I believe this cycle may actually encourage more interaction in modern. The format has been described as “two ships passing in the night” many times before, but the interaction these cards provide is fast enough it might actually slow modern down. Building around these cards does come at a cost, but that can be mitigated by playing fairly and drawing cards. Grief and Ephemerate for example are absurdly powerful together, but they don’t effortlessly slot into any preexisting archetypes. I have hopes that these won’t be the next Hogaak and may actually provide fun and interactive gameplay for my favorite format. Thank you for reading, have a great week, and an amazing Tuesday!