Modern Horizons 3 Cards For Tournament cEDH

Drake Sasser • June 2, 2024

Flare of Duplication by Olivier Bernard

"AWOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOGA" - Tayam, reading the Modern Horizons 3 spoilers

Welcome back, readers! Earlier this week, the full spoiler for Modern Horizons 3 was fully revealed as well as most of the Modern Horizons 3 Commander decks, which will not be legal in Modern but will be legal in Commander! Akin to the previous two Modern Horizons sets there looks to be no shortage of impact that this set will have across the board to tournament eternal formats, so I want to talk a bit about some clear cEDH impact we will see from the jump.

Gaea's Cradle STONKS 

Unlike the previous two installments of Modern Horizons, MH3 appears to have toned down the power level of the "free spell" cycle quite a bit and put a lot more of the focus on cards that either are lands or interact with lands. Naturally, this turns the attention in cEDH to what is arguably the most powerful land in the format: Gaea's Cradle. Cards like Urza's Cave and Wight of the Reliquary are two additional ways to find Cradle and set your mana off. Both come at a low cost and allow you to establish cradle in the midgame when Cradle is most likely to be set up to make high amounts of mana after spending the first few turns establishing a board of creatures

While the most successful Gaea's Cradle deck in the format right now is Sisay, Weatherlight Captain, I think the mana strain of Urza's Cave and nonlegendary nature of Wight of the Reliquary make their inclusion a bit dubious. Instead, I think the biggest Gaea's Cradle deck to win from these two cards is Tayam, Luminous Enigma. Tayam has mostly fallen out of favor in cEDH after exploding onto the scene via the Mox Masters tournament series last year. Tayam is less colorful than Sisay, so the mana impact of Urza's Cave is more mitigated. The deck also mostly cares about permanents that cost less than three more than legendary typing, so Wight of the Reliquary fits in a bit nicer there as well. With the added bonus of having lands other than Cradle to find with the land tutors, such as Gavony Township, Wight has potential to be a massive upgrade to the Tayam creature suite.

That's not all that Tayam is set to gain from Modern Horizons 3. Being in the camp of decks that want to be spending their mana activating the activated ability of their commander over casting spells, and therefore also finding itself among the best to wield Vexing Bauble, gives Tayam even more upgrade potential. Vexing Bauble can be sacrificed and brought back with the activated ability of Tayam as necessary, which allows for the one mana stax piece to have additional flexibility and more political power than it does in other decks.

Kinnan Stays Winnin'

Speaking of other decks interested in Vexing Bauble, Kinnan is another deck that stands to gain from Modern Horizons 3. Vexing Baubleis a potentially appealing option as just a powerful, mostly asymmetrical stax permanent to slow the game down and allow you time to activate Kinnan. In the same vein, Disruptor Flute is another interactive artifact that can be reached for in Kinnan, given the low access to solid removal in Simic. Useful against the plethora of activated abilities plaguing cEDH right now, Disruptor Flute also has some potential utility against spells that are sought to be cast repeatedly, such as Lion's Eye Diamond with Underworld Breach.

Other upgrades come in the form of additional utility within the manabase. Talon Gates of Madara has the promise of being both an untapped land that makes mana as well as functioning as an instant speed trick. Otwara, Soaring City perhaps taught us best that uncounterable effects on lands can be extremely powerful, especially with the meteoric rise of Grand Abolisher and other Silence effects, and Talon Gates of Madara appears to meaningfully add to that suite as another uncounterable, if below rate, spell effect on a land.

Also adding to the cast of manabse improvements are the new modal double-faced cards like Sink into Stupor and Disciple of Freyalise. Kinnan decks play between 1-2 of both Island and Forest as it stands today, and these cards both function as meaningful spells in a game of cEDH and the life payment is mostly irrelevant in Kinnan being sans Black. Untapped MDFC lands, like Sea Gate Restoration and Shatterskull Smashing, already have a bit of cEDH pedigree to them in mono and dual color decks, and this new cycle seems noticeably more pushed than the more modest original take so I'd suggest Kinnan appears best setup to leverage the best of the fresh bunch.

All these potential upgrades aside, the most appealing part of Kinnan in a post MH3 world for me is being the best Flare of Denial deck. Creature decks are set to win with more than just additional ways to find Gaea's Cradle, because the "Flare" cycle of free spells require a sacrifice of a nontoken creature that shares a color with the spell in order to be cast for free. With Kinnan being a cheap blue creature that you can afford to sacrifice in a pinch, I think Flare of Denial will be castable for no mana more often than most other decks, while supporting a host of other creatures that can be sacrificed if necessary as the game progresses. 

Free Commander Makes Even More Free Spells

While Flare of Denial looks to be the most powerful of the "Flare" cycle to me, and Kinnan appears to be among the best at utilizing it, there is another flare that I think has the potential to have a massive cEDH impact: Flare of Duplication. Naturally the commander to push this one into cEDH is going to be Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh. Whether paired with Thrasios, Triton Hero, another commander able to leverage Flare of Denial on the cheap, or Silas Renn, Seeker Adept for the colors, Flare of Duplication offers all the power of Fork, at a zero-mana price tag. Best used either as a protection spell for a win attempt or proactively to copy an uncontested Ad Nauseam, Forks are historically underrated in cEDH and a free version may be just the thing to turn people on to them.

On the topic of of the Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh + Silas Renn, Seeker Adept pairing, the card that at first glance appears to be the most powerful card in Modern Horizons 3, Necrodominance, looks like it would be a natural fit for RogSi. Most attempts to fix or balance Necropotence have been catastrophic disasters (see Yawgmoth's Bargain) and I anticipate that Necrodominance, while clearly an actually weaker than Necropotence, is not meaningfully weaker enough to be excluded from "turbo" cEDH decks, of which RogSi is the face.

RogSi is another deck that could reach for Talon Gates of Madara as a way to get through problematic stax creatures, and could even reach for what I believe to be the most cEDH viable dual-color land MDFC Waterlogged Teachings, though I think the card may be better suited in more colorful decks where both halves of Waterlogged Teachings are more appealing.

It Ain't Much, But It's Honest cEDHing

As always, with more powerful interaction options comes improvements to Tymna, the Weaver + Kraum, Ludevic's Opus, which supports a potent combination of the most powerful interaction and most powerful proactive spells in the format. Waterlogged Teachings is appealing here again, valuing a dual color land higher than other options, even if tapped, while still having the flexibility to find Orcish Bowmasters, Opposition Agent, Dress Down, Cyclonic Rift, Ad Nauseam, or literally any counterspell in the deck.

Blue Farm is also a deck interested in slowing the game down with Vexing Bauble while happily leveraging the sacrifice ability when it needs to cast it's own free spells providing a meaningful upgrade in both mana cost and function over Lavinia, Azorius Renegade in the shell when it comes to allowing other players at the table to interact. The final potential option for Blue Farm is a card I believe to have largely flown under the radar for most cEDH discussions: Wrath of the Skies. This powerful wrath option can get much of the artifact mana, cheap creatures, and Mystic Remora's as a three-mana spell and scales nicely as the game does, and will dodge both commanders when cast the large majority of the time.

The Rich Get Richer

For the most part, Modern Horizons 3 provides a ton of tools to the existing creature decks and turbo decks while giving a few new tools to other top dogs in the process. While almost every deck played in cEDH tournaments can utilize new tools from MH3, I expect many of the current best decks to improve at a similar pace. That said, there is potential for some new dark horse commanders to burst onto the scene and I also look forward to seeing new life breathed into old favorites like Tayam, Luminous Enigma and ThrasRog. Let me know what you are most excited for from Modern Horizons 3 and thanks for reading!

Drake Sasser is a member of cEDH group Playing With Power, a commentator for Nerd Rage Gaming, and used to grind Magic tournaments on the SCG Tour.