Hello, my Sassy Gamers! My name is Lily, and I’m a Commander Streamer and Content Creator. I’ve been playing Magic for almost 13 years now, having started with Shards of Alara, which feels like eons ago. Throughout my MTG lifetime, I have been enamored by the written mode of content creation. I have therefore decided to make something I’ve been considering for a long while: A complete recommendations list for the format which I love most, Commander! (With cube being very close behind.)
So, within this article series, I will be taking you on a journey through the latest Magic set, the very Time Spiral influenced Modern Horizons 2. I’ll be cherry-picking cards from each of the colors, talking about them, and giving them a rating out of a score of 10. Now I should clarify in advance that this is only my personal opinion. I am not gospel when it comes to Magic and can only state my own thoughts and feelings on the cards. I may rate a card a 10, but when others actually sit down and play with the said card, it could turn out to not actually be all that good after all. Human beings are fallible, especially when it comes to playing card games.
We will be going through the cards in both color and alphabetical order and will only be talking about new cards; I will not be touching upon the new to modern reprints or the enemy fetch lands as, put, the new to modern cards have already been in the format for a long while. The fetch lands are, of course, 10/10 cards, they’re already amazing, and everybody already knows that!
So, without further adieu, let’s begin with the color that often needs the most help to stay relevant in this format. First, let’s talk about White.
Oh, White. I adore this color as a former Legacy Death and Taxes player and currently playing a fair few different commanders with White in their color identity (including Mono White with God-Eternal Oketra). Rules making, tax effects, amazing versatility, with the odd Mass Land Destruction effect thrown in for good measure: White can do it all… Except for Ramp, and draw cards, and play big creatures… But we have Angels, so that’s good, right? Well, let’s see if Modern Horizons 2 gives White players come extra “oomph” for their decks!
We start with what might be seen as a rather unassuming draft around my card, but actually, I think this card has some major staying power in the format. Low to the ground W/X decks would really be able to make use of the card’s second ability, allowing you to reanimate Mother/Giver of Runes, the soul sisters creatures, and any number of cheap aggressive creatures. I have personally been interested in testing this card out in Alesha, Who Smiles at Death, which usually plays a higher than an average number of 1 mana creatures. Another deck that could make amazing use of the second ability is the Shadowborn Apostles deck, often helmed by Athreos, God of Passage. That way, you can keep your supply of little heretics high! The first ability to gain 1 life on your end step can see some utility from Karlov of the Ghost Council, allowing for extra triggers for even more +1/+1 counters.
I ADORE this card. For just 1 mana, this card is a single target heroic intervention, and the fact it also pumps artifact creatures is just the extra gravy on this already delicious roast beef card. Decks with Sunforger access will gladly play this as an easy way to protect their creatures, and with Feather the Redeemed, it becomes an even better version of Heroic Intervention, provided it’s just the creatures that you want to save. Nearly every Mono White and Boros deck cannot go wrong by sleeving this up!
Now Esper Sentinel has already had a lot of praise said about it, but I’ve not given it my stern judgment. The card is legitimately great, it’s been making the rounds in Modern, and the fact that it’s also a human adds some extra spice to this card. Nearly every white deck can benefit from this as it allows you to draw extra cards. Lets you say the all-important, “Do you pay the 1?” But, Voltron decks can actually get even more work from this because, if you can increase the power of the Sentinel, then suddenly it can go from paying the 1 up to pay the 3 or 5. The card is amazing, and if you’re in White, then there is a bevy of cards that are a lot worse than this.
This is an interesting one, a big 6 mana human soldier which buffs your team equal to life-gain, but only once each turn. Now you can do this on each player’s turn, allowing you to Healing Salve on your opponent’s declare attackers step and give your whole board a permanent +3/+3, which is exactly how Garfield intended Magic to be. Now, I don’t honestly rate this card all that much. I think the mana cost is honestly just a little too expensive for what the card actually does… Give me this on a smaller body at a lower cost, and I would be all for it, but as it stands, I can’t see a whole lot of decks that it’s suited for.
YOUR TIME IS UP. MY TIME IS NOW. YOU CAN’T SEE ME. MY TIME IS NOW!
Okay, so, John Cena references aside, this is a strange Magic card and one I actually needed to read about 4 times before I started to understand what it does. When you play Out of Time, you untap everyone’s creatures and then Phase them out, so they aren’t really in play anymore. Then Out of Time gets time counters equal to the number of things it phases out. I look at this because, more often than not, it’s actually going to end up being destroyed by someone. So instead of it being this big wordy Phase-out card, let’s look at it like it was a mass Journey to Nowhere. Now I would actually gladly play that card; For just 3 mana, I can get rid of everyone’s creatures and get ahead because my deck doesn’t actually rely on playing creatures. It’s a control deck’s dream. I haven’t seen too many people talk about this card, but you definitely should be, as it’s actually pretty darn good.
Now, this is a funny one! On paper, I felt this card was incredible, that it was super functional, and that it just gets better the more colors you play in your deck. Yet, sadly, the more I actually read the card’s text, the worse it seems. At 1 mana, this is essentially the same as the card Isolate, which never really saw any traction in Commander. With it being sorcery, it’s a hard card to find a replacement when other, better cards like Mortify, Putrefy, and the GOAT Anguished Unmaking all exist, all at instant speed and easier to cast than this. Maybe in a 5 color deck, you could get some value from this, but then having to spend 5 mana to exile something does not feel good to me at all.
Now I love casting Replenish, but with the rising cost of reserved list cards, people can rarely afford the cost of a card which is now over $100! So, for the first card in the null mana cost cycle, we have quite literally Replenish but as a variant that requires you to Suspend it for 2 turns at the very affordable cost of 2 mana. I actually think this card is either an absolute slam dunk or just the equivalent of you asking your opponents to pick apart your graveyard. However, I still think this card is potent, especially when the closest alternative of Open the Vaults allows your opponents also to get access to the powerful effect. So yeah, I really like this card. But, while it’s not Replenish in a card, it is Replenish in spirit, so maybe that is good enough.
Cards like this are always interesting. Comparing it (albeit rather strangely) to No Mercy usually gives a pretty apt idea for what I’m about to say. So, quite like No Mercy, if you play this in a game of Commander, then nobody is actually going to attack you (especially not with a bunch of creatures) until they can either remove the enchantment or they can kill you, whichever happens first. If you’re lucky, it may get you a few clues in a game, but more often than not, this is 4 mana, do very little, which, sure, it’s better than doing nothing, but only just.
Now cards like this excite me! I love big dumb creatures, especially angels, who also come with super fun splashy effects, which does not disappoint. Giving yourself protection from Instants or Sorceries means you cannot be killed by storm decks or creatures, meaning that the tokens player or the mono-green deck cannot stop you. Yes, 7 mana is indeed a lot, but if you have Black in your deck, then suddenly, this can surprise the table by coming in from a Reanimate or an Animate Dead card. Heck, Mono White can do that with Resurrection and the bevy of similar cards that they are allowed access to (though never as many as black). Also, if you happen to have a Rite of Replication, you can suddenly make 5 more of these wonderful creatures, each protecting one another from a different type, which is indeed what I call value.
Next up is another cycle from Modern Horizons 2, the free spell Evoke creatures. Now we have a flash, lifelink 3/2, that also comes stapled with Path to Exile, one of the single most powerful White spells ever printed and one of the main reasons Rose-tinted Magic players like myself hold white in such high regard. How good this card entirely depends on your deck. I actually love the idea of blinking this in a Brago deck or a Roon deck or maybe having it as a reanimator target. Yes, you can Evoke it and cast a free Swords to Plowshares, but the cost is higher in Commander than it is in 60 card formats, and as anyone who plays Force of Will in Commander knows: Losing a powerful card forever hurts a lot. All in all, this card is strong, very strong, and has a lot of flexibility to how you can use it, but it is also a card that you need far less in a format where you can actually play Swords to Plowshares.
I had excellent memories about playing Always Watching in standard and that exact effect but on a 2/2 Angel for just 1 more mana is actually very exciting to me. Of course, this needs a very exact deck to perform well, but I think there might be one out there. If not built as a tokens style deck, Alesha could easily reanimate this card, other go wide commanders like both Odrics or even Angel Tribal with all manner of different commanders. However, Lyra Dawnbringer springs to mind mostly.
And that was White. All in all, white picked up some valuable tools for multiple decks and an absolute all-star in the form of Esper Sentinel. Look forward to my next article on Wednesday, where we dive into BLUE!