Modern Horizons 2 Prerelease Primer

Posted in Feature on June 4, 2021

By Gavin Verhey

When Gavin Verhey was eleven, he dreamt of a job making Magic cards—and now as a Magic designer, he's living his dream! Gavin has been writing about Magic since 2005.

There's something big coming over the horizon. Or should I say . . . horizons?

It's time for Modern Horizons 2, available on Magic Online now and in stores near you June 18!

After the smash success of Modern Horizons in 2019, we knew it would be something worth doing again. It's a set of new cards (with a few old doozies in there, too!), wild mechanics, and a Limited format truly like none other.

But how and where can you play it? And how should you build your sealed deck when you do?

If you'd prefer to watch this in video format, you can check it out here:

Otherwise, if you'd like to read all about it, continue onward!

Expanding Your Horizons

Prereleases have always been my favorite Magic weekends of the year.

During Prerelease weekend, you have your first chance to get your hands on the new set—and to me, the heart and soul of the Prerelease experience is the energy of getting those cards and playing with them. And even if you're doing that at home rather than in a store, you'll still be doing it with so many other people around the world as part of the global experience and conversation. Thanks to the internet, we're all connected!

The Prerelease of a set is great because the set is totally new, the footing is equal as everybody plays with the set for the very first time, and you just get to relax and have fun exploring the new cards. There are a lot of laughs, learning, and great games: it's a lot of fun for old and new players alike!

If you're a Sealed Deck veteran, you may want to skip ahead to the next section, where I talk about what you can expect for Modern Horizons 2. But if you're new to the world of Prereleases, or maybe just looking for a few extra pointers, read on!

All right. So, let's go over perhaps the most important part: finding product for your Prerelease! After all, you can't very well play if you don't know where to get the supplies you need.

Well, you'll need to get in touch with a store. If you don't already frequent a local shop, be sure to check out the store locator to find one near you! That store may even offer preregistration. Prereleases are some of the most popular events we put on, so be sure to check if the store preregisters. Always plan ahead.

While, traditionally, Prereleases are run as an in-store event, because of the COVID-19 virus, players can pick up Prerelease Packs and take them home for the time being. In fact, we recommend it. In different areas of the world, different rules and restrictions may apply to what can be open—so please take appropriate precautions, be aware of government-level requests, and do only what you feel comfortable with.

Okay now, let's see. You have a store selected, and you've taken a look at all the awesome cards in the Modern Horizons 2 Card Image Gallery (plus the cool alternate versions of cards you can also find).

You're all prepped and ready to see what this wild set has to offer! Now it's time to actually open up some of those cards!

Open Horizons

For the first time ever, a non-Standard set is getting the full Prerelease Pack treatment! Yes, that's right: Modern Horizons 2 has Prerelease Packs!

The packs look like this:

MH2 Prerelease Pack

They also have the trappings you'd expect from a Prerelease. For example, you'll get a foil Prerelease card, which can be any rare or mythic rare in the set! You can even play with this card in your deck. You'll also get a spindown die to track your life.

Let's just take a look at everything you get inside:

Everything Inside

And, of course, front and center are those booster packs. Let's get to it!

First thing's first: crack them open! Then, you'll have a stack of cards.

So . . . what now?

It's time to build your deck, of course!

Sealed Deck is a little different from normal deck building. You get to build a deck using only the cards in front of you, plus as many basic lands as you'd like. Also, unlike a normal Constructed deck where the minimum deck size is 60, you only need to play 40 cards.

The first thing you're going to want to do is figure out a method to pick which colors you'll be playing. I recommend playing two colors and about 23 spells. You can sometimes "splash" for a third color, but in general, you'll want to pick two to be your core.

Some things that may draw you into specific colors are:

  • A really strong rare you're excited about
  • Plenty of "removal" cards that can deal with your opponent's creatures
  • A lot of playable cards in that color
  • A good "mana curve" in that color—meaning lots of creatures of different costs

Ideally, the colors you pick will have all four, but if two or three of those are true, that's plenty good.

Now you have your colors down. From there, how do you take everything you have and figure out which 22–23 cards you're going to want to put in your deck?

Here's one process that may help!

First, lay your creatures out in mana-cost order. This helps you see what creatures you're going to potentially be able to cast at each part of the game. (Don't lay your noncreatures out at this point unless they're cards you are planning to play as soon as you have that much mana—for example, you will generally cast a Knighted Myr on turn three, whereas Generous Gift isn't usually a turn-three play.)

A good "mana curve" of creatures is crucial to a successful sealed deck. You don't want to have a ton of cards at any single spot in the curve. It's important for you to have a good mix so you can play your cheap spells in the early game and your expensive spells in the late game. As a very general rule for Limited, I would look to play something like this:

  • 1 mana: 0–2
  • 2 mana: 4–6
  • 3 mana: 3–5
  • 4 mana: 2–4
  • 5 mana 1–3
  • 6+ mana: 0–2

Mana Curve

That's far from hard and fast, but it's a good place to start. Cull your creatures down to these numbers by choosing your favorites.

Now that you have your core creature base figured out, it's time to add in spells! Pick your favorites among your colors to bring your deck to 22 or 23 cards, and then you're good to go from the spell side.

The spells you're going to want the most are what are called "removal spells"—these are the spells that permanently neutralize your opponent's creatures by either dealing damage, keeping them tapped, or just straight-up destroying them. Sealed Deck Magic is all about creatures, so you'll want to play most of the cards in your colors that can get rid of your opponent's creatures.

If you want to learn more about mana curves, you can also check out my article on how to build a mana curve by clicking here.

Interested in more tips? Here are a few more things to keep in mind for deck building:

  • You can play more than 40 cards, but you really should stick to 40 if possible. Every card you play past 40 just means it's that much less likely you're going to draw that awesome rare you put in your deck!
  • The land ratio you're looking at should be about 17 or 18 lands to 22 or 23 nonlands. This isn't right 100% of the time, but most Limited decks end up looking like this, and in general, it's what I would want to have.
  • Play a mix of cheap-to-cast and expensive-to-cast cards. If you have all cheap, small creatures, then a single big creature can shut you down. If you have all large, expensive creatures, you risk getting run over first. Stick to a mix that focuses on the two-, three-, four-, and five-cost creatures. More games of Sealed Deck are won by casting a creature every turn starting on turn two or three than any other way.
  • Evasion is important! Often, Sealed Deck games will get into stalls where both players have a lot of creatures and neither player can attack very well. Creatures with abilities like flying ensure that you can break through these creature stalls.
  • Unlike most Magic formats, Sealed tends to be a little slower. If your deck is on the slow side, choosing to draw (go second) rather than play (go first) can be reasonable to give you that extra card.

The Many Faces of Modern Horizons

Modern Horizons 2 has several different card frame treatments in it!

For example, you might crack open a retro frame card:

Retro Frame Generous GiftRetro Frame Scalding Tarn

You might crack open a borderless planeswalker:

Borderless GristBorderless Dakkon

And that's not even everything! For more information on what's going on here and where everything appears, check out the Collecting Modern Horizons 2 article.

Magic from a Distance

Depending on where you are in the world, playing Magic in a store may not be available to you due to COVID-19. So, if you get product to bring home and can't play in a store, what should you do?

Well, of course there's Magic Online, which lets you play the set from a safe distance. But one other thing you could try is playing over a phone camera or a webcam!

If you haven't tried SpellTable yet, it's really fantastic: with just a few clicks of a button, you can set up your phone camera or computer webcam to play Magic with someone across town—or across the world. Complete with life total tracking and card lookup, it's really easy to set up: just log in with your Wizards account and you're good to go.

Some stores will even be offering remote Prerelease play opportunities using SpellTable, and there are many places out there organizing times to play.

One such great opportunity is the Modern Horizons 2 Prerelease Event through SpellTable beta, June 11–13. Pick up a Prerelease Pack at your local store, bring it home, and jump onto the Discord server for deck-building help, trivia, and to get matched into a webcam game quickly. It's all for fun, so feel free to try out whatever wild combinations you'd like!

For more information on using SpellTable, you can also check out my video here:

Boxed Horizons

While you're at your store to pick up a Prerelease Pack, you can also buy other things, like Modern Horizons 2 Set Boosters! If you call ahead to preorder a Set Booster box, you should be able to pick one up while supplies last.

And if you do pick one up, you'll also grab one of these to boot (while supplies last):

Buy-a-Box Sanctum Prelate

A New Perspective

Modern Horizons 2 is clearly a set for Modern—it's right there in the name! But while you're getting cards for your favorite Modern deck, I highly recommend you don't skip out on the great Limited format. With so many mechanics rolling around, you're going to have plays here that are hard to find anywhere else!

If you have any questions at all, feel free to hit me up on Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, or even by sending an email to BeyondBasicsMagic@gmail.com. I'd be happy to hear from you!

I hope you've enjoyed Modern Horizons 2 previews so far. Wherever, whenever, and however you play with the set, have fun! I look forward to seeing what you all think.

Gavin
Email: BeyondBasicsMagic@gmail.com
Instagram: GavinVerhey
TikTok: @GavinVerhey
Tumblr: GavInsight
Twitter: @GavinVerhey
YouTube: Good Morning Magic

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