Last night I was down at the Chichester Gaming Society’s Friday Night Magic to draft a set I’ve been looking forward to for a while now; Modern Masters! (aka “Wizards of the Coasts Prints Money”). The set is intentionally designed as a “greatest hits” of the Mirrodin – Alara period of Magic, and the rares and mythics don’t disappoint; Tarmogoyf, Cryptic Command, Vedalken Shackles, Doubling Season, Sword of Fire and Ice… all great stuff that I was obviously destined not to open.
The thing about Modern Masters is that there’s no bad cards in the set. There’s certainly some cards which are resoundingly “meh”, but there’s no stinkers. There’s also some refreshing downgrades in rarity; Feudkiller’s Verdict, Take Possession, Mad Auntie, and Worm Harvest are all rocking silver symbols now. A few cards have had their rarity upgraded; the Kamigawa dragons, the Swords, and ‘goyf. I have to admit, I was surprised to see that Doubling Season didn’t go from gold to orange, but I’m not going to lose sleep over it. After all, with these reprints, there’s always the slight chance that the ridiculous price of some of these cards will go down a fraction.
Also, new art. Not a lot of it, but enough to be appreciated. Countryside Crusher and Reach of Branches now look awesome, rather than… whatever they did before. I’m also happy to see Future Sight cards in the normal cardface instead of the arse-ugly “futureshifted” frame.
Drafting MM was fairly easy; each colour pair has a suggested archetype – green-white tokens, red-blue Arcane, white-blue artifacts, etc, and with only three packs, you had to commit pretty early. My mind was made up for me after my first two picks; Knight of the Reliquary, then a Lightning Helix. “Yep,” I thought, “I’m going Naya.” From then on, it was an easy case of ignoring black and blue and taking a good mix of Thallids, Rebels, and control options.
This is the deck I ended up building…
1 Amrou Scout, 1 Amrou Seekers, 1 Cloudgoat Ranger, 1 Saltfield Recluse, 1 Veteran Armourer, 2 Bound in Silence
1 Hammerheim Deadeye, 2 Stingscourger
1 Eternal Witness, 2 Penumbra Spider, 2 Sporoloth Ancient, 2 Thallid, 1 Thallid Shell-Dweller, 1 Echoing Courage, 1 Kodama’s Reach, 2 Moldervine Cloak
1 Knight of the Reliquary, 2 Lightning Helix
9 Forest, 3 Mountain, 5 Plains
I was pretty damn happy with how this deck ran, if only because the majority of it is from Time Spiral block, which is one of my absolute favourite Magic sets, and I got a pleasant sense of nostalgia playing with Thallids again. The only regret in my drafting is taking a Moldervine Cloak over Imperiosaur, who is a goddamn house in this format.
I was lucky to get two Bound in Silence, and luckier still to draw at least one in every game. Without a doubt, they were the stars of the evening as they locked down enemy fatties. Plus, I could use Amrou Scout to tutor them out when needed! Cloudgoat Ranger was my other star performer; the board presence she(?) has when she comes down is completely game-changing.
So how did the deck perform? Well, three matches later, I had three wins. I played against Esper artifacts, red-green aggro, and a red-blue-green mishmash, and my Naya weenies managed to trounce them all. Did I get a tasty mythic in my prize boosters? A Sword? Shackles? I would’ve been happy with a Cryptic Command or Doubling Season even. Well, I didn’t open anything like that, but, hey, foil Reveillark ain’t bad. Some spiteful hate-drafting also left me with a Keiga and Academy Ruins.
Overall, a fun set to draft, if a little on the expensive side. I had a few reservations about some of the archetypes that the colour pairs led themselves to; blue-green doesn’t really have an identity beyond “durr, ramp, fatties”, and blue-red Arcane just can’t compare to tribal powerhouses like blue-black Faeries or red-black Goblins. I would’ve loved to have seen Slivers in the red-green slot (replacing Storm, because, seriously, fuck Storm), and then suspend could’ve been firmly in blue-red where it belongs and where it has good support. I suppose with Slivers thrown into the fray, the set would’ve been mostly Time Spiral block. And what a terrible shame that would’ve been…
It’s fairly obvious Wizards might repeat this trick again in a few years, and I dread to think what depravity we may see in Modern Masters 2…