Modern Horizons II Pauper set review

Magic: the Gathering

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Modern Horizons II Pauper set review

In today's article, I present you my Modern Horizons II review for Pauper!

By Humberto, 06/03/21, translated by Humberto

Modern Horizons II has always been in a delicate position because of its predecessor's popularity and impact in all formats where the set is legal. At Pauper, the first Modern Horizons significantly changed the face of the format by adding cards like

Ephemerate

,

Faerie Seer

,

Defile

,

Savage Swipe

and, the banned from all formats,

Arcum's Astrolabe

. This makes players have high expectations for Modern Horizons II, whether it's for good or bad. Within Wizards' official calendar, this set was the most promising for Pauper, as Modern Horizons I brought several cards that see play in the format until now.

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But how relevant will its successor be to the format? That's what I'll try to find out in today's article as I review the main additions of Modern Horizons II for Pauper.
Arcbound Mouser might not look like a big deal, but it's an interesting addition for decks like Brute Squad, which cares about having a relevant 1 drop on the board that interacts well with creatures like

Gingerbrute

, which particularly strikes me as the best target for Modular in Pauper. It wouldn't surprise me to see it in Brute Squad, and the creature's Lifelink might be relevant to a deck that typically deals with Aggro decks trying to win through the race.
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Unfortunately, this card is not

Dispatch

. Affinity already has

Galvanic Blast

to handle most creatures, and their Jeskai versions can easily adopt

Journey to Nowhere

to handle larger creatures like

Gurmag Angler

or

Annoyed Altisaur

.
The mana cost of

Soul of Migration

is too restrictive for the card to be good enough to hardcast, but the card's combination with

Ephemerate

is strong enough to be respected and even considered within Pauper, since we are talking about 8 power divided between 7 bodies with evasion.
This card is quite unique. Because it has an ability similar to

Sai, Master Thopterist

, I can't just dismiss the possibilities for interaction it has with plenty of cards.

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In Affinity, this card interacts with

Frogmite

,

Thoughtcast

,

Myr Enforcer

, and several other creatures with Affinity that the format has. On Tron, this card interacts with

Mulldrifter

,

Mnemonic Wall

,

Stonehorn Dignitary

, and more. It might not seem like the best option, especially when both the creature and its tokens die to

Electrickery

, but these are decks that don't normally care about

Electrickery

and

Etherium Spinner

can add another angle of attack for them, one in which other cards with similar effects are well known to be effective in other formats.
A blue

Thraben Inspector

might not even be the most useful card in the world when blue has access to so many quality cantrips, but

Hard Evidence

might have a home in

Serpentine Curve

decks like a good blocker against Aggro decks that draw a card while increasing the number of cards in graveyard and exile.
One of the issues of Blue-Based decks against Cascade is that any creature with the ability simply becomes an automatic 2-for-1, regardless of whether you respond to the spell or not.

Lose Focus

is the perfect answer to playing against Cascade, as given the Replicate, the card can be copied over and over again, with all copies being able to choose new targets. That way, it's possible to counter the creature with Cascade

and also

the spell it pulls off the top with just one card, and Cascade is such a mana intensive deck that normally it doesn't have any mana left to pay two or more to

Lose Focus

and its copies. This card will definitely be one of the Staples in the set for the format.
This card, like

Mirran Spy

, has a combo with

Retraction Helix

+

Lotus Petal

or any other artifact with mana value 0 + any ETB payoff like

Reckless Fireweaver

or

Nettle Drone

. Since the deck is not competitively viable and already has redundancy in terms of creatures to untap, I don't think

Steelfin Whale

will bring the deck into the competitive landscape. Outside that deck, the card doesn't seem to have room inside Affinity, where

Gearseeker Serpent

is a much more prominent body in blue, and

Somber Hoverguard

would still be a better choice in the same color.
Having a Madness or Sacrifice enabler that also works as a removal is an interesting alternative to these archetypes. Unfortunately, the card isn't precisely in the colors where Madness tends to stand out, but this and other cards added with the new set have the potential to make players want to test the archetype in a Rakdos or Golgari variant and maybe even have some success with that.
I really like this card as a cheap and efficient option to resort to multiple threats in a single turn, no matter what they are. It can see play on the sideboards of some decks, although it competes with

Reaping the Graves

. The card also works well with cards that allow to have multiple copies in the deck like

Rat Colony

or

Relentless Rats

, making them interesting discard outlets for cards like

Vampire Hounds

.
A 2/2 Haste and Flying creature for one mana, as long as you have a way to discard it, seems like a good threat to aggressive decks. It can be used with cards like

Putrid Imp

or

Faithless Looting

in the first few turns, but it's not a card that seems to me to have a home in the format yet.

Nested Shambler

is an interesting card for Aristocrats decks, as not only it is a black creature with man value 1 that leaves a body on the board when it dies, but you can increase the number of these bodies if you increase your power with cards like

Rancor

, for example.

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It's a nice addition to the archetype, but it still doesn't seem like enough to take it to Tier 1 level.
Another addition to Aristocrats decks, and an addition that can help the deck have more reach as the game progresses, especially in games where combat isn't possible due to lock effects or the opponent's board position.

Arcbound Tracker

is an interesting addition to spellslinger decks that have good interaction with artifact creatures. It doesn't look any better than the options we already have available, but Modular can make a difference in the right lists, and it's even possible that we'll see Affinity or Brute Squad variants trying out the card.
If it were an Instant, this card would be a

great

response for Burn to deal with lifegain and

Weather the Storm

, as it would give the deck a huge breath to reverse the unfavorable situation or at least mitigate the damage done by

Weather the Storm

, while also being a huge card advantage engine for other decks. As a Sorcery, this card seems unimportant to me as it's essentially a Storm that doesn't do anything for an entire turn, which means it's not worth spending your resources to play the spell and its copies unless you use it to generate a lot of value on the next turn, which is usually not what a Storm deck intends to do, and the archetype can generate that value with other options like

Ideas Unbound

.
I particularly like this card more in Modern than in Pauper, but it's a clean answer against

Gurmag Angler

in the form of a free spell. It can see play on the sideboards of red decks that really need to deal with a Gurmag and the like (RDW comes to mind) and it's another good enabler for Spellslinger decks.
Mystical Archives made

Abundant Harvest

legal in Historic and Legacy, and the card saw play in both formats to some extent. Seeing it come out as a common in Modern Horizons II is a very welcome surprise. The big advantage of

Abundant Harvest

is that it's a green cantrip that looks for exactly the kind of card you need. Want more lands? This card will find. Need something more proactive? This card can help you. In Historic and Legacy, the card is commonly used in Brainstorm decks to remove useless cards from your hand, along the same lines as

Preordain

, while helping you get what you need. On the other hand, I don't know exactly which decks really want

Abundant Harvest

, as it's not proactive enough for decks like Stompy or Elves, while also not having an immediate impact on the game to use in Cascade decks, despite this being able to use the card to guarantee your land drops or avoid mana flood if necessary.
Chatterstorm is by far the most dangerous card of Modern Horizons II for Pauper. I have talked a lot about this card on this article and I don't really have, at the moment, anything else to talk about it.

Glimmer Bairn

is one of the best build-arounds this set has because it works with mechanics that Pauper has plenty of it while opening up as-yet-unexplored possibilities, as tokens are not necessarily the most viable archetype of the format. Lists where

Glimmer Bairn

can make some success likely include a relevant GW Sisters base, where you have access to

Soul Warden

and

Essence Warden

, as well as bombs like

Battle Screech

and

Triplicate Spirits

, or in RG Token versions with

First Day of Class

,

Hordeling Outburst

, and

Hissing Iguanar

.

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Looking at the viability of the creature in green, the cards that really stand out as options for playing the creature are

Scatter the Seeds

, which can be played for free,

Sprout Swarm

for the same reason,

Fists of Ironwood

for producing tokens and giving trample to the card and, despite having a heavier cost,

Wolf's Quarry

directly adds 12 power to the creature with its tokens, as

Glimmer Bairn

can feed from ANY token, not just creature tokens. The card has the potential to make a fun deck, but Tokens doesn't seem like a viable strategy at the moment and I don't think it's going to be exactly the most competitive archetype in the world.

Chrome Courier

is an interesting card advantage effect alternative for Midrange decks and offers a small but evasive body that can help set a clock with

Mulldrifter

on a deck like Familiars, for example. This card, along with others, can even generate new variants of midrange decks that seek to take advantage of artifacts (and artifact lands) to play cards like

Thoughtcast

and accumulate value. But at the moment, Midrange decks probably are better playing cards with Monarch than creating this kind of interaction.

Drey Keeper

is a good card for Midranges as it creates bodies on the board, can be blinked with

Ephemerate

or even

Kor Skyfisher

and its ability includes a mana sink that can cause your tokens to gain evasion and increase the clock generated by them. It would be a great payoff for the green and black Midranges and might even be an option for Jund Cascade, but I believe the Jund list is very well-built and doesn't have slots to add it.
This card can be a great addition to Pauper because of its interaction with

Ichor Wellspring

or other artifacts, and a

Warleader's Helix

for 3 mana is a play to be respected and a huge tempo swing against aggressive decks. Unfortunately, the main deck that would benefit from this card, Boros Monarch, is currently not that great in the Metagame and

Foundry Helix

doesn't add anything the deck can't already do in other ways. However,

Foundry Helix

has great potential for being a powerful effect coupled to a card with a theme that is already well known in the format today, I wouldn't be surprised if I saw the game and/or collaborated on new archetypes.
A card that reduces the cost of the main cards used in Gruul Cascade may eventually have a home in the format, although that seems unlikely since the deck currently bets on cards like

Utopia Growth

and

Wild Growth

to have a ramp that interacts well with

Arbor Elf

and does not die to removal.
I don't believe this card will see play, but I'm mentioning it because it's the cheapest colorless manafixer and ramp that the Pauper has ever seen.
This is possibly one of the most important cards Affinity has received in the recent years! Not only is the card basically the 5-8 copies of the

Myr Enforcer

, it also has the bonus of being able to use it to fix the deck's mana curve, which is often a chronic issue for the archetype in many games. In addition,

Sojourner's Companion

can even be used with

Myr Enforcer

to increase the amount of impacting creatures that can be dropped on the board for cheap or free, creating a highly efficient variant of the archetype. On my point of view,

Sojourner’s Companion

is the best addition to Pauper in the set and is a card you can expect to see on the board for months to come.

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Speaking of Affinity, new artifact lands! There is significant discussion of whether Affinity wants lands that enters tapped, and current, more aggressive versions of the deck may not, but having a land that corrects its mana curve

and

has protection against

Gorilla Shaman

has many advantages for the archetype. We will probably see these lands being used in small amounts in the archetype to correct mana, especially in lists that already use some amount of Thriving Lands for this, as is the case with Jeskai Affinity. In addition to Affinity, this lands cycle is also a valuable addition to other decks that have great interactions with artifacts such as the Brute Squad, Boros Monarch and the most varied Metalcraft decks that may have a chance to resurface, among others. Finally, it is possible to see these lands also being used in some decks in particular to generate value with

Cleansing Wildfire

, as in Gruul Cascade, since the card now serves not only as hate for Tron or lands enchanted with

Utopia Sprawl

, but also as a significant value engine, as you can target an indestructible land to search for a basic land

and

to draw a card.
Conclusion
This was my review of Modern Horizons II for Pauper. In my view, compared to Modern Horizons, the set has a much less absurd impact for the format, adding relevant things without necessarily adding so many things that could make the format something radically different like what happened with Commander Legends at the end of last year or with the first Modern Horizons. In particular, I believe the set has good additions to the format (and a dangerous one), and it even helps less popular and less competitive archetypes to have new additions, but it doesn't have the potential to blow up the format entirely. Still, it brings more than enough to be relevant to Pauper and leaves plenty of room for innovations in competitive lists and even the return of a famous archetype. And the big question for me is whether the format will be able to handle

Chatterstorm

, or whether my 45-day ban prophecy will be fulfilled. Time will tell. Modern Horizons II comes out on June 18th, and I hope the future additions will be beneficial to the Pauper as a whole. Thanks for reading!

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Humberto

Organizer of events in Rio de Janeiro, such as Pauper Masters and Pioneeiros and content producer in his spare time. Play virtually any format in which it is possible to build a deck.

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