Summer is here and Wizards is releasing their newest limited release summer set. Since 2013, the fine folks of Wizards of the Coast have been perfecting their draft-focused Masters series. These sets contain no new cards and instead are comprised entirely of reprints from earlier Magic sets. Modern Masters and its sequel Modern Masters 2015 were two standalone draft sets tangentially created as a gateway for Wizards to introduce more Modern staples into the market. In between the Modern Masters sets, the online-only Vintage Masters premiered in 2014 on Magic‘s online client Magic the Gathering Online (or MTGO), this time geared toward the online Vintage community.
2016 brings us the newest foray in the Masters line: Eternal Masters. Comprised once again entirely of cards reprinted from past sets, the idea here is to create a new outlet for Magic‘s numerous (as the name suggests) Eternal formats such as Vintage, Legacy and Pauper, as well as the defacto eternal format Commander.
What does this mean for you, The Casual Player? Is this something you should be excited for? How will these cards impact your playgroup or gaming experience? Are these cards needed for your collection? Let’s take a look at a few ways Eternal Masters might be of interest to you.
Drafting Eternal Masters is certainly going to be a unique and challenging experience. The cards found in this set may look new with their shiny M15-style fonts, holofoil stamps, and borders, but the majority of these cards are very, very old, harkening back to the early years of Magic. In many ways, Eternal Masters feels like a love letter to the collectible card game’s unpolished beginnings.
Eternal Masters is designed with draft as its primary focus but it will feel very different from most Standard draft sets. Cards will be at the same time obviously more powerful and deceptively more powerful than more recent offerings. Synergies and strategies won’t be as immediately evident as they are with today’s Standard sets. This is due to the level of complexity of older cards being different from the level of complexity of more modern cards. If you’re planning to draft Eternal Masters as a first foray into drafting, be prepared for a much more complicated game of Magic. Taking the time to study the full spoiler once it is released is highly recommended.
The manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) for a pack of Eternal Masters is $10 USD; much higher than an MSRP $4 USD Standard pack. This means drafting Eternal Masters will cost you at least three times as much as a regular draft. The reason for this is because of the numerous older, costlier, and harder to find cards being reprinted coupled with it being a limited release set. The people drafting this set will most likely have the money to invest in drafting it and will be prepared to win. It will very likely attract a much more competitive crowd so be prepared. When the buy-ins are higher and the value of the cards are greater, the stakes will increase and the desire to win will be much stronger than your typical Friday Night Magic draft. I wouldn’t recommend drafting this set if it is your first time drafting unless, of course, a more complex, challenging and competitive environment is exactly what you’re looking for.
One last thing to keep in mind when drafting Eternal Masters: There will always be a small chance of opening incredibly valuable packs containing multiple highly sought after and expensive cards within one pack (e.g. a regular Jace, the Mind Sculptor and a premium foil Jace, the Mind Sculptor in the same pack). For some people, especially those on a more frugal budget, Rule 2.10 of the Magic Tournament Rules is as follows:
“Players who drop during limited events own the cards that they correctly have in their possession at that time. This includes any unopened or partially drafted boosters.”
If you’d like to keep your money cards instead of passing them, you are legally allowed to drop from a draft to keep your cards. Different stores may have different procedures for handling a situation such as this, ranging from continuing the draft with 7 people or simply allowing a player to buy a new pack and continue the draft or, more unfortunately and disappointingly, by preventing that player from returning to the store. If you’re concerned about your store’s policy on dropping from a draft, remember to ask what their policy might be before signing up as it may influence your decision to draft. What is important to remember is that you have a legal right to drop from your draft with your cards if you choose to do so.
Not interested in drafting Eternal Masters but are still intrigued by all these shiny old cards? There are other reasons to be excited about this new release.
Eternal Masters will help increase accessibility and reduce the costs of staple cards for a number of formats including, but not limited to:
Arguably the most popular multiplayer format in Magic, Commander players are excited to get their hands on new printings of a number of cards popular in the format including (but certainly not limited to) Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Mystical Tutor, Vampiric Tutor, and Natural Order.
The greatest boon of the Commander format is necessitating only one copy of a card for your 100 card deck. If you’ve been holding off buying a particularly expensive card, the increase in format staples provided by Eternal Masters might be the perfect time to commit to your purchase as these cards will decrease in price in the short term. If you’ve been having a tough time finding a particular card at your local store(s), now is the time to check again.
Many of these older cards are being reprinted not only in the new M15-style border, but for the first time in premium foil printings as well. Cards such as Toxic Deluge and Gamble have never seen foil printings while other cards such as Argothian Enchantress, Force of Will and Dualcaster Mage have only seen expensive Judge Promo printings. If you’re the type of player that loves blinding your opponents with shiny pimped-out decks, this set is the set for you.
Cube players are always excited whenever a new set is released and Eternal Masters is no different. The big draw here for Cube players are cards printed for the first time in the modern M15-style borders as well as a plethora of cards with beautiful new art.
Cube is by far my favourite format and there are a number of cards I’m excited to see reprinted with incredible new art such as Animate Dead, Enlightened Tutor, Sneak Attack, and Maelstrom Wanderer. Cube is a format in which you create your own draft environment by assembling an at-minimum 360 card “set” using any cards you choose from across Magic‘s rich history. Cube is something we will be delving deeper into at a later date, so look forward to that.
The most enjoyable aspect of Cube is that it is as much a form of expression of the Cube builder as it is a fantastic format to play. If you’re looking to create a more unique visual experience for your cube or would like to further develop archetypes in your cube with cards that were previously unattainable due to scarcity, Eternal Masters looks to help players like you.
Lastly, Pauper players are the real winners in Eternal Masters. Pauper is a Commons-only format, however, a card is legal if it has been printed at Common at any point in Magic‘s history. This means that while much needed Pauper reprints such as Hydroblast and Pyroblast might be Uncommon in Eternal Masters, they are both still legal in Pauper because they were printed at Common in Ice Age.
Eternal Masters has a slew of cards that Pauper players have been clamoring for reprints. There are a number of Common cards that have a surprisingly large price tag attached to them – mostly due to scarcity in printings – and reducing the prices of cards for what should be the cheapest format in Magic is exactly what Pauper players were hoping for.
If you’ve ever been interested in Magic‘s cheapest and fanatically-growing format, this will be the best time to jump in.
I really hope I was able to impart enough reasons why Eternal Masters might be interesting to you, The Casual Player. There’s a lot of different styles of Magic to be played and explored and Eternal Masters is the newest gateway into those formats. Did you find this article helpful and informative? Leave a comment in the Comments section below! And don’t forget, Three Kings Loot has Eternal Masters on sale here and will be hosting Eternal Masters drafts on Friday, 10th June and Thursday 16th June! If you’re in the area, be sure to check it out!
JP Vazquez – Optimum Jank
With the recent release of Shadows Over Innistrad, there’s been a lot of talk about the new Standard format, and how the changes will affect things moving forward. As someone who vastly prefers to play limited, a new set release means one thing to me: New Draft Format! I think WotC has done an incredible job with the limited design of this set as it’s both fun to draft and fun to play.
Last week, the very talented JP Vazquez cracked some packs and did a great job at outlining the general thought process that goes into pack 1 of drafts. He also touched on some more general thoughts on the format the week before, and I highly recommend reading both of those articles before continuing on here. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.
Great! Now that you’re caught up, I wanted to talk about an archetype that I’ve been having a lot of fun and success with so far, Green White. GW was one of the most aggressive archetypes in original Innistrad, (largely because of how busted Travel Preparations turned out to be), and I was excited to see that it continues to be quite powerful in SOI. Although there aren’t any absurd two-coloured cards rewarding you for being in GW this time around (insane mythics notwithstanding), I find that I am often pulled into these colours during the draft.
I have found that my GW decks have all been fairly aggressive with 15-17 creatures, between 4-6 removal spells, and the odd pump spell and/or equipment thrown in for good measure. The fact that both Green and White have efficient removal spells at common and uncommon is a large part of the reason why the deck is so good.
Let’s take a look at the kind of GW deck I’ve had success with.
This is by no means an ideal list, and you’ll notice that it is mostly commons with very few uncommons. GW decks can certainly be far more impressive, but I’ve found that even an unassuming collection of commons like this can be quite powerful. Let’s talk about what makes the deck work.
Mana curve is one of the more important parts of this kind of deck, and finding two-drop creatures is definitely a priority. I’ve found that most of the common two-drops are fairly interchangeable, with Hinterland Logger and Quilled Wolf slightly ahead of the others. It’s really important to be able to apply early pressure with this kind of deck, so make sure you have enough early plays to do so.
There are a few choice uncommons that really take the deck to the next level, and Veteran Cathar is right up there. Being a two-drop is great, and allowing you to use your mana to make combat a nightmare later on makes him incredibly good in GW. It is important to have a reasonable human count to make him great, although I’ve found that you tend to get them fairly easily.
You may have noticed that the lone five-drop seems a little out of place in my example deck, but I included it because I wanted to talk about how great this card is. Although I have definitely kept him in the sideboard while building, more and more I’ve found I’m running him maindeck, because he makes it so much harder for your opponent to race you. A 2/5 reach is hard to get by, and being able to fog for a turn is surprisingly relevant when you’re racing. They also tend to go reasonably late, so picking one up shouldn’t be too difficult.
Prey Upon was one of the great commons in original Innistrad, and its slightly more expensive one-sided cousin picks up that mantle proudly. Yes, it’s sorcery speed, yes it can be disrupted, and yes it requires you to have a creature in play, but Green decks and GW decks in particular don’t really care about any of those drawbacks. The fact that it costs two mana means that by the time your opponent has played something you want to bite, you can do that as well as playing a two or three-drop creature to keep up the pressure. You do need to be careful about when you get your Chomp Chomp on, but it generally isn’t that hard to wait until your opponent taps out to start biting things. Blue and Red decks in particular have quite a few ways to disrupt this card, so do keep that in mind. All that being said, any functional GW deck wants as many of these as it can get.
Although this card is technically card disadvantage as it requires two of your cards to deal with one of your opponent’s, it turns out that mana-efficient unconditional removal is quite strong despite the drawback. It’s obviously not really something you want to play on turn three, but most games you want to save your removal for something truly difficult to deal with, so the drawback actually encourages you to be smart with your removal. It also does a reasonable job of enabling delirium, and the fact that it exiles is occasionally quite relevant as there are several creatures that like to come back from the dead. It can also deal with problem enchantments or artifacts, which is a nice option to have (although not one I find that I use all that often). It is worth noting that you don’t want infinite of these because the drawback is real, but I’ve found that two seems to be the perfect number.
This card deserves its own section, and let me tell you why. In a deck that naturally ends up with 8+ humans, this card is the real deal. Turning your dorks into real threats is huge, and the vigilance means that if they’re not trading with your idiots than they’re not attacking either. The nice thing, in theory, is that this card should be mediocre in most other decks, which means that it should be fairly easy to pick up. In practice, I find that they disappear much earlier than they should, and I would recommend grabbing one when you can (although obviously not over removal.) Gryff’s Boon is another card that’s great in GW aggro, although being an uncommon makes it harder to pick up.
I’ve had a lot of fun with this kind of deck so far, and highly recommend giving it a shot. Your priorities should be removal, then the first True-Faith Censer/Gryff’s Boon, then two-drops, then other creatures. Also, be sure to say “Chomp Chomp” when you cast Rabid Bite for maximum value.
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