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Modern Horizons 2 Commander/EDH Set Review – Black and Red

It’s already time for another set review? Seriously? Well, if it’s going to be like this, at least we’re working with a set as sweet as Modern Horizons 2. This set is really delivering on all fronts, from lore-based to mechanically interesting and everything in between. As far as ratings go, I don’t use numbers or grades – instead, I use this more subjective set of categories (though what really matters is what I write about the card, as I suspect most reviewers will tell you). Let’s take a look at some Modern Horizons 2 Commander goodies!

 

Header - Ratings Scale

  • Commander: You want this card in the command zone at the start the game. Its best use is to lead the charge as the cornerstone of your deck, but it can probably fit into your 99 as well.
  • Build-Around: This card can be a huge player in the theme of your deck. It either enables the theme by itself or is something you’re looking to take advantage of over the course of your ideal game. It’s probably worth dedicating other slots in your deck to cards that work with a build-around.
  • Powerhouse: This card’s not really about synergy, but it’s good all by itself.
  • Role Player: This card might not be the cornerstone of a deck list, but it’s an important part of the engine or strong enough on its own to merit potential inclusion. This category also covers cards that look good enough to try out but don’t seem like obvious winners.
  • Tech Card: Counterplay is important, and if a card doesn’t fit into one of the above categories but is good enough at countering other strategies, it’ll be included here.
  • Niche Inclusion: This card might make your deck if you have a deckbuilding restriction, whether it’s self-imposed based on theme, a power level consideration, or a card availability concern. 

As a reminder, my focus is on social Commander rather than competitive EDH. That means you’ll be hearing about cards largely from that more relaxed perspective. My goal when playing Commander is for everyone to have fun but also for me to have a good shot at winning the game, so if that’s your mindset as well, these ratings will probably resonate with you.

I won’t be reviewing reprints, so you can just assume I feel the same way about Nevinyrral’s Disk as I did before we found out it was in this set. I also don’t review every card – if I feel they’re not worth mentioning, I don’t give them a write-up, but we all know there’s a deck out there for every card. When you inevitably disagree with a rating or omitted card, please feel free to tweet at @RagingLevine with your thoughts!

 

Header - Black

Archfiend of Sorrows
Rating: Tech Card
If you need a repeatable way to clear out small creatures, or one that you can use out of the graveyard after self-milling, this is a possibility, but I’m not too high on it.

Archon of Cruelty
Rating: Powerhouse
For eight mana, it had better have an impact, and thankfully, it does. Even if you don’t get to attack with it, you still get to draw a card, force a sacrifice and a discard, and Lightning Helix an opponent – not quite worth eight mana, but an acceptable downside for a card with such a high upside. I assume you’ll want to reanimate this or otherwise cheat it into play, since again, eight mana.

Bone Shards
Rating: Tech Card
Bone Splinters got buffed on not one, but two axes. First, you can discard a card, and second, you can hit planeswalkers. I’d be happy to try this out in my Juri, Master of the Revue deck, and I’m sure other sacrifice and/or madness decks are interested.

Clattering Augur
Rating: Niche Inclusion
It’s nice to get the card when this Skeleton enters the battlefield, but it’s unfortunate that it costs a total of six mana for each subsequent cast. A lower-powered sacrifice or discard deck might be interested in something like this.

Damn
Rating: Powerhouse
The flexibility here is huge – it’s a point removal spell that hits any creature and a wrath effect, and both halves are competitively costed. Orzhov decks already trade in lots of wraths most of the time, so it’s great to add one that isn’t six mana and also enables some double-spell turns.

Dauthi Voidwalker
Rating: Powerhouse

For just two mana, you get an unblockable 3/2, a Leyline of the Void and the ability to cash in for way more value than your two mana would ordinarily provide. Of course, cashing in precludes you from attacking, so it’s not a free lunch, and you can’t grab things that were already in graveyards, but I expect this to show up in lots of black decks going forward.


Echoing Return
Rating: Niche Inclusion
In decks focused on cards like Relentless Rats or Shadowborn Apostle, this can do some hilarious things. Otherwise, well, this is Commander, so this is just a Raise Dead.

Feast of Sanity
Rating: Role Player
This fits nicely into any madness-themed decks, so if you’re all-in on Anje Falkenrath or the Rakdos version of Chainer, this could help you control the board or get some reach in the late game. Four mana isn’t negligible, but if you’re reliably discarding cards on purpose, I’d slot one in.

Flay Essence
Rating: Niche Inclusion
If you don’t have access to some of the higher power level removal, this isn’t so bad at sorcery speed. Exiling things is great in Commander because there’s so much recursion. The life gain isn’t that interesting, though.

Hell Mongrel
Rating: Niche Inclusion
In a madness deck, this can be a useful discard outlet and a large threat, though without evasion, it’s a little harder to imagine casting this outside of very specific builds of that nature.

Kitchen Imp
Rating: Niche Inclusion
I know this doesn’t look like much, but there are few enough cards with madness that a 2/2 flyer for B definitely rates as useful in madness-themed decks. Anje Falkenrath’s power level is limited mostly by the number of available madness cards, so make sure to evaluate any you see through that lens.

Legion Vanguard
Rating: Niche Inclusion
There are so many better sacrifice outlets that it’s hard to imagine slotting this in unless you have a specific explore theme or other restriction.

Magus of the Bridge
Rating: Role Player
Unlike Bridge from Below before it, this Magus operates only from the battlefield. That makes it a little worse than its namesake, but in a sacrifice-focused deck, this will supply you with tokens just as long as you’re careful to avoid other players’ creatures heading to the graveyard. That said, a single Sakura-Tribe Elder, Burnished Hart or other self-sacrificing creature from an opponent will reduce you to a single stack worth of instant-speed interaction before exiling the Magus, so be prepared to create a burst of tokens. When that happens, you’ll still get value out of any triggers that were on the stack before their sacrifice went through as well, so get ready to explain that you’re holding priority if your friends aren’t as rules-savvy as some. If this sounds different from how Bridge works, that’s because it is – this doesn’t have the “intervening if” clause that checks its location in its first trigger. 

Necrogoyf
Rating: Role Player
This wouldn’t compare well to Mortivore if it didn’t have the discard trigger and the madness ability. That pushes it into being a better threat for Tinybones-style decks that want to bog down the game with universal discards. That said, if you’re not planning to force discards around the table, I’m not sold on this.

Persist
Rating: Powerhouse
A two-mana reanimation spell with such a small drawback is absolutely fantastic in decks from your average midrange list that just wants to get extra value out of its big creatures to reanimator decks that aren’t specifically reliant on bringing back legendary creatures. If you have a discard outlet like Chainer, Nightmare Adept as your commander, this card should be great whenever you draw it.

Profane Tutor
Rating: Niche Inclusion
Would you rather suspend this on turn two or play a mana rock? Obviously this compares poorly to Demonic Tutor, but really, most things do, and drawing this later in the game gets terribly awkward when you really want to search for something now.

Tourach, Dread Cantor
Rating: Commander
Looking for a less oppressive discard commander than Tinybones? Tourach is a solid choice that allows you to play some of the “everybody discard” effects without having to focus on keeping hands empty. Unfortunately, Tourach lacks meaningful evasion on its own, so you’ll have to find ways to get it past defenses.

Underworld Hermit
Rating: Role Player
Squirrels are getting a bit of a push in this set, but Underworld Hermit is more useful in black-heavy (probably mono-black) sacrifice-focused deck lists that can leverage the tokens by hurling them into some sort of engine card for value. Given how green-focused and token-heavy Squirrel decks will be, I see the tokens’ creature type as more incidental than useful in Commander.

Unmarked Grave
Rating: Role Player
If you’re cool with tutors and want more Entomb-style effects, this is a really solid choice, albeit one that doesn’t allow you to grab cards like Reya Dawnbringer or Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur

Vile Entomber
Rating: Role Player
Another Entomb effect a la Gravebreaker Lamia won’t go amiss in reanimation-focused decks, and the deathtouch means this can play a little defense while you get set up to bring back something nasty. Nice!

Young Necromancer
Rating: Niche Inclusion
If you’re dredging or otherwise self-milling and have creatures you want to bring back, this is a solid choice, and the Necromancer itself can be brought back later with a restricted reanimation effect like Reveillark or Alesha, Who Smiles at Death

 

Header - Red

Breya’s Apprentice
Rating: Niche Inclusion
More ways to sacrifice artifacts can always be helpful, especially ones that allow you to dig a little deeper into your library. That said, I don’t see this as being powerful as some existing sacrifice outlets, though it is nice enough to come with a Thopter.

Captain Ripley Vance
Rating: Commander
Finally, a kick-ass Pirate that’s here to fire cannons and take command! Three cards in a single turn sounds tough, but with some cheap burn spells, wheels and a few key cantrips, it shouldn’t be too hard to effectively storm off and set opponents on fire with Ripley’s itchy trigger(ed ability) finger. 

Flame Blitz
Rating: Tech Card
A solid anti-planeswalker tech card that cycles? Sure, I’m interested. Five damage is a lot and should eliminate most ‘walkers on the first trigger.

Galvanic Relay
Rating: Niche Inclusion
This is an interesting take on Act on Impulse. The cards are only playable on your next turn, but if you storm off by casting most to all of the cards in your hand before casting this, you’ll have plenty of resources for your following turn. You really have to be dedicated to storming off to cast this, and when the payoff is casting more cards, but in the future and not for free, you’re not exactly working with Mind’s Desire here.

Glimpse of Tomorrow
Rating: Build-Around
If you’ve ever wanted a Warp World for just yourself – and believe me, the rest of your table wants you to want that – this is a pretty cool option. The suspend is a little unfortunate, because opponents will have time to see it coming and wreck your setup, but if you want a version of Warp World that doesn’t tear up your opponents’ plans in what many consider an unfun manner, take a glimpse at this card.

Goblin Traprunner
Rating: Niche Inclusion
As a coin flip card with no downside, this ends up in coin flip decks and basically nowhere else.

Harmonic Prodigy
Rating: Build-Around
Build-Around is kind of a deceptive rating, because this helps you build around other powerful cards with triggered abilities, but some of the triggers you get to double up on are amazing. Adeliz, the Cinder Wind is an obvious choice, as Harmonic Prodigy is also a low-cost prowess card, but there are tons of other options like Inalla, Archmage RItualist, Aegar, the Freezing Flame, Naru Meha, Master Wizard and more in the Wizard tribe. Shamans are a little less enticing, but cards like Sek’Kuar, Deathkeeper, Elvish Visionary and Pawn of Ulamog are interesting here.

Obsidian Charmaw
Rating: Role Player
Aside from the fun I’ll have pronouncing “Char” like I’m back at Kamigawa/Ravnica Regionals in Boston, it’s great to have a cheap threat that can also blow up a nonbasic. There are plenty of commonly-played lands that reduce this card’s cost – most utility lands fit the bill, and painlands, filter lands and Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx work as well. RR for a 4/4 flying Dragon that blows up someone’s War Room sounds just fine to me.

Revolutionist
Rating: Niche Inclusion
Another Anarchist-style effect, only useful in madness decks if anywhere.

Slag Strider
Rating: Niche Inclusion
A 3/3 for, at best, RR that gives us half of Makeshift Munitions doesn’t sound incredible, but it’s workable in heavy artifact decks that need more sacrifice outlets.

Spreading Insurrection
Rating: Role Player
It’s no all-at-once Insurrection, but three copies of this can turn a game around in a hurry, and that’s quite achievable in the late game. Still, that’ll usually cost you around the same as regular Insurrection and require more work, and it’s not going to be good in decks that just want to play lots of haymakers. 

Strike It Rich
Rating: Role Player
Using some spare mana on the flashback to make a Treasure isn’t so bad in the midgame, and turning a card into two Treasures over time, especially since this gets you two casts, has some uses in storm decks as well as decks that might be able to get more use out of the Treasure than just the mana they’re worth normally.

Tavern Scoundrel
Rating: Build-Around
The first ability is a great reason to build a coin flip deck, not that you needed one because coin flip decks are rad. Of course, you’ll be gambling with your Treasure most of the time, but as long as you have a Krark’s Thumb, the house always wins (assuming a large enough sample size!)

 

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