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Legacy: Modern Horizons 3 Review!

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Modern Horizons 3 is finally here! Just like its predecessors, it will very likely change the face of Legacy. Let's delve deep into this world of Eldrazis, Energy, and lots of nostalgia - it is the only way we'll know exactly what this set has in store for us!

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에 의해 번역 Joey Sticks

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에 의해 검토 Tabata Marques

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One is Lonely, Two is Company, Three is a Crowd

Greetings, Legacy community! As the legendary Goblin Squee told us in Time Warp's flavor text: "Let's do it again!"

Considering the first two Modern Horizons sets were an astounding, undeniable bestsellers, it was no surprise when WotC announced its third iteration. Both MH1 and MH2 significantly affected Legacy: many of its cards even ended up banned (Wrenn and Six, Arcum's Astrolabe, Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer, and many others that definitely marked this format). So, most players expected MH3 to do the same and give us several new additions - which may also end up banned.

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Now that all cards have been revealed (since May 31st), I believe we can all say that this set absolutely wants to follow the same footsteps as its predecessors! Let's see what it has in store for us.

Mechanics

Modern Horizons 3link outside website didn't introduce any new mechanics, but, just like the previous Modern Horizons sets, brought back more than 50 mechanics from older sets! The ones that most stand out are the return of the Eldrazi (featuring colorless mana, Devoid, Annihilator, Eldrazi Spawn tokens, and abilities that trigger when you cast spells), and the return of the iconic Energy counters, which made a lot of noise back in Kaladesh.

Two other mechanics that stand out are the cycle of legendary creatures that turn into Planeswalkers, and new MDFCs (Modal Double Faced Lands), which, as their name implies, are double-faced lands: on one side they're spells, and the other lands.

Finally, it's important to point out that two mechanics got new nameslink outside website and also returned: the "Tribal" subtype was renamed to "Kindred", and the "Totem Armor" ability is now called "Umbra Armor". They still work exactly the same as before.

But enough about mechanics! Let's see these cards!

MDFC

Usually, for these reviews, I separate the cards according to their colors. However, MH3 gave us two cycles of lands/spells in all 5 colors, and I thought it was best to group them together and discuss them all at once, as they take on similar roles.

The first cycle includes 2-color cards: the spell side costs hybrid mana; the land side goes into play tapped and creates mana of its featured color combination. This cycle, in particular, shouldn't see much play because the fact it goes into play tapped might cost you a lot. Surveil lands, for instance, ignore this restriction because they interact with fetch lands.

As for the second cycle, let's go back in time a bit, back to September 2020 when Zendikar Rising came out. Among the many MDFCs in this set, there was a cycle of mythic cards whose land side let you play them untapped if you paid 3 life. This cycle sees play to this day in Legacy. As their spell side is more relevant, they're basically lands that you can Imprint with Chrome Mox, and also use them as fuel for cards like Force of Will or Grief. Another way you can use them is in decks like "Oops! All Spells", in which the fact they aren't considered lands lets you access at least 8 stable mana sources and still meet the restriction of having no lands to complete your combo.

However, despite all this versatility, apart from Shatterskull Smashing, their spell side is quite weak and most players rarely use them. Then, let's consider the new mono-colored MDFCs from MH3. Each color got, in this cycle, two MDFCs - one with a creature side, and another with a sorcery/instant side whose land side has the same restriction as the Zendikar cards: they cost 3 life.

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The good thing about these new cards is that, even though their non-land sides aren't powerful spells or cost a little bit more than you'd usually want in Legacy, they are incredibly flexible. The reason behind this is that you can use them for something else besides just using them as mana. The aforementioned Shatterskull Smashing already proved to us how this extra versatility was useful in Red Prison and Goblin Stompy.

Out of these 10 new cards, I believe the ones that will most likely show up in Legacy are Witch Enchanter, Sink Into Stupor, Fell the Profane, Sundering Eruption, and Bridgeworks Battle. On top of it all, they're uncommons!

Legacy MH3 Review

White

Ajani, Nacatl Pariah

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Ajani is relatively strong for a card that costs 2 mana and might become a true threat if you transform it. However, its main body is incredibly weak.

Even in an archetype with Flicker effects (Flickerwisp, Ephemerate, Touch the Spirit Realm, etc), there are more tempting options than him.

Argent Dais

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This is a "fixed" version of Skullclamp. It offers you a way to draw cards with your permanents, as well as a way to deal with your opponent's problematic permanents, but you'll need to give up a few cards. The only issue is that this is too slow, and you can't activate it multiple times on the same turn, like the original version.

Flare of Fortitude

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This card is quite average as an answer to combos or board clears. The most interesting way I can see players using it is proactively alongside effects like Armageddon to destroy your opponent's lands while yours remain intact.

Jolted Awake

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A white Unearth, even if it's a bit worse, may interest Death and Taxes as a way to keep the flow of Mother of Runes, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, or Stoneforge Mystic going.

Phelia, Exuberant Shepherd

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This puppy will let you use Flicker effects repeatedly, but it doesn't trigger when it enters play, like Flickerwisp. It is very cheap, and the fact it has Flash means you'll play it around counterspells more easily. It may find space in aggressive decks like Death and Taxes and Initiative.

Static Prison

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A one mana Oblivion Ring is playable in Legacy, as we saw with Leyline Binding. This one is a temporary removal, if you don't have any other ways of creating Energy, but dealing with something for two turns and just one mana may just have enough "tempo" in Legacy.

Thraben Charm

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Like many "charms", this spell doesn't do much for its cost, but is incredibly flexible. A graveyard removal that isn't "dead" against other enemies is something that makes cards like Unlicensed Hearse see play in other main decks in this format. So, this charm may just see some play as well after all.

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White Orchid Phantom

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Mana deny decks that focus on the interaction between Ghost Quarter and Leonin Arbiter will be interested in this card's redundancy. Besides, some decks play very few or no basic lands, which boosts this card's potential even more.

Wrath of the Skies

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One of the standout cards from this set, this sorcery completely obliterates Legacy boards. The comparison with Meltdown is obvious, but Wrath takes down not only artifacts in Urza's Saga decks, but also the saga itself! It is incredibly strong against decks that focus on small creatures, and is even useful to deal with cards like Up the Beanstalk, Fable of the Mirror-Breaker, and Kozilek's Unsealing. Then you add in the fact that enchantment removal isn't that common in Legacy…

One detail is that you can create an X value that is way higher than the one you are planning to use, and save the extra Energy counters for later on. This card is extremely versatile and should significantly affect Legacy as a whole.

Blue

Consign to Memory

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The clear comparison here is with Stifle: instead of a fetch land's trigger, it hits artifacts and Eldrazis. Replicate will also force your opponents to let it resolve if they have counterspells.

Dreamtide Whale

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This whale might contest a slot with Murktide Regent; it has a lot of stats and costs very little mana.

Pros: it doesn't rely on your graveyard, keeping it alive is quite easy with blue decks, and you can also get extra value from it if you have other cards with counters.

Cons: it doesn't have evasion and might simply die in games that become attrition-based if you can't keep a steady flow of spells.

Flare of Denial

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A counterspell that doesn't cost anything is incredibly strong, but its initial investment (have a creature) is a bit complicated. I don't know where this card belongs - my guess would be in Merfolks. The main aggressive blue decks in Legacy, Grixis and Temur Delver, don't have enough fuel to pay its alternative cost.

Harbinger of the Seas

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This blue Magus of the Moon stood out quite a bit. The fact it costs 2 blue mana makes it a bit more complicated than its red counterpart, considering you won't be able to accelerate it with Sol Lands as a result (Ancient Tomb and City of Traitors). However, on the other side, an opponent that only has islands will have less answers for it than one that only has mountains.

It is an incredibly strong, disruptive card in a color that usually needs to use other colors to access similar mechanics.

Kozilek’s Unsealing

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We covered this enchantment in another recent articlelink outside website. It has a lot of potential if you want to draw cards consistently, and should inspire players to create new archetypes for Legacy.

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Strix Serenade

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This is a one-mana counterspell with no restrictions on its counter effect, which definitely stands out. Swan Song might not see play, but its range is different from this card.

Tamiyo, Inquisitive Student

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Tamiyo is, for very little, a 1-mana planeswalker. Her planeswalker version might not be much, but she won't give your opponents too much time for answers, and, once again, she only costs 1 mana! Maybe she doesn't really fit aggressive decks, but even those decks might be interested in a fast planeswalker. Control decks will certainly want to hire her services.

Tune the Narrative

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If any Energy deck makes into a high meta tier, Tune the Narrative will certainly be one of the reasons why. Way more efficient than Attune with Aether, a card that was even banned from Standard, Tune the Narrative is just incredible to create Energy.

Black

Chthonian Nightmare

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There's a very noticeable theme in MH3: toned-down versions of iconic cards from the past. We've seen a few above, and we'll see several more later on. This is the "light" version of Recurring Nightmare; it is attached to the amount of Energy you can spend. Usually, considering there is, theoretically, a better version, this one shouldn't see much play.

But there's a critical difference between them: Chthonian only costs 2 mana instead of 3. This means you can create an infinite combo if you use a Priest of Gix to revive the other Priest. Where this will take you, I don't know, but it is another engine for Legacy.

Flare of Malice

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In my article covering Wight of the Reliquary, I commented how a card that needs to sacrifice creatures works well with creatures like Bloodghast or an Evoked Grief. They also certainly wouldn't see a problem in taking one for the team to remove something for 0 mana. The catch is that this card actually costs 4 mana.

Mutated Cultist

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This card will also activate Dark Depths, similar to Vampire Hexmage. It is important to stress that its ability triggers when you cast it, so countering Mutated Cultist doesn't affect its ability itself. The bottom half of its text will rarely be relevant, but you can play an Ulamog for free with it!

Necrodominance

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Among the many cards it "fixed", MH3 fixed Necropotence with Necrodominance. I also covered this enchantment and its incredible legacy in a previous article. It will probably change Legacy from top to bottom!

Nethergoyf

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This is the heir of the once omnipresent Tarmogoyf, from a time when just a great stats-to-cost ratio was enough to make a card incredible. This new version costs half the mana the original did (and that's a lot), but it only considers your graveyard. As a bonus, it returns a couple of times from your graveyard to put pressure on your opponents for another round.

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In terms of colors, in general, I'd say black goes better with Delver's aggressive style than green, so I'd say it is likely, yes, that our Goyf Jr. will find some space in Grixis.

Ripples of Undeath

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This card really reminds me of Sylvan Library; it is also a tool to create value in drawn-out games.

The Creation of Avacyn

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One of the most common tactics Reanimator decks use to dodge answers against graveyards is Show and Tell. This tactic, however, is vulnerable against discard cards, and it forces you to have both this sorcery in hand and your big creature, which is way harder to do without Entomb. That's where The Creation of Avacyn comes in. It takes 3 turns to complete, but it doesn't rely on other cards and entirely ignores cards like Leyline of the Void, Faerie Macabre, or Surgical Extraction.

Warren Soultrader

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Combine Soultrader with Gravecrawler and you'll have a loop that is equal to your life total. Add Blood Artist or Wayward Servant and this loop will kill your opponent on the spot.

Besides, it is great to create value from other creatures, particularly in decks that need sacrifice activators that don't cost any mana.

Red

Detective’s Phoenix

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Red decks usually don't use the graveyard as a resource all that much, so, this Phoenix will open a new array of possibilities for them. Keep in mind that if you sacrifice the creature you enchanted with this card's Bestow ability with a Broadside Bombardiers, for instance, Detective's Phoenix will remain in play as a creature.

Eldrazi Linebreaker

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Eldrazi aggro decks once were an incredibly relevant archetype in Legacy, but they became quite unpopular as the years went on. Hopefully, MH3 will make life better for these colorless creatures.

Speaking of colorless creatures, this was always the version that saw play in Legacy, but, in Modern, this archetype also saw play with colored versions, like Bant or Gruul. So, if it wants to pop up again in Legacy, it will have to adapt and reinvent itself - maybe adding a few colors is the way. This new Eldrazi is a great encouragement to add red. With a Sol Land or an Eldrazi Temple and a Simian Spirit Guide, this card goes into play ready to attack on turn 1, and any Eldrazi from then on will go on the board ready to put pressure.

Flare of Duplication

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Fork is a relic of the past that hasn't seen play in Legacy tables for a long, long time. However, there is one deck I believe might be interested in a Fork for 0 mana: burn! You can use it to double a Price of Progress or a Fireblast, or to do something more specific, like copying a Reanimate on an Atraxa, Grand Unifier (that was supposed to lock down the game), or a gigantic Forth, Eorlingas!.

Ral. Monsoon Mage

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Ral's ability is quite interesting, and you'll be able to transform him with ease, even though not consistently. At the end of the day, this is, potentially, a 2-mana planeswalker that accelerates your spells, and we all know any cheap planeswalker stands out.

Reiterating Bolt

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If an Energy deck manages to make it to meta tiers, Reiterating Bolt quite possibly will be the finisher this archetype needs.

Green

Eladamri, Korvecdal

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Orcish Bowmasters dethroned the popular Elves deck, a well-beloved archetype, from the top of the format not too long ago. Eladamri will be like a fifth Glimpse of Nature for this deck, and you'll be able to search it with Green Sun's Zenith, besides the fact it also doesn't trigger the Orcs' ability. It may be a way to pull this strategy from the darkness.

Flare of Cultivation

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One of the first cards from MH3 that we got, Flare of Cultivation right away was tied to another, albeit a bit forgotten, Legacy staple: Veteran Explorer.

Nic Fit may come and go, but it greatly benefits from this sorcery, as, with it, you'll have 5 mana on turn 2 when you sacrifice the poor Veteran. This effect many times will not even be symmetrical, considering it is quite common to face decks that don't even use 2 basic lands and therefore can't get some advantage from this sacrifice.

Grist, Voracious Larva

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Another potential 1-mana planeswalker, Grist is a bit harder to transform, but there's a lot of support for it in archetypes like Golgari or three-color archetypes, which will likely be interested in what it can offer them. The fact that decks that can revive Grist will be able to access its PW side for another round just adds to its value.

On top of it all, just like its original version, you'll easily be able to find it with Green Sun's Zenith.

Primal Prayers

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This card brings Aluren's full power into Modern, but, in Legacy, it is best to stick to its original version.

Gold

Psychic Frog

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The offspring between a Frog with Psychatog seems quite cool: it gives you a constant flow of cards, is difficult to kill with damage, and can have evasion if you need. As any and every card that draws cards, you must be careful with the Orcs, but cheap creatures that give you extra resources, even more one that protects itself well, are common in Legacy tables (or tend to be banned, like Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer, and Dreadhorde Arcanist).

Kudo, King Among Bears

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This is a hatebear (2-cost creatures with disruptive abilities) that is actually a Bear! Kudo is an answer for formats in which opponents want to play cards like Marit Lage, Griselbrand, or Atraxa, Grand Unifier before usual. As any hatebear, it depends on the metagame to see play.

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Wight of the Reliquary

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Another card we covered in a highlight article here at Cards Realm, this Golgari version of the ultra-popular Knight of the Reliquary will very likely see play in Legacy: it is cheap, has a powerful effect, and there are several archetypes that are already interested in its ability. This is one of the most relevant creatures from this set.

Phlage, Titan of Fire’s Fury

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Azorius-based control decks are basically split into two variants: Bant and Jeskai. Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath, and later on Up the Beanstalk put the Bant-based lists (some have 4 or 5 colors, but have a Bant base) ahead. This new Titan may breathe some fresh air into the Jeskai base, but, in comparison, it is still worse than Uro.

Nadu, Winged Wisdom

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This card might give you an absurd amount of value, be it by creating more cards in your hand or lands on your board. If only there was a deck in this format that targeted its own creatures multiple times for no cost at all… (smiles in Cephalid Breakfast). Whether with Nomads en-Kor, or Shuko, Nadu will very likely give a lot of gas to this archetype.

Colorless

Glaring Fleshraker

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This card was made for Eldrazi aggro lists. If you don't answer it immediately, each new Eldrazi deals 2 damage (1 for itself, 1 for the Token you created with it) and gives you more explosiveness because of the Eldrazi Spawns you'll get.

I believe it will be an important piece in the meta if this deck does come out of the dark.

It That Heralds the End

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Now Eldrazi decks have their own Lord of Atlantis! Unfortunately, I don't know if that's really the path this deck wants to follow, but this card is useful to turn the tokens created by Glaring Fleshraker into more threats!

Kozilek’s Command

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Kozilek’s Command doesn't do anything well, but it does do a lot of things, and many of the things it does are relevant. It gives you an inkling of an answer to graveyards as a main deck piece, and you can always cycle it, or prepare a big turn when you create several Eldrazi Spawns at the end of your turn to sacrifice. It also deals with problematic creatures for very little mana - it even handles a Marit Lage without Sejiri Steppe.

I believe it is a great addition to the Eldrazi arsenal, and is certainly much better than Warping Wail (which pops up once and again).

Nulldrifter

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This is another revised version of a beloved card, Mulldrifter, but there are some key differences: unlike the original, Nulldrifter draws cards even if you counter it, but it doesn't draw extra cards if you use a Flicker effect with it. Its 7-mana converted cost means that, even if you Evoke it, it meets the conditions of cards like Kozilek's Unsealing, which should be its greatest partner in crime. It also provides fuel for Cloudpost decks. It should bear fruits in Legacy.

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Null Elemental Blast

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Similar to Red Elemental Blast and Blue Elemental Blast, this is a sideboard option. Even though there's just a few multicolored spells/permanents in this format, it is important to keep an eye out for what this card can offer you.

Artifact

Disruptor Flute

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This is my guess for Modern Horizon 3's sleeper card (a card that doesn't get a lot of press, but becomes quite important later on). Effects similar to Pithing Needle are quite common, but limited, when you face decks that aren't concerned with that. That's not the case for this artifact because, even against enemies that don't use activated abilities you want to lock down, it is still a 3-mana tax to one of their main cards. I'll place all my bets on this card!

Frogmyr Enforcer

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Frogmite, Myr Enforcer, Fusion... ha! Decks like Synth-Cast (8-Cast with Simulacrum Synthesizer) and decks that abuse Kozilek's Unsealing will be interested in this new fella.

Vexing Bauble

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Finally, here it is. Vexing Bauble has everything to be the most impactful Modern Horizons 3 card for Legacy. It simply deals with one of the most important angles in the entire game for this format, which are 0-cost cards or alternative costs. The plethora of cards that will be affected by it in today's main decks is incredible: Force of Will, Daze, Grief and other Elemental Incarnations, Chrome Mox, Mox Diamond, Lotus Petal, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Cascades, Suspends, Plots, and much more.

Cards that have similar effects not only cost more and are tied to specific colors, but are also creatures (Boromir, Warden of the Tower and Lavinia, Azorius Renegade), and, therefore, are much more vulnerable. Bauble costs very little (you can look for it with an Urza's Saga), and thus is much easier to stick to the board, it also gives you the option to cycle it later, so redundant copies don't get in your way, and you can even sacrifice the original Bauble against enemies that require a little bit more.

The fact it is an artifact means you can play it in basically any deck, which makes the play/draw factor even more relevant than it is now. Those who start playing will get the chance to play 0-cost cards on turn one before they deny their opponent that same chance.

My opinion is that it will dominate the format a bit too much and force out an answer out of Wizards of the Coast, similar to what they did to Trinisphere in Vintage. This card was restricted because it simply affected how fun the game was as a whole. If I had to bet which card from this set will soon be banned, it's Vexing Bauble.

Winter Moon

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This card is an option to the traditional Winter Orb in the sense that you can build your deck to dodge its effect. It is another Prison effect that may see play when you turn its symmetrical effect into asymmetrical.

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Land

Arena of Glory

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Haste is a hell of an ability; it might even be the strongest out of all the basic abilities. The cost you'll pay to access this ability through Arena of Glory is simply having enough mountains to make sure it goes into play untapped. Be very afraid of a Goblin Rabblemaster attacking on the same turn it entered play!

Horizon of Progress

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This land can win attrition battles between control decks, and you can also sacrifice it later for more resources.

Monumental Henge

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Lands that draw cards might be quite powerful, but I believe this card is in the wrong color. If it were blue, it would be much easier to make it hit consistently. Still, you can use it in Death and Taxes, which plays an okay number of artifacts and historics.

Planar Nexus

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Just like Trenchpost, right below, this Nexus is a Locus - so, it boosts Cloudpost's power. Besides this, this land, on its own, feeds all Urza's lands, so with just it and an Urza's Tower, you'll already have 4 mana to use on turn 2. If this option is superior to Cloudpost, we'll only know after testing it.

Shifiting Woodland

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This land has a lot of potential. It might be useful as an extra copy of Thespian's Stage to activate a Dark Depths that is in your graveyard, or even as a pseudo-Reanimate for some powerful permanent on your graveyard.

Trenchpost

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Trenchpost is another Locus that will boost Cloudpost. Its mill ability isn't that relevant, but the fact it makes Loci more consistent is.

Ugin’s Labyrinth

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Never underestimate a land that creates 2 mana and goes into play untapped, even though there's a good amount of risk involved in that. Though I see more ways to use it in Modern, where things like Sol Lands don't exist, heavier Eldrazi decks may be interested in it.

Urza’s Cave

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Expedition Map has a lot of potential as well. A version of it that is built-in a land seems cool because it doesn't take up the space of other spells, and therefore should interest the same decks that are interested in this artifact.

Final Words

Whew! This was one of the longest articles I've ever written, but it doesn't surprise me! Unlike the other sets we've had in the past, this one has a lot of material for Legacy (truly!).

I can't say for certain where Legacy is headed - the shadows of Grief and Orcish Bowmasters still hoover this format, and Vexing Bauble is a true "pillar-defining" bomb. What I know is that I am very excited to use these new cards!

I hope you liked this review. Thank you for reading, and see you next time!