This past week I’ve taken a break from constructed Magic, but with the release of Modern Horizons 2, I couldn’t help but dip my toes into some Limited. Historically, I’ve loved all of the Masters sets, and Modern Horizons for Limited and Modern Horizons 2 are no exceptions.
One of the reasons I like these Masters sets is they’re a great way to stock up my MTGO account with a decent win rate. There are many value cards, and the packs themselves have a higher price tag, so it’s like paying higher-stakes Limited Magic.
For my money, and admittedly recency bias, Modern Horizons 2 is one of the best Limited formats of all time. What makes it so great? The fact that I opened a Ragavan in my first-ever draft? While that helps, it’s the intertwining synergies between archetypes like tokens, affinity, converge, delirium, reanimator, and even Squirrels.
I’m only about a dozen drafts deep, but I’ve been fairly successful, so this week I want to recount what I learned about the format.
Play a bunch of colors.
I almost always play three or more colors, including the most aggressive archetypes I draft. Fixing is easily obtainable through artifact lands, Ornithopter of Paradise, Rift Sower, basic land cyclers, and Sojourner’s Companion — the best fixer of all. Don’t give up power for perceived consistency when fixing is this easy to accomplish.
Don’t lock into a single lane.
Every time I try to stay just in Squirrels, affinity, or Madness, I sacrifice too much power and hope I get all Drey Keepers or Kitchen Imps and enablers.
I’ll start with a good Squirrels Rare, a removal spell, and a Drey Keeper. Then I get a Prophetic Titan, and I plan to play all the cards I’m drafting. This locks in with playing many colors, which is important to note and expect.
For Limited Standard formats, you usually take rares over powerful uncommons, powerful uncommons over fixing, and then fixing over some of the best commons. The power level is so high in Modern Horizons 2 that you should anticipate that fixing is floated to you late and plan to hoard each pack’s most powerful card. The overlapping synergies don’t cause problems, except for stuff like Madness, Storm, and +1/+1 counters that don’t fit everywhere but still have spots.
Avoid Madness, Storm, and +1/+1 Counters.
These decks don’t overlap well with good-stuff decks. They require underpowered set-up cards, and you hope the packs break well. Due to this, I don’t bother with these decks anymore.
The best two commons are Drey Keeper and Sojourner’s Companion.
There’s an argument for artifact lands, but these two commons are staples in my most successful decks. Drey Keeper provides a good defensive body and a way to turn extraneous Squirrels from various cards into lethal threats. The games are long and grindy, and Drey Keeper is the card I fear. Sojourner’s Companion is this format’s version of Skittering Surveyor from Domanaria. It sets up multicolor strategies nicely, and if you’ve done a good job picking up artifact lands, it’s a super-fixer and a fine late topdeck as a threat.
Spot removal isn’t great.
Removal is mediocre in this format, so I like to get removal attached to creatures or planeswalkers and use very little common removal like Tragic Fall. There are too many valuable cards to have a deck full of spot removal be enough. My best decks are based in soft synergy and handle creatures with cards like Prophetic Titan, Junk Winder, and Flametongue Yearling. Outside of that, I try to win combats with large creatures or larger boards of creatures in the form of tokens. You need a few answers to some of the stuff that gets reanimated, but I don’t need or get cards like Terminal Agony, which likely means people are taking them too aggressively.
Sideboard cards are important.
The power level is so high that cards like Crack Open, Break Ties, Lose Focus, and even Gorilla Shaman are more valuable than stuff you’d consider better than replacement level. There are so many high-powered cards that finding answers for the best cards is better than taking second or third copies of an artifact land in your four-color deck. I’ve had decks that couldn’t handle powerful artifacts or enchantments in Game 1, but I gained a favorable position when I sideboarded in two or three Vindicate effects in the form of Crack Open.
Plan to play long games.
There is a lot of back and forth in this format. Games don’t generally end quickly, so plan on having some form of inevitability or closing power for longer games. It’s easy to get pulverized if your deck is not fast or powerful enough.
Below are examples of decks I used to win trophies.
This deck is four-color good stuff with token and clue synergies. Most notably this deck was able to draw through itself quickly and used Blessed Respite with Said/Done to never deck itself. I played Verdant Command over Chatterstorm after the first round for life gain and exiling a card in a graveyard.
I started with a pick-one-pack-one Nettlecyst and never looked back. My first pick was enabled by artifact lands and cards like Extruder, Kaliedoscorch, and Mount Velus Manticore. I sideboarded out the Mono Black cards for Crack Open and Break Ties in multiple matches, leaving only Chainer for black cards. I would concurrently sideboard down to 17 lands as my mana got better, and I didn’t need more than one additional white source removing two basic swamps. I only played 18 lands because of the pair of Mishra’s Factory.
Despite this deck being semi-aggressive, I was happy with it being four colors. It was able to close out games by burning out opponents with Goblin Bombardment, Foundry Helix, Kaleidoscorch, and Calibrated Blast.
Modern Horizons 2 Limited is a blast, and it has had good value in building up my MTGO collection. If you’re a fan of Limited, you should not miss out on Modern Horizons 2!