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Commander Review: Modern Horizons 2 | Part 2 | Black, Red


Modern Horizons 2 has just been fully previewed so now it's time for me to go over the entire set and highlight the cards that I think are most noteworthy for us Commander players! We started with White and Blue; now we move on to Black and Red!

BLACK

Archfiend of Sorrows

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

For most decks, Archfiend of Sorrows is outclassed by Massacre Wurm, which offers the same -2/-2 mini-wipe but also doubles as a finisher thanks to its nasty lifeloss trigger. Still, Archfiend's unearth ability is a unique selling point, allowing you to get its value straight from the graveyard if you put it there via discard or mill. It might be good enough for jankier Demon Tribal decks like Rakdos, the Showstopper, Wheel decks like Nekusar, the Mindrazer, and Self-Mill decks like Sidisi, Brood Tyrant. Also I love the art!

Archon of Cruelty

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Archon of Cruelty has immediately become one of the best reanimation targets in Black and a card I expect to see a lot of going forward. It's essentially a beefed up Titan (e.g. Grave Titan), immediately 3-for-1'ing an opponent plus draining them when it ETB and then triggers again each time it attacks, absolutely backbreaking. It's a cool homage to Cruel Ultimatum (check out the Bolas's Meditation Realm in the art) and definitely lives up to its title! I expect to see this in tons of Black Reanimation decks where the whopping 8cmc is irrelevent when you're "casting" it for 2 instead (Animate Dead).

Break the Ice

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Break the Ice is too narrow for me to recommend, though it's almost there considering how many powerful utility lands happen to tap for colorless (e.g. Reliquary Tower and Field of the Dead). But if you really want to be a jerk to someone running snow basics or is playing a Kozilek, the Great Distortion deck, then Break the Ice is a great way to break your friendship with that person.

Cabal Initiate

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Sometimes you just need a free, repeatable discard outlet, like if you're playing a Madness deck, for example.  Putrid Imp is one of the best for that in Black, but if you need Imp #2, Cabal Initiate is almost as good and works just fine.

Clattering Augur

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Skeleton Tribal fans everywhere, rejoice! Clattering Augur is a staple of the jank tribe, easily in the top 10 most playable ones. That's not exactly high praise outside of that specific archetype, but hey, it's a fine budget filler inclusion in Sacrifice decks or Self-Mill decks, where you can (very slowly) generate extra value from repeatedly sacrificing and recasting it.

Dauthi Voidwalker

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Dauthi Voidwalker is a new staple for the ever-popular Steal Your Stuff archetype, specifically Anowon, the Ruin Thief Rogue Tribal, as it's also a low-cost Rogue with top-tier evasion. It's also a severely pushed Leyline of the Void, so if you were interested in that effect outside of Enchantress then you just got a much better version that you can crack at any time to cast an exiled card -- FOR FREE, I might add! Yes, I would like to cast the Omniscience I milled/exiled for ZERO MANA, thank you very much!

Voidwalker is insane. It's a strong choice for basically any Black deck, but it's a staple in Rogue Tribal.

I had a long rant about power creep in modern MTG design and how much I hate asymmetrical hate pieces, but I'll leave that for another time.

Echoing Return

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Most decks won't care for this, but Echoing Return is a staple in at least two decks: Relentless Rats and Shadowborn Apostle, where you can return an obscene amount of them back to your hand for just one mana. That's some crazy potential!

Imagine this scenario: you're a Shadowborn Apostle deck. You cast Secret Salvage to get all the Apostles from your library into your hand. Then you discard all of them to Skirge Familiar to generate a ton of black mana. Then you Echoing Return them all back to hand and discard them all to Sickening Dreams or whatever. Seems fun to me!

Feast of Sanity

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Feast of Sanity doesn't look like much on its own, but in decks all about discarding cards -- Wheel and Madness -- it can be a powerful removal / finisher that keeps you alive while wiping everything out. A Wheel of Fortune is now deal 7 damage gain 7 life, and if you chain them together ... yeah, that's a lot. In certain Madness decks like Anje Falkenrath you're basically discarding your entire library in one turn, which can easily be enough damage to take out 1-2 opponents with Feast.

Low power floor, but very high power ceiling. If you see Feast dropped down, chances are someone's gonna die on this turn or the next!

Grief

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

I know that targeted discard is much weaker in multiplayer than it is in 1v1, but Grief might be strong enough to warrant inclusion in some Commander decks. The fact that you can cast this for free and always get to choose any nonland card makes it so much better than Disciple of Phenax which is a card I sometimes still run as filler in budget brews. If your deck is Black-heavy and has ways to abuse its ETB trigger with Panharmonicon and such then Grief might be worth it; I'd look at Gonti, Lord of Luxury and Horde of Notions as homes for it.

Magus of the Bridge

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

I'm ignorant of older formats so all I know about Bridge from Below is that it's good in 1v1 constructed but I don't think I've ever seen it played in Commander. Magus of the Bridge seems like an upgraded version though, since now it's attached to a creature, which inherently has tons more synergy potential, especially in Black (e.g. Unearth). It might be good enough to jam into a Zombie Tribal deck to make infinite zombie tokens off Phyrexian Altar + Gravecrawler loops or whatever else, but that's still worse than just having Blood Artist out, so who knows. Still neat though!

Necrogoyf

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

I skipped most of the Black madness cards so far because they're only interesting in Anje Falkenrath decks as a way to rummage through your entire deck on a single turn. Necrogoyf is actually more interesting though since it gets BIG, essentially an upgraded Mortivore that also enables discard / madness outlets AND comes with madness to boot.

Necrogoyf is a staple in Madness decks everywhere and its forced discard makes it a monster in Discard decks too like Tinybones, Trinket Thief.

Persist

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Persist is a far cry from something like Animate Dead, since it's restricted to just your graveyard and it can only hit nonlegendary creatures which is significant in Commander. Still, this is a 2 mana reanimate, and there's plenty of Graveyard decks loaded with powerful nonlegendary creatures to yoink. It's very good, just not for all Graveyard decks.

Profane Tutor

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Nerfed Demonic Tutor is still very good! Profane Tutor does cost the exact same mana and requires you to wait two turns, but unlike some other suspend cards like Resurgent Belief, I doubt it will draw much heat for suspending it, nor is there much your opponents can do to deny you the tutor (barring Opposition Agent or killing you, of course). It's solid in just about any Black deck as a generic tutor but, like all suspend cards (yes, I'm a broken record), it's busted open with cascade. I've even heard rumblings that it's responsible for turning Codie, Vociferous Codex into a top-tier CEDH deck, which is neat!

Most importantly though: LOOK AT THAT ART! My goodness! I'm such a sucker for RKF art, and this hits me right in the nostalgia in the best way!

Tourach, Dread Cantor

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

I'm not to biggest fan of Tourach. It grows into a threat over time, which is neat, but the Kicker ability is less interesting to me in a multiplayer format. If it hit each opponent I'd be all over this, but alas.

Tourach seems a lot better in the 99 than as the commander of a Discard / Wheel deck. He can act as an efficient beatstick in Nekusar, the Mindrazer or Tinybones, Trinket Thief, for example, while sometimes being Kicked to disrupt an opponent.

Underworld Hermit

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Underworld Hermit costs a ton of mana but it's making at least 2 squirrel tokens by itself, potentially a lot more. Basically it's a smaller Abhorrent Overlord, which is cool. It pulls off the same infinite combos with Ashnod's Altar + Nim Deathmantle. It also makes Squirrel tokens, making it an easy inclusion in Chatterfang, Squirrel General.

Unmarked Grave

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Nerfed Entomb is still pretty good! Unmarked Grave costs 1 more mana, is sorcery, and is restricted to nonlegendary cards (nice flavor btw), so it's not going into all Graveyard decks, but 2 mana tutor is still a great rate for decks looking to dredge up nonlegendary cards; newcomer Archon of Cruelty is an excellent candidate, for example!

Vile Entomber

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Vile Entomber is the latest Entomb on the stick, with other variants being Gravebreaker Lamia, Oriq Loremage, and Corpse Connoisseur (for creatures). It fits nicely amongst the other options, shining brightest in my opinion in decks that can abuse its ETB triggers with Panharmonicon and the like (Gonti, Lord of Luxury), or Zombie Tribal since its creature type is relevant there. Or if there's a card you reeeeally need to tutor into your graveyard and want to run multiples of this effect to consistently find it.

It's a solid card that doesn't outshine the others that came before it.

World-Weary

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

World-Weary is solid in exactly one archetype: Auras, where being an Aura makes up for how lackluster it is otherwise. I'll happily run this in Daxos the Returned and Killian, Ink Duelist Aura decks, since you can easily reduce the cost to just BB and it triggers a bunch of great stuff like Kor Spiritdancer.

Young Necromancer

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Having a reanimate on a stick is pretty enticing, not gonna lie. Graveyard decks often have plenty of extra lands or whatever to exile for this cost and if you can re-use its ETB it gets even better. Five mana is a bit high though. I expect this to be nice budget filler for any Graveyard deck.

Braids, Cabal Minion

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

This is just a reprint but I figured now would be a great time to unban Braids, who has been unjustly left banned. #FreeBraids

RED

Breya's Apprentice

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Breya's Apprentice is a card that would've been considered an allstar in Red Artifact decks back in 2010: it's a repeatable sac outlet with impulse draw so it's got a lot of synergy potential, sac'ing Myr Retrievers and Treasure tokens to impulse draw, all objectively good things, and it's even an artifact itself. But with Artifacts being one of the most powerful archetypes in the entire format, I don't think tuned Artifact decks will care for this, and ironically I doubt any Breya, Etherium Shaper deck would ever consider this since Breya herself is one of the most competitive Artifact commander out there.

Being outclassed by the cream of the crop isn't a total waste, though! I expect Breya's Apprentice won't be very popular and therefore budget-friendly, making it an excellent pickup in jankier Mono Red Artifact decks like Slobad, Goblin Tinkerer and whatnot.

Calibrated Blast

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Calibrated Blast is a significantly upgraded Erratic Explosion, now instant speed and with flashback. Does that make it good enough to see some amount of play in Commander? Eh, probably not. It can do work in High CMC Matters decks like Jodah, Archmage Eternal that can regularly flip a Time Stretch or whatever, but those decks would rather just run another card that can cheat these game-winning haymakers into play, not cast a less impactful burn spell. It's not bad, but it's outclassed in all but the most budget versions of these decks.

Captain Ripley Vance

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Captain Ripley Vance looks to me like a low-power alternative to those who like the Rionya, Fire Dancer or Zada, Hedron Grinder styles of play: Mono-Red, chain a bunch of spells in a single turn, set off some fireworks. The difference here is that if Rionya or Zada chain a bunch of spells in the same turn, they win the game. With Vance, you deal 4 damage, maybe more if you have even more setup cards like Fiery Emancipation. But either way, the payoff is much lower.

Honestly I think this is a good thing. Rionya and Zada are both "I win if you don't deal with my commander immediately" type of decks. We really don't need a third Mono Red "Storm" option at that same power level. So having a toned-down version is great.

Chef's Kiss

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Chef's Kiss is a cheaper, more chaotic version of Wild Ricochet. Ricochet was a card that used to be quite popular back in the day but has since faded in popularity as the format powers up. Honestly, I always found keeping up 4 mana pretty clunky, so a 3 mana version is already more appealing to me even if the effect is appropriately nerfed a bit. I also like the flavor of the card, though I wish it made a Food token as well!

Now, is the card good? I'm leaning towards "no," and I don't expect to playtest it much, but I want to hear people's experiences with it.

Faithless Salvaging

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Although weaker than Faithless Looting in pretty much all decks, Faithless Salvaging is interesting in that it rummages twice at half the total cost of casting + flashing back Faithless Looting at instant speed, even if you only see 2 cards instead of 4. Getting two casts off thanks to rebound makes it a fine card in Spellslinger decks that have plenty of "magecraft" triggers from instants, like Veyran, Voice of Duality.

Flame Blitz

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Symmetrical yet powerful hate! See, Dauthi Voidwalker?

Flame Blitz is pretty meta-dependent: does your playgroup have tons of Superfriend decks? Then Blitz is fantastic, since it completely wrecks planeswalkers and can be cycled when not needed. But planeswalkers are overall weaker in multiplayer so I wouldn't recommend adding this blind, unless you're specifically playing a Cycling deck, like Gavi, Nest Warden.

Fury

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Fury is probably the weakest of the Incarnation cycle for Commander, but even so it's hardly a bad card. Yeah, it's sorcery-speed and doesn't exile like Solitude does, but it should still find plenty of small utility creatures to pick off and double strike is a very powerful keyword that scales if you increase its power or add combat triggers like Sword of Fire and Ice to the mix.

I may not jam this into all my Red decks, but it definitely has a home in at least Burn decks like Torbran, Thane of Red Fell, which heats the spice level of this card up considerably.

Glimpse of Tomorrow

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Glimpse of Tomorrow is probably the only new suspend card in MH2 that is about on par with its original version, in this case Warp World. This one doesn't disrupt your opponents, only affecting your own board, and you do need to wait 3 telegraphed turns for it to happen, but 2 mana is waaaaay less than 8! Like yeah, if you have near-infinite mana then Warp World is much better, but Glimpse is just more consistent. It goes into the same deck, maybe a few more if you're doing Yidris Cascade, but if you like Token Chaos then you'll like Glimpse.

Goblin Traprunner

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Traprunner isn't made for Goblin decks. It's made for Coin Flip decks, specifically the more janky version. It's 4 mana that can repeatedly flip 3 coins per combat, which is a great rate if you're trying to coin flip the fair way. Solid.

Harmonic Prodigy

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Do you like Naban, Dean of Iteration and wanna double your doubler? Well, here's a slightly better second version with Harmonic Prodigy! Even more Panharmonicons for Wizard Tribal! Both slot in perfectly in any UR+ Wizard list, most notably Inalla, Archmage Ritualist.

Harmonic Prodigy is also notable that it's one of the only cards that directly supports Shaman Tribal! I checked and all I could find was this, Mentor's Guidance, Rage Forger, and Sachi, Daughter of Seshiro. We're not quite there yet for a real archetype, but it's neat nonetheless.

Mine Collapse

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

All free spells are worth a second look, even random commons like Mine Collapse. At the very least this is another free Storm count the turn you go off with Rionya, Fire Dancer, Thousand-Year Storm, or whatever your Storm payoff is. It's also not horrible when hardcast, so picking off a creature for four mana at instant speed is a nice bonus as you wait to go off.

Obsidian Charmaw

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

There's enough random colorless utility lands or painlands (Yavimaya Coast) played in Commander that I can see Obsidian Charmaw being cast regularly for 2-3 mana. You get a 4/4 flying dragon that blows up a nonbasic, picking off powerful utility lands like Cabal Coffers or whatever. I think this is a strong consideration in Dragon Tribal decks like The Ur-Dragon.

Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

LEGENDARY MONKEY PIRATE!

Ragavan is the 1-drop that Zurgo Bellstriker wishes he was: a 1-drop that generate a mana and a card each combat trigger is absolutely bananas. Having dash is a nice touch as well! Sure, you'll need to help your monkey out with some evasion, but it's worth the effort since the payoff is so nice!

Great in the 99 of basically any combat-focused evasive deck, great in Pirate Tribal, not too shabby as a commander either! 

But also:

LEGENDARY

MONKEY

PIRATE!

Strike It Rich

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Simple yet effective, Strike It Rich is a "free" Storm count / spellslinger trigger, opens up Treasure synergy with cards like Galazeth Prismari, and just a nice way to set up bigger turns in the future. I expect it to be a staple in Galazeth and solid elsewhere too.

Tavern Scoundrel

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

If you're flipping infinite coins then this common 2-drop is infinite treasure. That's absurd. Even without going infinite it's still a ton in a Coin Flip deck. It's so good that CEDH Coin Flip decks are jamming it already. Solid.

Unholy Heat

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

If your deck gets delirium consistently, then Unholy Heat is pretty darn legit! It's kinda like the Skred of "delirium" decks.

Part 3 Coming Soon: Green, Multicolor, Colorless

We wrap up the review with Part 3 coming out in the next day or two! See ya soon!



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