Mythic Championship IV Barcelona will feature Modern Horizons draft, and I am super excited to see the draft rounds play out on coverage. It may have gotten lost in the gush of new sets and the lack of grand prix coverage, but Modern Horizons is an awesome draft format.

We’re celebrating the new Modern format with some awesome Mythic Championship IV fantasy leagues over on Thousand Leagues! Draft your favorite players or cards in one of our public leagues and you could win a Japanese War of the Spark booster box—or create your own league and invite your friends!

While Modern Horizons might look like a Modern Masters draft set, it is something different. The power level is fairly high, but in the ballpark of Standard draft environments rather than the more Cube-like feel of Masters sets. The set has a number of archetypes you can draft, but the format is much more open to creativity and solid deck-building than you would expect. I prefer these kinds of sets for drafting, and I think the format will be a good showcase for professional Limited play at the Mythic Championship.

One of my local friends will be competing in Barcelona this weekend, so we were fortunate to be able to help him prepare for the event by drafting Modern Horizons a good bit. I found myself enjoying the format more and more with each subsequent draft. It really fits my style: stay open, find the deck your seat wants to draft, and stock up on versatile sideboard options. Plus you get the bonus of drafting full-art snow-covered basic lands, which is almost a freeroll for value if you’re keeping the cards. (Which is a thing to consider when deciding to draft around Snow permanents—how many people in your pod will try to pick the lands for their collection?)

Here are some of my insights about Modern Horizons drafting. May they help you enjoy watching Mythic Championship IV Barcelona or draft yourself. The format is really fun, and full of new cards you can’t get anywhere else. Draft it if you can—you might even get to draft some nonsense like this.

Try Not to Draft White

White is the weakest color in Modern Horizons draft. I think the main reason is subpar removal. Winds of Abandon and On Thin Ice are nice at rare, and Wing Shards can be strong too. But the common removal is not great. Reprobation is almost unplayable—nowhere close to Pacifism—though it does get better in agressive Boros decks if you have a ton of copies of Pyrophobia. Settle Beyond Reality can be good, but it is slow and more suited to controlling decks where white is often a splash color. I like Generous Gift as a versatile catch-all that can also go on offense, but it’s not what you want to base your white removal suite around. There are no Path to Exiles here.

Outside of support for multicolor decks, there are only three reasons to draft white: Battle Screech, Slivers, and Changelings. Battle Screech is one of the best non-rare Limited cards in the history of Magic, and a fantastic start to an aggressive white deck. Slivers are quite powerful if the archetype is open, and Lancer Sliver is an absolute house. (Just be careful when relying on first strike for a big combat—Shelter is an important tool here.) And Changelings?

Seriously, Changelings are Great

Changelings are extremely powerful in Limited, and strong picks early in draft because they leave you open to multiple archetypes as well as random incidental value. Many of them are white, as noted above, and those are the white cards you should pick up in pack one if you go that route. Impostor of the Sixth Pride does tons of work.  Valiant Changeling is much better than it looks as well. It costs WW for 3/3 double strike when you control another Changeling, but it’s generally easy to cast for four mana anyway thanks to all the random subtypes on creatures in the set.

If you do choose to draft white Changelings, you probably want to end up in Slivers anyway, but you can also pair white with black for various tribal combos. Venomous Changeling is quite strong, and the “deathtouch” is one of those hidden abilities below a chunk of reminder text—like Trample on Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis—that sometimes your opponents will forget. Regardless of color, value Changelings over other comparable creatures. You may be surprised what they can randomly do for you. But they also can’t block after Pyrophobia and get randomly pumped by Goatnap. They can’t be all upside, I guess.

Multicolor Snow is the Best Deck

The Snow archetype mostly centers in blue and green, but you end up with enough off-color snow lands and Arcum’s Astrolabes that you can splash most anything. Springbloom Druid is where you want to be. It fuels the splashes, thins your deck for all the good stuff you’ve jammed in there, and ensures you play all your snow lands to pump Abominable Treefolk and Conifer Wurm. And seriously, this is the real Soulherder deck. Don’t waste your time trying to draft Azorius flicker.

When drafting Snow, you have to make sure you can get the lands. I tend to look for them early, taking them highly in pack one unless I see a crucial card for the deck. Once you get them, especially Snow-Covered Island and Snow-Covered Forest, you are open to take all the Astrolabes and powerful splash cards in pack three. If you get enough snow lands early, you can even table cards like Marit Lage’s Slumber late in the draft. Glacial Revelation also becomes absurd when half your cards are snow permanents.

But the true powerhouse of the Snow archetype is Iceberg Cancrix. Simic-based draft decks tend to lean on tempo to win games, which can make them feel useless when you fall behind. A deck with three copies of Iceberg Cancrix and a slew of snow permanents (mostly lands) has ultimate inevitability in this format. That opens slots in the deck for more ways to survive long enough to mill for victory. String of Disappearances can do some nice work on that front, and even cards like Spore Frog or Weather the Storm have their place.

Be careful when drafting Snow, however. When multicolor good stuff is a top deck, it can be hard to draft. Watch the snow lands go around. If you don’t see many passed your way in pack one, take the hint and stay away.

Izzet is the Real Tempo Archetype

Some of the archetypes can be hard to find. The Izzet colors in Modern Horizons basically amount to this: cycle a card each turn to make your attackers absurd. That’s a much better bargain than the usual Izzet draft experience (cast bounce spells and removal to make your attackers functional). Fists of Flame! Spinehorn Minotaur! Eyekite! Windcaller Aven! Choking Tethers! You get the idea.

In general, Red is a strong color with plentiful removal and effective creatures. You can get copies of Pyrophobia and Magmatic Sinkhole without too much effort. Urza’s Rage and Firebolt bring the pain. Even Lava Dart is surprisingly good.

The rest of the red archetypes follow loose aggressive patterns. You can build around good cards and add whatever synergies come along without worrying too much. Take removal and navigate the games with skill. There are some benefits to having a land in your graveyard, which makes Geomancer’s Gambit an interesting sort of mana-fixing instead of a mere sideboard card against utility lands and On Thin Ice. Rakdos offers a strong version of the much-loved Act of Treason sacrifice archetype, but you can get a nice Goblin subtheme as well. Goblin Matron tutors for Munitions Expert, and Sling-Gang Commander is kind of broken.

Sideboard!

Shenanigans! Modern Horizons is not overflowing with artifacts, but there are some you want to be able to destroy. The two new Swords are obvious, but Lesser Masticore and Birthing Boughs can demand answers too, plus you can often hit a Talisman. If they happen to have a few good targets, Shenanigans plays like an infinite Ancient Grudge—dredge one to redraw it any time you need.

Beyond the obvious niche sideboard cards, the creatures of the set offer many adaptable arrangements of power and toughness. Playables are plentiful but not overflowing, so make sure you have a full creature curve and enough bench players to adjust to what you need to beat in combat. The non-creature spells also fluctuate in value depending on the matchup. Most decks only have room for a few non-creature spells, so be sure to swap them out where appropriate. I’ve enjoyed sideboarding in Modern Horizons draft, and I bet we’ll see some high level sideboarding in Barcelona this weekend.

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

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