Review
Episode

Magic The Gathering Modern Horizons 3, a powerhouse of old & new

Fan favourites and special reprints, this new series brings utility to the Modern gameplay format.

June 25, 2024 7:30 AM

Magic’s latest set Modern Horizons 3 (MH3) is packing some powerful cards set to shake up all those older formats, Modern, Legacy, Vintage and of course Commander. There’s a heap of new cards alongside welcome reprints, some of which become legal in Modern for the first time. Its predecessor (MH2) is actually the highest selling MTG set of all time! Some of its cards still fetch a hefty price with Urza’s Saga and Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer sitting well north of $50. The retail price is high for these Modern sets but the cards tend to be worth more than a regular set, especially if you score a spicy foil, borderless or retro art treatment.

Modern is old?

The term "Modern" in Modern Horizons 3 refers to the older play format named Modern, a fan favourite among long-time MTG players. Although the term might seem paradoxical for a format containing older cards, it originates from the comparison to even older formats such as Legacy and Vintage. These formats allow cards from every set ever printed whereas Modern is limited to sets from 8th Edition onwards (circa 2003). While MH3 cards can’t be played in the premier competitive format ‘Standard’, they can be rammed straight into your Commander deck which is probably the most important thing.

While MH3 might seem like a set for the entrenched fans of Magic, its release is also an entry point for newcomers to the game. Reprinting older cards increases supply which allows new players to acquire them on the cheap. MH3 doesn’t disappoint with reprints, giving us the colloquially named ‘fetch lands’ which everyone loves to see. Some reprints such as Phyrexian Tower are entering Modern for the first time having been previously only legal in Legacy and Vintage, modern mages with a penchant for human sacrifice can finally rejoice!

Art unbound from narrative

Every Magic set has a number of fantastic art pieces but it definitely feels like MH3 is pushing the norm. As a special set designed to inject cards into older formats, MH3 doesn’t have a focused narrative per se. This means artists have a little more creative leeway in their expressions. Some artists have gone wild with a stylised approach, Glimpse the Impossible for example is as beautiful as it is horrifying. There’s also the borderless versions of certain cards with mono colour backgrounds, such as Nadu, Winged Wisdom, making a bold statement on the table. Many cards can also appear in a retro frame that harks back to the days before 8th Edition switched things up. The nostalgia of seeing retro frames is just palpable for me. That raw 90’s energy emanating from the card is a welcome sight for those who were there when it all began.

Energy Mechanic is back

The most prevalent mechanic in MH3 seems to be the return of energy, a resource similar to mana that hangs around between turns. Many cards consume energy to push more powerful effects. Take for example the card Wheel of Potential which does its best to bring the powerful Vintage Wheel of Fortune effect into Modern. Wheel of Potential has the ‘potential’ to be better than Wheel of Fortune, if you can find some extra energy. Most of the time you won’t so it’s power level sits more appropriately in the Modern format. Even at three energy the card can be a useful reload spell in a deck that’s run out of steam. If your opponent already has three or more cards and you’re staring at an empty hand the resolution will likely fall in your favour.

New versus old, some of the cards in Modern Horizons 3 evoke the feeling of older cards without duplicating it directly

Modal Spell Lands & Eldrazi Titans

There’s also a bunch of new double sided modal spell/land cards such as Disciple of Freyalise. Many players will immediately be adding these to their deck across a variety of formats. The powerful ones can come in untapped if you pay three life and often feature a creature on the spell side. These are an easy swap for a basic land in your commander deck. They won’t do any harm to your mana base but they will provide a bit of mitigation against flooding out (drawing too many lands). They can be lands when you need them and spells when you have too many lands, modal cards are just great like that.

The biggest baddest villains of the Magic multiverse are the Eldrazi and among them the three grandest are the titans, Ulamog, Emrakul and Kozilek. Colourless and bombastic, these supreme beings typically end the game when cast, no easy feat considering their high mana cost. MH3 features three new renditions of these classic titans that are sure to be highly sort after for their table shaking stat lines. I was insanely lucky enough to open not just one but two of these super rare mythics, and not just that but both being foil, Ulamog, the Defiler was also not just foil but borderless foil at that! The stars certainly aligned for such a momentous pull. I might just have to make a colourless commander deck for these unfathomable terrors.

Modal Spell Lands give you two options, simply flip the card over!

Pre-release Events

It’s been a while since I went to a MTG pre-release event but the retro nostalgia of MH3 pulled me in and on June 14th I decided to travel to one of the bigger game stores in Perth, Good Games Cannington to crack some packs and sleeve up some Eldrazi. I came out quite well going 3-0-1 (3 wins and a draw) and earning 7 prize booster packs. My green/white deck ramped up to casting big creatures and proved too strong for my opponents fast aggressive decks. The star player in my deck was most definitely Nulldrifter. I never once evoked it, instead just hard casting it for seven mana every game. Annihilator is such a terrifying mechanic to face, especially off the back of two card draw advantage.

If you ever wanted to play some paper Magic before a set has officially been released, the best thing to do is sign up for a pre-release event at your local friendly game store. Every player gets six boosters with which to build a deck and face off with opponents in a friendly setting. Pre-release events always run one week before the official release of the set so keep an eye out for the next set, Bloomburrow which releases on the 2nd of August. In the mean time Modern Horizons 3 is still the current hotness and to be honest probably will be even after new Standard sets arrive.

MAGIC THE GATHERING MODERN HORIZONS 3 cards were provided to SIFTER for the purposes of this review.
These two cards were huge pulls, it was incredibly thrilling to find in the supplied booster packs
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