Limited Guide to Modern Horizons 3

Tzu-Mainn Chen
June 07, 2024


I’ve long described Modern Horizons draft environments as “Limited Constructed”, with decks that have the playability and feel of a constructed deck. But if you’re not a big fan of Standard or Pioneer or Modern, it’s difficult to understand what that really means.

So think of it a different way. Have you ever played - or played against - a draft deck that wins in some unusual or unexpected way? For example, take Outlaws of Thunder Junction; have you milled an opponent out with a flashbacked Archive Trap, or gone nuts with the various token cards in the Mardu colors? Those decks are narrow but focused, with win conditions that can be hard to derail since they operate along a single potent dimension.

That’s what you should expect out of a good Modern Horizons 3 deck: a honed blade aimed at an opponent’s heart, where every card works together towards a unified goal. That being said - this is Limited, so you can also look forward to the quirky unexpected interactions that make the format a joy to play.


Mechanics and Themes

It’s not really practical to go through every single mechanic in MH3; one may as well search up a list of all the mechanics in Magic’s long and glorious history. That being said there are some mechanics that are more prominent than others, and there are important themes that encompass multiple mechanics. Let’s take a look!



Breaker of Creation (Modern Horizons 3 #1) Writhing Chrysalis (Modern Horizons 3 #208) Null Elemental Blast (Modern Horizons 3 #12)

The titans - the true titans - of the Multiverse have returned, and they bring a host of mechanics with them. Some Eldrazi spells require colorless mana to cast, and remember: you can’t just grab Wastes from the basic land station. You’ll need to draft lands that generate colorless mana in order to deploy potent creatures such as Breaker of Creation. Alternatively (and less reliably) you can take advantage of Eldrazi Spawn, those adorable little tokens generated by spells such as Writhing Chrysalis. These Eldrazi Spawn also do a great job of ramping out truly gigantic Eldrazi with their terrifying text; look again at Breaker of Creation and its Annihilator effect. Lastly note the Devoid keyword on Writhing Chrysalis, which simply means that it’s considered colorless and can’t be hit by Null Elemental Blast.

Eldrazi can be found in Blue, Red, Green… and Colorless.



Temperamental Oozewagg (Modern Horizons 3 #172) Drossclaw (Modern Horizons 3 #89) Nyxborn Unicorn (Modern Horizons 3 #37)

The Modified keyword hasn’t been around long, but the batch it represents - creatures with counters, equipment, or your own auras -  covers so many mechanics from Magic’s history that it’s ideal for sets like MH3. Some cards reward your Modified creatures; for example, Temperamental Oozewagg gives all of them trample.

Modified creatures do have a weakness however; if they’re removed, your opponent often scores an easy 2-for-1. There are various mechanics that counter this vulnerability. Drossclaw is a Living Weapon, meaning it’s an Equipment that comes into play attached to an instantly Modified creature. If it dies, you can simply move the Equipment to another creature. Nyxborn Unicorn has a different kind of resiliency: you can cast it as a creature or an Aura; and if you do the latter, and the creature its targeting dies, then Nyxborn Unicorn stays on the battlefield as a creature.

The principal colors that care about Modified are White, Black, and Green.



Hexgold Slith (Modern Horizons 3 #30) Amped Raptor (Modern Horizons 3 #114) Roil Cartographer (Modern Horizons 3 #67)

It’s hard for me to believe that Kaladesh was nearly eight years ago, but Wikipedia sure doesn’t lie. Energy was the signature mechanic of Kaladesh, and fans of Servant of the Conduit and Harnessed Lightning can rejoice! MH3 features a lot of cards that generate and spend Energy, creating a resource subgame that many players enjoy. Hexgold Slith generates two Energy, exactly enough for a single activation of its combat ability. Do you want to use that Energy for that, or save it for a more potent effect? And there are definitely some potent effects, from Amped Raptor’s semi-Cascade to Roil Cartographer’s simple and simply awesome ability to draw three cards.

Energy cards can be found in White, Blue, and Red.


Double-Faced Cards

Boggart Trawler // Boggart Bog (Modern Horizons 3 #243) Boggart Trawler // Boggart Bog (Modern Horizons 3 #243) Bridgeworks Battle // Tanglespan Bridgeworks (Modern Horizons 3 #249) Bridgeworks Battle // Tanglespan Bridgeworks (Modern Horizons 3 #249)

Double-faced cards are a popular (if logistically annoying) mechanic that returns in MH3. Even more excitingly, it returns in its most popular Limited form: spells on one side, lands on the other (although there’s also a cycle of flipwalkers at mythic rare, but they’re an exception rather than a rule). DFC lands allow for interesting deck building choices. An aggro deck can play fewer pure lands and decrease the chance of becoming mana flooded; a slower deck can play the same number of pure lands and help guarantee their land drops in the late game.

There are two DFC lands for each color, all of which require you to pay three life if you want them to come in untapped. There’s also a cycle of ten dual-color DFC lands, which we will talk about in the next section.



Each two color archetype has a signature uncommon. In addition, they have a signature common - but wait, that’s not all! There’s also the aforementioned dual-color DFC cycle. Suffice it to say: the archetypes in MH3 are well supported.


White / Blue: Energy Tempo

Emissary of Soulfire (Modern Horizons 3 #183) Riddle Gate Gargoyle (Modern Horizons 3 #201) Suppression Ray // Orderly Plaza (Modern Horizons 3 #260)

The first Energy archetype in MH3 looks to spend small measured doses in order to gain incremental advantages that allow you to suppress the board while pushing through damage. Emissary of Soulfire gives you Energy and allows you to spend it for Exalted counters - the ideal keyword if you want to attack with a single evasive creature while leaving your other creatures behind to defend. Speaking of evasive creatures, Riddle Gate Gargoyle is a nicely costed one that loads you up with Energy while also giving you an ability that gains you life (if you need it). And when you’re ready to push through a final blow, use Suppression Ray to tap down your opponent’s team and swing in - and if you need two turns to win, just save up the Energy to keep them down.


White / Black: Resilient Modified 

Ondu Knotmaster // Throw a Line (Modern Horizons 3 #196) Obstinate Gargoyle (Modern Horizons 3 #195) Glasswing Grace // Age-Graced Chapel (Modern Horizons 3 #254)

If you want to beat a Modified strategy, just blow up their creatures after they use their buff spells. The Black/White archetype aims to work around that issue in a variety of ways. Ondu Knotmaster // Throw a Line represents two spells in a single card, with the creature half becoming bigger as your opponent destroys your buffed creatures. It also has lifelink, making it far more difficult for your opponent to race you. Obstinate Gargoyle is another resilient creature which comes back even after it dies (and note that the -1/-1 counter from Persist activates Modified). And once your opponent runs out of cards from repeatedly dealing with your creatures and spells, throw Glasswing Grace onto a creature and close out the game with a buffed evasive lifelinking creature.


Blue / Black: Draw Draw Draw

Horrid Shadowspinner (Modern Horizons 3 #188) Sneaky Snacker (Modern Horizons 3 #205) Waterlogged Teachings // Inundated Archive (Modern Horizons 3 #261)

Blue/Black is the color pair for players who don’t just want to win; they want to slap their opponents (and their silly cards) around first. There’s a variety of ways to do that, but the way to do that consistently is to draw and draw and draw. That’s what Horrid Shadowspinner does: loots through your deck at a blistering pace and finds you the cards you need (while gaining you some life to ensure you don’t fall too far behind in a race). That payoff is not insubstantial, but additional value is never a bad thing: pitch Sneaky Snacker and have it come back later. And if there’s something in your deck that you just absolutely need (that can also be cast at instant speed), use Waterlogged Teachings to grab it and then use it to swing the game.


Blue / Red: Energy Expenditure

Izzet Generatorium (Modern Horizons 3 #191) Cyclops Superconductor (Modern Horizons 3 #182) Rush of Inspiration // Crackling Falls (Modern Horizons 3 #257)

Okay, this looks like a fun one. Blue/Red leans towards the more maniacal side of science, and in MH3 that worldview is represented by the reckless expenditure of Energy. Not only does Izzet Generatorium boost your Energy production, it also gives you a nice reward for expending that Energy in the form of card draw. Notably, the card does not provide a means of actually putting your Energy to work; that you’ll have to find elsewhere. Cyclops Superconductor is one interesting way, having the potential to explode and clear out a creature - or even an opponent low on life. Rush of Inspiration is another, drawing you cards while incentivizing you to spend some of your hard-earned Energy.


Black / Red: Artifact Affinity / Big Mana Value

Pyretic Rebirth (Modern Horizons 3 #200) Cranial Ram (Modern Horizons 3 #180) Bloodsoaked Insight // Sanguine Morass (Modern Horizons 3 #252)

Wizards claims that the Black/Red archetype is artifact affinity, except it seems like they forget to actually put affinity on any of the archetype’s signpost cards. So just trust me: there are a bunch of affinity creatures in MH3, as well as other reasons to grab every artifact you can. The other signpost cards are more tangential to the strategy. Pyretic Rebirth is a strange removal spell that grows in effectiveness as big mana value artifacts and creatures end up in your graveyard. And Bloodsoaked Insight is a very powerful and very expensive sorcery that becomes considerably less expensive if you can pound in a lot of damage first (perhaps using Cranial Ram). I don’t think this archetype has as much support as others, but that just means that players may sleep on an underrated strategy.


Black / Green: +1/+1 Counters

Cursed Wombat (Modern Horizons 3 #181) Expanding Ooze (Modern Horizons 3 #184) Revitalizing Repast // Old-Growth Grove (Modern Horizons 3 #256)

It’s been a while since the Black/Green +1/+1 counters aggro deck dominated Standard. Now it’s back, only in MH3Limited. Cursed Wombat is a cheap creature that boosts your +1/+1 counter production, with the added benefit of having the ability to add counters to itself, making it an even bigger threat as the game goes on. Expanding Ooze works in a similar vein, only its +1/+1 counter acceleration comes in the guise of an attack trigger. Of course this strategy has a risk: you can spend a lot of time and mana and spells to pump up a creature only to have a single removal spell undo all your hard work. Revitalizing Repast is the perfect solution: a one mana instant that not only protects your creature, but also boosts it up just a little bit more.


Red / White: Energy Aggro

Scurry of Gremlins (Modern Horizons 3 #203) Conduit Goblin (Modern Horizons 3 #179) Legion Leadership // Legion Stronghold (Modern Horizons 3 #255)

Experienced players know that a good Red/White aggro deck is more than just a pile of low curve creatures. You need some way to push your pile over the top, and in MH3 that way is Energy. Scurry of Gremlins is a good example: not only does the enchantment generate two creatures, and not only does it allow them to attack with a small buff and haste, but it also allows you to repeatedly give your team the hasty buff - as long as you have the Energy to spend. Conduit Goblin does… pretty much the same thing. Both these cards are nice Energy payoffs, but remember: Energy is not the primary focus of this archetype. Rather, it’s attacking and (hopefully) killing your opponent with unrelenting attacks, and Legion Leadership is a nice trick that may allow you to do so out od nowhere.


Red / Green: Eldrazi Stompy

Titans' Vanguard (Modern Horizons 3 #206) Writhing Chrysalis (Modern Horizons 3 #208) Stump Stomp // Burnwillow Clearing (Modern Horizons 3 #259)

Just because an archetype isn’t complicated doesn’t mean it’s not a lot of fun. Red/Green likes to go big, and that makes it a perfect match for the Eldrazi in MH3. The two signpost creatures look super satisfying to play: Titan’s Vanguard is a nicely costed threat that has the additional benefit of buffing every colorless creature you control, while Writhing Chrysalis is an amazingly flexible creature whose Eldrazi Spawn can help you either go wide or ramp out even bigger creatures. Creatures may not be enough to win, however; you may also need a way to swat aside any pesky blockers, and that’s what Stump Stomp does. There’s nothing overly complicated here, and I think that’s just dandy.


Green / White: Modified

Golden-Tail Trainer (Modern Horizons 3 #187) Faithful Watchdog (Modern Horizons 3 #185) Strength of the Harvest // Haven of the Harvest (Modern Horizons 3 #258)

There’s like a billion ways of making a creature Modified in MH3, and the Green/White signature uncommon helps reduce the cost of two-thirds of them (disclaimer: I did not do the math). Making your creatures big - and quickly - is a good way to win a game before your opponent’s silly plans come into fruition, and Golden-Tail Trainer will definitely do that. Faithful Watchdog is another ideal creature for this strategy, as it’s a two drop with three power that’s automatically Modified. But what if your opponent has creatures to compete with yours? Use Strength of the Harvest to pump any creature to a ridiculous size and slam your way in for the victory.


Green / Blue: Eldrazi Ramp

Planar Genesis (Modern Horizons 3 #198) Snapping Voidcraw (Modern Horizons 3 #204) Drowner of Truth // Drowned Jungle (Modern Horizons 3 #253)

Ramp is a familiar strategy for Green/Blue aficionados, and perhaps its return in MH3 comes as an unpleasant surprise. However, three things should be kept in mind. The first is that cards in this set are more powerful than usual; Planar Genesis is a nice upgrade to the usual two mana ramp spell that allows you the option of grabbing a spell if lands are no longer needed. The second is that there are additional methods of ramping, such as Snapping Voidcraw (which also lets you draw cards if you run out), or the Eldrazi Spawn (potentially) created by Drowner of Truth. Lastly, remember that the cards you can ramp into are stronger than usual, thanks to the presence of all those fun Eldrazi.


Key Commons and Uncommons

MH3 is so synergistic that It’s difficult to identify cards that will be generically good no matter the deck. Keep that in mind when perusing this list!




Aerie Auxiliary (Modern Horizons 3 #18) Glyph Elemental (Modern Horizons 3 #27) Guardian of the Forgotten (Modern Horizons 3 #28)

Aerie Auxiliary: Four mana for five power (three of which are evasive) seems like a great deal to me!

Glyph Elemental: This creature immediately threatens to grow out of control, and if you Bestow it first then your opponent will have to deal with it twice.

Guardian of the Forgotten: This card has the potential to provide great value - and sure, maybe your opponent will target it first. But maybe you’ve built up enough threats that they can’t. That would be nice, wouldn’t it?


Ajani Fells the Godsire (Modern Horizons 3 #19) Expel the Unworthy (Modern Horizons 3 #25) Static Prison (Modern Horizons 3 #44)

Ajani Fells the Godsire: Exile-based removal that comes with a 2/1 and various buffs - I’m not positiveall of that is good, but I can’t help but think that you’ll find a lot of useful things to do with all of that.

Expel the Unworthy: Five mana unconditional removal is not ideal, but the option of casting it for less if you target a cheaper creature makes it far more intriguing.

Static Prison: Not all decks will be able to afford the constant drain of Energy that this card asks for. But the White archetypes are either Energy - which should have ample supplies of Energy - or Modified - which is aggressive enough that you probably won’t need more than three turns before winning the game.




Depth Defiler (Modern Horizons 3 #58) Petrifying Meddler (Modern Horizons 3 #66) Serum Visionary (Modern Horizons 3 #69)

Depth Defiler: Bouncing a creature or going up a card is pretty great; the potential to do both is pretty crazy great.

Petrifying Meddler: A top end for a tempo deck, or a midgame creature that buys you time in a slower deck.

Serum Visionary: Well, yeah, a creature that draws a card - and scries! - is good.


Deem Inferior (Modern Horizons 3 #57) Deep Analysis (Modern Horizons 3 #268) Utter Insignificance (Modern Horizons 3 #78)

Deem Inferior: Burying something isn’t quite the same as removing it for good. But! It’s similar. And this spell targets any nonland permanents, not just creatures. And it doesn’t actually cost four mana; it costs three - or maybe even less!

Deep Analysis: Ah, the classic four-for-one.

Utter Insignificance: Aura-based removal that doesn’t even really remove the creature - well, usually these sorts of cards aren’t great. There’s two reasons why this card is an exception. The first is that it removes abilities - critical in a set chock-full of creatures with good abilities. The second is that it gives you the opportunity to exile the creature later, which is ideal if you really do need to get rid of the target forever.




Fetid Gargantua (Modern Horizons 3 #94) Marionette Apprentice (Modern Horizons 3 #100) Scurrilous Sentry (Modern Horizons 3 #108)

Fetid Gargantua: I mean, you don’t want to stuff an infinite number of these into your deck. But put in one or two, and if it lands and doesn't immediately die I think it'll be difficult for you to lose.

Marionette Apprentice: This is a wonderful enabler for so many of Black's shenanigans, as well as an extremely innocuous win condition.

Scurrilous Sentry: This can be a 4/5 menace creature the first time it attacks, all while looting away cards and enabling both card draw and Modified strategies.


Breathe Your Last (Modern Horizons 3 #82) Fell the Profane // Fell Mire (Modern Horizons 3 #244) Wither and Bloom (Modern Horizons 3 #111)

Breathe Your Last: Ah, Murder finally has an upside!

Fell the Profane: You'd almost definitely prefer to play this card as an instant, but the ability to play it as a land if absolutely needed makes this MDFC a slam dunk in any Black deck.

Wither and Bloom: Okay, maybe this isn't unconditional removal. But a clever Limited player will know how to use instant speed tricks like this in clever ways, and its extra +1/+1 counter ability is just one more headache for your opponent to deal with.




Molten Gatekeeper (Modern Horizons 3 #128) Reckless Pyrosurfer (Modern Horizons 3 #133) Spawn-Gang Commander (Modern Horizons 3 #140)

Molten Gatekeeper: Combine this with Eldrazi Spawn and watch your opponent's life melt away.

Reckless Pyrosurfer: Go wide, play lands, win games.

Spawn-Gang Commander: Well, this is a fun throwback. The potential for ramping and going wide are good; the potential for simply burning your opponent to death is just fun.


Galvanic Discharge (Modern Horizons 3 #122) Ghostfire Slice (Modern Horizons 3 #123) Reiterating Bolt (Modern Horizons 3 #134)

Galvanic Discharge: A one-mana Lightning Bolt that can't hit your opponent's face is really good. A one-mana Lightning Bolt that can scale up or down depending on your Energy reserves is really really good.

Ghostfire Slice: Red has a lot of burn in MH3, but I'm giving the edge to the instant speed spells due to the possibility of sniping a creature when your opponent is trying to Modify them.

Reiterating Bolt: I know, I know, I literally just said that I prefer instant speed removal. But the potential to wipe an opponent's board with a single two mana spell (albeit one you have to build up Energy for) is just too tantalizing to resist.




Evolution Witness (Modern Horizons 3 #151) Territory Culler (Modern Horizons 3 #173) Wumpus Aberration (Modern Horizons 3 #176)

Evolution Witness: Don’t think of this as an overcosted three mana 2/1 creature that has a chance of retrieving something from your graveyard; think of it as a five mana 4/3 creature that does all of that while allowing its mana cost to be split over multiple turns - and can keep fishing around in your graveyard as long as you have spare +/+1 counters to place.

Territory Culler: A 7/5 with reach for five mana is a good deal. A creature with all of that and this Landfall ability boggles the mind.

Wumpus Abberation: Hint: if you play this, you really want to draft ways to generate colorless mana. Then enjoy your turn four 6/6 trampler.


Gift of the Viper (Modern Horizons 3 #156) Horrific Assault (Modern Horizons 3 #157) Signature Slam (Modern Horizons 3 #168)

Gift of the Viper: This is going to snipe a lot of opponent’s creatures while turning on any Modified effects.

Horrific Assault: Uh, yeah - it’s a one mana punch.

Signature Slam: Is this removal spell good because it's an instant? Because it puts a +1/+1 counter on a creature? Because it's a punch rather than a fight? Because it sidesteps the issue of your opponent removing your creature? Obviously the answer is yes.


Other Cards to Know

Mana Fixing

There is a copious amount of mana fixing at common and uncommon. First, there’s the cycle of double-faced cards we just talked about above. Next, there’s a ten card cycle of Landscape lands that do a bunch of things: fetch for one of three colors (meaning each color pair has three matching Landscape lands), tap for colorless mana, and cycle.

Bountiful Landscape (Modern Horizons 3 #217) Contaminated Landscape (Modern Horizons 3 #218) Deceptive Landscape (Modern Horizons 3 #219)

And of course, Green has a few more options:

Nightshade Dryad (Modern Horizons 3 #163) Path of Annihilation (Modern Horizons 3 #165)



I know MH3 is an advanced Limited set, but even pros can miss creatures with Reach. Here’s what we have at common and uncommon, featuring a (kind of) Blue creature with Reach - weird!

Petrifying Meddler (Modern Horizons 3 #66) Annoyed Altisaur (Modern Horizons 3 #284) Nyxborn Hydra (Modern Horizons 3 #164)

Territory Culler (Modern Horizons 3 #173) Writhing Chrysalis (Modern Horizons 3 #208) Warped Tusker (Modern Horizons 3 #16)



Here’s what I’d keep in mind about Modern Horizons 3:

  • The three principal archetypes are centered in White/Blue/Red (Energy), Red/Blue/Green (Eldrazi), and Black/Green/White (Modified). If you want to maximize the potential for building a synergistic deck, I’d suggest starting there.
  • That being said, the leftover color pairs - Blue/Black (Draw) and Black/Red (Artifacts) - are viable. If you commit to them early you may find a ton of good cards falling into your lap.
  • There’s a ton of mana fixing available; remember there’s one DFC land and three Landscapes available for each color pair. I suspect many decks will end up three colors - or more.
  • If you’re drafting Eldrazi, don’t forget that you’ll (likely) need to generate colorless mana. If you find it difficult to find colorless mana sources in pack 1, draft them highly in packs 2 and 3.
  • There are powerful rares that don’t quite line up with the MH3 Limited archetypes - but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t play them, and that doesn’t mean you can’t draft around them. For example, if you grab a Black rare that cares about the graveyard, pick up the Blue/Black spells that loot things away.
  • Good decks will either have an engine or explosiveness. Draft your deck towards one the other, and when you play a game figure out how to get your synergies going - or how to remove the key pieces of your opponent’s plan.

Good luck!