Welcome friend, to one very special draft format. Non-Standard sets can be quite weird, if you aren’t used to them. The main reason is that synergies are often extremely important. That’s why this Modern Horizons 2 Draft Guide will be a bit different from our usual ones.
UPDATE: If you’re looking forward to drafting the newest set, you should read our Dominaria United Draft Guide.
Before We Start – Synergies Are Key
For starters, we won’t talk as much about the best commons for every color. Why? Because the synergies are really important – more than the card’s power level in a vacuum. (That’s not necessarily applying to rares and mythics – some of them can still win you the game on their own.) One common can be a key cards in a specific archetype, while it’s unplayable in another.
As there are over 30 different mechanics in the set, we also won’t go over all of them. Instead, we’ll only mention the ones that are important to specific archetypes.
So let’s jump straight to the archetypes, and dive deep into them.
Modern Horizons 2 Draft Archetypes
One interesting thing to note with Modern Horizons 2 draft archetypes is that many of them play well with the ones that share a color.
For example, Green-White supports a +1/+1 counters theme, while Red-White has an Artifact matter theme with a Modular mechanic, which also uses +1/+1 counters. This would suggest that white cards that pay you off for having +1/+1 counters are at premium and additionally, you might want to splash red in your Green-White deck or vice versa.
We’ll mention more of the cross-archetype synergies when we’ll talk about specific archetypes, so let’s get right to it.
Green – Blue: Value / Tokens Matter
We’re starting off with a quite weird archetype. It has a token theme, and you might think, that’s similar then the ones you’ve seen in the regular sets: “Make a bunch of tokens. Use a pump spell for the win.”
Well, that’s not the case here.
Not Just Creature Tokens
For starters, you won’t be making just creature tokens. There are also Clue, Food and Treasure tokens. Each of them has its own uses, and can come in handy in certain situations.
The most important thing to note here is that these type of cards don’t make for the most aggressive archetype. Instead, it plays a midrange game that can fight well into the late game. With enough Treasures and common dual lands, you can easily splash powerful cards in various colors in this deck.
But let’s get back to the token theme and figure which payoffs you have.
Combine Chrysalis is certainly one of them. You’ll be sacrificing your Food to get 4/4 flyers. That’s a pretty good deal.
Speciment Collector is a fine card all by itself. It provides three bodies in one card, plus you get to make a copy of a token when it dies. Naturally, it gets better with the better tokens you have.
For a one drop Glimer Bairn can really do a lot in this archetype. However, you really need a lot of tokens to make it consistently good. Junk Winder, on the other hand, is quite expensive, but you can bring its cost down easily and get a really powerful payoff.
So Shiny is a nice removal spell, which really preforms nicely when you have a token consistently lying around. Scry 2 is close to drawing a card in the late game.
Fae Offering looks like a perfect card for the archetype at first glance. It’s totally fine in the archetype, but you must do some work – you want a nice mix of creature and non-creature spells. Often you’ll want to hold a two drop and cast both Offering and the two drop on the same turn in order to get your three tokens immediately.
There are a ton of token makers, so we’ll just discuss the ones that are the most useful in this archetype (focusing on lower rarities).
Waveshifter is doing its best Mulldrifter impression, and it’s still a powerhouse in the Modern Horizons 2 Draft. Sure, it takes some time, but you’ll get a three for one eventually.
Hard Evidence has really over preformed. You get two tokens for just a single blue mana. Crab can block early aggression quite nicely, and Clue guarantees you’ll get your card back.
Burdened Aerialist can deal significant amount of damage, as you’ll be sacrificing your tokens often enough. Getting a Treasure out of your 3 drop is quite nice, as you can play your expensive cards one turn earlier, which can be especially meaningful on turns 4 and 5.
Tireless Provisioner is an amazing token maker – turning your lands into life gain or addition ramp is almost always useful.
How to End Up in Green-Blue?
It’s somewhat hard to pinpoint which cards will draw you into this archetype. Combine Chrysalis can definitely be one of them, but you really don’t want multiples, as they get quite redundant. Personally, I find it hard to pass up a Waveshifter, and often try to find if this deck is open.
If you get Rise and Shine early, you probably just want to force this archetype, as the card will simply be 6 mana win-the-game card. Apparently, that’s quite good.
Black – Green: Squirrel Tokens / Sacrifice
This archetype has two themes, that both play well with one another – Squirrel tribal and sacrifice.
The best card for the archetype would most certainly be Chitterspitter, but that’s a bomb that will get played in any green deck. So let’s instead focus on the payoffs of lower rarities.
Squirrel Sovereign is a fine lord. But the card you’ll also want to have in your deck is Drey Keeper it’s a three for one, and it turns all of your Squirrels into terrifying threats. It’s actually a common, so you might even get multiples of it – especially, if you’re the only one drafting this archetype.
There are quite some sacrifice outlets of various power levels:
So try to go wide with Squirrels and pump them with your lords. Don’t be afraid to sacrifice them for value when appropriate.
Green – White: +1/+1 Counters
There are a lot of creatures in Modern Horizons 2 that get +1/+1 counters one way or another. Making your creatures bigger is already good, but there’s some more payoffs for doing so with counters.
A common one is Deepwood Denizen. The card doesn’t have the best body, but in the late game you can get an incredibly powerful effect if you have some creatures with counters lying around.
However, the real juice is on the cards with higher rarities. Scurry Oak is a very nice one, since it can get counters with its Evolve ability. You get Squirrel tokens for your troubles. Furthermore, there’s Herd Baloth. Whenever you put a +1/+1 counter on it, you get a 4/4 Beast! Now that’s a whole card of value.
Monoskelion is already playable on its own. If you do manage to get some counters on it, it becomes even better. Arcbound Javelineer is somewhat similar and play nicely with artifact creatures.
Finally, Constable of the Realm is also a powerhouse. It acts as an Oblivion Ring, whenever you put +1/+1 counters on it.
How to Get +1/+1 Counters?
Perhaps the best way to acquire counters is with Arcus Acolyte, which is one of the draws for the archetype. Unbounded Potential can also work – this card at its best in this archetype, as you get to use all parts of the buffalo.
You can also rely on artifact modular synergies, as they work with counters as well. You can get three modular creatures in white:
If you decide to go this way, you probably want to get some other artifact creatures as well.
These are the cards that shall draw you in this archetype, especially if you see them late in the pack.
Red – White: Artifact Aggro / Modular
Even the designated aggro archetype isn’t without synergies. Quite the contrary, in fact. Red-white archetype focuses on the artifact synergies, particularly on the modular mechanic.
A creature (or permanent) with Modular X enters the battlefield with X +1/+1 counters. When it dies, you may put its +1/+1 counters on target artifact creature.
There are 8 creatures with modular ability and all of them are at least playable in this archetype. Most of them are commons and uncommons – Zabaz, the Glimmerwasp is the only rare.
The best one is certainly Arcbound Shikari, which will ideally buff your whole team. This is yet another great synergy with modular creatures. If you see Shikari late in the first pack, you might want to move into this archetype.
Arcbound Slasher is an amazing card to have access to. If you’re opponent is on the back foot, just smash in there with a hasty 4/4. If they kill it, just move the counters to something else and make another big threat. Even if you’ve fallen behind, you still get a 5/5 for 5, which is an amazing deal – especially for red.
There are a bunch of artifact creatures that play nicely with +1/+1 they could get from your modular cards. We’ve already mentioned Arcbound Javelineer, butKnighted Myr and Monoskelion can preform well too.
Of course, you also want some affinity for artifacts cards as well. There aren’t many of them, but both Slag Strider and Sojourner’s Companion preform nicely in this shell. Lens Flare can also be a fine removal spell.
To support these cards, you’ll want to play artifact dual lands. Rustvale Bridge is naturally the best one, but you can even play the ones that share only one color. Prefer the ones with blue in them, as you’ll often want to splash Ethersworn Sphinx in this shell.
With red-white, you want to have a low curve with effective modular creatures, some affinity cards on the top end, and you should do just fine.
Blue – White: Affinity / Artifacts Matter
This archetype is somewhat similar to the previous one. The difference is that this archetype is somewhat less aggressive and has more cards that provide two-for-ones.
The two poster child cards for that are Ethersworn Sphinx and Chrome Courier. Sphinx really rewards you for playing a bunch of artifacts. You get a big flyer and a free spell on top of that.
Courier is certainly less powerful, but still a fine role player in this archetype. It replaces itself plus provides another artifact for your artifact synergies. A 1/1 flyer might seem mediocre, but don’t forget that it can wear +1/+1 counter from your white modular creatures.
What Does Blue Bring to the Table?
So apart from being a bit slower, what are some other cool effects that we get with blue instead of red in our artifact archetype?
Well, you get Etherium Spinner for starters. No, it doesn’t have anything to do with crypto. Instead, it gives you a Thopter token whenever you cast a spell that costs 4 or more. Great synergy with affinity for artifacts cards like Sojourner’s Companion.
Filigree Attendant can grow into a surprisingly large flyer. Particularly so, when you have some artifact lands in play as well. Another cool threat is Vedalken Inflirtrator, which can wear equipments very well. Equipment naturally play well with the whole artifact matters theme.
Finally, if you get lucky you might even get an amazing rare, something like Thought Monitor for example.
All in all this is a great archetype. You’ll usually end up in it if you get a powerful on-theme rare or something like Ethersworn Sphinx early on.
Try to have a nice curve, play lots of artifacts and try to get some payoffs for doing so. Don’t forget to pick the artifact dual lands as well.
Black – White: Reanimator
Reanimator is an interesting archetype, most often seen in cube. For you to go all in on the reanimation plan in Modern Horizons 2 draft, you need to have multiple rares. Instead, you can play it more like a midrange deck with a small reanimation subtheme.
For reanimator to work, you usually need three things:
- Good creatures to reanimate
- Reanimation spells
- Discard Outlets
Good Creatures to Reanimate
The best one would be Archon of Cruelty. But that’s a mythic, so if you aren’t simply planning on being incredibly lucky, you’d better focus on commons and uncommons. Thankfully, there are a lot of those.
Archfiend of Sorrows is a really nice one. Against certain decks, it can totally decimate the opposing board. It costs seven mana, which is quite a lot, but you can get a lot of value out of it. Additonally, you can discard it with an outlet to then reanimate it – either with a spell, or with its Unearth ability. A great card for the archetype!
Another amazing one is Soul of Migration. It costs 7 mana and you get 4 power worth of flyers over three bodies. For four mana you can evoke it – you get two Birds in play and Soul into the graveyard, ready to be reanimated.
Graceful Restoration is probably the best of the bunch. You can either get one big creature back, or two smaller ones. The smaller ones can also be quite powerful, if we’re talking about Soul of Migration or Breathless Knight.
Scour the Desert strictly speaking isn’t a reanimation spell. However, it does work somewhat similar. You remove a big creature and get a significant board presence. Turn 4 evoke Soul of Migration, turn 5 Scour, and you have an army of six 1/1 flyers – and you’re off to the races. Scour also works nicely with Landscaper Colos.
Back to more regular reanimation spells. Young Necromancer is just a really solid card, which any black deck will be happy to play.
Finally, there’s also Late for Dinner, which is your classic reanimation spell with a tasty upside.
As you might’ve noticed, a lot of cards have ways to get themselves into the graveyard, so you don’t need to get to crazy about discard outlets. Anyways, here are some examples of discard outlets you can use:
As we’ve talked about before, you don’t need to go all-in on the reanimation route. Just play a regular midrange deck, with some reanimation synergies, and you’ll be able to win games. Stuff like discard outlets are much more important in the following archetype.
Black – Red: Madness Aggro
Black-Red archetype is all about Madness. This can be a weird mechanic if you aren’t used to it, so let’s see what it does
If a card with Madness would be discarded, it gets exiled. Then you can either cast it immediately for its madness cost or put it into graveyard
Madness cards have many benefits:
- You’re usually discarding cards to get some kind of value. For example, to regenerate Patchwork Gnomes. This way you’re getting both the effect, and you aren’t losing your card.
- The madness cost is often cheaper than the actual cost, so you’re getting your cards into play faster.
- If you have an instant speed discard outlet, you can cast madness cards at instant speed. So sorceries become instants and creatures get flash. You can easily surprise an unsuspecting opponent.
For Madness deck to work, you need both Madness cards and discard outlets. Hell Mongrel is therefore a perfect card for the deck, as it provides both in one card. Let’s take a look at some other options.
Besides Hell Mongrel, there’s also Necrogoyf, but that’s rare. There are five other Madness cards at lower rarities. Here they’re ordered from best to worst (with the top 3 being bundled pretty closely together):
Most of them are pretty straightforward – they just want to beat down. Revolutionist though, can enable some sweet combos. Of course, it can simply rebuy you your powerful instant and sorceries and that’s very good already. However, with Mine Collapse it can provide for some explosive turns.
Tap Mountains for mana, sacrifice one to kill your creature. Play Revolutionist, get back Mine Collapse. Sacrifice a Mountain, kill another one of your creatures. So for potentially four mana, you killed two creatures and added a 3/3 to the board. Given that the archetype is quite aggressive, that’s usually a turn that your opponents aren’t coming back from.
To unlock the full potential of Madness cards, you need discard outlets. Here are some useful ones:
Madness cards aren’t the only payoffs for discarding card. You also have stuff like Feast of Sanity and Glit-Blade Prowler. However, we’ll talk more about the additional payoffs in the next archetype sections, as it’s also focused even more on self discard.
As for black-red, be aggressive, and pick up both good madness cards and good discard outlets and smash your opponent down quickly.
Blue – Black: Self Discard
Our next Modern Horizons 2 draft archetype shares some stuff with the previous one. Once again, you’re trying to discard cards for value.
All the black cards we’ve talk about with the Madness ability are also applicable here. Hell Mongrel is once again on double duty.
Additionally, you also have Mystic Redaction, which is a fun build-around. Well, at least for you, if not for your opponents. Feast of Sanity can also be quite good as it can actually affect the board. Of course, both of them get better in multiples.
Dihada’s Ploy provides some nice filtering, while Lazotep Chancellor makes you a personal army. Your opponents can hardly attack into open mana when you have that Zombie in play.
Gilt-Blade Prowler makes sure that you won’t run out of cards to discard. Furthermore, Recalibrate is a really powerful bounce spell in this shell.
The game plan of this deck isn’t very straightforward and can be quite messy sometimes. You’re trying to be a more controlling deck with Mystic Redaction, but some of the black madness cards tend to be more on the aggressive side.
That’s why it’s important to decide during the draft which way your deck will lean into – more aggressive or more controlling – and draft accordingly. Don’t put Mystic Redaction in your aggressive version of blue-black.
Finally, don’t forget that you can splash red – for some stuff like Terminal Agony from the previous archetype, or one particularly strong Giant from the next one.
Blue – Red: Delirium
Cards with Delirium have a bonus effect as long as you have four or more card types among cards in your graveyard.
In order to get various card types in your graveyard, you’ll use self discard cards – similar to the ones we mentioned with the previous two archetypes. Black-red, blue-black and blue-red all have somewhat similar strategies with trying to discard stuff.
That’s why you might often splash one of the three colors and have two main ones. Anyways, let’s talk about Delirium.
Best Delirium Cards
When you unlock Delirium, Raving Visionary, which was first an enabler, becomes a card advantage machine. Dragon’s Rage Channeler is similar. With Surveil it gets stuff in the yard, and later becomes an efficient beater.
Scuttletide is also an enabler with small payoff. Unholy Heat becomes an amazingly efficient removal spell.
Bot the best card is certainly Prophetic Titan. If you have Delirium when it hits the battlefield, it’s pretty much game over (and if it isn’t, there probably aren’t many cards that would save you in that spot). You get to both draw a card among the top four (which will usually be quite strong) and you get to deal 4 damage to any target. Even if you don’t have four types in graveyard, you still get to pick one of the two.
We’ve already talked a lot about enablers, both in this archetype section and in the two previous ones. However, you want to pay attention to cards with multiple types, as they can be excellent to get in the graveyard. Some examples are:
Anyways, if you see Prophetic Titan late in Pack 1, try and draft this deck, you won’t regret it.
Red – Green: Storm
This storm archetype is probably the weirdest and hardest to pull off. It actually isn’t supported that well, and you can make it work only in specific scenarios.
When you cast a spell with Storm you copy it for each spell that was cast before it this turn. (It doesn’t matter who cast it.)
In order to cast many spell in a turn, you need to have a lot of cantrips or a lot of cost reduction and/or mana production. There just aren’t many such cards that would be great. The best one is most certainly Goblin Anarchomancer and if you manage to get multiples of it you might be able to make it all work.
Some other options include:
However, none of these is as good as Anarchomancer.
There are five cards with Storm of the set:
- Aeve, Progenitor Ooze – a rare that’s only good in this archetype, so you might get it late
- Chatterstorm – an okayish card, nothing spectacular
- Galvanic Insurrection – if you don’t quite manage to go off
- Hunting Pack – the best non-rare payoff
- Spreading Insurrection – potentially a game winning card
As you can see, a lot must go right if you’re going to pull this one off. The archetype also doesn’t have much overlap with other ones, so that’s another strike against it. However, if this sounds like a challenge to you, go for it and have fun!
With all 10 Modern Horizons 2 archetypes explored, it’s time for the rankings. As always, take these with a grain of salt. This time we tried to rank them on how often do these decks come together and how powerful they are and combined both criteria into the ranking.
However, you can definitely win with any archetype. However, if you’ll only do one draft, you probably want to stay away from the bottom three as they don’t consistently come together – at least in our experience.
- Green – Blue: Value / Tokens Matter
- Black – Red: Madness Aggro
- Red – White: Artifact Aggro / Modular
- Blue – White: Affinity / Artifacts Matter
- Black – White: Reanimator
- Green – White: +1/+1 Counters
- Black – Green: Squirrel Tokens / Sacrifice
- Blue – Red: Delirium
- Blue – Black: Self Discard
- Red – Green: Storm
Single Card Discussion – MH2 Draft
As we skipped the best commons section this time around, we’ll instead talk about various interesting cards in the draft, that might be hard to evaluate on the spot.
Amazing Cards in Modern Horizons 2 Draft
First we’ll discuss various powerful cards, that less experienced players might not be sure about. If you think these are obviously powerful, I’ve seen them passed on MTG Online at some point. While it might make sense to pass them in certain situations, you want to pick these cards the vast majority of the time.
Players are obviously excited about Kaldra Compleat. Nettlecyst might be worse, but not by much thanks to its low mana cost.
Almost every type of deck will have some artifacts on the field at all times. If you know yoiu have a Nettlecyst in your deck, you want to actively pick up some artifacts, especially the artifact dual lands.
You can easily get a 3 mana 3/3 or bigger – immediately thanks to the Living weapon ability. When your opponent deals with it, you just make one of your smaller creatures into a very real threat.
Urza’s Saga is pretty much broken in Modern. But you might wonder if it’s also good in Modern Horizons 2 Draft? The answer is a resounding yes.
You get to make two tokens (don’t forget to respond to the third chapter), which will at that point be at least 2/2 (counting one another). But if you have any other artifacts in play – and you can easily have them in this format – they’ll be much, much bigger.
At that point, the last chapter doesn’t even matter. If you get something, that’s cool, if you don’t – that’s fine too.
If you’re worried that it’ll mess up your land ratio – that’s a valid concern. You can simply count it as a spell, and play the same amount of lands that you’d otherwise.
Rise and Shine
We’ve mentioned before that Rise and Shine is six mana win-the-game card. Sure, it’s not for every deck, but if you manage to get it early on, you should definitely try and draft around it.
The best shell is probably blue-green archetype due to the ease with which it makes tokens, but you can make it work in other combinations as well. You can turn all of your Clues, Treasures, etc. into actual threats. Your artifact lands become 4/4 indestructible creatures. After you resolve this spell, the game usually ends in the next combat.
You might see a Squirrel on the art and think it’s probably some fun stuff for a Squirrel tribal deck. While you wouldn’t technically be wrong, the card is much more than that. In fact, it’s an easy Pack 1, Pick 1 and goes well in any kind of green deck.
It takes a few turns to get it going, but once it does, it’s insanely strong. You want to make a Squirrel token every turn once you get it onto the battlefield. If you don’t have any expendable tokens, you’ll simply sacrifice that one – at that point you’re getting a 2/2 each turn. Pretty soon you’re making 4/4s and at that point it’s insanely hard to stop you.
The activation cost being just one mana is key here, as you get to do most of the stuff you’d be able to do otherwise, plus develop your board with bigger and bigger Squirrels.
In this section we’ll talk about cards which might not have the brutal raw power level, but are still quite interesting to play with and can be strong in certain situations.
This enchantment provides a mini archetype within itself. It works best with various artifact synergies, as the best one drops to play alongside are:
You now have a constant stream of chump blockers, and it’s going to be really hard to beat you on the ground. One drops will also pump other artifact creatures when they die. It’s a nice value engine, but if your opponent’s deck is planning on beating you with flyers, you might want to side it out.
Legion Vanguard and Evoke Creatures
Not taking into account the mythic cycle of Elemental Incarnations, there are three evoke creatures at lower rarities that you can find in Modern Horizons 2 Draft:
One interesting interaction happens when you evoke creatures – they don’t just go to the graveyard immediately – you can respond to them being sacrificed for evoke. If you have an instant speed outlet, like Legion Vanguard you can sacrifice them to its ability for even more value.
Now this won’t come up consistently, but when it does, it’s a nice interaction to know.
Batterbone is a really useful card. It works well with various artifact themes. 1/1 lifelinker is below the rate for a playable Magic card, but you do get to keep the equipment around.
The equip cost is certainly high, but you’ll be happy to have the option in the late game. It can often take the game out of the reach of your opponent in a way that not many cards could.
One copy is recommended for most decks, particularly if you think you’ll need some stabilization in the long game.
First Foundation Breaker is always maindeckable. The second copy is a bit more iffy, but you’ll be happy to have access to it in your sideboard. There are quite some big artifacts and enchantments running around, and Foundation Breaker will often do a very good Chupacabra impression.
Artifact Dual Lands
As you might’ve noticed through the article, there was a lot of talk about artifact dual lands. There are 10 of them, one for each color pair, and they’re commons.
They are great – both as mana fixers and as enablers for artifact synergies. You’ll usually want to pick them in the middle of the pack – if you’re in the artifact archetype, possibly even higher.
Final Tips for Modern Horizons 2 Draft
With all that said, let’s wrap up for some final tips for Modern Horizons 2 draft:
- Go for synergy over raw power level. If you’re unsure about which of the two cards to pick, go for the one that looks more synergistic for your deck.
- Try and find an open lane during the draft. If there’s a powerful card for a certain archetype going very late in pack one, you should try and potentially draft that archetype.
- If you’re playing in paper or non-phantom events on Magic Online, don’t forget to check cards’ prices beforehand, as some can be quite expensive. Some cards can let you free-roll into your next draft.
- Have fun! Go for crazy combos. If there’s something that looks like it might work, it probably will. Modern Horizons 2 is a real treat of a draft format.
Anyways, that’s the end of our Modern Horizons 2 Draft Guide. Hopefully, you now have a big picture of the format, which will help you to win more. Modern Horizons 2 is a really fun set to draft, so now that I’ve completed this Draft Guide, I’ll probably fire yet another draft on Magic Online very soon.
If you’d like to play a draft at home, you can purchase a Modern Horizons Draft Booster Box on Amazon.
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Until next time, enjoy Magic and have fun with your Modern Horizons 2 Drafts!