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Spoiler Highlight: Kappa Cannoneer and Ugin's Labyrinth on Modern

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Modern Horizons 3 spoilers started early and revealed two cards that can, together, revitalize artifact-based strategies and Affinity in the format: Kappa Cannoneer and Ugin's Labyrinth!

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The first spoilers for Modern Horizons 3link outside website have arrived!

In response to an unexpected leak, Wizards posted, the past week, an article with a dozen cards revealed through unofficial means, confirming their veracity and thus anticipating the set's preview season.

Among them, two powerful cards with precedents in eternal formats were revealed: Kappa Cannoneer, a Legacy staple which gave artifact decks a way to finish games quickly, and Ugin's Labyrinth, whose effect seeks, with restrictions, to emulate the power of the lands known as “Sol Lands”.


Together, these two cards can leverage a growing archetype in Modern since the release of Simulacrum Synthesizer in Outlaws of Thunder Junctionlink outside website, Affinity, and in this article, we explore the possibilities with them and how both can create a consistent and necessary core for the archetype!

Ugin’s Labyrinth - Enabling the new Sol Land

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Ugin’s Labyrinth is one of the best Sol Lands designs (of which, technically, there are few) ever created in Magic. Typically, their drawback involves specific effects such as dealing damage when tapped, being sacrificed when playing another land, or worrying about a specific card type, such as Eldrazi Temple or Eye of Ugin.

The new land, however, takes the limitations on using it to another level by forcing heavier deckbuilding concessions. You can't just put it into play and expect it to add two mana in the first few turns, you need to give it an additional resource when you play it (a card from your hand) and this resource has very specific needs.

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In archetypes that naturally run these cards, Ugin's Labyrinth seems to do very little: Tron already has resources to find the lands it needs and even appears to gain other support categories in MH3.

Eldrazi variants, on the other hand, can certainly capitalize on the extra mana to increase the chances of casting Thought-Knot Seer on the second turn or even to risk a Chalice of the Void on the first turn - However, the deckbuilding concessions will be felt in this archetype if the MH3 Eldrazi don't make much of a difference in the deck's core.

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Affinity, on the other hand, can easily benefit from the new land: Sojourner's Companion and Myr Enforcer are not cards that you, naturally, intend to play in the first turns, when they come in the initial hand, but they offer a lot of redundancy in imprinting Ugin's Labyrinth and, in this way, increase the consistency with which the deck can cast Simulacrum Synthesizer in the second turn.

Once this is done, cards like Frogmite and Thought Monitor pave the way to trigger the Synthesizer and increase the number of artifacts in play to cast our heaviest drops when we draw it, increasing both the synergy with which archetype operates regarding the possibility of creating a “Stompy” in Modern aimed at Affinity after so many years since Mox Opal was banned.

Kappa Cannoneer: Adding the “go big” to the “go wide”

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Kappa Cannoneer was the reason for players to try new variants of artifact-based archetypes in Legacy. Its combination with zero-cost and/or Affinity cards quickly made it a staple of the format and, to this day, the one now known as Patchwork Stompy remains one of the main decks in the format.


The possibilities for it go far beyond just Affinity, being a viable option for archetypes that play with many artifacts, such as the Thopter Sword and other Urza, Lord High Artificer lists, where we can use it as an alternative win condition.

Ward 4 makes an absurd difference in any format. In Modern, specifically, this ability reads almost like a Hexproof, given the difficulty for players to cast even a Path to Exile or any other cheap removal against Kappa Cannoneer, and the possibility of playing doing it too early creates even bigger problems for our opponents.

In Simulacrum Synthesizer strategies, the interaction between the two cards is even more devastating: Kappa Cannoneer will already be a 6/6 the moment it enters play and triggers Synthesizer, and every time it's triggered, two new counters will be placed on the creature, absurdly accelerating the clock of a threat that even passes through blockers, establishing two or three turns for the opponent to deal with it.

Of all the Modern Horizons 3 cards revealed so far, Kappa Cannoneer is probably the one I'm most excited to try out and possibly one of the most powerful reprints now that Brainstorm has been confirmed as a fake leak, and if the power level of other reprints on par with it, we can expect another power creep wave in the format soon.

Mono Blue Affinity: Making the most of Kappa Cannoneer and Ugin’s Labyrinth

In the absence of other potentially impactful previews for these archetypes, this is a first draft of what we can expect from Mono Blue Affinity/Synthesizer in the first few weeks of MH3.

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As explained above, the interaction between Myr Enforcer and Sojourner's Companion with Ugin's Labyrinth becomes one of the pillars of the archetype by increasing the consistency with which we can cast Simulacrum Synthesizer in the second turn. Furthermore, there are times when we can also use the land to cycle Sojourner’s Companion on the first turn, guaranteeing our access to blue mana and increasing the number of artifacts we have in play.

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The rest of our list is made up of pieces to increase the number of artifacts in play to cast our bombs early, while also looking for an ideal turn with Springleaf Drum and a zero-cost creature to cast Synthesizer the next turn. Once this is done, we can go all-in with our Affinity cards to trigger the artifact multiple times, creating an unbeatable board between the third and fourth turns.

Our other proposal involves accelerating the number of artifacts in play to cast Kappa Cannoneer as early as the third turn, preferably after a Synthesizer in the second, usually with a combination involving Frogmite and the token created by it to pay the Improvise - the next turn, we want to go “All-In” on putting artifacts into play to increase Kappa's power, setting the two-turn clock.

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Our third plan involves the famous “go wide” with Urza’s Saga followed by its toolbox, with Shadowspear being our primary target. The other options serve to give the archetype greater flexibility in dealing with different strategies in the Metagame, however, we can replace some of them to increase our speed and aggression with Nettlecyst or Cranial Plating, or gain more gas with Thoughtcast.

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The sideboard is just a sketch considering Modern's current Metagame and shouldn't be considered too much for what we can expect from the format after MH3.

But Affinity's mana base is one that benefits greatly from one of the cards revealed this week: Null Elemental Blast works with most of the archetype's lands, being an ideal answer against Leyline of the Guildpact and any multicolored permanent from Domain Zoo, in addition to dealing with other staples, such as Wrenn and Six, Omnath, Locus of Creation, Atraxa, Grand Unifier, among others.

There is still a lot more on the horizon

Kappa Cannoneer and Ugin's Labyrinth were just some of the first previews of what we can expect from Modern Horizons 3. One of the mechanics that appears to be in the set is Improvise, and if it maintains the same standard that we saw in MH1 and MH2, powerful cards and very efficient enablers are likely to await us when the official previews begin on May 21.

Until then, this is just the first step towards the expectations we can have for the new set, and Mono Blue Affinity is certainly the first of many archetypes that look promising and could possibly lead Magic's new power creep.

Thanks for reading!