Last week we talked about Standard, so let’s move formats — the arrival of Modern Horizons 2 is imminent and the hype is high. The expansion has great promise, and I want to look at the best cards spoiled so far to understand how they may give life to new decks, make lackluster decks competitive, or enhance current tier-one decks.
GRIST, THE HUNGER TIDE
Let’s start with the most impressive card spoiled for which my expectations are highest. Grist, the Hunger Tide is a strong planeswalker. At 3 mana, it enters with three counters and defends itself with its +1 by making a 1/1 Insect. The second part seems marginal because there may not be many playable insects, so you will have to mill another Grist to repeat this ability.
Sacrificing a creature with the -2 destroys an opponent’s creature or planeswalker, so it acts as a removal in addition to possibly triggering effects upon the death of a creature. The card causes damage with -5 based on the number of creature cards in your graveyard, so it can also be a finisher.
The card’s strongest ability occurs when it’s not on the battlefield and is a 1/1 insect creature. You can put him into play with Collected Company. It’s powerful to play a planeswalker at the end of your turn and then have open mana to defend it.
With Unearth, the card can be put back into play, and you could possibly create some BG Self-Mill deck that, with graveyard strategies and -5, can quickly reanimate to win the game.
This card has the right conditions to be the strongest in the expansion and to create new decks.
Unmask is significantly stronger due to its body. There is no questioning the power level of this card, but I’m puzzled where it will fit. In Modern there are strong discards like Thoughtseize, Inquisition of Kozilek that don’t require an additional card to be exiled, so it’s a question of how many times will you need to play Grief to get the same effect. This is more of a combo card that should be used at the needed turn to win without spending mana, which can often be crucial.
Could it give new life to a deck like 8-Rack that has lost appeal? Or a Mono Black Devotion along with the return of Cabal Coffers? Or could it simply be a strong card that will never find a place? It would not be the first or the last card to meet this fate.
This chain of Incarnations continues after Unmask with Swords to Plowshares. It’s weaker than its black counterpart but still a valid card. It can find a slot in Heliod Company. It shouldn’t go in the main deck as it doesn’t go well with Collected Company, but as a sideboard card it may lower the number of Path to Exile.
The large numbers of cards printed for decks like UR Blitz and Mono Red make the lifelink ability important, so you want to have at least two or three of them in these match-ups.
The card’s drawback is the requirement to exile a white card. In Modern, white is only present in a very low percentage, so often you’ll find yourself unable to play it due to its evoke cost.
We may see the rebirth of UW Stoneblade since Stoneforge Mystic now has Kaldra Compleat as a strong card to tutor, which would make this card more important.
RAGAVAN, NIMBLE PILFERER
This card is a huge upgrade to Zurgo Bellstriker, a 2/1 for a mana that, when inflicts damage to the Opponent create a treasure token and let us play the first card of opponent’s deck until the end of the turn. The card’s Dash ability lets it be played quickly and makes it good even in late rounds.
Despite the card’s power, I’m not sure where it fits among the one-drops of the format. If removing Soul-Scar Mage or Monastery Swiftspear seems impossible in UR Blitz because of the great synergy of these cards’, perhaps it could find a place in Burn by increasing the number of aggressive drops.
GENERAL FERROUS ROKIRIC
Could this be the expansion to bring Humans back to life? Esper Sentinel and Santificier En Vec are nice pieces, but I have the most hope for General Ferrous Rockirc. It’s a 3 mana 3/1 protected by monocolored spells that can put 50% of the current field in trouble without any way out.
Every multicolor spell you play brings a 4/4 into play, which can be unbeatable in certain match-ups. Imagine to vial it at the end of your opponent’s turn. Then, you untap and make one or two pieces to create tokens, making a difficult situation for your opponent.
I believe this archetype will be great after this expansion and be able to establish itself in the meta.
This planeswalker is good for control decks. The first ability allows her to defend herself as she puts a corruption counter on a creature, is protected from corrupted creatures, and makes a nice 2 life drain.
The second ability, stealing a creature until the end of the turn, isn’t useful in a control deck.
The third ability will be useful against decks with many creatures, such as Humans or GW Company. This ability concerns permanents, so if they print something else that interact with corruption counters, the card’s importance will increase.
The card is penalized by the colors. Grixis is currently tier two and occupies a low percentage in the current meta. However, it’s still early to exclude a meta return, so we’ll see how things evolve.
Among the non-rare cards, the new dual land artifacts don’t go unnoticed. Could this be the turn of an affinity deck with Amulet? Or maybe Gorilla Shaman, an old acquaintance of vintage decks, will prevent its spread?
Flame Rift, which has always been played in Mono Red Legacy decks, is coming to Modern and will give an edge to both UR Blitz and Mono Red.
Will Qurion Ranger give Elves hope of becoming a competitive deck? I’m going to go out on a limb and say yes. Untapping Elvish Archdruid could be a considerable power play.
Modern Horizons 2 looks great, and it looks like the balance in Modern is going to change. I can’t wait for the full spoiler to come out so I can evaluate it further!