Modern Horizons 3 Set Review - Minotaur

Minotaur Reviewer • June 8, 2024

Arena of Glory by Jorge Jacinto

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New Horizons, Same Pastures

Hello! Welcome to a new horizon with Modern Horizons! I always look forward to these when they come out. Arguably, Modern Horizons 2 is what introduced me to the format with the Neoform Affinity deck I brewed, so I'm beyond excited to see how the third entry shakes up the format's meta and all the spicy new brews that will come from these cards.

Now, this review is going to be a little different than my normal reviews. Primarily my reviews are targeted towards EDH and Pioneer, as this is where I believe Minotaurs are most effective. But with Modern Horizons 3, none of these cards are playable in Pioneer, and thus this article will instead include my thoughts on Modern Minotaur decks and strategies.

Modern is a weird format for Minotaurs. The biggest issue is that Minotaurs are just too slow for the power-level Modern exists in: we have a single one-mana creature and a handful of two-mana creatures, with the bulk of our power laying at three to five mana. That just doesn't cut it these days with Yawgmoth Combo, Rakdos Scam, and Domain.

Included here is a decklist of what I believe a solid Modern Minotaur kindred deck looks like leading up to Modern Horizons 3, and I recommend using it as a baseline for this review to understand where I'm coming from and where Minotaurs current are found wanting.

But with that out of the way, let's sink our teeth into these powerful new cards and uncover the hidden gems for Minotaurs!


Chthonian Nightmare

This recurring nightmare is sure to be a nightmare for our opponents. While I can see this having a place in Modern Minotaur decks, I think EDH is a better home for this card. In Sethron decks, Chthonian Nightmare allows for near infinite reanimation, as long as you have the mana to replay Nightmare with each activation.

I see using this card primarily as insurance against board wipes. As long as Sethron and one of his tokens are in play, we can cast Nightmare and get three energy. Then we sac the token and reanimate a Minotaur that costs three or less. A new token is created, and Nightmare returns to our hand ready for the next use.

Most of the Minotaurs we want to bring back cost three or more mana, which is perfect for the energy we receive. However, if we bring back any cheaper Minotaurs, we can stockpile energy to bring back heavy hitters, like Moraug or Neheb, the Eternal.

I think this is huge, as Minotaur decks are based around momentum. They need a bit of set-up time in order to start popping off, so being able to quickly recover a board state will allow us to stay in the game to apply pressure.

For Modern, as I said, I don't see it being too useful. Without the Sethron tokens, we're essentially trading in low-curve Minotaurs to bring back any three mana lord Minotaurs that might have died. It's less effective, but it can turn a bad top deck into something we could actually use on the battlefield.

Eviscerator's Insight

I've been on the fence with for the past few days without any resolution as to how useful it is.

To me, it's most comparable to Village Rites in that we sacrifice a creature to draw two cards. The main difference is that Rites costs one mana, and Insight costs two mana while also having flashback for five mana.

On the one hand, Rites being cheaper makes it easier to use, especially in response to removal spells, and with Minotaurs having a higher mana curve than most kindred decks, being efficient with mana is very important in order to stay in the game.

On the other hand, Insight having flashback means that, when we get into a top deck situation, we can get a burst of gas when it's most needed.

Ultimately, which you prefer is up to your playstyle and deck composition, but personally I think Rites is better-suited for a Modern deck, while Insight is better-suited for EDH by being repeatable through flashback.


Necrodominance is clearly a retread of the infamous Necropotence with some necessary added drawbacks. The primary difference is that now any card put into our graveyard is exiled, not just discarded ones, as well as now having a maximum hand size of five.

In Modern, it might be useful to include a single copy as a Hail Mary at refilling our hand. While I can't speak to the play patterns of Modern Minotaurs, my experience with Pioneer Minotaurs has shown me that we often have a high life total for being on the offensive, so it shouldn't be too much of risk to exchange life for cards, unless we're facing a burn deck.

However, the reason I wouldn't want to add any more copies is that triple black mana is a difficult cost to cast as most playable Minotaurs are primarily red, meaning our mana bases skew more in that direction, and any other copies would start to push out the lord Minotaurs needed for the decks to function. Fetch lands do alleviate the mana problem, but not enough to be consistent.

In EDH, though, I wouldn't run this over Necropotence unless you want some redundancy in your list. The exile effect and hand size reduction is just too much of a pain point for me. This card just works against Magar of the Magic Strings and Neheb, the Worthy decks, or decks that want to fill up the graveyard, and I don't think the extra card draw makes up for that drawback.


Nethergoyf is such a strange beast. It's clearly weaker than the infamous Tarmogoyf, for only checking our graveyard, but it has the advantage of being a mana cheaper and have escape for recursion, but Nethergoyf has the honor of being a creature that can stand along Gnarled Scarhide, as, ashamedly, Minotaur kindred has really nothing better creature-wise at one mana (aside from Ragavan).

However, while Scarhide might be a 2/1 that can't block, Nethergoyf has the ability to scale as the match progresses and actually can block, so if our opponent is playing Ragavan, playing Nethergoyf on our opening turn will protect us as we establish our board state.

In addition, Nethergoyf ends up being relevant at any point in the game, as early game it's a good blocker and later game it will be powered up from the cards we used. Out of everything Modern Horizons 3 offers Modern Minotaur decks, this might be the best we have.

For EDH, this is fine, but I don't think it will be nearly as impactful, as its scaling can only increase so far, and it caring about only our graveyard holds it back from being any real threat in pod.

Toxic Deluge

This is an awesome reprint for Commander, as its one of black's best removal spells in the format. Unfortunately, in Modern I fear this could prove to be a problem for Minotaurs, as there really isn't a way for us to protect ourselves against it.

Most cards that buff Minotaurs add power or keywords, and most Minotaurs have more power than toughness, so it doesn't take much of an investment to wipe out the entire board we spent the game building up with one deluge.

Really, the only way we can beat this in Modern is if we act aggressively to bring their life total too low to comfortable cast deluge. This isn't impossible, but it will be always in the back of my mind. But whether or not it's actually playable will remain to be seen. I can only pray, for our sake, that it isn't.

Fell the Profane

This is a bad removal spell any way you slice it. Most playable single-target removal spells nowadays cost two or less mana, so four mana is just ridiculous and is usually relegated to removal spells meant for Limited.

However, this card doubling as a land makes this a little trickier to evaluate at first glance. Due to its mana cost and the flip side require to bolt yourself to play the black land untapped, this seems most suited for EDH to me. Being both a land and a kill spell means it's easy to slot into any deck and realistically won't hurt your consistency. Its strength is that it can be whatever the situation demands. If you need a threat removed, it can do that. If your short on land drops, then it can be that, too.

Fell the Profane just covers our bases a lot easier than cutting a land for a removal spell or vice versa, and should overall improve Minotaur decks, even if I'm still not crazy about paying four mana.


Ashling, Flame Dancer

Ashling I see being useful for one reason and one reason only: she stores the mana Neheb, the Eternal creates.

One of the slight downsides of Neheb in EDH is that the mana he generates post combat disappears unless used right away. If you don't have a good outlet for the mana, then it's just wasted. But Ashling, as long as she sticks around, allows us to stockpile that mana. This also pairs well with other cards in the deck, like Braid of Fire or Mana Geyser, and pays off with cards like Crackle with Power, Comet Storm, or Fireball.

Ashling also helps the deck due to its overwhelming amount of instants and sorceries it plays. This means it shouldn't be hard to trigger her Magecraft ability three times a turn and maximize her effectiveness in the Neheb deck.

It should also be noted that the mana storing effect has redundancy with Leyline Tyrant to make the deck more consistent.

Detective's Phoenix

This Phoenix is very intriguing for the discard side of Minotaur decks in EDH. Because those decks want to be discarding cards for the various payoffs, it shouldn't be hard to meet the requirements to collect evidence 6. The payoff is that, for only a mana, we buff a Minotaur and give it flying.

I think this is huge with Neheb, the Worthy decks, as we need Neheb to punch into our opponents' faces to trigger his discard effect. In addition, flying is something Minotaurs normally don't do, so the added evasion is welcome. This isn't even mentioning the Phoenix will sticking around after the bestowed creature dies, but each time the Phoenix dies, we should be able to immediately bestow it again.

Simply put, I think this Phoenix is just going to be a headache to some of out opponents, as, unless it or our graveyard is exiled, there just isn't a clean way of getting ride of this bird.

Flare of Duplication

Flare of Duplication does something very dangerous in that it can duplicate and instant or sorcery but without paying mana, as long as you have a creature to sacrifice.

Normally this type of effect costs two red mana, like with Reverberate, Fork, or Doublecast, but being potentially free opens a lot of avenues for exploitation. EDH decks, like Magar of the Magic Strings or even Neheb, the Eternal, are particularly positioned for this very thing.

Magar is already geared around repeating some of the most powerful and costliest spells in the game available to Rakdos, so having a free spell that can copy them just seems like gravy to me. For Neheb, all we need is to dump a lot of mana into a Jaya's Immolating Inferno or Crackle with Power, then copy it to utterly devastate our opponents.

Ghostfire Slice

This is just a good sideboard card in Modern, and I know most decks that run red are evaluating this.

The simple fact is that it's just efficient removal against Domain and Omnath decks. It also has the advantage of dodging various cards that hate red spells, like Aether Gust or creatures with protection from red.

Ghostfire Slice works well for Minotaurs as a sideboard spell because of how mana-efficient it is. Lightning Bolt might be the gold standard for removal, but it can't beat everything. One point of damage can make all the difference in a game. Ghostfire also has the added benefit of targeting anything if you just need to squeeze a little bit extra damage rather than removing the multicolored permanent.

Party Thrasher

Party Thrasher can crash my party any day. This is a Lizard that knows how to boogie with the cows. It has the interesting text that on the first main phase we can discard a card to exile two cards and choose one to play this turn. This has a twofold benefit of playing into discard synergies and thinning our deck, but even if we don't have the mana to cast the cards, the Thrasher gives the chosen in exile convoke.

I think this can be very powerful in the correct setup, and I'm very interested in experimenting with him, even in non-discard-focused lists.


Powerbalance is a hard card for me to evaluate; Minotaur decks in any format are built around gaining momentum. Minotaurs unfortunately don't have the early game aggression to be a true aggro deck. Instead they need to survive long enough to play their lords and build a board state to roll over the opposition.

Powerbalance exists in a weird limbo state with this gameplan. Whether it ends up doing nothing or it thwarts an opponent's turn, it all depends on what is on top. And that's the rub. I really don't know how to feel about a card that has such variance to it. It's not a card we can realistically build around, but when it works it will hit hard.

In EDH there might be a case here, as all it takes is one player to cast a spell and suddenly the whole table knows what mana value spell they are discouraged from using until our turn. I can see this creating some fun political situations as we can try to encourage player to play into it for the exchange of favours.

Over all this card is just weird but powerful, and its possible I'm being blinded by the high roll scenarios.

Sundering Eruption

Three mana to destroy a land is on rate for comparable cards like Stone Rain or Pillage used in Modern decks such as Ponza, but Stone Rain doesn't replace the land it destroys.

The land must be basic, so it still punishes Tron or other multicolored decks, but to me it still doesn't meaningfully disrupt mana bases.

However, the second effect is interesting, in that it prevents non flyers from blocking. This is very important as blockers are often what holds back Minotaur kindred in 1v1 formats. It allows us to get in damage and make future combats more dangerous, as well as forcing our opponent on the defensive.

Partially disrupting mana bases and attacking uncontested is something I encourage to test out in any format this card is legal, and if it's a dead card with the current board state, you have a land drop at the very least.


Phlage, Titan of Fire's Fury

The Boros titan is here, and he fits right in with Firesong and Sunspeaker! The Firesong deck is all about healing off of red damage spells, and dealing damage off of white healing spells. The Titan here isn't an instant or sorcery, but he does effectively contribute to the plan by being a Lightning Helix on play or attack.

In addition, I don't imagine it will be hard to escape with Phlage given all the instants and sorceries the deck intends to cast.

So the long and short of it, Phlage does everything we need in a Firesong and should be easy to get going.

Bloodsoaked Insight

Bloodsoaked Insight is a card that, for Minotaurs, will likely cost two hybrid mana every time. Given how combat-focused we are, dealing five damage is pretty easy to achieve, so it eliminates the generic mana cost. We really need to evaluate this card as a two-mana draw spell, and as a two-mana card this is pretty good.

It's a little unorthodox for a draw spell, as we're not drawing from our deck, rather the top three cards of an opponents' deck, which means the cards we can play likely won't synergize with our Minotaurs, but it is denying resources to our opponent and using their cards against them. And perhaps we might even disrupt a combo.

But, the icing on the cake is that if this card can't reasonably be cast we can instead use it as a land drop to keep our deck on curve, even if the land enters tapped.


Emrakul, the World Anew

Okay, I might be having some Eldrazi-induced madness here, but I really like the new Emrakul. Normally I wouldn't even consider a card like this for Minotaurs in EDH, except for the fact it has a madness ability of six colorless mana.

I don't think this is too difficult to achieve in EDH through mana rocks, and Minotaurs already have enough discard effects to facilitate the madness, and being able to steal an entire board of creatures will be back breaking for our opponents.

The problem though is that if we can't assemble the mana during the game, Emrakul is kind of a dead card in hand. That is unless we're opting to pull some shenanigans with Didgeridoo and Maskwood Nexus....

Urza's Incubator

I'll be honest here, I'm pretty jazzed about this reprint. Not only is this amazing for Minotaur EDH decks, but I think there might be a slim chance this is good in Modern Minotaur decks.

The biggest problem Minotaurs have is that they lack many impactful low-to-the-ground creatures and instead rely on momentum to build into an unstoppable force. Urza's Incubator puts us on the fast track, allowing us to skip the momentum phase and just flood the board with our cows.

A comparable effect is is Heartless Summoning, which is a mana cheaper but it comes with the drawback of weakening our creatures. I've never been a fan of this card for Minotaur, given how combat-focused we are. Summonings might be more tempo-friendly, but I don't think it's worthwhile to hamstring ourselves in the process.

Now in Modern, maybe I'm dreaming too big here, as the Incubator might be too slow due to it doing nothing the turn its played. However, if it resolves Minotaurs will be turbo charged as with it and Ragemonger in play, nearly every Minotaur we run will be free to cast!

I really believe this is something we should look into as if we play this on turn three, our turn four and five become very explosive and dangerous. And maybe, just maybe this is the key for Minotaurs to rise up and become threatening in the Modern format.

Vexing Bauble

This Bauble is insane to me! I see it mostly being used as a defence against Affinity or Scam decks. Decks that I believe will remain popular even after the set releases. But with this in play, suddenly our opponent won't be able to evoke Grief or play free Frogmites and Sojourner's Companions against us.

In addition, it gives us something to do turn one, as we really don't have much play unfortunately. And it being one generic mana means it can always be played. Finally, when game enters top deck mode we can cash in the Bauble for extra card draw to hopefully squeeze out the victory.

Now there is a slight danger of this card as it can also impact Minotaurs thanks to the mana reduction ability of Ragemonger. However I don't imagine this situation happening often, and if it does, then we can just sacrifice the bauble to eliminate the obstacle.

Arena of Glory

I love this call back to Amonkhet with Hazoret's Trial and having exert on a land is just elegant card design, but it's what it does for the Minotaurs that intrigues me most.

Arena of Glory, by paying a red mana, creates two red mana, and if a creature is cast with this mana it gains haste. This means it can give up to two creatures haste and increase the aggressiveness of Minotaur decks. While Minotaurs can already gain haste with cards like Sethron or Kragma Warcaller, this land adds further redundancy and potentially speeds up our decks by not rely on those five mana cards.

However, the Exert effect means we have to be careful with this land as it will take a turn to recharge and restrict the mana available to us on the next turn. I don't think this will be too much of an issue, but it's something that needs to remain in the back of your mind when playing with the Arena.

Sunsets and Fun Sets

And with that, the new Horizon has been explored. It's certainly been an exciting set, and I can't wait to see all the shake ups that come to Modern from it. Minotaurs might not have gotten love I wished they had, but I am still interested in trying out all the new tech made available to use now.

I understand that the wonders of Bloomburrow are fast approaching, and while I don't anticipate Minotaurs to be present in the cutesy animal world, you never know what will await us there.

So until then, see you later and be sure to check out the Modern Horizon 3 reviews on the Commanders Herald.

Hello everyone! I'm the Minotaur Reviewer. Hardcore Minotaur enjoyer and casual Johnny/Timmy Simic Hybrid. You may know my most from my Minotaur Set Reviews which started on Reddit. When I'm not jamming MTG I like to play Guild Wars 2, Duelyst 2 and Lufia the Legend Returns