Flare of Cultivation
28, Mar, 24

MTG Designer Claims Modern Horizons 3 Has Learnt Its Lesson

Article at a Glance

With their high power level and practically boundless possibilities, Modern Horizons sets are a lot of fun. Providing a fantastic limited environment alongside huge swathes of new staples, Modern Horizons sets are a massive deal. Thanks to this, it’s absolutely no wonder that so many MTG players are excited for Modern Horizons 3 this year.

Launching on June 14th, the spoiler season for Modern Horizons 3 is still a little ways away. Despite this decent wait, the hype for the set is already high thanks to Wizards’ recent First Look event. Providing a sneak peek at a handful of spoilers, Modern Horizons 3 looks stacked already!

Unfortunately, while the spoilers we’ve seen are very exciting, there is a slight problem; Modern Horizons 3 might be too good. Worryingly this isn’t a new concern, as Modern Horizons sets, by definition almost, have been format warping. Thanks to massive new creatures and a free spell cycle, players are already worried this concerning trend will continue.

While Modern Horizons 3 appears primed to reinvent the format once again, supposedly, that won’t happen. According to MTG’s Lead Designer, Modern Horizon 3 and its designers have learned their lesson, so hopefully we’re safe for now.

A Troubled History


Despite Modern Horizons cards literally being tailor-made for Modern, not all of them are playable. Not only is there a decent amount of Draft chaff, but there are also a handful of banned cards. Removed from Modern for simply being too good, Arcum’s Astrolabe, Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis, and Fury showcase Modern Horizons sets at their worst.

As much as it is easy to blame Modern Horizons banned cards as obvious problems, the actual issues run much deeper. When a Modern Horizons set is released, the format doesn’t get a new tier one or zero deck running rampant. Instead, almost every major deck in Modern is warped in some way thanks to new spells or archetype support.

In theory, this makes the release of a Modern Horizons set an incredibly exciting time, however, it’s not all good news. One of the major draws of Modern is the fact it’s a competitive format that doesn’t rotate. Or that shouldn’t at least. Unfortunately, with each Modern Horizons set that gets released, we see exactly that happen.

Beyond shaking some of the trust in Modern as a format, there’s also the problem of cost. Modern is already not a cheap format, with competitive decks routinely costing upwards of $1000. As if that wasn’t enough already, Modern Horizons sets usually push this further, as new staples demand obscene prices.

With a playset of Grief costing around $100, Modern is by no means a cheap format. This makes the possibility that your deck could suddenly become redundant very scary. As a result, it’s no wonder that a lot of MTG players are cautious and skeptical about Modern Horizons 3.

Everything Is Fine… Maybe

Flare of Cultivation

According to MTG’s Lead Designer, Modern Horizons 3 should be better than its predecessor. That appears to be the case, at least, judging by a recent statement on Blogatog. After fielding concerns about another forced rotation from Yoggh777, Rosewater reassured players that Wizards isn’t ignorant of their mistakes.

“The set design and play design teams for Modern Horizons 3 were very aware of the notes from the first two Modern Horizons sets.” 

Mark Rosewater

From this statement, it seems that Wizards should have learned their lesson and clipped Modern Horizons 3’s wings. If we’re optimistic, there’s a chance we’ve already seen evidence of this happening. Back in 2023, Wizards released The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth which was surprisingly un-impactful.

Okay, obviously the set contained Orcish Bowmasters and The One Ring but Modern wasn’t totally reinvented. Instead, only a few decks got shifted around thanks to new support becoming available. In theory, this is no different from what we’ve seen from recent premier sets like Wilds of Eldraine and Murders at Karlov Manor.

Should Tales of Middle-earth indicate the new power level for Modern legal sets, the format should be somewhat safe. Saying that, however, Modern Horizons 3 does contain a new free spell cycle. Considering free spells were a major problem from Modern Horizons 2, it’s no wonder players are concerned again.

So far, we’ve only seen the green Flare of Cultivation from this cycle. While this card already looks fairly useful, there’s no telling what the rest of the cycle may contain. Should the remaining free spells offer burn, counterspells, or removal, Modern could get another serious shakeup.

An Optimistic Wait

Ajani, Nacatl Avenger Art
Ajani, Nacatl Avenger | Modern Horizons 3

Ultimately, there’s no telling what the rest of Modern Horizons 3 will bring when it launches in June. With previews not completing until May 31st, we’ve still got a while to wait to find out more. Thankfully, following the recent statement from Rosewater, we can hopefully be a bit more optimistic about the set until then.

Even if the remaining free spells are cracked, hopefully, Modern should withstand their arrival. Whether or not the same will be true for the rest of the set remains to be seen, but we can be hopeful at least. Beyond just hoping for a good set, it’s important Wizards find the right balance thanks to changes coming in 2025.

In 2025 and beyond, each year is planned to contain two Universes Beyond sets, like Tales of Middle-earth. If both of these are Modern-legal, Wizards will really need to find the right balance as quickly as possible. Should this not happen, Modern could rotate on a six-month basis, potentially killing its appeal.

Given Rosewater’s statement, we can only hope this potential problem won’t arise in the future. For now, we’ll just have to wait and see where the power level of Modern Horizons 3 truly lies once its spoiler season starts.

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