Earlier this week, we looked into the impetus behind the creation of Modern Masters, digging into the reasons for its necessity as well as the reasons behinds Wizard’s desire to be cautious with this endeavor. Today, we see if Modern Masters achieves its principle three goals. To recap, they are:
- Being a fully draftable set.
- Putting more cards into circulation to help address rising costs of the more sought after cards in the Modern tournament format.
- Allowing casual players access to powerful and popular cards that they may have missed the first time around
Question: Is Modern Masters a functional draft set?
Modern Masters is a 229 card set that breaks down along the typical lines: it contains 101 commons, 60 uncommons, 53 rares, and 15 mythic rares, all in normal 15 card booster packs. They do have some slight alterations, however. Some rarities were adjusted up or down as needed, and the basic land slot was replaced with a foil slot. More importantly, these boxes only contain 24 boosters, instead of the normal 36. We’ll get to the price part a bit later, but 24 boosters means it is ideal to be drafted with eight people. That’s what we set out to do.
From the first pack that was passed around, one thing was abundantly clear: this was not your general Magic set. Unlike normal sets that have obvious themes and patterns that they promote – sometimes going so far as to spoon feed us strategies – Modern Masters is much more nuanced. For new players, finding a deck idea that works could be a little intimidating. In our case, all eight players were experienced Magic veterans, but even then it still took a few turns to parse out some kind of strategy. However, things became more evident as the picks went along.
When the decks were completed and the matches started, we had eight very different deck styles:
- A Black / Green token deck, boosted by Doubling Season
- A Blue / Green / White Naya draw deck
- An aggressive White Weenie deck, toting lots of removal and several Kitchen Finks
- A Blue / Red Suspend deck, hallmarked by Jhoira of the Ghitu
- A Black / Blue faerie deck with an artifact subtheme for its pretty Sword of Fire and Ice
- A Black / Red deck based around spot removal and direct damage spells
- A Black / Red Goblin aggro deck
- A Blue / White deck touting Grand Arbiter Augustin IV and flyers, with both flicker and artifact subthemes.
The decks ended up showcasing the wonderful cross-section of the sets Modern Masters included. From the artifact-happy Mirrodin to Lorwyn tribals to Time Spiral wackiness, you genuinely felt like there were a lot of themes on display. While the reaction was overwhelmingly positive in that regard, one of the repeated remarks was that there were so many good options to choose from that it initially made choices difficult – which is usually a good problem to have. There was also a definitive sense of nostalgia in the air as players got to see cards again that they either missed out on the first time or were appreciative to see in use once more. It was apparent from the start that this was no core set.
How did the decks fare? Feel free to click below to look at quick breakdown if you’re curious, or you may continue on to our summary of the draft itself.
B/U Faeries vs B/R damage: Faeries and their trusty Sword (with its protection from Red) did the damage deck in. 2-0 Faeries
B/W control vs B/R Goblins: The Goblins fought valiantly and multiplied quickly, but the Grand Arbiter managed to pull out the win. 2-0 control
U/R Suspend vs B/G tokens: Big smashy creatures beat small pity creatures. 2-0 Suspend
B/G/W Naya draw vs W weenie: White came in fast and just kept on the offense. 2-0 Weenie
B/G tokens vs B/R damage: Doubling Season came out and someone got swarmed. 2-1 tokens
B/G/W Naya draw vs: B/R Goblins: Goblins got smashed by larger smashy creatures again. 2-0 Naya
B/U Faeries vs U/W control: Tense to the bitter end, including a top deck game save. Faeries pulled out the win in no small part to the Sword. Again. 2-0 Faeries
U/R Suspend vs W weenie: Opposing forces repeatedly nullified one another in a pair of drag-out games. Time expired before third game. 1-1 for each
B/R damage vs B/R Goblins: Firestorms everywhere! Unfortunately most were at the Goblins. 2-0 damage
U/R Suspend vs U/W control: Grand Arbiter once again stalls someone out until they can use flying control for the win. 2-0 control.
B/U Faeries vs W weenie: Was mostly a mirror match with small creatures. Until the Sword showed up. 2-0 Faeries.
B/G/W Naya vs B/G tokens: Tokens went forth and multiplied. And multiplied. And multiplied. 2-0 tokens.
The winner of the overall draft was… Sword of Fire and Ice!
While the Faerie deck itself did have a fair amount of control, the entire artifact subtheme was based around either getting the Sword out or getting it back. It worked. The Sword showed up in all six games it played, and in 5/6 cases, it was a deciding factor in winning. More importantly, however, was that almost every deck seemed to do what it was thematically trying to do.[/spoiler]
In the end, the premise of drafting Modern Masters appears to have played out just as the designers had hoped. With a lot of variety across six years worth of sets, Modern Masters distilled the essence out of each block into something that is both a tribute to the sets it came from while still presenting something new. It may not be the best draft for new players, but for people who have played a game or thousand, it was well received.
As an interesting side note: none of us are Constructed players. While we have knowledge of Standard, Legacy and the like, the overwhelming majority of our Magic tenure is spent in multiplayer casual games, Commander, or drafting itself. Still, it is very hard to avoid noticing that there are plenty of very tourney-friendly cards in Modern Masters. (That is part of its intent after all). In this, all play styles should be happy with what they find.
Next: The Modern Price Problem