Welcome back to my Modern Horizons 2 Set Review! If you missed my first installment, where I covered exciting cards like Void Mirror, the enemy fetch lands, and the delightful Chatterfang, Squirrel General, check it out:
Before we get to the amazing cards that I'll be covering today, I wanted to talk a little about the number-one finance question I've been asked over the past few weeks. Will Modern Horizons 2 end up being a top-heavy set, with most of the value clustered in the fetch lands and a tiny handful of chase cards, or will the value be spread around more, perhaps even across 30 or more incredibly sweet new Modern and Commander staples?
This is a tougher question to answer than it seems. Nearly every set is top-heavy these days, but Modern Horizons 2 is one of the deepest, most exciting sets ever released. I can't guarantee that Solitude and Void Mirror won't be as annoying to play against in six months as Urza, Lord High Artificer and Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis were in the first Modern Horizons set, but WotC really hit it out of the park when it came to the "wow" factor. The 20th best card in Modern Horizons 2 would be one of the two or three best cards in most other sets. It really is that deep.
That said, I still expect Modern Horizons 2 to be a top-heavy set. The $8-$10 booster pack price will allow more cards to exist on the top-end of the value curve than in most sets, of course, but we'll probably see some really powerful rares that would be $15-$20 in some expansions drop into the $5 range. That's what happened to the first Modern Horizons set, which was also incredibly deep and powerful. That's also why so many underrated Modern Horizons cards ended up spiking really hard once that set left print.
That's our goal here today, then. Identify which cards will hold their value or even gain ground in the short term, as well as which cards might drop in price despite still being good and full of promise. Oh—and if we can identify a sleeper or two, that'd be great.
On to the cards!
Solitude is an incredible card, and it marks a huge boost to white's overall power level. Path to Exile is currently the second most-played card in Modern, and you can make a pretty reasonable argument that Solitude is better in any deck that can reasonably expect to evoke it. Choosing a card in your hand to discard is roughly on par with handing your opponent extra resources like Path to Exile does, you don't have to spend a single mana to cast it, and it has an alternate casting cost where it comes down as a reasonable mid-game creature.
Yeah, Solitude is going to see a lot of play in Modern.
Even more important for our purposes, Solitude is excellent in Commander. The evoke cost is great against opposing early plays, but more important is the ability to blink Solitude over and over in order to deal with every other powerful creature on the battlefield. White decks already do this a lot, so Solitude fits nicely into the existing meta. It's also great in Orzhov-colored decks that play out of the graveyard.
So yeah, Solitude is going to be expensive, and for good reason. It's definitely a card to snag either on release weekend or two to three months out, when cards like this tend to hit their overall lows. I expect it to drop in price over the coming weeks, but I also don't hate buying in now because Solitude should remain one of the most expensive cards in the set over the long run. Even if you don't buy in at the absolute bottom of the market, I don't think you'll regret your purchase.
Endurance might be the least exciting member of this cycle, but it is practically guaranteed to see play. Cheap graveyard hate is incredibly important, and this card is going to be a sideboard must-play in practically every Modern deck that can reliably evoke it. I expect it to drop in price due to the fact that it's not great in Commander and because it's not as flashy and exciting as many other cards in the set, but make no mistake: this is a future Modern staple.
You can pick up Endurance on release weekend if you want, but make sure you grab it at some point this summer regardless. I think it'll probably bottom out at some point in August, and that's when I'll be buying in. Any serious Modern collection is going to want two to three copies of this card at some point.
I'll be honest: I have no idea how good Subtlety actually is. It doesn't hit spells that aren't creatures or planeswalkers, and it gives your opponent a choice of whether or not they want to draw that creature or planeswalker again the following turn. It's more of a tempo play against aggro than a Force of Will, and I'm not sure how much maindeck play it'll actually see. I don't want to bet against free spells like this, but there's a wide range of potential outcomes here.
I'd be all-in on Subtlety if the pre-order price were reasonable, but you have to pay about $40 per copy if you want to buy in early. For that price, I'd want to know that Subtlety was a little more of a sure thing than it seems to be. I suppose it might end up being the next Force of Negation, but you'll almost certainly regret your purchase in any other case. My guess? Subtlety ends up being a $20-$25 role-player and sideboard card. I'm staying away for now.
Titania, Protector of Argoth might see play as a two-of in some fringe Modern deck, but I have a hard time believing that a five-drop creature in Lightning Bolt range will see much play in the format. You really have to go off the turn you drop Titania, and even that's a risky move with so much cheap instant-speed removal in the format. Modern players are definitely snagging these at $20 with the hopes of buying a new Modern staple on the cheap, but I think the reprint will drop the price, not raise it. I'm not gonna touch this card for a few months unless I hear news of Modern testing going extremely well.
Svyelun of Sea and Sky
Svyelun of Sea and Sky is one of the best Merfolk ever printed. It's a shoo-in to see play as at least a two-of in every competitive Merfolk deck in any format where it's legal, and I wouldn't be surprised if it led to increased demand for Merfolk across the board. That doesn't mean Merfolk will be much better than it is right now, of course, but a deck doesn't have to be good to lead to increased prices. It just has to be popular.
In Commander, Svyelun of Sea and Sky suffers a little by being mono-blue instead of blue and green. While some people will make it their new Merfolk commander, others will simply have to add it to their 99. Keep an eye on Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca, the current most-popular Merfolk commander. There might be a small increase in popularity if folks who open Svyelun want to build Merfolk decks. Beyond that, the usual Merfolk suspects could see small price increases, as could the best Merfolk ever printed, Aether Vial. In fact, you can already see the demand surge:
As for Svyelun of Sea and Sky itself, I wouldn't buy in yet. This is a narrow card that should drop in price as the value collects within the cards that have broader demand. There's good long-term value here, but I'm waiting until it bottoms out.
Archon of Cruelty
Archon of Cruelty is a good reanimation target. I expect it to see play in Modern Reanimator decks, where it can take over a game pretty fast even if you don't get to attack with it. It'll also see some play in Commander, but the fact that you have to target a single opponent means that it won't be a go-to reanimation target in most multiplayer decks.
Financially, I expect Archon of Cruelty to end up in the $5-$10 range. It's a solid card, and it would be worth more in a less powerful set, but it's pretty narrow and replaceable outside of one very specific Modern deck that won't even need a full playset. I'm staying away for now.
Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer is one of the best red one-drops ever printed. Monastery Swiftspear, Goblin Guide, Goblin Lackey, and Ragavan. That's about it. That's rarified company for this Monkey Pirate to be in, and I expect its price to reflect that. Heck, take a look at what has happened to its chart so far:
That said, I'm still not buying Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer right now. Mono-Red Aggro cards tend to be worth less overall than control and ramp cards, since the deck still has a reputation for being a "budget" way to play Magic. I'm not sure if Mono-Red (or, more accurately, Boros Burn) will be able to run a full playset of Ragavan since it's legendary, and the number of [Lava Dart]] running around the format right now are also a problem.
So yeah. Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer is every bit as good as it seems, and it'll be a staple for years to come. I wouldn't be shocked if it has a little bit of extra value from folks who want to use it as a mono-red commander, too. $40+ is a bit too rich for my blood, though, and I'd rather pick up a promising control or ramp card instead. They just have more financial upside.
I don't think Karmic Guide will do much in Modern, but it's a much-needed Commander reprint and a welcome addition to the set. It was last reprinted in Eternal Masters, almost six years ago, and the price had crept up into the $10 range over the past eighteen months. This reprint should cause it to drop back toward $2-$3, and you can safely pick them up a week or two after release if you need a copy.
Upheaval power level is always higher than you think, and it is capable of some truly absurd plays. I don't know if it's good enough for Modern, but I do know that a lot of people are going to try their best to make it work. Case in point, check out this price chart once the Modern community realized that it was going to be reprinted in Modern Horizons 2:
This doesn't appear to be a single-source buyout, but rather a whole bunch of people each buying a playset of Upheaval. Is it really a $10+ card, though? I'm not sure. It is getting a reprint, and we don't actually know if it's good enough for Modern. I'm personally staying away, because this is a future $1 card if it doesn't become a Modern staple. Buy in if you're a believer, but be aware that the worst-case scenario is very much in play.
Breya's Apprentice is not very good outside of Limited. There are plenty of better token generators, and there are also plenty of better things to do with spare artifacts. It might see a little fringe play in Commander, but it's a future bulk rare.
Sanctifier en-Vec is going to see a lot of play in Modern. It's beyond good against Dredge and Death's Shadow decks, and it's capable of taking over a game all by itself against several other popular strategies. My guess is that it's more of a sideboard card, and goodness knows there are only so many Modern decks capable of casting a WW creature, but the sheer power combined with the lack of interactivity is going to make Sanctifier en-Vec a hated card in many circles.
Sanctifier en-Vec is also good in Commander, though it'll see way less play there. It's too easy for your 2/2 to get wiped away, and too hard to commit to the kind of deck that can take advantage of small creatures like this.
Regardless, Modern play alone should be enough for Sanctifier en-Vec to end up in the $10-$15 range eventually. My guess is that it'll be one of the cards that takes a big hit early to accommodate all the top-heavy value from the fetch lands and the other multi-format staples, but you'll want to pick up a set when it hits bottom. It's quite good.
Harmonic Prodigy is exactly the kind of card I love to hold over the long-term. It gets better with every single Shaman or Wizard that WotC prints, and every time there's one with a super cool ability, we'll see Harmonic Prodigy get bought out and spike. This is likely going to be a win-more in Modern, but the fact that it's a 1/3 with prowess for 1R means that it's a solid body regardless.
Harmonic Prodigy already combos with two dozen popular commanders, and I expect demand to remain high. Definitely a release weekend purchase for me.
Esper Sentinel is another absurd Magic card. Most tax effects (like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben) at least feint at being symmetrical, but Esper Sentinel is not. Playing this on turn one is going to put most opponents on the back foot, and I can see it becoming an instant staple in basically every white midrange deck in Modern. It'll see play in Death & Taxes for sure, but expect to see it in loads of other decks too.
As for Commander, this kind of card is wildly popular in Magic's most important format. It would see a lot more play as an enchantment or artifact, admittedly, but I still expect plenty of white decks to run it since it scales well in multiplayer. It's not quite Rhystic Study, but it doesn't have to be quite that good to see a lot of play.
Financially, it seems like everybody more or less expects Esper Sentinel to end up in the $15-$20 range. I do too. My hope is to buy in around $6-$7 if it drops that low, but this is going to be a very good card for years to come no matter what. If you want a copy ASAP, buying in now is fine.
Suspend is being somewhat underrated right now. It seems like it'll be better than Vapor Snag a lot of the time, and that's on MTGGoldfish's list of most-played cards in Modern. It's especially good with Teferi, Time Raveler, a card that didn't really need any more help. You can also use it on your own creatures in a pinch, either to protect them from removal or to re-buy a Snapcaster Mage trigger. One-mana instants are always going to be among the most powerful things in all of Magic, and I don't see why Suspend isn't getting the hype that so many of the other great cards in this set are seeing right now.
My one concern with Suspend is that it's not great in Commander. It's pretty much a Modern-only card. That said, you should be able to buy in around $2-$3 at or around release weekend if current trends hold. Suspend is going to be a format staple for a while, so I suggest snagging them once they hit bottom. You shouldn't regret it.
Damn indeed. Wrath of God used to be one of the most powerful spells in the entire game, and now you can get it stapled to a solid piece of spot removal. That level of versatility is enough to make Damn a future staple in both Modern and Commander. It's one of the best removal spells ever printed, provided you reasonably expect that you can cast both sides of the card.
And that, of course, is the rub. You can't play Damn in a Commander deck that doesn't run both white and black, which means that it might not see quite as much play as mass removal spells like Wrath of God and Damnation. Modern Esper Control definitely wants this, though, as do Esper and Orzhov decks in Commander. It will see a lot of play, but it won't obsolete every other wrath in the game or anything.
The current retail price for Damn is between $20 and $25, which seems high to me. This is not Damnation, and it won't have nearly as much demand even if it seems a better card in a vacuum. Damn might be a $20+ card over the long term, but I think there will be a window to buy in for less than $10. I'm going to wait and see.
I love me an Erratic Explosion, and Calibrated Blast is the first time in a while that WotC has engaged with this design space. Unfortunately, I don't think this card is very good. It's not going to deal enough damage to be useful in Commander, and it's not going to be consistent enough for Modern. Future bulk rare.
Could Legacy Enchantress make the jump to Modern? Perhaps. It's still missing quite a few key staples, but this is the kind of enabler that could put it over the top. The fact that Sanctum Weaver can tap for one right away—even if you don't have any other enchantments—is pretty huge at reducing its downside, and makes it a playable Modern card. The upside, of course, is that you'll be able to tap Sanctum Weaver for four or five mana by the start of the midgame. I don't have any idea if the deck is even close to viable, but if Enchantress ever makes it, Sanctum Weaver will be a big part of the reason why.
As for Commander, Sanctum Weaver is amazing. Any green deck with even 10-12 enchantments will want to run this card, and it's a top enabler for commanders like Tuvasa the Sunlit and Uril, the Miststalker. This is going to be a $5+ card with loads of demand for years to come. I wouldn't buy in any higher than that right now, but the card is legitimately great.
Solitary Confinement is a solid Commander card. It's not a great Modern card unless you're running Enduring Ideal or something, though. The reprint should bring its price down from $13-$15 to $4-$5. If you want a copy, just be patient.
I don't think Rise and Shine is very good. It'll see a little bit of play in Treasure-based Commander decks, I suppose, or perhaps in decks with lots of signets, but it seems like a great way to lose your entire board if you don't win on the spot. In competitive Constructed, this card is just a little too slow and expensive. Future bulk rare.
Braids, Cabal Minion is banned in Commander, so its ceiling is pretty low. It might see a little fringe play in Modern—it's an incredibly cool card—but I don't think we're looking at a future format staple here. It has also been reprinted once before, so the available supply is pretty high. Bulk rare.
Nettlecyst would have been a pretty big deal in Modern before the Mox Opal ban. These days, it'll take some pretty slick enablers to bring that particular brew of Affinity back from the dead. It'll probably see some play in mono-white Steelshaper's Gift decks, which currently run Cranial Plating, but that's about it for competitive Constructed.
As for Commander, this is a good enough piece of equipment to maintain a value of at least $3-$4. Cards like this always have a reasonably high floor, and Nettlecyst shouldn't prove an exception to that rule. It might bottom out as low as $2, but this is a $5-$10 card long-term, even without much hope for competitive play.
I don't think Nevinyrral's Disk will do much in Modern. Oblivion Stone is already in the format, and that card is better in most cases. This was a $1-$2 card before the reprint since it has been in so many sets, and I don't see Modern Horizons 2 tipping that scale in any particular direction. Future $1-$2 rare.
You have to jump through a lot of hoops to make Dermotaxi work, but the power level is decent enough that a Reanimator deck might be willing to run this as a secondary or tertiary option. The biggest problem is finding two other creatures to tap in order to attack with your Dermotaxi, which prevents too many absurd early-game plays from developing. There's a little upside here, I suppose, but my guess is that we're looking at a future bulk rare.
Cursed Totem sees a little bit of play in Legacy, and I expect it'll be a solid sideboard card in Modern as well. It's great at stopping creature-based combo decks, and it'll even shut off ramp creatures in a pinch. It's probably a two-of here and there, or a toolbox card in Karn, the Great Creator decks, but that doesn't mean its impact won't be felt in the Modern metagame.
Financially, Cursed Totem was a $20-$30 card in large part because it had only been printed in Mirage and Classic 6th Edition. This new Modern Horizons 2 reprint will represent a significant increase in the overall supply that should easily outstrip demand. I expect the price to drop into the $5-$6 range before long. Definitely don't buy in now.
Hardened Scales might not be the deck it was before the Mox Opal ban, but it does still exist—and it still runs Arcbound Worker. Zabaz, the Glimmerwasp is much better than Arcbound Worker, so I see no reason why this card won't see play. It remains to be seen if it'll simply take over that slot or if it'll show up as a three-of over something else, but it'll see play in Modern either way.
Financially, I think we're looking at a $3-$5 card. It's good, but only in very specific circumstances that won't lead to super high demand. A few folks will make Zabaz, the Glimmerwasp their commander, but without too many other modular cards in print I can't imagine it catching on beyond the fringes of the format. If WotC ever revisits the mechanic you'll want to buy these ASAP, but in the meantime it's a safe card to buy if you play Hardened Scales and a safe card to ignore if not.
Riptide Laboratory is one of my all-time favorite cards, going back to the weird old days of Onslaught Block Constructed. I do think it'll see play as a one-of or two-of in some of the decks that lean on Snapcaster Mage, but it's not going to remake the Modern format or anything. In fact, I haven't seen any movement on this card since the reprint was announced. If folks are excited about trying this card out in Modern, they haven't tipped their hand yet.
Riptide Laboratory was just reprinted in Jumpstart, so it doesn't have nearly as far to fall as if it hadn't been printed since Onslaught. It has been a $5-$6 card for months now, and that's probably its short-term upside now. It might even drop into the $2-$3 range if it ends up being a bust in Modern. I'll be looking to buy in once the set hits peak supply, and not until then.
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This week, my newsletter covered many of the Modern Horizons 2 related spikes that I didn't have time to talk about in today's article. If you're curious which cards are spiking due to grass roots player demand and which cards are spiking because somebody decided to buy out the market, you'll have to check it out!