Tag: magic-the-gathering

Avatar Bruce Gray - May 31, 2021

The Epic Experiment: Modern Horizons 2

There’s no time to lose. Modern Horizons 2 will soon be here and it is time to dive into some of the previews and have a look for some fun cards to liven up your Commander game play. I know these are intended for Modern play, but let’s be real, many of these are really intended for us Commander players… and that is sweet. Let’s jump right in!

Gareth One Eye

Let’s start with this guy for the novelty and the nostalgia. Garth is yet another in a long line of ridiculous 5C commanders coming out of Modern Horizons 2. It seems like Wizards of the Coast is intent on printing 5C commanders in virtually every set, and thus we get Garth.

However while cards like Golos, Tireless Pilgrim and Kenrith, the Returned King just generate ridiculous amounts of value, Garth is a little different.  The fact that you can use Garth to generate a replica of one of the six most iconic cards in the history of the game is just oozing flavour. I mean, who wouldn’t love to cast a Black Lotus, especially if you don’t already own one?

However, the fact remains that Garth gives you the ability to access a toolbox of intriguing and versatile cards to help ensure you can stay ahead of your opponents. If this is left unchecked, this is ridiculous card advantage generated turn after turn. I foresee this being a very popular commander card and one that will see a significant amount of play going forward.

Modern Horizons 2

Aeve, Progenitor Ooze

When I saw this card, I just laughed.

Once I was over the shock of seeing Storm on a Green creature, I thought about how easy it would be to build this into a deck. This just seemed like an excellent card for any deck that could generate multiple spells in a single turn and make a pile of Oozes. Maybe a Temur deck playing a bunch of cheaper cantrips could utilize this effectively as another Storm finisher. What about Mono-Green elves? Elves can often play 4 or 5 creatures prior to playing something like this. What about a Witherbloom deck leaning into the Magecraft mechanic and something like Plumb the Forbidden in a token deck could be explosive. Let us not even speak of the potential of going off with this while The Great Henge is in play, because the interaction seems positively breathtaking.

Bottom line, I think this sort of card has lots of potential and could a very fun addition for the simple fact that everyone enjoys Storming off… even Green Mages.

Modern Horizons 2

Sword of Hearth and Home

The latest in the cycle of Sword of X/Y. This cycle has been getting quite watered down as we have gone and we are a long way from Sword of Feast and Famine.  However, this card could be a potent addition because the ability to Blink a creature you control for value and to ramp seems downright insane. Simple options include Skyclave Apparition or Acidic Slime, but what is stopping someone from using this to Blink Yorion and getting a HUGE series of ETB triggers.  The protection granted to the creature is valuable, particularly considering White’s growing popularity and its removal suite being quite strong.

The real question becomes the price at which one can get one of these. If the price tag remains very high then this will be much less widely adopted. However, should this not make a big splash in Modern, we could its price tumble and then we could get it around $10. During MH1 it was possible to get Sword of Truth and Justice, and Sword of Sinew and Steel around $10 and I expect this will follow suit as well, making it appealing.

Modern Horizons 2

Chatterfang, Squirrel General

Well, they did it. They gave us a Squirrel commander.

I really like this card and feel like it is an excellent card from both a flavor and design perspective. On the design end, I really appreciate the judicious use of the Forestwalk ability. I really do think Squirrels ought to have forestwalk just by virtue of how they move around. However, the fact that Chatterfang calls his furry forest woodland creatures to the battlefield makes it a very powerful card. I also think that dipping into Black with the activated ability seems strong and a welcome addition to give Squirrels a interesting dynamic that I have not heard much discussion about. I think the combination of Chatterfang and Toski, Bearer of Secrets will make Squirrel players very happy and give them plenty of ammunition to make the forests come alive… and torment their opponents.

Modern Horizons 2

Cabal Coffers

This has needed a reprint for a very long time.  There is no way that this card should have been over $100, but it was because it had just continued to avoid a reprinting.  With this being in close to 31k decks on EDHrec.com (and likely far more than that in real life due to decks going unreported) this is dearly needed and something that heavy Black decks are going to appreciate having once again.

Modern Horizons 2

Timeless Dragon

Oh baby. I really like this card. I like it at face value as a 5/5 for 5 with flying that compares favorably to Serra Angel. The Eternalize and Plainscycling abilities will allow a white deck the chance to make its land drops, and then bring back the creature from the dead. This sort of play pattern is hardly overwhelming, but it will fit nicely into curve considerations and be included in most White decks just because it is a decent creature. Furthermore, I really do believe that W/G tokens builds, particularly Populate decks, are going to gobble this card right up and enjoy the big tokens.

Thrasta, Tempests Roar

This is one BIG dino. 12 mana. 7/7 with Trample and Haste. This thing is going to leave a mark, that is for sure.

I will admit, right off the hop, that I like the fact that this has a modified Hexproof clause because facing down enormous, Hexproof dinos is no fun. However, I also think that allowing this to be protected long enough to attack without being messed with is a good choice from a design perspective.

I am super interested in seeing what the cost reduction mechanic will mean for the playability of the card. Do you play this in a high velocity creature deck where you churn together a couple of elves and power this out, or do we elect to play a spell heavy deck in order to get this big dino onto the field? Maybe you don’t worry too much about it and run it in dino tribal and cast it affordably with some Kinjalli’s Caller-esque effect. I’m not sure but I am curious to see where this big dino takes deck construction.

Profane Tutor

For years we have been tempted by countless variants on tutor effects. While this one is tempting, I think this card we really ought to avoid it. This card all boils down to the Suspend on it, making it a very slow tutor. In most cases, you will suspend this card and the table now has two turns to deal with you.

Now, you could play the political game and make a deal that you won’t tutor the combo. Or, you could be fully transparent and tell them what exactly you are tutoring for. These options are a big gamble and many players will avoid this.

There are ways to cast this without the suspend counters by using things like Electrodominance, but that is a lot of work for marginal payoffs. The real test is this: would you run this over Diabolic Tutor? I think the overwhelming consensus is no. The two turn delay is just too much of a drawback in almost every scenario.

Will this see some play? Sure! However, I think the vast majority of players will quick discover that this doesn’t do enough and is often cut out of decks.

Well, there we are folks. I will have my full top ten Modern Horizons 2 list coming shortly, so stay tuned for more from me on this very refreshing and exciting set.

If you want to hear more about my thoughts on Modern Horizons 2 or any other Commander related topic, please check out our weekly podcast on iTunes, Google Podcast, Spotify, Amazon, and anywhere else you find better podcasts. Just look for the name The Epic Experiment Podcast! We’d love to have you join us!

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Avatar Tyson Fraleigh - May 21, 2021

Game On! Introduction to Deck Building

Learn about the basics of deck building in this week’s episode of Game On!

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Avatar Bruce Gray - May 12, 2021

The Epic Experiment: Teaching New Players

Welcome back to The Epic Experiment!

I usually delve into the world of Commander, but I am more involved with Magic than just playing Commander. I am a teacher at middle school where I run a Magic: The Gathering club.

One of the questions people ask me is how do I teach new players? This is an important question because Magic: The Gathering is a very challenging game to pick up because of the complexity of play (not to mention the cost that can be incurred). I wanted to lay out my approach in the hopes that it may help steer players out there who are seeking to help new players, and to spark a little conversation around the topic in the community so that we can all learn and grow. Let’s have a look at what I have done.

New Beginnings

As mentioned previously, I usually run a MTG club at my middle school but I have to admit, the last time I was able to host my club I was less than thrilled with my results. Unfortunately, due to me being out of school for a year on account of COVID, I have not had the chance to run my club.

However, I have still had the privilege of teaching new players how to play. I have two young sons who wanted to take part in daddy’s hobby. The experience of teaching my children to play has really helped give me some perspective about what new players may experience as they enter the game.

With both my sons, the basic building blocks of the game are essential. Teach them how to read the Mana Value of the card. What is power and toughness? How to attack/block etc? All of those elements are important. We walked through it pretty slowly because my sons were so young.

When they thought they were ready for their very first game, I gave each boy a stack of cards that were very simple. Vanilla creatures, ever-green abilities, instants and sorceries that were easy to follow. I had a similarly constructed deck, but neither of us had any land in our deck. Our land was set off to the side and on each of our turns we could either elect to draw a land, or to draw a card off the top of our library. This practice removed the variance of getting mana flooded or mana screwed and was important in terms of helping to make the game fun.

Early Games

I started with my eldest son. He was keen to play and wanted to play with me, and so we set up our stacks and our land off the side. Each turn, when we entered into our “draw” phase, we could elect to either draw a land from the land pile, or to draw a card off our deck. This ensured that, if you needed a land, you always had access to it.

I was all about ensuring that he enjoyed his games, and admittedly he often won. The way I had built our piles, my deck was reactive while he had the creatures with evasion and cards that were more difficult to interact with. Slowly but surely, we built his confidence up and he was having fun.

The next evolution of my son’s development was where we built a scaled back deck that had the mana base shuffled into the deck.  Now he was playing Magic properly with a 60 card deck, a mana base that was in his deck, and no more than 4 of any one card.

Unfortunately, this didn’t work as well as we would have liked. My son couldn’t understand why his five colour pile couldn’t beat daddy any longer. I tried to explain the inconsistency of only playing basics lands and how each new colour stretched his mana, but by his logic that meant he needed to add MORE cards and yet more land. Eventually, I had to stop him because each new loss brought along more tears. I needed a better solution and was wracking my brain.

A New Strategy

It dawned on me when my son asked me, “Daddy, why do all of your decks have those funny looking cards?” What he was asking about was my Commander decks. Suddenly, it dawned on me how to help steer him in the right direction. The easiest way to walk back the number of colours he was playing was to have him take up a form of singleton format where his colours were dictated by a Commander. It was also very useful because it meant that he had access to a key piece of his deck, the commander,  at almost all stages of the game meaning he could feel like he wasn’t going to lose a key piece of his deck to removal.

Brawl was the most expedient and straightforward  way to get him up and playing. We immediately set about brewing up Brawl decks using commanders from Dominaria, namely Adeliz, the Cinder Wind and Tatyova, Benthic Druid. It proved to be a terrific teaching tool and one of the best methods I have encountered to help put new players in a lane and let them follow the lane to a logical conclusion.

Paying It Forward

Fast forward a few years – my eldest son is almost eight and his younger brother of almost six are now both keen to play.  As I sit here tonight writing, my basement is littered with cards from their decks.

What struck me so greatly in watching them play is that they no longer need dad in order to make in game decisions. As we play, we periodically stop and talk about a certain choice that was made, but I try not to influence their decisions.  Yes, there were plenty of mistakes, do-overs, and takesy-backsies. But they are able to make in-game decisions such as threat assessment, in game card sequencing, and combat with complex blocking and damage without daddy’s input.  I was shocked as it dawned on that my two young boys could actually play the game, mostly on their own.

As if their game play wasn’t enough, they have started being interested in brewing decks, but don’t always have the requisite rare and mythics to brew exciting decks in paper. Fortunately, I have an MTG Arena account and between the two boys we have built a dozen different brawl decks. Many of those decks are far from perfect, but the two boys have developed a pretty good grasp of the strategy each commander offers. They are now finding pockets of synergy that I have missed.

Final Thoughts

Having taught my two young sons to play by employing small steps and using Brawl as a stepping stone has done wonders to assist them with building their skills. It will still be a few years before I am prepared to take them with me to an LGS to play, where the stakes are higher. However, the lessons learned here will prove invaluable in terms of me continuing to help them as they grow, but also when I return to leading my Magic: The Gathering club at my middle school. Let us hope that I help to foster a whole host of new players who are the future for this great game.  Only time will tell.

Thanks everyone, if you want to hear more about my thoughts on teaching new players or any other Commander related topic. Please check out our weekly podcast on iTunes, Google Podcast, Spotify, Amazon, and anywhere else you find your podcasts. Just look for the name The Epic Experiment Podcast! We’d love to have you join us!

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Avatar Tyson Fraleigh - May 11, 2021

The Dating Game: Planeswalker Edition

Welcome back to the Dating Game! You must be looking for a new Planeswalker to add to your main deck. Have no fear – we are here to help make sure you find your perfect fit.

Your compatibility with any of our contestants will depend on your strategy and colour devotion. Some Planeswalkers are happy to have multiple colours, others aren’t so accommodating.

Ready to meet our contestants?


Our first contestant is a tinkerer at heart. She burns bright, but be careful not to stare or you may go blind.

Being the intelligent crafter she is, Chandra is known for her sudden wit – and ability to deal damage to your opponent’s face without much fuss. She is a bit of firebug (if you haven’t noticed from the burning hair), so just keep dealing damage and Chandra will happily pull out the big guns after some time has passed. Unsurprisingly, Chandra is an exclusively red based Planeswalker, so be careful if you are planning to put her into a multi-colour deck. For all her craftiness, she has no use for water or earth.



Our second contestant is known as Daddy Time himself. He has lived thousands of years as thousands of men – one of which with a daughter. But don’t let that dissuade you. Teferi is a family man and an adventurer.

Teferi focuses a lot in spellcasting and telling the future. Allow Teferi some time to charge up by drawing from your deck and discarding. Do enough of that and you will be able to double your turn potential. Like Chandra, Teferi is a blue devoted man, so keep this in mind for when you decide to pull this guy into your deck.



Our next contestant has a love for alchemy, the occult, and… resurrection? Well, kind of, I suppose.

Liliana is a black-mana devoted Planeswalker, and all her abilities are based on such. She is always happy to drain your opponent’s life for the sake of her precious undead. Let her flex her undead summoning muscles and you will be able to resummon your zombies from the graveyard. Or board wipe all non-Zombies. Or boost your swamp mana. There are so many things that Liliana can do because of her various card forms. The only challenge you have to be worried about is impressing her family – both living and dead.


Basri Ket

Our next contestant is a goodie two shoes if you have ever met one. However, don’t say he isn’t popular – he has nothing if not friends.

Basri Ket is a white devoted Planeswalker who knows the key to having a good time is the people you surround yourself with. He is an endless source of soldiers for your disposal. Keep spawning more and more of his friends and suddenly they will start showing up by themselves! Just be careful he doesn’t get hit too quickly. Otherwise, it will just be a party of you and you alone.


Ah, so you have a thing for burly himbos. I understand.

Our final contestant loves spending time in nature and camping. He spends a lot of time with animals and creatures, big and small, and loves to charge in swinging.

If any of these qualities speak to you, perhaps you should give Garruk a try. As with all of the Planeswalkers above, Garruk has multiple iterations, mostly devoted to green or green/black decks. If you give him chances to untap your lands and summon other creatures to the board, he will happily boost your creatures with some really nasty bonuses.

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Avatar Tyson Fraleigh - May 10, 2021

Adventures in the Forgotten Realms: The Spoiler Guide!

With summer fast approaching, we are about to have the crossover of the century! Adventures in the Forgotten Realms is the new Magic: The Gathering set coming out in July! And if the spoilers are any indication, this set is going to be insane.

How insane you ask? Let’s get into it.

Gear Up!

Let’s start off with some handy equipment that was announced – Portable Hole, and the Vorpal Sword.

You know – the sword that instant kills on crits? It could be a handy card to have copies of in your deck, even thought it does require an eight round constant mana growth to have it’s major effect trigger. Regardless, a one mana equipment card with a +2/+0 and deathtouch? Not bad at all.

Portable Hole is also a very handy release, especially if you are running a flash banishment deck similar to a B/W Yorion deck. Having a one mana artifact that you can use to banish your opponents creatures in the early game is immensely useful. Just hope your opponent doesn’t have any artifact removal.

Roll for Arcana

Spells – they are going to be big in this set. Wizards of the Coast already announced this bad boy, so there is no telling what could be in the upcoming set.

If Power Word Kill made it, then get ready for all the fan favourites. Bigby’s Hand, Modify Memory, Fireball – the list goes on and on.

The Monster Manual

As far as monsters go, we are definitely going to see some familiar races and faces. I can’t imagine a world where the Faerun drow Drizzt Do’Urden doesn’t make it to the list.

Oh yeah, I nearly forgot –  let’s not forget to mention a dragon god to the roster.

That’s right.

Tiamat. The one and only.

And you know if Tiamat made the list, you just get ready for Bahamut, Helm, Kelemvor, Tymora, and all the big god names in Faerun and Toril.

Not only that, but based on the description of the Power Word Kill card, we should expect a lot of Devils, Demons, and Angels to make their appearance. Asmodeus and Orcus are obvious choices, but we will have to see if lesser creatures, like Bone Devils and Pit Fiends, will make the cut.

So, of course you’re wondering – what about that monster? I mean that monster.

Let me just leave this here for you.

I suppose we’ll all just have to hang around to see what it does!

Adventures in the Forgotten Realms pre-release begins on July 16th, and the full release date is July 23rd!

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Avatar Tyson Fraleigh - May 5, 2021

Your Mana Horoscope: Round 2!

Ah, welcome back adventurer. Did you miss this little hovel of mine?

Another mana reading? I see – not satisfied by just one, hm? Very few people only use one mana type nowadays anyway.

Let’s do something a little more complex for you. Got your favourite two mana colours in mind? Good. Let’s get to it.


There is nothing better than fighting fire with whiskey, huh?

Not only do you control your opponent’s board, but you are able to wipe the floor with their creatures. There are a lot of board wipes in this kind of deck, so be prepared. I would suggest starting out with a Giant deck from the Kaldheim release – you can do a lot with Battle of Frost and Fire and a Doomskar Titan.


Ah, someone who wants total control over their destiny. Control over the board isn’t good enough for you, hm?

Aside from Dimir, Azorius is the most frustrating deck to face. Azorius is very good using Saga’s, flying creatures, and ghosts to their advantage. With cards like Elspeth Conquers Death mixed with Yorion, Sky Nomad, you aren’t going to have any trouble fazing creatures in and out of the field in order to trigger multiple entering effects at once.


Ah, I see – The history nerds at their finest.

Boros relies heavily on spirits, enchantments, and artifacts to boost their creatures. Many Boros cards have big bonuses when artifacts enter the field, such as giving allies indestructible. This deck has been really boosted in the past two sets by Velomachus Lorehold as well as the Magda, Brazen Outlaw to Goldspan Dragon combo. All to say – you have lots of options if you find this deck interesting.


Are you okay?

Like really, are you sure?

Rakdos is just… death. Incarnate. You just kill everything on the board.

That’s it. As for cards… check out Rakdos, The Showstopper and Rakdos Return.


Ghosts don’t bother you – really, any undead creature is more of a friend than foe.

Orzhov relies a lot on resurrection, sacrificing, regaining health, and boosting creatures. For this reason, Vampires are a common archetype in Orzhov. Check out Teysa, Orzhov Scion to imagine what kind of combos you could chain.


Mixing nature and science to make powerful creatures? This isn’t your parent’s naturopath.

Simic decks have crazy monsters. They have the capability to flash deadly creatures to the board, but also counter opponent tactics. Between these two aspects, Simic is always a very deadly option to consider adding to your deck collection. The best card that shows what Simic does best is Koma, Cosmos Serpent from the Kaldheim release.


Ah, yes – the mischief makers.

Dimir decks are good at two things – making your opponent take a lot of damage to their face and making your opponent out draw their deck. Dimir never wins in the traditional way. The best cards that illustrate this are Ruin Crab and Elspeth Conquers Death. Just be ready when you opponent rages when you win – people have a tendency to do that when you beat them in such an unexpected way.


Ah, the goodie two shoes, no doubt. But don’t underestimate yourself – the good guy’s usually win for a reason.

Selesnya decks focus on board swarms and boosts. Why worry about one big creature that could be targeted easily when you could just crowd the board with an army? Not only that, but with enough time, you could boost them all into big creatures. Check out Karametra, God of the Harvests for a big boost to this kind of deck.


You know how in slasher films the killer just seems to keep getting up, no matter how many times you shoot him? Imagine that as a card archetype.

Simply put, Golgari are gravediggers – bring back your big scary monsters back to the field right after your opponent destroyed them. This kind of deck is going to be a lot of sacrificing and resurrection. I would suggest you check out the Pest mechanic in the Strixhaven release if this deck interests you.


Big boi’s and big boom’s. What could be better than that?

Gruul, at it’s heart, is what happens when you wrap an angry Giant in TNT. It’s not exactly subtle, but it will be a good show no matter what. Deal high amounts of damage both with instant spells and big creatures. If you want this deck to pack an extra powerful punch, look for Bonecrusher Giant and Embercleave to start swinging for the fences.

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Avatar Tyson Fraleigh - April 28, 2021

Your Mana Horoscope

Welcome to my little nook, traveler. We have lot of trinkets and do-dads if that catches your interest?

Oh, a mana reading? That can definitely be done. I just need to know one thing – what mana colour catches your eye? What one do you really find yourself attracted to the most often?

Let’s take a look at what your horoscope has to say…


A blue mana kinda person, huh? I see.

I can see a lot of logic puzzles in your future. You enjoy the simple things in life – as long as you understand them to the most minute detail. You never say ‘that’s enough’ – it’s an endless build of knowledge for you. Logic and reason are the best ways to fix your difficulties.

You also have a bit of a mischievous nature. You enjoy toying with your food before you eat it. The whole fun of the game is being able to mess with your opponent a little bit. Give them hope – and then immediately crush it.

Just be aware – you’re hubris could be your downfall. If you are facing a deck colour such as White, Black, or Green with big board capabilities, make sure you have something to deal with them. Otherwise, the hunter may become the hunted.


Ah yes – you have fire in your heart.

Passion and anger are two things tied very close together. Whether you do this for the art or for the pain, that’s up to you. It doesn’t matter when you burn your opponents into ashes.

You are the master of swarm control. No matter if it is herds of animals coming out of the brush with Green, or armies of undead with Black, you are able to make sure they don’t get too comfortable. And that’s not even getting started on how many Planeswalkers you’ve wiped.

While your destruction potential is immense, you do need to be cautious of those pesky Blue mana players. Fire is only as good as it burns, and Blue can often cause you to burn out before you know it.



A lot of growth here – Green mana, thick and thin.

You are an extrovert – when it comes to plants and beasts, that is. Lots of decks worry about having lots of creatures and people to back them up. But why bother with a bunch of people when one huge mammoth will do the work just as well?

You have a lot of friends out in the woods. It doesn’t matter their kin, origins, or allies. They are willing to help you swarm a battlefield at the drop of a hat.

The only thing that really gets you nervous is those pesky Red players – if they are able to wipe your starting board before the game even really begins, your toast. Be wary of fire, traveler, very wary…



Mm, very interesting. A black mana fanatic – darkness lingers here.

So, what is your preferred poison? Creature removal? Massive hoards of the undead? Sneaky rogues? You have it all. The only thing connecting all these things together is your joy in twisting the knife in your enemy. Victory is not enough – hope must be destroyed. You must crush your opponents by any means necessary.

While your ambition may lead you to some total wipe-outs, be wary – enemies are lingering everywhere against you. Be cautious especially of White – if you are not careful, they might end up with more health than you could ever imagine.



Ah, a true believer. White, through and through.

Being a White deck player means you have some friends in high places. Generals, Rulers, and Gods are your allies. Things like resurrection, healing, and controlling large enemies are every day boons to you. If Red and Black are worried about winning the short game, you are looking to the long game. You don’t need to rush – everything will fall into place eventually.

However, while you may have friends in high places, it doesn’t mean you don’t have to worry about your opponents. Watch for Blue mana decks especially. If key cards to boost your health are countered, you may find yourself in a very tricky situation.


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Avatar Tyson Fraleigh - April 26, 2021

Modern Horizons 2 Coming Soon!

Modern Horizons is returning in June! Modern Horizons 2 will be bringing some brand new cards to the Modern and Eternal format, skipping right over Standard entirely.

If it’s skipping Standard, what should you expect? None of these cards will be legal Standard games but it will have some very interesting cards. With a much more liberal power level in the Modern and Eternal formats, these cards are going to do a lot.

What should we expect? While we don’t have spoilers as of yet, we do have the cards from the past Modern Horizons set to consider.

Based on Modern Horizons, we saw a lot of cards with Protection. These Protection cards can really clinch game depending on what your opponents are playing. This is especially true for red and black. Without spot removal, red and black decks become nearly useless.

There was also a lot of toughness/power buffs or banes. This could be a great help removal or a great power gain over time. Add all the boost artifact cards in the set like Sword of Sinew and Steel, you never know what you will be facing.

Over all, Modern Horizons showed how heavy the Modern format could swing. You are going to get even bigger creatures on the field who can hit harder, take bigger hits – a no-holds barred, all out fight to the end. Modern Horizons 2 is sure to do this again, hopefully with some new mechanics to introduce.

Who knows – if there is a Protection mechanic, maybe a Critical mechanic?

Modern Horizons 2 comes out June 11th!

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