Modern Horizons 3 Draft Guide

Hello, friend! Today we’re diving deep into a very special draft format. While these Horizons sets always bring big shakeups into the Modern format, they also give drafters something to enjoy. Typically, these are among most popular draft environments, and it looks like that’s going to be the case this time around too.

This Modern Horizons Draft Guide will also be different from our usual draft guides. Instead of figuring out the best commons, we’re diving into the archetypes right away. Why? Because the format plays more like cube. Most cards will change their power level based on which archetype they slot in.

A certain common could be excellent in blue-red, while pretty mediocre in red-green. Thus, it’s much more important to know what each archetype wants you to build towards. With that said, let’s get right to it.

MH3 Draft Archetypes

The major archetypes in Modern Horizons 3 draft are built around the ten 2-color pairs. So, in most of your drafts you’ll want to stick to just two colors, but splashing is still an option. You’re particularly inclined to do so, if you’re drafting around a theme that appears in three colors.

First such theme are the energy counters, which appear in white, blue, and red. Therefore, three archetypes use this mechanic, albeit in different ways.

Blue-Red: Energy Midrange

Izzet Generatorium Modern Horizons 3 Draft Guide
Cyclops Superconductor MH3 Draft Guide

What are Energy Counters?

Various cards in Modern Horizons 3 create and/or spend energy counters. These are a special kind of resource that a player can get. Contrary to mana, they don’t disappear when steps and phases end. Thus, you can typically keep them until you spend them.

You decide when to spend your energy. Sometimes you’ll want to use it right away, but other times, you might want to wait, and use it for something better.

Galvanic Discharge How to Draft MH3

For example, you could use Galvanic Discharge to deal just a single damage, and still have two energy leftover. Now when you cast your second Galvanic Discharge, it’ll be able to deal up to five mana.

Figuring when and how many energy counters to spend is a key part of mastering these decks.

How Does Red-Blue Play Out?

This color pair has strong support at common rarity. Cyclops Superconductor is an amazing card, giving you a lot of power for three mana.

Aforementioned Galvanic Discharge is a spectacular removal spell, as it’s extremely efficient without any additional energy support. However, once you do add cards like Tune the Narrative to the mix, it becomes even stronger.

Now most of the red and blue energy cards are quite useful on their own and you don’t need to specifically build around them. This means that you don’t need to play weaker cards just because they mention energy. Instead, you can just play a sort of a midrange/tempo deck, and you should be in a nice spot.

On the other hand, you could also go really deep, and include cards like Izzet Generatorium, if you have enough support for it. It’s going to be interesting to see which version of red-blue will end up the better of the two. Full-on energy or just a deck with strong standalone energy cards.

Red-White: Energy Aggro

Scurry of Gremlins Modern Horizons 3 Draft Guide
Conduit Goblin MH3 Draft Archetypes

While red-white also uses energy counters, but it pairs theme with its traditional theme – aggression. Compared to the previous archetype, this one is much more low to the ground. You’ll play cheap creatures, which you’ll want to turn sideways ASAP.

You won’t bother much by energy synergies. Sure, you’ll use the good energy cards, and they’ll play well with one another. Just keep in mind that, you don’t need to highly draft cards just because they care about energy.

Conduit Goblin illustrates this point perfectly. It’s an aggressive two drop, that can spend an energy counter to give another one of your creatures haste and +1 power. It’s a good card on its own. Yes, it’s useful if you can generate more energy, so you can use the ability more than twice, but it’s not necessary. How many times do you need to hit your opponent with a hasty threat before you win the game?

The other signature card for this archetype, Scurry of Gremlins looks like it needs more building around. But the key with the card actually isn’t to generate a ton of energy. Instead you just want a bunch of creatures in play. This way you’ll both get enough energy to activate the second ability, plus it’ll actually be good, as you’ll pump multiple creatures.

So, just pack your deck full of cheap aggressive creatures, (such as Hexgold Slith and Smelted Chargebug) cheap removal, and some combat tricks, and you’re off to the races.

Blue-White: Energy Flyers

Emissary of Soulfire
Riddle Gate Gargoyle MH3 Draft Guide

Final energy archetype is blue-white. Similarly to red-white, this deck pairs the energy mechanic with its textbook theme. In this case, that would be flyers.

The idea with this deck is that you’re more poised for the late game. You’ll clock the board with efficient blockers, while you’re attacking in the air, hopefully without risking your creatures.

There are quite a lot of creatures with flying in these two colors. For example, the following ones are all at least playable:

Most of these are also quite good with various auras and equipment, but more about that in the next section.

Emissary of Soulfire will work amazingly here. Exalted counters will allow you to attack with a a single big flyers, while you keep the rest of your creatures on blocking duty. This might prevent opponent from attacking, while you get some damage through.

Compared to the previous deck, this one can afford for the game to go long, so you can actually go for various energy-based synergies. You could also generate some slow value with cards like Essence Reliquary.

Just make sure that you pack enough removal and interaction, so something like red-white doesn’t just run over you.

That’s it for the energy decks. What follows are another three archetypes centered around a single mechanic – modify.

Green-White: Modified Bestow

Golden-Tail Trainer MH3 Draft Archetypes
Faithful Watchdog Modern Horizons 3 Draft Guide

What Does Modified Mean?

In MH3 draft numerous cards care about modified creatures. A creature is modified if it at least one of the following:

  • equipped;
  • enchanted by an Aura you control;
  • has counters.

There’s both equipment and auras in Modern Horizons 3. Plus, there’s a lot of +1/+1 as well as other counters. Thus, there’ll be no shortage of ways to control a modified creature. You can learn more about modified mechanic here.

What About Bestow?

Bestow is a mechanic that mostly appears on enchantment creatures in white and green. With such creatures you have two options on how to cast them. You can cast them as regular creatures, and ignore the whole bestow part.

However, you can also cast such a card an Aura spell by paying its bestow cost. In that case, you enchant a creature with it. When enchanted creatures leaves the battlefield, the bestowed aura becomes a creature again.

Here’s one straightforward example with Nyxborn Unicorn. It’s either a 2/2 with mentor for 2 mana, or four mana aura that grants +2/+2 and mentor. When enchanted creature leaves the battlefield, you get the 2/2 with mentor in play.

Nyxborn Unicorn Modern Horizons 3 Draft Guide

It’s typically better to use the bestow cost, as it allows you to get a kind of two-for-one. However, it’s perfectly fine to play these cards as creatures, if you don’t have anything else to do with your mana. (Or if the play just makes sense given the board position.)

Other non-rare bestow creatures are:

More Synergies

If you enchant a creature with a bestow card, it’ll count as a modified creature. This means that you get to unlock various payoffs.

For example Envoy of the Ancestors gives your creatures lifelink. Signature Slam becomes a better removal spell, and you get to attach Lion Umbra. There’s no shortage of useful synergies. The golden uncommon Golden-Tail Trainer obviously also plays well with this theme.

Oh, and while Faithful Watchdog might seem just an incredibly efficient two drop, don’t forget that it’s always a modified creature due to +1/+1 counters. All in all, green-white looks like a strong midrange deck with a powerful modify-bestow theme.

Black-White: Modified Dying

Ondu Knotmaster
Obstinate Gargoyle Modern Horizons 3 Draft Guide

Here’s yet another deck that combines a new theme with an old one. Black-white traditionally cares about creatures dying, but this time around, you’ll want the dead creatures to be modified. The theme, however isn’t as in focus, as with some other colors. That’s mostly because there aren’t that many payoffs.

The Modified-Dying Payoffs

There’s both Guardian of the Forgotten and Ondu Knotmaster, which trigger whenever one of your modified creatures die. One goes wide, while the other goes tall.

One great payoff for jumping through these hoops is Lethal Throwdown. It goes from a mediocre removal spell, to an extremely efficient one, as you can get your card back.

Then there’s an interesting play pattern with Obstinate Gargoyle. When it dies, it comes back with a -1/-1 counter. It’s now modified and flies. But if you put a +1/+1 counter on it, both counters are removed and it no longer flies. However, the next time it dies, it’ll come back once again, due to no longer having a -1/-1 counter on it. Pretty neat.

Sacrifice

Despite not so many payoffs for modified creatures dying, there are some cards that allow you to sacrifice creatures for various benefits. With various sacrifice fodder, such as Retrofitted Transmogrant this archetype is probably the best home for cards like:

It looks like this black-white deck is going to be among the harder ones to build, as there are various small subthemes that one could take.

Black-Green: Modified Adapt

Cursed Wombat Modern Horizons 3 Draft Guide
Expanding Ooze MH3 Draft Archetypes

What’s Adapt?

Adapt is an activated ability that appears on creatures. You can only activate it if a creature has no +1/+1 counters on it. When you do, you put an amount of +1/+1 counters on that creature, equal to the corresponding number.

This is an older mechanic, so there is no “Activate only as a sorcery.” text. This means you can use this mechanic as an on-board combat trick. That’s something you should be aware of if your opponent has some adapt creatures in play.

What Does This Mean for Modify?

Of course, since there are +1/+1 counters in play, this mechanic plays well with the modify payoffs, which we mentioned in the previous two archetypes. You might sometimes dip into white in order to get another payoff or two.

But this archetype also features a powerful payoff on the common slot in the form of Expanding Ooze. Whenever you attack with it, you get to grow one of your modified creatures. This can get out of control really fast, especially when paired with the highlighted uncommon, Cursed Wombat.

This card is extremely strong, and a reason to try and draft a lot of +1/+1 counters cards. It speeds up the growth of your creatures, and presents a large problem for your opponent. For two mana, that’s a lot of power.

This deck gives you a lot of wiggle room for deckbuilding. You can go very straightforward, and build a regular midrange deck with adapt synergies. However, you can also lean into the dies-synergies from black-white, as a lot of those are in black. It all depends on what cards end up in your pool.

That’s it for the modify theme, and we’re already moving to Eldrazi. While these creatures appear in every archetype (like Basking Broodscale in black-green), they’re the main feature of the following two archetypes.

Blue-Green: Eldrazi Ramp

Planar Genesis Modern Horizons 3 Draft Guide
Snapping Voidcraw MH3 Draft Guide

The first of the two Eldrazi archetypes looks exactly like you’d imagine. It ramps towards the big Eldrazi creatures and wins the late game with those powerful creatures. So, for this deck to work you need two things: efficient ramp cards and strong expensive cards. Let’s take a look at both of these two groups.

Ramp

Both highlighted cards for this archetype, Snapping Coidcraw and Planar Genesis can ramp you and/or provide card advantage. Another “traditional” ramp effect comes from Nightshade Dryad, an amazing mana dork.

The other ramp comes in a for of Eldrazi Spawn tokens. These creatures are quite fragile, but they can be sacrificed for colorless mana. With those you’ll be presented with an interesting decision. Do you want to chump block, or do you want to wait and cash the tokens in for an expensive spell. Typically, the latter will be a better option.

There’s quite a lot of Spawn token makers, which makes this deck a much more viable option. Drownyard Lurker and Wraped Tusker are particularly nice, since they can be either ramp or an expensive spell, depending on what you need.

Of course, Path of Anihilation is amazing in this shell. Not only does it make two Spawn, it also allows you to use them across multiple turns. Plus, it gives you a large life boost, whenever you cast an expensive spell. Finally, its blue counterpart, Kozilek’s Unsealing will also be at its best in the shell.

Expensive Spells

As far as your payoffs go, there really is no shortage of them. Even without counting rares and mythics, you’ve got stuff like:

All of these will play quite nicely, and you can also get better options on higher rarities. So, when you’re drafting this color pair, you should prioritize ramp first. There’s no shortage of expensive spells. Plus, the deck can play pretty well without that many payoffs. But when you’re lacking in the ramp department, you’re in real trouble.

Red-Green: Eldrazi Spawn

Titans' Vanguard Modern Horizons 3 Draft Guide
Writhing Chrysalis

This color combination usually features some sort of big creatures archetype. It’s refreshing to see this not being the case in Modern Horizons 3 draft. Instead, you’ll want to put a lot of Eldrazi Spawn tokens in play.

Will you use them to cast big creatures ahead of schedule? Sure, that’s possible. But there are other payoffs too.

Titans’ Vanguard is certainly a big one. Not only do you boost your colorless creature when you cast it, but it also triggers on attacks. Furthermore, Propagator Drone is another excellent Magic card in this shell. With it, Spawns will also be able to grow into real threats.

If you don’t manage to get enough copies of those two cards, a mass pump spell, such as Fangs of Kalonia can also do the trick.

Spawning Spawns

So, how does one go about gathering enough Spawn tokens? One way is with Writhing Chrysalis, a premium common for this archetype. Not only does it make two Spawns, it also grows when you sacrifice them.

Other cards that can make multiple Spawns by themselves are also very useful. For example, Spawn-Gang Commander and Glimpse the Impossible are going to be amazing in this deck.

Of course, there’s also a whole lot of other cards that create Spawns, although just one at the time. Some good options are:

With this deck, the bottleneck are the payoffs, so you should pick those first, and Spawn makers second.

Now, we’re left with two more archetypes that don’t belong into any particular group. Instead, they’re more stand-alone, each doing its own thing.

Black-Red: Artifacts

Pyretic Rebirth MH3 Draft Guide
Cranial Ram Modern Horizons 3 Draft Guide

When you’re playing red-black, you’ll want to include as many artifacts in your deck as possible. Why? Well, to unlock your powerful payoffs, of course.

Payoffs

First up, there are three cards with the line “affinity for artifacts”. This means they cost one generic mana less for each artifact you control. All of these three cards will be excellent in this shell:

Even in the late game, getting, one of these cards down for cheap is extremely powerful, as it allows you to cast multiple spells in a turn. But that’s far from the only payoffs this shell has to offer. Etherium Pteramander works kinda similar to these three, as it can become a big flyer real quick.

Cranial Ram is a powerful equipment for this archetype. Thanks to the living weapon, it’s actually a two mana creature. Plus it sticks around, so you’re able to turn any one of your creatures into a must-deal-with threat.

Furthermore, there are various cards that utilize artifacts. Dreadmobile sacrifices them, Junk Diver can bring them back, and Arcbound Condor takes care of smaller opposing creatures.

How to Enable the Artifact Deck?

One great thing about all of these payoffs are is that they’re all artifacts, so they work with one another quite well. But what are the other cards that’ll help you get the most from your artifact synergies?

Well, for the most part you’ll want cheap, but still playable artifacts. Retrofitted Transmogrant will probably be at its best here, as will card like Drossclaw and Marionette Apprentice.

Then the enablers somewhat quickly dry up. Therefore, you’ll only want to end up in this deck when it’s really open. It doesn’t look like the average draft will support more than 2 red-black drafters. Given the high popularity of artifact strategies, you probably don’t want to force this deck, at least not early in the format.

Blue-Black: Draw 3 Control

Horrid Shadowspinner MH3 Draft Guide
Sneaky Snacker MH3 Draft Archetypes Guide

The tenth and final archetype is blue-black control. Twist time around it comes with a big twist. It’ll reward you for drawing at least three cards in a single turn.

One could argue that drawing so many cards is already a payoff all on its own. However, there’s a problem with that. In Modern Horizons 3 draft cards are of a higher power level, in often have built-in card advantage. Thus, card draw becomes somewhat weaker, as it’s often a tempo loss. (You’re spending mana, but aren’t affecting the board.)

So, this means that just drawing cards isn’t good enough here. You’ll want to reap additional benefits for doing so.

Rewards For Drawing 3+ Cards

There are just four such cards, but thankfully they’re all quite useful in this shell.

Deem Inferior is extremely powerful, when you can cast it for a single blue mana. It easily makes up for any tempo loss you’ve suffered. It’s also quite strong in multiples. Imagine a turn when you draw three cards, then use two of these sorceries to remove two threats. That’s backbreaking play.

Deem Inferior

On the other hand, Kami of Jealous Thirst provides you with a 4 point life swing whenever you draw 3+ cards in a turn. Life gain gives you enough time to play all the cards you’ve drawn, while the life loss represent an actual victory condition. Especially, if you end up with multiple Kami in play. After all, it’s just a single mana over-costed as a 1/3 deathtoucher.

Finally, there’s Sneaky Snacker and Mindless Conscription. Both provide board presence, each in its own way. With them, you aren’t just drawing a cards, but also adding creatures in play.

How to Draw 3+ Cards?

So, how does one go about drawing three cards or more in a single turn? The easiest way to do so is by using a draw 2 effect on your own turn. Combined with the card you draw for the turn, that will satisfy the criteria.

Here’s just some of the options you have:

It looks like there’s no shortage of draw effects, This means you should prioritize acquiring payoffs first.

Also, any kind of cheap interaction is welcome in this deck. You’ll probably win the long game by the sheer amount of card advantage. You just need to make sure you won’t get run over before you can set your engine running. If you lose with 7 cards in your hand, all of that card draw didn’t do you much good.

Additional Tips for Modern Horizons 3 Draft

Before we wrap up, here are some tips that you can use to further increase your win rate in MH3 drafts. In the following days more tips will be added, as we draft this format more.

Build a Synergistic Deck, Not a Pile of Fine Cards

This is perhaps the most important takeaway you should get from this article. You don’t want to just draft good cards in two colors. While that could work in most regular drafts environments, it’s going to be a recipe for disaster in MH3.

Hydra Trainer Modern Horizons 3 Draft Tips

Instead you want to really lean into the synergies. Imagine, you’re playing a blue-green deck with expensive Eldrazi, that cost 8+ mana. Hydra Trainer is a perfectly fine aggressive two drop. There’s nothing wrong with the card. However, it’s going to be an absolute trash in blue-green.

You’ll want your early plays to be either defensive cards, or ramp spells, so you can cast your expensive spells faster. Hydra Trainer doesn’t accomplish any of those goals.

So, you always want to answer the question: “What is my deck trying to do?” Then, you should evaluate each cards through those lens. “Does this card help my game plan?” If the answer is no, you should most likely cut the card from your deck.

Modern Horizons 3 Draft Tier List

In this article we’ve mostly talked about the big picture stuff. However, you should have at least some idea of how powerful cards are before you start drafting. That’s where our MH3 Draft Tier List can help you.

In that article you’ll find a grade for every cards you can open in a MH3 Play Booster. You can easily use it while you draft on Arena, when you need a tiebreaker between two cards. If you’re drafting in paper, check the grades beforehand, especially if there are some cards you have trouble evaluating.

Oh and if you disagree or need further clarifications about our rankings, just let us know in the comments, and we’ll get back to you.

Conclusion

And with that we’re wrapping up yet another draft guide. Hopefully, it’ll help you perform well and win many prize packs in your drafts, be it in paper or online.

Do you plan to organize a draft for your play group? If so, you’re going to need a MH3 Play booster box, which comes with 36 boosters. (Enough for an 8 player draft, with 12 packs for prizes, or for three 4-player drafts.) You can order it on Amazon.

Modern Horizons 3 Play Booster Box

On the other hand, if you’re a Commander fan, don’t forget to check for Modern Horizons 3 Commander precons. There are four exciting decks, each featuring a fascinating theme. There’s something for every type of a Commander player.

Until next time, have fun and good luck with your MH3 drafts!

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