Modern Horizons 2 is just over the, uh… horizon. There will be a mix of new cards and reprints in the set, and we all have our own hopes for which cards will enter the format upon its release. I’ve been digging through troves of cards outside of the card pool that Modern could benefit from, looking for the most needed reprints, and even trying to figure out how this set could shake up Pauper. Here are my findings from my research, with some potentially controversial suggestions…
Cards I Want To See In Modern
There are thousands of cards in Magic that aren’t currently in Modern’s card pool, many of which could have a profound impact on the format. I’ve listed some of my personal wishes below, with my reasoning why they would be well-suited to either bolster current decks or form new archetypes.
Introducing Dualcaster Mage to Modern is effectively reintroducing Splinter Twin, but in a way, I believe it would be safer. First off, unlike Deceiver Exarch, this Human Wizard can be removed with a Lightning Bolt. It also requires more mana on the combo turn; the cheapest combo piece I’ve found is Twinflame, meaning you would need five mana in total. It’s probably still good enough for Modern, but it would have more exploitable drawbacks this time.
Impulse is one of those cards you’d think was always in Modern, but for some reason, it has never arrived. The closest approximations so far have been Anticipate and Shimmer of Possibility, with neither one being quite good enough to see any real play. Even if Impulse were introduced to the format, I wouldn’t expect it to see excessive play; it’s a roleplayer for certain decks, helping to improve consistency where possible. I see Twiddle Storm using it in their flex slots, or Mono-Blue Tron utilizing it to dig for whatever answer it needs at the time.
I believe Vindicate could be well-positioned to have a real impact in Modern. Three mana for a removal spell is a lot to ask in the format, but it can help slower decks have a slightly better match-up against the likes of Tron. We’ve seen this happen before for Jund with the printing of Assassin’s Trophy, and this should do the same for decks like Orzhov Stoneblade. There’s likely a reasonable mana denial strategy that could surface from this, with Smallpox and Flagstones of Trokair being the other cornerstones of the deck.
Sevinne’s Reclamation has seen some play in Legacy before, and I don’t think it’s a stretch to imagine it could show up in Modern, too. It can be cast to return your fetch lands to the battlefield, bring back a downed Skyclave Apparition, or even replay a hate piece like Damping Sphere or Teferi, Time Raveler. There are countless possible applications for this card, and it’d be a sweet challenge to find the right home for it.
Pernicious Deed is a card that many have been hoping for since the original Modern Horizons, much like Counterspell. It’s not hard to believe that Golgari/Witherbloom players are looking for more removal options; this would be a great replacement for Maelstrom Pulse, which has been a begrudging inclusion for quite some time.
The delta between the popularity of Reanimator strategies and their viability in Modern is astounding. Goryo’s Vengeance decks died with the banning of Faithless Looting, but they weren’t exactly the boogeyman of the format. I think Stitch Together would be a nice new toy to give to the graveyard lovers in Modern; it’s a cheap reanimation spell, but requires a healthy graveyard to take advantage of it. This can lead to interesting deck building choices, and with cards like Cling to Dust occasionally seeing main deck play, now feels like a safe enough time to let people raise hell (or a Griselbrand).
Modern Staples That Need A Reprint
Some of Modern’s most iconic cards are also infamous due to their current price. Many decks are completely out of the question for a number of people, with some cards inching closer to (or even exceeding) triple digits. Here are my top picks for most necessary reprints that I pray we see in Modern Horizons 2.
Liliana of the Veil ($100): Lili is one of the main reasons why Jund costs so much to build, alongside fetch lands. She’s undoubtedly powerful, and there’s no real substitute for her, which is a huge contributor to her high price tag. If we don’t see a reprint soon, it’s not just wins that will be unattainable for Jund!
Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger ($80): No pile of spaghetti should ever cost this much, let alone one you shouldn’t eat. Ulamog has found a forever home in Tron, and the deck’s popularity has ensured its price stays high. The appetite for this card is certainly there, so an extra few servings of this particular Eldrazi titan wouldn’t go to waste at all.
Cavern of Souls ($80): I’m of the staunch opinion that a mana base should never make up the bulk of your deck’s cost. It feels terrible to have to spend so much money on the boring part of the deck, when you could be buying a sweet new deck box or playmat to go with it instead! Cavern of Souls is one of the biggest offenders for this; unlike fetch lands, you can’t really build your deck without them and add them in later. This is in dire need of several reprints at this point, as just one print run might not be enough!
Aether Vial ($50): If you’re running more than 25 creatures, you’re probably running Aether Vial. This places a hefty cost on your deck — $200 before you even add a single creature! When you consider that many Aether Vial decks also run Cavern of Souls, you can start to see how these strategies are becoming unattainable.
Wrenn and Six ($80): A couple of months after Modern Horizons, the two-mana planeswalker earned the nickname “Wrenn and Sixty Bucks.” Its demand far exceeded its supply before long, and has rarely let up since. “Wrenn and Eighty Bucks” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, so I’d love to see a reprint to bring this into a more attainable price range.
Force of Negation ($90): There’s a common theme among all of these cards in need of a reprint, and that is there’s no suitable alternative. Force of Negation is a truly unique card in Modern; nothing else comes close to its power or effect. This is why it’s at the price it is now, and will only continue to climb with the upcoming surge of blue decks, thanks to the introduction of Counterspell to Modern.
Commander Staples That Need A Reprint
Modern isn’t the only format that could do with some love from MH2. Commander is in constant need of reprints, and most sets tend to assist with this issue in some form. Here are some of the cards I hope are included in Modern Horizons 2’s reprints.
Doubling Season ($80): Generally speaking, this is the de facto best card for tokens and counters strategies, and it’s not particularly close. It already sees play in over 22,000 decks according to EDHREC, and I’m certain it would be in twice as many if it was more affordable.
Parallel Lives ($65): Much like its cousin Doubling Season, this is a bomb in any tokens strategy. It’s essentially a staple for any green-based deck that can take advantage of it, and it would see much more play if more people could get their hands on it.
Craterhoof Behemoth ($60): Hoof, there it is. Losing to a Craterhoof Behemoth in Commander is a rite of passage at this point. Many have tried to imitate it, like God-Eternal Rhonas or End-Raze Forerunners, but none have this Beast’s stopping power. Such a powerful staple should be more widely available, to allow more people to experience being trampled underfoot!
Extraplanar Lens ($60): Extraplanar Lens was one of the best reasons to run snow basics, at least until Kaldheim arrived. This mana accelerator is one of the best available to monocolor decks that aren’t green, and they need all the help they can get. This Mirrodin rare should get another printing, as it’s a lot to ask for a single card out of the 99.
Cloudstone Curio ($55): This popular combo piece is extremely pricey for what it does — which is not very much when you’re not trying to abuse it. A reprint is definitely needed to take the sting out of it, especially for those that can’t afford it currently.
Oboro, Palace in the Clouds ($70): Oboro is a strange one. It doesn’t see a whole lot of play in either Commander or Modern (other than in Dimir Mill), but its price has become absurd over the past two years. It sees play in land-based Commander decks like Tatyova, Benthic Druid as a repeatedly replayable land. Let’s hope MH2 gives this landfall enabler pricefall.
Cards I Want to See Downshifted for Pauper
I’m always on the lookout for new additions to Pauper. The format can be glacially slow to change at times, mostly due to how few cards are added per set when compared to other formats like Standard or Modern. Pauper is also a format where the answers tend to outclass the threats, so I usually skew more toward suggesting cards that provide aggressive decks with more power or utility. Here are just a few of the cards I’d love to see downshifted to common rarity.
Dryad Militant would help two different Pauper decks: Mono-Green Stompy and Mono-White Aggro. Stompy is a mainstay of the format and would certainly appreciate the assistance, but it’s Mono-White Aggro that needs all the help it can get. A lot of aggressive decks meet their demise to Tron’s flicker/fog loops, and this Soldier would shut that down on the spot. It would also slow down Gurmag Anglers and exile flashback cards like Faithless Looting, giving it universal utility against most of the field.
I’m a secret Goblin fan, and one of my guilty pleasures in Modern is 8-Whack. We already have most of the key pieces available at common (Burning-Tree Emissary and Goblin Bushwhacker), so adding Reckless Bushwhacker would complete the deck! Considering sweepers like Fiery Cannonade and Pestilence can help keep decks like this in check, I think it’d be a safe enough downshift to shake up the metagame.
I already mentioned that Mono-Green Stompy is one of the more popular decks, but that doesn’t mean it can’t get a few new toys. Leatherback Baloth may not look like much, but it would provide a massive top end (alongside the recent addition of Bayou Groff) to help outclass smaller aggro decks. It’s big enough to cause nightmares for red players, but not big enough to trade with a Gurmag Angler; this puts it in a sweet spot that could help Stompy carve its name into the deep grain of the format.
Skullcrack is a card that’s been as hotly debated for Pauper as Counterspell was for Modern. I believe that Burn deserves a shot in the arm, and this would be a huge help to the archetype. It would also help aggressive decks to fight lifegain, allowing for interesting counterplay. Control decks have access to Weather the Storm, so this would help them to combat their “gotcha” card.
One of Pauper’s big issues is its lack of support for aggressive decks, specifically in the mana bases. There are no untapped dual lands, meaning aggro must be monocolor or suffer significant speedbumps. If untapped duals were added, though, the already powerful control decks could take just as much advantage of them. I believe cards like Unclaimed Territory could be the answer to this problem. Rather than place a tempo restriction on the aggressive decks, this places a deck building restriction instead. Slivers would benefit massively, Goblins could add black, and Mardu Knights could be more than just a pipe dream. At the same time, Tron can’t take advantage of this land. It’s a win-win for the format, in my opinion!
Aristocrats is an archetype that has always been on the fringe of Pauper, with Golgari Aristocrats and Mono-Black Sacrifice being just a card or two away from consistent performance. The problem is there is no real payoff for sacrificing that provides much-needed reach. Blood Artist may be slightly too powerful for this function, but I think Zulaport Cutthroat could toe the line safely.
While the original Modern Horizons added some turbulence to Modern and other formats, I truly believe Modern ended up in a better place. I’m optimistic for the second round, but I’m ready to hold on tight and enjoy the ride!
I’m sure there are some cards on here you agree with, and some of these suggestions might shake you to the core. Let me know on Twitter what you think of these ideas, and what cards you’d love to see make their way into Modern or Pauper!
Scott is an Irish content creator and the Head of Budget Magic for the Izzet League. He focuses on affordable decks in Pioneer, Modern, and Pauper, particularly ones that stray from the mainstream. When he’s not writing about his favorite decks, he can be found talking incessantly about them on Twitter and on The Budget Magic Cast.