MAGIC’s “Modern Horizons” Expansion Showcases a Brand New Way of Releasing Cards into its Competitive Scene

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For a long time now, Magic: the Gathering‘s competitive coverage has focused on Standard, a rotating format featuring the game’s latest and greatest cards. However, long time fans of Magic hold another format, Modern, close to their hearts as well. Modern is a non-rotating format featuring nearly every card released since Eighth Edition came out over 15 years ago. It’s a fast and hyper-competitive format featuring some of the craziest card interactions possible in Magic. However, because the power level of Modern is so high, it’s rare that Magic publisher Wizards of the Coast can design cards for the format that don’t also warp the relatively lower-powered Standard format new cards are typically released into. That all changes today, however, as the company has officially announced Modern Horizons– a set that will bypass Standard and add new cards straight into the Modern format.

NFL defensive end (and huge Magic fan!) Cassius Marsh joined Magic‘s Principal Product Designer Mark Heggen, DailyMTG Editor-in-Chief Blake Rasmussen, and Magic Pro League competitor Matt Nass to discuss Modern Horizons on Magic‘s official Twitch channel. Like previous ancillary Magic expansions such as Conspiracy and Battlebond, Modern Horizons will be comprised of a mix of new cards and reprints. However, unlike those previous two sets, whose new cards are only legal in Legacy and Vintage– formats that cover the entire 25+ years of Magic‘s expansions– Modern Horizons cards will also be legal in the format it’s named after.

In another twist, the reprinted cards in Modern Horizons will be chosen from pre-eighth edition sets, making them legal in Modern for the very first time. The full set will be comprised of 254 cards. It will be released on June 14th, 2019. The expansion will be available in stores and on Magic Online. Wizards recently announced that physical card releases in Magic will no longer have MSRPs, so we don’t have a solid sense of how much a pack of Modern Horizons will cost in the real world, but they will cost $6.99 on Magic Online. There are no current plans to release the set for Magic‘s other digital platform, Arena.

Previous expansions designed for Modern such as Modern Masters were designed as premium draft experiences and a way to reintroduce popular cards from that format to the secondary market. In keeping with the former goal, those sets had boxes of 24 cards. On the other hand, Modern Horizons boxes will have 36 packs like normal Magic expansions do. The expansion will also have a buy-a-box promo that is new to Modern, but is a reprinted card rather than a brand new card as previous buy-a-box promos have been.

In yet another twist, the pre-release format for Modern Horizons will be atypical. Where most sets use sealed, a format where players build a deck out of six random packs, Modern Horizons’ prerelease will be conducted as a draft format, where players receive three packs and are sorted into pods of eight people, where each player picks a card from a pack and passes it around, building a deck out of the resulting pool of cards.

Previews for Modern Horizons officially begin in May, but we wouldn’t leave you without showcasing some of the new cards from the set.

First up, there’s Cabal Therapist.

This card takes clear inspiration from Cabal Therapy, a fan favorite card that has been a tournament staple for years. In addition to being an aggressive early attacker, Cabal Therapist offers players the ability to repeatedly exchange extraneous creatures for targeted discard, removing threats from opponents’ hands before they can even hit the board.

And then there’s Serra the Benevolent.

Serra is one of the oldest characters from Magic’s storyline. Her presence has been felt since the very first expansion of the game, and her -3 ability allows players to repeatedly make Serra Angels at little cost to themselves.

Perhaps surprisingly, Serra the Benevolent synergizes nicely with Cabal Therapist. Both of these cards lend themselves to a Black/White tokens deck, which has floated at the fringes of the Modern format for years. It was even the focus of a previous Modern Magic product, the Modern Event Deck. Perhaps these new cards will be enough to push things over the edge?

Stay tuned to the Beat for more news on this expansion and all things Magic!