Modern Horizons Set Review – Gold

(Soulherder | Art by Seb McKinnon)

Gold on the Horizon

Welcome to the Modern Horizons multicolored review. There’s a lot to talk about and no time to waste, so let’s dive right in!


The First Sliver

Oh boy. I don’t know what I was expecting from Modern Horizons, but it wasn’t this. Anyone who has played with or against Maelstrom Wanderer or Yidris, the Maelstrom Wielder will know how powerful Cascade is. And I’m sure I don’t need to explain why Slivers are good. The First Sliver will be able to create strong board states very quickly by chaining Slivers into even more Slivers. Hibernation Sliver will be an all-star in conjunction with The First Sliver, allowing you to have constant access to a spell to Cascade with. This only gets better with Quick Sliver giving you the ability to build a huge board from virtually nowhere during any player’s turn.

Nearly any Sliver seems ridiculous when it triggers Cascade, but I think the strongest option could be Pulmonic Sliver. Without the Cascade of The First Sliver, Pulmonic Sliver is a little underwhelming, as it is often easier to revive all your creatures en masse than to play them again as you draw them. But with Cascade, this creature will let you stack your deck to have all your creatures back on the field immediately, while also dodging commander tax.

I think The First Sliver is very strong, but ultimately, it will be used in Sliver decks. If you have a Sliver player in your playgroup that adopts this card as their commander, you may notice a slight increase in speed, but their deck won’t be doing anything it wasn’t before.


Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis

Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis is the second new multicolor legend in Modern Horizons, and comes with an interesting set of abilities. It has both Convoke and Delve, meaning you don’t have to tap any lands to cast this seven-mana behemoth. In fact, you can’t ever tap any lands to cast it. You cannot spend mana to cast Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis. This threw me for a loop the first time I read it, since mana has always been vital to casting spells, but it’s a fun twist.

Hogaak does require some setup. You need at least two creatures to Convoke for the two colored mana in Hogaak’s cost, and relying on Delve too heavily will quickly deplete your graveyard. Still, being able to cast an 8/8 creature with trample for no mana is a little bit crazy. Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis will have applications in Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord, who can repeatedly turn it into eight damage for each opponent. It will also play well with dedicated self-mill strategies, such as Izoni, Thousand-Eyed and Sidisi, Brood Tyrant. Izoni and Sidisi already want to be putting as many creatures into the graveyard as possible, to generate tokens. In turn, those tokens can be used to cast Hogaak from the graveyard to present a resilient threat to the rest of the table. Aggressive token strategies could also make use of Hogaak as a recurring threat, or sacrifice fodder.

As a commander, I think Hogaak has the potential to be a strong Golgari Voltron deck. Varolz, the Scar Striped can boost Hogaak’s power even further, while Izoni, Thousand-Eyed and Kessig Cagebreakers create tons of tokens. Casting Hogaak from the graveyard lets you avoid commander tax and, because you are essentially casting him for free, you will still have mana available to re-equip Equipment and play other spells to boost it up and protect it.


Wrenn and Six

Wrenn and Six is here to bolster land strategies, just in case Lord Windgrace was starting to struggle. By adding a loyalty counter, Wrenn and Six can return a land card from your graveyard to your hand. The -1 is pretty inconsequential, but the ultimate is very powerful, granting you an emblem that gives all instants and sorceries in your graveyard Retrace. This will let you cast them from your graveyard by paying their cost and discarding a land. Since this doesn’t exile the spell, you could cast Cultivate as many times as you have the mana to pull a pretty significant number of lands out of your deck while fueling a large Splendid Reclamation. That sounds like exactly the sort of thing Omnath, Locus of Rage and Mina and Denn, Wildborn want to be doing.

Wrenn and Six also fits very neatly into both Ramos, Dragon Engine and Niv-Mizzet Reborn. Many Ravnica fans in particular took the opportunity to use the newest incarnation of Niv as a chance to build decks focused around Maze’s End. The biggest weakness of a deck focused around Guildgates is the low number of them you can utilize, a measly eleven Gates total. That means if one or two are sent to your graveyard, it can be entirely impossible to win. While cards like Life from the Loam already exist, Wrenn and Six actively synergizes with the effects of both Ramos and Niv-Mizzet.


Cloudshredder Sliver and Lavabelly Sliver

To go along with The First Sliver, we are also getting two more multicolored Slivers. Cloudshredder Sliver will make all your Slivers into imitation Skyknight Legionnaires, which isn’t something I’m looking forward to if I’m across the table from the hive. Lavabelly Sliver gives each Sliver an enters-the-battlefield effect that deals damage to players, something that I’m sure absolutely no one ever will try to abuse. These both have a little extra utility in The First Sliver by allowing the creatures you Cascade into to immediately make an impact. 

There are a lot of options for Sliver decks nowadays. With a huge bunch of creatures, some might not make the cut. These will.


Etchings of the Chosen

This set really does like its tribes. Etchings of the Chosen will give all creatures you control of a chosen type a small power boost and give you the ability to sacrifice one to make another indestructible. This is a powerful effect, but will be most useful in decks that create a lot of tokens, like Varina, Lich Queen, Krav, the Unredeemed + Regna, the Redeemer, and Edgar Markov. In Krav and Regna in particular, pay attention to what creature type you name. The creature you sacrifice has to be of the chosen type, but the creature you make indestructible can be of any type. This means it also fits well into decks that aren’t exactly tribal, but produce a lot of tokens of a specific type, like Najeela, the Blade-Blossom.


Fallen Shinobi and Ingenious Infiltrator

Modern Horizons brings us some great upgrades for Ninja decks, something I wasn’t expecting. Fallen Shinobi presents a large body compared to most Ninjas, and can steal both lands and spells. Ingenious Infiltrator features a very cheap Ninjutsu cost and a very useful comabt ability. It triggers whenever any Ninja deals damage, not just itself, making it a neat value engine in a Ninja-focused deck. Both are easy includes in Yuriko, the Tiger’s Shadow.


Ice-Fang Coatl

Ice-Fang Coatl is most aptly compared to Baleful Strix, which sees play in just over 8,000 decks. This is usually in Aminatou, the Fateshifter or Muldrotha, the Gravetide, where its ETB ability can be abused. Ice-Fang Coatl will likely occupy a similar space in Bant flicker decks like Roon, of the Hidden Realm, and any other deck already running Coiling Oracle (think Niv-Mizzet Reborn or Ezuri, Claw of Progress). Ice-Fang Coatl could also see some utility in aggressive decks that could turn on deathtouch for the Coatl regularly, like Edric, Spymaster of Trest when running snow lands. 


Kaya’s Guile

For three mana, Kaya’s Guile is quite efficient. I see the first two modes of this spell being the most used, both clearing away threats on the board while getting rid of any resources your opponents have been accumulating in their graveyards. At instant speed, this is well-positioned to fit into most decks that run white and black. In particular, I would look to add this to Teysa, Orzhov Scion, as she can make the most out of the white and black Spirit token if you really only need one of the other modes. Teysa decks are also where I would expect to see this spell cast with its Entwine cost the most often, though someone like Karlov of the Ghost Council will probably make the most out of the potential incidental lifegain.


Unsettled Mariner

Unsettled Mariner is part of the cycle of Shapeshifters in Modern Horizons. It is a possible include in any tribal deck that contains white and blue, but will likely be most useful in decks like Grand Arbiter Augustin IV, where the added tax on targeted spells is compounded by the commander. If your playgroup runs a lot of targeted interaction, this could be worth it, but the effect is likely not strong enough to be fully worth including in most decks.


Good-Fortune Unicorn

This is a smaller version of Juniper Order Ranger, a fairly niche card that doesn’t have much presence on EDHREC. There are a number of Selesnya commanders, however, that do care about +1/+1 counters, and even more in Abzan. Dhagatar, the Adamant always appreciates having more counters to move around, as does Marath, Will of the Wild. I think, however, that alongside Juniper Order Ranger, Master Biomancer, and the extra +1/+1 counter support from recent Ravnica sets, you could make a fairly strong Roon of the Hidden Realm deck. With payoffs like Prime Speaker Zegana, Fathom Mage, and Coiling Oracle, plus the high number of new Proliferate cards it could actually be fairly strong. Plus, turning Mystic Snake and Frilled Mystic into strong attackers is always great.

Other places Good-Fortune Unicorn could prove strong are in Emmara, Soul of the Accord and Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves. Tolsimir in particular will like this effect, giving each Wolf in the deck more reach when they fight. Most Wolf cards are usually vanilla attackers, so giving them a slight power boost is always a good thing. Good-Fortune Unicorn will also last a little longer in this style of deck than Juniper Order Ranger since it doesn’t also get a +1/+1 token and could look like less of a threat.


Munitions Expert

Munitions Expert is a strange new Goblin for tribal strategies splashing black. It would have a much stronger effect if the damage could target players. Still, I think this could see some play, especially in decks equipped to bring it into play repeatedly like Grenzo, Dungeon Warden and Wort, Boggart Auntie


Rotwidow Pack

Spider fans everywhere (you bunch of weirdos) should be excited about this creature. It slots neatly into Thantis, the Warweaver where it will produce effective blockers. Rotwidow Pack is also a good include in Ishkanah, Grafwidow, where you will get more mileage out of the damage trigger.


Ruination Rioter

I was initially a little underwhelmed with Ruination Rioter, but it has grown on me quite quickly. Anyone considering building Lord Windgrace should take a look at it, especially since Windgrace’s access to black makes recurring the Rioter a tempting proposition, even if you are just removing utility creatures. It will also likely do a lot of work in Vaevictis Asmadi, the Dire, especially if you are already building to sacrifice lands to Vaevictus’s attack trigger. Each player will flip their card at the same time, so if your opponent puts down a creature or planeswalker you don’t like, Ruination Rioter could deal with that right away. Plus you can always send the damage at a player.

Where this card will really shine, though, is in Borborygmos Enraged. The mighty Cyclops will be pitching lands to the graveyard all game long, and Ruination Rioter is an additional outlet to take advantage of that strategy. Green also has lots of ways to bounce creatures back to your hand, making the Rioter a potential finisher as well.


Soulherder

This is my favorite art in the set, and possibly my favorite art on a Magic card ever. Starting as a 1/1, Soulherder will get a +1/+1 counter every time any creature is exiled from the battlefield. Additionally, at the beginning of your end step, you may exile another creature you control and return it to the battlefield under its owner’s control. For any blink deck, this will act as a more restrictive copy of Conjurer’s Closet. Just remember that Soulherder will return the creature under its owner’s control. Don’t flicker creatures you’ve stolen unless you’re ready to give them back. This should slot into flicker decks like Brago, King Eternal or Roon of the Hidden Realm. It could also do some work in Ephara, God of the Polis, where it will accrue +1/+1 counters very quickly alongside Saltskitter.

Soulherder also gains counters from Oblivion Ring effects, giving it some play in decks that leverage enchantments for creature removal. This will likely play well alongside Tuvasa, the Sunlit, and go right into the Bant flicker deck that I’m definitely building once this set releases.


Thundering Djinn

Thundering Djinn is another interesting creature with an ability that deals direct damage to any target. Unlike Ruination Rioter, the Djinn doesn’t care about lands, but rather the number of cards you’ve drawn this turn. Again, this is useful for clearing away blockers, getting rid of planeswalkers, or simply hitting an opponent directly in the face. The Djinn is an obvious shoo-in for Arjun, the Shifting Flame decks, and could perform quite well in Nekusar, the Mindrazer and The Locust God as well.


In Closing

That’s it for the new multicolored cards in Modern Horizons. There’s a lot of fun stuff here, from new Slivers to powerful tools for land strategies. In addition to these new cards, Kess, Dissident Mage is seeing a reprint! This is her first appearance outside of the preconstructed Commander 2017 product, which is as fascinating as it is exciting! The presence of a snow sub-theme in this set also makes me hopeful we’ll see more of that, either in upcoming sets or this year’s Commander product. 

Do you think I overlooked anything? What are you most looking forward to out of this set? I know I have a few decks I’d now like to build, and lots of cards to fit into my current lineup. Which multicolored cards have grabbed your attention?

Ben was introduced to Magic during Seventh Edition and has played on and off ever since. A Simic mage at heart, he loves being given a problem to solve. When not shuffling cards, Ben can be found lost in a book or skiing in the mountains of Vermont.