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Metagame Mentor: The 10 New-to-Modern Card Making Waves with Modern Horizons 3

June 13, 2024
Frank Karsten

Modern Horizons 3 has released online, and it's a brewer's paradise right now. Anticipation is high to see what the Modern metagame might look like at Pro Tour Modern Horizons 3, which will be held at MagicCon: Amsterdam on June 28–30. Modern Horizons 3 is still very new, so we don't know what direction it will push yet, but we do know a little bit about new-to-Modern cards that have been powerful in the past.

Indeed, Modern Horizons 3 brings 42 cards from Eternal formats and introduces them to Modern for the first time. Each Modern Horizons 3 Play Booster features a dedicated slot for such new-to-Modern reprints. In this article, I will showcase ten of them that are most exciting to me. My selection and ranking is based on a mixture of historical significance, tournament results, and Modern potential.

Before starting, I'd like to give an honorable mention to Meltdown or Toxic Deluge, which could turn out to be an excellent sideboard or interactive card. However, in this article I will focus on proactive build-arounds for main decks. Along the way, I will highlight the competitive history behind the various reprints.

10. Orim's Chant

Orim's Chant

Two decades ago, Scepter-Chant was a dreaded combo that sparked many successful tournament decks. Every time during your opponent's upkeep, you would activate Isochron Scepter, copy Orim's Chant and pay the kicker. This would prevent your opponent from casting spells or attacking, typically locking them out of the game altogether. Ryuichi Arita, for example, used the above-shown decklist to reach the Top 8 of Pro Tour Los Angeles 2005.

As Modern Horizons 3 brings Orim's Chant to the format, this lock will now be available in Modern for the first time. It might not be as powerful as two decades ago, especially because there are numerous instant-speed answers. Counterspell provides a way out, as does Leyline Binding, and even Chord of Calling for Haywire Mite. Nevertheless, Modern players will now have the option to try out Scepter-Chant. Orim's Chant has also seen play in combo decks, preventing the opponent from countering or interacting for a turn, which is a relevant use case as well.

9. Recruiter of the Guard


Recruiter of the Guard has historically been a useful inclusion in Death & Taxes. Allen Wu, a member of the team that won Pro Tour 25th Anniversary, used several copies in his Legacy deck during that event. In his deck, Recruiter of the Guard not only increased the likelihood of finding Thalia, Guardian of Thraben but also offered the flexibility of grabbing a big threat like Mirran Crusader. The synergy with Aether Vial was also a standout, as it could efficiently put Recruiter of the Guard onto the battlefield.

In Modern, it might be a bit more difficult to find a proper home for Recruiter of the Guard, but there are surely some options to explore. For example, since Recruiter of the Guard is a Human, it might fit into a Thalia's Lieutenant deck. Alternatively, you might use it in Heliod, Sun-Crowned combo decks to tutor for Walking Ballista and Spike Feeder. And if you were to build a deck around Phelia, Exuberant Shepherd, then Recruiter of the Guard might also be a suitable inclusion.

8. Laelia, the Blade Reforged


Laelia, the Blade Reforged was originally printed in Commander 2021 and has proven to be a powerhouse in red midrange decks. When Laelia attacks, you effectively draw a card, and the creature grows turn after turn. First, Laelia attacks as a 3/3. Then, as a 4/4. And if you were to exile cards in any other way, the sky is the limit. Using three copies of the legend in his Legacy decklist, Kouki Nagata won the 2022 Asia Championship.

In Modern, there might be various possible homes for Laelia. One idea is a deck with Inti, Seneschal of the Sun and/or Questing Druid, as these cards provide additional ways of putting +1/+1 counters onto Laelia. Another possible home is Rhinos, as exiling a Crashing Footfalls from the top of your library is the ultimate jackpot. Finally, a Jund Sagavan deck might be interested in a few copies of Laelia as a value engine.

7. Priest of Titania


With Modern Horizons 3, Elves are back on the menu! Priest of Titania is a card with a long and storied history, going back many decades. For example, Benedikt Klauser made the Top 8 of the 2000 World Championship with a deck that reliably tap Priest of Titania for two or more mana, allowing him to ramp into Deranged Hermit—also an Elf, by the way—or mow down an entire board with Masticore.

Priest of Titania will now be available in Modern for the first time. It is rather weak to Orcish Bowmasters, which will be a bit of a problem. But in a dedicated Elves deck, Priest of Titania can reliably tap for three or more mana as early as turn three. There's even combo potential with Umbral Mantle, which can boost and untap Priest of Titania as often as you wish. We'll see if that is enough to bring Elves back into the Modern limelight, but it surely provides the deck with powerful new options.

6. Wirewood Symbiote

Wirewood Symbiote

Priest of Titania is not the only new-to-Modern reprint that might revitalize Elves—Wirewood Symbiote is arguably even more important. In the Legacy deck shown above, which Reid Duke piloted to a Top 16 finish at the 2022 North American Legacy Championship, Wirewood Symbiote is a powerhouse. It untaps mana Elves, bounces Elvish Visionary, and protect key creatures from targeted removal. In Modern, even though Glimpse of Nature is not legal, similar strategies will now be possible.

In an Elves deck with Modern Horizons 3, Heritage Druid and Nettle Sentinel could power out enormous amounts of mana early on. Perhaps you could ramp into Shaman of the Pack, bounce it with Wirewood Symbiote, and take your opponent from 20 down to 0 without ever having to attack. I don't know if Elves will ultimately be able to stand up to all the efficient removal in Modern, but the archetype is a fan favorite across multiple formats, and the buffs are exciting.

5. The Medallions

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Modern Horizons 3 also reprints the cycle of five Medallions, which were not legal in Modern before. In the right deck, they can be a powerful mana acceleration tool. Kai Budde, for example, used Sapphire Medallion to reduce the cost of Accumulated Knowledge and ramp towards the game winning combo of Illusions of Grandeur and Donate, winning Pro Tour New Orleans 2001 with this strategy. So these artifacts have clear historical significance.

Later, Sapphire Medallion has also been used to great effect in Storm decks with Cloud of Faeries and Mind's Desire. While those blue cards not legal in Modern, a similar strategy might still be feasible. A Modern Storm deck would probably be more interested in Ruby Medallion to reduce the cost of Pyretic Ritual, Desperate Ritual, and Manamorphose, allowing you to build up a huge mana pool before playing a game-winning Past in Flames. Ruby Storm might be a real deck.

4. Cephalid Coliseum

Cephalid Coliseum

In Antoine Ruel's winning Psychatog deck from Pro Tour Los Angeles 2005, Cephalid Coliseum acted as a madness enabler for Circular Logic while filling the graveyard for Psychatog. His deck also used Deep Analysis—another new-to-Modern reprint in Modern Horizons 3. So these cards have won a Pro Tour in a control deck before, but the Modern applications might be a bit different. For one, Cephalid Coliseum can target the opponent, so it can set up a sweet combo with Narset, Parter of Veils.

More importantly, Dredge might be back on the menu! In any deck with Stinkweed Imp and Golgari Thug, it's easy to achieve threshold, and draw-and-discard effects are at their best. Sacrificing Cephalic Coliseum could amount to dredging three times, after which you can discard your dredge cards for future use. Flashback cards are also excellent in dredge decks, so Deep Analysis could also prove to be a good fit. I'm not sure what the best way of building Modern Dredge would be, but based on the historical pedigree of Legacy Dredge, these new additions are exciting.

3. Buried Alive

Buried Alive

Buried Alive is one of the best ways to set up your graveyard. For example, Hall of Famer David Humpherys made the Top 4 of Pro Tour New Orleans 2001 with a deck that could use Buried Alive to put an 8-mana creature into the graveyard for Reanimate. He also had the option of grabbing Krovikan Horror and Squee, Goblin Nabob for continued Zombie Infestation activations. The card was both flexible and powerful.

In Modern, Buried Alive will now be available for the first time, and there are plenty of possibilities. One option is to put Morselhoarder, Devoted Druid and Spikeshot Elder into your graveyard, setting up a combo on the next turn with Necrotic Ooze. An alternative idea is to grab some combination of Arclight Phoenix and Demilich, which can return for free soon after. Or perhaps you might search for 3 Vengevine in a more creature-heavy deck. You could also fetch Thassa's Oracle, Leveler, and Narcomoeba, allowing Victimize (another new-to-Modern reprint) to win the game on the spot. Overall, I am most enthralled by the prospect of grabbing Arclight Phoenix, but there is plenty of potential across the board.

2. Kappa Cannoneer


In the right deck, Kappa Cannoneer is basically a 1-mana 5/5 unblockable that is nearly impossible to target. It even grows every turn! Originally printed in Neon Dynasty Commander, the Turtle Warrior has already made waves in Legacy Affinity decks. For example, Yuya Nakamura used the list shown above to win last year's Japan Legacy Championship, where Kappa Cannoneer shines due to its synergy with cheap artifacts. In Modern, we now get to use it for the first time.

Affinity is my favorite all-time archetype, Simulacrum Synthesizer already gave the deck a recent boost, and I am excited about the possibilities with Modern Horizons 3. Deck building might be tough, requiring a balance because of Ugin's Labyrinth. There are only so many slots you can dedicate towards 6-7 mana payoff creatures, and every Kappa Cannoneer you add is one fewer Myr Enforcer to imprint onto the land. Nevertheless, Kappa Cannoneer is really powerful, so it's my number two pick.

1. Phyrexian Tower

Phyrexian Tower

In my mind, the number one new-to-Modern reprint is Phyrexian Tower. Two decades ago, it was already used in combo decks as a convenient way to sacrifice Academy Rector. More recently, it showed its power in Historic, as Yuuki Ichikawa used it to win the Innistrad Championship in 2021. In his Golgari Food deck, Phyrexian Tower could sacrifice Cauldron Familiar, triggering Ravenous Squirrel while adding two black mana for the big payoff spells. Even without any sacrifice synergies, that mana boost is huge.

In Modern, there are plenty of creatures that Phyrexian Tower would be happy to sacrifice. First of all, it could be used in Golgari Yawgmoth, sacrificing Delighted Halfling to power out Yawgmoth, Thran Physician as early as turn two. Alternatively, the land might fit into Rakdos Grief because you can sacrifice an evoked Grief and play Dauthi Voidwalker on turn one. There are also various other creatures that are good to sacrifice, ranging from Bloodghast to Stitcher's Supplier to Orcish Bowmaster's Army token. A land that taps for two can always shake up the metagame, so Phyrexian Tower is my number one card from Magic's past to join the Modern era.

The Road to Magic World Championship 30

Although Pro Tour Modern Horizons 3 is the coming up soon, the World Championship remains the crown jewel of Magic organized play. As we count down the weeks leading up to Magic World Championship 30 in late October of this year, each week I'm taking a look at a great deck from a past Magic World Championship.

At the 2006 World Championship, a total of 351 competitors from 62 countries came to Paris, France to compete across Standard, Draft, and Extended. As part of his Hall of Fame career, Makihito Mihara from Japan took the trophy with Dragonstorm. "The moment when I actually won … is what stays with me," he said many years later. "It's my most cherished Pro Tour memory."

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In the early turns, Mihara would use blue card draw spells to dig for his key combo cards while setting up for a big turn. His ultimate game plan was to cast three rituals, then Dragonstorm. This would give a sufficient storm count to put four Bogardan Hellkite onto the battlefield, and they would immediately roast the opponent for 20 damage. It's a fiery way to win the game.

This sequence could often happen on turn four, right after Lotus Bloom came off suspend. Add Rite of Flame and Seething Song to reach nine mana, and Dragonstorm would win the game on the spot. Against control decks with countermagic, you could take it slower, tap them out with Gigadrowse, and storm off on the next turn. It was a powerful combo deck, and Mihara didn't lose a single game in the finals. Today, Rite of Flame and Seething Song are even banned in Modern!

Makihito Mihara, 2006 Magic World Championship

As the 2006 World Championship proved, the storm mechanic is extremely powerful with the right support, and in a few weeks, Pro Tour Modern Horizons 3 will show if it can make waves in Modern again. At that tournament, all competitors who clinch 36 match points and/or reach the Top 8 will receive an invitation to Magic World Championship 30, where new champions will carve their name into competitive Magic history on October 25–27, 2024!

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