I’ll start by saying Modern Horizons 2 looks to be one of the overall best Magic sets I’ve ever seen (and is especially fantastic in terms of additions to Battle Boxes of all shapes and sizes). The full spoiler is still trickling in (with lots of commons and uncommons still outstanding, at the time of writing), but with all the mythics and rares revealed, I thought: “If ever there was a set worthy of a two part Battle Box review, it’s Modern Horizons 2.“
The set is that good and that deep in terms of options to consider for Battle Boxing.
Today’s Part 1 article will examine the mythics and rares I believe have the greatest potential as Battle Box additions. Next week’s Part 2 article will sort through the commons and uncommons (which are really the bread and butter of a good Battle Box) and provide updates to my personal Battle Box stack, The Danger Room.
My Battle Box aims for a consistent power level that is informed by strong, flexible commons and uncommons, much more so than Constructed staple rares and mythics. I’ve seen tons of different Battle Box designs that aim for a stronger, or even sometimes more modest, power level. but it’s all relative to the kind of games that you and your friends want to play! So, customization really is the best and most important part of building your own Battle Box, as it can be whatever you want it to be.
A huge part of what makes building and curating a Battle Box or Cube, so much fun is the ability to customize it to be whatever you want. So, these are my evaluations of cards that I believe are unique and/or interesting in ways likely to add something fun or interesting to Battle Box stacks of all shapes and sizes.
I know there are a lot of readers who like to copy my stack verbatim and so I try to be mindful of the price tag of the cards I select to include in The Danger Room. “Is it ‘really’ necessary to put this $40 card into my 1,000 card stack?” Generally, the answer is that nothing is so sacred that it’s a must include, and that building and curating a Battle Box doesn’t need to be an exercise spending lots of money to make a great stack if you don’t want it to be. With that said, if the flashy and powerful mythics are the cards you enjoy playing with the most, there’s nothing wrong with that either. Today, I’ll be breaking down the rares and mythics of Modern Horizons 2 and discussing which ones I believe add the most to a Battle Box format.
In general, I don’t add too many mythics to my personal stack because they tend to be jarringly powerful and expensive relative to the other cards I’ve built my stack around. With that said, the set has some interesting mythics that, if price tag is not an issue, are likely to add substance to a stack.
As a general rule, I try to avoid “free spells” that don’t require mana to cast. One of the governing principles of my Battle Box is that mana production is fixed and equal throughout the game. Spells that can be cast for free, without paying mana, tend to be incredibly game warping in a format built on equal resources.
All five of the “pitch creatures” are fantastic designs and interesting cards in their own right and I’ve been on the fence about breaking my own standard to consider them for inclusion. One of the things I tend to think about when considering expensive or powerful cards is: “My stack is 1000 cards… Does adding a powerful/expensive mythic add something unique?”
In the right Battle Box, I think adding all five likely adds quite a lot! In my Danger Room Battle Box, I think there’s a strong case to be made that Endurance would be a great fit because finding cards that are flexible and interact with graveyards are few and far between.
I think this is a fun cycle of creatures/pitch spells for a stack that operates with a higher power level than mine, but I do think Endurance would slot nicely into my own stack. It’s a card that, if it didn’t have such a steep price tag because of its mythic rarity, would almost certainly make the cut. I like that Endurance is likely to be cast as a creature for mana nine out of 10 times and is unlikely to be pitched (but still brings that unique interaction into the stack). Endurance is my pick for the most interesting pitch creature from this mythic cycle for Battle Box play.
In addition, I also see Grief and Solitude both being creatures with a lot to offer in Battle Box stacks. I think both are more likely to be hardcast (not evoked for free) in most situations, but the pitch is an option on the table.
I would advise shying away from Fury and Subtlety because I see their free evoke abilities being the most game-warping for Battle Box play. Free counterspells dominate tempo and I advise against it, unless the Battle Box designer is specifically building around those types of free interactions coming into play early and often.
Rounding out the Battle Box considerables at mythic…
A perfectly incredible “delve Dragon.” If your stack plays with powerful graveyard synergies, such as Tasigur, the Golden Fang, I think this is certainly a great card to consider. I won’t be adding it to my personal stack (as I think the card is a little too powerful for the cost for Danger Room).
I’m on the fence about adding Scion of Draco to my Battle Box. It’s a pretty sweet design and I love the Draco throwback concept. Given that most Battle Boxes include a full domain of basics, it’s a huge cheap flyer in the late game with some abilities to bolster its teammates. I’m generally very picky about the big Dragons I add to my stack with regard to what they have to offer gameplay, but Scion of Draco is certainly a card that has lots to offer. It’s probably not one I would go out of my way to buy for my stack, but would certainly consider tossing into the stack if I had one laying around from drafting.
I love this card. I’m a big fan of Hymn to Tourach and having actual Tourach in the stack seems incredibly sweet to me, not to mention that this is a really nice Battle Box design. Discard that isn’t cheap and doesn’t let the caster choose a card (like Thoughtseize) tends to be an element of black’s color identity that doesn’t translate well to Battle Box so I really like to see a very good Mind Rot creature. I don’t typically add many mythics, but Tourach will almost certainly be added to Danger Room in next week’s official update.
So, there are two mythics that I’m very seriously considering adding to my stack (Endurance and Tourach, Dread Cantor), which is an unusually high amount of mythics that fit my stack’s sweet spot. I don’t think any of these mythics are “must-add necessities,” but I do think there are some really fun mythics worth considering. I see both of these cards as unusually good mythics for Battle Box play.
My Favorite Battlebox Mythics
Both Endurance and Tourach, Dread Cantor, despite their cumbersome mythic rarity, are excellent additions to a wide array of Battle Boxes.
Modern Horizons 2 also offers some exciting new rares that are worth considering for a Battle Box. Luckily, the rares have a substantially lower price tag to acquire and many of these will likely end up being considered “bulk rares” once people start cracking packs of Modern Horizons 2.
I tend to think of the Rares I include as needing to provide some sort of function or flavor. There are so many sweet cards out there that Battle Box builder’s really have way more options to consider than they will ever need, so I always go with cards that either do something unique or have flavor that really speaks to me.
I love modal spells because of the amount of flexibility they offer in a huge stack of cards.
As far as modal spells go, Verdant Command seems extremely good. I like that it fuses a bunch of narrow kinds of abilities, in particular graveyard hate and life gain onto one card and let’s you choose two at instant speed. I’m very likely to add Verdant Command to Danger Room.
Territorial Kavu is a rare that feels worth the inclusion in a Battle Box. It’s stats and abilities all slot nicely into Battle Box play since we have domain built into the stack. The looting and graveyard hate options are both useful as well. You won’t find an uncommon that provides what Territorial Kavu can, which makes it a great rare to consider. It’s a unique template for a RG two-drop.
I don’t think Bloodbraid Marauder is an auto include card for Battle Boxes. In fact, I’m leaning toward not including it in my stack for a couple of reasons. First, I don’t love creatures that can’t block. Second, it’s kind of difficult to establish delirium because there are no fetchlands. Third, there are a lot of awkward cascade options.
I do believe Bloodbraid Marauder is a fantastic addition to stacks that enable discard and graveyard synergies harder than mine does. It’s certainly a neat card and worth considering.
Breya’s Apprentice reminds me a lot of Pia Nalaar, which has proven itself to be a very solid Battle Box staple. I actually think Breya’s Apprentice looks to be slightly better (since it lets you trade scrap artifacts for cards later in the game). Since it’s essentially trending toward being bulk rare, I think it’s a really nice utility red three-drop and worth considering.
Damn is one of the most exciting cards in the set because it’s crazy powerful. I find Damn to be a very shocking card, since it can be either unconditional, targeted creature removal or a wrath!
One issue with choosing to include Wrath effects in a Battle Box is that they’re awkward when they’re drawn by a player with the dominant board presence (which is a reason I really like “looting” effects to filter these types of awkward draws). It’s obviously a pricey and desirable rare, and with good reason – it’s a great card. It’s clearly a card that’s a great addition to a Battle Box in place of a more rigid Wrath effect.
Persist is a fantastic “Reanimate” effect for a Battle Box. I’m not sure if I like the card more or less than Dance of the Dead because I like being able to interact with it via modal enchantment removal. I do think this is a great card to consider in stacks with a lot of graveyard synergy.
I love the elegance of this cycle that’s based around basic mechanic names (Persist and Suspend are my favorites). This is a very flexible spell with great flavor and it’s on my radar as a potential addition.
Boros isn’t exactly hurting for awesome options, but here’s another one! Hexproof from monocolor on General Ferrous Rokiric is really interesting because it protects it from Shocks and Terrors (which make up the lion’s share of the cheap removal that would answer the card profitably). It’s a very interesting card, provided the stack has enough multicolor to utilize and answer it.
Oh, wowie! I love Master of Death as a grindy Dimir creature. It’s a very cool design and I love the flavor of a creature that refuses to die and grinds so hard! Master of Death feels like a card that would be fun to play with.
There are a lot of cards to like in Modern Horizons 2 for Battle Box building, but there are a handful that top my favorites list.
In terms of mythics, I’m a big fan of Endurance and Tourach, Dread Cantor.
These are both cards that I think hit on all cylinders: flavor, fun, flexibility and utility. I generally shy away from mythics in my stack, but these are two designs that interest me.
In terms of rares, there are nearly a dozen fantastic designs that would make a worthy addition to any stack, but my favorites are:
All three of these cards are appealing to me for very different reasons that hinge on each providing elements of play, flavor and flexibility that we rarely see printed at uncommon (which makes them rares worth considering in my book).
I also like the elegance and simplicity of…
But, I think they have less to offer in terms of uniqueness than the previous three I mentioned.
That wraps up the Mythics and Rares from Modern Horizons 2 that I’m most strongly considering adding to my Danger Room stack. I don’t think any of these cards are uniquely qualified for my stack in particular. Rather, I think these are all sort of unique and fun designs that would really shine in the style of abstract play that tends to be found in all sorts of different Battle Box builds.
Tune in next week, when I run through the commons and uncommons and provide my updated Danger Room deck lists. I can’t wait for the full spoiler to go up and I’m truly excited to add Modern Horizons 2 to my stack.
There are a ton of brilliant cards at common and uncommon that are really going to shine in Battle Box/Danger Room. It’s a set that has really captured my imagination, as the cards feel very fun and interesting to me. It almost has a classic Magic feel and flavor. Needless to say, I’m very excited for this upcoming release and rebuilding my stack.