The second set in the unique Standard-and-Pioneer-skipping series, Modern Horizons 2 adds to Magic: The Gathering’s pool of cards a number of new entries that will only be legal to play in Modern and upward. Just like with its straight-to-Modern predecessor, released two years ago in June 2019, Modern Horizons 2 features cards flavorfully set all across the Multiverse, with a level of complexity much higher than what is usually found in a premier set and an emphasis on the experimental side. This makes it the spiritual heir of Time Spiral block, with its wide-ranging assortment of returning mechanics and many throwbacks to the whole history of the game.
The set is designed to be drafted through regular Draft Boosters, but for the first time in the case of a supplemental set, it also comes in Set Boosters and Collector Boosters, the latter of which contain cards with two different showcase treatments, in addition to extended art and borderless: new cards may show up in a sketch version, where their artwork is replaced with the artist’s preparatory sketch and the flavor text with the art director’s instructions; other cards, among which are 43 popular reprints from the original Modern Horizons, are given a retro frame (i.e. the original graphic design from 1993).
The Modern Horizons series is characterized by the presence of high-value reprints, and this time around the most prominent and sought-after outcome from this approach is the return of the five enemy-aligned fetch lands (Arid Mesa, Marsh Flats, Misty Rainforest, Scalding Tarn, and Verdant Catacombs). It’s also the occasion to bring into Modern old cards that were never legal before in the format, sometimes porting brand new artwork. This includes powerful Legacy tools like Cabal Coffers and Imperial Recruiter, timeless classics like Nevinyrral’s Disk and Quirion Ranger, or even Commander cards like Titania, Protector of Argoth. Another group of cards represents thematic and mechanical callbacks, like Ignoble Hierarch mirroring Noble Hierarch, or Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer giving a non-token face to Kari Zev’s pet monkey.
Modern Horizons 2 is, by design a medley of influences and references, but some themes leave a stronger footprint on the set. The Squirrels are expanded upon in full force, led by the legendary mythic Chatterfang, Squirrel General and the tribal lord Squirrel Sovereign. The Merfolk are another supported tribe, and we finally meet their goddess Svyelun. The story of early fan-favorite Dakkon Blackblade is also explored. For the first time we’re able to witness his planeswalker form, as well as that of his nemesis, the scheming demoness Geyadrone Dihada. Other characters from Dakkon’s story are the Elder Dragon Piru and the unnamed Son of Carth. Last but not least, the set is graced by a full cycle of powerful new Elemental Incarnations (e.g. Grief, Endurance), the first to appear since Lorwyn; they employ that same set’s evoke mechanic but their evoke cost can be paid by just exiling a card from hand, which makes them virtually zero-mana spells.
New cards in Modern Horizons 2 make use of a whopping 59 returning non-evergreen mechanics. Amidst the most striking examples, it’s worth mentioning the Tarmogoyf-flavored Altar of the Goyf, which marks the return of the tribal type since Rise of the Eldrazi; the new living weapons Batterbone (a reference to Batterskull), Kaldra Compleat (after the Kaldra equipments from Mirrodin block), and Nettlecyst; and the playful Urza’s Saga, the latest card named after a whole expansion, and the first black-bordered enchantment that’s also a land – and cleverly manages to state its full name again within the type line.
The always exciting storm pops up on a few new cards, including the Squirrel-related, Empty the Warrens variant Chatterstorm, as well as Aeve, Progenitor Ooze, the first creature to make use of the mechanic. The storm-adjacent and Ghalta-reminiscent big Dinosaur Thrasta, Tempest’s Roar debuts a new, self-explanatory application of trample called trample over planeswalkers. And a cycle of spells revisits suspend to recreate the effects of classic Vintage cards like Demonic Tutor, which becomes Profane Tutor, and Yawgmoth’s Will, rebranded as Gaea’s Will and shifted to green.