Modern Horizons Cube Set Review – Only On Tuesdays

Modern Horizons is finally here, and it has promised us to be a set packed to the brim with Modern power level cards. Considering how strong of a format Modern is, this is very exciting to people with cubes, as these kinds of supplemental sets have been notorious for giving us some of the most powerful cube cards in the past few years. Let’s see if Modern Horizons lives up to the hype, and can make an impact on cube.

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Serra, the Benevolent

Serra is a really cool card, and a 4 mana Serra Angel attached to a planeswalker is not too shabby. She creates a powerful blocker that she can then enable as a 4 turn clock with her + ability. If you don’t need a flyer right away, you can easily just + her once and threaten an ultimate that many decks are incapable of dealing with. The biggest draw to Serra is the fact that she is a 4 drop instead of a 5 drop. 4 mana white cards are significantly easier to break into than 5 drops, and with this suite of powerful abilities means that Serra is more than capable of breaking into cube. Grade A-

Urza, Lord High Artificer

If you support an artifact theme of any kind, this card is a straight up A. His ability to create a huge threat, provide tons of mana, and even have a built-in mana sink for all the mana you just made, makes Urza into one hell of a card for artifact cubes. It’s for cubes that don’t have artifact themes where Urza gets interesting. Urza asks for a huge build around in a normal cube but can offer really huge payoffs if you can get there. Urza can also fit into Wildfire Shells, and while he may not survive the titular card, he still provides a massive amount of mana to these decks because they play so many artifacts. Ultimately, I see Urza as becoming a very powerful build around, but if not built around, may end up seeing a lot of time in the sideboard. I for one really enjoy build around cards, so I think I’ll be giving Urza a try. Grade B+

Yawgmoth, Thran Physician

Just like in the case of Urza, Yawgmoth is a very powerful card if you support the strategies he is good with. In the case of Yawgmoth, that strategy is aristocrats. If you curve Bitterblossom into Ophiomancer into this guy, you can easily neuter your opponent’s board and draw a ton of cards for your trouble. Sure, you’ll lose a ton of life in the process, but to black, life is simply another resource. If his ability cost mana instead of life, I don’t think Yawgmoth would be nearly as enticing of a card. For cubes that support aristocrats, this is obviously a slam dunk, but in cubes that don’t play aristocrats, it can still synergize incredibly well with a lot of already popular cube cards. Grade B+

 Seasoned Pyromancer

A 3 mana red card that creates tokens that isn’t about attacking! I have to say, not having another Rabblemaster clone is good as that card has way too many variants. Speaking of way too many things, this card has a lot of text on it that isn’t immediately apparent as to whether this card will be good or not. Having to discard 2 cards no matter what is a downside, and can make a turn 3 play of this card potentially awkward. As a late game value engine, however, this card shines like none other. Top-decking this with an empty hand instantly refuels and he can then quickly be chumped and provide even more value from the grave. By the simple virtue of not being a Rabblemaster clone and giving red a lot more ways to play the game, I see this card as having a lot of potential, even if I don’t think the card itself is the best in the world. Grade B

Hexdrinker

A one-mana 2/1 in Green is already something a lot of Green aggro players are probably very excited about. With just that, it probably isn’t playable, as there are already a lot of other one-mana 2/1’s in Green. What makes this card more interesting is that it plays into one of the biggest strengths of Green in its ramp. A build-your-own Progenitus is pretty cool and allows you to play this card at any point on the curve. The main problem with this card is the fact that level up is sorcery speed, which opens you up to blowouts instead of your opponent. Still, an adjustable threat for the curve is pretty nice and might give Green aggro the boost it needs. Grade B-

Ranger-Captain of Eos

This is a card that I find to be fairly similar to Recruiter of the Guard and Imperial Recruiter. The restriction of searching for creatures of 1 cmc is more strict, but can still find powerful cards such as Mother of Runes, Goblin Guide, and Sylvan Safekeeper. In exchange for a worse tutor, you instead get a better body and an ability that can protect you against powerful cards such as sweeper effects. Ranger-Captain of Eos enables much more aggressive strategies than either of the Recruiters and can be a valuable asset if white weenie needs a boost. If you value that over the different creatures that the Recruiters can find, this card might be a good fit for your cube. Grade B-

Echo of Eons

This card is extremely powerful in big mana strategies. If you can draw 7 cards and then cast them all and play this card again before your opponent can dump nearly as many cards, you are well poised to win the game. You can also enable this card to be Timetwister by dumping it early with a discard spell and then casting it when you topdeck a land. I’ve been playing with Day’s Undoing for a long time, and that card has always impressed me, and this card looks to be better than Day’s Undoing in almost every single way. Grade B

Wrenn and Six

One theme that keeps on popping up in my cube is lands. I have taken it out and put it back in so many times it is difficult to count. Lands is a really fun strategy but it is often just a little too weak for my cube to support. With this card, I’ve added it back in hoping that a good 2 mana Planeswalker will be enough for the strategy to flourish. Being able to return lands from your graveyard has obvious synergy with Fetches and gets out of control with Wasteland and Strip Mine. I don’t know if this card is what lands needs to succeed in cube, but I’m hoping that it is. Grade B

Sword of Sinew and Steel

The sword cycle is a staple of cubes everywhere as they provide very powerful equipment at very efficient rates. However, many cubes don’t run them even for how powerful they are and that is because of the protection mechanic. If your deck is the color combination that these swords protect against, you are out of luck. If you are ok with playing with swords even with their protections, then keep reading. Sword of Sinew and Steel is probably the coolest sounding sword in the cycle and offers a lot to cube players. Protection against the 2 colors with the most removal in the game is incredibly important for a Sword and is the main draw to play this. The secondary bonus of destroying a Planeswalker and/or an Artifact is also incredibly powerful and makes this one of the best swords for cube if you are ok with playing cards that have protection. Grade A

Sword of Truth and Justice

The protections that this sword gives aren’t nearly as good as the protections offered by Sword of Sinew and Steel, but White is up there in terms of creature removal so that protection is still nice to have. The ability that it provides should hopefully be better to compensate for the weaker protections, but unfortunately, this Swords ability does not provide card advantage in the same way Sinew and Steel does. Even though Sinew and Steel does not always trigger, it can threaten to destroy the opponent’s permanents and make them not want to cast their Planeswalkers and Artifacts while the Sword is on the battlefield. This sword, on the other hand, will always trigger, but 2 +1/+1 counters does not provide the same value that destroying a Jace, the Mind Sculptor would provide. Proliferate does make this card more interesting than just 2 +1/+1 counters, and can lead to good build-arounds but I don’t see this card being nearly as powerful as Sinew and Steel. Grade B

Mox Tantalite

Moxes are renowned for their power because they allow you to cast cards way ahead of curve. In a powered cube, it is often correct to draft a Mox that isn’t even in your colors simply because of the power it provides. This is a Mox that can tap for any color of mana, and the only downside is how long it takes to cast this card. That is a severe downside, however. Ideally, you have this card in your opening hand and you’ll be able to cast a 5 drop on turn 4. That’s good, but you’re effectively discarding a card in the early game to potentially make your late game better. That is assuming you can utilize the mana in the first place when it does come down. Considering Lotus Bloom doesn’t see play, a card that can enable much more busted turns when it comes down, I don’t foresee this card making any significant impact on cube. Grade D

Cabal Therapist

Cabal Therapy is a very skill intensive card that challenges the player to understand what is in their opponent’s hand. When it is good, it can be really oppressive, and if you can get info on your opponent’s hand before you cast the first Cabal Therapy, you can go to town tearing it to shreds. This card here offers the chance to cast a Cabal Therapy every single turn and just burn your opponents of every single resource. There are some catches, however. First, Cabal Therapy is not a very good card in cube because you have no idea what your opponent’s deck contains until they cast their cards. The second cast is guaranteed to get the best card in their hand. This card can’t activate for the first time until turn 3, and that is most likely going to be a whiff. By turn 4 you’ll be able to start consistently naming cards (if you have a token generator out) and tear their hand to shreds, but by then they will have probably cast their most important cards out. Overall, while a very cool effect, it’s probably too slow and too niche for cube. Grade C-

Aria of Flame

This card is super weird to me. It’s a 3 mana do nothing enchantment that gives your opponent life. This is the antithesis to Red’s ideology of making your opponent lose life. It’s second ability can add up very quickly though, and will quickly turn your Bolts into Flame Slashes and even Lava Axes. If you cast this card on turn 3 and put your opponent to 30 life and then proceed to cast Lightning Bolt for the rest of the game you will need 5 bolts instead of the traditional 7 to finish off your opponent. This card also works incredibly well with effects that prevent your opponent from gaining life, and turns all of your burn spells up to 11. This is also a card that can see play in control decks, as a way of turning your cantrips and counterspells into a win-con. Overall, a very unique card, and very difficult to evaluate but considering I run 2 cards in my list that prevent the opponent from not gaining life I might give this card a whirl. Grade C+

Goblin Engineer

A combination of Entomb and Goblin Welder is an enticing prospect, but it comes with some serious restrictions. First, the card you Entomb for must be an artifact (not the biggest restriction but still relevant) and if you choose to use the Goblin Welder effect, it not only costs mana, but it can only grab artifacts of cmc 3 or less. This restriction prevents this card from doing many of the things that Goblin Welder is so infamous for. However, the Entomb effect is still fairly powerful, and it doesn’t say anywhere on the card that the card you search for has to be cmc 3 or less. This means you can easily go find a Myr Battlesphere and bring it back through other means. One use I see for the Engineer’s ability is as a quick source of mana by activating a mana rock, sacrificing it, and then pulling another mana rock from the graveyard (preferably a Basalt Monolith) and tapping that for mana as well. But for me, this is mostly an artifact Entomb with minor upside. Grade B-

Giver of Runes

Giver of Runes, a card that has been lovingly referred to as Step Mom, is a big downgrade from the OG Mother of Runes but still has a lot of potential. Part of the strength of Mother of Runes is that once it untaps, you need at least 2 removal spells to deal with Mom which can be very frustrating, especially in cube decks that don’t draft a lot of removal. Giver of Runes offers a much more balanced effect by not being able to protect itself but is overall a worse card than Mom. Some people may prefer to play this card in place of Mom because it is a fairer effect, but something else I can see a lot of people is playing this in tandem with Mom as a one mana creature that can provide protection for your Hero of Bladehold is still incredibly powerful. And I can’t forget to mention how this card is even better in the face of a Wurmcoil Engine. Grade B+

Bazaar Trademage

Apparently, they have thrown out the notion that Blue is supposed to get bad creatures, as a 3/4 with flying for 3 is pretty damn good. It enters the battlefield effect is ultimately card disadvantage, but it provides you with a lot of card selection and gives you a very good body to boot. Being able to survive bolts is fantastic, and having enough power and toughness to not only block but kill attacking creatures is an excellent deterrent, and can buy you enough time to make up for the card disadvantage. Overall, what ultimately sells this card for me is the big butt it has and is a nice change of pace from all the 3/1 flyers for 3 Blue is used to getting and the downside of discarding cards can often be an upside. Grade B-

Endling

The ling cycle is finally complete, and out of the entire cycle, only 2 cards see regular play in Brightling and Aetherling (a card that is not even part of the main cycle). Endling effectively plays a 5 drop as a Hill Giant that immediately gets removed is not very good. Black lacks a lot of good 5 drops, so I believe that evaluating it from that perspective gives it a better chance in cube. Going down the list, Menace has been a phenomenal ability on creatures and makes many creatures effectively unblockable. If they do decide to block with 2 creatures, granting it deathtouch is an easy 2 for 1, and also works really well on defense if you can hold the mana up. Undying is the protection mechanic for Endling and while it can have more upside than other protection abilities, it is much more vulnerable to multiple removal spells and spells that exile or pacify it. These all combined make Endling much scarier against creature-based decks, but it is lacking against control. I do not believe this is the 5 drop that will revolutionize Blacks curve. Grade C

Winds of Abandon

Cyclonic Rift is a card that I love to have in my cube. A catchall answer for the early game and late game board wipe is powerful and can allow it to slot into a lot of shells. This card does the same by providing this effect in Path to Exile. However, I have some issues with this card that makes it much less powerful than Cyclonic Rift. A 2 mana Path to Exile is significantly less mana efficient and makes the downside of Path much more apparent. The main issue I see with this card is sorcery speed. Path is incredible partly because it is an instant, and the same applies to Cyclonic Rift. This card plays like a bad Path to Exile and a bad Wrath of God, and while it is both effects wrapped up in one nice package, it’s versatility may not overcome its downsides. Grade C

Tectonic Reformation

This card offers a lot for cube decks and can be anything from flood insurance to a central component of the deck. At it’s most basic, this provides a way to churn through your deck and find all the gas you need. This helps the 16 land burn decks find the last burn spell they need to finish off the opponent and gives the Kiki-Jiki player more draws for their combo. But beyond that, this card also serves as an integral part of various draft strategies. If you have cycling matters cards this is obviously powerful, but if you also have a land matters theme this card can easily get lands in the bin. If all else fails you can also cycle this card to find something more impactful at the moment. I find this to be pretty comparable to Outpost Siege, with the added benefit of cross-pollination. Grade B+

Deep Forest Hermit

Squirrel lovers everywhere rejoice! This is an obvious knockoff of Deranged Hermit and offers a lot of advantages the other squirrel fanatic does not provide. A one-time payment for four 2/2’s is significantly better than having to pay 10 mana for those squirrels to be big. The upside to Deranged Hermit is that you get to keep your squirrel lord for the rest of the game, whereas this Hermit goes away in just a few turns. (Unless you flicker it). However, the game is usually decided by turn 8 anyways so being able to follow up this card with a Primeval Titan makes this hermit more desirable than the classic. Grade A-

Alpine Guide

This is a strange card, but those are always the most interesting to evaluate. A 3 mana 3/3 is very on curve, and would happily be at home in an aggro deck. The must attack clause means that the mana you get is temporary, but this is something you can plan around and you can wait to cast your Alpine Guide until turn 4 if it means you get to accelerate out an Inferno Titan one turn earlier. Having the land go to the graveyard is also great cross-synergy to have if your deck cares about lands in the graveyard. I find this temporary ramp to make for an interesting card in Red that can still serve an aggro deck fairly well. Grade C+

Generous Gift

A color shifted Beast Within is worth talking about as Beast Within has been a cube staple for years. Beast Within has seen so much play largely because the color lacks good removal options, and a catchall answer is fantastic for the color. White on the other hand already has a lot of great removal spells and for the same CMC you can Oblivion Ring their permanent. White doesn’t need this effect as desperately as Green does, and White is much less likely to play creatures that will outsize the Elephant. Grade C-

Ice-Fang Coatl

If you are ok with errataing cards to make for a better cube environment this is one of the best Simic cards that has ever been printed. By removing all instances of Snow from this card and having it be a Baleful Strix with flash, Simic gets an amazing card. Simic has not had very many playable cards until very recently and that section is kind of lacking. That’s why if you are ok with removing snow from the card, this becomes one of the best Simic cards ever. If you don’t errata it and still play it, that’s probably because you have a Snow theme which it is still extremely good in. Grade A+

Kaya’s Guile

Somebody at RnD just gave Orzhov a K-Command. This card has a ton of different modes that are very relevant for Modern. In cube, however, the modes aren’t nearly as impactful but that doesn’t mean that this is a bad card. Out of all the modes, exiling graveyards is probably the least impactful in cube, but is something that will still come up from time to time. A 1/1 flying token is kind of nice, but not worth 3 mana for just that effect. Making your opponent sacrifice a creature is really good some of the time, and gaining 4 life is only good against certain decks. All in all this card does very little but can adjust based on the matchup and entwine makes it much better in the late game. I think it’s worth a try, but I don’t think this card will make huge waves in cube. Grade C

Unsettled Mariner

A changeling hate bear is very interesting to have for cubes that play a lot of different creatures. Making it more difficult to target your creatures is huge for tribal strategies and for every lord you have this gets even bigger. If your Azorius section is very tempo focused Mariner is a fantastic card for these strategies. If your Azorius section has no focus on tempo, and your cube is not very tribal focused this card gets significantly worse but for the right cube this card is a slam dunk. Grade B-

Prismatic Vista

A basic fetchland is something I have been wanting to see for years. Basic lands are becoming increasingly relevant as time goes on, especially when cards like the Checklands and Tango lands exist. Putting a land in the graveyard is also valuable for strategies like lands and delve, whereas a City of Brass can’t do the same. Prismatic Vista doesn’t enable 3 or more colors as well as a City of Brass would, but it is more likely for Prismatic Vista to see play in every deck that drafts it. If you support lands or other strategies that like lands in graveyards, Prismatic Vista could be a good fit for your cube. Grade B+

Winding Way

If this put all the revealed cards on the bottom of your library instead of your graveyard I would be far less excited for this card. Fortunately, that isn’t the text on Winding Way and because of that, I am extremely excited about this card! In the early game put 2 lands in your hand and be set for the rest of the game. In a top deck war this card can draw as many as 4 cards! Obviously, it will rarely do that, but this does represent cards in your hand and bin and it is variable depending on what point of the game it is. Pauper cubes are going to love this card, Peasant cubes are going to love this card, and higher up it’s a little less likely to see play, but I’ll be giving it a try in my cube. Grade B

Horizon Lands

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Let me just start off by saying that these cards are incredible dual lands and I am happy to see them in cube. Turning your lands into cantrips is incredible for every deck, and having them fix your mana as well is fantastic. The lifeloss that they can accrue can be deadly, but the upside of cantriping lands is worth it. I especially love that they decided to go with the enemy cycle instead of the allied cycle, as a lot of cycles of lands in Modern are strictly allied, making the choices when it comes to enemy lands a lot more narrow. Grade A-

Conclusion

Modern Horizons, as predicted, had tons of influential cards for cubes. Designing with a higher power level in mind allowed the creators to make a lot more cards that are interesting at every rarity. Out of the 28 cards I reviewed, this set got an average grade of a B which is much better than the typical standard set. I really enjoyed Modern Horizons as a set and I believe that the cards it is printing will see play for a very long time to come. Out of all the cards in the set I am probably most excited for is Wrenn and Six as it might actually let me force lands in my cube and be successful with it. Thank you all for reading, I hope you have a great week and an amazing Tuesday!

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