Modern Horizons 2
This article is one of our set prospectives, a series in which we survey the Cube community about the cards they intend to play in their cubes from a particular set. Our survey is conducted between the set’s full-spoiler and official release and is meant to measure and document Cube designers’ first impressions of new cards.
Modern Horizons 2 is making waves in a variety of Magic formats, and Cube is no exception. This set’s prospective survey is by far our most popular, with over 300 responses from the Cube community!
To see the breadth of the community that we reach, you can see the locations of all the responding cubes on the Cube Map. Our outreach is broadening—while the majority of respondents have cubes unrestricted by rarity, design approaches range from Artifact Cubes to a Proliferate Cube and everything in between. Modern Horizons 2 has something to offer most Cube designers!
“How are there so many cards breaking in to a 360 powered cube?”
Like its predecessor, Modern Horizons, Modern Horizons 2 is a top contender for the best set of all time for Cube. It has the two highest rated cards of all time, and Unrestricted designers are each testing a median of 16 cards from the set, far higher than any previous surveyed set. On average, 7 of these cards received a rating above 7.75, indicating that this set will have a large impact on cubes for years to come. One designer is even testing 91 cards from the set!
|Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer||69.0%||9.5|
|Grist, the Hunger Tide||50.3%||7.9|
|Archon of Cruelty||31.3%||6.4|
|Dragon's Rage Channeler||29.7%||6.3|
|Tourach, Dread Cantor||27.7%||5.7|
|Ornithopter of Paradise||19.7%||5.6|
|Master of Death||19.0%||5.7|
|Priest of Fell Rites||16.8%||6.1|
|Sword of Hearth and Home||16.1%||6.0|
|Dakkon, Shadow Slayer||12.6%||5.8|
|Out of Time||12.3%||6.5|
|General Ferrous Rokiric||11.9%||5.3|
|Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth||6.8%||5.8|
|The Underworld Cookbook||6.5%||5.1|
|Late to Dinner||5.8%||4.8|
|Captured by Lagacs||5.5%||5.5|
|Chatterfang, Squirrel General||5.2%||5.9|
|Svyelun of Sea and Sky||4.8%||4.3|
|Archfiend of Sorrows||4.8%||6.0|
|Zabaz, the Glimmerwasp||4.5%||5.9|
|Scion of Draco||4.2%||5.6|
|Captain Ripley Vance||3.9%||4.8|
|Rise and Shine||3.9%||5.0|
|Yusri, Fortune's Flame||2.9%||6.1|
|Road // Ruin||2.9%||4.6|
|Fast // Furious||2.9%||5.4|
|Wren's Run Hydra||2.6%||4.6|
|Disciple of the Sun||2.3%||4.0|
|Sythis, Harvest's Hand||2.3%||6.8|
These cards share an average rating of 9.55, the highest ever achieved on one of our surveys1. The battle for the top spot was ferocious, and at times their average ratings were within 0.0005 of each other.
“Ragavan is in my cube, but his power level is so absurd, I might cut him.”
With an average rating of 9.5, the eventual victor was Ragavan, likely the strongest aggressive one drop ever printed. In slower environments light on cheap removal, the monkey is borderline unbeatable on turn one, providing a steady stream of mana and occasionally card advantage through its ability. Its dash ability is also discounted through the Treasures it generates. Most in the Cube community expect Ragavan to be a staple in their cubes for years to come.
Despite its loss to Ragavan, Ignoble Hierarch still commanded a record-breaking average rating of 9.5 and was even less contentious. One of the best mana dorks of all time, many in the community are also excited about its ability to support more aggressive midrange decks playing Red or Black.
“Damn would be rated higher, but including it as a white card might confuse my drafters.”
Coming in a close third, Damn is the third most popular card of the set, being tested by 63% of the community with an average rating of 9.1. As an upgraded Wrath of God, Damn offers archetype flexibility. While most decks will be unable to leverage both halves of the card, they are still quite powerful alone. Still, some have expressed concern that the card’s primary mode as a wrath is difficult to understand, particularly for newer players.
Perhaps the most unexpected cards of spoiler seasons, the evoke Elemental Incarnations generated much debate in the community when each was spoiled. With the exception of Endurance, each garnered an average rating above 6.85, marking them popular options for a variety of cubes.
Solitude was rated the highest, with an average rating of 8.2. Swords to Plowshares is an incredibly powerful effect, and White is the color with Blink synergies in many different cubes (which is why I suspect it is rated most highly). Coming in a close second is Grief with an average rating of 7.75. While its evoke clause is less relevant in Cube environments without combo elements, its 4 mana mode is still powerful enough to excite the majority of the community.
“I’m testing out the Incarnation cycle, though I’m not sold on keeping all of them in.”
With an average rating of 7.3, Fury is the only card of the cycle that can achieve card parity or generate card advantage when evoked. The card’s effect is quite swingy, ranging from nigh unbeatable against decks leveraging cheap creatures to fairly anemic against control decks. Finally, Subtlety is the lowest rated of these four, achieving a still-respectable rating of 6.85. Some in the community have reasoned that its effect is fairly restrictive, although its 3/3 flying body is fairly strong.
Designers seem to be testing this cycle as a group—over half of designers testing one of Solitude, Grief, Fury, or Subtlety are testing them all. Many in the community, however, are suspicious of how relevant Evoke will be on these creatures, and others dislike free interaction in their environments. Only time will tell how the community opinion shifts!
These two cards, along with Abundant Harvest, round out those with an average rating of 7.75 or higher.
“Grist is my favourite card from MH2. Just such an awesome toolbox piece, exactly what the doctor ordered for Golgari.”
Grist, the Hunger Tide has drawn comparisons to another popular Cube card, Daretti, Ingenious Iconoclast, but it boasts a number of advantages. It’s creature status gives it synergy with cards like Green Sun's Zenith, Fauna Shaman, and Recurring Nightmare, and Grist cannot be Duressed or Negated. Given that it also generates tokens that can attack, can destroy planeswalkers, and has an achievable and game-ending ultimate, the community sees Grist as a powerful option (some might even say too powerful). Many are also excited for a card that can pull drafters into Green-Black decks at higher power levels.
Dauthi Voidwalker has an respectable floor as a mostly unblockable 3/2 with a one-sided Rest in Peace static ability. On top of that, its activated ability has the potential to end games in an explosive fashion in combination with discard effects. 48% of Unrestricted designers are testing the card, but some have raised concerns with its uninteractive qualities.
Abundant Harvest was spoiled in Strixhaven, and its rating of 7.75 has remained consistent between the two surveys.
Lose Focus and Flametongue Yearling offer recognizable effects and are being tested by around half of respondents.
Lose Focus is a scaleable counterspell, acting as a Quench early and easily keeping pace into the late game with its Replicate ability. Because the ability copies the spell, it can be very difficult to fully counter the effect of Lose Focus, making it an asset in counter wars. With an average rating of 7.3, many in the community are confident it has a place in their cube’s countermagic suite.
Flametongue Yearling is a scaleable threat that cleanly answers creatures at many points in the game. Because it’s ability must hit a creature, it can be difficult to play early in some matchups, but its late-game relevance mitigates this drawback. It received an average rating of 6.85 from the Cube community, indicating that some are unsure of its potential while others are excited.
Modern Horizons 2 is the first set in recent memory to introduce pushed reanimator cards, a welcome sight for many Cubers. These cards all received ratings around 6.4 and are being tested by a smaller portion of the community, primarily those that support reanimator archetypes.
“I've been trying to make an Orzhov Reanimator theme work for ages, so when that was revealed as an archetype in MH2, I was over the moon.”
Persist and Unmarked Grave are solid enablers for reanimator at all power levels, although some designers with smaller cubes are choosing to forego the redundancy. The nonlegendary criteria on Persist can be severe, as it misses several common targets, but its effect is still incredibly powerful. The same drawback on Unmarked Grave is less punishing, as it merely restricts your choices and not whether its effect succeeds. Entomb is generally the best card in reanimator decks, and many in the Cube community think that this knock-off will still perform well.
Archon of Cruelty doesn’t end the game immediately, but many decks will struggle to beat a 4-for-1. It has incredible synergy with other cheat-focused cards like Sneak Attack (and is a nonlegendary target for Persist!) This card did not generate much discussion when it was spoiled, but a solid number of community members are excited for the card.
These white cards are among the “maybes” of the set for Cube designers, each garnering a rating of about 5.5 and being tested by 35% of the community. While Timeless Dragon is significantly better than its predecessor, many feel it is still too slow for faster Cube environments.
Esper Sentinel is one of the more contentious cards of the set, as it is difficult to evaluate and heavily dependent on the Cube’s environment. Some praise its utility against noncreature-heavy control decks, but others are suspicious of its relatively anemic board presence in aggressive decks. I suspect this is a card whose consensus will change over time.
Similarly, these cards are among the “maybes” of the set for Cube designers, as they have average ratings of about 5.5 and are being tested by 30% of respondents.
While Tourach, Dread Cantor is powerful, his lower rating may be a result of designers’ dislike for protection and randomness. Others in the community, however, are excited for the new Black midrange threat, as a four mana 4/3 that Hymns your opponent on ETB is well-above rate.
“Kaldra may be too good to still qualify as ‘fair’ in combination with Stoneforge Mystic and too bad without it for me to be willing to make those sacrifices.”
Delirium can be difficult to enable in limited environments, but with an average rating of 5.95, some in the community are excited for Dragon's Rage Channeler. More contentious than most cards in the set, Channeler gets a higher rating in environments more amenable to delirium, including those that run multiple Fetchlands and many cheap cantrips.
Kaldra Compleat is likely being tested by many cubes for its interaction with Stoneforge Mystic—of the designers testing Kaldra, 90% are cubing the Kor Artificer. Yet Kaldra is relatively uncastable without Stoneforge, leading many to forego the living weapon.
Prismatic Ending has a unique property in this survey—while it has a respectable average rating of 6.4, its rating is significantly correlated with the average mana value of the respondent’s cube. Cubes with lower average mana value tend to rate this card higher, a trait shared by other cards in the set, including Dragon's Rage Channeler, Abundant Harvest, and Territorial Kavu. These cubes cluster together on the Cube Map and tend to prioritize fixing and low mana value threats and answers, a trait that leads to distinctly different evaluations of new cards. Prismatic Ending becomes an incredible removal spell when threats are cheap and fixing is plentiful.
While Urza's Saga has been making waves in Modern, much of the Cube community is still lukewarm on it, with only 21% of the community testing it and an average rating of 6.4. While it will often lack fetchable targets for its third chapter in many Cube decks, an uncounterable source of Karnstructs is still powerful in many matchups.
Unlike most sets, Modern Horizons 2 offers a great deal to Peasant and Pauper cubers. Flametongue Yearling is the second-highest rated card from Peasant respondents in these surveys, losing only to the legendary Usher of the Fallen. But even beyond the Kavu, MH2 offers Peasant cubers Timeless Witness, a powerful recursion enabler with late-game relevance, and Tireless Provisioner, which offers a source of ramp on a respectable body.
Bannerhide Krushok is the most popular card ever surveyed for our Pauper cubers. The card is utility incarnate, functioning as a 4/4 for four, a decent combat trick, and a strong late-game boost. The community’s strong like of this card suggests that it will remain in Pauper cubes for quite some time.
Modern Horizons 2 is certainly a strong contender for the best Cube set to date. Besides offering two of the most powerful Cube cards in recent memory, Ragavan and Ignoble Hierarch, the set offers options for a variety of cubes, including efficiency-focused cards, cards that support specific archetypes, and generically powerful roleplayers. Most cubes will likely be cubing upwards of ten or more cards from this set for a long while, which is, of course, the true measure of a set’s success for the Cube format.
“I’m sad how many of the cool cards are mythics. It makes my wallet hurt.”
One source of disappointment for many designers, however, is the concentration of power level at higher rarities (particularly a specific Monkey). This makes adjusting for Modern Horizons 2 a difficult prospect for those cubing on a budget. But the set is print to demand, so with luck, prices will depreciate enough to be accessible.
Here are my own thoughts:
Many opinions will change on cards from this set.
This set has many cards that are difficult to evaluate. I suspect the community is undervaluing Urza's Saga. Even in cubes without explicit artifact synergies, it’s not hard for this to generate two 2/2s or 3/3s, all at a very low opportunity cost. I also think the community (including myself) are overvaluing the Elemental Incarnations, with the possible exception of Fury, which may be underrated. I believe evoking will happen infrequently, but Fury may regularly generate card advantage for free in certain environments. Archon of Cruelty is another card I probably undervalued initially. I dismissed it as a non-game ending reanimator target, but a 4-for-1 is an incredible rate. I’m excited to see how opinions of these cards change over time within the community!
This set and Wizard’s newer design choices enable divergent Cube designs.
Because Modern Horizons 2 did not have to conform to standard-level value and efficiency standards, it offers Cube designers new ways to optimize the way they love to play the game. Some environments may favor slower, value-focused gameplay, where cards like Timeless Dragon and Master of Death will shine, while others may favor lean efficiency, where Dragon's Rage Channeler and Murktide Regent are excellent. I love seeing the way different environments affect the way people evaluate cards in these surveys, and I can’t wait to see what new Cube design philosophies will emerge.
I (and most of the Cube community) love new ways to bling out our cubes.
I love all of the options for new Cube bling that we’ve gotten with this set. Deep Forest Hermit, a staple in many cubes, has an incredible new old-border foil, and many love the old-border remakes of the Talismans. Here’s hoping the set’s unlimited print run will cause these shiny options to go down in price!
Community Reviews and Discussion
- Lucky Paper Radio’s MH2 Set Review
- The 540: Modern Horizons 2 Impact on Cube
- Riptide Lab Testing/Includes Thread
- MTGSalvation MH2 Testing and Includes Thread
- CulticCube’s Modern Horizons 2 Cube Review
- SteveMan64’s MH2 Hot Takes
- Solely Singleton MH2 First Impressions
- MTG Cube Blogspot Preliminary Reviews Modern Horizons 2
- They are not, however, the cards tested by the greatest percentage of respondents. That honor goes to Usher of the Fallen, which received a lower rating of 9.1 but was tested by 76% of Unrestricted cubers, compared to Ragavan’s 69%. While some Adventure cards received higher ratings in the Throne of Eldraine Prospective Survey, that survey reached a much smaller fraction of the community.↩