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Two Elephants in the Room: Drafting Modern Horizons 3

June 24, 2024
Marshall Sutcliffe

There's an elephant in the room.

Actually, there's kind of two elephants in the room?

The Eldrazi Elephant

Eldrazi! Even though there are over 40 returning mechanics in Modern Horizons 3 Limited, one stands tall above the rest: Eldrazi (and their associated Spawn and kindred friends).

Eldrazi as a creature type are one of the most popular in the game since first arriving on the scene in 2010. They have a great combination of big and weird that hits just right for a huge part of the player base, me included.

And punches were not pulled when it came to making the Eldrazi in this set. In fact, the Eldrazi theme is so prevalent that it's the deck I think is most likely to be drafted deck at the Pro Tour.

The Basics

The goal with the Eldrazi deck is simple: Use your early turns to ramp up your mana, skip the boring middle ground of 4 and 5 mana creatures, and start slamming the big guys as soon as possible. There are enough big Eldrazi around — and the ramp support is plenty good enough — that the Pro Tour players will be able to execute this one-two punch consistently.

Eldrazi exist primarily in Temur colors; Green, red and blue.

Green gives you the best ramp options, either by tapping for mana, putting lands on the battlefield, or making Eldrazi spawn tokens.

Malevolent Rumble Eldrazi Repurposer Nightshade Dryad Basking Broodscale

Malevolent Rumble looks innocuous, but don't sleep on it: It's a high pick for the Eldrazi deck. Eldrazi Repurposer and Basking Broodscale give you the benefit of adding significantly to the board while also spitting out spawn tokens for your big finishers. Nightshade Dryad transitions from mana maker to great blocker in the late game pretty seamlessly.

Once the mana is set up, it's time to start deploying the battleships.

At common, you get cards like Drownyard Lurker and Warped Tusker.

Drownyard Lurker Warped Tusker

These two offer the flexibility of being a decent finisher or helping you cast and/or find your other finishers via cycling for value.

But it's at uncommon and above you get some real heavy hitters.

Breaker of Creation Eldrazi Ravager Devourer of Destiny 662158 662162 662167

Not all of these are equal, but you'll take any of them and slot them in as "good enough" cards that can take over the game if cast on turn five or sooner. And that's good enough to win a lot of games in this format, just that combo of early ramp and big finisher.

Normally, Eldrazi cards are limited by the fact that you need specifically colorless mana to cast some of them.While that is true in Modern Horizons 3, you don't really feel the squeeze in way you might in a normal set. That'S primarily because of the Eldrazi Spawn tokens mentioned before, but it's also true because of these:

Bountiful Landscape Perilous Landscape Tranquil Landscape Twisted Landscape Foreboding Landscape

The landscape cards have proven to be excellent fixing, they sacrifice for any of the three land types they can fetch, but perhaps just as importantly they tap for a "fourth" type of mana: Colorless.

This, plus the fact that you'll occasionally cycle them for a card late in the game, means that they have little downside and enough of an upside to warrant early picks. A drafter who ignores the need for a few landscapes in their build is one who can't cast their spells and will pay the price.

Lastly, there is another elephant in the Eldrazi sized room that must be addressed:

Writhing Chrysalis

Actually, this guy is bigger than an elephant.

You are looking what is most likely the best common printed ... well, since I started drafting competitively?

And that was in Lorwyn block, which came out in 2007.

Seriously, Writhing Chrysalis is better than basically all of the rares and mythic rares in the set, and it's a common!

It's going to change how the drafts go at the tables, and the players have to really decide if they want to jump at the chance to have one in their deck if they open it, or if they want to try to go a different direction and let everyone else scrap it out for the Eldrazi leftovers.

We haven't seen a historically good common like this in a while. It will be interesting to see how the players adapt to it. My guess is that they'll just happily take any Writhing Chrysalis they open and proceed from there.

The Eldrazi deck is the best deck in the format, and the table can support multiple Eldrazi drafters due to being in three colors and being relatively flexible in terms of game plan.

You'll see it at the Pro Tour, and I think it will have good results.

The Energized Elephant

The other mechanic that shines through in this set is energy.

Energy is primarily in the Jeskai color trio; white, blue, and red. It was a popular mechanic in Kaladesh when it first appeared, and it has proven itself versatile enough to bring back in a big way for Modern Horizons 3.

The Basics

You want cards that create energy, and cards to spend that energy on. The good news is that many cards do both; they create some energy when you cast them or when they enter the battlefield, and they give you a place to spend it as well.

There's the question players have to face: Is the bottleneck obtaining energy or spending it?

Some mechanics like this make it hard to get the resource, but once you do, you get a big advantage in spending it. Others make it easy to get the resource, but hard to spend effectively.

In this set, it's easy to get, and easy to spend too. It's not uncommon for a good energy deck to finish the game with extra energy counters floating around, so there is some focus on the spending part, but overall it's pretty easy to both get and spend energy.

Your bread-and-butter energy cards give you energy right away and give you a place to spend it either immediately or in installments down the line.

662202 Tempest Harvester 662274 Smelted Chargebug Hexgold Slith

Galvanic Discharge has been particularly awesome, scaling up to even Eldrazi sized damage outputs when needed, but still efficient enough to kill a two-drop and leave some energy in reserve.

And when each of these leaves some scraps of energy behind, you can spend it on these excellent energy sinks.

Roil Cartographer Bespoke Battlewagon Amped Raptor Reiterating Bolt Static Prison Voltstorm Angel

I've seen people activate Roil Cartographer three times in one game, Amped Raptor cast Eldrazi for "free," Reiterating Bolt replicated three times, and Static Prison never leave the battlefield.

The key is that you want basically every card in your deck to either make energy, be a place to spend energy, or both.

And that's not even including my favorite one:


Aether Revolt is one of my favorite build-arounds in the set. It's the type of card that can take over a game and flip it on its head while doing so because it doesn't require you to attack any more to win the game. In a dedicated energy strategy, the revolt ability is a bonus that you'll get every once in a while but isn't needed to win.

My favorite version of the energy deck is the red-white beatdown version.

It takes all the usually good cards like Galvanic Discharge and Static Prison, but it combines them with two gold energy-centric cards that have been awesome.

Conduit Goblin Scurry of Gremlins

Conduit Goblin is one of the scariest threats that you can have on turn two. Normally, cards that give other creatures haste require a mana investment to do so.

So, you end up getting your creature with haste, but a turn late. With Conduit Goblin, you get to spend energy on this, so you can still curve out as you would have before. The addition of one point of power goes a long way as well, combining for a potent energy sink for just two mana.

The star of the red-white energy deck is Scurry of Gremlins.

This card has a nasty little habit of ending the game the turn it hits the battlefield thanks to proving its own two Gremlin army, and often something like six to eight extra energy. That energy (and any you had been saving up) gets immediately used to activate it two or more times. After some quick math, the game ends.

It's bonkers.

Scurry of Gremlins is on the short list of cards that the players will take over good Eldrazi cards and feel good about doing so.

Get Ready for Amsterdam

So that's it, the two big heavy hitting elephants that the players will be primarily considering when they sit down for the ever-important draft at Pro Tour Modern Horizons 3 in Amsterdam. You can tune in to for live coverage of Pro Tour Modern Horizons 3 on June 28–30, 2024.

If they want to make a run for the Top 8 of the tournament, a solid — if not exceptional — Draft record will be a requirement, and these two strategies are the frontrunners to get them there. I can't wait to see how it goes!


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