What to Expect from Modern Horizons 3

What to Expect from Modern Horizons 3

Michael RappModern

Wizards of the Coast announced Modern Horizons 3 at Gen Con, which is set to release in the summer of 2024. 

Like its predecessors, it will inject some power into Modern, bypassing Standard completely. And having gone through this a couple times before, the questions we have include: “What will this do to Modern?” and “What have we seen so far?” 

Today I’m going to do my best to answer those questions while tossing in what I think good adds to Modern might look like — plus some predictions about MH3 for good measure.

What will Modern Horizons 3 do to Modern?

While this certainly isn’t guaranteed, there is a pattern that print to Modern sets have: they force a soft rotation. The topic of soft rotations itself has been decisive in Modern, an eternal format that doesn’t technically rotate as a core tenant. 

While a soft rotation isn’t a rotation in the traditional sense (where old cards leave as new cards come in), new cards that are better than older cards at a particular function enter the format. And from a competitive standpoint, that may as well be a rotation. 

Personally, I’m in favor of Modern Horizons sets because shaking up Modern prevents it from getting stale. I am a Modern old head, so I’ve spent plenty of time waiting for cards to come through Standard to shake up Modern, and it’s pretty rare. So getting impactful cards injected into the format every couple of years keeps things fresh.

What have we seen so far?

So far we’ve seen art tied to MH3 featuring Eldrazi, Emrakul included, and a comment about MDFCs made by Mark Rosewater. MH3 featuring Eldrazi could be a boon for Eldrazi Tron, which is currently on the fringes of competitive Modern. 

We may see more Eldrazi Titans, but they could shoot low like Wizards did with the smaller Eldrazi in the Battle for Zendikar block. But seeing Eldrazi involved in MH3 is a perfect spot to bolster those strategies because it is hard to print cards like Eldrazi through Standard sets for story reasons.

Modal Double Faced Cards have also ramped up their presence in the last couple of years, and MH3 seems like a great place for Wizards of the Coast to explore the design space. These cards will likely be even more complicated than what we see in Standard legal sets.

Good Adds

While Wizards of the Coast’s true goals for Modern Horizons 3 are a secret, historical precedent seems to point to using the previous releases to bolster struggling archetypes. While the new cards are uncharted territory and could include anything, I think identifying spots that are easy upgrades is reasonable.

Eldrazi Tron is a slam dunk here. It’s formerly a successful competitive deck in Modern that has since fallen by the wayside, largely due to lack of support, and MH3 could give the deck something to finally replace Matter Reshaper

That is a tough task, though, since a three mana value creature is important for the draws where Tron or Eldrazi Temple doesn’t accelerate them.

Modern Horizons 2 certainly aimed at Merfolk with Svyelun of the Sea and Sky, Tide Shaper, Rishadan Dockhand and more. Svyelun and Tideshaper are fairly common to see in Merfolk decks, and Merfolk needs maybe one more card that does something beyond being a lord in order to really enter the competitive fray. 

While it is easier to print Merfolk through Standard than it is Eldrazi, more complicated Merfolk are a bit more challenging, which makes MH3 a strong contender. 

Elves is another fan favorite archetype that just doesn’t have quite enough to either be consistent or get over the finish line. Elves has access to all of the mana elves they want, and they have access to finishers in Craterhoof Behemoth and Ezuri, Renegade Leader — but they’re lacking a way to bridge the gap. 

With Glimpse of Nature unlikely to come off the Modern banned list, my mind went to Natural Order, but I believe that is likely too strong. But something that exists between Cloudstone Curio and Natural Order would go a long way toward putting Elves in the competitive sphere. 

Goblins has actually gotten a lot from Standard sets recently with Conspicuous Snoop and Rundvelt Hordemaster. While the deck pops up from time to time as a meta call, Goblins is missing something to make it a good deck as opposed to a situational deck. Really what the archetype needs is some raw power, as they aren’t quite good enough at being aggro or combo

Goblin Lackey seems a lot less egregious when the world is already ready for Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer, and on the other end maybe Muxus, Goblin Grandee may be a reasonable addition to Modern. Creature based resource denial is another angle, but that would likely involve a larger rework of the archetype. 


MDFC predictions are at the forefront of my mind given they have the most unused design space. The obvious landing point is more MDFC cards with a land on one side and a spell on the other. However, if we’re thinking outside of the box a bit, I think the door is open for something along the lines of a big Eldrazi on the front and a cheaper colorless spell on the back. 

The other option would be MDFC planeswalkers with a Planeswalker on one side and a signature spell of said Planeswalker on the other. I had thought of MDFCs with lands with land types on the front so that they would be fetchable tap lands for example, but things go sideways with cards like Life From the Loam that recur lands efficiently. 

End Step

Only time will tell what MH3 has in store for us as players, and Modern as a format. I know I will be on the edge of my seat in anticipation. My beloved Death’s Shadow deck got a lot of help from MH2, and I’ll be on the lookout for a little more help to stabilize an archetype that has gone through a lot of changes in the last couple of years. 

As always you can find me on Twitter @RappaciousOne or Bluesky @rappaciousone.bsky.social for questions, comments and feedback. Until next time, be well!