Modern Horizons 2 Set Review – Colorless and Lands

Shine Bright Like a Diamond Lion

Welcome to the colorless, artifacts and lands portion of the Modern Horizons 2 EDHREC Set Review! We’ve got a bunch of new toys, so let’s just get right into it!


Mythics


Kaldra Compleat

Kaldra Compleat is the “card I wish could be my commander” of the set. It’s a new take on an old favorite that we didn’t even know we wanted. On its face, it’s a seven-mana Equipment that has all the abilities from the Kaldra trio Sword of Kaldra, Shield of Kaldra, and Helm of Kaldra combined, which is not a bad deal for a single card. Attached to a Germ right from the off, it’s a solid creature on the field. If that token dies, though, or we have a Voltron we want to suit up, that gets a smidge trickier. The fourteen-mana investment to attach this to another creature might be a bit daunting.

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to deal with those costs, like Sigarda’s Aid, Hammer of Nazahn, and Puresteel Paladin. Stonehewer Giant and friends can get the token into play for free, too!

Nahiri, the Lithomancer plays really well with Kaldra Compleat, because she counteracts its high mana cost. Her -2 cheats it into play, while her +2 provides fresh bodies in case the Germ token leaves the battlefield. Having access to such a great blocker is also very nice for a deck helmed by a planeswalker, since it’ll help defend our commander. The new Partner commander Ardenn, Intrepid Archaeologist also has amazing ways of getting around Equip costs.

Arcum Dagsson was often played with Paradox Engine, which gave him the reputation of being a combo-oriented commander. However, fair versions of Arcum can easily cheat Kaldra Compleat into play early.

Aside from focusing on the Artifact synergies of the card, we can look for synergies with the Germ token too. Temmet, Vizier of Naktamun makes the Germ unblockable! Teysa Karlov gives it an additional lifelink and vigilance! Just imagine having to deal with an indestructible, vigilant creature that exiles anything it touches.

Scion of Draco

Scion of Draco is a powerful support for multicolored commanders. Now that we have the Triomes, which have triple land types (ex: Ketria Triome), casting this Scion for an outrageous two mana is totally possible, if not easy to pull off. Let’s do a quick overview on the usefulness of the Scion’s abilities: blue creatures get the best out of the deal; white and black creatures get great defensive options; green creatures get evasion; and red creatures get combat tricks. Altogether, these abilities offer five-color commanders a lot in terms of combat, but we’d need a pretty aggressive board to get full value from all these buffs.

It’s obvious this card is made for five-color commanders, but some of these effects are more useful than others. Blue getting hexproof is better than red’s first strike. Playing this in a four-color deck wouldn’t hurt all that much at all. It’s still a bonkers card even at four mana. I wouldn’t, however, consider this in a blueless list, since blue grants the best ability of the bunch.

The Ur-Dragon will be the commander that likes Scion of Draco the most. The combination of cheap body, relevant type, and useful abilities makes Scion of Draco a strong contender for any Ur-Dragon list out there. Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder lists are also heavily invested in having their commander out for as long as possible, so Scion of Draco is a protection piece that also comes with a heavily discounted price, which is ideal for Cascade shenanigans. Oh, and we might even see the occasional Yuriko, the Tiger’s Shadow player finding ways to put this card on top of their library, too!

Sword of Hearth and Home

The Selesnya Sword of X and Y is finally here, and it’s quite the card. The single-target blink is great for decks that like to reuse ETB abilities. (That said, it’s a little bit of the letdown that this doesn’t interact all too well with Brago, King Eternal‘s ability.) The second ability is ramp, and since Sword of the Animist appears in over 30,000 decks, it’s safe to say that’s a major selling point. Awkwardly, we don’t want this Sword to target its wielder, so we need at least two creatures in play to use this effectively. If one of them happens to be an Avenger of Zendikar, well, our opponents are not going to like us very much.

Roon of the Hidden Realm, being a beefy creature with vigilance, is a pretty ideal wielder. Being constrained to one activation a turn, Roon decks are always looking for a consistent way to blink their creatures even more. Yarok, the Desecrated decks often utilize Landfall shenanigans, so they’ll be able to super-abuse both of the Sword’s abilities.

Most importantly, these protection colors are amazing. Equipment decks are so, so, so happy for another ramp piece that buffs their creatures, and gives them protection from Beast Within, Path to Exile, Swords to Plowshares, and all of green and white’s many many chump blockers.


Rares


Sol Talisman

Sol Talisman is another entry on the “Broken Mana Rocks That Got The Suspend Treatment To Try To Make It More Balanced” list (or the BMRTGTSTTTTMIMB for short). Like the previous versions before Sol Talisman (such as Mox Tantalite, which only appears in about 3,000ish decks), I find it hard to believe that this will see any considerable play in EDH. Cascade can work for it, but Cascade decks also won’t need it. Osgir, the Reconstructor seems the most likely home, since he can loot it away form hand, then tap to create two free copies from the graveyard. Maybe Vega, the Watcher, too, to get extra casts from exile, but even then, this Talisman is pretty slow.

Nettlecyst

If you’ve ever played against All That Glitters or a “Karnstruct” token (such as those made by Urza, Lord High Artificer or Digsite Engineer, then you know these effects can get out of hand real fast. I do think there’s a conversation to be had about whether traditional Equipment decks will prefer more reliable alternatives, like Fireshrieker, to power out their Voltron victories. I also caution against using this in an Enchantress deck, because those decks prefer enchantment buffs over artifact buffs every time.

Still, this Equipment offers a powerful buff. Alela, Artful Provocateur can suit up any flying Faerie for tons of damage. Temmet, Vizier of Naktamun isn’t usually the kind of shell that will grow the Nettlecyst to crazy heights, but it’s not that hard to assume it’ll find an easy 6 or 7 bonus power quite naturally. Sram, Senior Edificer floods the board with tons of cheap Equipment and Auras, so he’ll get a huge kick out of turning them into a truly enormous buff.

Academy Manufactor

Academy Manufactor is a really powerful token-maker for decks that like to produce any of these token types. Smothering Tithe triggers seem particularly insane, for instance, and that’s before we factor in stuff like Parallel Lives. We definitely need the commander itself to be in charge of making those tokens, or else build the entire deck around a very specific theme, lest this payoff become too inconsistent. But when we do have that consistency, it’s crazy good. The new Lonis, Cryptozoologist is excited to also make mana when we Investigate. Magda, Brazen Outlaw will draw some cards with Clues after making Treasure, sure thing! And Gyome, Master Chef loves pairing a nice Food token with a lovely Clue curry and Treasure truffles.

Dermotaxi

Dermotaxi is a pretty weird Vehicle that almost acts more as a grave-hating Clone than a traditional Crew card. It’s quite a lot like Lazav, the Multifarious in this way, and provides a lot of utility that will likely frustrate our enemies. I think Lazav might be interested in this card, and of course we’re sure to see it in Depala, Pilot Exemplar decks. I personally think one of the most interesting places to use it is actually in decks like Tinybones, Trinket Thief, and maybe even Mill decks. Those decks put lots of cards right into the graveyard from the hand or library, giving it easy fodder, and it might be nice to give those sometimes-fragile shells some extra brawn on the field to help with combat.

Diamond Lion

Diamond Lion is a more balanced take on Lion’s Eye Diamond (LED). It’s safe to say that what makes Diamond Lion worse than LED is also what makes it a much more welcoming addition to EDH’s arsenal of powerful mana accelerators. Both cards work similarly, but the extra mana and the summoning sickness slow it way down, which open up the doors for interplay and allow this card to show up outside of cutthroat combo strategies. This isn’t a card for just any deck, but plenty of commanders enjoy discarding things. Chainer, Dementia Master might use it as a great discard outlet, and Rielle, the Everwise turns the Lion’s drawback into an opportunity!

Void Mirror

Tired of Golos, Tireless Pilgrim getting a discount on his free spells? Sick of Fierce Guardianships? Free things have a new card to keep them in check.

This card is… fine. It’s ultimately just so narrow that I don’t see it getting much play unless a playgroup is very meta-focused. It’s a shame that it sometimes locks down the occasional Traxos, Scourge of Kroog player, but colorless decks make up less than 1% of decks out there, so this is a far cry from Iona, Shield of Emeria. This card is counteracted by players tapping a basic Mountain.

Zabaz, the Glimmerwasp

Zabaz, the Glimmerwasp is a new Boros commander with an ability that works similarly to Hardened Scales, but for Modular triggers only. Boros has plenty of good commanders for artifact-based strategies, so Zabaz gets pigeonholed into a Modular deck full of Arcbound Ravager and Arcbound Worker cards. Support like Losheel, Clockwork Scholar, Steel Overseer, and Together Forever can help the deck keep ticking along. Since Zabaz is a sacrifice outlet, I suspect we’ll want to bounce counters around as many times as possible, depositing them onto Zabaz, and then reviving things all at once with a card like Wake the Past to do it all over again. Even if our Arcbound creatures are quite small, we can build up Zabaz for a pretty potent commander damage threat, and an evasive one at that.


Uncommons


Liquimetal Torque

Liquimetal Torque is a two-mana rock with minor upside. This is pretty much the baseline for mana rocks, but between popular two-mana rocks that produce colored mana (like Arcane Signet and Fellwar Stone) and other popular colorless producers (like Mind Stone and Everflowing Chalice) the Torque has tough competition.

That said, we’ve seen this ability before on Liquimetal Coating, which can pull off some actually very impressive tricks, especially in red decks. For example, this can turn an enchantment into an artifact, rendering it killable with Vandalblast.

Tawnos, Urza’s Apprentice can turn any old thing into an artifact, then duplicate its ability! Goblin Welder can switch some new artifacts that didn’t look like metal before, but sure are metal now! And to reprise a very old “challenge the stats” from one of the earliest episodes of The EDHRECast, Freyalise, Llanowar’s Fury can run this rock, just like Liquimetal Coating, to turn her -2 into a Vindicate!

Brainstone

Brainstone is a Brainstorm variation, one of the most iconic spells in the game. How does Brainstone fare against Brainstorm? Well… not well. Three total mana for this effect, telegraphed in advance, doesn’t have nearly the same utility. Plenty of players also feel that Brainstorm‘s strength in 60-card formats is not felt in EDH. We have a smaller potential density of fetch lands to shuffle away unwanted cards, and the spell’s defensive applications, like hiding spells from Thoughtseize hand attacks, are almost never a factor in Commander. These days, it’s even possible for a Brainstorm in EDH to be Hullbreachered. In other words, we’d have to be really dedicated to this ability to make this effect worthwhile, and since blue already has Brainstorm itself, that relegates us almost entirely outside of blue decks to find this stone a home.

Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient strikes me as a potentially interesting place for this card, doubling up the ability for a little more value. Lurrus of the Dream-Den may potentially like it, too. And of course, top-deck manipulation strategies (such as Yennett, Cryptic Sovereign) always perk their ears up when new potential enablers appear. Since most of those decks are also playing blue, Brainstone isn’t all that impressive, but since a lot of the best top-deck enablers out there are expensive cards, I could see budget-friendly versions of those decks making use of the stone.


Lands


Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth

Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth is a new version of Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth and it is quite an impressive card. This kind of fixing is very powerful, and it’ll allow for green-based archetypes, like Elves, to craft a more reliable mana base. Considering that a lot of what makes Urborg popular is its synergy with Cabal Coffers, what does an all-Forest mana base open up?

There are a few things, like Patron of the Orochi and Nissa, Worldwaker untapping nonbasics, Eladamri, Lord of Leaves granting Forestwalk, and some odd spells like Beacon of Creation, Kalonian Twingrove, and Traproot Kami getting more consistent (or in the Kami’s case, way more defensive!). This is mostly just epically good color-fixing for green, and that’s good enough. In fact, it’s great. Just watch out for Acid Rain.

Urza’s Saga

Urza’s Saga might take the award for the head-scratcher of the set. It’s a land and a Saga. Once again, that Construct token shows up to remind us how powerful it can get, especially if we make multiples (which we can do by activating the land again in response to Chapter III). It’s worth noting that we can’t grab cards without a mana cost, like Sol Talisman, because the third chapter specifies that the card we fetch needs exactly a 0 or 1 in the mana cost.

Weirdly, Enchantress decks might like this card for more Constellation triggers. Artifact decks are pleased with the new “Karnstruct” token-maker right there in the mana base, turning tons of little metal pieces (and especially oodles of Treasure tokens) into a big beater. Decks with key cards like Skullclamp, The Ozolith, or Altar of the Brood are happy to find them more easily, or just default to tutoring out a Sol Ring in the worst case scenario. If you like Populate decks, this is a great token to make multiple copies of. Speaking of which, Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer, meet your new favorite land.

Power Depot

Power Depot is another five-color land, but for artifact decks. It comes in tapped, so that’s a pretty hard sell, but its main selling point is the Modular 1, so if it’s destroyed, we get a counter onto an artifact creature. Zabaz probably uses this, but outside of that, I’m not impressed. Blowing up our own land is hard to do, can be a pretty big cost, and is also not worth the tempo loss of a tapped land. Then again, if you’re keen to get more artifact lands to increase the deck count for commanders like Akiri, Line-Slinger, that’s probably not a bad use of the Power Depot, all things considered.

Bridge Lands

The Bridge cycle: indestructible, tapped, artifact lands.

In EDH, artifact lands like Seat of the Synod fulfill a niche role in artifact-based decks as a free way to get more artifacts on the field, and they don’t do much outside of that realm. The average deck doesn’t need these, so it’s all about the artifact strategy, and those decks will have to contend with whether the tempo loss of tapped lands is worth that marginal upside. I think it’s fair to say that there are plenty of artifact players who will be happy to take that trade. Free artifacts are extra fodder for Daretti, Scrap Savant in the 99, for example, or can be sacrificed with Breya, Etherium Shaper instead of sacrificing a key artifact creature, or they can be duplicated by Osgir, the Reconstructor. Maybe they’ll even make a Thought Monitor easier to cast here and there. And you know, it doesn’t hurt that they’re searchable with Trinket Mage, too!

These are a cool addition to the format. Higher-power artifact decks may value their speed, but there’s cool upside on these if you know where to look, and artificers are nothing if not masters of their craft, with an affinity for eking out extra value in even the smallest places.


Coming Off Suspend

This concludes my portion of this set review. Now I want to hear from you! What are your impressions of the set? Which card are you most excited for? Let me know in the comments below!

Bernardo has been playing(on and off) since portal and somehow manage to survive mirrodin block while being a total casual(beast tribal ftw?). He loves all the shades of blue and being the one saying "nope", while holding a full grip of cards in hand.