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Modern Horizons 3 Limited Guide: Pre-release, Sealed, and Draft

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In this article, we'll show you everything there is to know about Modern Horizons 3 Limited formats. We'll go through different archetypes, mechanics, mana fixes, and removals included in this set!

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переведено Joey Sticks

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рассмотрено Tabata Marques

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Introduction

Hey, everyone, how are you all?

Modern Horizons 3link outside website (MH3) is finally here! After what seemed like forever, we can finally see these promising cards in eternal formats!

However, there's still something we need to answer: how does MH3 work in Limited formats?

In this article, we'll go through all the mechanics, archetypes, removals, mana fixes, and main cards from MH3 that we can play in Limited formats (Pre-releases, Sealed, or Draft).

Modern Horizons 3

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MH3 brought back some themes we've already seen before, like Eldrazis from the Zendikar block, and the Energy mechanic from the Kaladesh block.

And that's not all; it brought back several mechanics from other sets as well.

Mechanics

We'll briefly discuss some of the most important mechanics in MH3. If you want to see more about all the mechanics in this set, check out {https://magic.wizards.com/en/news/feature/modern-horizons-3-release-notes}{WotC's official MH3 article}.

Annihilator

Previously one of the Eldrazi mechanics, Annihilator still comes with a number that indicates how many permanents our opponent has to sacrifice when we attack them with the Annihilator creature. Usually, we'll see this ability on high-cost creatures.

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Emerge

Another mechanic associated with the Eldrazi, Emerge will probably be the most fascinating mechanic we'll explore in this set, as it lets us discount the cost of big creatures if we sacrifice other creatures. This way, we will be able to explore the synergy between sacrifice and discounting the cost of expensive creatures, and thus increase our presence on the board even more.

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Energy

Straight from Kaladesh, Energy will "power up" spells, trigger effects, or activate effects when we pay their cost. When we play it with other cards that "fuel" their costs, we'll activate them again and again.

It is common for Energy cards to retroactively feed their own effects and give us more Energy counters before their effects actually happen.

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Main Archetypes

Azorius Energy

Magic Symbol WMagic Symbol U

This is a blue and white archetype that focuses on Energy but leans more on tempo. With it, we'll prevent our opponent from developing their game plan on the first few turns of the game to develop our own game plan from turn 4 onward.

Bespoke Battlewagon is an excellent way to fuel up on Energy with this archetype, and may become a relevant body in the late game. Depth Defiler, besides blocking well, also removes our opponent's biggest threat from the board, and, in more "controlled" matches, improves our hand.

Hope-Ender Coatl is a great counter at the top of its curve, and puts pressure on our opponent as it removes a threat.

As for cards like Roil Cartographer and Guide of Souls, they are incredibly powerful for this archetype because they'll give us even more Energy and also use it.

Emissary of Soulfire, Riddle Gate Gargoyle, and Voltstorm Angel are great to get and use Energy efficiently.

Wrath of the Skies may decide the game, as it removes low-cost blockers and gives us Energy as well.

Static Prison is a removal with an excellent cost, but we'll need to pay attention to how much Energy we have and if our opponent can return the permanent we exile.

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Best common cards:

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Best uncommon cards:

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Modified Orzhov Aristocrats

Magic Symbol WMagic Symbol B

In black and white, we have an archetype whose interactions happen whenever we sacrifice creatures, but, for this set in particular, it will also give us some benefits if we modify them too.

It's not enough to only sacrifice creatures; we'll need ways to modify them too. To do that, we'll prefer cards that put counters, like Envoy of the Ancestors, "Living Weapon" equipment, like Drossclaw, and Bestow creatures, like Indebted Spirit. These types of cards let us modify our creatures without destroying the balance between our creature and non-creature spells.

Besides these cards, we'll use cards whose abilities trigger when modified creatures die, or cards whose effects happen whenever we sacrifice our creatures, like Guardian of the Forgotten or Muster the Departed. Ideally, we'll use cards that do a few of these things at the same time, like Ondu Knotmaster or Obstinate Gargoyle. Another option is cards that put more than one body on the board so we can keep sacrificing our cards, like Marionette Apprentice.

When Wurmcoil Larva dies, it gives us two bodies, so it's a perfect sacrifice.

Retrofitted Transmogrant is a way to keep this archetype alive because it creates value but doesn't force us to have another way to modify the creature in question.

Shilgengar, Sire of Famine, besides extremely strong, is quite efficient for this archetype. It gives us Blood Tokens to recycle our hand and improve the quality of our cards. Or we can just hoard all of these tokens to bring back our entire graveyard at once.

Keep in mind that these creatures will return with a finality counter, and, therefore, will be considered "modified".

Warren Soultrader is an option to fix our mana curve or ramp with this archetype.

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Best common cards:

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Best uncommon cards:

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Boros Energy Aggro

Magic Symbol WMagic Symbol R

This is a red and white aggro archetype that features burning our Energy to optimize our attacks. It also relies on the same-old aggro game plan as usual: play low-cost creatures and boost our damage with combat tricks and burn.

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So, cards like Conduit Goblin, Smelted Chargebug, or Voltstorm Angel are excellent ways to take advantage of this strategy.

Aether Revolt may be a way to close out our matches, considering burn is a viable solution for the late game when we can no longer attack as efficiently as we could in the early game.

Phyrexian Ironworks is a great resource to keep pressuring the board. Scurry of Gremlins is also incredibly efficient to close out matches.

As there are fetch lands in these formats, Reckless Pyrosurfer is an extremely aggressive weapon in our arsenal after one or two setup turns in which we prepare an attack by boosting the other creatures on our board.

Phlage, Titan of Fire's Fury is an excellent finisher for this deck, considering this archetype tends to force its opponent to kill its creatures to protect their life points.

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Best common cards:

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Best uncommon cards:

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Modified Selesnya

Magic Symbol WMagic Symbol G

For white and green, we have an archetype that focuses on boosting our creatures and creating a superior board with auras, equipment, or counters. Therefore, we'll prefer creatures that put counters on other creatures or creatures whose effects interact with modified creatures. We're also interested in equipment, preferably Living Weapons, besides auras, of course.

Bestow creatures will also be useful. Temperamental Oozewagg is an example of what we want, as it combines Adapt with an effect that affects all modified creatures.

Golden-Tail Trainer is a great card for this archetype because it makes using equipment and auras easier. With it, their costs will be lower and lower as its power grows.

Unlike the traditional game plan of overpopulating the board and growing all creatures with counters, MH3's options are less versatile - we can't increase the power on our board globally.

As we don't have as many options as usual, we'll have to use cards that refill the resources we spend, like Pearl-Ear, Imperial Advisor and Rosecot Knight. We'll also need to protect the creature we'll invest most of our resources on with cards like Lion Umbra and Dog Umbra. They'll be essential for this strategy.

Faithful Watchdog and Nyxborn Hydra are great creatures for this archetype because they go on the board modified.

If we combine Branching Evolution with cards that focus on counters, like Adapt creatures, our board will spiral completely out of control, and we'll only need to protect our key pieces.

Signature Slam is an excellent removal for this archetype because its effect doesn't depend exclusively on a creature.

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Best common cards:

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Best uncommon cards:

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Dimir Midrange Third Draw

Magic Symbol UMagic Symbol B

For blue and black, we have a midrange archetype that triggers effects when we draw our third card that turn.

Horrid Shadowspinner is a viable option for this archetype, as it activates its effects when we attack with it.

Another option is Psychic Frog, which may draw us a couple of cards in the first few turns. If our opponent decides to block it, they may be simply accepting they'll lose that creature as long as we have enough cards in hand to discard and buff Psychic Frog.

Because we can refill the cards we spend with this card, it will have an interesting impact on this archetype's early game.

Mindless Conscription really fits this archetype; it takes advantage of card draw to either boost or create bodies on our board.

Kami of Jealous Thirst will activate one of this archetype's abilities one extra time for free, so it will be perfect for "locked" game states.

Cards that draw cards efficiently will also be incredibly relevant, and, the most important of all of them will be, without a question, Necrodominance. If we resolve it early on, we'll hardly lose the match, particularly if our opponent's doesn't answer it immediately. It will bury them in card advantage.

Brainsurge, Deep Analysis, and Tune the Narrative are great options to draw cards.

Serum Visionary and Tempest Harvester are viable options with a body that enable the entire archetype.

Roil Cartographer is another excellent choice as it lets us stack Energy for later on, and also has a good body to fend off attackers.

The other play lines this archetype can use rely on efficient removals, like Breathe Your Last, and value plays like Hope-Ender Coatl and Depth Defiler. Wurmcoil Larva is also a great option to delay our opponent. K'rrik, Son of Yawgmoth, on the other side, is great when we have already controlled the opponent, and its lifegain may be critical.

Dreamtide Whale is a terrific way to close out the game because it lets us set up and proliferate vanishing counters.

Another game style we can go for is using Eldrazi creatures as finishers. Nulldrifter and Twisted Riddlekeeper are great choices to close out the game. Emrakul's Messenger is a way to get more mana and play our most decisive cards.

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Best common cards:

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Best uncommon cards:

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Izzet Energy Spells

Magic Symbol UMagic Symbol R

For blue and red, we have an archetype that focuses on casting several spells and boosting their effects with Energy.

We'll look for creatures that use Energy to trigger or activate abilities, and creatures that trigger abilities with non-creature spells or card draw.

Ashling, Flame Dancer is incredibly strong in this archetype because it isn't difficult to activate its ability three times and deal damage to our opponent's board. This way, we'll control the game against aggressive decks.

Ral, Monsoon Mage discounts the cost of our sorceries, and may come back as a Planeswalker, which might create card advantage and deal with something on our opponent's board.

Aether Revolt is one of the main cards in this deck; it lets us turn any Energy we get into removal or burn, and is critical to making this deck work. If we manage to control the game, it usually works as a finisher, as it deals damage to our opponent directly.

Izzet Generatorium boosts how much Energy we get, and, therefore, with it, we'll be able to use our effects more times than usual. It even gives us card advantage as we use Energy.

Roil Cartographer enters play early and gives us Energy as we add a land to our board. It also uses it well; it turns it into card advantage.

Tune the Narrative is an essential cantrip for this archetype because it keeps our flow of spells going and gives us even more energy. It is particularly strong if Aether Revolt is in play.

Phyrexian Ironworks is a way to take advantage of the Energy we get, and turns it into bodies on our battlefield.

We'll be able to extract a lot from Amphibian Downpour when we combine it with other cheap spells in this archetype. Like so, we'll interact with more than one enemy creature at a time because of its storm.

Dreamtide Whale might be another finisher for this archetype because we use several other spells that extend its time on the board.

This archetype boosts Galvanic Discharge's power to the max, so we need to pay attention to when we use it - every Energy is important. Using less than we need would lose us a removal, and using too many of them may delay future turns. It is critical to keep an eye out for possible combat tricks as well.

Cyclops Superconductor is the aggro option in this archetype, and takes full advantage of the cantrips we use.

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Best common cards:

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Best uncommon cards:

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Simic Eldrazi Ramp

Magic Symbol UMagic Symbol G

In blue and green, we have an archetype that focuses on getting more mana to end the game with cards that cost 7 or more.

Preferably, we'll play cards like Emrakul, the World Anew, Kozilek, the Broken Reality, or Ulamog, the Defiler.

However, to go through with our game plan, we also need mana sources, like Nightshade Dryad, Snapping Voidcraw, or Worn Powerstone.

Path of Annihilation will ramp even more mana for us, as it will create more creatures and make every Eldrazi create mana of any color if we tap them.

For this archetype, lands that create colorless mana will be important; Nesting Grounds, Urza's Cave, and Snow-Covered Wastes are the most common, and interesting, choices.

Another option is Planar Genesis, which ramps lands for us in the early game. Nadu, Winged Wisdom, besides being an excellent body that will protect our life points, may ramp as well when our creatures are targeted by spells or abilities. It will be difficult for aggressive strategies to put pressure on our game plan with it on the board.

Sage of the Unknowable might also be a viable option to ramp mana, and will be less contested in Draft formats (keep in mind that spells with Devoid are colorless spells).

So, our plan will focus on cards that ramp us mana early on and hold off aggressive opponents.

Another great card for the early game is Hope-Ender Coatl, which will handle enemy pressure as it gives us a body for trades. It also enters play when we usually don't save up mana to pay for its counter cost.

Basking Broodscale and Eldrazi Repurposer are relevant bodies that hold off aggressive opponents as well as put pressure on opponents that focus on a slower strategy. They also ramp mana for us with Eldrazi tokens.

Twisted Riddlekeeper can go in play as early as turn 4 for its Emerge cost if we take a little bit of time setting it up on turns 2 and 3. It will let us tap our opponent's creatures and put a stun counter on each of them. If we do, our game plan will be well under way, and we'll most likely be able to follow up just by sticking our heavier pieces on the board.

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Best common cards:

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Best uncommon cards:

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Rakdos Affinity

Magic Symbol BMagic Symbol R

For black and red, we have an archetype centered around artifacts.

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In this archetype, we want artifact creatures, Living Weapon equipment, creatures with Affinity for artifacts, and any other effect that takes into account the number of artifacts on the board.

Cranial Ram's potential in this archetype is really explosive - if we play it with a setup, it can turn any of our creatures into a relevant attacker.

Imskir, Iron-Eater refills our hand and is an incredibly significant body on the board. It can enter play as early as turn four.

We can use Arcbound Condor as a removal for our opponent's creatures, as it has evasion and a 3/3 body. Besides this, its Modular 3 lets us give its counters to another artifact creature if it is destroyed.

Etherium Pteramander's design is incredibly strong for this archetype. As our goal is to play lots of artifacts, we will easily discount its Adapt cost, and on turn four we'll very likely already activate it and put more pressure on our opponent.

Marionette Apprentice, besides putting another creature on the board, introduces a sacrifice sub-theme for this archetype, or deals damage to our opponents as we trade units.

We'll definitely use Refurbished Familiar, Frogmyr Enforcer, and Furnace Hellkite in this archetype, as we'll be able to play them really early on for very little. Herigast, Erupting Nullkite will also go into play earlier than usual because we'll discount it with any of the expensive creatures we played on the board also earlier than usual.

Warren Soultrader can be a way to fix our mana when we need to, and keep our artifacts on the board.

Pyretic Rebirth is an excellent removal - it returns one creature from our graveyard, and lets us take advantage of its mana cost to remove something from the battlefield.

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Best common cards:

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Golgari Adapt

Magic Symbol BMagic Symbol G

In green and black, we have an Adapt mechanic that interacts with modified creatures. Cursed Wombat and Expanding Ooze are examples of what we want for this archetype.

Wight of the Reliquary gets better as we play out our turns and trade our units, and is quite strong in the late game after we fed our graveyard.

Retrofitted Transmogrant will give us a sacrifice theme, so common in black, and can also return to the board at the end of the game.

Wither and Bloom works as a removal and gives us a +1/+1 counter, so it's useful in two ways.

Basking Broodscale gives us bodies we can use to ramp with the mechanics and themes in this archetype, and will thus speed up the game for us.

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Branching Evolution doubles our Adapt counters. With it, our strategy will be more aggressive and difficult to deal with.

Revitalizing Repast protects our creatures, which means we'll be able to protect our main pieces.

K'rrik, Son of Yawgmoth and Nyxborn Hydra can go out of control quite fast in this archetype, so they're incredibly strong cards.

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Best common cards:

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Gruul Eldrazi Devoid

Magic Symbol RMagic Symbol G

For red and green, we have an archetype that focuses on playing Eldrazis and putting pressure on our opponent. Its game plan also focuses on interactions between colorless creatures. Cards like Titans' Vanguard or Writhing Chrysalis are relevant for this archetype.

Glaring Fleshraker is great to create Eldrazi tokens, which in turn will give us colorless mana when we need to, and also feed this archetype.

As we'll focus on Eldrazi creatures, Eldrazi Linebreaker is an extremely aggressive option.

Spawn-Gang Commander is a way to convert Eldrazis into direct damage.

If we combine Basking Broodscale with Titans' Vanguard, we'll create, every turn, an Eldrazi token.

Wumpus Aberration's stats are significantly above average, and in this archetype we won't have much trouble playing it with colorless mana.

Though this archetype is a bit more aggressive than others, and doesn't need to play cards that cost more than 5 mana, we can go for a ramp strategy with it and use Eldrazis that cost 7 or more mana. For this game plan, we should use Eldrazi tokens to create colorless mana and thus pay for the costs of the more expensive Eldrazis.

Idol of False Gods might be an extremely efficient finisher in this archetype because it creates counters quite fast if we feed it retroactively.

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Best common cards:

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Best uncommon cards:

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Mana Fixing

Lands

We have a modal uncommon land cycle that will correct our mana. They might be more difficult to find because of their rarity, but they are options.

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Besides these lands, we also have fetch lands for allied colors. They aren't as efficient in Limited as they are in constructed formats, but they help us fix our curve.

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Another way to fix our mana is the Landscape cycles. They bring us ten combinations of three colors, and get us basic lands according to the combination they feature. These basic lands also go on the board tapped.

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Artifacts

In the entire set, we only have Solar Transformer to fix our mana if we want an artifact. This card will give us 3 activations by itself, and we'll only need more Energy to activate it again. If we don't use any Energy with it, it will still give us colorless mana, which is relevant for this set, considering some Eldrazi demand colorless mana.

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Creatures

We have a few options to create mana for colorless spells, like Snapping Voidcraw and Spawn Tokens, for instance. But, to fix our mana with a colored creature, we only have one green creature, Nightshade Dryad. To correct mana through Treasures, we can use Warren Soultrader.

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Removals

Removals are incredibly relevant in this set. We'll go through the most important ones in each color.

Colorless

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Null Elemental Blast hits only 15% of this format, and isn't that efficient overall. It is better in our sideboards.

White

Magic Symbol W

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Ajani Fells the Godsire can deal with approximately 40% of the creatures on the battlefield. This number might be bigger in reality, as occasionally we'll need to consider how much mana was used to play a few creatures to remove them with this card.

Dog Umbra is incredibly versatile, and that is its biggest strength. We can use it to protect our creatures or to pacify an enemy creature.

Expel the Unworthy hits 60% of the creatures in this set. So, even without its Kicker, it is still incredibly efficient.

Static Prison is also incredibly efficient, but we must be careful with how much mana our opponents have to make sure other relevant creatures don't return to the board.

Wrath of the Skies is a versatile global removal that might protect our best creature on the board when our opponent has too many blockers.

Blue

Magic Symbol U

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Utter Insignificance is a definitive removal in blue, though we'll need five mana and colorless mana to play it. This is a bit unusual for blue, but it is a way to prevent something problematic from returning to play.

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Amphibian Downpour is another relevant card. It modifies more than a creature if we use it correctly because of its storm.

Flusterstorm is in this format, but because Limited is a creature-focused format, we probably won't find good targets for it.

As for Strix Serenade, it is an incredible cheap counter that will be perfect to handle our opponent's biggest threat.

Black

Magic Symbol B

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In black, Breathe Your Last is the best definitive removal in the format, and Fell the Profane can occupy a land slot, which is great because it is also a removal.

Lethal Throwdown is a great option for sacrifice archetypes, and Wither and Bloom hits around 66% of the battlefield. It is an excellent card early on.

Toxic Deluge is an incredible way to get back into the game and make sure our opponent's board is over and done.

Red

Magic Symbol R

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Without an Energy setup, Galvanic Discharge hits around 66% of the format and deals 3 damage.

Meltdown is a sideboard card, and is particularly efficient against artifact decks.

Fanged Flames and Ghostfire Slice hit almost the same percentage of creatures, as they hit around 82% of this set. We can also use Ghostfire Slice as burn, and close out games when our opponent least expects it.

Green

Magic Symbol G

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We don't have many removals in green.

Nonetheless, we can use all Collective Resistance's modes, and adapt it according to our need.

Signature Slam, besides the fact it is an instant, takes into account all modified creatures, so it will definitely deal damage even if one creature is removed.

Final Words

MH3's power level is just right. We can combine its mechanics in many ways, so its sealed formats will be incredibly competitive.

To you, which archetype looked more interesting?

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I must confess I believe Eldrazi archetypes will dominate Limited. Emerge with Affinity seems like a great, fast way to reduce our costs and play a creature that costs 9 mana on the board on turn 5, with mana to spare.

That being said, I found the Gruul version of the Eldrazi archetype more interesting because it is more proactive.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article! Tell us your thoughts in our comment section below.

Thank you for reading, and see you next time!