Modern has been in a bit of a lull since Mythic Championship II London, but thankfully Modern Horizons spoiler season makes my favorite format relevant again! Over the last week or so we’ve seen some previews of cards that range from cool or interesting to cards that are destined to be format staples. Today I’d like to give my first impressions on some of the cards that have jumped out to me.

Since the announcement of Modern Horizons, one of the cards I have heard people ask for the most is Force of Will. Force is a reasonable tool for fair strategies to interact with fast combo decks, but it does give the combo decks the ability to play Force to fight back. In comes Force of Negation, which looks like an eloquent design for the power level of Modern. In actuality a lot of the spells that would be played in the first couple of turns in Modern that people are actually afraid of are non-creature spells, so Force of Negation does a good job at defending against that, while not pushing blue decks in the format too far.

I also quite like the clause that the alternative cost is only available on your opponent’s turn—this truly makes the card a defensive counterspell without providing protection for combo decks. Of course, decks that can combo at instant speed can use Force of Negation as an offensive counter by trying to win on the opponent’s turn. This is certainly a boon to decks like Grishoalbrand and Ad Nauseam, which could become the combo decks of the future if Force of Negation is as powerful as we think it is.

I expect Force of Negation to be a superb sideboard card in many blue decks, while seeing maindeck play in decks like Azorius Control, which are already in the market for Negate-style effects. Once everything shakes out, I think the existence of this card will have  big impact on the format even if it is not heavily played.

This time we get an actual legacy staple in Flusterstorm. Unlike Force of Negation, this card can great at both defending yourself and forcing your own spell through. It is important to remember that, unlike Spell Pierce, Flusterstorm only counters instants and sorceries. That could hurt its Modern value.

We’ve started to see copies creep into Legacy main decks lately, but that format has significantly more threatening instants and sorceries than Modern while also having a lower creature count. I would expect Flusterstorm to take most if not all of the slots where we currently see Dispel, and most of the spots where we see Spell Pierce. Though with War of the Spark adding a number of quality Planeswalkers to the format, maybe not.

Even though Storm isn’t very popular due to the existence of Izzet Phoenix, I can only imagine that Flusterstorm is a huge blow to the Modern storm deck in its current iteration. I would expect to see this primarily out of sideboards, but could definitely see some of the more linear decks like Infect, or possibly even in Grixis Death’s Shadow as additional copies of Stubborn Denial.

Most people look at Evolving Wilds and brush it off, saying that the card isn’t good enough for Standard, never mind Modern.  The Onslaught and Zendikar fetch lands are eternal staples. What if we mixed the two of them? Out comes Prismatic Vista, an unassuming fetch that can’t get shock lands, but will still absolutely find a home in Modern.

Decks like Azorius Control or Golgari Midrange are prime examples. These decks play much higher than the average number of basic lands, but they can still only register four copies of Flooded Strand or Verdant Catacombs. In the case of these two decks, the remaining fetch land slots would often be split between fetches that were only one of the deck’s colors—Arid Mesa and Polluted Delta in Azorius, or Bloodstained Mire and Misty Rainforest in Golgari. They have fairly lax mana requirements, so playing some copies of Prismatic Vista eliminates the situation where you need an Island but only have an Arid Mesa.

Granted I don’t think there are a large number of decks in the format that play enough basic lands to make Vista good. But I think it is a significant upgrade for the decks that do, which for a land that looks unassuming on its face is a win for sure.

Horizon Canopy is a card that is very powerful on rate, trapped in a historically underwhelming color combination as far as Modern goes.  Modern Horizons is giving us five more lands with the same template, just in enemy color pairs. The cards being put into better color combinations gives the format access to some interesting things.

Sunbaked Canyon can pretty easily slot into decks like Burn or Humans, two linear decks that historically have had issues with flooding out as their curves are so low. Fiery Islet slots pretty cleanly into Izzet Phoenix to smooth things out, but where I’m really interested in seeing that card is Dredge. Dredge has on occasion played Steam Vents to be able to cast Narcomoeba and Prized Amalgam, but this gives the deck access to an instant speed dredge that can also be picked up with Life from the Loam!

Nurturing Peatland seems like it will sneak a couple of copies into something like Golgari or Jund, but there is potential for a Knight of the Reliquary-style deck to pop up and use this card. Silent Clearing and Waterlogged Grove both have cloudier futures, but I’m sure will end up finding a home in decks of the corresponding colors as the effect is likely too powerful to pass up.

There are many other exciting cards that we have already seen. I’m sure quite a few that we haven’t that I will talk about at some point, but these are the cards that have caught my attention in the first week or so of spoiler season.  Do you agree with my assessments? Maybe just think I’m an idiot? Be sure to let me know on Twitter!

Michael Rapp is a Boston-area grinder who started playing competitively in 2014. Loves Modern but plays everything. His favorite card is Thoughtseize has a soft spot for Tarmogoyf. GP Toronto 2019 Champion. Always happy to answer questions or just chat on Twitter or Facebook.

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