With the popularity of Modern in Magic: The Gathering, it was only a matter of time before sets started shipping precisely for it. Modern Horizons, which launches on June 14, is Wizards of the Coast's first set that's skipping Standard legality altogether. We've got an exclusive reveal of one of the cards, and to help gauge its value, we've got a special guest to help out.
The card is called Giver of Runes, and it's basically a more powerful reprint of one of the first MTG cards I fell in love with: Mother of Runes. Like the Urza Legacy one drop, Giver of Runes gives you a 1/2 creature for a single white mana, which can tap to protect any target creature you control from colourless, or the colour of your choice until the end of the turn.
The card art from Seb McKinnon is a tad more evocative than the original Urza's Legacy one-drop. You can see it in full below.
But what good will Giver of Runes be in the current meta? I'm not a competitive MTG player these days. But Jessica Estephan, winner of the Sydney Grand Prix last year and a member of Wizards' contracted Magic Pro League, absolutely is.
I asked Estephan for her thoughts on what impact Giver of Runes might have, what formats the rune giver is best suited for, and how decks might make use of the card. Estephan started by noting that Giver of Runes offers protection against colourless—not just a particular colour, which Mother of Runes was limited to—and that the toughness boost was noteworthy.
"This is a considerable improvement, particularly in Legacy where hate bears swiftly become outsized by Eldrazi creatures," Estephan told Kotaku Australia over email. "The cost of the added toughness and supplementary protection come at Giver of Runes not being able to provide protection to itself, only other creatures you control. I believe that this is a rather large downside in Legacy and it will take some testing before we can determine whether there is the potential for the Giver to replace the Mother.
"What I do predict, is that Giver of Runes will possibly function as a fifth or sixth copy in Death and Taxes decks, especially since Eldrazi strategies are currently popular in Legacy. The lack of self-protection will impact the role that Giver of Runes will have in the Legacy format. However, since we don’t have a card like this in Modern, this space is wide open."
For the uninitiated, Death and Taxes is a control-style deck that uses a lot of tricks and cards to "tax" (read: tap, make more expensive, or disable entirely) the opponents deck. It's a disruptive style of play, focusing on locking down your opponents biggest threats or stopping them from hitting the board altogether.
"An important thing to note is that unlike Mother of Runes, Giver of Runes is not creature type - Human," Estephan added. (For people who played MTG decades ago, Mother of Runes was originally just a Cleric creature type, but her reprint in the Eternal Masters set added the Human creature type.)
"Outside of the Humans archetype in Legacy, this is going to be largely irrelevant. However, this is will have an impact on how playable the card is in Modern. Humans is currently a tier one Modern deck that is constantly searching for pieces that improve its strategy. Despite Giver of Runes not being a Human, it may still see play in this deck as the effect will be quite powerful. Other Modern decks that may be looking to play Giver of Runes include Eldrazi and Taxes and potentially Devoted Druid based Collected Company."
Giver of Runes will be released with the rest of the Modern Horizons set on June 14 Australian time, although you can play the set in Magic the Gathering: Online from June 6 internationally. The set will have 239 new or reprinted cards, and you can look at all the currently announced cards via Wizards' official gallery.