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By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Jun 30 2021 12:00pm
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MODERN HORIZONS 2

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 Modern Horizons 2 is the second set in the namesake series of draftable supplemental products that skip Standard legality to land directly onto Modern. This typically offers the opportunity to induct older cards into the format; this time around it's the turn of popular Legacy and Vintage classics like Cabal Coffers, Counterspell, Enchantress's Presence, Goblin Bombardment, Gorilla Shaman, Imperial Recruiter, Karmic Guide, Mirari's Wake, Mishra's Factory, Nevinyrall's Disk, Quirion Ranger, Shardless Agent, Solitary Confinement, Sterling Grove, Upheaval, Vindicate, Zuran Orb, and a bunch of others. All these cards are legal in Modern for the first time. The Enchantress archetype seems to be particularly affected by the reprints (though Argothian Enchantress is still missing), which also include all five enemy-aligned fetch lands as a way to increase supply on the secondary market.

   

 The Modern Horizons sets are also highly experimental in nature, with a quantity of callbacks to Magic's past, and an overall feel comparable to Time Spiral block. This second entry sees an abundance of artifact creatures and even five new enchantment creatures. Notable small or infrequent tribes getting one or more new members include Assembly-Worker, Camel, Dauthi, Goat, Incarnation, Kirin, Lhurgoyf, ManticoreMonkey, Ouphe, Peasant, Salamander, Squirrel, Starfish, Thopter, and Whale. Starfish in particular gets its third member ever, while Squirrel receives the only real tribal support in the set, with 12 new cards that are, make or care for Squirrels. Samurai returns for the first time in a non-Kamigawa set.

 Crab only appears as tokens and has no new actual member in the set, but gets an enchantment that creates Crabs and then boosts them.

  

 Ranger debuts through the reprint of Quirion Ranger. The subtype previously appeared on Kelsinko Ranger from Ice Age, but was eliminated during the Grand Creature Type Update of 2007. Given the broad spectrum of its definition, it's conceivable that more creatures will have the subtype added via Oracle errata. At the very least, all the creatures with "ranger" in their names are expected to become Rangers. And then of course, Dungeons & Dragons: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms will make good use of the subtype, which was very likely created exclusively on its behalf. We already know Drizzt is going to be one of the new Rangers.

 

 Along the same lines, Phyrexian saw the first two creatures being physically reprinted with the new type: Bone Shredder and Skirge Familiar.

 

 Anyway, let's have a look at the new creatures and their tribes. As always, the main focus is on all the Constructed applications (though Limited is occasionally touched upon), the tribes are presented alphabetically, and you'll find a hypertextual list at the end.

 Infodump

  • Cards: 308 (+5 duplicated basic lands)
  • New cards: 256
  • New creatures: 146
  • Reprinted cards: 52
  • Reprinted creatures: 19
  • New Legendary creatures: 16
  • New Snow creatures: 0
  • New artifact creatures: 30
  • New enchantment creatures: 5
  • Triple-subtype creatures: 2
  • Creature types affected: 83 (plus 8 only in reprints)
  • Tribes with more than 5 additions: Human (+28), Wizard (+14), Elemental (+11), Soldier (+8), Dragon (+6), Shaman (+6)

Angel: +3

  

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 New Tribal Total: 191, online: 190

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: We get one new, over-the-top mythic Angel, courtesy of Modern Horizons 2. The suggestively named Serra's Emissary is a big play, partially reminiscent of Iona, Shield of Emeria, although much more restricted in scope. It's not one whole color of mana that gets shut down for the opponent, but one card type. And actually, not even that, it's just that some card types, notably creatures and perhaps the spot removal brand of instants, lose most of their functions once our team and we are protected from them. At a first glance, this primarily works against creatures, virtually making our beaters unblockable and the opponent's wincon moot, as long as it's creature-based. Against control decks, it doesn't present as much of an impact. And if the Emissary names "creature" as the affected type (which, by the way, also works against interactions where our creatures are targeting each other), then she doesn't get any from of protection from her ability. Still, she could be a sideboard card to bring against aggro in a reanimator deck or other archetypes that traffic in expensive finishers.

 The other two new Angels, appearing at uncommon, seems designed uniquely to influence the Limited environment. Glorious Enforcer is one of the scariest finishers at this rarity, capable of attacking as a five-powered lifelinker with double strike. Thraben Watcher cares about the opposite strategy, rewarding for going wide while not being much of a presence herself, as well as way too easy to get rid of for a four-drop.

 Reprints that are new to Modern: Angelic Curator is essentially meaningless (sideboard card against affinity? Eh, probably only in Limited), but Karmic Guide is a hoot. She might not be as fantastic as she was back in her days, but five-mana blinkable reanimator that has the potential of leaving behind one additional flyer with relevant protection? Maybe she won't find a home in Modern, but I'd say she's still good enough to warrant a try.

 


Archer: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 83, online: 79

 Related Tribes: Cleric, Human

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: One of the two triple-type creatures in the set (the other is Lonis, Cryptozoologist), this two-drop looks good enough, especially for an uncommon Archer. Outlast is a bit of an awkard mechanic, because it forces us to tap the creature during our turn – this kind of effect has been improved lately, making it work at instant speed in cards like Swarm Shambler, but it wasn't as refined yet in Khans of Tarkir. This means that, if we drop our Arcus Acolyte on turn two, we'll have to choose either to keep her on defense as a 2/2, or to make her a tapped 3/3. It really screams "I need a way to untap". This said, for those meager two mana we also get lifelink and reach, both relevant keywords at any point in the game for a creature that can grow to a potentially very large size. Even more important is the ability to graft one +1/+1 counter onto any other members of the team, sort of a delayed Venerated Loxodon effect. The overall design might feel a bit counterintuitive, because her colors and abilities make you think she should have a home in Selesnya Counters, but the Acolyte actually doesn't want to fight alongside too many other creatures with +1/+1 counters on them, otherwise her last and juicier ability will be hindered. Which might just spell doom for her Constructed playability, to be honest.


Archon: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 19

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: The very first monoblack Archon (the second black one after Ashen Rider), and in fact the first ever monocolored Archon that's not white, is quite the reanimation target. It doesn't protect itself, but that nasty, multifaceted trigger happens as soon as it hits the battlefield, and then again at each declaration of attack, Magic 2011 Titans-style. The individual components of the trigger are not incredibly impactful, unless the edict effect gets rid of the only big threat on the opponent's board (which, it might), but the sum of all five of them at once is insane value – too bad the symmetry is broken and Archon of Cruelty doesn't also resurrect a creature of our own.

 I like the flavor, too. The Archons are enforcers of the law, and the law might certainly be twisted into the cruel expression of an oppressive, tyrannical government.


Artificer: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 131, online: 127

 Related Tribes: Human

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: I feel like the design of this red Artificer was walking the fine line between "too much" and "not enough", and it ultimately landed on the latter camp. It all boils down to the fact that Breya's Apprentice has to tap himself to sacrifice an artifact. And of course, the opposite case would too easily lead to endgame combos, where the infinite recursion of one artifact would make us exile our entire library and then just cast the wincon. In the form that it took, I'm not even sure the second mode of boosting a creature even makes too much sense, since it usually happens only once per turn. Still, it's two bodies for three mana, plus some good impulsive drawing. It might be "just enough", in the end.

 By the way, this guy is serving his apprenticeship under Breya, the Esper artificer who explored the Jund shard and tried her hand at red mana. She was depicted in Breya, Etherium Shaper.


Assembly-Worker: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 7

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Last time we saw an Assembly-Worker was in Dominaria, with the callback of Mishra's Self-Replicator. Now Academy Manufactor is referencing the Tolarian Academy, while also being a very fun build-around that link together the three most frequent artifact tokens of contemporary Magic: Clue, Food and Treasure. It goes straight over the top when combined with Fae Offering, despite the wildly different flavor.

 Arcbound Prototype is just a new modular two-drop. It's itself a call back to the Arcbound robots of Mirrodin, which for the most part had appeared in the second set of the original block, Darksteel. Of course this little guy ranks far from an archetype-defining card like Arcbound Ravager, but as the Grizzly Bears of the modular guys, it has its place. It's the prototype we had never seen, after all. Although, it's worth noting that, in keeping with the current approach to artifacts, this is also the first Arcbound creature that requires colored mana.


Beast: +5

  

 

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 New Tribal Total: 431, online: 422

 Related Tribes: Elemental, Goat

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Beast is mostly on filler duty in Modern Horizons 2. They appear at common in four different colors, and seem to be there as living reminder texts for old mechanics like reinforce, scavenge, suspend, and basic landcycling. Bannerhide Krushok is perhaps the most functional for Limited, as it can discard itself to add two +1/+1 counters for two mana as a combat trick, and then exile itself from the graveyard to add another four of those as a sorcery.

 The only new Beast of higher rarity, the uncommon Herd Baloth, has a strong token-making ability that triggers in response to +1/+1 counters being put on it. It's otherwise a barely on-curve five-drop 4/4, and requires external help in order to get going, so still not extremely impressive outside of casual.


Berserker: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 106, online: 103

 Related Tribes: Cyclops, Human

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Spoiler alert: elsewhere, monored gets one of the best cards in the set with Ravagan, Nimble Pilferer. To keep up, these red Berserkers heavily rely on delirium, but that's not really something that pays dividends early on. The rare here is Bloodbraid Marauder, which clearly wants to be the tribe's Bloodbraid Elf, except delirium gets in the way. It's technically a two-drop, but if cast on turn two, cascade won't be online yet, so it goes down to just being a 3/1 that can't block – not exactly the top option for this point on the curve. In fact, if we're willing to dip into a second color, Gruul gives us a straight-up 3/3 with Zhur-Taa Goblin, and so does Rakdos with Rakdos Headliner from this very set. In monored, Flametongue Yearling is one point of power short, but tactically superior due to its removal capability and scalable cost. All this to say, I'm not sold on Bloobraid Marauder having any role whatsoever in RDW or other red-based aggro builds.


Bird: +4

   

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 New Tribal Total: 289, online: 276

 Related Tribes: Nightmare, Spirit

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Same as the Beasts, these Birds merely fulfill the role of Limited fodder, except this time with flying attached. It's an aggressively average group of cards, sleepingly featuring some returning mechanic, like delirium and hellbent. I guess we can take notice of how Healer's Flock is basically three copies of Healer's Hawk stapled together. (A flock of hawks should be called a "kettle", by the way).


Camel: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 8, online: 7

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: New Camel since Amonkhet block. It's basically the more awkward version of a graft creature that only moves its counters at the beginning of combat, and doesn't untap until it has relocated them all, leaving us with a 2/2, which we probably have no use for anymore, if we ever had one. Yeah, it's pretty bad. But, hey, don't look a gift camel in the mouth. Because it's probably gross.


Cat: +4

   

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 New Tribal Total: 225, online: 218

 Related Tribes: Soldier

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: For some reason, the Cats in Modern Horizons 2 are all of the mechanical variety. They mostly serve the white-red draft archetype that's about artifact synergies and modular. Arcbound Mouser is a strictly better Arcbound Worker, if not for the fact that it asks for colored mana, which is not irrelevant. Arcbound Shikari is the low-rarity centerpiece of the archetype, boasting first strike and putting a counter on each other artifact creature we control.

 Diamond Lion is also an artifact, but it takes a very different route, being the creature version of classic graveyard shenanigans enabler Lion's Eye Diamond (they missed the opportunity to call it "Diamond-Eyed Lion", then). Of course we're pretty far from the blueprint here. The Lion needs to wear off its summoning sickness before being able to activate, so it can just end up shocked in the meantime. And it gets online on turn three at the earliest. It might still be good for Modern purposes, but it might also just be a meme card. (It's currently worth 2 cents on MTGO, so my money is on the latter.)


Cleric: +4

   

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 New Tribal Total: 476, online: 451

 Related Tribes: Archer, Human

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Beyond Arcus Acolyte and another card designed for Limited in Disciple of the Sun, Clerics have two notable new additions to write home about. The rare Sanctifier en-Vec reminds us of the Vec tribe with its weird italicized prefixes, and in particularly of the similarly protected Paladin en-Vec. But she's more aptly a repurposed Auriok Champion. Both are double-white two-drops with protection from white's enemy colors; but where the Champion functioned as a slower Soul Warden, the Sanctifier provides a brand of color-focused graveyard hate. She's clearly meant as a sideboard card, and it could feel strange to pick a specialized hater that's not able to cover all kinds of situations; on the other hand, black and red are probably home to the most dangerous graveyard synergies, including storm via Past in Flames. And this Cleric does a good job at hating those, being both a Bojuka Bog on arrival, and then a Rest in Peace afterwards, while also fighting the good fight against black and red on the battlefield.

 Even more exctiting is the card incarnation of Tourach, the founder of the Order of the Ebon Hand, and a name most familiar to Magic players due to the fearsome early era discard spell Hymn to Tourach. This veritable blast from the past (we're talking of a character from 1994's Fallen Empires) is, in his non-kicked mode, a serviceable two-drop 2/1 with protection from white, which grows whenever an opponent discards a card. But it's not all, because the kicker of Tourach, Dread Cantor is basically a phantom copy of Hymn to Tourach, cast for its original cost of double black. Definitely an excellent addition to discard decks.

 Reprints that are new to Modern: the only Cleric that makes the jump from the Eternal zone into Modern is Sanctum Prelate, which had previously only appeared in Conspiracy: Take the Crown, and is now offered with new art and in a "retro" frame (something I have strong feelings against, since the glorification of a frame that was replaced almost twenty years ago because deeply flawed feels weird to me, and it's not mere nostalgia factor if it's used on cards that had the good luck of never having been printed in that form to begin with). It's an important addition to the pool, as the Prelate is a strong hatebear that Death & Taxes decks can use against a variety of enemies in a number of ways.


Construct: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 134, online: 133

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Two solid new Constructs with, once again, roots in the past. Thought Monitor is an affinity creature which might well translate into a three-for-one for just one blue mana. This ideal scenario would require six artifacts on the battlefield when we cast the Monitor, but Modern Horizons 2 debuts a cycle of ten indestructible, dual-colored artifact lands that might help in this matter.

 On its part, Monoskelion is a cute, miniature Triskelion. Having to pay one mana to discharge the counter is a bummer, but I guess the original's free-of-charge policy would make it too likely to become the key piece in a low-cost infinite combo. And it still can be recharged in numerous ways, to ping away at its enemies to its heart's content. It's just a little bit more mana-intensive than we were used to in its grandad's time.

 Reprints that are new to Modern: Millikin is a simple mana dork that also synergizes a little with self-milling strategies. I don't think its induction will make much of an impact on the format. It sure its visual representation changed a lot since Odyssey.

 


Cyclops: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 30

 Related Tribes: Berserker

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: I mean, the delirium-enabled attack trigger is potentially backbreaking against token decks. And there's reach as a random bonus. But everything about this Cyclops says "midrange draft beater that's not even a particularly high-priority pick".


Dauthi: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 11

 Related Tribes: Rogue

 Impact of the New Additions: Extreme

 Highlights: Dauthi, which I'm sure most players don't even know or remember it's an actual thing that exists, returns to Magic after 23 years of absence. This monoblack race of shadow-like beings from Rath, enemies of the white Soltari and the blue Thalakos, ceased to have any support in the game with the end of the Tempest block, where their story was told. Dauthi Voidwalker is therefore the first member of the tribe not to debut its first printing in the original 1993 Magic frame. It's also their first rare. And it was kind of worth the wait, because it's pretty awesome. For one, it's un blockable three-powered two-drop, which is not a negligible improvement of monoblack aggro's potential clock. And then, it doesn't just Leyline of the Void the opponent, it can convert itself into the most broken spell that happened to end up in any opposing and now exiled graveyard. For free! Imagine casting Thoughtseize and hitting, say, Karn Liberated or Emergent Ultimatum, and be like, "Yeah, maybe I'll sac my Voidwalker to cast that one for free". This Dauthi has come back from the abyss of time, and it's hellbent on stealing the Modern scene from all those younger creature types!


Demon: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 122, online: 119

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: It's unusual for the single Demon of a set not to take a rare or mythic slot. But even at uncommon, Archfiend of Sorrows remains notable enough, because it can be discarded or milled away, and unearth will still give us a one-sided Infest and a single attack with a four-powered flier. The basic casting cost is probably too steep, but all in all, it could have been worse.


Devil: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 32, online: 31

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Here's a great new beater Devil, swinging for three on turn two. The catch is the echo cost forcing us to discard a card, but that's actually easy to turn into an asset. Modern Horizons 2 itself is filled with madness cards, so Rakdos Headliner actually doubles as an enabler for those. How sweet is that?


Dinosaur: +3

  

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 New Tribal Total: 118, online: 117

 Related Tribes: Illusion

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: A trio of cool Dinos from Modern Horizons 2. Out of the two commons, Phantasmal Dreadmaw is a new application of the old Skulking Ghost mechanic that had already given us other monoblue Illusions like Phantasmal Bear and Phantasmal Dragon (it was a whole theme in Magic 2012). Now it was the turn of a Dinosaur – a color-shifted Colossal Dreadmaw – to enjoy a vastly beneficial body/cost ratio due to its inherent fragility. The other common, Urban Daggertooth, revisits the Dino-owned enrage mechanic from Ixalan, marrying it to proliferate. It's not the most efficient way to proliferate, and it doesn't do anything on its own since this guy has nothing to proliferate on, but it's a cool retread.

 Then of course we have the very loud, very flashy legendary mythic Thrasta, Tempest's Roar. It's basically a spellslinging version of Ghalta, Primal Hunger, with storm count replacing total power of creatures on the battlefield. As such, it's less likely to find a home in the same kind of deck as its inspirator, but it could be very explosive in a dedicated deck. And when I said "spellslinging", that was actually misleading, since the word usually evokes decks filled with instants and sorceries. Instead, Thrasta's discount doesn't really care about the type of spells you're preceding it with, which means a deck with many small creatures is possibly the way to go. Elves comes to mind, an archetype that was never particularly successful in Modern, but still exists on the fringes of the meta. If our goal is unleashing Thrasta on turn two, then Elves might have the right tools for that challenge. We can drop any mana dork on turn one, then Nettle Sentinel, Heritage Druid and any other one-drop on two. That's three spells in a row, bringing Thrasta's cost down to 1GG, which is exactly what the Druid will provide through its ability. All of a sudden, we'll find ourselves swinging at the opponent with our seven-powered trampler (which also tramples over planeswalkers, a new keyword that's cute if not super-relevant). Such early assault can't even be stopped by removal on that first turn, because of the temporary hexproof. And if dropped so early, there's very little the opponent can throw at it afterwards, too, at least in Modern. Basically, they'll need either a bounce spell or high-profile white removal like Path to Exile or, assuming they were on the play, Oblivion RingDismember won't be enough, Skyclave Apparition won't work, same as Abrupt Decay and Cast Down, and red would need multiple burn spells to get Thrasta off their back. Of course, drawing into Thrasta later in the game might turn it into a dead card, unlike other Elf finishers like Craterhoof Behemoth, which only requires mana, rather than a specific turn setup. Still, consistency issues notwithstanding, this Dino is no joke. Although it's probably not what a Dinosaur deck would want to include.


Dog: +3

  

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 New Tribal Total: 91, online: 87

 Related Tribes: Elemental, Nightmare

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Three common Dogs of different colors, none of which is a regular dog. Arcbound Tracker is a robo-Dog, another in the line of the new modular creatures that feel more balanced due to their colored mana requirement. In this case, for a slightly larger cost than a 2/2 body would warrant, we get menace and the chance to grow more +1/+1 counters on the Tracker, which isn't a bad thing when paired with modular.

 Floodhound is an Elemental Dog. And it's a detective Dog! (There might be a reference there, but I'm missing it). Three mana plus tapping is kind of a steep cost to investigate, an action that doesn't result in much per se, unless we have synergies that care about artifacts being created or being around.

 Finally, Hell Mongrel is a Nightmare Dog, both a madness enabler and a madness card itself. Overall, none of these weird puppies will have a life outside of Limited. Perhaps not even that much of a life there.


Dragon: +6

  

  

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 New Tribal Total: 221, online: 219

 Related Tribes: Elder

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: That's an unexpectedly large quantity of Dragons for a set that doesn't include a cycle of them, as each of these is completely unrelated to the others (maybe it's just a byproduct of D&D coming to Magic next). None of them is exceedingly busted, but they're all somewhat notable, with the exception of Arcbound Whelp, which is merely an application of modular on a midrange flyer (a mechanical Furnace Whelp) that was designed for Limited.

 The mythic Murktide Regent is a delve creature that wants to devour instants and sorceries to get big while cheapening its cost. It seems a good fit as a finisher of a control deck, especially one that runs many flashback cards, since the further exiling of instants and sorceries from the graveyard will grow its body even after its initial spurt. However, the Regent might not find a proper home due to its lack of resilience compared to other options, like Dream Trawler. And by the time a control deck is ready to deploy its finisher, a cost discount probably doesn't even matter much. This said, its current price on the secondary market is high enough to indicate it raised a definite interest among deck builders.

 The other mythic Dragon is Scion of Draco, an obvious reference to Planeshift's Draco, which is still the Magic card with the highest mana value in black border. The Scion has the same discount based on land types, now ability-keyworded as domain, and doesn't ask for an upkeep cost, which was the reason why the original was never actually played, if not as something to discard to effects where the mana cost of the pitched card matters. This new take on one of the oldest artifact Dragons is much smaller, but it provides an array of color-coded abilities to all the other creatures we have in play. I'm not sure all this reworking amounted to a very playable card, all the same. It might drops as a 4/4 flyer for just two mana, but a deck with all five basic land types is probably chasing after a more impactful payoff.

 The legendary Piru, the Volatile is part of a series of cards that revisit the story of Dakkon Blackblade (remember him?), based on comic books released some 25 yeas ago, which is another thing the Modern Horizons series is free to do: pander to the nichest sides of the Magic audience. Still, Piru is a big flying lifelinker for a ton of Mardu-colored mana, and it notably revives the dreaded upkeep cost (in direct contrast with Scion of Draco), but adding a twist to it, because you might actually want to leave Piru die in order to benefit from her death trigger, possibly in a deck filled with legendaries. She's not the most exciting Elder Dragon, even if she can essentially turn a reanimator spell into a sweeper, which might be enough to earn her a silver bullet spot.

 Another callback: Timeless Dragon is now the Modern version of Eternal Dragon. Except, it's not really eternally recurring; it does the trick just once, via eternalize, and it even loses power in the process. On the bright side, it only costs five mana and has the same body as the original and the same plainscycling capability, so there's that. It's probably a beater we want to cast regularly before eternalizing it, unless we absolutely need that Plains.

 Last and maybe least, Obsidian Charmaw is a respectable five-drop 4/4 that kills one nonbasic land upon hitting the battlefield. If we put it like that, it's clearly not enough to ever warrant any form of competitive play, but its cost discount against colorless ramp decks a la Urzatron might make us consider its employment as sideboard hate.


Druid: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 223, online: 219

 Related Tribes: Elf

 Impact of the New Additions: Null

 Highlights: Drey Keeper is only incidentally a Druid, being a card designed for Squirrel decks, and mostly for the Squirrel archetype in Limited. Rift Sower is a mana dork with suspend, resulting in a mana boost on turn three if suspended on turn one. It's not a terrible deal, but considering the sheer quantity of Modern one-drops that are actively able to generate mana on turn two (among the others, Birds of Paradise, Gilded Goose, Noble Hierarch, Ignoble Hierarch, and six different flavors of Elf Druids), the existence of this card is is pretty much negligible.

 Reprints that are new to Modern: Yavimaya Elder is a classic staple of Commander, but it was never played much elsewhere, so I'm not sure it's a meaningful addition to Modern.


Dryad: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 43, online: 41

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Thanks to this Dryad, now enchantress decks in Modern have access to a version of Serra's Sanctum. It can be relevant to help the Legacy archetype making the jump into the smaller format, even without Argothian Enchantress, which is now pretty much the only missing piece. As for the Dryads, they unfortunately have only three other members that are enchantments, and only one of those is actually playable, namely Dryad of the Ilysian Grove, so I don't foretell many in-tribe applications of Sanctum Weaver.

 By the way, I have to push back against the inconsistency of the use of Dryad and Nymph. It's very simple: in Greek mythology, dryads are forest nymphs (naiads are water nymphs, oreads are mountain nymphs, and so on). Since the Nymph subtype was reintroduced and expanded upon in TherosMagic has recognized the subordination (all Dryads are Nymphs, but not all Nymphs are Dryads) only intermittently, with the original Shanodin Dryads from Alpha reinstated as a Nymph Dryad, but Dryad of the Ilysian Grove absurdly printed with only the Nymph type (though it was amended later through an errata), and now a card like Sanctum Weaver missing it altogether. It's annoying and unjustified, as it's mechanically negligible and doesn't even take much space on the type line. An even better solution, to be honest, would be to remove the Dryad type entirely, since we don't have a separate sub-subtype for Naiads, Oreads, Alseids and Lampads. If they're overly attached to it because it's historically been the most frequently used, then at the very least they should make sure to be consistent in its appearances.


Efreet: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 24, online: 23

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: "A card for every player" is a motto that has been heard a lot among Magic designers. And this is definitely the Modern Horizons 2 card that best embodies the idea of gifting a little something to the casual crowd that loves "chaos" effects, and specifically flipping coins to uncertain results. I'm sure this text reads amazingly to that kind of player: you flip five coins! If you win every flip, you draw five and get Omniscience until end of turn! Or maybe you're very unlucky and get burned for ten by your own creature! Ah-ah! Great risks, great rewards!

 Real talk, though. Is this guy, who even happens to be the second ever legendary Efreet (after Veyran, Voice of Duality from Strixhaven Commander, and ignoring the back face of Uvilda, Dean of Perfection), potentially playable? Say we flip four coins per attack; odds are we'll get two cards in exchange for four damage. Is that a good ratio for an Izzet card? After all, the initial investment was three mana and the trigger doesn't ask for any additional resources. It's kind of hard to tell, but I'm going with flipping coins never being a good indicator of a competitive Magic card.


Elder: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 30

 Related Tribes: Dragon

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: So, Piru was one of the Elder Dragons from Dominaria, the children of the ancestral Ur-Dragon. Somehow, though, she wasn't a sister of Bolas, Ugin and the others; instead, she was the lover of Chromium (yeah, this back story is kinda sketchy, because she either was or wasn't the offspring of the Ur-Dragon; if she wasn't, where did she come from?). Mating with Chromium, she gave birth to many Dragons, including the primeval Crosis. At some point, she and Chromium were summoned by the planeswalking demoness Geyadrone Dihada, to have them fight against Dakkon, who ultimately killed Piru with his Blackblade. It was all a ploy by Dihada, who absorbed Piru's essence and became even more powerful, enslaving Dakkon to her will. Unfortunately, this story has no conclusion because the Magic series of comics published by Armada was shut down in 1996, before all these events could lead to anything resembling an end. But it's the reason why Piru, Dihada, Dakkon and his sidekick all have cards in Modern Horizons 2.


Elemental: +11

  

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 486, online: 479

 Related Tribes: Beast, Dog, Incarnation

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Elemental is the second largest non-Human tribe in Modern Horizons 2, after Wizard. Of course the true highlight among the new Elementals is the Incarnation cycle, which we'll discuss under that entry. The rest of them is much less exciting. Slag Strider might be the better positioned for competitive purposes, because it can be a two-drop 3/3 with a ping ability in an affinity deck, and those builds are already interested in red due to Galvanic Blast. Three others bring back evoke, which we'll see on the Incarnations, too. These are all commons, though, very underwhelming to hardcast (2/2 vanilla for four? 2/4 flyer for seven?!), and their evoke options are so-so at best, ranking from sorcery-speed Naturalize to a couple of 1/1 flyers for four mana, with the most appealing potentially being two Clues for two mana with Wavesifter.

 Reprints that are new to Modern: Titania, Protector of Argoth is a beloved card from Commander 2014, and is nice to see her hitting the Modern field, even if her chances to shine outside of Commander don't look good. The new artwork for the extended art version is... different. It's a pretty picture, but it seems hard to reconcile such wild interpretations of the same character.

 


Elf: +5

  

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 444, online: 431

 Related Tribes: DruidScout, Ranger, Snake, Warrior

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Two new Elves stand out here. Tireless Provisioner is very clearly meant as a complementary of sort to Tireless Tracker, with Foods and Treasures in place of Clues. They share cost and body, although the Provisioner has the flaw of not growing larger when one of her tokens is sacrificed (that would probably be asking too much of an uncommon). But she more than makes up for it. First of all, she creates one of two different tokens per landfall trigger, so there's some built-in flexibility. And second of all, man, a Treasure for each land drop is basically Lotus Cobra level of ramp, isn't it? Except you don't even have to use the extra mana right away, it's safely stored within your Treasures, ready to synergize with Magda, Goldspan Dragon and Galazeth Prismari. On top of that, whichever token we chose her to make, the Provisioner will enable "artifacts matter" synergies and all "artifact (or permanent) entering the battlefield" triggers. Of course, in a long game, Clues are the superior type of token out of this batched trio (Academy Manufactor can help with that), but the mana ramp from Treasures can be explosive, and Food can actually become the primary choice in the right kind of deck. This is a veritable mythic uncommon.

 The other notable new Elf is the rare Snake Scout Lonis, Cryptozoologist. The triplet of types, the reptilian nature, and the casting cost might give us the false first impression that this is going to be a retread of Coiling Oracle. But Lonis is something else entirely. Were you sad about the absence of Clues in Tireless Provisioner's token range? Well, Lonis is going to step in and make a ton of those for us; in fact, each nontoken creature we drop in his presence does what Tireless Tracker would do when entering the battlefield: a good old investigate action. Clues are great on their own, since they represent cards, but Lonis also turns them into a way to steal permanents off the top of the opponent's library. Hard to conceive a Clue deck without a playset of this Simic Elf. And to be fair, I've no idea what a Clue deck actually looks like, but Modern Horizons 2 sure is helping us putting the pieces together.

 Reprints that are new to Modern: Quirion Ranger is a big one. In Modern we can't use it to untap Rofellos or Priest of Titania, but we can Elvish Archdruid, or just any mana dork, making that "Thrasta on turn two" plan even more feasible. Also, the new art is sweet, and the Ranger type reappears here for the first time (after its aborted first use in Ice Age) – this is definitely a good card to pick as the official rebirth of the tribe.


Frog: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 30, online: 29

 Related Tribes: Samurai

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Samurai returns for the first time after Kamigawa block, and its new member is... a Frog person. I don't really understand the reason behind this choice, since there wasn't any Frog in the entire block, let alone an anthropomorphic sapient one who learned bushido (here's hoping we will finally get a Mutant Ninja Turtle at some point – the rules allow for it!), but the ability looks quite good on a Grizzly Bears, and Frog doesn't exactly have a ton of competition at CMC 2 – or anywhere else.


Gargoyle: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 30, online: 29

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: There's absolutely nothing of interest to say about this Gargoyle. So I won't even try.


Giant: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 185, online: 179

 Related Tribes: Soldier, Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Constable of the Realm drops a bit late on the curve for renown to consistently trigger, considering how ill-equipped her body is to ensure connection. On the other hand, the repeatable Oblivion Ring ability is quite juicy, and we can just forget about renown, and instead pair the Constable with something like Luminarch Aspirant or Sparring Regimen. That sounds like a strong interaction! And the fact that she becomes larger, therefore harder to kill, the more we exploit the ability is also a positive factor.

 Prophetic Titan is another valid uncommon Giant in totally different colors. It's a well-designed application of delirium, because the card doesn't entirely rely on it; satisfying delirium just makes it better. Granted, six mana are probably a couple too many for only one of the two effects and a vanilla 4/4, so we still get the strong incentive to include this Titan in a deck that's able to reach delirium consistently. After that, it becomes a truly excellent flicker target. The contained recurring theme of "4" is also gratifying, from a Mel point of view.


Goat: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 12, online: 10

 Related Tribes: Beast

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: No rare Goat this year (in 2020, we had Capricopian), but Caprichrome is at least a decent artifact creature for Limited, able to maybe devour at instant speed a modular friend that was going to die anyway. Nothing fancy, but at least it does more than Landscaper Colos, which is basically just a tutorial on landcycling in the form of an actual printed card.


Goblin: +3

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 366, online: 353

 Related Tribes: Shaman

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: We won't bury the lede here, Goblin is the host tribe for the very relevant Jund version of Noble Hierarch, aptly named Ignoble Hierarch. Okay, maybe the pun is a bit on the nose here, and the mirroring aspect would work better if the original was an Elf, rather than a Human. Still, the introduction of a new one-drop mana dork comparable to Noble Hierarch is a big development, and not just for Modern. It's easily a new entry on the Top 3 best mana dorks of all time (the top one is probably still Birds of Paradise).

 The other two new Goblins inevitably take a back seat here, despite having some merit. Goblin Anarchomancer is a cost-reducing Bear for Gruul decks; the issue might be that those builds don't actually want this kind of card on turn two, they prefer a larger body or a tempo play like Burning-Tree Emissary. And Goblin Traprunner is admittedly a playable coin-flipping card, since losing the flips is not harmful; or at least, it is in the measure that we'll find ourselves attacking with a frail 4/2 vanilla we invested four mana on. Probably still a meme card.


God: +1

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 48

 Related Tribes: Merfolk

 Impact of the New Additions: Null but in a way also Extreme

 Highlights: Groundbreaking development: the Vodalian Merfolk's own goddess has been revealed! We've finally found out whom those Svyelunite Temples had been erected for and whom those Svyelunite Priests were devoted to! Svyelun is obviously quite strong in a Merfolk deck, and completely irrelevant in a God deck, so we'll talk about the card itself later, but one thing that should be noted right away is that this printing kind of opens a whole can of worms related to the God type. This is the first God to appear outside of a cycle, or outside of a pantheon even – technically, Ilharg was also forced into a cycle without really belonging to that cycle's pantheon, and notably also sported a secondary subtype, something no other God had, except for the zombified Eternals, mostly for mechanical reasons. In fact, let's say Svyelun is the proof that Ilharg wasn't a special case. And Merfolk is much more relevant as a subtype than Boar, after all. So if a Merfolk can be a God, can anybody now? We already see the spoiled Tiamat from Forgotten Realms is a Dragon God – that's not actually part of Magic's multiverse, but the card is part of the game. So shouldn't the Ur-Dragon also become a God now? More crucially, why isn't Oketra a Cat, Mogis a Minotaur, Iroas a Centaur, and so forth?


Golem: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 128

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Two amusing callbacks for the Golems. Bottle Golems is a new version of Bottle Gnomes. It's actually much worse than the original because we can't sacrifice it when we please, but it's fine for Limited. And as its name essentially states out loud, Tormod's Cryptkeeper is Tormod's Crypt on legs. Cost and vigilant body are decent enough to make the incidental graveyard hate just bonus value; of course it's not good enough as a sideboard card against graveyard shenanigans, because the summoning sickness makes it awkward. But Golem as a tribe could certainly use playable new members at the lower stages of the curve.


Gorgon: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 19, online: 18

 Related Tribes: Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Perfectly acceptable new Gorgon at common. It won't change the tribe's overall lineup (which is still severely lacking), but five mana for a five-powered menacer is an okay price to ask, and we get the chance to turn an expendable creature into conditional removal. Good Limited pick in black, and very splashable too.


Homunculus: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 19, online: 18

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: I guess this can become a threatening flyer in an affinity deck. But that kind of deck doesn't really want to include a boltable four-drop. Probably playable in draft, but not even as a very high pick, just as something you'd happily play if you stumbled upon it while you were already drafting affinity.


Human: +28

   

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 2568, online: 2385

 Related Tribes: Archer, Artificer, Berserker, Cleric, Peasant, Pirate, Rogue, Shaman, Soldier, Warlock, Warrior, Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: Irrelevant

 Highlights: Half of the legendary creatures from Modern Horizons 2 are Humans. From that point of view, the set is not as experimental as it's meant to be.

 Reprints that are new to Modern: Two Human Minions considerably raises their secondary tribe's presence in Modern, alongside the induction of Bone Shredder. Braids, Cabal Minion is an old card, originally from Odyssey, while the madness super-enabler Chainer, Nightmare Adept is relatively new, being printed for the first time in Commander 2019. A major highlight of the reprinted Humans is the classic combo fetcher Imperial Recruiter. Then Sanctum Prelate is a strong hate card, Shardless Agent makes cascade combo decks more consistent, and Yavimaya Elder is just there.

   

   


Hydra: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 54

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Okay variation on the basic Hydra concept. Using reinforce, we can basically give the Hydra treatment to another creature of our choice, by way of a potentially very rewarding combat trick, since reinforce works at instant speed. It's interesting how a lot of these returning mechanics weren't received too well in their original go, so it's very possible we won't ever see supported again in a wider capacity. The Modern Horizons series sort of gives them a place to say, "we stil exist!"


Illusion: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 89, online: 84

 Related Tribes: Dinosaur

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: It's a Dinosaur! Or you just thought it was! Any new Illusion with the "skulking" mechanic that was popularized by Magic 2012 is always welcome. They were all grandfathered by Gossamer Phantasm from Planar Chaos, in turn a color-shifted Skulking Ghost. So it seems somewhat appropriate to give them a seat at the table within a series of sets that's directly inspired by the many shenanigans of Time Spiral block. But is Phantasmal Dreadmaw a relevant new addition? Yes and no. It's the largest Illusion with this mechanic, putting Phantom Beast to shame. But as a four-drop, it can't beat the evasive Phantasmal Dragon. Plus, we're back to include abilities in the wording of the sacrifice trigger, something we had left behind in previous cards like Labyrinth Guardian and Dream Strix. Therefore, I have to rate this illusionary Colossal Dreadmaw as just okay.


Imp: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 39, online: 37

 Related Tribes: Phyrexian

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Well, a 2/2 flyer with haste is not a bad creature to cast for one mana, is it? In a madness deck that plans to win by combat damage, this seems like a no-brainer inclusion. And the tribe itself includes efficient madness enablers like Putrid Imp.

 Reprints that are new to Modern: Skirge Familiar is now in Modern and is a Phyrexian. The new subtype is also retroactively added on the reprinted Minion, Bone Shredder. They're coming!


Incarnation: +5

  

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 18

 Related Tribes: Elemental

 Impact of the New Additions: Off the chart

 Highlights: A little bit of history of the very peculiar Incarnation type. If we discount Limited Edition Alpha's Personal Incarnation, which was given the subtype after the fact due to its name (it was an Avatar at the time, which, to be fair, is a separate type that more or less describes the exact same concept), all Incarnations have always been part of a monocolored cycle. In fact, this from Modern Horizons is the third cycle they get. The first of these cycles appeared at uncommon in 2002's Judgment, was composed by creatures that cared about being in the graveyard, and for some reason had a spinoff duo at rare (Glory and Genesis). After this initial foray, the Incarnations resurfaced five years later in Lorwyn, and now they were all rare six-drops that had the opposite relationship with the graveyard compared to their predecessors, since they couldn't end up there at all.

 The Modern Horizons 2 Incarnations return to having a more active dialogue with the graveyard, but also keep the Lorwyn's secondary and a bit redundant subtype, Elemental. In fact, they borrow one of Lorwyn's own mechanics, evoke. This is what makes them the most powerful members of the tribe to date (they're its first mythics, after all), because they're all essentially modal spells, where you can choose to pay the full cost and get both the creature and its ETB trigger, or you can pay the evoke cost and be satisfied with only the latter. Plot twist, though: the evoke cost involves no mana expenditure whatsoever, only the exiling of a card of the same color from our hand, a la Force of Will or Misdirection. And it's not for nothing that I've mentioned such broken cards – every Magic player knows how insanely advantageous is to be given the chance to cast a spell without spending mana, thus having them always available even when tapped out. Three of these Incarnations actively take advantage of that, by being playable at instant speed. And all of their triggers mimic a famous spell or effect. Let's review them roughly in the order in which I rank their general effectiveness, which is curiously the same as the mana wheel. The caveat being, though: they're mostly all equally excellent.

 Solitude has Swords to Plowshares as an ETB trigger. It's instant speed, so it has applications that reach back to Vintage itself, stopping a turn-one win involving a creature, even when we are on the draw. The five-mana flash creature is slightly underwhelming, body-wise, but it still kills something upon dropping and has lifelink.

 Subtlety casts a conditional Hinder. It's no Force of Will, but countermagic that's always ready to go is kind of busted, even just against creatures or planeswalkers. This is more of a midrange play than a turn-zero play, allowing us to tap out and maybe even bait a play from the opponent (the countered spell must be worth the inherent card disadvantage, though). The 3/3 flash flier is well-costed at four, and it's easy to just run this as a sometimes better Mystic Snake that occasionally can catch the opponent off guard.

 Grief is overcosted as a 3/2 with menace, but the bonus Thoughtseize is sweet. Played straight, it's essentially a Thoughtseize that doesn't cost you a card nor life. Conversely, the evoke cost is gonna two-for-one us, so it's more of an emergency button if we fear a combo is coming.

 Fury's trigger is almost exactly Pyrotechnics, even if it can't go face. It's stil pretty good for five mana with a 3/3 double striker as a bonus. It feels like the least likely to be cast for the evoke cost, since it doesn't operate at instant speed, and red decks that are interested in a five-drop probably have other cards in mind.

 Endurance is the most specialized, but when it's useful, which is against graveyard strategies (and, to a lesser extent, against mill), it's a blast. It's also the cheaper to hardcast, and if its creature component is arguably the least impactful of the group in a vacuum, it's well worth three mana in any Stompy list, where it's nonetheless still more fitting for a start in the sideboard. Its extreme value in that role is probably the reason why it's currently the member of the cycle that commands the highest price on the secondary market – you just need some of them on the side, to bring in as hate for all the graveyard chicanery you might face. And it's not actually terrible maindeck, to be fair.

 On top of everything they have to offer, it's crucial to note that hardcasting all of these Incarnations opens the road to flickering them, repeating all of their valuable effects again and again. This is another reason Solitude is at the top of my ranking, since white is the color that's better equipped to abuse the ETB.

 Reprints that are new to Modern: Wonder was one of the most played members of the original Judgment cycle (the other is probably Anger). And now it's Modern-legal, too.


Insect: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 178, online: 174

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Duskshell Crawler is not strictly better than Ironshell Beetle, but we might well consider it so, since a 1/3 is probably more useful for the Insects than a 2/2, and they naturally have a number of other members that can exploit the trample bonus. One of these is the legendary Zabaz, the Glimmerwasp, which however wants to be surrounded by modular creatures, not merely creatures with regular +1/+1 counters on them. With red mana available, Zabaz can actively cause the modular boost to happen, multiple times. And we have to imagine the endgame here is getting all those counters on itself, to exploit the white-enabled flying. It coul be risky (don't put all of your modular eggs in a wasp basket!), but rewarding. Zabaz also makes for a solid Boros Artifacts commander for just one mana.

 But Modern Horizons 2 had Insects on its mind with one of its planeswalkers, too. Grist, the Hunger Tide is the first such card that belongs to the tribe, the character being a sentient bug collective of some sort that somehow shares a spark between its components and recreates itself in each plane it visits using local insects – which is a cool, novel idea. And of course it very much wants to be in a deck with a large density of Insect cards.


Kavu: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 44

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Aww, baby Flametongue Kavu! If kicked for a total of four mana, it'll be inferior to the original, but its scalable nature is what makes it a good card, starting from a two-drop that has a good chance to kill the opponent's two-drop. Great tempo play for red-heavy decks.

 Territorial Kavu is also probably going to be a two-drop 2/2 for Gruul decks. Rummaging or graveyard hate as options for its attack trigger are okay, but the whole package is clearly much better when domain is exploited in full, and I just can't see a five-color deck being too interested in this guy. Even if a 5/5 for two mana might still be tempting as a distraction for the opponent to deal with, while we pursue our more impactful game plan, which might even involve discarding something specific to the Kavu's rummage.


Kirin: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 9, online: 8

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: This is the first Kirin to appear in a set where its presence is not linked to the depicted culture, as they were in the cases of Kamigawa, Tarkir, and the Plane of Mountains and Seas from Global Series: Jiang Yanggu & Mu Yanling. And that's prety much the end of Guardian Kirin's importance, since for the rest it's just an overcosted midrange flier that can grow slightly bigger over time. In short, a Limited-oriented common.


Knight: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 319, online: 306

 Related Tribes: Myr, Spirit

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: These two Knights won't much impact the tribe as a whole, which is large and contains brokenness, but hell if they're not two juicy little commons. Breathless Knight can leverage lifelink by setting up a combo with other returning members, i.e. every one of them when Haakon, Stromgald Scourge is in the building. And Knighted Myr is an increasingly threatening double striker when paired with Luminarch Aspirant or Sparring Regimen, and it can enable itself at least once. Well done, Modern Horizons 2 Knights.


Lhurgoyf: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 9

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: It's strange to think of it, but there hadn't been any new Lhurgoyf since the tribe's Modern signature member Tarmogoyf, which was released now full 14 years ago. Being black, Necrogoyf takes it cue from its only in-color predecessor, Mortivore, using dead creatures in all graveyards to calculate its body weight. It sacrifices some resilience in order to drop faster via madness, and its recurring disruption doubles as enabler for further copies of itself, or other madness cards. All in all, one of the better members of a still too small tribe, one that's very characteristic of Magic.

 And speaking of Tarmogoyf, Modern Horizons 2 pays homage to one of the most played creatures of Modern by erecting an altar in its name that mimics its functionality as an exalted-like trigger. It's expensive but kinda cute, and also brings back the deprecated tribal card type for the occasion, while working as a trample-giver for all Lhurgoyfs.


Lizard: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 60, online: 58

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: The Rootwallas are a sub-subtype of Lizards native to the plane of Rath (the setting of Tempest block) and styled after real-world chuckwallas. There have been three before Modern Horizons 2, but only one of them has had any degree of relevance in Constructed. The one that did, however, is very well-known for its madness cost of zero, which makes it a fixture of madness decks. Blazing Rootwalla is indeed sort of a color-shifted Basking Rootwalla, sharing the same capacity to, essentially, be discarded direcly onto the battlefield. The new version manages to become a three-powered threat for just one mana rather than two, at the expense of the toughness boost. Overall, a deck running the green Rootwalla, which might be already incorporating red for some mad Innistrad Vampires and now Terminal Agony, will now be able to run eight Rootwallas that drop for zero. Although, Pauper decks will miss such opportunity, since this new little guy has unfortunately been printed at uncommon.


Manticore: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 11

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Manticore has never been a popular monster in Magic, and probably never will. Mostly appearing in monored, so directly competing for an ecological niche with the likes of Dragons and Phoenices, they were virtually discontinued for 11 years after their third member in Mercadian Masques. These days, they're linked to settings inspired to ancient cultures (the myth's origin is Persian, but we haven't had a proper Persia-inspired set yet), mostly the Egypt of Amonkhet, which was home to four of the lion-scorpion hybrids, including the Invading Manticore from War of the Spark. There have been a couple from Theros, too, all bearing the enchantment type that marks their Nyx origin: one is the pentacolored Chromanticore, the other is the more recent Dreamstalker Manticore. It's to the latter that Mount Velus Manticore most closely resembles, a midrange creature that's pretty decently costed for Limited and can ping any target for a small amount (two at the most, since no card has more than two types), in this case also doubling as a madness enabler.


Merfolk: +4

   

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 247, online: 244

 Related Tribes: God, Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Merfolk was at some point announced as a tribe that would get support in Modern Horizons 2, but it didn't turn out to be true, since only one of the four new Merfolk features tribal elements, and there aren't other cards in the set that care for the fishy tribe either. But I can see the idea originating uniquely from the presence of Svyelun of Sea and Sky, the Merfolk's own God. This is an important development for the other subtype, but Svyelun is also pretty nifty as the Merfolk lord she's supposed to be. Her divinity is even nicely expressed from a flavor-based other than mechanical standpoint. She entertains a two-sided dialogue with her people, as the Merfolk protects her by giving her indestructibility, and she in exchange wards them. Granted, a small warding tax is not going to solve the tribe's most crucial issue, which mostly takes the form of its softness to sweepers. But, given a minimum of board development, at least Svyelun herself will survive the sweeping, and she can be a strong stepping stone to rebuild on, because she draws an extra card at each attack, an act she can usually feel safe to perform from behind her indestructible shield of mer-devotion, not to mention her relative large butt. Merfolk Tribal has a solved lineup in pretty much every non-rotating format, so accepting a new member, especially at CMC 3, could be tricky. But Svyelun has all the qualities to earn herself a place in the heart and decklist of any Merfolk player.

 The rest of this bunch is clearly nowhere near her power level, but still decent. Raving Visionary is a looter that can potentially turn into straight card draw via delirium, something the looting itself will help set up. Both Rishadan Dockhand and Tide Shaper interact with lands, which is a classic move of the tribe. The latter is, for all intents and purposes, a two-drop 2/2 that does a Spreading Seas number on an opponent's land, which is useful both as a way to deal with problematic lands and to enable the Merfolk's islandwalk, possibly with the help of Lord of Atlantis (which is Modern-legal, by the way). The Dockhand can deny sorcery-speed mana the same way his namesake Rishadan Port does, and has native islandwalk to benefit from the transformation hijinks of the Shaper et al. We definitely might see some of these played competitively in Merfolk decks, so perhaps that's what the initial news of a Merfolk "focus" were about: not an internal environment, just some good cards to consider for existing builds.


Minotaur: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 93, online: 92

 Related Tribes: Warrior

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Madness card for Limited. If I understand the flavor text correctly, this guy doesn't seem to be worshiping Iroas.


Monkey: +1

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 7

 Related Tribes: Pirate

 Impact of the New Additions: Extreme

 Highlights: Monkey see, monkey do! The zippy Ragavan, trusty companion of the renegade Kaladeshi piratess Kari Zev, finally gets his own card. And boy, is it a doozy. Body is the same as his original token form, and he can still execute a version of his appearing-and-disappearing act via dash, but now connecting means both a Treasure token and a robbery, which is like impulsive drawing except from the opponent's library. Unfortunately, he can't swing on turn one, Goblin Guide-style (that would definitely be too much to ask), but he still makes for a hell of an early attacker for red aggro.

 Ragavan is the first ever legendary Monkey, as well as the first mythic Monkey, and the second of his tribe with rarity higher than common (the previous one was the oldest card to retroactively become a Monkey, the rare Ravenous Baboons from Exodus). And he's currently by far the best seller of the set, going for $60 in paper and more than 90 tix on MTGO! These are some serious credentials for the little sucker!

 


Myr: +3

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 38

 Related Tribes: Knight

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Myr are expendable by nature, so it makes sense that most of this new common trio comes equipped with a self-sacrifice clause to exchange it for value. Parcel Myr is particularly interesting because it's the first time the Clue type is associated with an artifact creature. Knighted My is the only one that gets on the battlefield to stay and interact with any provider of +1/+1 counters. I wonder who knighted the little guy, by the way. I guess Jor Kadeen? I don't think a general can "knight" their troops, but I suppose the Myr don't know that.


Nightmare: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 61

 Related Tribes: BirdDog

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: The only notable things about these two Nightmares is that they're both the distortion of common animals. I wonder where they're supposed to be from, maybe Innistrad?


Noble: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 41, online: 40

 Related Tribes: Squirrel

 Impact of the New Additions: Null

 Highlights: It's unfortunate that this new Noble means absolutely nothing for its tribe, since it's a Squirrel lord that's only meant to care for Squirrels. Noble is a fast-growing tribe, anyway, it'll have many more occasions to shine on its own.


Nymph: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 18

 Impact of the New Additions: Severe

 Highlights: Taken on her own, this legendary Nymph, the second of her kind after Kestia, the Cultivator, is just Verduran Enchantress with a small lifegain bonus and a reduced cost caused by the double color requirement. For the Enchantress style of decks, she's better than Verduran and most of her three-mana clones, but still can't compete with Argothian Enchantress or, in Modern, with the newly inducted Enchantress's Presence or even with Setessan Champion.

 She has strong in-tribe relevance, though, since all the Nymphs are enchantments, except for the original Shanodin Dryads, which was retconned as a Nymph but of course predated the idea that they all come from Nyx, and therefore share the flavor of being made by the Therosian Gods and the mechanical nature of being enchantment creatures. It's not like Sythis alone is gonna make the tribe Constructed playable, but she's a first step. Also, she's part of Karametra's host, which makes sense. It's right there in her name.


Ooze: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 32, online: 31

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Ugh, this is one disappointing new legendary Ooze. I mean, the idea of having it replicate via storm is cool in theory. But if we can put together a high storm count, we won't choose this as a payoff, we'll choose something that either end the game right there, or at least doesn't require freaking triple green. And if we content ourselves with a small storm count, say two (which is still quite a feat in a turn where we also have to pay for a five-drop), and assuming two other Oozes already on the battlefield, then we're creating a 4/4, a 5/5 and a 6/6. Which isn't bad, but it's not super-impressive either, and we devoted a lot of effort to this largely ideal outcome. It can be fun in Commander, but it doesn't even come close to replace Biogenic Ooze as the tribe's go-to five-drop, and even good ole Acidic Slime is still a better option.


Ouphe: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 14, online: 10

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Ouphe came close to be discontinued and consolidated a few years ago. In 2018, Mark Rosewater stated on Blogatog that it was unlikely to ever show up again (at the time it hadn't for ten years since Eventide) and that they were ready to roll it into the green component of Faerie. It didn't happen, though, and more Ouphes were printed with their subtype intact in the following years, including the very relevant Collector Ouphe in Modern Horizons, and Bramblefort Fink in the Oko planeswalker deck of Throne of Eldraine. Now the latest Ouphe is Glimmer Bairn, which unfortunately has no callback whatsoever to the ability of Gilder Bairn. It's just a mildly functional inclusion for token decks. An alpha strike with an army of tokens may use a few of these guys, so if even only one of them connects, the whole might of the team gets through. A risky move, of course, but it makes some sense, and a free sacrifice outlet, even if specialized, is still noteworthy to some extent.


Peasant: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 7

 Related Tribes: Human

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: The Peasant tribe, introduced two years ago in Throne of Eldraine, hasn't found many chances to add new members, despite the inherent wideness of the concept (Forgotten Realms opting to instead use Citizen in a similar role won't help). After the initial five from the fairy tale set, only one more showed up in the white-blue Commander deck associated with the release of Kaldheim, i.e. Stoic Farmer. And now we get Underworld Hermit, which creates Squirrel tokens based on our devotion to black. Yeah, I don't think this guy has a place neither in a Squirrel deck, which doesn't run much black, or in a Peasant deck, since it's the first black member of the tribe. And in a generic devotion build, it just seems clunky.

 Also, that's the Theros Underworld? There are normal Squirrels there?


Pegasus: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 17

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Here's another black member from Theros for a tribe that never had one. In fact, Tizerus Charger is the first Pegasus that's not monowhite. It's just a semi-functional escape creature, though. The escape cost is steep and a Pegasus that has to buy itself flying is a shame for its race. The black sheep of Pegasi!


Pirate: +3

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 116, online: 106

 Related Tribes: Human, Monkey

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Pirates are linked more and more frequently to Treasures. Which definitely makes flavorful sense, but it would with any kind of thief, too. Anyway, the filibuster tribe gets a run-of-the-mill Treasure-maker, a chase-mythic of a one-drop in Ragavan, and a new legendary with Captain Ripley Vance. Now, "cast three" is clearly not as easy to enable as the "cast two" from cards like Clarion Spirit, but the payoff is a ton of damage to any target. She could be part of a sort of quasi-storm list, with lot of cantrips and probably Birgi.


Plant: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 54, online: 50

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: This sort of triffid can be a 10/10 that's hard to chump-block. Plant decks probably won't be interested in running five colors, though (in fact, they're usually not very incentivized to run anything more than green). Other decks might, but I'm still not sold on this kind of lukewarm payoff for builds that by nature have access to any possible payoff. At least converge is not domain, though there's a whole cycle of it in Modern Horizons 2, mostly composed by sorceries, and none of these cards seems very playable.


Rogue: +4

   

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 311, online: 296

 Related Tribes: Dauthi, Human, Vedalken

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Let's see, what exciting news do we have here in the world of Rogues? Well, Dauthi Voidwalker is busted, as we've already noted before. Vedalken Infiltrator is an okay metalcraft creature, but mostly for Limited. Same goes for the slightly clunky Gilt-Blade Prowler and madness decks. And Tavern Scoundrel is meant for the coin-flipping enthusiasts. Now every coin flip could generate Treasures! I'm not sure I would sacrifice a permanent just for the chance of getting two Treasures, as it looks like a terrible way to ramp and not an amazing sac outlet anyhow (it requires mana and tapping), but admittedly I'm not part of that crowd.

 Reprints that are new to Modern: Shardless Agent is a powerful addition to the tribe. It's not necessarily only a combo piece for Living End and such, she can be played straight, just for value. She only hits one-drops, but it could mean a free Lightning Bolt or something.

 


Salamander: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 13

 Impact of the New Additions: Null

 Highlights: The ability that catches the eye here is cycling to get any of the artifact lands, which means fixing for any pair of colors now that Modern Horizons 2 has printed the new cycle of ten duals with the artifact type. As a 4/4 that might drop for cheap in affinity decks Sojourner's Companion is a functional reprint of Myr Enforcer, which has had a long career in Pauper, so there's potential for Constructed applications there, at least. Its tribe, unfortunately, includes no other artifact creatures at all.

 By the way, it's so random that this automaton is a Salamander, of all things. Sometimes the creative team seems to just roll a die on the creature types list.


Samurai: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 36

 Related Tribes: Frog

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Let's give a warm welcome to the first Samurai since Kamigawa block! Whike ignoring the fact that it's somehow a Frog, despite the fact that there were no sentient Frogs on Kamigawa the last time we checked, so it's kind of baffling, as well as overly comedic for no particular reason. But apparently, of the two creature types linked to Japanese cultures, Ninja was easier to come back to, since it has now a majority of members not printed during the original Kamigawa run (they're still all flavored as coming from Kamigawa, though, so exclusive prerogative of supplemental sets).

 Just like Ninja and ninjutsu, Samurai has a mechanic keyword, bushido, that kind of needs to appear in all the cards using the subtype, as it indeed does here. Jade Avenger is nothing fancy, just a Grizzly Bears that turns into a 4/4 when facing a creature. But it's the second green Samurai after Isao, Enlightened Bushi, and the two-drop Samurai with the largest body and bushido count, comparing very favorably with the likes of Battle-Mad Ronin and Inner-Chamber Guard (it really feels like bushido was overvalued at the time).


Scout: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 154, online: 148

 Related Tribes: Elf, Snake

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: We've already talked about these two Scouts, and they're both great, encompassing all three of the most hip noncreature tokens currently supported in the game. The two-drop Lonis, Cryptozoologist deals in Clues, getting them as part of casting creatures and then using them to steal permanents off the top of the opponent's library. The three-drop Tireless Provisioner traffics in Foods and especially Treasures, which makes her a intriguing variants on Lotus Cobra. It takes little effort to include one or both in any deck – you just have to run creatures and/or lands, and be interested in drawing cards and/or ramping. A typical Scout deck fulfills all these requirements at once.


Serpent: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 41, online: 40

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Affinity for tokens is a novel application of the mechanic, and it can be very effective. Dropping this Serpent for just double blue doesn't soun far-fetched, and after that, we don't just get a big body on the battlefield (something that go-wide token decks might not even care too much for), we also have a way to turn repeated token creation into a sort of Opposition. It's probably not a game plan for Serpent decks, but it makes for a surprisingly exciting, uncommon new member of the tribe.


Shaman: +6

  

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 427, online: 422

 Related Tribes: Goblin, Human, Skeleton

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: The two main callbacks here are Ignoble Hierarch, which perfectly mirrors Noble Hierarch, and Timeless Witness, which is on the contrary a poor imitation of Eternal Witness. Body and effect are the same (more or less: for some reason, Timeless Witness's Regrowth is mandatory), but she costs one mana more just for the chance of eternalize them later for seven? We don't even want to exile a Witness and make her a token, we could chain several of them together, we could manage to flicker her. Just not a good re-execution. Artwork is sweet, though, if overly indebted with the original.

 The other new Shamans are similarly low-profile. Goblin Anarchomancer is a cost reducer, Dragon's Rage Channeler attaches surveil to every noncreature spell (I guess the "dragon's rage" only comes into the picture after delirium is achieved and she becomes a 3/3 flyer). Storm God's Oracle is good enough for Limited – you can basically turn her into a Lightning Bolt from the battlefield for three mana – probably not good enough for Constructed. And Chattering Augur is yet another self-recurring Skeleton, this time crossbred with a card-drawing two-drop like Dusk Legion Zealot.

 Interestingly, a new red Wizard qualifies as an appealing off-tribe helper, since Harmonic Prodigy doubles the triggers generate by all Shamans, too. Appearing on an already perfectly functional two-drop prowess creature, it's certainly something to keep in mind.

 Reprints that are new to Modern: Gorilla Shaman was all the rage in his days. Still is in formats where zero-mana artifacts are commonplace. Modern might not be one of those formats, but it's a good weapon to have in its arsenal.


Skeleton: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 55, online: 53

 Related Tribes: Shaman

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: This is essentially Reassembling Skeleton that lost the ability to block and has the activation cost doubled and redirected to hand (so also reminiscent of Sanitarium Skeleton), all because now it also draws us one card every time it enters the battlefield. Which might be reason enough to consider it one of the top members of its tribe. It doesn't work as sacrifice fodder as much, but late-game card advantage might be... key (see what I did there?).


Snake: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 92, online: 84

 Related Tribes: Elf, Scout

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Third time we cross path with Lonis, Cryptozoologist, power level looks as high as the other two times. Snake might not be able to aggressively capitalize on the Clue-making as much as Elves or even Scouts, but they're also more likely than these other tribes to run enough blue to be able to drop Lonis on turn two without problems.

 Jewel-Eyed Cobra has great flavor: the cobra's eyes are actual jewels, so when it dies, we end up with a Treasure in our hands. Still, a three-drop deathtoucher with one point of toughness is not very playable anywhere.


Soldier: +8

   

   

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 706, online: 648

 Related Tribes: Cat, Giant, Human, Vampire

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: A whole lot of new Soldiers in Modern Horizons 2. First to demand attention is the legendary one, the very cringeworthily named General Ferrous Rokiric of the Boros Legion (he comes from Ravnica's ancient history). He has a relevant hexproof restriction – multicolored removal is usually more powerful, but monocolored removal is more frequent – and makes for a terrific payoff for "multicolored matters", putting Hero of Precinct One to shame.

 The other two rare Soldiers have specific additional types. Esper Sentinel is an artifact creature, a one-drop that taxes our opponents for their first noncreatures spell every turn, unless they agree to let us draw cards. It seems at home in Death & Taxes archetypes, perhaps starting from the sideboard and coming in against spellslinging decks. Still monowhite, still coming from a well-known plane, Nykthos Paragon is an enchantment creature that extends the Ajani's Pridemate deal to the entire team, once per turn, but in the supercharged fashion of a counter per point of life gained. Sounds powerful, but a six-drop is probably not what a lifegain deck wants to run, as it would be merely win-more at best, stuck in hand the entire game at worst.

 To round off the ranks of the new Soldiers, we have a couple of modular creatures, the first striker and booster Arcbound Shikari and the pinger Arcbound Javelineer (modeled after the old Icatian Javelineers); the powerful O-Ring factory Constable of the Realm; the Kaladeshi Thopter-maker Fairgrounds Patrol; and the only nonwhite non-Boros one, the Vampire explorer Legion Vanguard.


Sphinx: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 66

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Just an uncommon Sphinx with huge mana value and affinity for artifacts. The reward is a cascading 4/4 flyer, which is certainly appealing, but it ranks among the more over-the-top affinity creatures that would rarely see play, especially those that still require colored mana no matter the board position.


Spider: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 59, online: 58

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Detective Spider! It's a strictly better Mammoth Spider, but that's about it. By the way, in case you were wondering about the quantity of Spiders with "recluse" in their names (I was), it's just a generic identificator for the common venomous spiders.


Spirit: +3

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 502, online: 495

 Related Tribes: Bird, Knight

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Ghost-Lit Drifter returns us to the world of Kamigawa Spirits, channel mechanic included (there was a cycle of "ghost-lit" channelers in Saviors of Kamigawa). It's pretty basic, but looks great in Limited.

 The Bird Spirit Necromancer's Familiar is a slow-moving madness enabler. I guess it takes its name from the fact that a necromancer would want to discard stuff to reanimate, but that's also not the fastest plan if it relies on a four-drop with an activation cost. I suggest a better choice of familiar.

 And I know what they were going for with "Breathless Knight" (he's literally breathless, 'cause, you know, he's dead), but it's kind of a ridiculous name, evoking a Knight that should do more cardio or something. Also, I'm pretty sure the "charge in eerie silence" mentioned in the flavor text can't be accomplished by just not breathing – not with all that clashing metal in tow, for sure.

 Reprints that are new to Modern: Angelic Curator is still not super-relevant as a Spirit, Karmic Guide still her quite alluring self.

 


Squirrel: +3

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 8

 Related Tribes: Noble, Warrior

 Impact of the New Additions: Extreme

 Highlights: Mark Rosewater did it! His beloved and long ostracized Squirrels had already returned in black border, even getting a strong legendary rare with Toski, Bearer of Secrets; but they weren't enjoying as much fanfare as they got in Modern Horizons 2. It's not just the three new members and the reprint/induction into Modern of Squirrel Mob. The tribe just received a dozen new tribal tools to toy with, at least in Modern and upward. Chatterstorm is their version of Empty the Warrens; Chittersplitter is a token creator that doubles as anthem; Squirrel Sanctuary is another solid way to populate the board with our favorite woodland rodents, while Verdant Command might just be the best indication they mean business: they've gotten their own modal spell, after all! Conveniently cheap and mostly playing as "create two Squirrels for two mana and do one other useful thing while you're at it".

   

 There's also a number of off-tribe Squirrel helpers, though only Scurry Oak seems relevant. It's a great combo with Chittersplitter, because the increasingly large Squirrels we create after sacrificing one will in turn trigger the Treefolk's evolve.

    

 As for the three actual Squirrels, Squirrel Sovereign is a plain two-mana lord, fashioned after other tribal cards like Merfolk Mistbinder, Legion Lieutenant and Inspiring Veteran. It's a linear boost the tribe very much needed, to complement their go-wide tendencies.

 Ravenous Squirrel is a playable one-drop that also combos with Chittersplitter, independently growing when one of the Squirrel tokens is sacrificed. It can also functions as its own sacrifice outlet, drawing cards and gaining life for every three spare mana we're able and willing to sink into its activation.

 Last but not least, the tribe's second black-bordered legendary and first mythic. Chatterfang, Squirrel General is a powerful Hardened Scales counterpart that increases the number of tokens rather than +1/+1 counters. The extra tokens are always 1/1 Squirrels, but that's hardly a concern within a Squirrel build. On top of that, he can turn Squirrels into removal, is a three-drop 3/3 with evasion, and sits in the command zone of a Golgari deck. Long live the Squirrels!


Starfish: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 3

 Impact of the New Additions: Extreme

 Highlights: It took them 25 years, but now the Starfish have finally crossed the three-member threshold, which means they can be played as a tribe in Tribal Wars (accompanied by two changelings). Here's their full lineup: Alliances' Spiny Starfish, Journey into Nyx's Sigiled Starfish, and now the latter's color-shifted version, Sinister Starfish. So two out of three members are two-drop 0/3s that tap to scry or surveil the first card of our library. They're not even that bad, to be honest, but so far the tribe is unable to deal any point of damage by itself, which is its own accomplishment.

 


Thopter: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 14

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: We've come to this: Birds of Paradise mated with Ornithopter. The resulting creature, unimaginatively called Ornithopter of Paradise, is clearly less than the sum of its parts, but we couldn't ask a random common to fully channel the power of two of the most iconic cards in the game. And now at least any Modern deck has access to a two-drop mana dork that fixes for any color and can chump-block fliers or carry +1/+1 counters on occasion.

 The Azorius-colored  Chrome Courier is a more compact version of cards like Faerie Mechanist or Arcanist's Owl. Notably, the selected card doesn't need to be an artifact, it's only more rewarding if it is.


Treefolk: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 80, online: 78

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Scurry Oak might theoretically make some sense in a generic go-wide token decks that also plays medium-sized to big creatures, but let's be honest, it's a Squirrel card. Its combo with Chittersplitter is just too good to pass. And while we can relocate all the package into a different shell, let's not steal the Squirrels' thunder for once.

 The basic landcycler Orchard Strider is just a strictly better Craw Wurm for Limited. Unless we have in mind a build where our goal is discarding creatures to mass-reanimate, and there are also some Food synergies somehow.


Vampire: +3

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 268, online: 264

 Related Tribes: Soldier, Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Well, those are three truly unremarkable Vampires, aren't they? Legion Vanguard is a reasonably costed sacrifice outlet, and can explore right away, unlike Deadeye Tracker, but it's still vastly inferior to it, as it requires an external resource of our own rather than attacking one of the opponent's (i.e. the graveyard) in the process. Radiant Epicure is pushing converge in a tribe that gets no great incentive from including more than one color, two tops. Vermin Gorger is a slow sacrifice outlet with medium payoff.


Vedalken: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 62

 Related Tribes: Rogue, Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: For five mana, Specimen Collector puts three creatures on the battlefiel, but only a combined total of three power. It also feels a bit strange for a Vedalken to collect live Squirrels. The death trigger could potentially copy something big, like a Fractal. But most of the times, it'll just be another Squirrel.


Viashino: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 44

 Related Tribes: Warrior

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Eh, universal haste is always exciting, but not if it costs us a card every turn, and it's not even immediately online. I guess one could see the silver lining of being able to exploit Viashino Lashclaw as a sacrifice outlet/madness enabler too (it's clearly meant in this second role within Modern Horizons 2), but it's kind of a stretch.

 Fun fact: as of this set, Viashino and Kavu have the same exact tribal total. For some reason, I find a commonality between these two tribes. Maybe it's because they both had cards in Gruul lists from the late Nineties, early Noughties, before the change of frame. Or because they're reptilian humanoid creature types that Magic didn't borrow from other properties, and were kept around with a new member now and then throughout more than twenty years of history. Both started as Dominarian tribes; Kavu is, to date, still exclusive of the plane, while Viashino later appeared also in Alara and Ravnica. So the Viashinos should have had more occasions to fill up their ranks, yet they still are under 50 members.


Warlock: +4

   

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 38

 Related Tribes: Human, Zombie

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: I'm still peeved that the introduction of a major subtype like Warlock, primed to become black's main spellcasting tribe, was accompanie by only a single instance of errata, the update of the extremely irrelevant, never once reprinte Dread Warlock from Magic 2010. I get that going deeper than just the name of the card would require a huge amount of research. But it's still annoying that all black spellcasters that were released before a completely arbitrary point – the release of Throne of Eldraine – are still considered Clerics, Shamans or Wizards (pretty sure there weren't Druids among those).

 Anyway, at least four new members of the dark tribe debuted in Modern Horizons 2. The multicolored rare Priest of Fell Rites is a reanimation spells on legs, reminiscent of, but definitely better than old creatures like Doomed Necromancer and Hell's Caretaker. She still has to contend with summoning sickness, but the reanimation trick is performed solely in exchange of life, no mana required. And sorcery-speed still beats "only during the upkeep", even if it means we won't be able to grab an Eldrazi Titan on the fly while their self-reshuffling effect is on the stack. In addition, unearth essentially gives the Priest a Unburial Rites angle, which is, I suppose, what her name references. If we send the Priest to the graveyard from anywhere, we'll get access to a single reanimation routine for five mana and three life. Not the most efficient, but good for redundancy.

 Another reanimator effect is grafted on Young Necromancer, and this time it happens right away, provided we have two extra cards to exile from our graveyard, which is probably going to be trivial. The price for not having to wait and untap with our Necromancer is a five-mana hardcost. On the bright side, she's great to flicker or retrigger in various ways.

 Vile Entomber works well as a complement to both Priest and Necromancer, since he's, in turn, Entomb on a stick. Other creature cards did the same in the past, for instance Corpse Coinnosseur and Gravebreaker Lamia. Vile Entomber is more efficiently costed than those and can trade on the battlefield afterwards, thanks to deathtouch.

 Despite the ominous name, the last of these Warlocks, Cabal Initiate, is just a madness enabler for Limited purposes. They couldn't be all interesting, now, could they?


Warrior: +5

  

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 808, online: 791

 Related Tribes: Elf, Human, Minotaur, Squirrel, Viashino

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: The new mythic Warrior belongs to the Squirrels. The rare one is part of the group of cards that tell the story of the war between Dakkon and Dihada, as I explained when talking about Piru. Carth the Lion refers to the nickname of some guy from Carth that got involved in the quarrel between those two ancient planeswalkers. His card is consequently designed to go in a superfriends build, where Carth will add extra loyalty to our planeswalkers (particularly effective with minus-one abilities, that now will cost zero), find more of them when one of them die or Carth arrives, and generally do a good job protecting them on the ground with that defensive body. I like that he's black-green, too, suggesting a superfriends list with more Vraskas and Nissas and fewer Teferis and Bolases. He's a bit awkward with Dakkon, Shadow Slayer, though, the planeswalker he's supposed to accompany, and with whom Carth shares only one of his three colors. Guess they never really were superfriends, after all.


Whale: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 12

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Honest affinity card, a 3/4 with pseudo-vigilance easily dropping for just one blue. It doesn't help the cause of the Whales much, though. There's only twelve of them! They're an endangered species!


Wizard: +14

   

   

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 830, online: 812

 Related Tribes: Giant, Gorgon, Human, Merfolk, Vampire, Vedalken, Zombie

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: There are more Wizards in Modern Horizons 2 than any other non-Human creature type. Most of them are "ethnic" Wizards, though, and for some reason those all appear at common or uncommon only, with the exception of Master of Death, the latest high-profile Zombie revenant.

 Among the Humans, the legendary Garth One-Eye is the only mythic. Garth is one of the earliest characters to appear in Magic's ancillary products, as the mysterious protagonist of the very first Magic novel, Arena, published in 1994. He sort of served the goal of illustrating existing cards of the time, so it's a great and flavorful callback that his 27-years-in-the-making card can tap to one-time cast one of six extremely iconic spells originally from Limited Edition Alpha, representing each of the five colors as well as the colorlessness. The catch is, we need to first be able to cast a five-color five-drop, so it's not like at that point Black Lotus will help us a ton. It still might be the first spell to summon with Garth, if only to help paying with the most expensive stuff he can muster, like Braingeyser and Shivan Dragon. He can also kills various types of permanents with Disenchant and Terror (talk about forgotten lore), or even regrow back a card – of course, not one of his, as those are just immaterial copies. And after his arsenal is depleted, he's still a 5/5 beater. Although, to be honest, this is more of a wonderful walk down memory lane than an actual card. But it's playable, nonetheless.

 Another Wizard that sounds just out of an Un-set is Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar (had to check three times that spelling, and I'm not willing to swear I got it right). This master chef's improbable tongue twister of a name was first mentioned in the flavor text of Granite Gargoyle from Alpha.

 A few years later, "Asmor" was given her own short story, in which we learn that the culinary manual she's written, The Underworld Cookbook, contains the instructions to prepare all the meals she had to cook for the Lord of the Pit she was forced to serve for seven years (if the story wasn't so old, they could have used a Master of the Feast as her customer, instead). And now she's a proper Magic card! One that strictly requires a discard outlet to be played, mostly because there was no room on the name line for a casting cost! Still, for one mana, we get a 3/3 on the battlefield and we tutor up The Underworld Cookbook itself, a one-mana artifact that can enable madness or other discard synergies, or being exchanged for a dead creature. And of course it creates Food! The Food that Asmor can turn into removal in the most flavorful of ways: the creature that's forced to consume it deals 6 damage to itself! Indigestion kill!

 Moving down to less madcap and more traditional territory, Magus of the Bridge is the latest in the mega-megacycle of creatures that mimic famous spells, in this case Bridge from Below. After the first 15 of these Magi were distributed across three complete cycles release throughot Time Spiral block, they've kept appearing in random colors and within random sets, with no recognizable pattern.

 Other Wizards are less intriguing, but deserving more than a mention is Harmonic Prodigy, an aggressive two-drop with prowess that doubles the ability triggers of all Wizards – and of all Shamans, to boot, being a red creature. This might indeed prove to be the strongest new addition of both tribes.

 Reprints that are new to Modern: Not a Wizard card per se, but Riptide Laboratory is a valuable tribal helper, either saving any Wizard from removal, or returning it to hand in order to retrigger its ETB once again, or maybe even to reclaim a stolen property.


Zombie: +4

   

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 New Tribal Total: 477, online: 470

 Related Tribes: Warlock, Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: We're getting a solid amount of self-returning Zombies lately – Narfi, Betrayer King from Kaldheim immediately comes to mind. For the same amount of three mana, plus one life, Master of Death similarly gets right back online. Narfi has a larger body, but the Master performs a double surveil at each iteration. Additionally, it can also work as eternal discard fodder, like a slightly painful Squee, Goblin Nabob, something Narfi can't do, because the King of the Ice Zombies skips the hand and directly moves from graveyard to battlefield.

 The other Zombies from this second Modern Horizons batch are more specialized. Vile Entomber is meant for combo decks that needs a specific card in the graveyard. Lazotep Chancellor is yet another madness payoff.


SUMMARY

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