Stitched Together: Early Successes from Horizons

Modern Horizons becomes legal today in the paper world, but it’s been tearing up Magic Online for a good week. Wizards has published two events since then: a Modern Challenge and a league. Today, we’ll scour each for the hottest tech stirring up the format.

Scourge of the Format?

In the very first Horizons-featuring event published online, Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis bulldozed a Modern Challenge, and with it the tolerance of many players. I agree the deck seems quite powerful, but am always hesitant to call for bans so early into a deck’s creation; after all, look what happened with Neoform. Here’s the deck in all its glory:

Bridgevine, by NIEDZWIEDZ (2nd, Challenge #11885863)

Creatures (28)
Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis
Bloodghast
Carrion Feeder
Gravecrawler
Insolent Neonate
Stitcher’s Supplier
Vengevine

Artifacts (4)
Altar of Dementia

Enchantments (4)
Bridge from Below

Instants (1)
Necrotic Wound

Sorceries (4)
Faithless Looting

Lands (19)
Blackcleave Cliffs
Blood Crypt
Bloodstained Mire
Godless Shrine
Marsh Flats
Polluted Delta
Swamp
Sideboard (15)
Wispmare
Necrotic Wound
Ingot Chewer
Leyline of the Void
Shenanigans
Silent Gravestone
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Bridgevine received two superb sacrifice outlets in Modern Horizons: Carrion Feeder and Altar of Dementia. Together with Stitcher’s Supplier and Bridge from Below, these cards help generate boards of creatures faster than opponents can even deploy their Rest in Peace. Hogaak, Bridge, and Altar together have particularly potent synergy. And that’s the main draw to this strategy: its pieces work together extremely well.

What follows are the decks from the other online event published by Wizards so far. This league features plenty of Horizons-fueled innovation, which I’ve aimed to capture exhaustively.

Combo Summer

We led off the last brew report with a section on combo decks, and today’s is no different. Horizons seems to have infused existing combo decks with some critical tech.

Abzan Vizier, by WOOOP_ORC (5-0)

Creatures (30)
Yawgmoth, Thran Physician
Anafenza, the Foremost
Birds of Paradise
Devoted Druid
Eternal Witness
Kitchen Finks
Knight of Autumn
Knight of the Reliquary
Murderous Redcap
Noble Hierarch
Scavenging Ooze
Viscera Seer
Vizier of Remedies
Walking Ballista

Instants (4)
Eladamri’s Call

Sorceries (4)
Finale of Devastation

Lands (22)
Field of Ruin
Gavony Township
Ghost Quarter
Horizon Canopy
Overgrown Tomb
Snow-Covered Forest
Snow-Covered Plains
Snow-Covered Swamp
Temple Garden
Verdant Catacombs
Windswept Heath
Sideboard (15)
Anafenza, the Foremost
Bojuka Bog
Collector Ouphe
Eidolon of Rhetoric
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
Kataki, War’s Wage
Path to Exile
Plague Engineer
Remorseful Cleric
Sin Collector
Vivien, Champion of the Wilds
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Once named for Collected Company, Abzan Vizier runs the same packages, but 0 copies of its “namesake” insant. Instead, this deck packs two newcomers to Modern in its spell slots: Finale of Devastation, a standout searcher from War of the Spark, and Eladamri’s Call, a Commander-staple-turned-Modern-staple via timely reprint. All that searching, and at such an economical rate, helps Vizier assemble its combo with surgical precision, all while enabling a toolbox package rounded out by Yawgmoth, Thran Physician. The Human plays double-duty here as removal and card advantage should opponents find a way to weather or blank the combo.

Kiki-Chord, by KAISERMAGUS (5-0)

Creatures (32)
Prime Speaker Vannifar
Birds of Paradise
Coiling Oracle
Ice-Fang Coatl
Bounding Krasis
Breaching Hippocamp
Deputy of Detention
Eternal Witness
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
Noble Hierarch
Reflector Mage
Restoration Angel
Scryb Ranger
Selfless Spirit
Shalai, Voice of Plenty
Tireless Tracker

Instants (3)
Chord of Calling

Sorceries (3)
Eldritch Evolution

Lands (22)
Breeding Pool
Fire-Lit Thicket
Sacred Foundry
Snow-Covered Forest
Snow-Covered Island
Snow-Covered Plains
Steam Vents
Stomping Ground
Temple Garden
Prismatic Vista
Windswept Heath
Wooded Foothills
Sideboard (15)
Collector Ouphe
Eidolon of Rhetoric
Kataki, War’s Wage
Kitchen Finks
Knight of Autumn
Magus of the Moon
Path to Exile
Remorseful Cleric
Rest in Peace
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Another creature combo deck, Kiki-Chord also forsakes Collected Company, instead running Chord of Calling and Eldritch Evolution in its spell slots. This deck boasts the ability to straight-up win if it untaps with Prime Speaker Vannifar, and gains an unlikely ally in Ice-Fang Coatl. Beating down the Kiki deck while disrupting their combo becomes a lot more difficult with Coatl in the mix, and the cantripping snake can be sacrificed to Evolution to tutor Vannifar or a bullet at no card disadvantage.

Thopter-Sword, by MUKESH (5-0)

Creatures (4)
Urza, Lord High Artificer

Artifacts (23)
Mishra’s Bauble
Mox Opal
Damping Sphere
Ensnaring Bridge
Nihil Spellbomb
Pithing Needle
Sword of the Meek
Thopter Foundry
Time Sieve
Welding Jar

Enchantments (1)
Mirrodin Besieged

Instants (4)
Whir of Invention

Sorceries (8)
Collective Brutality
Inquisition of Kozilek
Serum Visions

Lands (20)
Breeding Pool
Darkslick Shores
Polluted Delta
Snow-Covered Island
Snow-Covered Swamp
Spire of Industry
Watery Grave
Sideboard (15)
Abrupt Decay
Assassin’s Trophy
Battle at the Bridge
Echoing Truth
Engineered Explosives
Grafdigger’s Cage
Negate
Torpor Orb
Unmoored Ego
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Moving on from creature combo and into artifact combo, Urza, Lord High Artificer is at his best in this Thopter-Sword shell, where he serves as combo finder (with his stall-breaking draw ability), combo enabler (by generating mana), and combo piece (by going infinite as a third cog in the Thopter-Sword engine). Mirrodin Besieged also makes an appearance here as an alternate win condition. Damping Sphere and Ensnaring Bridge also feature as findable win-buttons against certain Modern’s decks.

Ain’t Nuttin But a “Tribal” Thang

While Horizons may have been packed with Slivers, it’s other tribes that have received more from the expansion, at least at first blush.

Goblins, by BOBTHEBUILDER24 (5-0)

Creatures (33)
Goblin Matron
Warren Instigator
Boggart Harbinger
Munitions Expert
Frogtosser Banneret
Goblin Chainwhirler
Goblin Chieftain
Mogg War Marshal
Siege-Gang Commander
Goblin Cratermaker
Goblin Piledriver
Goblin Trashmaster
Goblin Warchief
Pashalik Mons
Sling-Gang Lieutenant
Earwig Squad
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
Skirk Prospector

Artifacts (4)
Aether Vial

Instants (1)
Tarfire

Lands (22)
Auntie’s Hovel
Blood Crypt
Cavern of Souls
Fiery Islet
Mountain
Sideboard (15)
Earwig Squad
Goblin Chainwhirler
Goblin Chieftain
Goblin Trashmaster
Sling-Gang Lieutenant
Damping Sphere
Goblin Rabblemaster
Stingscourger
Tormod’s Crypt
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One of two Goblins decks featured in the latest dump, this one makes the most of Goblin Matron. The infamous Goblin drops a turn after Warren Instigator on the curve, letting it search up whichever Goblin is best-suited to make an appearance; Matron also finds removal in the form of Munitions Expert or the cheaper Tarfire. A full set of Fiery Islets sneak their way into this list as a means of mitigating mid-game flood.

Merfolk, by RAGINGTILTMONSTER (5-0)

Creatures (26)
Cursecatcher
Mistcaller
Lord of Atlantis
Master of the Pearl Trident
Silvergill Adept
Merfolk Trickster
Merrow Reejerey
Harbinger of the Tides

Artifacts (4)
Aether Vial

Enchantments (4)
Spreading Seas

Instants (6)
Force of Negation
Vapor Snag

Lands (20)
Cavern of Souls
14 Island
Mutavault
Oboro, Palace in the Clouds
Sideboard (15)
Ceremonious Rejection
Deprive
Grafdigger’s Cage
Master of Waves
Phyrexian Revoker
Ravenous Trap
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Merfolk has always run a small number of noncreature spells to interact with opponents. Removal like Vapor Snag and Dismember is the most common, but Spell Pierce has also seen play in this spot. Force of Negation, though, seems like their most attractive option yet—now, the deck can continue to deploy threats while fading removal, planeswalkers, sweepers, and combos.

Canopy Humans, by ASA1986 (5-0)

Creatures (33)
Giver of Runes
Champion of the Parish
Meddling Mage
Thalia’s Lieutenant
Phantasmal Image
Unsettled Mariner
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Mantis Rider
Reflector Mage
Kessig Malcontents
Restoration Angel

Artifacts (4)
Aether Vial

Instants (4)
Lightning Bolt

Lands (19)
Sunbaked Canyon
Fiery Islet
Cavern of Souls
Flooded Strand
Hallowed Fountain
Inspiring Vantage
Sacred Foundry
Snow-Covered Plains
Spirebluff Canal
Sideboard (15)
Giver of Runes
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Deputy of Detention
Izzet Staticaster
Rest in Peace
Spell Queller
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After some testing, David concluded this week that Unsettled Mariner probably wasn’t going to make a huge splash in Humans after all, as the deck is simply too tight to accommodate it in an open metagame. But he hadn’t accounted for the deck undergoing a total redesign. Granted, I don’t think the stock Humans deck is going anywhere, but this new build is still intriguing—it’s got seven Canopy lands to combat flooding, and those lands end up informing the shell by letting more non-Humans enter the fray. Notable additions include Giver of Runes, a one-mana Spellskite; Spell Queller, a combo-breaker from the board; and Deputy of Detention, an answer to any permanent.

Dashing Through the Snow

Horizon’s snow theme has also made waves in Modern, if mostly on the back of Lore-Scale Coatl.

Sultai Sno-Co, by CHANDRIAN (5-0)

Creatures (30)
Plague Engineer
Ice-Fang Coatl
Thrashing Brontodon
Birds of Paradise
Eternal Witness
Fauna Shaman
Fulminator Mage
Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
Liliana, Heretical Healer
Nissa, Vastwood Seer
Noble Hierarch
Sakura-Tribe Elder
Scavenging Ooze
Tireless Tracker

Instants (7)
Collected Company
Abrupt Decay
Fatal Push

Lands (23)
Blooming Marsh
Breeding Pool
Field of Ruin
Hissing Quagmire
Misty Rainforest
Overgrown Tomb
Snow-Covered Forest
Snow-Covered Island
Snow-Covered Swamp
Verdant Catacombs
Watery Grave
Sideboard (15)
Fulminator Mage
Abrupt Decay
Fatal Push
Big Game Hunter
Deadeye Tracker
Extirpate
Liliana, the Last Hope
Maelstrom Pulse
Plaguecrafter
Reclamation Sage
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Here’s our Collected Company deck, but this one’s all value. Coatl helps deal with enemy attackers while plussing in the meantime. That the Snake succeeds here bodes well for its applications across multiple archetypes; indeed, it’s even reared its head alongside Wilderness Reclamation.

Shardless-Less Shardless, by FREAKLE (5-0)

Creatures (13)
Ice-Fang Coatl
Tarmogoyf
Snapcaster Mage
Tireless Tracker

Planeswalkers (3)
Liliana of the Veil
Liliana, the Last Hope

Artifacts (5)
Arcum’s Astrolabe
Engineered Explosives

Instants (7)
Abrupt Decay
Assassin’s Trophy
Fatal Push

Sorceries (9)
Inquisition of Kozilek
Thoughtseize
Unearth
Dead of Winter

Lands (23)
Prismatic Vista
Breeding Pool
Misty Rainforest
Overgrown Tomb
Polluted Delta
Snow-Covered Forest
Snow-Covered Island
Snow-Covered Swamp
Verdant Catacombs
Watery Grave
Sideboard (15)
Ashiok, Dream Render
Collective Brutality
Damping Sphere
Disdainful Stroke
Flusterstorm
Force of Despair
Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
Nissa, Vital Force
Plague Engineer
Vraska, Golgari Queen
Weather the Storm
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No Shardless Agent here, but Coatl does a mean Baleful Strix impersonation in this port of the Legacy rock deck. It even rewards running Arcum’s Astrolabe, which provides the artifact type for Tarmogoyf.

Canadian No-Bug, by SPIRALPRINCE (5-0)

Creatures (19)
Nimble Mongoose
Tarmogoyf
Ice-Fang Coatl
Snapcaster Mage
Hooting Mandrills
Nimble Obstructionist

Enchantments (3)
Blood Moon

Instants (16)
Lightning Bolt
Skred
Thought Scour
Mana Leak
Spell Snare

Sorceries (2)
Faithless Looting

Lands (20)
Misty Rainforest
Scalding Tarn
Snow-Covered Forest
Snow-Covered Island
Snow-Covered Mountain
Steam Vents
Stomping Ground
Fiery Islet
Prismatic Vista
Waterlogged Grove
Sideboard (15)
Ancient Grudge
Ceremonious Rejection
Dismember
Flusterstorm
Grim Lavamancer
Scavenging Ooze
Surgical Extraction
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Who needs Delver of Secrets? In another Legacy port, SPIRALPRINCE chooses to omit the archetype lynchpin in favor of, you guessed it, Ice-Fang Coatl. Curiously, Delver of Secrets itself has had a strong showing since Horizons became legal, putting multiple decklists into this 5-0 dump and showing up in the Top 36 of the Modern Challenge.

Other Developments

A few more decks that caught my eye proved harder to sort under one umbrella, but here they are.

Bant Infect, by DDMEELOW (5-0)

Creatures (13)
Blighted Agent
Glistener Elf
Noble Hierarch
Spellskite

Planeswalkers (3)
Teferi, Time Raveler

Instants (18)
Blossoming Defense
Might of Old Krosa
Mutagenic Growth
Spell Pierce
Vines of Vastwood

Sorceries (6)
Scale Up
Distortion Strike

Lands (20)
Breeding Pool
Dryad Arbor
Forest
Inkmoth Nexus
Pendelhaven
Temple Garden
Verdant Catacombs
Windswept Heath
Wooded Foothills
Sideboard (15)
Spellskite
Spell Pierce
Dismember
Grafdigger’s Cage
Kitchen Finks
Ravenous Trap
Return to Nature
Shapers’ Sanctuary
Surgical Extraction
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I’d heard Waterlogged Grove pegged as a breakout Horizons card for Infect, but no copies appear here. Instead, DDMEELOW stretches his manabase to support Teferi, Time Raveler, a brilliant tech that forces opponents to interact with Infect’s creatures at inopportune times. It’s also nuts with Inkmoth Nexus, especially considering the sheer bulk provided by Scale Up.

Soul Sisters, by ORIM67 (5-0)

Creatures (26)
Ajani’s Pridemate
Martyr of Sands
Ranger of Eos
Serra Ascendant
Soul Warden
Soul’s Attendant
Squadron Hawk

Enchantments (4)
Force of Virtue

Instants (3)
Path to Exile

Sorceries (6)
Proclamation of Rebirth
Spectral Procession

Lands (21)
Field of Ruin
16 Plains
Windbrisk Heights
Sideboard (15)
Damping Sphere
Disenchant
Grafdigger’s Cage
Ratchet Bomb
Rest in Peace
Stony Silence
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In a bizarre development, Soul Sisters improves post-Horizons thanks to Force of Virtue. The enchantment drastically increases the deck’s potential clock without costing pilots tempo, an aspect it may have been missing to compete. It doesn’t hurt that the sideboard is full of the format’s best hosers.

Esper Shadow, by VOLOLLO (5-0)

Creatures (16)
Death’s Shadow
Ranger-Captain of Eos
Gurmag Angler
Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
Snapcaster Mage
Street Wraith

Planeswalkers (2)
Teferi, Time Raveler

Instants (14)
Dismember
Fatal Push
Path to Exile
Stubborn Denial
Thought Scour

Sorceries (9)
Inquisition of Kozilek
Lingering Souls
Thoughtseize
Unearth

Lands (19)
Flooded Strand
Godless Shrine
Hallowed Fountain
Island
Marsh Flats
Plains
Polluted Delta
Swamp
Watery Grave
Silent Clearing
Sideboard (15)
Fatal Push
Lingering Souls
Path to Exile
Stubborn Denial
Ceremonious Rejection
Disdainful Stroke
Kaya’s Guile
Leyline of the Void
Rest in Peace
Stony Silence
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Traverse Shadow decks once splashed white to employ Ranger of Eos as a plan to dig up more copies of Death’s Shadow. Here, Ranger-Captain of Eos leaves behind a better body, but only searches one Shadow. In return, it costs just three mana, which lets players reanimate the creature with Unearth for insane value.

The Setting Sun

There are plenty of juicy lists here, and I’d love to discuss any of them further in the comments. Which piqued your interest? Do you like the direction Modern is headed post-Horizons? Drop us a line!

4 thoughts on “Stitched Together: Early Successes from Horizons

  1. I think with the rise of Bridgevine being the top GY deck it might be time to dust off the old Harsh Mentors for consideration in any red decks SB. In testing so far, being able to severely limit their ability to sac creatures with Altar and Carrion Feeder, plus incidental damage from their fetchlands does a very good job of shutting down most everything the deck is trying to do outside of the t2 multiple Vengevine draws.

    1. Seems like a sweet tech option for this matchup specifically, but still less limiting than the GY-hate Gold Standard, Rest in Peace. I also don’t think Mentor has many applications in other matchups, especially if the deck using it in question isn’t very aggressive. So for HM to work, its deck would have to:

      – Not be able to run Rest in Peace
      – Be very aggressive
      – Struggle against Bridgevine

      I’m not sure about Burn’s matchups vs. the deck (anyone?), but assuming it’s rough, I’d wager HM is a legit sideboard card for it right now (perhaps to compliment some number of RiP).

      1. That is the caveat to Mentor, you want to be at least somewhat aggressive. For me running your G/R moon list, it works great, but yea, I hear what you’re saying. It’s also not a bad card in some other matchups too, like affinity and lantern control (if anyone still plays that one).

        1. I’ve fallen back on a pair of Ravenous Traps in the GR Moon sideboard for the matchup, but Harsh Mentor may help round it out! Bridgevine has a huge presence at my LGS, so I’ll give HM a go.

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