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Modern Horizons 2 Legacy Set Review, Part 1

Like many Magic players this time around, Modern Horizons 2 preview season invoked a combination of excitement and fear in me. Seeing powerful, novel cards come out one after another really lights the spark to start thinking about building decks and how formats are going to change. On the other hand, I remember the effect that the first Modern Horizons had on the entirety of Constructed Magic that is still felt to this day. This has given me a feeling of trepidation throughout this whole process, always expecting the next Modern Horizons 2 Legacy-playable card previewed to knock over the proverbial house of cards.

Whether my concern is justified is still yet to be seen, but it appears that Wizards of the Coast has not taken the design of this set lightly. There are only a handful of cards that look like they have some seriously broken potential and there are a lot of cards that look like they’ll be making a respectable impact. While I’m still anticipating a pretty substantial format shake up, I’m not quite as concerned with it as I was from the first Modern Horizons or even Throne of Eldraine.

With that said, we have a ton of cards to cover so let’s jump right into it!

 

 

Header - White

I don’t think this meets the power level of Legacy in most cases. However, the idea of removing creatures against decks with cheap creatures that can cast this sounds like an uphill battle. For example, if Infect resolved this against a deck like Grixis Control or even Delver, it seems quite challenging to ever make progress against them. While it’s likely a bit too underwhelming, it could be a very potent sideboard card in the right matchup for certain decks.

 

This card looks excellent to me. It’s not quite a Thalia, Guardian of Thraben in that it doesn’t actually end the game against decks that are missing lands or need to cast a lot of rituals, but in a lot of fair matchups, drawing a card might be better than an actual tax. If your opponent can’t remove this right away and is relying on cantrips to find lands or removal, you can start to bury them in card advantage. Death and Taxes is probably the natural home, but it’s also a Human so UW Humans is probably interested in this, as well. 

 

This is a pretty neat approach to versatile removal. It always answers Delver of Secrets and Marit Lage, which is a solid baseline, and it’s not asking too much more of you to answer Tarmogoyf or Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath. It probably won’t be a particularly strong option in a monocolored deck like Death and Taxes, but in the white control decks this looks like an excellent card to have access to.

 

This card has a lot of text that makes it extremely effective against decks that rely on black and/or red cards. It’s pretty narrow, so it’s likely going to be relegated to the sideboard in the white creature decks. In the right matchups though, such as against Grixis Control, Reanimator or even Storm, it will certainly range from annoyance to haymaker, so it’s a good card to keep in mind for the future.

 

This just becomes another potential Reanimator target against decks like Storm, which is certainly good enough to keep in your back pocket.

 

Solitude is an extremely potent removal spell that comes at a steep cost. Most decks can’t just slot this in freely and will have to make adjustments in deckbuilding to accommodate it, but the payoff is quite high. Death and Taxes decks have adopted Squadron Hawk in the past to utilize Force of Virtue and that would be a good direction here for Solitude if they need some extra removal spells (plus, it works quite well with Flickerwisp and Aether Vial tricks). Decks like Miracles or Stoneblade might have to jump through a few more hoops to get there, but the upside might be worth the cost.  I’ve also seen some discussion online that this card will be a substantial boon to the white-prison archetype, like Soldier Stompy, which is awesome to see.

 

Header - Blue

This seems like a very potent sideboard card for combo decks that are facing down an army of hatebears. Flash this at the end of the turn and proceed to cast spells unimpeded.

 

This is a late-comer to the preview season and it certainly is a doozy. You can never really ignore delve threats in Legacy and this has the potential to be massive very early on. It’s quite akin to a blue Tombstalker, which certainly has a history in Legacy. These days, the closest comparison is to Ethereal Forager, which has become a standby in the Delver archetype.

Murktide Regent does require an extra card to delve and doesn’t have the same ability to bury opponents in card advantage. However, it’s more resilient, not dying to Lightning Bolt, and while you can’t use this to grind out opponents, Murktide Regent is very effective at killing them, as even a 4/4 flyer for two mana is a fast clock (and this can get much larger).

 

Ensoul Artifact isn’t really a card that can be supported in Legacy. However, this is a bit more interesting because it has the potential to one-shot opponents while maintaining some early game utility. I think it’s too slow overall, but I could see a world where a mono-blue artifact deck takes advantage of it pretty effectively.

 

I think this card is awesome. It’s a really solid one-drop that allows Merfolk (and potentially other archetypes, but Merfolk is the clear winner here) to slow opponents down early and then it becomes a real threat later when some lords get deployed. Merfolk needed a bit of a buff and I’m happy to see this here.

 

This is one of the least impactful cards in the cycle for Legacy, which is rare to see from a free, blue mythic. It’s not that it’s a bad card, per se, but it’s pretty narrow and reactive, while not actually solving any issues permanently. It most interests me in a deck like Esper Vial that can blink it and continue to generate value over time, but it’s refreshing to see this balanced so well when the blue version of a cycle tends to be the most oppressive.

 

There are two uses to this card that excite me. The first is as a replacement for cards like Vapor Snag (shout out to Vapor Snag for bouncing Marit Lage when I need it most) and Submerge in Delver decks. It’s not strictly better than either of those, but it’s quite potent at that job and will probably become one of the better choices going forward. The other is in conjunction with Teferi, Time Raveler, and that seems like a potent, albeit somewhat finicky, way to abuse the card.

 

More Merfolk buffs are appreciated here, although this one might not be quite as impactful in Legacy. Svyelun is very powerful, but there’s only so much space of three-drops in Legacy and True-Name Nemesis is hard to top. Nevertheless, this does a lot of potent things, so I would not be too surprised to see it show up.

 

This is a potentially scary card, as the sum of its parts look like a lot of really dominant cards in the past. This isn’t the type of card I build around too often, so I’m not exactly sure of the best place for this card. But Steel Stompy or even Affinity is a great place to start, but I could also see this show up in Bomberman or Urza, Lord High Artificer strategies.

 

Another Merfolk card! This looks like it will impact Modern a bit more than Legacy, but another one-drop is absolutely worth keeping in mind, especially one that can disrupt cards like  Thespian’s Stage.

 

Header - Black

The extra cost on this is pretty steep, but it’s a really cheap way to kill a planeswalker. I think most decks that look to sacrifice creatures or discard cards (Hogaak or Reanimator, for example) don’t really care about this kind of thing, but in conjunction with Young Pyromancer or Sedgemoor Witch, this could get interesting.

 

With the banning of Arcum’s Astrolabe (as well as the presence of Sinkhole), I don’t think the conditions for Break the Ice are close to good enough for consideration. Maybe if Astrolabe comes back one day a one-sided Armageddon could be good, but I don’t think we’re going to get there any time soon.

 

Am I allowed to say that here? Regardless, this is an awesome card. It’s probably not quite good enough to show up in large numbers, but in an Esper Control deck, a split Doom Blade/Wrath of God is a lot of flexibility, so I’m excited to see this card in action.

 

This is a very powerful graveyard hate card in decks that can afford the steep BB casting cost. There aren’t that many of those, but decks like Mono-Black Curses and Pox will certainly be interested in this effect.

 

This is one of the first cards that made me concerned about the power level of the set. There are a number of problematic things that this card will likely enable in Legacy. Between acting as Unmasks 5-8 in Reanimator and triggering Bridge from Below and Vengevine out of Hogaak decks, this card seems like it’s going to enable some really powerful, degenerate things.

That being said, Legacy is pretty good at adapting this kind of strategy and providing some buffs to non-blue strategies is generally a good thing for the format. I can’t really say for certain how large of an impact this will have, but this is pretty high on my watch list of most potent cards in the set.

 

This doesn’t quite function like most Bridge from Below decks would want (seeing as it needed to be in play). While it’s still a solid effect on a reasonable body, I don’t think this quite reaches the level of a Legacy card.

 

They did an excellent job fixing some busted Reanimator cards in this set. While I don’t think Persist is likely going to be good enough, especially when Life // Death doesn’t see play, I’m pretty happy to see this card get printed.

 

I don’t have a clue what a deck that abuses this card would look like (cascade? Finale of Promise?) but it looks broken enough that I’m sure a deck will show up in due time.

 

This is certainly the best Edict legacy has to offer at this point, and if you’re looking for this effect, look no further (unless you also plan to have Liliana in play, then Liliana’s Triumph might be worth considering). The fact that it can actually kill Young Pyromancer if there are no tokens already in play is a substantial upside for the card, so I’m expecting this card to actually show up a fair amount.

 

While a lot of the same things I said for Persist also apply here, this might be good enough to warrant inclusion. Entomb is so powerful that even a nerfed version has a good chance of being effective. Reanimator decks often play a few nonlegendary cards already, so getting a Grave Titan or Ashen Rider is probably still something they’d be interested in.

 

Header - Red

I’m not sure that having eight Rootwallas is going to necessarily change anything, but there are a lot of weird things in Legacy that could help with. Vengevine is the most notable, so I’d expect these cards to be paired up in the future, but either way it’s pretty cool to have another free madness card in the format.

 

This seems like it is pretty close to enabling some powerful archetypes. Getting delirium is certainly difficult without cantrips, but having cards like Street Wraith and Edge of Autumn really help. I’m not sure what the deck will actually look like, but cards like this certainly make Hypergenesis begin to look potentially busted again.

 

This card is quite strong in the aggressive (read: Delver) decks. It certainly requires some deckbuilding adjustments, as reaching delirium can be difficult to achieve naturally, but the payoff is certainly there.

The surveil ability is not just trinket text, as tacking that onto a one mana spell is quite nice. Once it becomes active, it will play a lot like a second copy of Delver of Secrets, which can’t really be ignored. This isn’t the only red one-drop that is buffing these archetypes in MH2 (more on that shortly), and there certainly is debate with regards to deckbuilding going forward. Either way, this is certainly a serious buff to Delver decks (which desperately needed it, trust me), and I think it will be a force in the format going forward.

 

This is the anti-planeswalker card Magic needed. I know that planeswalkers haven’t been too dominant since the Oko, Thief of Crowns ban, but with that card type, it’s inevitable for an excellent one to show up again, and Flame Blitz will help keep them in check.

 

This is a clean two-for-one on smaller creatures, but doesn’t really have the necessary impact in most Legacy games. I could see decks like Red Prison boarding this in against Delvers, but even then it seems worse than Bonecrusher Giant.

 

A sorcery speed Pyrokinesis isn’t exactly what most red decks were missing, but hitting planeswalkers and being able to be cast as a five-mana threat is certainly a bit of upside. I could definitely see some decks, like Red Prison or Goblins, being interested in this from time to time.

 

I’m not an expert on the Mono-Red Storm archetype, but this seems like the perfect card for that deck. It both acts as a means of bridging the gap to more potent Storm payoffs and a way to generate advantage in the face of countermagic. As I wrote about in my deck guide, I think this deck has quietly been picking up a lot of tools and this seems like an excellent addition to that repertoire.

 

I want to be honest here: I don’t want to think about this card. It seems like there’s probably something broken to do with it, so it’s worth mentioning, but any deck that takes advantage of this probably looks a bit off-the-wall, and that’s not where I’m going to dedicate my brain space!

 

I don’t know exactly what this can do or what can take advantage of it, but a relatively cheap and unique effect on a reasonable body has the be worth considering, so I’ll definitely be keeping this card in mind as the format develops.

 

Legacy already has a fair amount of mana denial, so I don’t think this accomplishes anything special. Even against decks like Cloudpost, this is likely to slow so I’d leave this on the sidelines.

 

I think it’s pretty clear at this point that this card is the frontrunner for best Legacy card in the set. Players certainly seem torn about this card’s potential impact, especially when compared to Dragon’s Rage Channeler, but I’ve had the chance to see this in action and I’m a bit blown away. I don’t want to get too hyperbolic because it can be easy to do with new cards, especially ones that have similarities to other cards. However, immediately after seeing this card on the other side of the battlefield, I was getting some Deathrite Shaman vibes, as it was a card that threatened to generate an incredibly sizable advantage as early as turn one.

If the opponent is playing a strategy with cards you might be interested in casting, this can generate some real card advantage very early. If not, it still generates a mana every turn it connects, which as we’ve seen in the past, can let Delver do some obscene stuff. On top of all of that, it has dash, so later in the game you can just dodge sorcery speed removal and just keep clocking in and generating mana or cards. They can block it, which is certainly a good thing, but Delver is generally pretty effective at clearing the way and enabling this to go off. 

I think a lot of players will be carefully monitoring this card’s impact on the format going forward with trepidation, and I’ll be right there with them, as this can seems worrisome to me.

 

Decks like the various Storm archetypes love to see this, as it’s a free spell that enables cards like Mox Opal pretty easily. It seems like The EPIC Storm will be most interested in this, but it does a lot of Mono-Red, as well.

 


 

Phew! That was a lot of cards, and we still have more to go. I’m going to split this into two parts because this has already been a mouthful! Next week, we’ll go over the green, multicolor, artifact and land cards and see how those are going to impact Legacy!

 

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