Modern Horizons Draft Guide

Marcio Carvalho


Hi everyone, Marcio here and I’m back with another Limited article!

Modern Horizons has been around for a few days now, so it’s time to dive into what we have learned so far.

Although a set designed for constructed, especially Modern, we have on our hands one of the most complex sets ever when it comes to Limited, featuring around 45 different mechanics from past magic sets! That’s kind of overwhelming for a new player, so if you haven’t played with most of them, I advise you to go through the spoiler a couple of times before start playing.

With such a big amount of mechanics and interactions, you can imagine that the possibilities are endless and there is definitely a lot to explore. We’ll go through some of the archetypes that I have played so far and why I think they are the direction you want to go when drafting such an amazing and complex set.

My Favorite Archetypes

Red-Green Land Sacrifice

Forgotten CaveRuination RioterMurasa Behemoth
Igneous ElementalMother BearRime Tender

This is one of my favorite archetypes. One of the advantages of going to this strategy is that the fail rate is very low, as the “filler” cards of this deck are very good on their own, as the two insane two drops in 《Mother Bear》 and 《Rime Tender》.

Magmatic SinkholePyrophobiaSavage Swipe

You also get access to a lot of cheap and efficient removal like 《Magmatic Sinkhole》 (not exactly cheap but very efficient especially when you are trading early), 《Pyrophobia》 and 《Savage Swipe》.

Lava DartSpringbloom Druid

《Lava Dart》 might seem bad, but stop a lot of the early creatures and become an enabler to your deck theme later in the game. 《Springbloom Druid》 is also good on doing that, and making cards like 《Murasa Behemoth》 and 《Igneous Elemental》 really powerful. Imagine if you can make 《Igneous Elemental》 always cost 4? It’s the red 《Nekrataal》!

Trumpeting Herd

Another common that can easily snowball is 《Trumpeting Herd》, the green 《History of Benalia》 (I need to stop making this comparisons).

With so many powerful options at all points of the curve, this archetype has all the tools to be one of the best options at this stage of the format.

Blue-Black Ninjas

Ingenious InfiltratorMoonblade ShinobiAzra Smokeshaper

This is the boogeyman of the format. Being all about synergy, when this deck is good it is nearly unbeatable.

Smoke Shroud

What you need is a decent number of evasive creatures or ways to get your Ninjas through. That’s where a card like 《Smoke Shroud》 shines. At first I neglected the card, but now I think it’s nut on this deck.

Ninja of the New Moon

Another card which I think a sleeper on the set is 《Ninja of the New Moon》. Hitting for 6 swings heavily the race on your favor, and if you have a 《Smoke Shroud》 going you put your opponent on a spot where they need to interact or they are just dead.

We talked about the Ninjas and Ninjutsu, but how about enablers? Well, there are some one drops and we got two pretty good ones:

Faerie SeerChangeling Outcast

《Faerie Seer》 is my favorite, as it flies and smooths your draw. Having such an Enter the Battlefield trigger works great with the deck as you want to keep returning to your hand so you can pretty much never flood until the game ends.

《Changeling Outcast》 comes second, but unblockable is very relevant as sometimes your faerie may have a problem connecting.

Gluttonous SlugEyekite

Even if you can’t get a hold of them, you can still work with some evasive two drops like 《Gluttonous Slug》 and 《Eyekite》.

Man-o'-WarWindcaller Aven

There are two more important cards to mention, 《Man-o’-War》 and 《Windcaller Aven》 for also letting your Ninjas connect when blockers on the way.

This shows us how deep blue is on this set, enabling a lot of archetypes.

Black-Red Sacrifice / Goblins

GoatnapCarrion FeederBogardan DragonheartPutrid Goblin

There are 2 types of the decks you can get when drafting Black-Red:

One is similar to the old BR Sacrifice decks from the past where you use 《Goatnap》 to steal their creature and make your 《Bogardan Dragonheart》 or 《Carrion Feeder》 bigger, but you can also use some tokens to grow them.

The other one is more of a classic value deck with a good balance of aggressive creatures and removal.

Goblin War Party

One card that has impressed me on both archetypes is 《Goblin War Party》. It’s the 《Heroic Reinforcements》 of this set, killing people from out of nowhere!

Blue-Green Snow / 5-Color Green

Rime TenderBlizzard StrixSpringbloom DruidArcum's Astrolabe

This is one of the greediest archetypes, where you are mostly Blue Green but you’ll have cards like 《Springbloom Druid》 and 《Arcum’s Astrolabe》 so you can splash any other powerful cards you manage to pick up during the draft.

Conifer WurmAbominable TreefolkChillerpillar

The snow payoff cards are pretty insane, but they are almost all uncommuns: 《Conifer Wurm》 kills people from out of nowhere, while 《Abominable Treefolk》 is a huge beast with a 《Chillbringer》 ability attached. 《Chillerpillar》 can also be a good option to close out the games, but you should manage to get them later in the draft.

FrostwallaWinter's Rest

Don’t forget to get some cards to hold the ground early while you are looking for your snow permanent, and you can do that with some 《Frostwalla》 and 《Winter’s Rest》.

Other Archetypes

For me, those 4 archetypes above are the major players of the format, but there is much more on this set!

Cloudshredder SliverLavabelly SliverEnduring SliverBladeback Sliver

White-Red Slivers has been pretty lackluster as you always need a critical mass of things to go well, while being easily disrupted, so I have not been happy with the archetype.

That said, there a few archetypes that can be very good thanks to their uncommons representatives.

Blue-Red Draw Two

Thundering Djinn

Blue-Red Draw Two is one that I like as you can focus on the powerful cards early while knowing the fillers which you need will be wheeled easily as nobody else wants them. 《Thundering Djinn》 being one of the best uncommons of the set definitely helps, and when you get to untap with it you almost win the game on the spot.

Spinehorn MinotaurFists of Flame

《Spinehorn Minotaur》 goes very well there, and combined with 《Fists of Flame》s it impersonates a little 《Temur Battle Rage》 combo for you. 《Death’s Shadow》 fans out there.

White-Blue Blinks

Pondering MageVesperlarkIrregular Cohort

《Soulherder》 is a very powerful card, and I’m convinced that it is worth building around. Some cards that combo well with it outside of the obvious 《Man-o’-War》 are 《Pondering Mage》, 《Vesperlark》 and 《Irregular Cohort》. The deck is all about value and trying to bury your opponent in card advantage while winning with some flyers.

Rhox VeteranSettle Beyond Reality

《Rhox Veteran》 is a card that might not seem so good here, but it’s actually a win condition by pushing all races on your favor. For the removal spot 《Settle Beyond Reality》 is the best you can get as often you will get value from your own creature while removing one of theirs.

White-Green Creaturefall

To finish we have White-Green Creaturefall.

Good-Fortune UnicornRhox Veteran
Trumpeting HerdIrregular CohortTwin-Silk Spider

《Good-Fortune Unicorn》 is the creature that starts the ball rolling, but your plan is to make a lot of tokens with 《Trumpeting Herd》, 《Irregular Cohort》 and 《Twin-Silk Spider》. Add 《Rhox Veteran》 to the mix and it’s enough pressure to finish the game in a couple of turns.

Savage Swipe

Just be careful and get some cheap interaction like 《Savage Swipe》 to recover from any tempo loss you encountered building your board.


I feel there is still a lot more to explore on this format, and these are only my initial thoughts on it, so let us know in the comment section what has been working for you as well!

See you next time!

Márcio A Carvalho (Twitter / Twitch)

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Marcio Carvalho Portugal’s top pro player. And he is a member of Hareruya Latin. He owns the title Draft Master of season 2015-2016. As shown in his results, he is a limited format specialist. His daily effort toward Magic earned this result, with an episode that he has picked 287 copies of Clutch of Currents in the Battle for Zendikar draft. Read more articles by Marcio Carvalho