It’s been a while since Modern Horizons released, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t neat stuff to discover and discuss regarding its cards. The set featured numerous references and homages to earlier cards in Magic: The Gathering. We’ve been breaking down each of them by color, and we previously covered blue, black, and red. Now it’s time for green to get its shot.
Ayula, Queen Among Bears
Ayula references the Magic slang term “Bears” and the card type in general. Named after the Alpha card Grizzly Bear, the term came to mean a 2 mana 2/2. Ayula herself is a 2 mana 2/2 Bear, and one of her effects adds an extra 2/2 in counters – another Bear’s worth of stats. Her flavor text, which calls out the oldest cedar and the tallest spruce, mirrors the flavor text of Ancient Brontodon, ironically on a much smaller creature.
Ayula’s Influence, of course, homages Ayula and her power over bears. But it’s also a green remake of Seismic Assault. The card was first printed in Exodus and is the centerpiece of the memetic Swan Hunt deck and similar variants. Instead of turning every land in your hand into a free Shock, Ayula’s Influence makes them all into free Ashcoat Bears.
Bellowing Elk contains flavor text from Vivien Reid. She travels the multiverse storing imprints of the creatures she meets in her Arkbow. She has a history of giving nature documentary-style commentary on wildlife in flavor text. The Elk continues that tradition in Modern Horizons.
Collector Ouphe is an Ouphe, a seldom-used creature type last seen in Shadowmoor. In the Mirrodin Block, Brown Ouphe and Ouphe Vandals both shut down abilities of artifacts. The collector does the same.
The ability is a direct copy of Null Rod‘s, and like the Rod, it costs 2. The flavor text calls out the original Null Rod’s, exchanging current Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain for past members Gerrard and Hanna. Jhoira being the one to comment here is fitting given her most recent ability can draw cards as you cast artifacts. It’s much like how Hanna’s comment on Null Rod fit due to her own artifact skills. The Collector is even shown holding the Null Rod in its art.
This card nods to a cycle of cards from Time Spiral that had no mana costs and could only be cast with the suspend ability. While each of those was based on a powerful card from the past (Balance, Ancestral Recall, Living Death, Wheel of Fortune, Eureka, and Black Lotus), Crashing Footalls plays most similar to Horncaller’s Chant from Return to Ravnica. As they have Converted Mana costs of zero, all of these can be cast for free with any cascade spell.
Deep Forest Hermit
This card is a twist on Deranged Hermit. Both are 5 mana 1/1s that create four Squirrels and give Squirrels +1/+1 (though Deranged Hermit uses the older template that buffs enemy Squirrels as well). Deep Forest Hermit, however, swaps echo for vanishing. So instead of a creature that you must pay mana to keep around, you get one that goes away regardless of what you do but for no extra cost.
Squirrels show up in Modern Horizons because the Wizards Creative team has long held their more comical vibe isn’t a proper fit for mainstream Magic. Mark Rosewater, a strong champion of Squirrels, pushed for them to arrive in the Silver Border non-tournament legal set Unstable. Well, now they return in the Standard-skipping Modern Horizons. Slowly, they’re crawling their way back into mainstream Magic.
The Anurids are a race of Frog monsters from Dominaria first seen in the Odyessy block. Turg was a sentient Frog slave of Ambassador Laquataus who featured in that block’s stories. Turg was psychically bonded to the ambassador and so gained enhanced intelligence and could cast spells. Laquatus feared his slave’s new intelligence and so he periodically damaged Turg’s brain to keep him in check.
Turg died in battle with a squid that managed to wound his back. This left a visible spot in his camouflage, leading the squid to kill Turg before dying in turn.
Force of Vigor
Force of Vigor is the green member of the Force of Negation Cycle. That means it’s a roundabout analog to Bounty of the Hunt, which was the green member of Force of Will‘s cycle. Like all cards in the Force cycle, you can cast it for free by exiling a card of the same color from your hand on an opponent’s turn.
The art and flavor text show a construct from Kaladesh being destroyed, thus the filigree on the metal and the reference to aether in the art and flavor text. The effect itself is very similar to Sylvan Reclamation, except that it destroys the targets instead of exiling them.
Modern Horizons combines the iconic Rootwalla card with a snow theme to create this new lizard. Frostwalla is the same as Rootwalla, except its ability cost goes from 1G to just one snow mana and it gains the snow supertype. Rootwalla was created when the art description for the original card asked for a chuckwalla. Its artist, Roger Raupp, thought the chuckwalla was a fantasy creature instead of a real one and so drew a fantastical lizard.
Hexdrinker shows the return of “Protection from Everything,” a line of text first seen on Progenitus. It would later be featured on commander staple Teferi’s Protection. Hexdrinker is a 2/1 mythic rare snake that costs G, which links it to Lotus Cobra.
LLanowar Tribe is literally three Llanowar Elves glued together. The flavor text references the Ice Age block, the Phyrexian Invasion of the Invasion block, and the Rifts of the Time Spiral block. The center elf is based on the Chris Rahn card art that debuted in the Dominaria set, especially the hooded one in the background. The other two elves are based on the art of the Open House Dominaria promo for the elves drawn by Victor Adame Minguez.
The artist of the piece accidentally let slip that a return to the Theros set was forthcoming. This card could work well with that plane’s Devotion mechanic, which gives advantage to cards with many colored symbols in their costs.
Mother Bear and both of the cubs she produces are all 2/2s. This continues Modern Horizons‘ Bears reference from Ayula. Bear Cub in specific is also a 2 mana 2/2. Mother Bear herself costs 1G, which makes this another Grizzly Bear reference. The play pattern of getting one bear and then later getting two from your graveyard mirrors Grizzly Fate, which gave you two bears at first and later gave you four if cast with its flashback while you had seven or more cards in your graveyard
Murasa is a continent of Zendikar that was devasted by the Eldrazi attack on the plane. Behemoth’s flavor text and mechanics reflect this, as the beast becomes stronger now that its land is gone.
Rime Tender is a twist on Hope Tender. Both are 2 mana 2/2s that untap permanents, but Rime Tender gives a snow twist by untapping any snow permanent. Plus, it also has the snow supertype itself.
Savage Swipe serves as Modern Horizons‘ nod to the bear punching epicness of Savage Punch. That card was already homaged twice with Epic Confrontation and Really Epic Punch. Swipe plays up the bear theme by giving a creature +2/+2 (the stats of a “bear” that also match the original) before the fight if its power is already 2 (which includes most bears.)
Scale Up is a punny nod to Craw Wurm, the original big green beater. This spell turns one of your creatures into a Craw Wurm for 1 mana. If you pay 4GG, which is Craw Wurm’s cost, all your creatures become Craw Wurms until end of turn instead.
When Springbloom Dryad enters the battlefield, it casts a Harrow. Not only does it have the same cost as Harrow, the flavor text’s nod to wounds and scabbing calls back Harrow’s flavor text from its original printing in Tempest.
This Modern Horizons Sliver had the playtest name of “Slithver” because it was a call back to Slith Predator from Mirrodin. It gives all your Slivers the “Slith” ability, which gives a creature a +1/+1 counter if it deals combat damage to an opponent. Justin Sweet’s art on Slith Predator also inspired the art for this card. The flavor text’s talk of adapting to perils is based on the original too.
Thornado takes the card Plummet and adds cycling to it. The cycling cost is the same as the original Plummet.
Treefolk Umbra features the Totem Armor keyword. All totem armor cards had “Umbra” in their names and were based on creatures with an effect matching the one the enchantment gave. The ability to deal toughness as power on a Treefolk calls back to Doran, the Siege Tower, from Lorwyn.
Winding Way is an upgrade over Mulch. Both search the top four cards of your library and send the rest to the grave. Winding Way improves on this by giving you the option to fetch either creatures or lands.
Have you seen any Modern Horizons references or homages that we missed? Please take to the comments below to chime in! Next time we’ll be coming full circle in the color pie and seeing all the White references in the set.