Modern Horizons 3 - A cEDH Set Review

Jake FitzSimons • June 6, 2024

Vexing Bauble by Tony Foti 

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Oh, Modern Horizons. This is the third chapter in your storied history of having a major impact on cEDH, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't love you for it. There's nothing in Modern Horizons 3 that will be as ubiquitous as Esper Sentinel from Modern Horizons 2 or Ranger-Captain of Eos from Modern Horizons, but there are more cards worth discussing than I've seen in the three years I've been reviewing sets on Commander's Herald. 

We've got a cycle of semi-playable double-faced lands, a superior Gilded Drake, a "red Rhystic Study", a sequel to Necropotence, the cooler half of Wrenn and Six, a colorless counterspell, a fixed Recurring Nightmare, a Void Mirror that doesn't suck, and even a Simic commander that draws cards AND ramps, if you can believe such a thing. Then we've got a whole bunch more, so without further preamble, let's expand our horizons!


Charitable Levy

I keep going back and forth on Charitable Levy. On the one hand, it's two mana for a temporary Thalia, Guardian of Thraben that cantrips and even ramps into any plains. That's an awful lot for two mana and it seems perfect for a slower deck hoping to make it to the late game, but it's all contingent on being able to play the card early. As a late draw, it does very nearly nothing, and you're at risk of slowing down your own interaction or giving some additional protection to an opponent's combo turn. For typical stax decks, it's not a lack of Thalia effects holding the archetype back, so I'm not sure if Charitable Levy will find a home in cEDH.

Flare of Fortitude

Many years ago, Angel's Grace was almost an auto-include in cEDH decks. As white grew stronger and Ad Nauseam a little less prevalent, Angel's Grace lost stock, and now the wider cEDH community is quite sour on it, which leads me to believe Flare of Fortitude won't be turning any heads or saving any lives any time soon. It definitely has additional upside with giving all your permanents hexproof and indestructible, but with the two most popular board wipes in cEDH being Cyclonic Rift and Toxic Deluge, neither of which target nor care about indestructible, Flare of Fortitude is in an awkward place. 

The best thing to be said for it is that it makes all your permanents indestructible, which means it might have some fringe utility paired with cards like Armageddon or other land destruction effects, but emphasis on the word "fringe" because that's a long way from cEDH right now. 

Razorgrass Ambush

Would you ever play a two-mana removal spell that could only remove a three-toughness-or-less creature and only if that creature was attacking or defending? I'll guess not. What if it was also a land that could enter untapped? If you're anything like me, you're just a little bit more interested, and that's Razorgrass Ambush in a nutshell. If you're on a low-color deck and you've got life to spare, why not eke out some extra value from your mana base? This is also just one of the twenty different modal dual-faced lands in Modern Horizons 3, so I'll try not to repeat this point whenever I evaluate one. 

Sure, it's three life for an unfetchable Plains, but if Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire has shown us anything, a land that doubles as removal is playable. It's significantly worse, as it's a spell, less damage, and more mana, but I'm sure it'll still see a scintilla of play. 

Static Prison

Static Prison is the cheapest unconditional Oblivion Ring effect yet printed. The closest thing to Static Prison is likely Portable Hole, a respectable catch-all in low-color white decks for its ability to deal with any permanent type, albeit one that costs two or less. Static Prison trades the two-or-less restriction for a two turn only timeline. Two turns after you put the problem permanent in prison, it's right back where it started. Thankfully for the imprisoner, two turns might be more than enough to win the game or shut off whatever needed a time out. A solid card, if an entirely unremarkable one.

Witch Enchanter

Four mana for a Reclamation Sage (a card already seeing less play than ever) isn't a good rate, but Reclamation Sage is never a land, so cut Witch Enchanter some slack, would ya? If you're low on colors and you want extra uti- oh god. I'm already repeating myself. Most of what I said about Razorgrass Ambush is true here. The only additional thing worth saying about the Witch is that she's a Human, meaning she'll pull some extra weight in Winota, Joiner of Forces as a valuable flip that can replace a Plains. Next!


Amphibian Downpour

Amphibian Downpour is the Flusterstorm of creature removal, and it's particularly sticky removal at that. Kenrith's Transformation-style effects like this can be really tricky for commander-reliant decks as they'll need to find targeted removal of their own to be free of the enchantment, which is often much harder than simply replaying the commander from the command zone.

Simply wait for a sizably big turn where opponents are interacting with each other or chaining spells on top of themselves, and a single Amphibian Downpour can take care of most, if not all, of the important creatures on the battlefield. It's also a cheeky way of ensuring removal goes through on a single target. Use a couple of the copies on the same creature and your opponent will need an awful lot of interaction to stop their precious creature from turning into a Frog. 

Flare of Denial

Wizards of the Coast are breaking new ground here with a free blue counterspell! Flare of Denial is no Force of Negation, and it's certainly no Force of Will, but it's in a similar vein, and it will see some play.

First, the upsides. At three mana to hardcast, it's basically a Cancel when you're on the ropes. Cancel isn't appealing given that not even Counterspell sees play, but when you have no alternative, three mana to counter a card isn't extortionate. More than that, it hits any spell, not just noncreatures. Excluding Force of Will, the vast majority of counters in cEDH have some sort of restriction. Not Flare of Denial.

As to the bad? Needing a blue nontoken creature in play that you're willing to sacrifice is a serious price for a lot of cEDH decks. There's been some talk of sacrificing Thassa's Oracle to protect Demonic Consultation, and as cool as that is, plenty of the decks that play Thassa's Oracle don't have the blue creature count to support Flare of Denial in other situations. Some of the most common blue creatures in cEDH include: Displacer Kitten, Faerie Mastermind, Phantasmal Image, Hullbreaker Horror, Phyrexian Metamorph, and Spellseeker, only the last of which I would call truly disposable for Flare of Denial's sake. Of course, you can sacrifice your Thrasios, Triton Hero or your Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy, but that only seems worthwhile in a truly dire situation, making Flare of Denial play out a little like Pact of Negation.

Which, of course, as always, brings me to my favorite topic: Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow. Flare of Denial is the type of card that Yuriko players like myself fall asleep dreaming about. Free counter? Check. Higher mana value than its real cost? Check. Excessive number of blue creatures that you can happily sacrifice? Check and check. Heck, just sacrifice Yuriko herself and ninjutsu her back in. It's the ultimate Flare of Denial deck! 

Harbinger of the Seas

I've written in the past about why we don't see more Blood Moon-style effects in cEDH, and I don't think Harbinger of the Seas is going to change that, particularly given that blue is overall a more useful color for multicolor decks than red is. Harbinger might shut off a lot of the greedy mana bases you see in cEDH, but it doesn't shut off bounce spells or counterspells the way that Blood Moon and Magus of the Moon do, so I wouldn't expect to see any more of this blue version than you do its red counterparts. The coolest use I can think for it is supercharging High Tide and Carpet of Flowers in a Simic deck, but it's more cute than it is competitive.

Hydroelectric Specimen

Hydroelectric Specimen is the first of the modal dual-faced lands on the list that are good in Yuriko because they flip for damage even though they're lands, something we Ninja fans have been doing since the printing of Agadeem's Awakening and Sea Gate Restoration all the way back in 2020 with Zendikar Rising

Hydroelectric Specimen is likely going to see the most amount of play in mono-blue decks with a commander that demands protection. Case in point, Urza, Lord High Artificer. Unlike a lot of the other MDF cards, Hydroelectric Specimen is about the going rate for a creature that redirects targeted abilities to itself, like Mizzium Meddler before it. It's not as efficient as Spellskite, but of course, Spellskite is never a land. 

Sink into Stupor

Of the bolt lands in Modern Horizons 3, Sink into Stupor is easily the best. Bounce spells are historically good in cEDH for their incredible utility and the diversity of what they can answer. It may only hit permanents your opponents control, so you can't do any Dockside Extortionist shenanigans, but you can still get up to Gilded Drake mischief. The fact that it can target any nonland permanent means you'll always be able to get rid of whatever is in your way from winning, and conveniently handles permanent-based win conditions your opponents might be using. If they're winning with something on the stack, let's say an Ad Nauseam, just use the Unsubstantiate mode! 

While I think most of the MDFC lands will be relegated to mono- and dual-color cEDH decks, Sink into Stupor strikes me as a card good enough to see some play in tricolor and even beyond, much like Otawara, Soaring City before it. It's certainly not as good as Otawara, Soaring City, but it's additional utility hidden in your mana base, and unless you really care about preserving your life total, it's worth trying. Oh yes, and of course, it's an unbelievably awesome Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow card.

Strix Serenade

A year ago, I predicted that, despite being narrow, Stern Scolding would see play in cEDH on account of just how many powerful cards are creatures and how few counterspells hit them. Stern Scolding hasn't exactly become a format-wide staple in that time, but it's shown up here and there and done the job that was expected of it. Alas, the time has come for it to rest, because there's a new one-mana alliterative counterspell on the scene: Strix Serenade

Strix Serenade isn't limited by the creature's power or toughness, it counters artifacts and planeswalkers to boot, and the only real downside is giving an opponent a 2/2 flyer. If we've learnt anything from Swan Song (I'm just realising as I'm writing that the double S is a running theme), it's that a 2/2 flyer isn't much of a price to pay. Sure, it's a free blocker against Kraum swings and a free attacker for Tymna, but stopping the Dockside that was about to make for a winning loop, or The One Ring that was about to out-value you, or even a Teferi, Time Raveler that was going to protect a win, is more than worth it. Overall, I'd say Strix Serenade doesn't crack the top ten counterspells in cEDH, but it's close. 

Volatile Stormdrake

Who else thought we'd see a superior Gilded Drake printed straight into Modern? Yeah, you heard me, superior. I'll get to that, but a quick refresher on Gilded Drake first. At just two mana, Gilded Drake is one of the most permanent solutions to a commander in cEDH. Removing a commander allows the owner to just replay it, but stealing it? You force them to find a removal spell or their own Gilded Drake, and while they're scrambling around looking for that answer and complaining about how lame steal effects are (or maybe that's just me?), you get to use their creature. Taking control of a Kinnan or a Kenrith or even a Sisay can open up brand new lines that you otherwise wouldn't have access to. So how is a Gilded Drake that can't always keep what it steals actually better?

I admit, not being able to steal and keep a Kraum, Ludevic's Opus or Kenrith, the Returned King or The Gitrog Monster is a shame, but the energy requirement on the steal allows for Volatile Stormdrake to be used as a genuine removal spell. I'll paint you a picture. There's a Collector Ouphe in play and you're looking to storm off. Or maybe it's a Eidolon of Rhetoric. Whatever, the painting is messy. If you've got a Gilded Drake in hand, you're out of luck. You can steal the stax creature, but it's still in play and there's nothing you can do about it for now. But with a Volatile Stormdrake? Steal it and fail to pay. The creature will die and you'll be free to do whatever you wanted to do in the first place. 


Chthonian Nightmare

Is a set even worth discussing if it doesn't have a card that goes infinite with Dockside Extortionist? Frankly, is it even a Magic: The Gathering set if it doesn't meet that condition? Chthonian Nightmare is a Modern Horizons 3 energy-themed spin on an old school classic, Recurring Nightmare, and thankfully for all of us, not half as broken as its predecessor. 

First thing to understand is that, even though sacrificing is part of the cast, you choose targets before you pay costs, so you can't try reanimating the very thing you sacrificed. That said, you can still loop Dockside for infinite mana as long as the Dockside count is at least five and you have a creature between zero and four mana to loop it with. I'd write this out for you, but it's a headache and a half, so why not leave it to the experts at Commander Spellbook?

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As for how useful this combo actually is, I can't see it having a real impact outside of Rakdos decks and possibly Jund decks. The ability to go infinite with Dockside Extortionist is a dime a dozen, and while redundancy is nice, there's not much Chthonian Nightmare is doing that can't be done by Cloudstone Curio. One deck I can see it shining in is Korvold, Fae-Cursed King, where anything with the word "sacrifice" on it is at the very least worth testing. 

Boggart Trawler

Looking for a land that can make black mana and exile a player's graveyard? Run Bojuka Bog. Boggart Trawler is just Bojuka Bog with extra steps, and I predict it'll see just as much (read: very little) play. The only major difference is that you can have it enter untapped and find it off a Goblin tutor, but by the same token, you can't find it with a land tutor. Much of a muchness. The only deck I can see consistently playing this is yes, you guessed it, Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow. I swear, I can talk about other decks and other commanders; it's not my fault Modern Horizons has a history of printing cards that are good in Yuriko and nowhere else!

Fell the Profane

Despite being unconditional in what it can kill, Fell the Profane isn't even as good as Razorgrass Ambush. Four mana is just too much, even in a deck like K'rrik that can cheat half the cost. So why bring it up? Guess. It rhymes with "Bluriko". 

Flare of Malice

Flare of Malice is a perfect fit for Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow for all the same reasons as Flare of Denial. Yuriko has expendable creatures to cast it, it flips for much more than you play it for, and, especially appealing for Yuriko, it clears the way for your Ninjas to keep dealing combat damage to your opponents' faces. Sheoldred's Edict already saw some play as an instant-speed way to get a great deal of return on investment, and Flare of Malice is basically the same thing with additional upside. The fact it always nabs the highest-mana-value creature from each opponent is a great boon and means they can't weasel their way out with a measly token. Outside of Yuriko, it's a bit iffy. The only other deck I know of that's dabbled in Sheoldred's Edict are a handful of Talion lists, and I don't think they'll have a disposable black creature to cast it for free all that often. 


You've heard of Necropotence, now get ready for... Necroimpotence! Or at least, it looks impotent to me. Necropotence is one of the most busted cards in Magic's long history, and as much as Necrodominance seeks to remind us of it, all I can see are the areas where it falls short. The hand restriction seems brutal in light of needing to fight through three opponents' worth of interaction, the fact you draw the cards instead of placing them into hand makes it vulnerable to Orcish Bowmasters and Sheoldred, and the graveyard-to-exile clause means that reanimation lines and Underworld Breach lines are out of the question. And yet...

Mass card draw is still mass card draw. Access to a third of your library off the back of a turn-one Dark Ritual is still access to a third of your library off the back of a turn-one Dark Ritual. I don't play Necropotence decks in the first place, but tournament cEDH players and RogSi enthusiasts seem very hot on it, so I'll concede that I'm out of my depth on Necrodominance. I'm most curious what your experience with it is. Have you played with it yet? Won with it? Lost to it?

Warren Soultrader

Warren Soultrader is a Phyrexian Altar in a Goblin costume and more combos waiting to happen than I would dare count. For one, Warren Soultrader makes for a neat Protean Hulk pile for Golgari decks. All you need is Warren Soultrader, Gravecrawler, or Forsaken Miner and Blood Artist. That's infinite mana and infinite life drain for a simple win. It also looks like a great inclusion for Korvold, Fae-Cursed King decks, where it gives one Korvold trigger upon sacrificing the creature and another on sacrificing the Treasure. 

But let's talk about the brightest-eyed and bushiest-tailed: Chatterfang, Squirrel General! Chatterfang is far from the cream of the crop in cEDH, but it does have dedicated fans who have been rocking it ever since Modern Horizons 2 released. With any sort of mitigating life gain effect, like Zulaport Cutthroat or Blood Artist, Chatterfang, Squirrel General and Warren Soultrader are a match made in Squirrel heaven. Admittedly, the ability to combo off with tokens wasn't what Chatterfang, Squirrel General was missing, but extra redundancy is always welcome.


Ashling, Flame Dancer

Ashling, Flame Dancer reads to me like red's answer to Urza, Lord High Artificer or Yawgmoth, Thran Physician: a four-mana monocolor legendary with as much text jammed onto it as possible, and much like Urza and Yawgmoth, I think Ashling will make for a fantastic build-around commander that rewards you for doing everything you already wanted to do in her color. Going through line by line, let's start with the mana: Ashling, Flame Dancer is Omnath, Locus of Mana but red. That's an interesting start, particularly given red's proclivity for temporary mana. It makes Ashling, Flame Dancer not just a natural home for classic cEDH mana-producers, like Jeska's Will and Birgi, God of Storytelling, but also for less common rituals, like Desperate Ritual/Pyretic Ritual, and even truly unusual cards, like Braid of Fire

Follow that up with a discard and a draw for not just every instant and sorcery cast but every one copied, and you can see the sort of direction Ashling, Flame Dancer is moving toward. What else but storm? This rummaging effect works beautifully with Underworld Breach as well as Containment Construct and Conspiracy Theorist, effectively mitigating any downsides. Cast or copy two or more and Ashling will explode with a one-sided Pyroclasm, a pseudo board wipe given the low toughness of most cEDH creatures, and at three or more she'll generate a whopping four mana, making her a mana engine unto herself. 

Given Ashling, Flame Dancer cares about copies as much as the original spell, she'll also make great use of cards like Fork, Bonus Round, the newly printed Return the Favor, and best of all, Fury Storm, which has potential as a win condition. Simply (editor's note: this is not simple) cast Fury Storm targeting an instant or sorcery on the stack and use the copy to target the original Fury Storm. This results in infinite Fury Storms, which means infinite discards and draws. To avoid decking yourself, you'll need the titans Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre and Kozilek, Butcher of Truth to constantly recycle your graveyard into your library. That assembled, cast your rituals infinitely to gain infinite mana and cast something like Lightning Bolt infinitely to deal infinite damage.

The only issue with this deck and this combo is that it might run into the "four horsemen" dilemma, where even though you have an infinite loop, that loop isn't 100% guaranteed to win the game. This is because even though it's ridiculously unlikely, if you end up with a shuffler titan on top of your library after every shuffle, you're repeating yourself without getting anywhere. That might create issues for tournament play, but I'm no judge. 

Flare of Duplication

I'd argue Flare of Duplication is the best of the Flare cycle from Modern Horizons 3 for cEDH. Copying a spell has a higher ceiling than the effects from the other four, and when it comes to always having a red creature you're happy to sacrifice, that may as well be the title of Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh's autobiography, right? The first card I saw in practice from Modern Horizons 3 was shortly after the initial leak, when a local RogSi player sacrificed their Rograkh to Flare of Duplication to copy their own Demonic Consultation

"Seems risky", was my first thought, but my jaw dropped as I heard the player name Thassa's Oracle, exile the top six cards of their library, find Thassa's Oracle below, then use the second copy to exile the rest of their library and cast the damn Merfolk. Was it risky and fragile? Yes. Was it awesome, out of nowhere, and incredibly mana-efficient? Also yes. And that's just the beginning of possible uses for Flare of Duplication in Rograkh decks. Use it as a counter, copy a tutor, copy an Ad Nauseam, do whatever you can with a free copy spell. Outside of Rograkh, the options get much thinner, for much the same reason that all the other flares are so situational: unlike pitching a colored spell from hand, sacrificing a nontoken colored creature from play is a genuine cost. If it sees plays elsewhere, my best guesses are in Magda, Brazen Outlaw decks and possibly Krark, the Thumbless decks. 

Galvanic Discharge

If you were playing Lightning Bolt exclusively as creature/planeswalker removal and never had cause to target someone's face, Galvanic Discharge is your second copy. There's not a whole lot more to say about it. It has some marginal upside if you happen to have any other energy-producing cards, or if you need to remove something with toughness two or less and have a use for the leftover, which may come up if you're copying it or looping it with Eternal Witness, but mostly it's just another Bolt. Speaking of additional copies of Lightning Bolt...

Ghostfire Slice

The majority of the time, Ghostfire Slice is going to be a better version of Lightning Bolt. Most of the commanders you see at a cEDH table are going to be multicolored and there are a small handful of multicolored permanents floating around, so you shouldn't have any trouble paying the discounted cost and dealing four damage wherever you see fit.

That's significant for killing creatures that Bolt can't finish, like Seedborn Muse, Kraum, Dauntless Dismantler, and Eidolon of Rhetoric. It's also a three-mana spell even when you play it for one, so it dodges Mental Misstep. The games where you can't play it discounted when you need to are going to be brutal, though, and if you care about keeping a low average mana cost for the sake of Ad Nauseam, you might be better sticking with Bolt.

Pinnacle Monk

A long time ago, Archaeomancer was a cEDH card, at least in the context of specific combos for mono-blue decks and Inalla, Archmage Ritualist before she moved onto bigger and better things. Pinnacle Monk might not bring those days back, but at five mana it's not too much more expensive than the effect it's mimicking, so there's potential here. I'm told by trusted pilots that the Krarkashima deck is going to be playing Pinnacle Monk thanks to how well it plays with Displacer Kitten. Any mana producing spell with the Kitten and the Monk and bam, you've got yourself infinite mana.


Without question, Powerbalance is the most polarising card from the set. I've heard everything from "the red Rhystic Study" to "literally unplayable", and it's not hard to see why, given the enormous space between the floor and ceiling on the card. First things first, yes, it gets around timing restrictions. You can cast your sorceries and get creatures into play if they have the right mana value. On top of that, Powerbalance particularly shines in cEDH where the vast majority of cards being played across the format are between 0 and 2 mana. Look to Talion, the Kindly Lord if you need evidence of that truth. 

You can also respond to the trigger with topdeck manipulation, Brainstorming the perfect card from your hand to the top of your library, hunting out an Ad Nauseam with a Vampiric Tutor in response to a Force of Will, or just fooling around with Sensei's Divining Top and even tapping it and drawing for a free recast in response to an opponent playing a one-mana spell. That all sounds really, really good to my ears. But...

The floor on this card is abysmally low. Like, "do absolutely nothing at all" levels of low. If you play it out and the first card you reveal from the top of your library is a land and you don't have a way to get rid of it, congratulations, you did nothing this turn. If you hit a counterspell and the card triggering Powerbalance isn't worth countering, you've just revealed the interaction you have to the table. If you hit a crucial combo piece that you can't cast right now, now the table knows you're on your way to your combo and exactly which part of it you're about to have. 

Granted, the ceiling is that you get a free card and play it for free whenever any of your opponents cast anything, so the delta between a good Powerbalance and a bad one is absolutely massive. All of this to say that it's much less a red Rhystic Study so much as it is a red Counterbalance, both in the literal sense of what it was inspired by and in the practical sense that it'll never quite work out as well in cEDH as you want it to. 

Siege-Gang Lieutenant

Siege-Gang Lieutenant has one chance in cEDH, and it's as an expensive engine for extra Winota, Joiner of Forces triggers. Two non-Human tokens with haste a turn is a lot of value for a four-mana permanent, but there are some downsides. For one, Siege-Gang Lieutenant is competing with Winota herself in the four-mana slot, and for another, the token-generation is contingent on Winota actually being in play, quite unlike its little siblings Legion Warboss and Goblin Rabblemaster. I'm going to guess that as nice as two extra tokens is, the juice won't be worth the squeeze. 

Unstable Amulet

Unstable Amulet is a nice simple one with an obvious home: Ob Nixilis, Captive Kingpin. The big mob boss already relies on cards like Firebrand Archer and Kessig Flamebreather as reliable sources of one damage pings to get cards into exile and counters on himself, something Unstable Amulet does as well and sometimes better than the existing options. Whereas the Firebrand and Flamebreather need noncreature spells to trigger, Unstable Amulet only cares that the spell came from exile, meaning any creatures cast from exile will also keep the pain train rolling and the exile pile stacked. 

The only catch is that you do need spells in exile to get going. There are scenarios where the five cards in your hand could have resulted in five fresh cards in exile if Unstable Amulet were one of the other two-mana pingers, but thankfully Unstable Amulet can set itself up with its own active ability.

Wheel of Potential

Wheel of Potential has very little potential in cEDH. Wheels in general have been in an awkward spot ever since Orcish Bowmasters reared its ugly heads, and while they still see play Wheel of Potential relies on energy, which is not something you're going to be producing naturally, and even if you were, it's a "may". Giving your opponents a choice is not something you want to do with a wheel effect; you want to force them into it. A hard no. 


Basking Broodscale

Basking Broodscale goes infinite with a ham sandwich and then some. With Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest or Sadistic Glee or Odric's Outrider or an equipped Blade of the Bloodchief, you'll make an infinitely large Eldrazi Lizard and infinite colorless mana. With Cathars' Crusade or Rosie Cotton of South Lane, you'll make an infinitely large board of infinite creatures and infinite colorless mana. That's all well and good, but none of the above cards see much cEDH play, and a few of them already go infinite with Scurry Oak, so will Basking Broodscale see play in a competitive pod near you? Right now, I doubt it, but we're so close to a Selesnya deck that makes running a +1/+1 counter theme worth it, we just need a Selesnya commander that makes Selesnya more appealing than running more colors or Tymna and a friend with green. 

Bridgeworks Battle

If you're playing a mono-green deck, you don't care about your life total outside of Sylvan Library, you likely have a lot of mana at your disposal, and fight effects are the best removal you have access to, so Bridgeworks Battle is worth a look. If you're not playing a mono-green deck, keep it moving. 

Eladamri, Korvecdal

Eladamri, Korvecdal has some great stuff going for him. Being able to play creature cards from the top of your library is a great source of card advantage, particularly for a mono-green deck, and being able to cheat a creature into play from your library or your hand can make for some impressive mana discounts. Unfortunately, the creature-cheating is limited by the sorcery-speed clause, and Eladamri, Korvecdal is going to look fairly static outside of his own turn. 

Eladamri, Korvecdal will likely rely on Great Oak Guardian for mass untapping, easily repeatable with help from Temur Sabertooth. Smaller untaps are possible with Quirion Ranger, Scryb Ranger, and Wirewood Symbiote. Well and good, but I could just as easily be describing Yisan, the Wanderer Bard. Outside of the value from the top of the library, I'm not sure Eladamri, Korvecdal is bringing anything to the table that makes him stronger from predecessors like Yisan, Selvala, Marwyn, or the surprisingly successful Yeva, Nature's Herald

Evolution Witness

Evolution Witness is a much worse Eternal Witness unless your commander hands out +1/+1 counters willy nilly. It's a magnificent card for Ghave, Guru of Spores and Marath, Will of the Wild, but as it's no longer 2018, that's not as relevant as it once was. For 2024, Evolution Witness seems best suited for the Lonis, Genetics Expert deck that Sam Black was brewing, or maybe a particularly spicy Kenrith, the Returned King brew. Even then, only being able to return permanents is a shame. 

Fanatic of Rhonas

Power creep is not something I lose sleep over, particularly in a game that's over thirty years old, but it sure is funny to look at Fanatic of Rhonas and compare it to Whisperer of the Wilds. Anyway, dorks that cost more than one are historically terrible in cEDH with the exception of Bloom Tender and Devoted Druid, both of which have a host of associated combos. In fact, most dorks are in a tough spot these days thanks to Orcish Bowmasters, but with a butt this big, Fanatic of Rhonas doesn't care, and the main reason to pay attention is how nicely he pairs with Tasigur, the Golden Fang. Tasigur has seen better days himself, but having a dork that can pay for Tasigur activation by itself is a nice upgrade. Fanatic of Rhonas also makes for infinite green mana with Umbral Mantle, but Mantle has been making infinite mana since it was first printed. 


As a self-contained engine that can fill the bin, put lands in hand, and turn those lands into recycled permanents, Six definitely has potential, but I don't think the command zone is where this tree should be putting its roots down. Six can generate infinite mana with the help of Lion's Eye Diamond and Groundskeeper, but it doesn't actually have anything in and of itself to do with infinite mana, so that's a three-card combo all dressed up with no place to go. None of which is to say that Six isn't an exciting card with interesting possibilities.

Six can turn a hand full of lands into a hand full of Lotus Petals, which is nothing to be sneezed at. Just had your whole hand of gas wheeled away? Six has your back. It's important to remember that Six only brings back permanents, so you can't go nuts with Life from the Loam the way so many of us thought you could upon first glance, but it's just as important to remember that commanders like The Gitrog Monster and Korvold, Fae-Cursed King have easy draw triggers, so it is possible to create Loam loops by dredging the Loam to hand instead of drawing. 

Sowing Mycospawn

Four mana to bring any land into play is a bit pricey, but it's not extortionately so, especially not for a green deck, and especially not when the land enters untapped. If having access to Gaea's Cradle is so mandatory that Crop Rotation isn't enough and you want to be able to find your land tutor with a creature tutor, Sowing Mycospawn is your answer. Also, if you happen to have an extra two mana, you can nuke an opposing land, but that's not likely to come up all that often. 

Trickster's Elk

Trickster's Elk is awful similar to Kenrith's Transformation in terms of what it does and being reminiscent of life under Oko back in the day. Unlike Kenrith's Transformation, it doesn't cantrip, but by virtue of being a creature, it's tutorable with some creature tutors. I say some because you need to bring the card to hand to actually bestow it; if you Eldritch Evolution or Neoform into Trickster's Elk, you're going to a lot of effort for a vanilla 3/3.


Nadu, Winged Wisdom

BREAKING: New Simic Commander Lets You Draw a Card AND Play an Extra Land! Except, Nadu, Winged Wisdom doesn't just let you play an extra land, it puts them into play directly from the library. And it can be more than one. And they enter untapped. And it doesn't just draw you a card, it puts cards directly into your hand from your library. And it can be more than one. Whoever designed Nadu, Winged Wisdom, please put me in contact with your dealer, because I want to see the world the way that you do. Nadu is cooked

The first thing to note is that the "twice per turn" restriction is per creature. So multiply your creatures by two and that's how many times you can get a Nadu trigger in a single turn. If you blink Nadu, you reset the count on all of them. As for how to trigger Nadu, the options are endless. Both Aphetto Alchemist and Seeker of Skybreak are able to target themselves as many times as they like, meaning they're only held back by that twice-per-turn limitation. This means that, in a single turn cycle, you have two triggers a turn plus an extra one before the untap, making for NINE Nadu triggers. That's right, with just two cards and five mana, the top nine cards of your library will go into your hand or into play if they're lands. And that's just the beginning. 

Shuko, Lightning Greaves, and Umbral Mantle are all Equipment with a cost of 0 to equip, and because equip requires a target, that means a Nadu trigger. Simply take the number of creatures you have in play, multiply by two, and that's how many Nadu triggers you'll get. It starts getting really silly when you add Scute Swarm, an active Field of the Dead, or the new Springheart Nantuko to the mix, as each fresh land is two more triggers once you equip the token. Not infinite, but near enough is usually good enough, particularly when Nadu flips fetchlands into play. 

Nadu is arguably a little held back by being so commander-centric and needing to run otherwise bad synergy cards, but the good news is that opponents that remove Nadu will give you a Nadu trigger. The Ibis (we call them bin chickens in Australia) is also amazingly resilient to Orcish Bowmasters because a Nadu trigger isn't actually a draw, and if the OBM player starts picking off your mana dorks, that's just more triggers.

Is Nadu better than Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy? I don't think so. The pudgy mana-doubler is still the king of Simic and one of the best decks in cEDH, but I'd wager that Nadu will at least give him a run for his money and prove one of the best cEDH commanders printed in recent years. It's also a fantastic card for Derevi, Empyrial Tactician decks. Fear the bin chicken. 

Phlage, Titan of Fire's Fury

Phlage, Titan of Fire's Fury is an infinite mana outlet for Boros. That's kinda cool, but we already have an infinite mana outlet in mono-red thanks to Jeska, Thrice Reborn, and that's just about all there is to say about Phlage. Having a Lightning Helix in the command zone is cute, but it's not exciting, and even a repeatable Lightning Helix is still just a Lightning Helix. The lifegain isn't going to do very much, and the damage, while useful, isn't enough to build a deck around. No card advantage and no mana advantage is a death knell for a Boros commander. If you're really desperate to make Phlage work, look for easy infinites, like Dockside Extortionist and Cloudstone Curio, or Zirda, the Dawnwaker and either Basalt Monolith or Grim Monolith, but I wouldn't expect anything from the latest Therosian Titan. 

Stump Stomp

One of the more efficiently priced modal lands from Modern Horizons 3, but not one that can ever enter untapped, which hurts its chances a great deal. If you're in Gruul or possibly Naya and you don't mind playing a slower game where a tapped land is no death knell, Stump Stomp could pull some weight. Mostly it's just fun to say. Stump Stomp sounds like the name of a great Gruul warrior. 

The Necrobloom

The thing that makes The Gitrog Monster obsessed with Dakmor Salvage isn't John Avon's beautiful art, it's the fact that it has Dredge 2, creating one of Magic's most headache inducing combos ever. But The Necrobloom asks the question: "What if every land had dredge?"

The answer is that rather than a deck revolving around Dakmor Salvage, you'd have a deck revolving around The Gitrog Monster, or if not revolving, using it as a primary combo piece. There are plenty of lands that would be nice to use and then dredge back to hand, particularly Boseiju, Who Endures, Emergence Zone, and the Horizon draw lands, not to mention that having access to an additional color is nice, but you'd still be left with a four mana commander that provides no mana advantage and no card advantage.

I want to like The Necrobloom because having a lands matter deck in cEDH would be awesome fun, but I'm not convinced the big plant will get there. If that's madness on my part, sound off in the comments and show me your Necrobloom list because I'd love to take it for a spin.

Waterlogged Teachings

Surely the very best of the MDFCs that enter tapped no matter what. Four mana is glacially slow, and this is a hard no for Ad Nauseam decks, but as an instant, it's flexible, and the number of targets is huge. The instants speak for themselves, but the average blue and black deck has more cards with flash than you might realise: Opposition Agent, Hullbreaker Horror, Orcish Bowmasters, Faerie Mastermind, Dress Down, and Notion Thief among the most common. Then again, Mystical Teachings already exists and has never seen a scintilla of play, so I'm not as hot on Waterlogged Teachings as some of my colleagues are.

Colorless and Lands

Disruptor Flute

Phyrexian Revoker has seen cEDH play for as long as cEDH has been a thing, so it stands to reason that a similar effect with flash and ancillary upside would see play as well. Bear in mind that, once a spell is on the stack, you can't retroactively raise its cost, so if you're using it to neuter a spell, you'll want to name a card when you have more information than usual. That can either be an educated guess when an opponent uses their Demonic Tutor and you're trying to deter them from casting that crucial missing piece, or when they used a naming tutor, like Mystical Tutor or Worldly Tutor, in an end step and you know precisely what they want to cast. Like Drake Sasser mentioned, it's also a great solution to Lion's Eye Diamond in Underworld Breach loops. 

Eldrazi Confluence

Another card that goes infinite with Dualcaster Mage, only one set after Molten Duplication in Outlaws of Thunder Junction which joined the ranks of Twinflame and Heat Shimmer. Now, I say infinite, but it's a different type of infinite. Instead of infinite Dualcaster Mages with haste, pairing the red 2/2 with Eldrazi Confluence results in infinite 1/1 Eldrazi Scions and a one-sided board wipe. Those Scions don't have haste, though, so you'll need to execute this combo in an end step before you untap if you want to kill quickly. Unfortunately, the fact that Eldrazi Confluence is slower and more expensive than any of the existing red spells that pop off with Dualcaster Mage means that it's unlikely to see very much play for this purpose. 

Null Elemental Blast

Null Elemental Blast is great for countering and killing commanders in cEDH and close to useless for just about everything else. While most commanders are multicolored, some only have a multicolor identity, meaning Null Elemental Blast whiffs on the stack and on the board against cards like Kenrith, the Returned King and Sisay, Weatherlight Captain. You also run into the issue of needing colorless mana. That's not too difficult thanks to Mana Crypt and Sol Ring, but it's not a given either. If Null Elemental Blast does see play anywhere, it'll be in low-color decks absolutely desperate for more interaction and with enough colorless-producing utility lands to support it. 

Shifting Woodland

Shifting Woodland is a cherry on top of a wonderful set for green mages. A land that can temporarily become any permanent you have lying in your bin for the low price of four mana and turning on delirium (quite easy if you use Crop Rotation to find it, putting an instant and a land into the bin) is a land just begging to be broken. Think of all the incredible targets: Hullbreaker Horror, Razaketh, the Foulblooded, Underworld Breach or whatever miscellaneous permanent card you might be missing for your game-winning combo. It's not even limited to sorcery speed!

It might not see play in four-color decks as it's too likely to enter tapped without consistent and reliable access to a Forest, but Shifting Woodland looks like a shoe-in for three-color-and-less green decks that can take advantage of their graveyard. It should also make for good lines with Entomb, improve and open possibilities with Intuition, and make life a lot easier for people like myself who always discard whatever they were trying to tutor for with Gamble

Talon Gates of Madara

If Modern Horizons 3 has anything, it's a lot of cool lands with spell effects. Talon Gates of Madara, much like Sink into Stupor and Otawara, Soaring City is interaction in the mana base, and much like Otawara, Soaring City, it's not an actual spell, which means it gets around the likes of Rule of Law and Eidolon of Rhetoric, doesn't trigger Mystic Remora or Rhystic Study, and works through Grand Abolisher and Ranger-Captain of Eos alike. It costs a whopping four mana and it's only phasing, but that can be the difference between a Drannith Magistrate that stopped your combo or a Dockside Extortionist loop that enabled theirs. When you pay four to put it into play, it even ramps you! You can also bypass that cost with a simple Crop Rotation, turning the land tutor into a psuedo-interaction piece if you find room for Talon Gates of Madara

Urza's Cave

If your deck revolves around a specific land and Crop Rotation just isn't enough, or worse yet, you don't have access to Crop Rotation because you're not in green, Urza's Cave is a viable solution. The only catch is that you'd better hope you don't need that land in your hand. Because Urza's Cave pulls the land directly into play, it's not suitable for The Gitrog Monster, a deck with a single minded focus on Dakmor Salvage. For now, if Urza's Cave shows up anywhere, it'll be in decks desperate to get Gaea's Cradle into play, even if it does enter tapped. 

Vexing Bauble

Void Mirror turned a lot of heads and lead to claims that it would change how cEDH was played back when it was first printed in Modern Horizons 2. Clearly that didn't happen, and all the decks I saw testing Void Mirror dropped it weeks or days later. Vexing Bauble, for all its similarities, could well prove different. 

To begin with, one mana is much, much less mana than two. You need some fast mana to play Void Mirror on your opening turn, whereas any keepable hand can play Vexing Bauble by default, meaning any fast mana can be used on something productive rather than just something that slows your opponents down. Speaking of which, Vexing Bauble strikes me as an absolute backbreaker if you're on the play, as it shuts down: Jeweled Lotus, Lion's Eye Diamond, Lotus Petal, Mana Crypt, Mox Amber, Mox Diamond, and Mox Opal

Beyond that, it shuts down Deadly Rollick, Deflecting Swat, Fierce Guardianship, Force of Negation, Force of Will, Mental Misstep, Mindbreak Trap, Pact of Negation, and any other number of free interaction pieces you might be able to imagine, making it a solid protection piece for your own combos. Granted, it's a symmetrical effect, so you're shutting your own spells off as well, but therein lies the other true beauty of Vexing Bauble: you can remove it as you need. 

Being able to spend a mana and crack the Bauble to draw a card and remove the effect means that you can use it as a political tool as needs be. If you play it and realise you've accidentally protected another player's win, it's easy enough to remove it and open up the interaction that would have otherwise been useless. That said, it can still lead to awkward play patterns if you have plenty of free interaction of your own, which makes me think Vexing Bauble is best suited to low-color non-blue decks that want to protect their own wins. It's almost like a miniature Defense Grid in that way. I should also add that if Vexing Bauble does become a meta staple, I'll have to declare Koll (already on life support) as officially deceased, time of death June 14, 2024.  

Winter Moon

Many Magic: The Gathering players ask the question, what if Blood Moon and Winter Orb had a baby? You've never asked that? Just me then. Well, Winter Moon is our answer, and if you really like hating out nonbasic lands, jam this baby in your cEDH deck. I'd caution against that because nonbasic lands aren't where the broken mana in cEDH is, but there are a few decks that could stand to try it, not least of which is Urza, Lord High Artificer. Just bear in mind that because it doesn't have the "as long as ~ is untapped" clause that Winter Orb and Static Orb do, Urza can't turn it off by tapping it for blue mana.

Third Time's the Charm

You know when Frodo and Sam are on the edge of Mount Doom after finally destroying the ring and Frodo is staring into space exclaiming, "It's over! It's done!". That's me, at time of writing. This is the single longest set review I've ever written, and my fingers hurt. As to how good Modern Horizons 3 is for cEDH, it's complicated. I don't think we've ever seen a set with this many possibilities, this many cards worth discussing and this many cards worth playing, but at the same time, it doesn't have any genuine format wide staples, and I think that's a good thing. Cards that are situationally good are much more interesting than cards that are always good. 

Compare that to Modern Horizons 1 and Modern Horizons 2. As far as staples go, MH1 finished the Talisman cycle, and had Collector Ouphe, Force of Vigor, Force of Negation, half the horizon land cycle, and Ranger-Captain of Eos. Meanwhile MH2 had Esper Sentinel, Urza's Saga, Dauthi Voidwalker, Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer, and Dress Down. I'm not sure Modern Horizons 3 has anything that will become so ubiquitous as any of those cards.

When it comes to the command zone, MH1 had Urza, Lord High Artificer, Sisay, Weatherlight Captain, The First Sliver, and, to a lesser extent, Yawgmoth, Thran Physician. Modern Horizons 2 was much softer in the commander department, with really just Sythis, Harvest's Hand and Chatterfang, Squirrel General. I'm hoping that Ashling, Flame Dancer pans out because she's so damn cool, but it won't surprise me if a year or two from now the only card we're seeing in the command zone is Nadu, Winged Wisdom.

But what did you like from Modern Horizons 3? Calling this set stacked would be a grave understatement and I can't deny that there were some interesting cuts left on the cutting room floor, so let me know what I missed out on, what I overrated, and what I underrated. See you back here in couple of weeks for Universes Beyond: Assassin's Creed.

Jake FitzSimons is a writer from Sydney and a Magic fiend. He's either the johnniest spike or the spikiest johnny, nobody is sure which. When he isn’t brewing or playing cEDH, he can be found writing, playing piano, and doting on his little cat.