This the second part of my series about each of Modern Horizons archetypes (you can find part one here). Today I’ll be following the same plan as last time, going through each archetype and talking about the general game plan, what to look for and sometimes what to look out for. I’ll also highlight some cards that gain the most from being in that specific archetype. Without further ado, let’s continue!
The Archetypes of Modern Horizons, Part 2
U/R Drawing Cards
Blue-red in Modern Horizons is as wonky as it usually is: a weird combination of tempo, card draw, and tons of instants and sorceries. This time, it’s not specifically about non-creature spells, but about triggering and making your other plays better by drawing cards. There is a strange tension between sacrificing tempo by drawing cards and proactive threats like Eyekite and Fists of Flame, but it works somehow if you can strike a balance.
This archetype is one of my favorites, particularly because its funkiness also makes it flexible. You can take a defensive posture only to switch gears on a moment’s notice. In order to be flexible, it’s important to have a good curve or early removal to set up heavy-hitting finishers like Oneirophage or Thundering Djinn later. Don’t overlook cards that may not look like traditional card draw spells. Cycling cards and horizon lands (like Fiery Islet) do the job just as well.
Cards that get better in U/R Drawing Cards
In U/G/x Snow, you try to reach a critical mass of snow permanents to make your snow matters cards better. Drafting it is tricky because you have to weigh the benefit of picking a playable for your deck against picking a snow-covered basic land, which means a lot more decision points. Since all snow-matters cards are blue and green (except one white card and one black card), Snow-Covered Islands and Forests will be picked higher than those of other colors and will be harder to get. That also means, however, that it can be easier to get a good amount of snow-covered basic lands if you pair either blue or green with another color. For example, red-green can usually support multiple Frostwallas because the amount of Snow-Covered Mountains available.
The key to success is knowing whether you should go all in on your snow plan for payoffs like Iceberg Cancrix or Marit Lage’s Slumber or whether you should have it be an incidental plan that powers up cards like Blizzard Strix and Winter’s Rest, favoring playables over the deeper synergies. Knowing how open the archetype is and what has potential to wheel is the key here. These snow decks often splash other colors (hence UGx Snow) thanks to enablers like Krosan Tusker and especially Springbloom Druid. These cards not only help you find your snow basics but also help to fix your mana for removal or one of the powerful off-color snow cards like Dead of Winter. And don’t underestimate the best fixing in this format, Arcum’s Astrolabe, which produces snow mana Prophetic Prism-style while providing you with another snow permanent.
Cards that get better in UGx Snow
B/R Goblins and Sacrifice
Black-red has two major themes in Modern Horizons: tribal goblins and sacrifice. These two themes play well with each other and you’ll often find yourself taking advantage of both. Sling-Gang Lieutenant and Pashalik Mons provide sacrifice outlets for cards like Putrid Goblin and Goblin War Party, but they only work with goblins. Luckily, there are cards in black and red that work alongside your sacrifice outlets. For example, sacrificing tokens from Goblin War Party to Sling-Gang Lieutenant the turn you play Silumgar Scavenger ends up being lethal more times than not!
As for more universal sacrifice outlets, Bogardan Dragonheart slots into the deck quite well as a well-needed finisher. Carrion Feeder, on the other hand, needs a lot more help to be great, often needing multiple Goatnaps to justify the 1-drop creature.
There are two ways to draft the deck. The first is to start with a great “Goblins matters” card (e.g. Munitions Expert, Pashalik Mons) and follow it up with another one or Goblin Matron, prioritizing Goblins a lot higher and looking for ways to rebuy your powerful cards like Unearth, Return from Extinction or Graveshifter. The other way is to pick generically powerful cards and removal, aiming to pick up sacrifice synergies or a great Goblins-matters card later in the pack where it should be an indicator that the archetype is open. Regardless of which theme you lean into more heavily, just make sure that you’re maximizing one game plan and supplementing it with the other.
Cards that get better in B/R Goblins/Sacrifice
B/G Self-Mill is about making Ransack the Lab and Winding Way (or even Glacial Revelation) the most powerful they can be. The obvious way to do that is to load up with your graveyard with cards to feed threats like Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis and Rotwidow Pack. There are also cards that can be activated from your graveyard, like Mother Bear or cards with unearth, like First-Sphere Gargantua and Dregscape Sliver. You can even make the sweet play of self-milling Dregscape Sliver, Graveshifter, and another creature, so you can unearth both for extra value. When you’re happy to play about 5 copies of a combination of Winding Way and Ransack the Lab, you know you’ve drafted a top-tier B/G Self-Mill deck.
Cards that get better in B/G Self-Mill
R/G Lands in Graveyard
This is one of the most underrated archetypes in my opinion and the only deck that can leverage one of the best commons in the set: Igneous Elemental. Not only is Igneous Elemental powerful, it’s perfect for the format. The 2 damage kills a lot of the relevant threats in the format since they happen to be bear-sized, and you’re left with a 4/3 that is going to need at least two more bears to take it down. Add to this the fact that not a lot of other players can are looking to pick it up as a 6-drop, and you’ve got a real draw into the archetype.
While Igneous Elemental is the major pull towards the deck, it has tons of other synergies, too. Winding Way, Geomancer’s Gambit, cycling lands, Lava Dart, and especially Springbloom Druid help you get lands into your graveyard to get the synergies rolling. The best part is that the enablers aren’t worthless if you don’t draw the payoff (except for maybe Geomancer’s Gambit, which you only play if you really need it). As you might also have noticed, many of these cards help you fix your mana and find lands, meaning you often have a pretty free splash. Settle Beyond Reality with Igneous Elemental is a powerful example that’s easy to get and easy to set up.
Lastly, R/G is flexible and can be built in many ways: aggressive, midrange, or ramping into large creatures. It has removal, the potential to splash, and can be based on synergy or just great cards. The fact the options for R/G are so wide open is the second major reason I like the archetype.
Cards that get better in R/G Lands in Graveyard