clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Magic’s Modern Horizons 2 set has a lot going for it, also killer squirrels

How to lead a swarm of angry rodents into battle

If you buy something from a Polygon link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

A squirrel in war paint leads a horde of his kin into battle... I guess.
Alternate card art for Chatterfang, Squirrel General.
Image: Milivoj Ćeran/Wizards of the Coast

While every Magic: The Gathering set offers its own charm, there are only a handful of expansions that have reshaped the game all by themselves. Take Lorwyn, for instance. The 2007 set first introduced planeswalker cards, bringing characters such as Chandra Nalaar and Liliana Vess to the forefront of the collectable card game. It’s these and other powerful characters that have reshaped the game into something truly memorable. Another Lorwyn is likely on the way this month with the launch of Modern Horizons 2. In fact, the set is so chock full of new material it’s difficult to know where to start.

Magic: The Gathering isn’t really a singular game anymore. Instead, it’s an entire ecosystem of related gameplay formats. Two of its most popular formats are called Standard and Modern. With Standard, sets of cards rotate out on a two-year timeline. That means the newly-released Strixhaven: School of Mages set of cards simply won’t be playable in Standard format after 2023. Modern works quite a bit differently. Instead of rotating cards out, pretty much everything printed from 2003 onwards is legal to play. And, much like its massively popular predecessor, Modern Horizons 2 is designed with the Modern format in mind.

Cards from Modern Horizons 2 will not be entering the Standard format at all. This makes Modern Horizons 2 a straight-to-print Modern set, allowing for powerful cards to enter the Modern format without disrupting other, more delicate formats such as Standard. With this caveat established, Modern Horizons 2 permits publisher Wizards of the Coast to aggressively push the limits for card design in a format that is robust enough to handle it. Combining completely new cards with reprints of much older cards, Modern Horizons 2 aims to inject a huge amount of new life into the Modern format, as well as enhance popular singleton card formats such as Commander.

Modern Horizons 2 isn’t just intended for hardcore Modern devotees. The set is expected to play extremely well in a casual setting. Compared to previous non-Standard sets such as Time Spiral Remastered, Modern Horizons 2 will offer Draft, Set, and Collector Boosters — a first for this kind of supplemental set. Wizards usually only offers a full product line for Standard sets such as Strixhaven, but it opened up a range of supplemental sets for Modern Horizons 2 in order to cater to a wider audience. There are even Modern Horizons 2 re-release kits and bundles, which will allow players to dip their toes in the water before investing further.

Modern Horizons 2 offers plenty of charm for the casually-minded Magic player too, especially with the re-introduction of Squirrels, a classic and deeply-loved creature type with a long history in the trading card game.

Not only are they adorable, but Squirrels are a viable way to win in Modern and other popular formats, such as Commander. You’ll begin by casting cheap threats such as Ravenous Squirrel and Squirrel Sovereign to knock your opponent’s life total down. Then, you can support this with Chatterfang, Squirrel General (also available borderless with alternate art) that enables you to develop your battlefield with more Squirrel creatures. Eventually, you’ll reach the point where you have so many Squirrels that your opponent will be unable to keep up and close out the game. Not only does a Squirrel-focused decks look to be kind on the wallet, but they’re also a memorable way to win games of Magic.

The flexibility of Modern Horizons 2 doesn’t stop with its attack squirrels. In fact, you can play all of these cards in a kitchen table environment with friends and have a perfectly enjoyable time. There is enough depth to the set that it can be accommodating to every kind of Magic player. In fact, with the resumption of in-story play on May 28, there’s never been a better time to fall into Magic: The Gathering.

There are several ways to buy Magic cards, of course. You can pick up individual cards from your friendly local game store and from secondary markets like TCGplayer online, or you can pick up booster boxes from Amazon if you fancy cracking some packs.

Modern Horizons 2 arrives first for Magic: The Gathering Online on June 3. In-store pre-releases (where applicable) of the physical cards begin on June 11, with Wizards of the Coast promoting community events using the remote tabletop client SpellTable. The full physical release is on June 18.