Basking Broodscale | Modern Horizons 3 | Art by Caio Montero
30, May, 24

What Are The Best Commons In Modern Horizons 3?

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The humble Common. A cornerstone of every Magic format, yet one that is rarely given the reverence it deserves. Despite having an entire format dedicated to it in Pauper, Common as a rarity still struggles to command respect in Magic. Many great cards are glossed over during preview season purely because they’re Commons. For that reason, you may well have missed some of the best Commons in Modern Horizons 3 when they were revealed.


Fear not. We’ve gathered them here for you today, so you can appreciate their greatness firsthand. These are cards that won’t just impact Pauper but have a very real chance to shake up other formats, too. Since they’re Commons, they likely won’t break the bank, either. Once the absurd pre-sale prices have calmed down, that is.

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Basking Broodscale

We’ll kick things off with the combo king of the Commons in MH3, Basking Broodscale. This is a card that many players caught onto right away when it was spoiled earlier this month. Its ability lets you create an Eldrazi Scion token whenever a +1/+1 counter is placed on the Broodscale. Since Scions sacrifice for mana, there’s no shortage of ways to take this effect and turn it into an infinite combo.

Rosie Cotton of South Lane is an easy option here, creating an infinite swarm of Scions, and an infinitely large Broodscale, as soon as she comes into play. The two even curve neatly into each other. How does this win you the game? Well, it doesn’t by itself, but throw in a Blood Artist type creature and you can end the game on the spot by sacrificing your Scions en masse. Alternatively, you can convert the infinite colorless mana into a quick Walking Ballista win.

You can also use a Fling effect to launch your massive Broodscale at your opponent for the win. Rite of Consumption can do this in Pauper, as can the original Fling if you’re willing to add red. Broodscale is an incredibly abusable card and one that will be the cornerstone of multiple combo decks going forward. Don’t sleep on this one.

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Cranial Ram

Another big hitter from the Modern Horizon 3 Commons lineup is Cranial Ram. This is a callback to Cranial Plating, an immensely powerful card in the original Affinity decks. So powerful, in fact, that it was pre-banned in Pauper before the format even officially launched. Cranial Ram is so similar that Principal Designer Gavin Verhey thinks it’ll need to be banned in Pauper before long. Based on its power level, he could be right.

Cranial Ram provides a scaling power boost to the creature it equips, based on the number of Artifacts you have in play. So far, so Cranial Plating. Unlike Plating, Ram also comes with Living Weapon, which means it’s a standalone creature right out of the box. This balances out Ram’s higher equip cost nicely. Whether it will make up for the lack of Plating’s instant speed equip ability, however, remains to be seen.

Affinity players of Cranial Plating’s era cite this ability as the key strength of the card. Being able to shift your huge power boost onto an unblocked creature is a big deal, after all. Without it, Ram is unlikely to dominate as Plating once did. That doesn’t mean it won’t be very good in Affinity decks, though, be they in Pauper or Modern. Being slightly less powerful than one of the most feared cards of all time still makes you pretty damn good, it turns out.

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The Landscape Cycle

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Now this is a big one. Modern Horizons 3 brings us a full ten-card cycle of three-color Fetchlands. At Common, no less! They even have a couple of advantages over standard Fetchlands, too. What a time to be alive.

Each card in the Landscape cycle can sacrifice to tutor up one of three tapped Basic lands, tap for a colorless, or cycle for one of each of their colors. That’s a lot of utility, and it makes these lands useful in a huge number of situations. Need untapped mana in the early game? You can tap your Landscape instead of fetching with it. Need card draw in the late game? You can Cycle it from your hand using lands you fetched for earlier. The fact that you can even tap one for mana early then fetch with it later is huge, and really helps smooth out the mana for decks using three or more colors.

These cards are absolute slam-dunks in Pauper, where they’ll help bolster existing three-color decks like Caw-Gates and Grixis Affinity. They’re likely good enough to see play in two-color decks, too, to help you splash a third color for some extra utility. Naturally, they’ll be fantastic in Commander to boot. My gut says they’re too slow for Modern, but it’s hard to tell. They just do so much, with very little opportunity cost since they can tap for colorless. This may look like just another Limited land cycle on the surface, but don’t be fooled. The Landscapes are serious business.

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Refurbished Familiar

We’ve already discussed the ever-mighty Affinity in our entry on Cranial Ram, but the deck actually gets a few other good tools in Modern Horizons 3 as well. One that’s (quite literally) Flying under the radar at present is Refurbished Familiar. This is a four mana 2/1 flier with Affinity for Artifacts, putting it squarely in the same territory as Frogmite, one of the staple cards in the archetype.

Unlike Frogmite, Familiar will never actually cost zero mana to cast, since you’ll always need to pay the black. Also unlike Frogmite, Familiar has evasion, a relevant creature type, and a very solid discard effect. It’s actually kind of wild how good the card is for a Common. Would you play a one mana 2/1 flier that forced a discard or drew you a card? Of course you would, and that’s what Familiar will be 90% of the time.

This is especially true in Pauper, where the Mirrodin Artifact lands still roam free. You can easily get this down on turn two, possibly for one mana if you played something like a Novice Inspector on turn one. If you’re playing white, you can bounce Familiar back to your hand with Kor Skyfisher, then reuse the effect the following turn.

It’s comically easy to strip your opponent’s hand down to nothing with a copy or two of this card, to say nothing of the pressure that a 2/1 flier exerts in the early game. Refurbished Familiar is a sure thing in Pauper, and it could get there in Modern too, what with Kappa Cannoneer and co. joining in Modern Horizons 3.

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Jolted Awake

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And last, but by no means least, on our list of the best Commons in Modern Horizons 3 is Jolted Awake. Like many cards in the set, this is an Energy retrain of a popular card from the past, in this case Unearth. Like the majority of such cards, Jolted Awake is weaker at a base level than its inspiration, but has a much higher ceiling in a dedicated Energy deck.

By itself, Jolted Awake can get you a creature or Artifact from your graveyard that costs two or less. For one mana, that’s honestly not a bad deal. Unearth couldn’t hit Artifacts, so the increased flexibility here likely puts the two on par at this point. Of course, if you’ve managed to build up some Energy before casting Jolted Awake, it can essentially become a better Reanimate that only hits your graveyard.

A lot of the best Energy generators are at Common, including Attune with Aether and the new Tune the Narrative. For this reason, a Pauper Energy deck is more than feasible, which could propel Jolted Awake to stardom. Interestingly, this could be one of the few cards on this list that actually performs better in Modern. Since there are more ways to fill your graveyard in that format, and extra redundancy for the Energy reanimator plan in Chthonian Nightmare, you could see it excel there before long.

Wherever Jolted Awake shows up, it’s bound to be a powerful piece. Such a flexible effect, with Cycling attached, seldom fails to make waves in one format or another.

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