Modern Horizons continues to be a deep and enjoyable draft format. It will be the featured draft format of Mythic Championship IV Barcelona at the end of July, so it will remain relevant for competitive drafters over the coming weeks. I expect the format to remain a desirable “flashback draft” for years. So let’s talk about drafting slivers.

The draft environment includes new slivers across the five colors, with the numerous Changelings providing additional sliver bodies. One could theoretically draft a five-color slivers deck, but the critical mass of slivers mostly fall in the Boros (red and white) color pair. Slivers are mostly a linear aggressive creature deck. You want to curve out with slivers every turn, and plan to win through the escalating power of your slivers thanks to their shared abilities. Generally when you plan to curve out with aggressive creatures in Limited, you want to stay in two colors. Which is to say, drafting a slivers deck in Modern Horizons means drafting red and white cards.

My latest Modern Horizons draft started off with a weak first pack. My two choices for pick one, pack one were Lavabelly Sliver and Defile. I favor drafting black in the format because the color has premier creatures and removal, and can be paired with any other color with good results. White by contrast has weaker creatures and removal than black, and the white cards tend to need archetype synergies to compete in this powerful Limited environment. That said, Lavabelly Sliver is very good and I hadn’t drafted a real slivers deck yet, so I took it over the common black removal spell.

Normally I hesitate to commit to a gold card early in a draft. It is risky to lock in on “drafting slivers” in pack one because you opened a good rare or uncommon sliver. But if you are flexible enough to switch away from slivers if the archetype is overdrafted, taking a powerful gold sliver to start your draft is a solid move. As it happened, I saw few good cards of any color as the first packs circled the table, so I took various snow cards as a hedge, alongside some Changelings and Etchings of the Chosen, with some copies of marginal common slivers and a few red removal spells.

Going into pack two, I was not sure whether I would still try to draft slivers. I cut the archetype from the players to my left adequately enough to get some good slivers from that direction, so I had some hope. Then I opened Spiteful Sliver and never looked back. That pack also held Dregscape Sliver—a very powerful card—but off-color slivers are not as good. Keep your curve low and your mana consistent instead.

Here’s where I ended up:

Sliver Commonality

Creatures (16)
Impostor of the Sixth Pride
Enduring Sliver
Bladeback Sliver
Trustworthy Scout
Lancer Sliver
Spiteful Sliver
Lavabelly Sliver
Irregular Cohort
Cleaving Sliver
Rhox Veteran
Quakefoot Cyclops
Valiant Changeling

Spells (7)
Firebolt
Pyrophobia
Magmatic Sinkhole
Reckless Charge
Generous Gift
Lands (17)
Secluded Steppe
Silent Clearing
Snow-Covered Mountain
Mountain
Plains

Sideboard (17)
Reprobation
Recruit the Worthy
Shenanigans
Geomancer’s Gambit
Answered Prayers
Etchings of the Chosen
Talisman of Creativity
Arcum’s Astrolabe
Frostwalk Bastion
Snow-Covered Swamp
Snow-Covered Island
Spore Frog
Scuttling Sliver
Reap the Past

Here’s the thing about slivers: bad slivers are good slivers. That’s kind of the point of the creature type. When each sliver gets the abilities of all your slivers, the mere fact of being a sliver makes a creature much better than it otherwise would be. Consider Enduring Sliver. Outlast is very slow—you have to tap the creature and spend two mana on your turn, instead of attacking or blocking. But who cares? It’s a 2/2 sliver for two mana, which is exactly what you want.

Bladeback Sliver is somewhat better, because its hellbent-pinging ability becomes quite good once you run out of cards. (Boros decks always run out of cards.) Both of these common two-drop slivers spend a lot more time attacking on curve, or taking on the abilities of their better companions, than they do using their inherent abilities. Impostor of the Sixth Pride does essentially the same thing.

The key common for the deck is Lancer Sliver. First strike converts all of your slivers into feasome attackers, especially if you follow it up on curve with Cleaving Sliver or various pump spells. Once you have a wall of first strike on board, Bladeback Sliver becomes a real win condition. You can sit back, threaten to block anything coming your way, and ping away at end of turn—so long as you keep your hand empty of cards. The major danger with Lancer Sliver comes when your opponent can remove it during combat, so you want to either be careful or pack some copies of Shelter.

As you can see from my decklist, I did not get many “power” slivers. One Lavabelly Sliver and one Spiteful Sliver among the “power” slivers, while others at the table snagged the Cloudshredder Sliver and friends. It didn’t matter, because I curved out and backed it up with removal. I went 2-1 in matches, losing because of serious mana issues to a solid Izzet spells/cycling deck.

Rhox Veteran may not be a sliver, but it does a ton of work atop the curve. My deck consisted of the common slivers I could get, some solid changelings, plenty of removal, and the Rhoxes. Reckless Charge also pulled major weight, and I would recommend picking up a copy for your slivers decks. Giving three extra power and haste for one red mana compounds the impact of a newly-cast sliver, and once you are in topdeck mode you will be happy to have the flashback to attack as soon as you draw a creature.

So do not fear. Even if you have to fight the draft pod for slivers, you can still build a solid deck. Snag the higher-rarity slivers where you can, pick Changelings highly, favor red removal over white, and make sure you mana is clean. You don’t need powerful rares when you’ve got slivers!

Brendan McNamara (Twitter: @brendanistan) is Editor in Chief of Hipsters of the Coast.

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