Serious Vintage Episode 41: Peering Over Modern Horizons with Allison Medwin

For episode 41, Geoff Moes (@ThallidTosser on Twitter), Nat Moes (@GrandpaBelcher), and Josh Chapple (@joshchapple) talk about Modern Horizons with Allison Medwin (@trulyaliem), who worked on the exploratory and vision design teams for that set. Nat was also on exploratory design and was the set’s lead editor. Then we also talk about…cats!

Here’s the timestamped table of contents for your listening ease and enjoyment:
0:00:31 – Peering Over Modern Horizons
1:03:47 – Cats? Necessary. Rails? Optional.
Total Runtime – 1:14:38

How Modern Horizons Came to Be

Modern Horizons started its life as part of a “hackathon,” where several teams of Wizards were given the opportunity to brainstorm about a particular project and put together a proposal for its potential eventual publication. Ethan Fleischer presented it as Time Spiral II, “A Magic Set About Magic: The Gathering” that would have delicious references to previous cards, characters, and even strategies that longtime players would recognize and cherish. Mark Rosewater wanted to do the same but with a more mechanical focus, so it would be more like Future Sight II.

Being on the exploratory team at the beginning and as the lead editor at the end, I had a somewhat unique position of watching over the set throughout its life. Termed “Project Decadence” early on, it was great fun to see how much rich flavor and tactical sweetness could be squeezed into the set with just a handful of designers (including our guest, Allison) brainstorming on a deadline. As the Modern Horizons concept was developed further – particularly with the idea of the cards going directly into the Modern format, anticipating some of them would make a splash – it was fascinating to watch the power level increase without losing the sense of fun nostalgia. This is when the subthemes were fleshed out and the Canopy cycle were added, for example. And then, with that last layer of glitter, the names and flavor text are applied.

It would be hard to add anything in writing to what we talked about with Allison on the show. As we got to the end, it was obvious that between Allison and me, we could talk about nearly every card and just create a flood of notes. Which would be so much fun! But also a really, really long podcast. If you want more depth on one card, you can check out our previous episode on Collector Ouphe, our free preview card from Wizards of the Coast.

Anyway, here we covered our own highlights and were still able to leave something for players to discover on their own. There’s a lot. Even we were finding out new things as we talked.

And Then There Were Cats

Instead of our usual Food and Drink section we decided to talk about cats. There’s just a lot of love for cats on the show.

Allison is prone to posting her cats, sister and brother Emery and Evan, on her social media, and they’re pretty great.

You can follow the exploits of Geoff’s cats, Awbee and Oberon, on his Instagram, Tonkinesetime. That’s dedication.

And Josh also has cats, Ed and Eddy—indoor/outdoor cats in the mountains above Denver. He said of Eddy, he’s “the long-haired, dirty mouth killer.”

I’m limited to posting pictures other people’s cats because my wife is allergic. Recently I’ve spent time with Green Lantern (“Greenie”), who belongs to my friend Arnie, and who I would catsit for sometimes. It’s true that all cats have attitudes – good and bad – but Greenie is most prone to just crawl into your lap, plop down, and start purring, so I give him a high rating. What a goofball.

I can only imagine how excited Jaco was to receive our always-high-quality Vintage Magic: The Gathering podcast with a bunch of cat pictures in it.

Questions for Discussion

What cards’ backstories did we miss from Modern Horizons? Were there characters or references you were particularly excited to see? I liked Allison’s question, I think in reference to Shenanigans: “Is this what Vintage players want to see?” What do Vintage players want out of new sets? Is it more cats? It’s probably more cats. Cats are great.


Thanks for listening, and to Alli for joining us! We should have something special coming up so stay tuned to our next episode as well. We’ll look forward to any questions or comments here or The Mana Drain or on Twitter. You can also email us at