The Great Modern Horizons Commander Update

With all the jokes about Modern Horizons being “Commander Masters,” how much changed in Sheldon Menery’s decks? The Godfather reveals all!

New sets that have lots of Commander-ready cards in them are coming fast and furious. We just got through the War of the Spark, and now we have Modern Horizons. Soon, we’ll have Core Set 2020 and Commander 2019. It’s a thoroughly exciting time to be a Commander player. Your options have never been greater, and you’ll find ever more other players to rumble with the 100-card decks.

As with every new set, I comb through the card lists and find which cards fit into my suite of now 47 fully built (“built” means physically assembled, as opposed to just designed) and two that are hanging around partially constructed (that’d be Roalesk, Apex Hybrid and Glissa, the Traitor Do Over; I might even count the Merieke Do Over, but I’ve only pulled ten of the cards or so). This exercise becomes increasingly more difficult as we move forward, because the decks just keep getting tighter and tighter, if not strategically, then thematically. With space so precious, there’s only one thing to do: build more decks. That way, there will be plenty of room to find spots for new cards from upcoming sets.

My goal between now and the end of the year is to add thirteen fully-constructed decks to the wall, bringing my total up to 60. I’ll do that in one of three ways: additional Do Over Project Decks, decks suggested by cards from new sets, and decks suggested by commanders in new sets. There might even be the odd old commander I always wanted to build but never got around to as well, but that becomes harder and harder because our friends in R&D keep giving us very saucy new legendary creatures to build with and around. First Commander world problems, I suppose.

Here’s what I’m doing with Modern Horizons.


It’s there for the second ability more than the first, which only gets Mikaeus, the Lunarch. It’s really about being able to sacrifice it to spot combo players from going off, and then casting it again with Karador to stay safe next turn.

It’s kind of an Angel tribal card and that’s what the Trostani deck is all about. Making the Angels slightly larger is fine; getting the Worship emblem is really the long-term goal.

It’s not going into an existing deck, it’s getting one of its own—and I suspect that I’m not the first person to get excited about doing it.

I’m putting it into the You Did This to Yourself deck for the purpose of comboing it with Acidic Soil, but it occurs to me that you can also dagger someone who has developed a really greedy manabase and doesn’t have any (or that many) basic lands to fetch. It’s like a nicer Final Judgment, kind of. I’m certainly not casting it for anything other than its overload cost unless I’m in a really tight spot.


Champion of Rhonas deserves to be in a deck with more creatures in it, so I’ve been looking for something to put into the deck that is suitably more Intet-like. Echo of Eons is definitely that card. I suppose the only downside would be drawing it when you have a hand of more than seven cards and Reliquary Tower on the battlefield.

I mostly kept Spell Crumple around because of the sweet Klug alter I have. I’ll put it into the box of cards I have beside the deckbuilding table labeled “Stuff to Put into a Deck” and see where it lands. The card goes into Intet because it’s my only 100% deck, and this feels like a 100% card.

Watcher for Tomorrow has a leaves-the-battlefield (not dies) trigger, so in a deck that likes to blink things, repeatedly getting to choose which of your top four cards you like best is really saucy.


Zombies gotta Zomb. A major portion of the deck is bringing Zombies out of the graveyard, and Endling can put itself there if you like. Then there are the other abilities, and it’s a match made in hell.

This Kresh version makes some tokens, most especially with Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder. To keep the Master Breeder around, some of the tokens have to go away. Enter the Feaster of Fools, who will gleefully eat them while they’re helping him get onto the battlefield. And trigger Kresh. Everybody wins.

The tendency might be to want to hold Force of Despair for the big blowout, but there are times when you cast it for just two or three creatures. Sure, it will be hilarious when someone else casts Rise of the Dark Realms. Really hilarious. Debtors’ Knell belongs in a deck with more creatures, so Saskia seemed like a grand choice. It’s become one of my go-to decks because it does the things I like: cast creatures with enters-the-battlefield triggers and then attack.

You pretty much don’t get more Karador-ish than Yawgmoth, Thran Physician. In addition to providing (nearly) free creature sacrifice that will help fill the graveyard as well as draw cards, it goes along with this deck, since it likes +1/+1 counters.


Whiff. Zero. Nothing. Sweet FA. I feel really bad for red sometimes. I don’t have a Goblin deck, or I’d certainly play Pashalik Mons. I don’t have a red deck that has artifacts to mess around with for the graveyard, so Goblin Engineer won’t do me much good. After that, there’s really nothing I want to play, and it makes me a little sad.


The Adun toolbox deck doesn’t have any artifacts of its own, so it’s a pretty good home for Collector Ouphe. And the Roalesk deck needed that Fertilid, so it was a nicely convenient removal.

I’ve (finally) mostly assembled the Roalesk deck and I’m waiting for a few cards to arrive to decide on what to insert instead of a few of the cards that I decided to not acquire (that’s the Something). Adding Deep Forest Hermit means I might find a bunch more Squirrel cards instead. Adding vanishing counters is a cool and sort of outside-the-box use of proliferate, so it’s worth exploring the avenue.

Of all the things the Intet deck needs, artifact and enchantment destruction tops the list. Force of Vigor becomes even better if I’m playing the deck with Riku of Two Reflections instead of Intet, which I do in about one in ten games.

Harrow on a stick is quite useful in a deck that you can then bring back the land you sacrificed with Muldrotha, plus it’s a different kind of permanent that you can cast again later and do the same thing. It’s not hugely splashy, it’s just kind of quiet and useful, and you need those kinds of cards as well. On a side note, Muldrotha (like Karador) is just my kind of card. I suspect that it will be the next Do Over that I put together because I just want to keep playing with it, but I don’t want to get bored with the same 99 cards.


I saw Fallen Shinobi played a little over the weekend at SCG CON, and I have to say that I liked what I saw. I saw it cast things and I saw it just exile stuff that was better left elsewhere. I’m putting it into Gisa and Geralf because it’s Zombie tribal, but Fallen Shinobi also goes nicely into decks where creatures are difficult to block and/or have cool enters-the-battlefield triggers.

Man, this deck is getting all the cool toys. Maybe I’m not as tired of +1/+1 counters as I thought I was. I might start playing it more than my other Karador decks (especially in lower-powered environments; it’s still not all that strong).

Soulherder synergizes with nearly every other card in the deck—there’s lots of blinking going on. It also provides an additional Conjurer’s Closet effect, so it feeds itself. It won’t take very long for Soulherder to pile up the counters. Looking over some of the interactions of the creatures in the deck, I also realized that it very badly wants Panharmonicon, so that’s in as well, with an Island getting cut. The manabase is pretty tight and the land count was higher than I normally have it, so it was a reasonable choice. I would have otherwise needed to cut Portcullis, which no one wants to do.


The Knights of Marchesa are a tight-knit group that enjoy carrying Swords, so the chance to give them another is well-received. The deck has one or two ways to keep artifacts in check, but this is a nice addition. I thought about swapping out Sword of the Animist for it because the deck operates on such small amounts of mana, but decided that I like the deck thinning getting additional lands brings. Because of the deck’s relatively low mana curve, I could use Smothering Tithe elsewhere to better effect. I’m not 100% sure where yet (You Did This to Yourself was my first thought), but I’ll figure it out soon.

It doesn’t matter who is carrying the sword, it’ll be good for the deck, even if the commander isn’t running around. Obviously, giving the Sword to Roalesk starts making getting hit by it painful and leads up toward a commander damage kill, especially if you want to put the counter on Roalesk itself.


With the Horizon lands, I’m stuck in this mindset that I have to be able to get them back out of the graveyard, which Muldrotha does quite nicely. You see that those with white in them go into Queen Marchesa, which happens to have Sun Titan in it. I’ll be saving Prismatic Vista for a new three-color deck, perhaps that Muldrotha Do Over. Intet is the deck that gets the graveyard shuffled back into the library most often, so that’s where Fiery Islet goes. Conveniently, I tend to put quite a few basic lands in my decks, so there’s always room for when a new, spicy nonbasic comes along.

After the 40-something cards that went into decks from War of the Spark, 27 from Modern Horizons might not seem like a great deal, but it’s on par with what generally happens with normal sets. I’m already warming up for Core Set 2020 and Commander 2019, because I know there will be cards in them that we simply can’t avoid playing. Like I said, it’s an exciting time to play Commander.

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