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Looking Deeper Into the Horizon

Modern Horizons 3 is around the corner, and the previews keep rolling out.

So far the set looks a bit weak, but there are some interesting cards that may be diamonds in the rough. I will preface this by saying I'm only examining officially previewed cards as they are rolled out.

Let's take a look.


Medallions are an old favorite cycle of mine from back in Tempest block. We used Sapphire Medallion to make cards like Whispers of the Muse and Capsize cheaper, but these days Medallions have lost their luster. The Medallions shouldn't be slept on, because they still have room to make something broken. Generally, however, they'll be weak and won't see much play unless it enables some storm-type combo deck that was already possible with creatures like Baral, Chief of Compliance.

It looks like a nod to Commander, but there are also potential applications in Modern.

New Spell Lands!

We have a new cycle of spells that can be played as lands untapped for three life. While the cards we've seen thus far are expensive to cast, the real value is in their lands that aren't lands.

Goblin Charbelcher enjoyers will have tons of new options for untapped lands that don't count as lands in your deck and that could be a big deal. We've seen players exploit these lands time and time again for this purpose. I'm sure people will cook up ideas on taking advantage of this mechanic again.

Grist, Voracious Larva

In the entire set, I've seen the most excitement for this card, and I do not share that sentiment. Grist is probably not a playable Modern Magic card.

It doesn't do much as a 1/2 deathtoucher when left to its own devices. It can block Ragavan or trade with something in the early game, but it gets weaker as the game develops unless you can flip it, in which case you still just get a weak planeswaker.

I'm sure lots of people will try it in Yawgmoth, and I think they will be disappointed. It's a big downside to need excess mana to flip it.

Grist the Plague Swarm is too low impact to use valuable deck space in a deck like Yawgmoth. I don't think we'll see this one played much in Modern outside of the initial burst trying to make it work.

Tamiyo, Inquisitive Student

Tamiyo looks awesome but not in a "good card in Modern" way. Modern is a fast-paced format. There are some matchups that can go on forever, so spending mana to crack clues is generally too punishing early.

With The One Ring legal in Modern, Tamiyo, Inquisitive Student is easy to flip, but Tamiyo, Seasoned Scholar isn't much to write home about.

A big issue I have with Tamiyo, Seasoned Scholar is it's at least one loyalty too low from immediately cashing it in for its Regrowth Effect. The one spot it feels like Tamiyo might have some room is in a deck with The One Ring and Time Warp, as it can be flipped easily, activated, and then bring Time Warp back the following turn.

Tamiyo is awesome, but I'm not sure it will see much play. It is too mana-intensive for a one-drop that theoretically draws you an extra card every turn.

Kappa Cannoneer

It only takes playing with or against Kappa Cannoneer once or twice in Vintage Cube to know it's a messed-up card. This is on my shortlist for the most impactful card for Modern coming out of this set.

Kappa Cannoneer has a shell to go into in any affinity-style deck. Cannoneer is difficult to interact with and can solo a game in two or three attack phases when fully supported. This card is intuitive to build and play with, so there's no trick to this Robot Turtle. You just play it in your decks with Thought Monitor and Urza's Sage and reap the rewards.

Kappa Cannoneer and the printing of Simulacrum Synthesizer combined have me interested in playing Modern.

Ulamog, the Defiler

I would be amiss to not mention Ulamog, my all-time favorite Eldrazi, though I'm a fan of the entire species.

Ulamog is a neat card since it has all the abilities an Eldrazi may want, including annihilator, ward, and an enormous size. However, Casting Ulamog isn't a realistic goal outside of Tron. It won't take the place of Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger in Tron because Ceaseless Hunger is more resilient and consistent.

Ulamog, the Defiler can and will close the game in a single attack. Its annihilator could be massive regardless if you cast it, which is the angle of attack I'd recommend. You can exile cards in various ways to add counters and potentially bring this back with Goryo's Vengeance. I hear that Grief is a great and Modern-legal card.

We already have Emrakul. Ulamog, the Defiler's only advantage in a Goryo's Vengance deck is that it can sit in your graveyard for a turn or two while you're setting up whereas Emrakul needs to be put into the graveyard and brought back at instant speed.

Ulamog probably won't see any play in competitive Modern. If it does, it would likely be with Goryo's Vengeance, but it's a cool card otherwise.


We'll finish with a cool card that pays homage to the best cantrip ever printed. Brainsurge falls short of being good. Sources of card advantage at three or more mana generally want to affect the battlefield. Brainsurge will do a tremendous job at smoothing out your draw. With fetch lands legal in Modern, shuffling is not a problem. However, in a deck that wants to play a three-mana instant, you're likely using almost all your cards. Brainstorm's biggest impact is that it lets you play a low-land count deck with a lean mana curve and bury your fourth or fifth land drops to replace them with spells.

You'll need a higher land count with Brainsurge to make the effect less potent. One benefit of Brainsurge is having the ability to put cards like Temporal Mastery or other Miracle cards on top of your deck. While this is likely still too cute and not all that competitive, I won't be surprised if we see the two cards paired together at some point.

It's an awesome callback and so close, but it's too similar to cards like Thirst for Knowledge that already don't see any Modern play.

The official preview cards look interesting. I'm sure some will be powerful, but to the naked eye, everything seems like it would be great in Pioneer but not good enough for Modern, which is a nice line to walk.

I've seen some of the leaked cards. I don't want to write about them yet, but I can't wait to talk about them when officially previewed.

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