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By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Jun 18 2019 12:00pm
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MODERN HORIZONS

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 The release of Modern Horizons marks a milestone in the long history of Magic: The Gathering. For the first time, a third channel for new cards has opened: not just through Standard, like for the regular expansion sets, nor bypassing Standard and Modern, as it's the case of all the supplemental products whose legality only affects the more inclusive eternal formats (Legacy, Vintage, Commander, Pauper). Modern Horizons jumps in the middle, acting like a set that just rotated out of Standard. As such, it's focused on giving Modern new instruments, including cards that were already legal from Legacy onward, but not in the smaller eternal format; as a consequence, the set's cards are all entirely new for Modern. Design-wise, the attention goes to cards that represent old places and characters like Urza and Yawgmoth, and mechanics from all over the multiverse.

   

 The set is surprisingly tribal-oriented, at least to some extent, thanks to the return of a subtype with a strong, built-in tribal mechanic like Sliver, to the renewed attention to ninjutsu, therefore to Ninja, and to the printing of a considerable number of new Shapeshifters with the changeling ability, which affects all of the tribes.

 Anyway, let's have a look at the new creatures and their tribes, but also at the reprints, because they still represent a meaningful change for the Modern meta. As always, the main focus is on all the Constructed applications, the tribes are presented alphabetically, and you'll find a hypertextual list at the end.

 Infodump

  • Cards: 255
  • New cards: 209
  • New creatures: 115
  • Reprinted cards: 46
  • Reprinted creatures: 12 (Carrion Feeder from Scourge, Crypt Rats from Visions, Genesis from Judgment, Goblin Matron from Portal Second Age, Kess, Dissident Mage from Commander 2017, Krosan Tusker from Onslaught, Man-o'-War from Visions, Nantuko Cultivator from Torment, Nether Spirit from Mercadian Masques, Nimble Mongoose from Odyssey, Spore Frog from Prophecy, Wall of Blossoms from Stronghold)
  • New Legendary creatures: 8 (plus reprinted Kess, Dissident Mage)
  • New artifact creatures: 5
  • New enchantment creatures: 0
  • New Snow creatures: 11
  • Triple-subtype creatures: 0
  • Creature types affected: 66 (plus 6 only in reprints)
  • Tribes with more than 5 additions: Human (+18), Sliver (+13), Shapeshifter (+11), Ninja (+8), Wizard (+8), Goblin (+7), Soldier (+6), Zombie (+6)

Angel: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 158, online: 157

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: So now Angels have a one-drop which is a miniature Serra Angel (Segovia being the multiverse's Lilliput). It could be useful, but I don't think it'll be extremely relevant, for the tribe or otherwise.


Artificer: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 117, online: 113

 Related Tribes: Goblin, Human

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: With Goblin Engineer we start seeing a pattern we'll meet frequently in Modern Horizons: a Legacy- or Vintage-legal card that's given a slight spin to allow for its porting into Modern. In this case, the original is Goblin Welder, and the MH1 version costs one mana more, requires one mana to activate rather than none, and most notably only returns artifacts with CMC 3 or less. On the bright side, it also works as an Entomb for any artifact, in keeping with current design practices, which try not to create cards that do nothing on their own. As a result, the Engineer might not be used to fuel degenerate plays like first-turn Sundering Titan (there's not enough fast mana in Modern to accomplish that, anyway), but it's a more well-rounded card that plays well with the Artificer tribe, and with his Welder cousin himself.

 As for the first proper card incarnation of the multiverse-renowned Urza (in the past we had a Vanguard version and an Unstable version), of course it depicts the great artificer back when he was just a man, not yet an old-school planeswalking god, which wouldn't be possible to represent through the current framework for planeswalker cards. The four mana of Urza, Lord High Artificer provides you with a 1/4 body, a 1/1 body with the potential to grow (it's one of the Karn-structs from Karn, Scion of Urza – or better, those were this all along), and a mana ramp ability similar to Grand Architect's, but sort of the opposite: you tap artifacts to get blue mana instead of blue creatures to get colorless mana. Interestingly, the Construct immediately gives one blue mana back, if needed. On top of that, there's a mana sink to draw the top card of the library, uncharacteristically framed like red's "impulsive draw" that only lasts until the end of the turn. The cost for that is not cheap, but it's colorless, and Urza has the potential to generate large amounts of mana to begin with, so the combination of ramp and draw and board position is definitely a winning one, other than a solid, flavorful design for such a historical character.


Avatar: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 75, online: 72

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: The team up between convoke and delve is a novel and powerful one, but I think this big guy won't exploit the former too much, being mostly a new bomb for dredge decks thanks to the option to cast it from the graveyard. In those builds, the "you can't spend mana to cast this spell" clause will play as, "Don't worry, I didn't plan to."


Azra: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 7

 Related Tribes: Ninja

 Impact of the New Additions: Severe

 Highlights: The Azra from Battlebond come to Modern, though so far there's only one of them, so they're not much of a tribe there. We find out the demonic humanoids from the plane of Kylem also train Ninjas. This one in particular is not one of the most alluring, because it requires a setup where you attack with something that doesn't get blocked while also having a blocked creature that can benefit from the indestructibility, or facing a removal spell that was timed just right for the Smokeshaper to intervene. I guess you can just main phase it to make an attacker indestructible, but it entirely defies the point of ninjutsu this way.


Bear: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 23, online: 17

 Impact of the New Additions: Severe

 Highlights: Bears are on the rise! (The Kuma part of my handle rejoices!) Mother Bear is already a strictly better Grizzly Bears that plays well both in early game and in late game, and Ayula, Queen Among Bears is the Legendary lord the tribe never had before (Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma wasn't really that). Two +1/+1 counters or a fight at each tribal casting? That's more than most lords ever do! And the card still requires just a Grizzly Bear-like mana investment! (On the flavor side, "born from the oldest red cedar"? I don't think that's how bear reproduction works).

 And the ursine love in Modern Horizons doesn't even end here. Check this enchantment that turns any land draw into a Bear, free of charge and at instant speed!


Beast: +2

  

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 New Tribal Total: 373, online: 364

 Related Tribes: Boar, Frog

 Impact of the New Additions: Low (High in Modern)

 Highlights: Triple common green Beasts. Murasa Behemoth is easily an 8/8 trampler for six, which just goes to show how much Force of Nature is oudated these days. Excavating Anurid works nicely with the Behemoth, and seems a good pick in Limited, but nothing more. The real star here is the reprint of the excellent Krosan Tusker, which, admittedly, is most effective as a Commander card, but still supplies enough versatility (in the early game it's Divination with an accent on mana development, in the late game can be used as a beater) to be noteworthy in Modern, too.


Berserker: +3

  

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 New Tribal Total: 72, online: 69

 Related Tribes: Elf, Human, Minotaur

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Not much going on with the common Berserkers, though I guess Spinehorn Minotaur's double strike could be easily triggered by something like Faithless Looting or Tormenting Voice. Ruination Rioter looks like a combo piece, though. Get a ton of lands into the graveyard, then sacrifice the Rioter? I don't know, maybe it's far-fetched, but it feels like something that might give birth to a deck one day.


Bird: +3

  

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 New Tribal Total: 244, online: 231

 Related Tribes: Wizard, Zombie

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: It seems a given that even the filler commons make for solid Limited picks in MH1, which is true of both Silumgar Scavenger (you get a 3/4 hasty flyer out of your sacrifice outlet) and Windcaller Aven (having the chance to cycle your finisher is always good, and in this case you even give evasion to something). Blizzard Strix is our first encounter with the new batch of Snow permanents, and it's meant to play the role of a flashy Flickerwisp in a Snow build. It might be too expensive to be good (for one, it doesn't interact too well with Aether Vial), but it also comes with one extra point of toughness for your troubles.


Boar: +0

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 New Tribal Total: 37, online: 35

 Related Tribes: Beast

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Forget Ilharg, the Raze-Boar: Krosan Tusker is the original Boar God. It doesn't even need the God type as validation!


Carrier: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 5

 Impact of the New Additions: Severe

 Highlights: Carrier is a tiny tribe that dates back to Urza's Legacy. They were a subset of Phyrexians (which regrettably never got their creature type), devoted to the spreading of their biomechanical pathogens by self-destructing. In fact, all the four existing Carriers do the exact same thing, sacrifice to try and kill a creature, in increased amounts of effectiveness according to rarity. The largest one, Phyrexian Plaguelord, which is incidentally the original "The Rock" from the eponymous archetype, is the only one that's legal in Modern due to its reprint in Eighth Edition. Until now, that is. The return of a tribe that was believed retired also takes it into uncharted, if familiar territories, by giving them an Engineered Plague on legs. It seems by far the best Carrier in existence, with deathtouch giving it another chance to affect the board in a lethal way. Of course, just like the original enchantment, the static ability creates issues in Tribal Wars, though it's admittedly easier to get rid of.


Cat: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 176, online: 169

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Modern Horizons is where we establish once more (Savannah Lions set the first precedent) that a lion, and the alpha male at that, is easier to kill than a stray cat. Which, maybe it's true if you're a big game hunter? (But not a Big Game Hunter, ironically). I guess this flavor fail is due to the fact that they needed this guy at uncommon, though I'm not sure why, since it's the only Cat in the set, so it's not like you can draft a Cat deck, unless you're meant to combine this bonus with the Changelings. Anyway, the Cat tribe got a cheap-ish lord; I'm sure it'll be relevant, especially since the double-powered anthem seems especially scary.


Cleric: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 382, online: 357

 Related Tribes: Human, Kor

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Giver of Runes is clearly a younger, paler Mother of Runes (it even mentions family in the flavor text, in case you missed the reference). I don't know that the Mother herself was too strong for Modern, but this card offers the "better in some regards, worse in others" treatment that's a modus operandi of Modern Horizons. So, better: more toughness, can protect against colorless. Worse: can't protect herself. I'm inclined to consider the single con more impactful than the pros, because then she's not that hard to get rid of as the original was, but I'm confident she'll see play regardless.

 Clerics are busy giving home to the infamous Yawgmoth too, at the time when he was just the Dr. Frankenstein of the Thran Empire on Dominaria rather than the creator of Phyrexia. Yawgmoth, Thran Physician has a lot of different things going on: he's a defensive body with a relevant protection (it essentially spells "protection from one fifth of the creatures in the game"); he's a free sacrifice outlet that doubles as removal; and he's a discard outlet that doubles as proliferate source. Proliferate makes his -1/-1 counters better, but other than that, there's not a lot of inherent synergies in his design. This said, he can prove useful in so many ways that he has to have some chances to find a home somewhere.


Construct: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 122, online: 121

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: A Construct that tutors for any other Construct, and leaves a couple modular counters behind to good measure? It has to be good. Three mana for a 2/2 body with summoning sickness aren't a perfect premise, but the payoff could be huge. Even if there aren't many different targets you'd want to search for in a Construct deck, to be honest, so this might just be an elaborate way to run your 5th to 8th Walking Ballista or Steel Overseer.


Crab: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 26, online: 25

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Snow decks have a milling endgame now. It might be irrelevant or crucial – being triggered by any Snow land seems a key element here, and there's already a degree of in-tribe redundancy in Hedron Crab.


Cyclops: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 26

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: This is strictly for Limited, but we couldn't expect too much more from a common Cyclops.


Demon: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 101, online: 98

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: This guy's name and mechanics are flavorful as hell (pun intended). Get it? Cultists convoking the Demon and being devoured for their troubles? It also looks pretty playable in the right deck, at least more than Demon of Catastrophes, which couldn't be played at all without sacrificial fodder and could remain stuck in hand after a sweep. Granted, by dropping Feaster of Fools as a 3/3 for six you're making a fool out of yourself, but it's only the worst case scenario; if instead you happen to have a couple of puny tokens around, you can play this for Demon of Catastrophes mana and end up with a larger body. And at the far side of the wishful spectrum there's a free 15/15 flyer! You'd only need haste! (And an opponent with no spot removal in hand).


Devil: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 25, online: 24

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: What makes this unassuming Devil appealing, besides haste, is the "any target" clause. You can start by ambushing an opponent's creature in a turn when morbid already triggered. And after that your vengeful little fella may stay on the lookout, ready to add injury to injury, as the flavor text cleverly remarks. OK, sure, an actual pinger for three mana, like Cunning Sparkmage, is still probably a safer bet, but the Devil tribe can enjoy the lower curve.


Djinn: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 45, online: 44

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: As a five-mana flyer, Thundering Djinn is below curve, especially for a multicolored creature. Striking any target for, most likely, 1-3 point of damage is not negligible, though. At the very least, it brings him back to Air Elemental status, because then you can just ping the opponent for one during any turn in which you didn't draw more than your basic allowance, or decided not to main phase your instant-speed card-drawing spell (which is something you rarely want to do and a definite downside of this Djinn's ability). And even a free pinging per attack lets you deal with a ton of obnoxious stuff on the opposite side of the table. I don't think it'll be very playable as a five-drop, but it sure proves how high is the average power level in Modern Horizons.


Dragon: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 193, online: 191

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: So, how easy is it to end up with a hasty 4/4 for two mana? I'd say, not too hard, not too easy, but definitely hard on turn two. So MH1's Obligatory Dragon kind of fails the test of playability here. If in average you can expect to play this one for five on turn five after cracking a couple fetch lands, then you're better off with a finisher that always costs five and gives you more bang for your bucks.


Drake: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 86, online: 85

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Even in the high-octane environment of Modern Horizons, Drake can't do better than some Limited fodder. How not surprising.


Druid: +4

  

 

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 New Tribal Total: 179, online: 175

 Related Tribes: Elf, Human, Insect

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: The first card that gets my attention here, mostly for the combination of mechanic and old-fashioned flavor, is Llanowar Tribe. I mean, it's a triple Llanowar Elves for triple the mana cost, and triple the payoff. I'm not certain it's a great follow-up to a turn-one Llanowar Elves, but it sure sends to obsolete town every three-drop that taps for two mana, a la Fyndhorn Elder and (Greeweaver Druid) (not that those were really played anymore – or printed, for that matter). If you untap on turn three with both your Llanowars in play, big and small, you'll have access to seven mana. Is that worth it? Maybe, and another plus side of Llanowar Tribe is that it's not entirely terrible as a topdeck, since it can still swing for three. And it doesn't die to Shock or (Goblin Chainwhirler). I wouldn't be surprised to see it show up in green ramp decks, though I wouldn't be surprised to see it ignored, either, since this is Modern, not Standard. It would definitely be played in Standard. Also, the flavor text reminds us the Llanowars lived through the Ice Age, the Phyrexian Invasion and the Rift, and they vowed to never let a similar disaster happen again, but their track record of stopping those doesn't seem too encouraging.

 Deep Forest Hermit is the MH1 take on Deranged Hermit. Again, I don't know why letting Modern have the original item wasn't acceptable, except possibly because echo is a deprecated mechanic these days? (I'm not sure about that; it's true that it never came back after Time Spiral block, but Modern Horizons itself contains one instance of it). Echo being replaced by vanishing 3 is the only difference between the two, for the rest they're exactly the same card. The follow-up turn after dropping the new Hermit is actually stronger, because your can let your Squirrels keep their anthem without having to tap your mana again. But then the anthem expires in two more turns, which means you only get to exploit it two times while attacking and three times in defense. Proliferate strategies might be a solution, and certainly bouncing and flickering this Hermit is less punishing than the previous one, so there's that. It's a very powerful card anyway, capable of putting nine points of power on the battlefield at once. I'm sure Modern will make good use of it.

 Springbloom Druid is Harrow on a stick, which is interesting, though Harrow's main strength was the instant speed. Plus the lands fetched by Harrow would enter the battlefield untapped. Rime Tender interacts with Snow permanents, so I'm positive she's going to be significant down the line, and not just as a way to untap a Snow land or to give vigilance to Ohran Viper. Plus, she might be the prettiest redhead in the set.

 Nantuko Cultivator is the reprinted Druid from outside Modern. It's not a very exciting one, but I guess it plays into the "lands in the graveyard matter" theme the set is pushing. Played straight the Cultivator is bad, you pitch two lands to it and it becomes an underwhelming 4/4 for four that caused card disadvantage. But if your gameplan entails fetching a large number of lands into your hand with the goal of having them end up into your graveyard, this is a way to enable this process, though probably still not the best way, and a complete drag at any other moment.


Elemental: +3

  

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 New Tribal Total: 400, online: 393

 Related Tribes: Skeleton

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: No green Elementals in Modern Horizons. The goofily named Lightning Skelemental is a new take on Ball Lightning with some grafted discard (a free Mind Rot, essentially – or a Blightning, if you want), which certainly makes it strictly better than Ball Lightning, if your deck runs black – if you think of it, it's actually easier to pay BRR than it is to pay triple red in a non-monored build.

 Igneous Elemental rides the same mechanical wave of Ore-Scale Guardian and other "lands in the graveyard matter" cards, but even as a 4/3 for four that shocks a creature is not terribly engaging outside of Limited (where on the other hand it won't be too easy to cast it for its reduced cost).

 Vesperlark is Reveillark's little brother. On the surface, it appears to be less useful, but you never know what blood-curdling combos this kind of card engenders, and the cheaper way to start the chain might prove crucial.


Elf: +4

   

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 New Tribal Total: 375, online: 362

 Related Tribes: Berserker, Druid

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Most new Elves are also Druids, except for Treetop Ambusher, which feels hardly relevant. Will Llanowar Tribe find a home in Elfball lists full of untap hijinks? Is Deep Forest Hermit the beginning of a beautiful friendship between Elves and Squirrels in Modern? As Teferi says, only time will tell.


Elk: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 17, online: 16

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: The MH1 Elks really care about other creatures entering the battlefield after them. At least one of them is a Snow creature, which feels only right. When can we expect M:TG's take on Rudolph?


Faerie: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 77, online: 74

 Related Tribes: Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Not the most consequential one-drop, but not the most useless, either. In an era of London mulligan, those initial scrys will be missed.


Frog: +1

 

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 New Tribal Total: 26, online: 25

 Related Tribes: Beast

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: The induction of Spore Frog in Modern (reprinted from Prophecy) is intriguing. We already had Kami of False Hope, but this effect seems more relevant in green.


Giant: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 148, online: 142

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Oh my, Juzam Djinn has shifted to red, after all these years. It's way too late to be relevant, I'm afraid. The artwork reference is appreciated, though.


Goblin: +7

   

   

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 New Tribal Total: 338, online: 325

 Related Tribes: Artificer, Shaman, Warrior, Zombie

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Lots of blasts from the past for the Goblin tribe, starting from the reprint of Goblin Matron, now part of the Modern meta as well –something that may influence combo decks more than actual Goblin aggro decks. For the latter, we have plenty of other goodies here, one of which is none other than Pashalik Mons. Remember (Mons's Goblin Raiders)? This is the guy who sent those, at the dawn of history, back when Magic didn't know how to properly use apostrophes. And he's Goblin's Judith, the Scourge Diva, with the added value of some reduced Goblin Warrens effect (free of the implication that that's how Goblins mate). Considering there's a plethora of ways for Goblins to get sacrificed and trigger Mons's damage, chief among them Skirk Prospector, just to get the resources to cast more Goblins. Or you can use a different free effect like the brand new Sling-Gang Lieutenant, which is a lesser (Siege-Gang Lieutenant) in black. He lacks the impact and the tactical value of his predecessor, but zero-mana activations are always a combo signifier, and getting life back is something Goblins rarely do.

 The also don't splash black too happily, but they might do just that now, for the new Lieutenant and for Munitions Expert, which weaponizes the number of Goblins on the board in an unprecedented way: at instant speed, like Gempalm Incinerator (and for the same CMC), but without damaging his owner, unlike Sparksmith. Plus he's able to hit planeswalkers as well, unlike no other gobbo. I can see this guy make a rapid ascent up the ladder of the Goblin archetypes. Which even get another attractive one-drop with haste to their cause. Admittedly, Goblin Champion only swings for one on his own, and exalted is not a mechanic you'd think Goblins would care too much for, since their usual strategy is strength in numbers, but it's still a solid first-turn play, if far from the power level of the likes of Goblin Guide and Legion Loyalist. Instead of focusing on making their first turns even more explosive, Modern Horizons strengthened the Goblins' early midrange game introducing new ways to seal the deal without attacking and better ways to control the board, while also giving them more reach in the aggro mirror thanks to lifegaining.


Golem: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 111

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: This dude is unassuming, and awfully small for a Golem, but it's a 2/2 one-drop for Snow decks, which maybe won't mean anything right now, but it could become important later. It also helps Golem decks having an early board presence, provided they find Snow lands useful, which maybe they don't, but it might be worth a try.


Horror: +3

  

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 New Tribal Total: 193

 Related Tribes: Slug

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: First-Sphere Gargantua is not exactly the curve-topper Horror (or any other deck) was waiting for, but Cabal Therapist, the first spoiled creature of the set, is really exciting. Mind you, it might not actually lead to anything, and the current price on MTGO seems to suggest it, in fact, won't. But you have to respect Cabal Therapy on legs, at least from a design standpoint. It lets you cast Cabal Therapy each turn by merely sacrificing a creature, which was Cabal Therapy's flashback cost. The upside is that you can do it again and again, if you pair the Therapist with a token generator, or if you run it in a deck already filled with cheap sacrificial fodder for other reasons. The downside: they'll see it coming. They can easily prevent the action of a 1/1 that's going to be a sitting duck for a full turn. Plus, of course, you can sacrifice the Therapist itself to its own trigger, but that means you'll be shooting a Cabal Therapy blindly, just like you would with the first casting of the original spell, but without the access to a second, better aimed casting. All this considered, I still like the Therapist. It's a little menace on the battlefield to boot, it can slip some damage through while waiting to administer its unauthorized lobotomy, or whatever it is that results in the opponent losing spells.


Human: +18

  

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 New Tribal Total: 2220, online: 2037

 Related Tribes: Artificer, Berserker, Cleric, Druid, Knight, Ninja, Scout, Shaman, Soldier, Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: Irrelevant

 Highlights: These Legendary Humans really sell the "remember the fallen" flavor theme of Modern Horizons. I mean, Sisay is from the Mirage War and the original Weatherlight Saga, while both Urza and Yawgmoth are as old a Magic character as they get. They've all been dead since hundreds of years in the storyline, a decade worth of set releases in our time. Gone but not forgotten, we may say.


Illusion: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 87, online: 82

 Related Tribes: Ninja, Squid

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Well, what do I know, after operating under the conviction that all cards from Modern Horizons were somewhat worthy of play, I stumble upon the new Illusions, which are both unabashedly trash. Sure, Oneirophage has the potential to grow to vertiginous size if followed up with some massive card-drawing spell. But there's no world or format where a 1/2 four-drop is even remotely competitive. 


Incarnation: +0

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 New Tribal Total: 13

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Genesis is in the Modern building. I think it's more of a Commander card than anything, but it's a solid addition to the pool nonetheless. If you find a way to dump it into the graveyard (in Modern, it probably has to involve discarding it from hand), it can lead to some cute recursion shenanigans. And the new artwork makes it more like a "not dryad, centaur, or avatar" type, whereas the older one was clearly "centaur with neurofibromatosis".


Insect: +1

 

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 New Tribal Total: 164, online: 160

 Related Tribes: Druid

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Among the overabundance of mechanical callbacks, there's monstrosity too. Behind the cringy name, Chillerpillar hides a Snow creature (though in its case, I doubt that'll be relevant) which metamorphoses from an awkward caterpillar with Giant Octopus stats to a graceful 5/5 butterfly, because everyone knows butterflies are very good at combat. The whole process only requires ten mana. What are you waiting for?

 Fun fact: all monoblue Insects have the ability to change into a higher state. Most notably, it was applied to the only partially successful "The Fly" mega cycle (just like with the movie, the sequels are bad).


Jellyfish: +0

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 New Tribal Total: 9

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Modern welcomes the grandfather of all bounce creatures, Man-o'-War. Sorry, Aether Adept and (Exclusion Mage), you can go home now. Always know in your heart that a jellyfish outranked you (but I'll always love you, Aether Adept!).


Knight: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 254, online: 241

 Related Tribes: Human

 Impact of the New Additions: Null

 Highlights: Man, this is a looong setup for a tiny, temporary boost. Then again, it's not like Knight of New Benalia is such an improvement. What's with that place? Its history seemed so promising.


Kor: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 54

 Related Tribes: Cleric

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: So, Mother of Runes is a Kor in Modern. Does this matter? It might, in that it's an effect that any tribe would feel lucky to get access to, even in a more fragile form such as this one.


Lizard: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 52, online: 48

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: This is Rootwalla with a reduced activation cost because it requires mana from a Snow source. Now, no Rootwalla that's not basking was ever any good, so even by halving the resources needed to make it consistently a 4/4, I don't foresee this being played. Plus, I still can't tell if Snow decks will be a thing in Modern. I mean, they already are kind of a thing, but only thanks to very straightforward stuff like Skred. Maybe Marit Lage's Slumber can herald a new era of "Snow permanents matter" brews. But I doubt Frostwalla will play a role in either.


Masticore: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 4

 Impact of the New Additions: Extreme

 Highlights: The name says it all: this is a smaller version of the original Masticore from Urza's Saga. The CMC is halved, the body is halved, the activation cost is doubled. Most importantly, you don't have to discard a card at each upkeep, you just do it once upon casting, which is simultaneously better and worse, since you can't play the Lesser Masticore without incurring in card disadvantage, whereas you could play Masticore, exploit its pinging and its (superior) blocking potential, and then let it die the next turn. So I don't like this one very much, even in ramp decks, unless they want to dump a card into the graveyard for strategic reasons, in which case a two-mana colorless permanent may prove a fast, clean way to do the job, while providing some additional damage to boot. Also, persist is a decent replacement for regeneration, because on top of the more expensive pinging cost, you don't want to have to keep more mana up for protection.

 This said, we've got a fourth Masticore in the game, and this is cause for (lesser) celebration for all the fans of many-faced mechanical beasts born from a bad word pun between "masticate" and "manticore".


Minotaur: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 76, online: 75

 Related Tribes: Berserker

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: This Minotaur is a friend of red rummaging cards like Faithless Looting. But that's about it, sadly.


Mongoose: +0

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 3

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: This is another old glory that was missing from Modern, but it might be coming too late, or not to the right place. Nimble Mongoose has been a minor staple in spell-based formats like Legacy and Vintage; but in a creature-based environment like Modern, do we really care about a small shroud beater? I'm leaning towards no, we don't.


Naga: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 35

 Related Tribes: Ninja

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: This is an application of ninjutsu I can get behind. Granted, the copy won't catch the opponent by surprise, and is easily killed, but with the help of some bouncing, some removing, some clearing the way of any sort, the proliferation of Mist-Syndicate Naga can get out of hand quickly. I like it. I don't think it'll be actually played in Constructed, but I like it.


Ninja: +8

   

   

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 19

 Related Tribes: Azra, Human, Illusion, Naga, Spirit, Vampire, Vedalken, Zombie

 Impact of the New Additions: Extreme

 Highlights: Modern Horizons established that all races on all planes have Ninjas. I'm not sure how I feel about that (why should they call them with such a culture-specific term? Why did this never come up before?), but let's just consider ninja as a pop culture mainstay and move on. Still, eight new cards with eight different subtribes might be a record, especially when the tribe in question was so small to begin with, and the new additions almost doubled its ranks.

 Fallen Shinobi, the Zombie one, is the most powerful new Ninja in the set, possibly in the game. He has a steep ninjutsu cost of four, but the reward is an impressive 5/4 body (one wonders how he can be so nimble), and a truly terrifying double (Thief of Sanity) effect, where you play the stolen cards for free. This guy is bound to steal your peace of mind for sure. Not even the extremely expensive Silent-Blade Oni, with a ninjutsu cost of six, is as effective as Fallen Shinobi, since the Ony does nothing against an opponent with no cards in hand.

 The other rare, the duplicating Naga, is good enough, but I might even prefer the similar effect of Moonblade Shinobi, since 1/1 flyers are more useful, not least as further ninjutsu enablers. Ingenious Infiltrator is a strictly better Ninja of the Deep Hours (arguably the best Ninja that was printed before Modern Horizons), if we discount the second color – though it seems now clear that Ninja decks want to be in Dimir. The improvement comes from the fact that Ingenious Infiltrator extends the card draw to all connecting Ninjas, becoming sort of a tribal lord. A second universal effect for all Ninjas is the lifelink granted by Throatseeker, which can be relevant considering a Ninja deck doesn't defend too well.

 And though I dismissed it while talking about Illusions, Phantom Ninja's straightforward unblockability makes it an important tribal enabler. The original Ninja lord from Betrayers of Kamigawa, Higure, the Still Wind, so far was the only way to enable ninjutsu in-tribe, and required a cost. All in all, Ninjas should do better to secure the services of some off-tribe one-drop with evasive abilities.

 The Ninja tribe has been definitely revitalized by all this new blood and synergies, and while it's probably not going to generate a top-tier competitive tribal deck in the Modern meta at large, it seems fun and tight enough at least for Modern Tribal Wars.


Orc: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 52

 Related Tribes: Warrior

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: There's echo coming back from the distant past. This Orc is designed along the way of cards like Keldon Marauders and Keldon Champion, where you're okay letting them die or not paying the echo cost, respectively. Problem is, those cards will get to attack once before dying, whereas Orcish Hellraiser (that's a very wasteful use of the word "hellraiser") either remains on the board by paying the echo, or goes away to do the damage before actively taking part in a combat phase, except as a blocker. Then again, maybe those precedents misled me: this is a 3/2 for two with a minimum echo cost and a valuable death trigger. He's quite good on his own merits.


Ouphe: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 12, online: 8

 Impact of the New Additions: Severe

 Highlights: Whoa, green Stony Silence on legs? Easier to kill, but with different tools than you use against Stony Silence. And being a honest-to-God bear, it fits the main deck more naturally, which makes game one harder for the archetypes that use artifacts. New staple on a Maverick-style deck? I was gonna say Death and Taxes splashing green, but then your Aether Vials will also be shut down, so this is good against those builds too. This feels like a card that was a long time coming in green, and it's finally here.


Plant: +0

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 48, online: 44

 Related Tribes: Wall

 Impact of the New Additions: Extreme

 Highlights: Yes, this makes for an extreme impact. Wall of Blossoms is an amazing little card that was sorely missing in Modern; its white cousin, Wall of Omens, couldn't entirely replace it in all the places where this Plant Wall would be needed. Just think of how much Birthing Pod decks would have loved to run such a veteran from Survival of the Fittest builds. And now this reprint is giving that chance to Chord of Calling lists, and Prime Speaker Vannifar lists, and (fair) Neoform lists, and whatnot. All hail the Blossoms.


Rat: +0

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 54, online: 48

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Crypt Rats is another well-established classic that's coming to Modern. I don't know that it'll make a huge impact (it's more of a Pauper staple, to be honest), but it's nice to have it around, for MBC builds and dedicated Rat decks alike.


Rhino: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 33

 Related Tribes: Soldier

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: And this marks down battle cry as the umpteenth returning mechanic of the set (there's actually 47 of them!). At this point, it feels like all these random walks down memory lane were just made to humble new players by teaching them about Magic's long history and high complexity.


Scarecrow: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 32, online: 31

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: So this might basically be treated as a creature that grows each turn but requires a two mana maintenance cost. Of course it's not mandatory, but it's also not easy to enable later on, when you can't attack with it safely, unless you have another way to tap it. I think it was just a way to rehash the "untap" mechanic from Shadowmoor, apparently as a gimmick, because that mechanic was deemed a failure (players couldn't tell tap and untap symbols apart) and not meant to come back ever.


Scout: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 137, online: 131

 Related Tribes: Human

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Trustworthy Scout is a different take on creatures that search for more copies of themselves, except in her case she has to die first, and you have to pay the cost twice, so she's not good. Alpine Guide is a novel red land-fetching Scout specifically for Mountains; but then he's forced to attack and when he dies you lose the Mountain, so, again, not very good, even in a Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle deck. Wait, is that mechanic supposed to represent mountaineering accidents due to climbers' reckless and obsessive behavior? (That's sort of macabre). Also, I get that "alpine" in English has taken a generic sense of "related to high mountains", but it still reminds me too much of the actual Alps to feel appropriate in a fantasy setting.


Shaman: +3

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 375, online: 370

 Related Tribes: Goblin, Human

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Seasoned Pyromancer really calls the attention to himself here. I mean, he's a mythic (an expensive one, currently), he seems flashy, he calls back to a meta-defining card like Young Pyromancer. But, uh... I don't see it? I mean, you pay three, loot two cards (but not lands), get a 2/2 and two 1/1s. That seems... okay? Then you can get another couple of 1/1s from the graveyard, but you have to pay five, which is not cheap. I imagine you're supposed to discard flashback cards to his looting, maybe even more copies of the Pyromancer. Or maybe you don't care about the tokens and discard two lands, so it's a 2/2 that refills your hand? Maybe you take one approach or the other, according to the situation? It can speak to some versatility, but not a high degree. Maybe it's just that I was expecting some enhancement on Young Pyromancer, who's able to impact the board more broadly, let alone win games on his own. This guy, not so much. What am I missing?

 I might actually like more Bogardan Dragonheart as a sacrifice outlet. There's no many cards that let you sacrifice creatures again and again, without any kind of cost, particularly in Modern (Viscera Seer is still the best for that). And getting a 4/4 hasty flyer out of the deal seems lovely. You might be able to generate a conspicuous amount of damage through sacrifice shenanigans and then use those last four points in the air to seal the deal.


Shapeshifter: +11

   

   

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 93, online: 91

 Related Tribes: Zombie

 Impact of the New Additions: Extreme

 Highlights: All right, this is the most explosive tribe in the entire set, and the one that needs to be handled with the most attention. So, changeling's back, that's great, but also kind of not, Tribal Wars-wise, because the changelings are, by mechanical definition, members of each and every tribe, and sometimes they're better than the average member of a given tribe, or maybe even the best member of that tribe, when stuff like Chameleon Colossus and Mirror Entity is compared to your regular Elk or Pegasus. So it's a bit like cheating, like playing poker with wild cards.

 Still, ten new changelings are here, raising the total to 30 (plus Mistform Ultimus, which is functionally the same thing), not counting noncreature cards with changeling, because those can't take the place of a regular tribesman in Tribal Wars.

 Exciting. Scary. Exciting.

 But let's first deal with the lone non-changeling Shapeshifter. Endling completes the Morphling mega cycle started in Urza's Saga with the eponymous Morphling (which later got sort of updated with Aetherling). This latest monoblack model has menace for evasion, undying for protection, deathtouch as a further punch. It costs less than every other member of the cycle except for Brightling, but it's more easily taken down, because undying only works once. I'd say it ranks smack in the middle of the canonical five, and pretty far from Aetherling.

 Now, on to the Lorwyn-Morningtide changeling revival. We should briefly acknowledge the presence of a changeling generator artifact in Birthing Boughs. It's a thing that exists. I guess it could be useful to abuse tribal anthems, the same way Mutavault does. Also, Amorphous Axe joins Runed Stalactite as a way to grant every creature type via equipment, though it's clunkier than its precursor, and Volatile Claws does a temporary universal changeling conversion, as an upgrade to Blades of Velis Vel.

  

 With this dealt with, let's proceed by examining the new changelings one by one, ordered by curve.

 CMC 1: Universal Automaton means every tribe has now access to a one-drop. Changeling Outcast means every tribe with access to black has now access to a one-drop that can't be blocked. They're both an improvement over Mothdust Changeling, which was previously the cheapest changeling. The Outcast might prove critical even outside of strictly Tribal Wars considerations; you can imagine exploiting it in competitive tribal decks with a high density of anthem effects, like Human (where the color of mana doesn't matter) or Zombie (which are already in the right color). I could say Merfolk, too, but I doubt Merfolk decks would splash black for it, and an early unblockable isn't really a game-changer for them.

 CMC 2: Impostor of the Sixth Pride is a reference to Blade of the Sixth Pride, but white 3/1 vanilla for two is a familiar setup (cfr. Oreskos Swiftclaw, Dromoka Warrior, Devilthorn Fox, Raptor Companion, Knight of New Benalia, Prowling Caracal). It's probably better than all the previous two-drop changelings (none of which was in white), because of the trade potential alone, with the possible exception of the bear-like Woodland Changeling. But if we're willing to commit to two colors, the rare Unsettled Mariner is a 2/2 with a non-marginal static ability that taxes all targeted interactions from the opponent.

 CMC 3: This is still the domain of Mirror Entity and Taurean Mauler, but Venomous Changeling is a good defensive addition to hold the ground with deathtouch and toughness 3, a vast improvement over Moonglove Changeling. I'd say any tribe with a high curve could use the help of this Scorpion-shifter to buy itself some time, something even superior cards like Entity and Mauler can't do as effectively.

 CMC 4: Aside from Chameleon Colossus, pretty much all Lorwyn-Morningtide changelings at this spot in the curve were truly terrible. So Graveshifter being a changeling Gravedigger (down to the artwork) is already a step forward, since at least you get value. The twin 2/2s from Irregular Cohort are even better, but a double white card is harder to accommodate in decks that aren't already heavy white. The fact that the token is colorless is a nice bonus, as it's able to circumvent protection (well, except from Giver of Runes, I guess).

 CMC 5: The Spider-like Webweaver Changeling is more defensive than its most direct Morningtide counterpart, Game-Trail Changeling, but it's also overall more playable, with improved survivability, a more desirable keyword, and some incidental lifegain. This spot had no clear winner among the original changelings (lots of questionable options like Changeling Titan and an underwhelming rare in Cairn Wanderer), but it's also the point where their help is probably not needed anymore.

 CMC 7: What Modern Horizons introduces here is the concept of high-end changelings, in two very different ways. Valiant Changeling has a CMC of 7, but for all intents and purposes, it's actually a two-drop. Or at least, that's how much you plan to pay for it if you're running it in your deck. But that means you'll need other changelings to maximize the discount (it's not worth casting it with a lesser reduction, what its discount rule implies is a challenge you can only win through another changeling); most notably one-drop changelings, to have it out on turn two. So Valiant is the first changeling whose ideal home is actually a deck with a large amount of changeling creatures. Maybe a Shapeshifter tribal deck, even! Can you believe it? In such a deck, it's one of the most powerful changelings, even if it's awfully boltable. In a regular deck, it's close to unplayable. Strange conundrum, uh?

 And then there's Morophon, the Boundless, the first mythic changeling, and the first Legendary changeling. It's a typical "big guy with big impact", an universal lord for all seasons and all tribal decks. You choose a creature type, you get an anthem and a cost reduction. Played like that, it's really not worth seven mana. Sure, you could build your deck with most creatures costing double colored mana, so that Boundless will make them cost zero. But this will happen after you already ramped to seven, anyway. Will paying zero for your Mantis Rider feel that relevant at that point? No, the only route to exploit Morophon in a meaningful way is going as big as it does. Like, making Progenitus cost five. Or the Nephilims cost zero. Even there, I'm not confident it'll be worth assembling an Urza triplet for the occasion, but who knows, maybe it'll become the next best thing for Tron decks. (More realistically, it won't.) And of course you can also engineer esoteric combos with Fist of Suns or Jodah, Archmage Eternal, to cast that Progenitus for absolute nothing. But that's going deeply into Johnny territory now.

 In summation, I think Venomous Changeling is the one I can see myself playing the most in tribes that want changelings. It's the more assertive on the battlefield. And then the one-drops and two-drops can fill some unbalanced curves. I guess this new progeny of changelings wasn't that problematic, after all. Might even prove beneficial.


Skeleton: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 50, online: 48

 Related Tribes: Elemental

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Don't ask me how an Elemental can be a Skeleton, or vice versa. Or if Skeleton decks have any desire to splash double red in order to play Ball Lightning.


Sliver: +13

   

   

   

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 109, online: 109

 Related Tribes: Trilobite

 Impact of the New Additions: Irrelevant?

 Highlights: Listen, there's a whole lot of new Slivers from Modern Horizons, but here's my hot take: I don't think it matters. Short of printing more anthems a la Muscle Sliver, I think Slivers have already everything they need to be a top-tier tribe, if one that's dramatically vulnerable to board sweepers, because they're like the ultimate battlefield commitment to linear strategies: the more the scarier, but each one of them on its own is kind of a bad card (with some exceptions, like Harmonic Sliver, though it's now become near obsolete). This latest bunch really seems to strain to find new toys for the tribe. Looting? Outlast? Pinging to the face with hellbent? Exalted? Well, I guess exalted might allow for one Sliver to attack while the others play defense, but it's on a five-drop, so it's not really viable.

 Cloudshredder Sliver combines flying and haste for two mana, letting the Sliver player cut blue – at least in Modern, because in Legacy you'd still want blue for Crystalline Sliver. Plus, I don't think the mana base actually cares what color you're playing these days, what with Sliver Hive, Cavern of Souls, Ancient Ziggurat and Unclaimed Territory all conspiring to make mana fixing issues a thing of the past.

 The other rare, Spiteful Sliver, turns blocking Slivers or attacking into Slivers into a problem. It's cute, but probably not efficient enough. Tempered Sliver giving them the Slith ability (Sliths and Slivers: together at last!) might be the most effective of these new cards. Even the mythic, The First Sliver, albeit probably fun as a commander, doesn't really track in a competitive Sliver deck, where most of your creatures cost two. I guess any of them would cascade into Galerider Sliver, but that's about it, and it sure isn't worth five mana.


Slug: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 7, online: 6

 Related Tribes: Horror

 Impact of the New Additions: Severe

 Highlights: The seventh Slug ever printed is... surprisingly playable? It's the cheapest to cast (along with Giant Slug, which isn't online; and is atrocious). And then any other Slug, or really anything, makes it evolve, to put menace to good use. As I said, it's playable, and that's not something you're conditioned to expect from a Slug.


Snake: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 80, online: 72

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Great pair of new Snakes here. The mythic rare Hexdrinker is the representative of the level up mechanic, and it grows to be six tenths of a Progenitus, which is impressive. Sure, it ends up costing almost Progenitus mana, but it's all colorless except for the first green, and you don't have to spend it all at once. In fact, four mana already give you a 4/4 with protection from instants, which is excellent. Honestly, a 2/1 one-drop can be good enough in many circumstances. Solid creature.

 Possibly even better is Ice-Fang Coatl, one of the better new arguments for trying a Snow deck. It replaces itself while also ambushing and (in the mentioned Snow decks) killing pretty much anything, just like Winged Coatl, but for one fewer mana. Brilliant in its Spike-y simplicity.


Soldier: +6

   

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 650, online: 592

 Related Tribes: Human, Rhino, Spirit, Zombie

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Some interesting new Soldiers, the most interesting of all is of course the chase mythic, Ranger-Captain of Eos. The name is a obvious clue to his parentage with Ranger of Eos (less so with Knight-Captain of Eos, which is in fact a Knight). The higher-ranked officer costs one mana less, boasts one extra point of toughness, but searches for one fewer creature, with the same condition of being a one-drop or lesser. The lower dropping point in the curve feels already a decisive factor, especially in a deck like Humans, which doesn't play four-drops; but the really intriguing part is the activate ability, able to turn the Ranger-Captain into a counterspell of sort, or a Silence if you prefer. The applications, even just in the Modern meta, are many, from just preventing a sweeper, to stopping a miracle being revealed, or a suspended spell that's going off, or any number of combo pieces like Past in Flames, Ad Nauseam and Living End, or delaying the casting of Tron's planeswalkers, and so on and so forth. It's a very powerful piece of interaction that's given as a bonus on a card with strong tribal ties that already comes with built-in card advantage. The targets for the tutoring are indeed equally plentiful, from the obvious choices, like Champion of the Parish and Noble Hierarch in Humans, or Martyr of Sands and Serra Ascendant in Martyr's Life, to the more unexpected, like Norin the Wary, Walking Ballista, Viscera Seer, and even Death's Shadow (though white is not currently one of that archetype's colors). It's all stuff that the old Ranger of Eos would find twice, but of which you don't necessarily need two copies, whereas curving out better and faster with the Captain may become key. I have no problems naming him as the best creature in Modern Horizons.

 Nostalgia factor aside, Sisay, Weatherlight Captain is more awkward to evaluate. Her main problem is that she needs some substantial setup to work, namely a multicolored companion, ideally something like Transguild Courier or (Sphinx of the Guildpact) (or a token from Planewide Celebration), so that Sisay will be a 7/7 and able to fetch Legendaries of CMC up to six, which is the topmost value she can search for without the use of external means to boost her power. But that's not all; she also needs a way to generate WUBRG, which is not extremely hard, yet not trivial either. If you compare this process with Captain Sisay just needing to tap, it all seem needlessly convoluted. Granted, the older incarnation didn't put the permanent directly onto the battlefield, and also asked for an extra green mana to be cast. But New Sisay just seems a built-around-me card with too many requirements, I dare say even as a commander. On the plus side, the artwork is the first (also counting her Vanguard card) that does the character justice.

 A brief mention for the common Spirit Soldier Martyr's Soul, which is a 5/4 for three if cast entirely via convoke (or with other non-land sources).


Specter: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 23, online: 22

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: A poor impression of Hypnotic Specter and a new wellspring of jokes about killing it with Go for the Throat or Neck Snap, and equipping it with Helm of Kaldra.


Spider: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 52, online: 51

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: A couple of well-designed Spiders at lower rarities. Twin-Silk Spider is two reaching bodies with four total toughness for three mana. Rotwidow Pack is the same in a single body for one more mana, and it comes with a miniature Ishkanah, Grafwidow activation that also creates a Spider. I would play both in Spider tribal, and in Limited; not sure elsewhere.


Spirit: +3

   

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 454, online: 447

 Related Tribes: Ninja, Soldier

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: The Ninja Spirit is just vanilla, the Spirit Soldier may have some application out of sheer cost efficiency, and the same goes for the recursive classic Nether Spirit, at its very first reprint since its debut in Mercadian Masques twenty years ago. Soulherder is fascinating, and not just for that disquieting, surrealistic artwork: it starts small and frail, but provides a free blinking per turn, growing consequently. In the right deck, it's a blowout, almost worthy of the Brago, King Eternal value factory. Just imagine abusing Reflector Mage every single turn, just to make the most conspicuous example in the friendly colors. Also, man, that art. All those people running away. Don't be afraid, folks, it's only going to blink you! Though, if we go with the rule that the returned permanent has no "memory" of its past existence, then it's like being killed and reincarnated? Run, folks, run!


Squid: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 5

 Related Tribes: Illusion

 Impact of the New Additions: Extreme

 Highlights: It's the fifth Squid ever. Has a cool name (which is basically the same as Dream Eater). And this exhausts the things I have to say about this guy.


Treefolk: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 66, online: 64

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: All right, if it was only going to be a big trampler for Snow decks, it might have felt more inconsequential, if still playable. But it has some tactical value, too, with that Frost Titan-esque ETB. Still not going to be played in-tribe, I don't think. Also, its name is quite silly.


Trilobite: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 3

 Related Tribes: Sliver

 Impact of the New Additions: Extreme... ly irrelevant?

 Highlights: And three does the trick. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Trilobite tribe! Thanks to a Sliver, of all things, since for unfathomable reasons, this guy is a Sliver that supplies all Slivers with the ability to untap for two. Whatever. Nobody will ever play it in a Sliver deck. Instead, now we can put Scuttling Sliver together with Electryte and Shore Keeper (unfortunately, not in Modern), add a couple changelings, and voilà, the most absurd, less synergistic tribe in the game. You're welcome.


Unicorn: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 16, online: 13

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: I guess Good-Fortune Unicorn demonstrates how Unicorns are altruistic, because it never benefits from the arrival of the other creatures, it just remains a 2/2 while making them better. In a way, it's like Metallic Mimic for any creature type. Not terrible, but it would work better as a two-drop. You know, like Metallic Mimic.


Vampire: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 226, online: 222

 Related Tribes: Ninja

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: While Throatseeker is strictly a Ninja card, Cordial Vampire is truly a Vampire's Vampire. A two-drop that threatens to grow the entire bloodsucker team again and again? It sounds amazing, especially with all the sacrifice outlets or self-immolating members the tribe features. I wouldn't be surprised if this shirtless dude became a fixture of vamp builds.


Vedalken: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 60

 Related Tribes: Ninja

 Impact of the New Additions: Null

 Highlights: Vedalken, the hyper-intellectual race of Artificers and Mages, train Ninjas too, apparently. I don't know why it sounds so ludicrous to me, but at least Ingenious Infiltrator is one of the better Ninjas, so maybe that's the Vedalken quality control at work. Dovin would approve.


Viashino: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 42

 Related Tribes: Warrior

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: For some reason, rather than just reprinting the proto-dash creature Viashino Sandstalker (which is already Modern-legal through its Eighth Edition version, actually), they made a new one that's identical, except it trades one point of toughness for trample and cycling. So, close to strictly better.


Wall: +1

 

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 New Tribal Total: 126, online: 105

 Related Tribes: Plant

 Impact of the New Additions: Extreme

 Highlights: I can't stress enough the importance of having Wall of Blossoms in Modern. Wall of One Thousand Cuts is a flying defender that can lose defender at will, but it costs (Lyra Dawnbringer) mana, so I don't really see the point of it.


Warrior: +4

   

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 New Tribal Total: 696, online: 679

 Related Tribes: Goblin, Orc, Viashino

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Monored Warriors complementing monowhite Soldiers. Which makes sense, Soldiers are mostly in white because they're organized and disciplined, Warriors are based in red because they just charge into battle. Anyway, I guess the tribe can benefit from Viashino Sandsprinter and Orcish Hellraiser. The others are strictly for Goblin decks. Although, on second thought, maybe Goblin Champion is actually more useful as an exalted enabler for Warriors?


Wizard: +8

  

  

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 New Tribal Total: 695, online: 677

 Related Tribes: Bird, Faerie, Human, Zombie

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Kess, Dissident Mage is the only reprinted card that originated from a multiplayer product (in her case, Commander 2017), which sort of surprises me, because I thought Modern Horizons would be the right occasion to induct into Modern some of those Legendary creatures that were first printed in Commander or Conspiracy sets but whose power level wasn't unfit for Modern. I guess I was wrong. At any rate, Kess offers a free Snapcaster Mage trigger per turn, and is a four-drop 3/4 flyer, so she's quite good in decks like Grixis Control. We'll see if the new meta becomes her.

 Bazaar Trademage is also a 3/4 flyer, and for three mana to boot. Plus he provides a free Bazaar of Baghdad activation, hence the name. Of course that's card disadvantage (the Bazaar excels only when used for self-milling purposes), which explains the low CMC. I still think it's worth the deal, especially if you can access the graveyard via flashback, jump-start et similia. Kess herself makes a good pair with the Trademage.

 And speaking of creatures that mimic other cards that Modern can't have, Pondering Mage has of course a Ponder ETB. Five mana is a bit too much, but it's yet another 3/4. The Wizards are really beefing up.

 Tribute Mage is the missing link between Trinket Mage and Trophy Mage. In case you didn't know what to search for, she's holding the Sword of the Meek. Watcher for Tomorrow is a weird application of the hideaway mechanic, that originally was only seen on lands; the result feels a bit clunky, only to essentially accomplish what a (Ugin, the Ineffable)'s token does more elegantly. Also bizarre: Planebound Accomplice is Sneak Attack on legs but for planeswalkers. It feels powerful, allowing for a four-turn activation of some of the most expensive Nicol Bolases. Then maybe you bring them back with The Eldest Reborn or something. It might become its own deck.


Wurm: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 89, online: 84

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Another "Snow permanents matter" card, but not one of the most appealing. Also, is this Wurm pretending to be a bear?


Zombie: +6

   

  

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 New Tribal Total: 443, online: 436

 Related Tribes: Bird, Goblin, Ninja, Shapeshifter, Soldier, Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Fallen Shinobi is a powerful card that can go in Zombie decks too, but the more directly Zombie-related creature here is Undead Augur, which works for the tribe the way Cordial Vampire works for the vamps, except with card advantage rather than boosting. The Augur also synergizes well with the reprint of Carrion Feeder from Scourge, while other new Zombies like Rank Officer and Silumgar Scavenger are just too weak.


SUMMARY

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 Check the Complete Creature Types Reference Table here.


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KUMA'S TRIBAL EVALUATIONS