Hello, and welcome to the first part of my Modern Horizons 2 Set Review! Today, we'll be covering most of the exciting cards revealed so far, including the enemy fetch lands, Dakkon, Shadow Slayer, Void Mirror, Chatterfang, Squirrel General, and Urza's Saga, my surprise pick for the best Commander card in the set.
Before we get to the cards, though, let's talk a little bit about Modern Horizons 2 as a whole.
First off, let's not mince words: this set is expensive. Modern Horizons 2 has the most expensive non-collector booster boxes of any set ever released, beating out Double Masters by a cool $20. A lot of players have already told me that they won't engage with this set for that reason, and believe me: I get it. I've already spent quite a bit of money on Magic this year.
That said, Modern Horizons 2 booster boxes come with a full complement of 36 packs, not just 24 like all the Masters sets. Because of that, the per-pack price for Modern Horizons 2 is actually lower than Modern Masters 2013 and Double Masters. If you buy a whole box of Modern Horizons 2, you're paying about $8 per pack. Your LGS will probably sell individual boosters $10-$12 per pack. This isn't awful, and I've definitely spent more on Masters packs, but it is significantly more expensive than the first Modern Horizons set. Those boxes sold for just $220, which is a per-pack price hike from $6 to $8. That's not insignificant!
For that extra $2/pack, however, Modern Horizons 2 comes with an additional "new to Modern" slot, which is kind of like the Timeshifted sheet in Time Spiral Remastered. From the cards that have been revealed so far, my guess is that the EV of this slot will be $2 or higher. That puts these booster packs right in line with the previous Modern Horizons set. Despite the price hike, then, I have no issue with anyone buying booster boxes of this set for fun. It's an admittedly high-end set, but it's comparable to most of their other high-end offerings.
It's also worth remembering that Modern Horizons 2 will not have a limited print run. The first Modern Horizons set was heavily printed, and packs were readily available for months after the initial release date. This is not another Time Spiral Remastered situation, and you do not have to buy boxes ASAP. We may also have to wait a while before the set's second tier staples start to creep up in value. For the first Modern Horizons set, it took about 18 months. The same will likely be true here.
I'll be delving deeper into all of this when I write my Modern Horizons 2 Buyer's Guide at the end of preview season, but for now it's worth keeping in mind that this set is likely to be fairly top-heavy. The fetch lands are going to command quite a bit of MH2's overall per-card value, and there are likely to be four or five other chase cards that sneak up nearly all of the rest of its EV. I know it seems like a set with $8 booster packs shouldn't have a ton of $1 rares, but there will be more than you think—at least until the set leaves print and value can decouple from pack price. I'm probably not going to pick up any of the cheaper rares or mythics right now unless I think they've got a chance to break out and really make a run. The rest of them should bottom out later in the summer and will become intriguing long-term specs.
Conversely, most of the set's chase cards will likely be at their lowest points on release weekend. If you want $10+ cards from Modern Horizons 2, especially its can't-miss buys like the fetch lands, that's when you're going to want to pick them up. My suggestion while reading this set review? Start a list of exciting cards that you want to buy on release weekend and a second list of cheaper cards that you want to check in on in a month or two. That way, you don't miss the proper buying windows.
On to the cards!
Dakkon, Shadow Slayer might see a little competitive play, but the card doesn't scream "future tournament staple" to me. For one thing, the competition is pretty stiff in the three-mana Esper planeswalker slot, and I don't think Dakkon is better than, say, Teferi, Time Raveler. The fact that it scales up as you play lands is nice, but Esper isn't really a ramp wedge. I'm sure it'll find homes in Modern's second and third tiers, but that won't be a huge driver of value.
Over in Commander, Dakkon, Shadow Slayer will do a bit better. This new planeswalker seems tailor-made for Aminatou, the Fateshifter decks, and it'll see some play with Sharuum the Hegemon as well. Aminatou could see a small financial bump, I suppose, but I wouldn't run out and buy up a dozen of them or anything.
If you're looking for an outside-the-box spec related to this card, what about the original Dakkon Blackblade from Legends? Cards from that era are always going to be good as gold, and plenty of people will want the original Dakkon for their Commander decks. Heck, the Chronicles version might even be a better snag right now. Here's what the Legends price tag has done since the end of 2019:
And here's Chronicles since the start of 2021:
As you can see, the Legends version popped off when all the Reserved List cards spiked last year, but it hasn't seen any movement since Modern Horizons 2 was revealed. On the other hand, the Chronicles version has been surging in price since early May. Both cards should continue to increase in price as folks open packs with Dakkon, Shadow Slayer and want his earlier incarnation for their Commander decks.
Overall, though, I don't think Dakkon, Shadow Slayer is one of the stronger mythic rares in the set. It's a niche player in both Modern and Commander, and it's not good enough to build around unless you really love the flavor. The cost of booster packs should keep its price tag over the $10 range, but this doesn't look like the next Wrenn and Six to me.
Grief is a very powerful card that will see play in multiple Eternal formats. "Free" spells are always going to see play, and Grief is pretty close to a strictly better Unmask. (It isn't, because Grief can't set up your own graveyard like Unmask can, but that doesn't matter to most mono-black decks.) Regardless, it's not worth overthinking this one. Grief is a good card, period.
I've also seen some people talking about Grief interaction with Ephemerate, which could end some games in an awful hurry. I wouldn't be shocked if some of the better versions of that card, like the Japanese etched foil, see a small spike in the near future. If you're going to try to build this deck, pick those up ASAP.
Price-wise, however, I'm not sure I'd buy in just yet. I haven't seen anyone talking about Grief in Commander, which is the main driver of prices these days. I'll be recommending some under-the-radar competitive pickups in this article, but I'm not touching any chase cards that don't also have Commander appeal until release weekend at the earliest.
Thrasta, Tempest's Roar
I'm not sure where Thrasta, Tempest's Roar will find a home. The Commander community seems to think that this is mostly a Modern card, but I haven't seen any serious discussion of this card among Modern players. It's possible that this powerful Dinosaur will slip through the cracks somewhat, at least for now. At the very least, I don't want to pay current retail of $20 until I get a better sense of who wants to play this card and why.
If Thrasta, Tempest's Roar does find a home in Commander, it'll be in decks like Selvala, Heart of the Wilds or Kalamax, the Stormsire. It also goes infinite with Food Chain, which seems relevant. I haven't noticed a spike in demand for that card yet, but keep your eyes open. Any two-card combo like that has the potential to explode at pretty much any point.
I've got to be honest—I knew Cabal Coffers was expensive, but I didn't know it was THAT expensive. Last I'd checked, this was a $50-$60 card. Nope. By mid-April, the unassuming former uncommon was selling for between $120 and $150. This is a really, really good Commander card, y'all. Folks have been waiting for a reprint for a heck of a long time.
Anyway, Cabal Coffers is back as a mythic rare. I had expected an upshift to rare, but mythic is a tad frustrating. I get it—it's similar to other powerhouse lands like Gaea's Cradle—but still. An upshift from uncommon to mythic feels like a lot.
As we learned in our meta analysis of when to buy cards, these high-profile reprints are always worth waiting on. Price memory is stickier than you think, and I doubt this card hits bottom—whatever bottom is—until August or so. You definitely want to pick these up before the end of 2021, because the long-term upside is massive, but be patient. The price will absolutely keep dropping for a while.
As for secondary specs, I've heard a lot of buzz about Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth. That increased demand seems to be reflected in its price chart too:
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth is actually cheaper than it has been in a while thanks to the Time Spiral Remastered reprint, and it does appear to be slowly gaining ground again. This isn't a quick flip spec or anything, but if you've been needing a copy or two, it's about as safe a buy as it gets right now. Just be sure to snag it ASAP.
Iona, Shield of Emeria was a pretty solid silver bullet in my Legacy Reanimator deck once upon a time, and it's still used as a sideboard card in that format occasionally. Serra's Emissary appears to be a similar card, but it's not quite as good at locking out your opponent in games of competitive Constructed. It might find a similar amount of niche play, but I doubt it.
Moving on to Commander, Serra's Emissary is a solid way to make your whole squad unblockable in white. There are other, cheaper ways to do this already, but the fact that this one is tied to a beautiful-looking 7/7 Angel means that Serra's Emissary is going to see play in decks like Kaalia of the Vast. This is going to be one of the lower-end mythics in the set, but creature type alone should keep Serra's Emissary in the $5-$10 range.
Chatterfang, Squirrel General
Chatterfang, Squirrel General isn't just a meme card. Heck, it isn't even just a long-needed Squirrel Commander. Chatterfang is a powerful token generator, and it's going to see play in all sorts of "go wide" tokens decks in Commander. It's not quite a Parallel Lives because you get Squirrels instead of other tokens, but every deck that wants to run that $50+ staple is at least going to seriously consider running Chatterfang, right? That's the sort of long-term upside we're looking at. Seriously.
That said, Squirrels are clearly the short-term play here. Thousands of people are going to build around Chatterfang, Squirrel General, and every other Squirrel in Magic is going to spike in response. Deranged Hermit already spiked a few weeks ago when Mark Rosewater teased Chatterfang, but I wouldn't be shocked if it sees an additional surge in value over the coming weeks. I expect Deranged Hermit to be a $100+ card by the end of June.
Past that, I'm looking at Deep Forest Hermit as a low-risk, high-reward spec. The card has already more than doubled over the past few weeks, and there's still room to grow. Take a look:
As for Chatterfang, Squirrel General itself, I suspect it might be underrated in the early going due to too many people writing it off as a Squirrels-only card. As I said at the start of this section, it is so much more than that. If the price starts out cheap, consider buying in—especially if you play a lot of green in Commander.
I don't have much more to say about these five terrific cards.
You will always be excited to open a fetch land, no matter what happens to Magic from here. They will hold their value incredibly well due to Commander as well as Modern, Legacy, and every other format where they're legal. They won't drop as low as you think due to Modern Horizons 2's $8/pack price point, but they also aren't going to stick around in the $50+ range, either.
The last time these cards were reprinted, back in Modern Masters 2015, they bottomed out between $20 and $30 on release weekend. So many people bought in immediately that the price quickly began to rebound. The same thing will likely happen this time around, and you should plan accordingly. If you want these cards, set a calendar reminder for Saturday, June 19th and pick them up then. Even if that isn't the absolute bottom of the market this time around, it should be close enough.
According to my Twitter timeline, Void Mirror is either going to spell the end of Tron, Force of Will, Storm, and nearly every other combo deck across every competitive format, or it's completely unplayable. Okay, then, that settles that! See you all in July!
Oh, you actually want my thoughts on Void Mirror? Well, I think it's a good all-purpose safety valve against broken nonsense across all formats, which isn't bad. It's also quite good against Eldrazi Tron in Modern, and that's where it might make the biggest immediate impact. That deck is near the top of the metagame right now, and it will have to find some workarounds or else morph back into a Mono-Green Tron shell. Void Mirror should be an even bigger deal in Vintage and Legacy, where it will absolutely become a sideboard staple and force several decks to re-think their main plans. Some decks might even fold to Void Mirror entirely, and we'll see what things look like in the aftermath. Vintage Shops, for example, is going to have issues.
Financially, I don't think we'll see any competitive cards completely tank in price because Void Mirror has made them unplayable. We're not heading toward $5 Forces of Force of Will or Force of Negation, and the "Preemptively Ban Void Mirror!" crowd is probably going to be proven wrong. That said, I wouldn't be buying into Thought-Knot Seer and Chalice of the Void right now unless you've got a friend in panic-mode who wants to give you a screaming deal. The deck is going to have to reinvent itself if Void Mirror starts seeing play, and I'm not sure what the new brew will look like yet.
Void Mirror doesn't even have a pre-order price as of the time of this writing, but I wouldn't pay a ton for these. Remember: competitive play doesn't drive prices much anymore, and this is not a Commander card. It will likely drop quite a bit after release before eventually rebounding somewhere down the line. It's going on my "pick up later" list for sure.
Rishadan Port is one of the best lands ever printed, but abilities that are amazing on lands can often be merely okay on creatures. The fact that Rishadan Dockhand is a Merfolk helps a lot, though, since Legacy Merfolk is one of the top Rishadan Port decks in the game. That deck can always use another solid Merfolk, and I expect this card to see play in that deck at least.
Otherwise, I'm not sure where Rishadan Dockhand belongs. It's not too exciting in Commander, and I'm not sure it's right for Modern. There's serious upside here, though. It's a one-drop, which is always good for competitive play, and the starting price tag seems to be less than $5. While I haven't seen much buzz about Rishadan Dockhand yet, stay on top of the rumor mill if you can. Even a little bit of Modern play could push this thing into the $10+ range.
Back when I first got serious about competitive Magic, Scourge was the newest, hottest set on the market. Eternal Dragon was the top chase card in Scourge, and I opened several booster boxes in order to complete my playset. Unfortunately, neither Eternal Dragon nor its protégé Timeless Dragon are all that exciting these days. It might see a little Commander play, but the power level just isn't there, nor is the excitement. Future bulk rare.
Profane Tutor is pretty good. As Foretold decks are going to at least consider it, and you can see what happened to the supply of that card the day this one was previewed. Take a look:
That big green column looks like a buyout, but it wasn't. The average number of copies per buyer was right around 4, telling me that it was likely just a bunch of Modern players grabbing their playsets. That level of excitement bodes well for this deck, and I wouldn't be shocked if As Foretold ends up jumping another $5-$10 over the next few weeks.
Of course, Profane Tutor might get broken in half if someone can figure out how to cascade into it with speed and consistency. Keep your eye on cards like Shardless Agent as folks start brewing with Modern Horizons 2, just in case.
I'm not sure it matters that Profane Tutor is just a worse Demonic Tutor or Vampiric Tutor in most other cases. Those two cards are super pricey, and Profane Tutor is a solid consolation prize for most Commander players. That level of casual demand should allow Profane Tutor to keep a pretty high price floor, and that makes it one of the safer cards to pick up early on.
Entomb is one of my favorite Magic cards ever printed, and Unmarked Grave seems to be WotC's attempt to bring that energy to Modern. It's worse than Entomb, yes, but it might still enable a somewhat competitive reanimation deck in one of the newer Eternal formats. I've seen some buzz around Protean Hulk and Footsteps of the Goryo, and you might actually have a shot to snag those cards before they spike. Here's the price chart for Protean Hulk:
And here's Footsteps of the Goryo:
Note those big surges in demand over the past few days. If that continues, both of these cards will end up well over $10 by this time next month.
As for Unmarked Grave itself, I think people are sleeping on it a bit. Entomb is back up to $26 thanks to sustained Commander demand, and all of those decks are going to want this card as well. It might take a few years to get there, but this is a solid long-term hold. It's not a flashy Commander card, but it is a solid one.
Oh, hey, it's another coin flip Commander! The best "coin flips matter" cards all spiked last time we got one of these, and I suspect something similar will happen now. Casual Commander players love cards like this, and they're going to want to try to win all five of those flips at least once. Enter Krark's Thumb:
Yeah. Krark's Thumb was already a pretty expensive card, but a whole bunch of Commander players began snapping up their copies as soon as Yusri, Fortune's Flame was previewed. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if it settles between $30-$40 for a while. It is slowly being reprinted thanks to The List, but that isn't having much of an effect on the price, and I wouldn't worry about it.
As for Yusri itself, it's probably going to end up a bulk rare or close to it. Some folks are really going to want this card, but it has no audience outside that niche. There will be more than enough copies to go around.
Lion's Eye Diamond is great because it's free. Diamond Lion is not free. You have to spend two mana on your lion, and then you have to untap with it. That is much, much worse. I don't know if anyone would be excited about this card at all if it wasn't inextricably linked to one of the most powerful combo cards in the history of the game.
That said. Diamond Lion is the sort of card that might end up as a four-of in some weird Modern deck a year or two from now. If that happens, it'll spike from like $1 to $10 overnight as people have dreams of Lion's Eye Diamond-esque price tags. I'll definitely be snagging a few dozen copies of this card if it bottoms out in the bulk range, though I'm intensely skeptical of how much play it'll actually see at any point.
I have a lot to say about how low-key great Urza's Saga is in competitive formats, and how I suspect this will end up being a future Modern staple. I don't need to get into any of that, though. That's all window-dressed. The headline here is that this is a Commander land that comes into play untapped and tutors for Sol Ring. You know, the same Sol Ring that is probably the best card in every single deck you own.
So yeah. This card is absurd. I'm going to run it in every single mono-colored Commander deck I have, and most of the two-color decks too. Whatever price this card ends up at on release weekend, that's where I'll be buying in. I see no reason why Urza's Saga won't remain one of this set's top chase cards for years and years to come. It really is that good.
Wonder is readily available in the $1-$2 range right now, regardless of this new printing. It's pretty neat that Wonder is in Modern now, but I don't think that'll affect the price much. Future bulk rare.
Squirrel Mob is a solid reprint. The card has been hovering around the $10-$15 mark for a while now, and if it hadn't been in this set, it would have hit $30+ thanks to Chatterfang, Squirrel General. Instead, the card should end up back in the $3-$5 range.
Mill is still a hard sell in Commander, where 100-card decks loom large and most of the best mill cards still say "target opponent" instead of "each opponent." Fractured Sanity is another step in the right direction, though, and at some point all of these cards are going to spike through the roof. If you're a fan of casual mill, you should start thinking about buying in at some point in the next year so you don't miss out.
For now, Fractured Sanity is more of a Modern card. Mill is actually quite viable in that format, and Fractured Sanity's cycling ability makes this a pretty strong contender for the maindeck of Dimir Mill. Mill cards tend to hold their value regardless, and Fractured Sanity is going on my "pick up when cheap" list for later this summer.
In the meantime, Sanity Grinding sure does look like a potentially great spec. It has only been printed once, way back in Eventide, and copies are still right around $2. Throw four of those into a deck with four copies of Fractured Sanity, and you're well on your way to a viable mono-blue Mill deck. It won't take much to spike Sanity Grinding into the $10+ range, and it looks like free money sitting on the table to me right now.
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This week's newsletter covered the seasonal trends in the Magic market as spring turns to summer. We talked about whether the market was about to cool off, or if it was going to stay red hot. After that, we took a look at a popular Modern staple that gained $10 this week as well as a single-printing card from Darksteel that was bought out. Seriously—please subscribe. You don't want to miss this stuff!