MTG’s 10 Best Modern Horizons 3 Cards


Summary

  • MTG Modern Horizons creates cards specifically for the Modern format.
  • Wizards of the Coast embraced leaks about Modern Horizons 3, discussing the cards revealed and their impact.
  • Some standout cards from Modern Horizons 3 include Sylvan Safekeeper, Null Elemental Blast, and Phelia, Exuberant Shepherd.



Not all Magic: The Gathering sets are built equally. While Standard-focused expansions have a power level that’s satisfying to play with, they often don’t have a dramatic impact on longer-running formats like Modern. Sure, the odd card or two will break through, and inevitably there will be a stand-out that either refines or enables a new strategy, but these can generally be counted on one hand per set release. That’s not true of MTG Modern Horizons sets, however, which feature reprints and brand-new cards being made specifically to enter the Modern format (and beyond, into Legacy and sometimes Vintage).

Unfortunately, Modern Horizons 3 was subject to a series of leaks last month, but instead of simply ignoring them, Wizards of the Coast embraced them and discussed the cards revealed in full to help provide players with some additional context for what to expect. While there have only been a few MTG MH3 cards spoiled thus far, they’re not lacking for excitement and power level. With plenty more to go, here’s our first picks for the best Modern Horizons 3 cards revealed so far.


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10 Sylvan Safekeeper

A Legacy Problem With A Modern Solution

Sylvan Safekeeper MH3

Sylvan Safekeeper isn’t a card that will excite most players at first glance. As a 1/1 for a single green mana, it’s not likely to affect the board based on its stat value relative to its cost. As a Human, it’s also not the right Kindred typing for the most obvious small, green creature deck in Elves. All of this is to say that, as far as Modern Horizons 3 spoilers go, this reprint is one that’s likely to get lost in the shuffle a little.


Don’t sleep on the MH3 Sylvan Safekeeper reprint, though. As a card with a serious Legacy pedigree, it’s always a piece or two away from becoming part of an extremely obnoxious combo. Sacrificing lands can be used to a deck’s benefit, whether its to trigger a specific effect or to increase the number of them in a graveyard, and cards like Elvish Reclaimer fit naturally into a strategy of abusing land effects. It’s ability also means that, in combination with a powerful creature, Sylvan Safekeeper can help insulate key pieces from removal. While there’s no Dark Depths/Thespian’s Stage combo in Modern, that won’t stop brewers from looking for the next lands deck with cards like this one.

9 Null Elemental Blast

A Fun Spin On The Elemental Blasts

Null Elemental Blast MH3


The cards Red Elemental Blast and Blue Elemental Blast have been Legacy staples for nearly two decades. Best utilized in low-to-the-ground deck strategies that want to trade their spells efficiently for their mana cost, REB and BEB have been most prevalent in Delver of Secrets decks in the powerful eternal format. While they’re far too powerful for Modern, a new MH3 spoiler showcases a promising, less overwhelming effect stapled onto some good lore.

Null Elemental Blast is Ugin the Spirit Dragon’s take on the cycle, and it’s an immensely powerful tool for specific decks to have access to. While it is niche – there needs to be a reason to have this in a Tron or Eldrazi sideboard, for instance – when it’s powerful, it’s really powerful. Being able to counter problematic multi-colored cards for a single colorless mana will be a great effect anytime a counter to colorless strategies exists as a multi-color option, and Null Elemental Blast will have the unique effect of making sideboard decisions that much more difficult based on its mere existence in Modern.


8 Phelia, Exuberant Shepherd

Phelia Exuberant Shepherd MH3

Blink strategies are among the most popular tactics in Magic: The Gathering, though it is prevalent in Commander the most. Successful blink decks have existed in Modern before, thanks largely to Soulherder. However, they’ve fallen by the wayside as the format has expanded and strategies that offer even more value, like evoking the Modern Horizons 2 Elementals, have emerged. With so many powerful ETB effects – including the MH2 Elementals – available in Modern, however, it feels like blink strategies are always just a card or two away from competing once more.


Phelia, Exuberant Shepherd might be the answer blink decks need. As a flash threat, it can be cast when the coast is clear to resolve it or insulate it from removal. As a cheap two mana value option, it can turn online fast. While blinking your own creatures for value is the obvious first option with Phelia, it’s important to note that Phelia can affect the opponent’s board as well, opening up avenues to attack through problematic blockers. That flexibility – along with the fact that Phelia can grow bigger over time – makes it one to watch during Modern Horizons 3 release.

Blink strategies are also some of the most flexible in
Magic: The Gathering
. Phelia is a powerful option for a mono-white Commander variant – give it a shot!

7 Spawn-Gang Commander

The Eldrazi Have Even Recruited Goblins

Spawn-Gang Commander MH3


Spawn-Gang Commander is a fun spin on the iconic Siege-Gang Commander, an extremely powerful Goblin card that has seen its effectiveness drop off over the years while remaining a Limited bomb in most of its reprint sets. Siege-Gang Commander makes 3 1/1 Goblins and can sacrifice them for one and a red mana to deal two damage to any target – it’s obvious that Spawn-Gang Commander hasn’t forgotten its roots, featuring an almost identical set of abilities and text.

The differences, however, could be massive. As an Eldrazi, there are powerful ways to ramp out Spawn-Gang Commander in Modern, with Eldrazi Temple and a card later in this list as potential favorite options. While it can still deal damage the same way its purely Goblin counterpart can, it can also ramp out even bigger Eldrazi thanks to the tokens it produces, 0/1 Eldrazi Spawn that can be sacrificed to produce a colorless mana. It gets even sillier with blink effects like Eldrazi Displacer, and could easily be a win condition if built around, though it remains to be seen if it’s too slow on average compared to the Modern format’s current speed.


6 Kudo, King Among Bears

One Of MTG’s Most Endearing Archetypes Gets A New Lord

Kudo King Among Bears MH3

This one might require a brief explanation for those who are a little bit newer to Magic: The Gathering. Traditionally, cards that cost two mana, have a 2/2 statline, and have little-to-no relevant rules text are called “bears.” That name is in honor of Grizzly Bears, an Alpha creature that was a 1G 2/2 with no additional abilities. Over time, bears have become more popular in MTG, and even gotten support as a Kindred archetype.


Kudo might be the first card to potentially make a bears theme competitive, though. At the very least, it’s certainly trying – in a deck with ways to make Bear creature types stronger, Kudo ensures every creature will benefit, while it can also disrupt strategies that want to hone in on creating a strong board presence with lots of built-in stats. Turning a 5/5 into a 2/2 for just two mana – while providing a bonus to your own strategy – definitely makes for an interesting card. It’s also one of the most elegant designs in Modern Horizons 3 spoilers so far, and might be one of the best bears ever printed – with due respect to Grizzly Bears, of course.

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5 Kappa Cannoneer

An Artifact Menace Enters The Modern Battlefield

Kappa Cannoneer MH3


Kappa Cannoneer was the genesis for a powerful Legacy deck colloquially referred to as “8-Cast,” a strategy that looks to put a slew of cheap artifacts into play to reduce the cost of cards with the affinity mechanic or to sit on the battlefield and be tapped for improvise. The latter ability is the one that Kappa Cannoneer has, and it makes it a much more powerful threat than its initial 5U cost and 4/4 statline would make it appear to be.

Ward 4 is an absurd level of protection – players wishing to target Kappa Cannoneer with removal spells will need to pay five mana at a minimum to do so without it being countered, and that’s assuming the removal spell only costs one mana. Kappa Cannoneer is a threat that scales fast, too, with each artifact played adding a +1/+1 counter to the creature and making it unblockable. While the set-up for the turtle may be appropriately slow, the payoff is explosive, and it could find a home in Modern quite easily.


4 Meltdown

A Clean Answer To Any Problematic Artifact Strategies

Meltdown MH3

If Kappa Cannoneer is the Modern Horizons 3 card that could launch artifact strategies into the stratosphere in Modern Horizons 3, Meltdown is the reprint that could smack them right back down to Earth. While artifact hate is nothing new – Shatterstorm, Fracturing Gust, Stony Silence, and many more have been legal for quite some time – there’s a level of efficiency in Meltdown that makes it perhaps the best option Modern has ever had.


For XR, Meltdown can destroy every artifact in play that’s mana value is the X paid or less. A lot of artifact strategies rely on cheap artifacts to get rolling, so playing Meltdown for 2 mana and wiping out multiple cards on an opposing player’s board is very reasonable, sometimes bordering on game-winning. It’s also hate that doesn’t necessarily conflict with some other artifact strategies the way Stony Silence and others might – if a player has more expensive artifacts in their deck, for instance, Meltdown is still a great sideboard card that likely won’t destroy their own game pieces but will still affect a cheaper-costed deck.

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3 Urza’s Cave

Land Tutoring Can Be A Powerful Effect

Urzas Cave MH3


Urza’s Cave is an interesting land card. The ability to sacrifice it to tutor any other land in a player’s deck is certainly powerful, though an effective 4 mana (3 + tapping Urza’s Cave) to activate is a steep cost in a format as potentially fast as Modern. That said, it’s clear what this card is for – enabling land strategies that want specific cards on the battlefield but can’t fetch them in more traditional ways, such as through actual fetchlands.

While the obvious first home for Urza’s Cave is Tron decks as a failsafe for games where it’s difficult to assemble the three Urza lands necessary for the strategy’s explosive mana acceleration, it’s also interesting to consider what else Urza’s Cave can do in decks featuring Knight of the Reliquary, Elvish Reclaimer, and the Modern Horizons 3 reprint Sylvan Safekeeper. There are plenty of powerful lands in Modern, and having the ability to tutor them directly onto the battlefield – and without needing to play “do nothing” cards like Expedition Map – makes this one to keep an eye on.


2 Ugin’s Labyrinth

An Early Chalice of the Void Enabler & More

Ugins Labyrinth MH3

If Urza’s Cave is an obviously potent card for trying out in Tron strategies, then Ugin’s Labyrinth is a must-include. Tron decks naturally gravitate towards having expensive colorless cards as part of their strategy, which then requires them to ramp up mana to be able to cast them as early as possible. Ugin’s Labyrinth helps smooth out early draws by providing a quick mana boost for powerful early game interaction like Chalice of the Void, which can shut out some strategies altogether.


Once the early game has been locked down, though, Ugin’s Labyrinth can also be the last card needed to close the door. The ability to return the card exiled with Ugin’s Labyrinth to its owner’s hand just by tapping the land – not even sacrificing it! – is an immensely powerful effect. There’s almost no downside, and putting a card like Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger or Karn Liberated underneath Ugin’s Labyrinth via imprint only to pick it back up when casting it is easier adds a layer of versatility to the Tron strategy that will make it even more of a threat than it has been previously.

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1 Flare of Denial

A Counterspell That Opens Up A Slew Of Deck Designs

Flare of Denial MH3


Modern Horizons sets are no strangers to introducing a meta-changing counterspell to the Modern format. Force of Negation remains a major player years after its introduction, though whether it has done a better job at stymieing degenerate strategies or enabling them is a hot topic of debate. “Free” counterspells – ones with alternate casting costs beyond mana – always have the potential to warp a metagame or create a new deck archetype. There are few effects more potent than simply telling an opponent “no” when they go to cast a game-altering spell.

Flare of Denial is the most exciting Modern Horizons 3 spoiler thus far. Its requirements are steep, but they also create an incentive for players to include blue creatures in their decks. Obvious contenders are Snapcaster Mage and the like – creatures that accrue their value when entering the battlefield or in response to an opponent’s attempt at a maneuver, and can then be used to counter a new threat later. It’ll be interesting to see if that’s how it plays out, or if Flare of Denial is even played consistently, but its flexibility and interesting impact on game states make it the most intriguing MH3 spoiler so far.


Magic: The Gathering

Developer(s)
Richard Garfield

ESRB
Unrated



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