Modern Horizons 2 is almost upon us, and it wouldn’t be a set release without a Commander review. While the set itself is aimed at putting new cards into the Modern format, it’s safe to say that there’s still a lot here for EDH players of all kinds. Let’s dig into the set and see what gems we can unearth.
For each category, I’ll be going over the strongest new cards in the set that’ll see play in the most decks, plus any standout cards that fit into certain archetypes.
Probably the card that’ll see the most play in white, Esper Sentinel is a cheap answer to the question “Where is the white card draw?” While it won’t trigger all of the time, it will trigger in match-ups where it matters: against decks that aren’t playing fair, creature-based Magic. I can’t think of many decks that wouldn’t want to fit this into the 99.
White hasn’t had as good a removal-based creature to flicker or reanimate as other colors, and it’s held the color back when it comes to those archetypes. Now joining the likes of Ravenous Chupacabra and Amphin Mutineer, Solitude is here to show the other colors that white is good at removal, thank you very much. Solitude is a solid pick for mono-white and beyond, and a card I’m really excited about.
Out of Time is the answer to the age-old problem of wrathing and being blown out by a trick like Heroic Intervention, or seeing all your opponent’s creatures come back to play with reanimation the turn after. While it still won’t stop Teferi’s Protection (which is a flavor win, let’s be honest), Out of Time can put problem creatures in a “time out” of sorts. While they’ll come back eventually — or sooner, with a disenchant — they won’t trigger ETB’s, and importantly, you won’t lose card advantage by destroying or exiling your own board in the process, as you’ll get your stuff back, too.
While it’s possible to get tricksy with this card and protect yourself from game-winning sorceries or permanent-based combos, the floor of Serra’s Emissary will always be choosing “creature.” This effectively makes your board unblockable, and lets you attack with impunity by giving yourself protection from creatures, too. The only thing better than attacking freely is fogging incoming damage, and I expect this card to do a lot of work in the average combat-focused deck.
If you can’t afford a copy of the reserve-list Replenish, then Resurgent Belief is a good stand-in. While it won’t see play in as many decks as the other cards above, it’s a boon for those playing Enchantress, especially if you can take advantage of sequencing to make it a big play.
Inevitable Betrayal is a suspend take on Bribery. I think it’ll see far more play in the format than that card, in large part due to how many blue decks are capable of casting it for free. Plenty of decks are capable of cascading into it, and just as many play effects that let them cast spells for free, like Etali, Primal Storm. As long as an effect gives you an alternate cost, you can play one of these suspend spells for that cost.
It’s awkward at times to have the wrong counterspell in hand in Commander. Swan Song won’t hit a creature, and neither will Negate, but both are usually great picks. Lose Focus is interesting in that it scales with the game, and even later on, it can snipe spells when an opponent is tapped out for very little investment. It’s flexible and hits everything. I like it a lot.
Another card I expect to see frequently going forward is Suspend. Another one-mana answer to creatures in blue is not something I could have foreseen, but here we are. While the creature eventually comes back, there’s no reason to believe that’s an issue that can’t be solved. Two turns is a long time in Commander, and that’s enough time to dig for a counterspell or advance the board such that the creature is no longer relevant.
There’s also the fact that Delay is kinda underplayed. Late game, it’s functionally counterspell for 1U; Suspend is in a similar spot, where it’s effectively “exile target creature” at that point in the game.
And now, on to the cards that’ll slot right into your focused builds. Junk Winder is a slam dunk for tokens decks, whether you’re making Thopters, Spirits, Baloths, or anything else. From Kykar, Wind’s Fury to the newer Simic builds from the Quandrix precon, this is going to be a house.
And now one for the dedicated treasure decks. Amassing a pile of gold always feels good, but now there’s another way to use it that isn’t Marionnette Master, which opens up a payoff to decks that aren’t playing black. Overloading Rise and Shine will make all of your Treasure, Clue and Food tokens into effective 4/4’s, which is a fun way to end a game.
Svyelun is a great Merfolk commander if you’re feeling mono-blue, but it also slots into the 99 of many a Merfolk deck. Like Kopala, Warden of Waves, she offers protection, but also a lot of love and affection in the form of card draw. Chances are if you have a Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca or Sygg, River Guide deck, she’ll be going straight in.
Archon of Cruelty feels power-creepy in a good way. Reanimator decks could do with the extra closing power of a creature like this, and I think the Archon will do a lot of work to help end a game. I never thought I’d see the day when Sheoldred, Whispering One felt slow, but honestly? It does. I’ve been jamming Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger in my Chainer deck to help close games, and I’ll be looking to add the Archon, too.
Another card I’m going to be making room for in Chainer, Dauthi Voidwalker is the very definition of a pushed Magic card. This thing does a hell of a lot for just two mana! The fun part will be in taking your opponent’s spell and casting it for free, but the gravy is the Leyline of the Void stapled onto it. Even beyond Reanimator decks that’ll want to cash this in multiple times, the Voidwalker is a powerful piece I expect to show up across multiple decks.
I’ve spoken a lot on how good Reanimate and Animate Dead are even outside Reanimator as cheap methods of recursion. Likewise, Persist is looking like a great option to pick up. With less fragility than Animate Dead and a cheaper cost to actually pick up than Reanimate, Persist just asks you to check the composition of your deck and whether it’ll have enough targets.
Our first niche pick in black. I think Echoing Return is a slam dunk pick for any decks looking to break the singleton rule. Shadowborn Apostle, Relentless Rats, or even Persistent Petitioners in a Dimir build will all enjoy a one-mana buyback of a limitless amount of their main game piece.
Finally, some great pickups for other archetypes.
Legion Vanguard is a sweet include for Aristocrats decks. Although it’s not a free sac outlet, the ability to both grow a creature while manipulating your top deck and even drawing lands is nothing to sniff at.
Vile Entomber is Entomb on legs, and a reusable one at that. Whether you like this or Oriq Loremage more depends on your deck; I really like Vile Entomber in more budget builds, and it might even see play alongside Entomb and Buried Alive.
Young Necromancer is a card I’m more inclined to play than Phyrexian Delver, to be honest. In the right build, you’re going to get a lot more out of this late game where life totals actually matter — which I find they do in the current EDH metagame.
Chef’s Kiss is a Wilder Ricochet, pardon the pun. One mana cheaper is a lot, though, and I expect this card to see some amount of play, especially in builds that care about keeping things in play. Red now has a nice suite of counterspells (of sorts), and Chef’s Kiss solidifies this selection as a great way to combat interaction.
Most people don’t run enough single-target land destruction in Commander, and Obsidian Charmaw is a great option if you’d rather not play something more cumbersome. This is a cheap flyer, likely to come down for RR most of the time. Whether you want to be attacking or blocking, that’s a fantastic rate, and getting to remove a problem land, too, makes it a steal. This is just pure value, and a card I expect you’ll play if you care about Maze of Ith at all. Punish your opponent for playing Gaea’s Cradle. Do it.
A good number of decks will be able to cast Revolutionist for four mana, but even at six, it’s not the end of the world. If you’re in mono-red or don’t have access to Reconstruct History, Eternal Witness or Archaeomancer, Revolutionist will do the job.
Glimpse of Tomorrow is a one-sided chaos effect, and I can’t overstate how much weight that has. Nobody really enjoys playing against decks that make their plays meaningless, so giving red a powerful version of this that’s not going to wind up the rest of the table is huge. This will do a lot of work in decks that can churn out tokens (again, like Kykar), but it’s still a card with a lot of potential upside in the right build.
Wizard decks didn’t really need another Panharmonicon effect, but here we go: enter Harmonic Prodigy. This’ll copy both ETB’s and other triggered abilities, and will spice up any Wizard or Shaman tribal list. It also makes Jeleva, Nephalia’s Scourge even more terrifying.
Ragavan is a powerful card, don’t get me wrong — but his applications in Commander are much narrower than they are in Modern. He still has enough uses to make him an enticing pick-up, though; I’m sure he’ll do a lot in dedicated Pirate tribal decks or decks that want to make Treasure, given he’s Malcolm + Breeches in a smaller package.
Finally, there’s Tavern Scoundrel. There are many coin flip decks in the format, and all of them are going to say yes to making Treasures, especially given there are ways to ensure flips are won more often than not. You can probably do disgusting things with this card and the right setup.
Fogs are all the rage in a format where the middle of the road is an aggressive and swingy style of creature combat. I’ve cast many a Comeuppance, Tangle or Settle the Wreckage in my time, and they always feel great. Blessed Respite looks spicy because it deals with an alpha strike while also getting rid of a graveyard — two things you rarely want to dedicate slots to, but which make a lovely combination on one card.
Yawgmoth’s Will in new Sour flavor! Gaea’s Will is a one-shot recursion effect, and one that’ll see lots of play. Suspending it does temper it a little, but there are so many ways to stock your yard you’ll have plenty of time to set up — and that’s not to mention casting it for an alternate cost. Playing lands really powers this up, and with the right build, you’ll power through your graveyard.
Answers to planeswalkers are always great, and you can’t underestimate the value of a good beater. There are enough decks that care about dumping their hand and amassing fatties that Thrasta will see a good amount of play.
Timeless Witness, meanwhile, is the second Eternal Witness that you’ve always wanted. I can see some decks preferring this to Eternal Witness, too, which is some indication of how powerful the card is.
Somehow, they made Lotus Cobra better. Landfall has always been way too easy to pull off, and this is a card that rewards you just for playing the game. While Lotus Cobra requires fetch lands and careful sequencing to truly break, Tireless Provisioner is a lot more forgiving, and it’s a solid value card in any deck — and potentially broken in a lands deck.
Finally, the two more specific cards that caught my eye. Fae Offering looks to be the poster child for green’s move back toward tokens, and will slot into the same sorts of decks as the aforementioned Junk Winder. Sanctum Weaver, meanwhile, is a home run for Enchantress builds, doing a great impression of Serra’s Sanctum.
There are some really sweet new designs for commanders littered throughout Modern Horizons 2, and in the multicolor slot, you’ll find a lot of great contenders. Carth the Lion is an interesting take on Superfriends; Chatterfang, Squirrel General is the Squirrel commander you never knew you wanted; and Lonis, Cryptozoologist is one of the most intriguing Simic designs I’ve seen in a while.
You’ve got a mix of throwback Vorthos hits like Garth One-Eye and Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar, and fresh designs like General Ferrous Rokiric — a Boros legend that really wants you to play Lightning Helix tribal. There’s something for everyone, and you’re sure to find a card you like the look of.
The card everyone should be hyped about, though, is Damn. Damn is a Wrath of God that can also be a sorcery-speed Terminate. The flexibility alone is very good, but what pushes it over the edge is that its mana value will always be two, even when you overload it.
This means it’ll sneak under a Gaddock Teeg, it won’t be taxed by Reidane, God of the Worthy, and you can tutor for it with a Spellseeker. I expect this card to show up in every deck that can play it, and for good reason.
Damn aside, there are some other solid pickups. Combine Chrysalis offers you something else to consider for your token builds; Goblin Anarchomancer asks if Wort, the Raidmother and Grumgully have use for a Goblin Electromancer (and the answer, of course, is yes); and Sythis, Harvest’s Hand is both an excellent commander option and another great card draw engine in the 99 for Enchantress decks.
I’d also take a look at Graceful Restoration and Priest of Fell Rites for any Cleric or Aristocrats decks in Orzhov — as both have many applications — and Master of Death for Zombie and Wizards decks as some repeatable discard or sacrifice fodder.
Artifacts & Lands
When it comes to artifacts, the big headliner for me is Sword of Hearth and Home. This is an Equipment for decks that don’t even care about Equipment. White is one of the better colors to have protection from when it comes to removal, and the same goes for green when it comes to creature combat. Both abilities are superb, and it’s a slam dunk of a card all around. The only decks that will want Sword of the Animist first are those that play cheap, evasive threats, but otherwise, take both.
Liquimetal Torque is a lot easier to justify than Liquimetal Coating, but decks that care probably want both; I’d slam it into a Rebbec & co. deck happily. Nettlecyst is interesting, and if you’ve ever considered Helm of the Gods in an Enchantress Voltron deck, it’s worth a look. Ornithopter of Paradise, meanwhile, is a common I expect to see a lot of play. Never underestimate the ability to attack with a Manalith; I’m excited to slot this into Winota, Joiner of Forces.
The other headliners are, of course, the fetch land reprints. If you’ve been waiting for the right time to pick them up, then you’re in luck. Coupled with their Ultimate Secret Lair reprinting, this should bring the price of the enemy fetches down the lowest they’ll be for quite some time. Though you don’t need them in every EDH deck, if you’ve been waiting to build a lands-matter deck or upgrade your pet project — go wild.
Rounding things out, we have Urza’s Saga and Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth. I like Urza’s Saga quite a bit, and it’s sure to be a good utility land for a majority of decks. Sure, it’s sweet in Enchantress to trigger those card draw effects, but when it can tutor out Sol Ring, Jeweled Lotus, Tormod’s Crypt, Shadowspear and countless other great pieces, why wouldn’t you run it? Yavimaya is a little more niche, unless you’re planning on jamming Vernal Bloom and Nissa, Who Shakes the World into the same deck with Howl of the Night Pack. It’s still neat for fixing, though.
And that’s that — a rundown of the best that Modern Horizons 2 has to offer us Commander players. There’s a lot to get excited for, and even beyond these impactful cards, there are many hidden gems for different decks. What’re you picking up first? Let me know on Twitter.
Kristen is a lover of both Limited and Commander, and can most often be found championing the Boros Legion when called upon to sit down and shuffle up. As a member of the Commander Advisory Group, Kristen lives and breathes Commander. When she’s not playing Magic, she works as a freelance writer and editor in the UK.