Modern Horizons Commander Set Review: Part Two

By Steven Mace


White


Irregular Cohort



I bring this guy (these guys?) up because I think they could be better support for the under-supported tribes out there. If you’re in white and playing a tribal deck that needs some more members of its tribe, then I think you could do worse than two 2/2s for four. Otherwise. this is just filler.


On Thin Ice



Snow-Ring is not the worst, considering the rate. I don’t think anyone plays Chained to the Rocks, but this counts as a snow permanent if that matters to you, and it can enchant any snow land rather than just a Mountain. And since there is no cost (except a monetary one) to playing snow basics, that shouldn’t be too hard to achieve.


Vesperlark



Look at the cute little baby Reveillark. It’s so cute! Without scouring the list of all one-power creatures, I’m going to take a stab and say this is probably not going to cut it as redundancy to its big brother. It doesn’t get Karmic Guide, which is one of the big combos, but someone with greater knowledge than I will probably break Vesperlark too.


Winds of Abandon



A worse Path to Exile. Way worse - twice as expensive and sorcery speed. I think that should be the baseline for this card. A medium fish in the wide-open ocean that is white removal. And the overload isn’t especially impressive either. I keep hearing comparisons to Cyclonic Rift, and I think that is highly inaccurate. Cyc Rift ends games because it’s instant speed. This is not, and it’s a huge difference. And on top of that, it’s basically a Boundless Realms for your opponents. Literally the only thing this card has going for it is that it’s spot removal and a board wipe on a single card, which frees up a slot for something else you want.



Blue


Archmage’s Charm



It’s like a weak Cryptic Command - which is still really good. Triple blue can be rough in decks with more than two colors, and you only get one mode, but all three modes are solid. Worthy include.


Echo of Eons



Now we’re talking. On the front half, it’s just fine - a six-mana to Timetwister is meh. But once you have it in the yard, it’s the real juice. The juiciest of Power 9 juice. If you can discard it for benefit, you’re doing great. Just play your Narset, Parter of Veils...or don’t, because that’s rude.


Marit Lage’s Slumber



Because that’s what we needed: another way for people to get that Marit Lage token. Granted, this one is probably way less abusable than Dark Depths, and I might even call this card fair, but still. Go away. Shoo. Freaking Eldritch horrors. Just because the Eldrazi are dead, Marit Lage thinks it can just up and do whatever it wants.


Mirrodin Besieged



What a sweet card this is. It’s a riff on the Fate Reforged Sieges (Citadel Siege and its ilk), but I always found with those that you tended to more or less always pick the same one unless you were in a very particular strategy. But with this, I think it’s entirely reasonable that any artifact deck its in will happily choose either mode depending on the situation. If you play this on turn three, I think it’s for sure better to pick the Mirrodin side. But late game, it’s probably better to try and end some people with the Phyrexian side. The fact that the Phyrexian side triggers on end step is key too - means you can kill someone immediately after playing it. Sweet card.


Mist-Syndicate Naga



Now this is an interesting Ninja. Things that make copies of themselves are always interesting because of the potential exponential explosion. Unfortunately, they die to a stiff breeze and don’t have nascent evasion. But hey, good Ninjas are few and far between right now, and those Yuriko players will take what they can get. Oh, and an honorable mention to Tetsuko Umezawa since this guy has 1 toughness. He could run away really quickly with her in play.


Moonblade Shinobi



I think this is one of the best Ninjas to get printed in this set. Once it connects via ninjutsu, it makes a flying body that can help to continue dropping more Ninjas on your opponents. Cool card.


Oneirophage



That means “dream eater.” Don’t worry, I had to look it up too. That said, it actually could be a good card. Natural evasion combined with the fact that many Commander decks draw tons of cards all at once, and this little guy could end people in one hit from basically nothing. I’m looking at Toothy, Imaginary Friend, The Locust God and the first and third Niv-Mizzets, primarily.


Rebuild



An obvious combo piece like Retract, Hurkyll’s Recall or Paradoxical Outcome. For the extra mana, you get the flexibility of being able to cycle it away when you need to. Fine card for the decks *cough* Urza *cough* that need it.


Tribute Mage



This is not the greatest card in Magic...it is but a tribute. A tribute to Thopter Foundry, and to Lightning Greaves, and to Isochron Scepter. Probably one of the better members of this cycle.



Black


Cordial Vampire



Vampire decks are happy about this guy, which is much like Patron of the Vein, but in exchange for exiling the dying creatures, you get to trigger off of your own creatures as well. Such a good host.


Dead of Winter



Another great reason to run snow lands - sort of a cold Mutilate. Certainly a solid card in a deck where you can afford to run plenty of basics and thus “freeze over” your mana base. And if any of your creatures happen to be snow, then bonus points - but I wouldn’t look to concern yourself with this bit. Pretty much trinket text.


Defile



Quality removal for monoblack decks or decks that can reliably get an Urborg in play. One mana, instant speed, gets around indestructible. Can’t ask for too much more than that.


Endling



Finally, completion for the Morphling cycle. I would like it to cost one less mana, but this thing is a nightmare in combat. Menace and deathtouch mean that they’re either taking their beats or losing at least two creatures. Undying isn’t the best form of protection - unlike the abilities of many of its kin, that’s not really repeatable without a way to abuse it. A reasonable card, but I doubt it will be an all-star.


Shatter Assumptions



A meta call but against the right opponents - could very well be a Wit’s End on the cheap. Maybe stick it in the wishboard if you can.


Silumgar Scavenger



If this guy were one mana cheaper, I would compare him with Oneirophage. But at five mana, he can be a bit expensive. Even though he can technically get infinitely large via various combos, most ways of killing people with those combos are cheaper and deal with everyone at once. Maybe a budget option or a decent card for people who don’t want to win in the typical manner. So close.


Sling-Gang Lieutenant



Not quite Siege-Gang Commander, but it could certainly do work, especially as a free sac outlet that drains for one. It’s just unfortunate that there’s only one Goblin commander in black, and she’s pretty meh.


Yawgmoth, Thran Physician



Insert George Takei here. The biggest of bads has finally been printed in a form that isn’t an amorphous Death Cloud. This is by no means him at the height of his power, but he is still a very powerful card. Black decks shouldn’t have much issue making tokens to feed him, especially if you throw in things like Blowfly Infestation and Nest of Scarabs, and the life payment is pretty minor. And that’s just the good part - he also has a spare activated ability to pitch cards and proliferate. I predict that Yawg will become the go-to monoblack control commander.



Red


Geomancer’s Gambit



Not an unreasonable card for targeted land destruction. Sure, they get to replace it, so you don’t set them back any, but you do get to kill one of their powerful utility lands. Plus, the card cantrips, so you’re card-neutral. If you need to kill non-basic lands and already have your Ghost Quarters, your Wastelands, etc., then this could be fine. Probably look for Stone Rain first, though.


Pashalik Mons



Another new Goblin commander. Probably a good way to take the eyes off of you if you’ve been running Krenko. If you can run red/green Goblins, you can actually go infinite with Pashalik, Skirk Prospector and some token doubling. One doubling effect gets you four Goblins off of Mons’ effect, so if you can consistently produce one more token or just double up again, you can now deal infinite damage and make infinite Goblins. A great effect for Gobs to have at a plenty good rate.


Shenanigans



If you don’t shout the name at the top of your lungs when you cast this, Richard Garfield will personally come to your house and slap your mother. That said, this is a fine card - it’s cheap repeatable artifact hate. And if you’re in something like Alesha or any number of the Jund decks whose graveyards are basically extended hands, then you’ll actually appreciate the dredge part.


Tectonic Reformation



This is a phenomenal card for red and even better red/white decks. Late game when you’ve just got a bunch of spare lands that you’ve drawn and don’t need, you can just redraw for a single mana. This will be a great card that you’re almost never upset to have.


Throes of Chaos



I love this card. Not because it’s good, and not because it’s chaotic and wild - I love it because it’s a sorcery that doesn’t do anything by itself. That said, it could be an extra copy of any 3-or-less-drop in the deck, so if you have a small selection of cards you want in that range, you can pretty much find it if you find this.



Green


Collector Ouphe



“Oof” indeed. A green Stony Silence that is also a creature and can thus be tutored for. A great hatebear if I ever saw one.


Hexdrinker



I’m unconvinced by this card. Snakes will probably want it, but I can’t imagine that most decks will want a 2/1 that isn’t anything else until they’ve invested three more mana in it. That said, once you get it to level three, it’s going to be pretty hard to stop it from getting to level eight. And once it’s there, it’s quite the beater, especially in the aforementioned Snake decks, where he’s getting buffs from lords and such. Just remember that once he’s up to level eight, you can’t do anything to him either, meaning you can’t target him with the likes of Kaseto.


Llanowar Tribe



That’s no tribe! That’s three Llanowar Elves in a trench coat! Jokes out of the way, I’m not entirely sure this is going to cut it in the Elf decks. The rate is good, but there’s so many other good ramp Elves. I know that my Elf deck is already pretty stuffed at the 3-drop slot. Maybe it gets there because it’s not a variable ramp like Marwyn or Archdruid. But maybe it doesn’t exactly because of them.


Unbound Flourishing



Whoa. Now this is how you do “do-nothing” enchantments. X spells can be notoriously inefficient, but doubling up your X, basically for free, is pretty ridiculous. Hydras will love this, Rosheen will love this. Fair warning, though: this is a low-floor, high-ceiling card. It could do nothing, or it could do everything.



Multicolor


Fallen Shinobi



Go Ninja, go Ninja, go. Yuriko really is getting a ton of support in this set, and this guy may be one of the best. Getting two free spells from your opponent’s deck is pretty sweet. And it’s “play,” not “cast,” so if you hit lands and you have a land drop to spare, you can go ahead and use one of theirs. And on top of all of that, a 5/4 is a solid body worth your opponents’ worry. Definitely going to see some play and may even make its way into some of the “your deck is my deck” strategies out there. Oh, and it’s a Zombie, so there’s also all of that going on too.


Hogaak, Risen Necropolis



This is one of the weirdest designs I’ve ever seen. You can’t spend mana on this guy, but you can cast him for nearly free if you’ve got enough creatures in play and cards in your yard. The only place I can see him being a commander in is some sort of Golgari Voltron deck. He is above the critical 7-power mark, and he comes with trample already stapled on. I guess that alone is neat because that’s not really an archetype that existed before.


The problem is it’s probably just bad. Even though you often won’t be paying the commander tax to recast him, he’s still expensive to cast, and if you can’t manage to get a good token engine going, he’s going to be running on a non-renewable source. And honestly, I don’t see him being good in the 99 at all. I’ve said several times before that straight bodies usually don’t do the job in Commander, and really that’s all this guy is. Maybe The Mimeoplasm will want him just for the +8/+8? I dunno. Cool design, but not the strongest card.


Ingenious Infiltrator



Yet another good Ninja. They’ve really been limiting this sort of design in the past few years with the “one or more clause,” so it’s good to see that not show up here. Yuriko, blah, blah, blah. Moving on.


Kaya’s Guile



More neat design. This is the first time we’ve seen an Entwine card with more than two options. It’s kind of like a command, but for some extra mana you just do all of it. And on top of that, it’s a super versatile card. Now, I think this is obviously more intended for Modern because of how small the individual effects are, but I think it’s still good enough for us as well thanks to its flexibility.


Reap the Past



An interesting card for sure. Being random can be rough, but if you can use delve or the like to curate your graveyard to only things you want (or can just generate enough mana to get the whole thing back), this can certainly be good. The rate is pretty efficient for this sort of effect.


Soulherder



Conjurer’s Closet on an ever-growing body for 3 mana. Mind you, it’s not only triggering on your own things being blinked. Swords to Plowshares? It herds that. Winds of Abandon? Kill someone. A fine card and some sweet Seb McKinnon art to boot.


Unsettled Mariner



Another fine hatebear that comes with every creature type pretty much for free. Tacking on an extra to anything that would target you or your things can often be enough to have those things pointed elsewhere.


Wrenn and Six



And suddenly Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded feels such shame. Wrenn and Six are phenomenal for their cost for the red-green-based land decks like Angry Omnath and Lord Windgrace. I mean, the -1 is basically flavor text, but every now and then it may come in handy. But it’s that +1 that’s the real juice...or should I say sap? I dunno, this is a weird character.


Point is, with these two around, you’ll should reasonably never run out of lands to play. And if you manage to get the emblem, you can’t not be happy. An easy way to recast your instants and sorceries, which are probably ways to get lands or removal and pitch lands away too. I’m glad they could make a good 2-mana walker.



Artifact


Sword of Sinew and Steel



Oh happy day! We’re finally getting the allied swords. Unfortunately, we won’t be getting all of them, but the beginning of completing this cycle is very cool. Still, this is a very conflicting sword. On the one hand, those protections are great. On the other hand, the triggers are a bit narrow, especially the planeswalker one; you will probably more or less always have an artifact to target. That said, this is a definite rattlesnake that may well put your opponent off of playing key cards or at least draw you some political value from those players.


Sword of Truth and Justice



While not as conflicting as Sinew and Steel, this one is clearly not as strong as some of the older swords - but it’s not as bad as Sword of War and Peace. While the protections aren’t the best since blue doesn’t often target things in play or have many creatures lying around blocking, white does both of those things more than often enough to make up for it. I think this will sit fine in +1/+1 counter decks and Superfriends decks.


The Enemy Talisman Cycle



Another long-awaited completion. The allied side of this already existed from way back in Mirrodin, and we’ve been asking for these for a long time. Two-mana colored ramp is so valuable. Glad to have these guys.



Land


Heliod’s Hall of Generosity



First off, screw Heliod. A backstabber and oobjectively worst Theros god. We’ll get you out eventually, Elspeth. But a rose by any other name, right?


This card is sweet. Academy Ruins and Volrath’s Stronghold are both well known to be very powerful cards, and this is the same, but for enchantments and planted squarely in pretty much any enchantment deck’s primary color. I can’t imagine any Enchantress deck wont play this.