Modern Horizons 3: Limited Archetypes Guide

Dive into our guide for Modern Horizons 3 limited archetypes. Explore strategies, deck building tips, and cards to dominate your next MTG draft or sealed event.

The Modern Horzions 3 spoiler is finally complete and this weekend many of you will be heading to your LGS to play the set for the first time with the Prerelease. For all the Arena players, instead, you will have to wait a few more days, as it will be available starting from June 11th. Better not to be caught unprepared then and let's immediately see what this limited has in store for us, starting from the color pairs we can build.

It's possible to sort the entire MH3 set into 3 macro-themes: Modify, Energy and Eldrazi. Each of them is mainly associated with 3 colors and, once the theme is chosen, it's important to highly prioritize the cards designated for that strategy, giving synergy to the deck. I said “macro” because actually there are also 2 minor themes: Artifacts and Card Draw, but they can be found only in Rakdos and Dimir colors respectively.

As we are used to for every modern Magic set, each color pair has its own “uncommon signpost” that becomes the standard-bearer of those colors and explains their strategy. In this set we also find a common signpost and an uncommon hybrid modal double-faced card (mdfc), which is not always particularly powerful, but is still excellent for fixing the mana and alleviating the mana screw.


Modified (Abzan)

Selesnya: Modified Bestow

Magic the Gathering Card - Golden-Tail Trainer - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Faithful Watchdog - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Strength of the Harvest - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Haven of the Harvest - MTG Circle

Cards: Nyxborn Hydra, Indebted Spirit, Glyph Elemental, Nyxborn Unicorn, Metastatic Evangel, Lion Umbra, Envoy of the Ancestors, Trickster's Elk, Guardian of the Forgotten, Rosecot Knight.

Green-white is based on modified creatures, in particular thanks to the bestow mechanic. Golden-Tail Trainer is the perfect leader: it makes auras cheaper, like the bestow cards, and it buffs the entire modified creature army when it attacks. And to be modified it doesn't necessarily need an aura since any counter will get the job done: as for Faithful Watchdog, immediately ready to be synergistic.

Worthy of note are: Glyph Elemental that modifies other creatures but also modifies itself; Envoy of the Ancestors as a payoff; Lion Umbra that reminds me Daybreak Coronet for its design.

Combo: I would consider Metastatic Evangel as a 1-card-combo since it alone can transform the entire modify strategy into a sort of “Hardened Scales counters deck”! Together with cards like: Faithful Watchdog, Nyxborn Hydra, Glyph Elemental, Inspired Inventor, Proud Pack-Rhino or Aerie Auxiliary, we'll give an additional +1/+1 counter to our entire army for each creature played and it will be impossible for the opponent to keep up!

Golgari: Modified Adapt

Magic the Gathering Card - Cursed Wombat - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Expanding Ooze - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Revitalizing Repast - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Old-Growth Grove - MTG Circle

Cards: Lethal Throwdown, Gift of the Viper, Etherium Pteramander, Dreamdrinker Vampire, Hydra Trainer, Basking Broodscale, Fangs of Kalonia, Wither and Bloom, Evolution Witness, Signature Slam, Temperamental Oozewagg, Fetid Gargantua.

Black-green is based on modified creatures too, but in particular on Adapt and +1/+1 counters in general. Cursed Wombat provides an additional counter almost like Winding Constrictor did in the Aether Revolt set. Similarly, Expanding Ooze does when it attacks, while the count of all of them goes to Hydra Trainer, another incredible payoff of the deck!

Combo: Evolution Witness goes off with both the 2 signposts:

  • Adapting Witness with Cursed Wombat, in addition to 3 counters, we can take back up to 2 permanents from the graveyard! This is because Wombat's ability is a trigger and not a replacement effect.
  • Attacking with Expanding Ooze, we can put the +1/+1 counter on an adapted Witness, so potentially we can return a permanent to our hand every turn.

Orzhov: Modified Dies

Magic the Gathering Card - Ondu Knotmaster // Throw a Line - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Obstinate Gargoyle - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Glasswing Grace - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Age-Graced Chapel - MTG Circle

Cards: Lethal Throwdown, Retrofitted Transmogrant, Indebted Spirit, Glyph Elemental, Nyxborn Unicorn, Accursed Marauder, Eviscerator's Insight, Wither and Bloom, Muster the Departed, Guardian of the Forgotten, Wurmcoil Larva.

Completing the Abzan colors, white-black is still all about modified creatures, but with a focus on triggered abilities when these die or are sacrificed. Ondu Knotmaster does both: buffing creatures first and working as payoff when they die. Obstinate Gargoyle is only the second creature with Persist we have on MTG Arena (the other one is Putrid Goblin) and it modifies itself when it dies.

Lethal Throwdown, Eviscerator's Insight and Guardian of the Forgotten are other important payoffs for this strategy.

Combo: If we control no other nontoken creature besides Accursed Marauder, we can cast it and activate Essence Reliquary's ability in response to its trigger. This way, the opponent will sacrifice a creature while we'll have Accursed Marauder in our hand, ready to repeat the process next turn!


Energy (Jeskai)

Azorious: Energy Fliers

Magic the Gathering Card - Emissary of Soulfire - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Riddle Gate Gargoyle - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Suppression Ray - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Orderly Plaza - MTG Circle

Cards: Tune the Narrative, Static Prison, Hexgold Slith, Tempest Harvester, Roil Cartographer, Aether Spike, Inspired Inventor, Solstice Zealot, Electrozoa, Hope-Ender Coatl, Bespoke Battlewagon, Voltstorm Angel.

Blue-white is as usual a control strategy, defensive on the ground and aiming to win with fliers, but to this is added the energy mechanic.

Emissary of Soulfire is a good example, since: it doesn't fly and has a big butt, but it allows you to spend energies by giving exalted counters around, so as to power up the attacking flier. Riddle Gate Gargoyle and Electrozoa are examples of fliers providing energy, but the biggest payoff is Voltstorm Angel that, if properly energized, could almost remind Angel of Invention.

Combo: Depth Defiler can bounce an enemy creature and/or give us cards. We can play Shrieking Drake and take the Eldrazi back. Play Depth Defiler again at 6 mana, draw and take back Shrieking Drake, thus creating a loop in the turns that will give us access to an infinite lategame!

Boros: Energy Aggro

Magic the Gathering Card - Scurry of Gremlins - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Conduit Goblin - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Legion Leadership - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Legion Stronghold - MTG Circle

Cards: Inventor's Axe, Static Prison, Galvanic Discharge, Jolted Awake, Hexgold Slith, Smelted Chargebug, Metastatic Evangel, Amped Raptor, Reiterating Bolt, Inspired Inventor, Solstice Zealot, Phyrexian Ironworks, Thriving Skyclaw, Voltstorm Angel.

In red-white we find the usual aggro but that can be further enhanced by spending some energies. Scurry of Gremlins has exactly the task of putting board presence and giving strength and speed to the army, as well as Conduit Goblin does.

Metastatic Evangel and Amped Raptor are two incredible uncommons for the archetype, providing energy but keeping the pressure high, while the removal department isn't less good with: Static Prison, Galvanic Discharge, Reiterating Bolt.

Then, if you are afraid you can't spend the excess of energy, there is Phyrexian Ironworks, ready to swap 3 energies for a 3/3!

Combo: Distinguished Conjurer's blink ability obviously works well with every creature with an ETB, but I see it be particularly good with Skoa, Embermage, removing a piece every turn or hitting for lethal.

Izzet: Energy Midrange

Magic the Gathering Card - Izzet Generatorium - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Cyclops Superconductor - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Rush of Inspiration - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Crackling Falls - MTG Circle

Cards: Tune the Narrative, Galvanic Discharge, Aether Spike, Reiterating Bolt, Roil Cartographer, Tempest Harvester, Unstable Amulet, Phyrexian Ironworks, Electrozoa, Bespoke Battlewagon.

Similar to boros, blue-red is also very focused on the energy but implements a more control strategy. Izzet Generatorium makes sure we never run out of energy and gives us cards even if we spend them on other payoffs. We could use them with the death of Cyclops Superconductor, but the payoffs are not lacking between: Unstable Amulet, Phyrexian Ironworks, Roil Cartographer or Bespoke Battlewagon.

To the red removals already seen previously, Aether Spike as a counter completes the interaction, while Tune the Narrative is the cantrip enhances the strategy.

Combo: Controlling Molten Gatekeeper, we can cast Shrieking Drake and return itself to our hand, turning each U mana into 1 damage.


Eldrazi (Temur)

Gruul: Eldrazi Spawn

Magic the Gathering Card - Titans' Vanguard - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Writhing Chrysalis - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Stump Stomp - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Burnwillow Clearing - MTG Circle

Cards: Basking Broodscale, Voidpouncer, Propagator Drone, It That Heralds the End, Malevolent Rumble, Glaring Fleshraker, Eldrazi Repurposer, Skittering Precursor, Glimpse the Impossible, Wumpus Aberration, Spawn-Gang Commander, Territory Culler, Eldrazi Ravager.

Temur is the Eldrazi territory! Green-red is where Eldrazi Spawns are more aggressive and can become a real threat for the opponent. Titans' Vanguard buffs them, as well as any Eldrazi, but that's not even the only one as there are also two very strong payoffs in Propagator Drone and It That Heralds the End. The rest of the cards are concerned with spreading Spawn tokens, including Writhing Chrysalis that additionally becomes huge whenever one of them is killed or used for mana.

Combo: Casting Gift of the Viper on Mogg Mob will give it deathtouch. At this point you just need to sacrifice it, killing up to 3 big creatures and clearing the board. Since I can't get enough when it comes to Goblins, I tell you this combo also works with Spawn-Gang Commander!

Simic: Eldrazi Ramp

Magic the Gathering Card - Planar Genesis - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Snapping Voidcraw - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Drowner of Truth - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Drowned Jungle - MTG Circle

Cards: Nightshade Dryad, Sage of the Unknowable, Wastescape Battlemage, It That Heralds the End, Eldrazi Repurposer, Kozilek's Unsealing, Path of Annihilation, Petrifying Meddler, Drownyard Lurker, Warped Tusker, Breaker of Creation, Twisted Riddlekeeper.

In Green-blue, instead, Eldrazi Spawn are used to add colorless mana and ramp towards huge Eldrazi. Proof of this is: Planar Genesis, recalling a combination of Impulse + Growth Spiral, as well as Snapping Voidcraw that allows us to have 6 mana already on turn 4.

Mana is never enough for this color pair and therefore Path of Annihilation is important because, between big creatures and card draw, guarantees us the best lategame we can have.

Combo: Copycrook can enter as a copy of Evolution Witness. We can adapt it, but more importantly when we attack we'll connive, putting a +1/+1 counter on it and returning a permanent back every time!


Card Draw:

Dimir: Card Draw

Magic the Gathering Card - Horrid Shadowspinner - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Sneaky Snacker - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Waterlogged Teachings - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Inundated Archive - MTG Circle

Cards: Tune the Narrative, Emrakul's Messenger, Tempest Harvester, Roil Cartographer, Eviscerator's Insight, Mindless Conscription, Brainsurge, Kami of Jealous Thirst, Serum Visionary, Scurrilous Sentry, Deem Inferior, Deep Analysis, Unfathomable Truths.

Blue-black is based on card draw, with effects usually trigger on the third card drawn. Horrid Shadowspinner is a natural combo with Sneaky Snacker, since attacking makes us draw 2 and discard the same number of cards... hopefully 2 Sneaky Snacker!

Adding the card drawn for the turn, they are effectively 3 and therefore Sneaky Snacker triggers and comes back into play. Another awesome payoff is Mindless Conscription, triggering also with cards like: Brainsurge, Unfathomable Truths, Rush of Inspiration // Crackling Falls, Deep Analysis.

Combo: With Buried Alive you can send 3 Sneaky Snacker directly to the graveyard and then return them as soon as you draw 3 cards. Yes, you can do in limited what you could do now in Modern with Arclight Phoenix!



Rakdos: Artifacts

Magic the Gathering Card - Pyretic Rebirth - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Cranial Ram - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Bloodsoaked Insight - MTG CircleMagic the Gathering Card - Sanguine Morass - MTG Circle

Cards: Etherium Pteramander, Retrofitted Transmogrant, Sarpadian Simulacrum, Marionette Apprentice, Etched Slith, Smelted Chargebug, Drossclaw, Dreadmobile, Junk Diver, Refurbished Familiar, Arcbound Condor, Wurmcoil Larva, Frogmyr Enforcer, Furnace Hellkite.

Lastly, red-black is based on artifacts, thanks to the return of the affinity mechanic! Pyretic Rebirth is not strictly necessary, while Cranial Ram has an incredible potential for a common, so much so that it has already been preventively banned in Pauper.

The strategy is based on filling the board with many low-cost artifacts and then exploiting strong payoffs such as: Refurbished Familiar, Frogmyr Enforcer and especially Furnace Hellkite.

Combo: As well as for every limited, you can steal something with Infernal Captor, attack with it and then sacrifice it with Dreadmobile (or Eviscerator's Insight) so the thing doesn't come back to your opponent at the end of the turn.

That's all for today! Good prerelease to everyone and enjoy Modern Horizons 3!

I'm Luciano, Italian MTG player since 2003. I play every available format on MTG Arena on a competitive level. Semi-finalist at the Arena Championship 3.

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