The Best Commander Cards from Modern Horizons 3

Ross Gloekler
May 31, 2024


Hello and welcome back. Time sure flies doesn’t it? We got a whole month without a set release for Magic, and the downtime has been a blessing. Still, nothing beats a good spoiler season after a hiatus, and Modern Horizons 3 has brought us probably one of the most powerful sets in recent memory. There is something here for everyone and almost every format.

Of course here I concentrate on Commander, so of course I had to narrow it down to my top picks from the set. Unlike some previous lists I’ve done, I’ve sectioned this one by colors, multicolor and lands. Energy and reprints get their own categories, and I’m even covering some legendary creatures this time if they could work in the 99! There’s just that much in the set!

Other rules still apply though. I’m picking generally good cards, so cards that are more niche might not make the cut. This list is also a long one, even cutting cards off my list. Without further ado, let’s a-do this.




Ajani, Nacatl Pariah // Ajani, Nacatl Avenger (Modern Horizons 3 #237) Ajani, Nacatl Pariah // Ajani, Nacatl Avenger (Modern Horizons 3 #237)

(Yes, Ajani is Red and White in Commander. Just stick with me)

This card is actually almost too narrow to make this list. Ajani here cares an awful lot about cats. Even with that being a archetype that has some good support, the front doesn’t do much for it. What it does do is flip easily to the back, which is what helped the card make the list.

Its first planeswalker ability puts a permanent +1/+1 counter on cats you control. That might even be zero, but adding 2 loyalty counters to the 3 Ajani starts with is nothing to ignore. Adding those gets Ajani to his ultimate for the next turn, which is a board wipe akin to Cataclysmic Gearhulk’s.

The planeswalker sides’ middle ability give you a cat token, and then burns a target equal to the number of creatures you control. While the board wipe is good, this is going to be the beard and butter of this card. It cost 0 and in these colors adding to that damage is no trouble at all.



Flare of Fortitude (Modern Horizons 3 #26)

I had thought about doing all the flares as a one-of entry, but I think some are better than others, even if all of them are good somewhere.

This one in particular should play well in many places. While the nontoken clause hampers it a bit (but is welcome), I don’t think most decks with White in the color identity will find that too troublesome of a burden when saving your board and even yourself from defeat is the upside.



Metastatic Evangel (Modern Horizons 3 #35)

This card would be easily broken if it didn’t have the nontoken clause. Even with it, it is still a very good card especially with the proliferation of counters these days. I could see many decks using this even if the proliferation is incremental. Blink decks seems particularly good with it.



Ocelot Pride (Modern Horizons 3 #38)

This card wouldn’t have even made the list if the last sentence wasn’t on the card. While this card is very efficient already, the ability to double up and create more tokens if you gain life and have the city’s blessing as you work towards having it anyway is a major ability. This makes this card a good, if slower, way to close a game.

Beyond eventual closing power, it can help with defense and convoke, among other things by creating those tokens. With the amount of incidental token making decks do these days, I won't be surprised to see this across the table eventually.



White Orchid Phantom (Modern Horizons 3 #47)

While some players frown upon it, targeted land destruction has gained support as new cards are added to the card pool and Commander continues to mature. With the White Orchid Phantom, we have a very useful single target removal for a nonbasic land, and with very good stats for the mana investment to boot. It also is easily recurred with most of White’s recursion abilities.




Amphibian Downpour (Modern Horizons 3 #51)

Besides being fun and weird, this enchantment with flash easily humbles a threatening creature, or perhaps many threatening creatures. Never underestimate the ability to simply turn something off, especially when that something might be literal paragraphs long.



Brainsurge (Modern Horizons 3 #53)

Bigger Brainstorm, this card is as useful as the former. It does cost more mana, but you do get a little more selection and another card to keep. I like cards like this for decks like Fblthp, Lost on the Range or Yennett, Cryptic Sovereign, but it can even save certain cards you want to keep from a wheel effect or other hand manipulations.



Copycrook (Modern Horizons 3 #55)

I do love me some clones, and when they come with upside all the better. This one comes with Connive, a mechanic first seen in New Capenna. While attacking can be a drawback, you can always pick a good attacker to clone to minimize it.



Dreamtide Whale (Modern Horizons 3 #59)

This is dumb and I love it. It could be hard to keep around depending on what’s happening in a game, but I don’t think it would be too hard to do so. You at least get to try and keep counters on it yourself and with other cards it should be easier than just casting spells.

This one barely makes the list though, as it’s good in a narrower selection of decks in my opinion, specifically where proliferation would matter beyond the whale. However, I don’t doubt it will find a few homes and you really can’t beat the price for the stats most of the time.




Emperor of Bones (Modern Horizons 3 #90)

A two drop creature with a bit of graveyard hate that happens automatically seems decent. The ability to bring the exiled creature it might push out of graveyard back to play for a turn puts it on the list, doing a decent Puppeteer Clique impression. You do have to add a +1/+1 counter on it to do so, but as I’ve said prior counters are a bounty these days so I don’t think that will be a problem.

Another thing that helps it make the list is the timing tied into the abilities. While the counter on its own is a one time thing, having this trigger at the beginning of combat and then the ability to get that creature back with haste for that same combat makes a very tight window for opponents to deal with your shenanigans.

Its color identity also helps, since you can return this creature itself via other means without that counter to do it again, or remove the counters with other cards in Black.



Marionette Apprentice (Modern Horizons 3 #100)

It’s a lower cost Marionette Master, and that card is already good. This one serves the same purposes, and is especially scary being also a better Disciple of the Vault and another redundant aristocrat drainer.



Shilgengar, Sire of Famine (Modern Horizons 3 #109)

(Shilgengar is a White and Black card in Commander)

A free sac outlet on a Commander that can bring back an entire ‘yard. Yep, I don’t see any problems here.

Honestly, Shilgengar here is a card that tells you exactly what to do, and helps fuel that himself with Blood tokens. The deck it leads doesn’t even have to use any angels in it, though a few might be good to include, especially with 6 toughness. He also cares about Vampires by making everything he returns one, so he can really lead a number of decks and a few typal decks. Add something like Eerie Interlude and keep everything you returned by getting rid of the finality counters.



Warren Soultrader (Modern Horizons 3 #110)

An interesting way to generate some extra mana in Black, this definitely seems like a potential combo piece aside from some value generation. I know this will find many a home for either use, but don’t get greedy with it. Things can change in Commander quickly, and the life you pay may mean you don’t untap.

Note as well that Soultrader cannot sacrifice itself. Another potential hurdle to overcome.




Ashling, Flame Dancer (Modern Horizons 3 #115)

I’m really happy to see another Ashling. Lorywn block is a favorite of mine.

Looking at the card itself, it has a lot going for it. You don’t lose Red mana through turns, and it has card rummaging built in whenever you cast an instant or sorcery. It also has a throwback to the kindred elemental theme of third resolutions of their abilities (see Soulbright Flame-Kin or Ashling, the Pilgrim). This time we also get something if it resolves a second time with 2 damage to each opponent and creatures they control, so a small bit of one sided board control. Upon a third resolution, we get 4 Red mana to use or store up.

Keep in mind the Ashling’s rummage ability continues to work past third resolutions, so if you have a way to, you can keep casting instants or sorceries. Also, if you have no cards in hand when it resolves, you simply draw a card.

Honestly, this card is probably better in the 99 of decks than at the front, but I do think it can lead a deck on its own.



Flare of Duplication (Modern Horizons 3 #119)

The second Flare to make the list, and only just. While I said prior I considered lumping all the Flares together and calling it a day, I felt like some were generically better than others. This one makes the list because these kinds of effects can turn the tide of a game. There’s nothing like throwing an opponent’s spell back at them or doubling up on your own for free.

Granted, the game state is variable. This card’s floor and ceiling are variable. It all depends on timing, but even if the cost isn’t free it’s comparable to other spells like Dualcaster Mage and Reiterate.



Molten Gatekeeper (Modern Horizons 3 #128)

An Impact Tremors on an increasingly viable creature type seems good to me. It’s not going to be expensive and it’s not flashy, but it will do its job well, and can come back for a big encore turn (well, unearth but you get it).



Party Thrasher (Modern Horizons 3 #129)

Impulse draw has been a staple in Red for a while now, but this is something Red hasn’t done before with Convoke (Black has with Hoarding Broodlord). A thing I like a lot about these sets is the freedom Wizards has to mix and match different keywords and see how they function together.

On Party Thrasher, we have the impulse draw and convoke, but we can only convoke spells from exile. Honestly on its own the cards can do some work, but in decks with a large amount of creatures, this will do more. Add in some graveyard interaction for even more.

Note that you also can play only one of the cards, and since it does say play, you can play a land if needed.




Eladamri, Korvecdal (Modern Horizons 3 #149)

Another callback legend makes the list. Eladamri here does a good Elvish Piper impression, but with the added bonus of using the top card of the library and the added drawback of needing two other creatures than himself. Still, it’s a strong ability in the command zone or the 99.



Evolution Witness (Modern Horizons 3 #151)

Like the Emperor of Bones, this card grants an effect if 1 or more +1/+1 counters are placed on it. Like its namesakes Eternal and Timeless, this Witness too focuses on recurring permanents from the graveyard to your hand.

Also like the Emperor, this is an easily repeatable effect, but especially in Green where counters are plentiful.



Monstrous Vortex (Modern Horizons 3 #162)

I’ve seen some dumb free casting stuff in my day, but this card is nuts. Based on my and others' understanding so far, you could potentially put all of your creatures onto the table from your deck if you build it to do so. That of course comes with the downside of potentially being blown out, but I think the odds of that are lower than they need to be to counter an effect like this.



Six (Modern Horizons 3 #169)

The famed tree partner of the planeswalking dryad Wrenn, this card’s design brings back the mechanic Retrace introduced in Eventide. It’s a nifty ability. Discard a land card and pay the mana cost (and other costs) of the card with Retrace, and you can cast if from your graveyard. The best part is that you can keep doing that since the card cast doesn’t get exiled.

Six here gives Retrace to every nonland permanent in your graveyard if it’s your turn. When it comes into play, it also tries to give you a land and some stuff to recur as well. Not a bad start and that also means no matter when it comes down it can be decent to good, though it seems later is better.

Don’t forget about Reach either. The ability to block flyers is a good one in mono Green.




Golden-Tail Trainer (Modern Horizons 3 #187)

A creature caring about the modified subtheme making all that stuff cheaper sounds like it needs to be removed, so it made the list. Auras and Equipment cards have gotten stronger over time, and so has their support. Golden-Tail here is just another in a long line of making it easier to create big beatdown creatures.

However, he also goes wide with his bonus on attack, so suiting them up with some auras or equipment might be in the cards. The drawback is he only applies his bonus to other modified creatures. I mean, if you aren’t paying attention the teacher isn’t going to waste time after all.



Nadu, Winged Wisdom (Modern Horizons 3 #193)

This legend kinda seems a bit subtly overpowered? We also have seen similar stuff like this before in Ivy, Gleeful Spellthief and Gargos, Vicious Watcher. I think the best part of this is that you could target your stuff, or your opponent can, and you still get the benefit across all your creatures. It does have the restriction of only triggering twice a turn, but between a decent board set up and blinking shenanigans your mileage will be high with Nadu.



Pyretic Rebirth (Modern Horizons 3 #200)

Close to a Vengeful Rebirth, getting a two for one deal is always a good thing. Here we have a recursion spell for a creature or artifact that also burns a creature or planeswalker equal to the recurred creature’s mana value. It only gets the creature to your hand, but the possibility of getting rid of a pesky planeswalker or creature seems like a good trade to me.



Waterlogged Teachings // Inundated Archive (Modern Horizons 3 #261) Waterlogged Teachings // Inundated Archive (Modern Horizons 3 #261)

Tutor be good. This one isn’t the best, but it is one that can count in your land count rather than your spell count if you wish to see it that way. At that point, it’s just a decent extra card that could potentially get you a counter to protect your combo or Hullbreaker Horror to help close a game.



Wight of the Reliquary (Modern Horizons 3 #207)

It’s a Black and Green card that cares about dead creatures and helps put them there while ramping. This is going to find a home in multiple decks for sure. It also has relevant creature types in Zombie and possibly Knight, so there are other bonuses to be had depending on the build. I’m even considering it for Narci, and it seems like a sure thing in the new Necrobloom.




Ulamog, the Defiler (Modern Horizons 3 #15)

As much as I don’t like Eldrazi, this one in particular seems to be the easiest to abuse in Commander. While it does have a cast trigger that helps limit it some, reanimating it with a card in exile still seems very good. With that in mind, a scalable Annihilator ability seems kind of ridiculous when you consider how many +1/+1 counter abilities are already played. You wouldn’t even need a card in exile to put counters on Ulamog to get Annihilator going. This card is definitely a threat to be answered.



Vexing Bauble (Modern Horizons 3 #212)

To be fair, this card is a meta call. It answers a lot of problems when a player is casting things for free, which can get out of hand quickly. I personally love these little niche tech pieces. I hope they produce more because sometimes we need to enforce fairness in the game state.

Remember though that this card only counter spells that are cast, so anything that comes into the battlefield or can be put there straight away isn’t affected.




Guide of Souls (Modern Horizons 3 #29)

One thing I’ve noticed about the energy cards in this set is that they work well enough on their own. Guide of Souls here is going to be amazing at turning creatures into angels, especially in decks that use tokens or decks like Isshin. It’s just a soul guide with all upside.



Wrath of the Skies (Modern Horizons 3 #49)

One thing I like almost as much as one sided board wipes is the ability to only wipe certain things away, and this card makes that possible. It can stand alone on its own and be a scalable mass removal, or a bank of energy to store for later in energy decks. Good all around, just better in certain places. The only real downside is that it doesn’t hit planeswalkers as well.



Aether Spike (Modern Horizons 3 #50)

A counter for anything, with a Mana Leak like drawback. Some players don’t like when a counter spell has the ability to counter it built in, but in my experience you either get the counter, or you screw up a turn’s mana unless the opponent had an overabundance of mana anyway. I really like these counters, and so it made the list and another counter that actually can counter any spell.

Again, a stand alone good card, but better with energy synergies.



Aether Revolt (Modern Horizons 3 #113)

They did the thing. Add it to the list of cards with set names.

An enchantment that helps you burn things if something you control left the battlefield this turn. The first ability is good enough to be considered on its own, though it doesn’t jive great with cards like Ojer Axonil. Still, even without the energy use I’m giving it serious consideration for my Feather the Redeemed blink/burn deck.

In an energy deck though, this thing is going to be popping stuff all the time, especially with things like the above-mentioned Aether Refinery or Wrath of Skies where you get a bunch of extra energy if you want. Likely its major duty in those decks will be removing small blockers, utility creature and mana dork control, but the ceiling can be fairly high.



Primal Prayers (Modern Horizons 3 #166)

I’ve seen this compared to Alluren, and it’s easy to see why. With enough energy you could cast a number of 3 or less mana value creatures at instant speed. The trick is that you need the energy though. While I don’t think this will be good most places, therefor breaking my list rules a bit, I do think it will work well in an energy build to super charge it a bit. Time will tell, and cards with well supported themes tend to only get more potential over time.



Sphinx of the Revelation (Modern Horizons 3 Commander #127)

Odd name aside, this card is a call back to Sphinx’s Revelation, which saw a good deal of time in the spotlight during its own day and the spell has been turn into an ability tacked onto cards like Azor the Lawbringer and Alquist Proft, Master Sleuth in various ways.

While each has its own version slightly tweaked, I think I like this one the best so far. If you gain some life, you get energy, and you can use that energy to pay into the X part f the cost instead of mana. Paying into X plus three mana always seemed like a hard sell to me when every mana counted, and drawing 1 card for 4 mana never seemed very good. This card gets around that with life gain and energy, and I think it will be good in a few places.



Stone Idol Generator (Modern Horizons 3 Commander #129)

Another card that can stand on its own outside of an energy build, this one creates some nifty high toughness creatures for you for 6 energy. You get that energy through attacking with your creatures, and luckily it’s not “one or more” so shouting around with a swarm of myr or Eldrazi spawn can get you where you need to go.

It doesn’t have the most flashy payoff, but getting through 12 toughness on the ground might take an Eldrazi’s strength some game so don’t look down on it.




Solitude (Modern Horizons 2 Timeshifts #3) Subtlety (Modern Horizons 2 Timeshifts #6) Endurance (Modern Horizons 2 Timeshifts #14)

Not much to say here that I would expect experience playing with these to say better. Like most cycles, some of these are better in Commander, and some of these are better in certain decks or metas. Each however is a powerful effect attached to a body and are essentially “free” to cast. It’s good to see them reprinted to increase their availability.



Akroma's Will (Modern Horizons 3 Commander #165)

This is a great reprint since it still commands such a high price. It can protect your board, win the game, or both. It’s also a part of a good cycle of cards, with this one being one of the better ones.



Esper Sentinel (Modern Horizons 2 Timeshifts #2)

This really needed a reprint. One of White’s newer inclusions in the card draw space, it does a good job of helping to even the odds against other colors in the early game.



Recruiter of the Guard (Modern Horizons 3 #266)

Tutors are good for deck consistency, and this one has needed a reprint for a while. New art, same effect.



Toxic Deluge (Modern Horizons 3 #277)

Life totals mean a little less in Commander, and Toxic Deluge used that to take care of a large swathe of problems for the user. It’s good mass removal spell that will find a home in a number of decks.



Goldspan Dragon (Modern Horizons 3 Commander #212)

Having played with this card, I can attest that two mana is better than one from treasures. It also has a good body for the cost, and can attack the turn it comes down and create a treasure token. This refunds you 1 mana for the dragon, 2 if it lives through combat.



Ruby Medallion (Modern Horizons 3 #295) Jet Medallion (Modern Horizons 3 #292)

These cards were last reprinted in Commander Masters which wasn’t terribly long ago, but their inclusion again into a product is still a good thing. While they generally work better in mono colored decks, they can be put into decks that lean heavily into one color over another. When you do so, they are much better than most mana rocks for casting multiple spells.



Phyrexian Tower (Modern Horizons 3 #303)

An efficient sacrifice outlet on a land. Not much to say other than it needed a reprint and is a fine card. Glad to see it back, and with new arts.




Flooded Strand (Modern Horizons 3 #220) Polluted Delta (Modern Horizons 3 #224)

Bloodstained Mire (Modern Horizons 3 #216) Wooded Foothills (Modern Horizons 3 #236) Windswept Heath (Modern Horizons 3 #235)

While I am more inclined to play enemy colored pairs myself, having these finally make an entrance back into the game is going to help a lot of players add consistency to mana bases.



Archway of Innovation (Modern Horizons 3 #214)

I’ll come right out and say this cycle of lands (I think they’re a cycle?) all made the list. Each one is so useful in most decks in the colors they’re in.

That said, this one is probably going to find the least amount of homes. I’m not saying it won't be used as it has a very powerful effect, but it is the most narrow. If you even play artifact tokens this is a good pickup.



Arena of Glory (Modern Horizons 3 #215)

The Red one is a little more… simple? Sometimes simple is better, and this land unlike many others that give haste almost breaks even on mana. Not only that, but it has the potential to give TWO creatures haste because you can split the mana. Again, another generically good pickup and I look forward to testing this myself.



Monumental Henge (Modern Horizons 3 #222)

Some more White card advantage (lands are colorless but work with me) that cares specifically about Historic cards, like legends, sagas and artifacts. It will find many homes and be great at digging for things you need. Definitely picking one up for Narci to try out, and legends and artifact matters deck will love it.



Shifting Woodland (Modern Horizons 3 #228)

This one has the largest potential to do dumb stuff with some set up. Firstly you’d need Delirium, but after that it’s whatever dead permanent you need it to be. Good in probably too many places, keep a careful eye on how many of these get cracked and come to market. While the whole cycle is good, this one possibly has the best ceiling.



Spymaster's Vault (Modern Horizons 3 #230)

Last but not least is the vault. I can see this being used to churning through whole decks and setting player up for a big payoff in the right build. Otherwise it’s just good value, and it doesn’t matter who’s creatures died as long as you have one to use to connive. Good to great stuff here.



I apologize for the long list, but this set might live up to the meme of Commander Horizons. I actually had more to add, but I figure this is quite enough.

Honestly the lands have me the most interested, and I hope to pick up most of them, along with a few goodies here and there. My brother is also looking forward to it, and he just got back into Magic. It’s nice to see some fresh enthusiasm and helps me stay excited.

How do you feel about the set? Is it too much for Commander players instead of Modern? How much are you going to buy, or what interests you the most?

Until next time, I’ll meet you on the next horizon.