Welcome to THE LAB! I used to be a rat here, but now I am the scientist! It's been years since I've had visitors, and the place is a little dusty, so sorry for the mess. Please beware the beakers, do not mind the pins and strings on the wall, watch where you are stepping—no there is nothing hidden under that drop cloth. Do you have protective eyewear? No? Well, onwards anyways!

In fall of 2016, Kaladesh unleashed energy counters on the world of Magic, introducing a new resource used for everything from thopter production to killing creatures to chucking an Ulamog onto the battlefield on turn four. While new mechanics shake up the game with each new set, it's not often that a new resource comes along to change the shape of the game. After all, energy counters make the resource list with all-time hits like mana and life total.

Modern Horizons 3 is reinvigorating energy counters, introducing some powerful new cards that make use of this resource in intriguing and diverging ways. Lots of these new cards have already been previewed, dissected, and discussed.

Perhaps Amped Raptor, a new addition to the range of cascade-like effects, caught your eye. Maybe the possibilities of Volatile Stormdrake piqued your interest. Possibly, like any sensible, somewhat eclectic scientist, you know that when in doubt the best thing to do is just draw cards, and if those cards don't have the answer, probably just draw more, and so Izzet Generatorium is for you. Don't fear: the lab has something for everyone!

In particular, today the lab has something new for you, intrepid visitor. Allow me to pull away the drop cloth and reveal:

0122_MTGMH3_Main: Galvanic Discharge 0417_MTGMH3_RetroMH3: Galvanic Discharge


What? Even as a lab rat turned definitely human scientist, I think this is wild! Galvanic Discharge is a single mana of potent creature and planeswalker killing possibility. While the idea of casting this to deal with early threats is thrilling, if it is at home in an energy-centric deck, there's also the chance that it could kill a creature of nearly any size later in the game, and still for a single red mana.

With so much new energy potential hitting Modern with this set, is it finally time for an energy deck in Modern? Before we hypothesize, we must do our research. So, travel back with me into the past. (The time machine is perfectly safe … while traveling back. But you already know how to travel forward in time—you do it every day—so, please don't worry.)

The Energy of the Past (Also Known as My 20s)

I may not have the effervescence of a decade ago, but I can still relive the past with the best of them. So, let's take a stroll down memory lane and recall the time when we could go to two parties in a row and cast an Ulamog on turn four.

Aetherworks Marvel

During energy's time in Standard, the most notorious deck built around the resource was an Aetherworks Marvel deck that maximized energy production via cards like Attune with Aether and Woodweaver's Puzzleknot. The end goal was to play an Aetherworks Marvel as soon as possible, and ideally immediately give it a spin and hope to put an Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger into play.

Six energy was surprisingly easy to amass, and if the Marvel didn't hit Ulamog the first time around, players were often able to try again the very next turn. The deck was spectacularly consistent, and there was nothing quite like the moments that you waited, breath held, while your opponent looked at the top six cards of their library.

On MTG Arena, the synergy of Kaladesh Remastered and the Strixhaven: School of Mages Mystical Archive briefly made Aetherworks Marvel a viable deck in Historic. Memory Lapse was a potent tool in stalling opponents' game plans long enough to stick an Aetherworks Marvel and give it a spin. When Memory Lapse was banned in Historic, the deck largely disappeared, but not before it had the chance to inspire a fresh batch of dreamers obsessed with the what ifs of a format where an Aetherworks Marvel deck is possible.

Temur Energy

For players seeking instant gratification from the energy-to-giant-monster pipeline, there was Temur Energy. Rest in peace to the many players absolutely mauled by enormous Longtusk Cubs during Temur Energy's Standard reign.

Temur Energy forewent the fancy Aetherworks Marvel shenanigans in favor of a solid plan of attack centered on, well, attacking. Longtusk Cubs could quickly get out of hand. Bristling Hydra was another giant threat that an endless supply of energy made impossible to get off the board. And, in the event that either of those failed, there was always the ability to make a ton of thopters with Whirler Virtuoso to push through that last bit of damage.

With that past in the rearview mirror, where could this new era of Modern energy lead us? Let's explore!

The Energy of the Future (What I Call Coffee)

The key to coffee is not stopping when you feel energized! You must continue onwards until you feel your vision vibrating and your grip on reality slipping! That's where we do our best brewing! Pun intended! I am not sorry, I am mad.

While my personal impulse is to dive straight into rabid speculation about whether any of these new energy cards hitting Modern will make an Aetherworks Marvel deck possible, it's only polite to explore everyone's options. So, we're going to kick things off with what an aggro energy deck could look like in Modern!


The energy cards previewed so far show Boros leading the charge in aggro energy decks. Amped Raptor can put multiple creatures on the battlefield on turn two, and chaining a Raptor into a Conduit Goblin to attack for three on turn two feels like a solid start for a potential aggro deck.

It hearkens back to the days when a Wild Nacatl was one of Zoo's favorite turn one plays, except in this instance, the Conduit Goblin and the leftover energy mean that future creatures hitting the battlefield can still get haste, too. The current Domain Zoo builds overpower the Zoo decks of the past, Amped Raptor and friends suggest that Modern Horizons 3 could open another line of attack(ing). And if, like its predecessor, an aggro energy deck stretched from Boros to Naya, Standard's previous heavy hitters like Longtusk Cub and Voltaic Brawler are back in the mix. Attack away, my energy-hungry friends.

Synergy City

Okay, I've appeased the aggro players (important), and we can move on to less direct, but no less effective, methods of finishing off our opponents.

The Classic – Aetherworks Marvel

It has to be possible, right?! Just how possible "possible" is remains to be seen—after all, Aetherworks Marvel has been legal in Modern for years and has yet to make a name for itself. Still, cards like Galvanic Discharge and Tune the Narrative give me hope. Attune with Aether was an important part of Standard Marvel decks, providing early energy counters and land drops, and both Galvanic Discharge and Tune the Narrative could play a similar role but with even greater utility.

That, and I heard there's a pretty nice new Emrakul we could marvel onto the battlefield. Sure, that madness cost is eye catching, but you know what's less than six mana? Zero.

The Big Switcheroo – Volatile Stormdrake

While I dream of a deck whose only purpose is to amass enough energy to swap a Volatile Stormdrake with, for instance, an opposing Murktide Regent, it seems like it might be equally at home in its own Izzet shell. Once upon a time, Splinter Twin was a pillar of Modern by playing a tempo and control game until the combo came online, but the deck was also capable of winning without its namesake enchantment by chipping in for damage where it could and constantly keeping the opponent off balance.

Volatile Stormdrake feels like it could be at home in a similar type of deck as an especially potent way to pull the rug out from under opponents just when they think they've landed a creature that might help them put the game away.

From the GRAAAAAVE – Chthonian Nightmare

Fauna Shaman. Creature of your choice. Chthonian Nightmare. Rinse and repeat and repeat and repeat and repeat and repeat.

Fauna Shaman is also only one fairly direct way of going about getting the creatures you want into your graveyard. There are also a number of other tools for milling yourself, including creatures like recent Standard star Temur Analyst or frequent combo key Altar of Dementia. The last is particularly appealing because it would allow you to play early creatures that generate energy, then sacrifice them to Altar of Dementia to mill yourself to find targets for Chthonian Nightmare. There are also new cards like Tempest Harvester, which can help get creatures into your graveyard while also generating energy.

I think what I love most about this option is that, like the Standard energy decks that came before it, it provides a place for unassuming creatures like Rogue Refiner and Whirler Virtuoso.

I lied, what I actually love most is that, if you do this, you're basically singlehandedly reenacting the beginning of Frankenstein.

No matter what kind of synergy best suits your combo or combo-adjacent palate, the energy offerings in Modern Horizons 3 provide an appealing set of laboratory tools.


Wow, you stayed! If you have made it here, you are truly my people. The dreamers, the schemers, the people interested in casting a wrath as soon as they can. The players who saw Tune the Narrative and Wrath of the Skies and thought yes, yes, excellent.

The problem with wraths (besides nothing; they're perfect and have never done anything wrong) is that they often cost four or more mana, meaning that, when you're spending your mana frantically digging for one, you can end up without enough mana to actually cast it. But if you've already been accumulating incidental energy with cards like Galvanic Discharge, then you can cast Wrath of the Skies for only two mana if you need to!

Jeskai has had its seasons as the favorite control deck in Modern. Variations on the strategy's key red and blue spells—burn spells, card draw—but with an energy twist, plus Wrath of the Skies in white, could pave the way for a fresh Jeskai deck.

Alright, everyone, that's everything the lab has to offer for now! Thank you again so much for visiting, and remember, the only thing keeping your home from being the perfect laboratory is nothing, so get out there and use energy to make some creations of your own!

Modern Horizons 3 will hit stores worldwide on June 14, 2024, and you can preorder products now through your local game store, online retailers like Amazon, and elsewhere Magic is sold.