Sterling Grove – Modern Horizons 2
Date Reviewed: June 17, 2021
Commander [EDH]: 4.25
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
I remember when Sterling Grove was the centerpiece of an Extended deck. This was back when that format was six or seven years worth of cards (and I’d be curious to see what that looked like if you applied it with recent sets – if you try it out, let me know!). Originally, you would use it to get things from the Urza’s Saga and Tempest environments, like Humility and Opalescence; even when those were out of the format, it remained strong, interacting with cards like Solitary Confinement from Odyssey. Modern has recently been blisteringly fast, with a lot of spell-based and graveyard-based decks, which doesn’t always bode well for a Sterling Grove combo or control deck, but things can change – and Sterling Grove is powerful enough to build around in any year, at any table.
It’s actually quite fitting that this card is now in Modern. In Extended’s later years before its retirement from competitive play, the format beginning with Invasion was considered its best years, and that era was actually the inspiration for Modern. Before Modern’s official inception, Gavin Verhey ran a casual 1v1 duel format that he called “Overextended”, which started with Invasion. It would be awesome if Sterling Grove shook up the format that it helped create. I can’t guarantee any particular outcome, but I like its chances.
A weird cross between enchantment protection and enchantment tutoring, the fairly unique Sterling Grove has long been a casual staple because of the protection it offers for Enchantress-style decks at a very low mana cost; 2 mana is quite affordable, and while it doesn’t protect itself, it can tutor out another enchantment in response to being targeted for destruction. Doubling as both a protective shield and as a tutor in a pinch is a lot of power in one little uncommon (upshifted to rare for Modern Horizons 2), and it’s a weapon to be considered by any deck that dabbles in enchantments to a decent degree.
Constructed: 4 (it’s cheap, potent, and flexible, which are ideal in any card)
Limited: 3 (harder to make this work, as enchantments aren’t really the focus of either of its Limited outings)
Commander: 4.5 (more tutors are always welcome)
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