Modern Horizons: Draft Review

Modern Horizons is finally here, and it has certainly had an impact on the game we all love. Sure, the joke that it is more like Commander Horizons has been beaten into the ground. But its impact on Modern (and to a lesser extent Legacy) can’t be underrated. I’ve been busy at work trying loads of new build and brews out, and based on the decks I’ve been coming across on MTGO, so has everyone else. I’ve been hit with Force of Negation, had Crashing Footfalls get hit off a Cascade trigger, and seen my fair share of Giver of Runes. So I think its safe to say that Modern Horizons has done what it set out to do, and that is shake up the Modern format.

But it is also important to remember that this set is also this year’s ‘specialty draft’ set, and so there is an import question that I believe needs to be addressed. How is it to draft? Well the best way to answer that question is to… well, draft. So I headed over to my LGS (Patriot Games Sheffield) during the Prerelease weekend to partake in my first Modern Horizons draft. I’d done a fair bit of research on the format beforehand, but that can’t compare to first-hand experience. How did I do? Read on to find out.

Prerelease Weekend Draft

I sat down in pod 2, eager to crack my first pack. As I looked around the table it became apparent that I was not the only one excited to get under way, and it wasn’t long before we were all tearing off wrappers and sifting through the cards on offer. For my first pick I decided to go with an Eladamri’s Call. While yes, this does break the rule about not picking a gold card first, it can’t be understated how good tutor effects are in limited. For the remainder of pack one I only seemed to get green cards, as it became apparent that neither person on either side of me wanted to go big or green.

It wasn’t until halfway through pack two that I found myself solidly in a second colour. Luckily for me it was white, and I started to see this selesnya deck come together. By the end of pack three I was left with the following pile of cards, which all things considered I was pretty happy with.

Nimble Mongoose
Icehide Golem
Rime Tender
Mother Bear
Twin-Silk Spider
Springbloom Druid
Bellowing Elk
Nantuko Cultivator
Rhox Veteran
Excavating Anurid
Deep Forest Hermit
Webweaver Changeling
Murasa Behemoth
Elvish Fury
On Thin Ice
Savage Swipe
Arcum's Astrolabe
Eladamri's Call
Winding Way
Splicer's Skill
Trumpeting Herd
Settle Beyond Reality
Snow-Covered Plains
Snow-Covered Island
Snow-Covered Forest
Tranquil Thicket

All that was left to do now was sleeve up and get ready for round one.

Round 1 vs Green/Black

In the first round I found myself up against a very similar deck to my own. Big green creatures supported with a splash for removal and value. However, my opponent decided on black for their secondary colour, as I soon became aware of when my creatures kept getting hit by a Mob. The games were very back and forth, but I was able to squeeze out a victory thanks to two cards in particular: Bellowing Elk and Settle Beyond Reality.

Bellowing Elk is a house in limited and don’t let anyone tell you different. 4/2 doesn’t sound all that impressive. But when you can give it trample and indestructible simple by playing more creatures, you have a pretty good limited card. Seriously, this four mana elk won me nearly all my games and I always seemed to draw into it. Settle Beyond Reality on the other hand is just quality removal. Not only that, but it allowed me to also blink one of my creatures for added value. Sure, it is expensive at five mana, but when you’re staring down an 8/8 trampler, you will be glad you have one of these to hand.


Round 2 vs Blue/Black

Next up it was time for me to face some ninjas, and if I could give you all some advice on this limited archetype it would be this: DON’T UNDERESAMATE THEM. While I was able to win the first game pretty quickly and was on the verge of doing the same in the second, my opponent was just able to out value me and really mess with my combat math due to ninjutsu.

Whether your opponent is drawing cards, making 1/1 flyers, or just swapping out a 2/2 for a 6/3, you never know what is coming next. The games themselves were fun, and my opponent was a great sport. But I just couldn’t predict when it was safe to block or how to approach combat on their turn. If I didn’t block, I would be hit with a sneak ninja out of nowhere. If I did, I would probably lose the creature anyway to a removal spell. Just be mindful of this deck is all I’m saying, its better than it first appears.


Round 3 vs Mardu

My final opponent for the day was playing the deck I really wanted to give a go but just didn’t get the chance to build on the day: Slivers. Throwing together the best selection from the Mardu colour combination, he was ready to end games quickly and started off strong with a turn two Cloudshredder Sliver. I could tell they were really looking forward to following up with a hasty turn three play, but unfortunately for them their Cloudshredder Sliver got stuck on an iceberg. I was able to close out game one and was hoping to do the same in game two.

Unfortunately for me, this time my opponent was able to bring it back in game two and even got his Cloudshredder Sliver to stick around in game three. Things were looking grim, but I thought I saw a way out. Splicing Splicer’s Skill onto Elvish Fury, I was certain I could produce some profitable blocks and pull myself right back into this game. Everything was looking great… until my opponent reminded me that Cloudshredder Sliver grants not only haste but flying.


And that was that. I ended the day 1-2 overall, but I’m still rather happy with my result. Each game felt it could go either way, and to be honest that’s how a good limited format should be. It shouldn’t come down to who got the bomb rare or mythic, but rather how your whole deck plays out.

I really liked the draft format, and each colour combination felt unique and flavourful. In our pod there was a healthy difference between what everyone was running, and that is a positive when you’re talking about a limited format. The only negative I would say I noticed was that the sheer number of keywords could make games a little confusing at times. When you’re mistaking Rebound and Retrace it can lead to some upsetting moments, especially if you then throw the game.

Overall, I’m very impressed with Modern Horizons as this year’s ‘specialty draft’ set. Hopefully you have also been enjoying it, because I would love to see it return in a few years for round two. If you have any fun stories to share about Modern Horizons, let us know about them in the comments below. And while you’re there, you could like and subscribe to keep up to date with all we do here at Master of Magics.

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