MTG Modern Horizons isn’t producing the hype like War of the Spark did, but then again, sets outside of Standard in Magic: The Gathering rarely do.
Releasing in card form on June 13, Modern Horizons is a new type of set in which Wizards of the Coast is hoping to increase the popularity of other Magic: The Gathering formats. To accomplish this, Mark Rosewater (MTG’s head designer) and his team are revising and expanding upon mechanics and tribal themes.
In other words, Wizards of the Coast is attempting to take what’s popular in Standard (Constructed and Draft) and work it into formats like Commander (EDH) and Modern. The difference in deck cost between the other formats, however, will most likely hamper growth (the exception possibly being Commander).
Constructed Standard decks in card form typically run from $60 to $80 on the lower end to $200 to $300 for tier one. Commander decks run from $30 (pre-constructed budget decks) to around $200 to $300 for top-of-the-line. Modern, however, has decks which cost anywhere from $400 on the low end to almost $2,000 for a top eight deck. Legacy decks typically price out at $1,500 for budget and up to over $3,000 on the high end.
Players who are into Modern and Legacy don’t mind spending money for tier one decks, however, the casual Magic: The Gathering player will likely never explore either format due to the high costs involved. Because of this, the Commander format has increased slightly in popularity—along with Pauper and Brawl.
The same goes for Magic: The Gathering’s digital platform, Magic Online. Unlike its free-to-play counterpart MTG Arena, decks on Magic Online cost real money. While not as expensive in paper form, they’re not exactly cheap either.
MTG Arena, however, isn’t likely to gain other formats outside of Standard and Limited any time soon. Perhaps Wizards of the Coast is gearing Modern Horizons more toward Commander and Draft to increase the popularity of Magic Online?
Neither Commander nor Modern get played in a Draft format. But Modern Horizons is looking to change this by having a pre-release weekend of the set from June 8 to 9. In addition, Rosewater has hinted that they increased the synergies between mechanics and tribal themes specifically for drafts.
Whereas many of the Modern Horizons cards will be fun to play in the Commander format, the set as a whole shouldn’t be designed with a Draft purpose in mind. Even if they’re looking to bring more players over to Magic Online.
“Having a bunch of creatures with changeling essentially allowed us to reach that threshold for all creature types,” said Rosewater in his article on Magic: The Gathering. “That did a lot in allowing us to add individual cards we knew players had been asking for.”
No one asked for the return of Slivers, except for a small minority of players—because like Merfolk in Standard, most MTG players can’t stand Slivers. Ninja’s on the other hand, is a welcome tribal theme addition. Drafting these cards and making them work for all players in the draft, however, is unlikely. Maybe two to three players at a table can form a solid tribal theme, while the rest will be stuck with jank decks.
The mechanic “Changeling” is supposed to make drafting possible within the tribal theme, however, it doesn’t look like it’s going to work out the way Rosewater and crew want it to. And if players aren’t thrilled about the idea of drafting Modern Horizons, then Wizards of the Coast fails to make that extra buck in their Wizard Play Network (WPN) game stores.
Overall, Modern Horizons is appearing to succeed in reviving the Commander format in Magic: The Gathering. The original primary objective to attract attention towards the Modern format, however, is a total fail. It’s too early to tell if a Modern Horizon Draft will succeed or fail, but many long-time fans and players are already casting their fail votes.
For the casual MTG player, many will likely ignore the entire Modern Horizons set and wait for Core Set 2020 (July release date) and the new Standard expansion in the fall. It would be nice, however, if the set succeeded in attracting more casual players to the Commander format. Regarding Modern and Legacy formats, they’ll likely remain formats made up of players who like to compete on a higher level.
MTG Modern Horizons is set to release on June 13. Magic Online will have the set available to play starting June 6, and the pre-release weekend will run from June 8 to 9.