The other thing with Ivy Lane Denizen is that it only enables one creature for the persist combos, and that is Kitchen Finks. I think that really limits the appeal as compared to the more general pieces, like Renata or Good-Fortune Unicorn/Juniper Order Ranger and Grumgully/Rhythm of the Wild.
Flourishing Strike definitely made my (rather long) short list of interesting cards from this set. I like pump spells a lot in green and the potential 2-for-1 upside interested me a little more than something like Tangletrap. Honestly though, most of my pump spells have their added utility in being free (Invigorate) or also protecting a creature (Blossoming Defense), so I hesitate to replace thoae with Strike.
Re: Barbed Spike and Thunderous Orator- I think I am like TyranidBill, where I have very few great upsides for Orator, so I was honestly valuing it as a 2/2 Vigilance that sometimes flies and I would rather have a 2/1 flier instead of it. And even the 2/1 fliers were relatively low amongst my white 2-drops, so I had Barbed Point decently above Orator.
Re: Liquimetal Torque- The New Card Discussion thread brought this up as an interesting mama rock that also turns your artifact/enchantment destruction into creature removal. It is certainly another way to make artifact removal relevant and a decent mana rock to boot. I would probably rank it over some other colorless mana rocks like Guardian Idol and Everflowing Chalice.
I am so excited that this full set is finally spoiled! This set has a ton of interesting cards and, I believe, a pretty flat power level. I only think a single card is a staple and I could really see having fewer than 5 cards from Modern Horizons 2 in my Cube by next year. Since there are so many interesting cards, I have been thinking for a week exactly how large my set review should be and this is the biggest one yet. Commander Legends went to top 25, but Modern Horizons 2 will have a top 30! And that's excluding another 30+ cards I considered. Here comes my Way Too Early Top 20 30 List for Modern Horizons 2!
30) Prismatic Ending, 29) Glinting Creeper, 28) Sweep the Skies, 27) Radiant Epicure and 26) Kaleidoscorch - I have zero true multicolored cards on this list, as I think my sections are pretty tight and nothing will break through. However, I think all of the Converge spells are pretty interesting. This rank order basically reflects how playable I think they are at 2-3 different colors used. Kaleidoscorch is reasonable enough as a Firebolt simile and if you squint, Radiant Epicure kind of looks like Siege Rhino.
25) Jade Avenger- What exactly is this card most like? A 2/2 first striker? A 2/2 with limited evasion? A 4/4 wall that sometimes attacks? I lean towards this playing mostly like a 2/2 first striker, and that is slightly underpowered for green 2-drops.
24) Monoskelion- I think paying 1 to deal damage severely hurts the power of this card. Instead of a potential 2 mana two-for-one, you get that deal for 3 mana. This is certainly a flexible card though and benefits by being reasonable in all types of decks.
23) Scuttletide- With delirium active, turning excess cards into 1/4s is very reasonable. I doubt this will ever be a single-card win condition, but it clogs up the board and can assist with closing the game. Really cute with cards like Sanitarium Skeleton.
22) Dragon's Rage Channeler- This looks good for the spells deck and maybe decent enough for generic red aggro. That said, I do not believe there is any deck that reliably has this at 3/3 earlier than turn 5.
The Reanimation Trio
21) Bone Shards, 20) Young Necromancer, and 19) Vile Entomber- All three of these cards fall a bit flat for me outside of very dedicated reanimator decks. Bone Shards has a lot of recent competition at 1 mana for creature kill spells. Young Necromancer falls among my 8th to 12th best reanimation spells, and I play 7 right now. Vile Entomber falls slightly behind other spells which self-mill for more cards, as non-reanimator graveyard stats do not typically need 1 specific spell in the graveyard.
The Counter Quartet
18) Constable of the Realm, 17) Herd Baloth, 16) Bannerhide Krushok, and 15) Scurry Oak- This set has convinced me to try out additional cards for the Persist combo decks, as a potential precursor to focusing even more on +1/+1 counters down the line. Constable of the Realm gets hurt by having a lot of competition among white 5-drops for +1/+1 counter support. Herd Baloth has the infinite combo with Ivy Lane Denizen but, without that, is pretty unreliable. Bannerhide Krushok is really, really close to getting in right now, looking like a mono-colored Ghor-Clan Rampager. Scurry Oak adds a lot to the battlefield with just 2 evolutions, and I think stands alone well without specific combo support (like Ivy Lane Denizen again).
More Interesting Cards
14) Blazing Rootwalla- I have jumped all over on this one. My main concern is that it feels a little underwhelming on a crowded board, whereas some other red one-drops can sometimes contribute.
13) Goblin Traprunner- This card feels less like a Goblin Rabblemaster and more like a swingy Beetleback Chief. This should be pretty good in most aggro decks, but I think sacrifice decks will benefit from the extra bodies AND provide more chances for Goblin Traprunner to keep attacking.
12) Legion Vanguard- Definitely an awesome way to turn those extra bodies into an advantage, but exploring is always a bit inconsistent in which advantage it provides.
11) Mine Collapse- A card that looks kind of Magmatic Sinkhole, an interesting MH1 card I never wanted to add. I believe the upside of being a free spell means a lot, but I need to be fully convinced.
10) Archfiend of Sorrows- I think this card could be an archetype defining sort of card, reminding me a lot of Feast of Succession. We have a big, expensive spell that really puts the clamps on aggro but also functions as a reasonable finisher in other matchups. This costs 7 mana instead of 6, but does have the potential Unearth upside.
9) Tireless Provisioner- This card might have its most upside in treasure-making, but could also be a great roadblock when it starts cooking up food. Pretty versatile, if not specifically powerful.
Cards I Am Excited To Play
5) Abundant Harvest- I am still skeptical of this card, but excited to test out. I worry this card is going to be mostly air. Whereas blue can use all that air to pump out something big (Pteramander or Rise from the Tides), green has fewest places to put that air. If there is a good spot to play it early, Abundant Harvest can help smooth out land drops or find a play for later. If these is not a good spot to play it early, it can make your turns a little awkward. Is adding G to the average spell in your deck better than the best spell in your sideboard?
4) Lose Focus- Probably the best two-mana counter spell since Remand? I could certainly see a world where this is better than Miscalculation, with its different type of flexibility. Even it is not better, being in the same realm as those two spells is pretty great.
3) Thraben Watcher- Always Watching was such an amazing card because the pump plus vigilance made your creatures dominate on offense and defense. This is more fragile than Always Watching was, but also attacks as a 2/2 flier. As a static ability, Thraben Watcher can impact the board the turn cycle it hits.
2) Timeless Witness- A bit controversial at #2, but I kept coming back to this being a potential four-for-one. Getting all of the card advantage is slow and expensive, but this is a pretty decent two-for-one on its face for 2GG. I also kept comparing this to Harmonize, where the three cards you "draw" are a 2/1 on the board, a cast Regrowth and a 5GG sorcery that makes a 4/4 plus Regrowth.
1) Flametongue Yearling- This was an easy #1. At RR, this is equal to Fire Imp and at 2RR, this is (mostly) better than Stalking Yeti. Besides already comparing well to two other Cube cards I really like, you also get the option to make it even bigger or combine pump spells with the ETB trigger. The only card I would consider an absolute staple from this set.
I will likely test Abundant Harvest, but I am not sold on it being a lock due to the lack of synergy in Green.
I am glad Scurry Oak gives more +1/+1 counter payoffs to Green. I feel like Green is still lacking in payoffs compared to White, but it is getting better.
Rift Sower compares well enough to Search for Tomorrow. More vulnerable as a creature, but provides some board presence and wears equipment. Also taps for any color. It does fail to provide mana the turn it is cast for 2G, unlike Search.
I think Bone Shards is interesting. The discard option is welcome in low-curve aggro decks that do not need excess lands and also for reanimator decks as a potential enabler. More interesting than Spark Harvest, which no one actually plays.
I think Young Necromancer is a decent 2nd tier reanimation spell, maybe around Blood for Bones, Makeshift Mannequin, and The Eldest Reborn. I do like how you can chain reanimation spells if Young Necromancer is also in your graveyard. Use a reanimation enchantment on Young Necromancer and then Necromancer gets back the real threat without fear of enchantment removal.
FTY (Flametongue Yearling) there is a RRFire Imp, and I think I would rather have the double colored mana two drop instead of the single colored three drop. The multi-kicker is just additional upside at that point.