Welcome back, travelers! As I mentioned last week, Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths is not a set that rewards stubbornly sticking to a fixed pick order. Instead, I recommended that you reevaluate cards frequently during a draft to maximize the power level of your decks. However, Ikoria is a complex set and there are people that might need a little help to understand when a card that looks bad becomes good. Or when a card that’s already good becomes fantastic. For them, I shall outline the Ikoria draft archetypes in this article.
With some Magic sets, a breakdown for each of the 10 color pairs is good enough – but not Ikoria. Many color pairs actually have multiple themes with their own unique build-around cards. Ikoria’s variety adds nuance to every draft as you craft a synergistic two-color deck or even splash bomb rares. With the above-average fixing in the set (rare triomes, uncommon crystals, Evolving Wilds, common dual lands, Farfinder), it’s not hard to increase the power of your deck without harming its consistency. By being aware of the set’s diversity in themes, you can properly navigate the different Ikoria draft archetypes while drafting. Then, you will end up with a powerful deck that has a focused plan for victory.
For each theme below, I give a brief description of the theme’s game plan and list its synergy cards. Synergy cards are either the enablers that help you play a certain theme or the payoffs. Payoffs are the cards that reward you for playing into a theme. I list both enablers and payoffs as they all go up in value when you are in that theme. Consequently, many bomb cards and efficient removal cards from Ikoria will not be seen below. Their strength is already quite high and being in one theme vs. another has little-to-no bearing on their value. As I am just listing the cards, I’ve left it up to my audience to read each card and come to their own understanding of how it helps a particular game plan. Ultimately, I have full faith in each of you to figure this out.
Now that you can identify the many themes within the Ikoria draft archetypes, you should be able to make better decisions in your drafts. You’ll see when a certain theme might be open to you by a synergy card coming to you late in Pack 1. You’ll have the ability to understand when a card should be picked because it contributes more to your deck than it normally would. In short, you’ll win more drafts!
Thanks for listening to my words, friends, and may fortune favor you on Ikorian battlefields. If you’d like to join me and a great community of players in our explorations of the different Ikoria draft archetypes and themes, enter our Discord server at https://discord.gg/5nRhMGV. During this time of quarantine, Three Kings Loot still fires draft tournaments, using MTG Arena and 3rd party sites. Come play with us Monday, Friday, and Saturday at 19h30 Eastern Time!
-Evan, Chewer of Thoughts
Hello traveler! Ah, I see you’re going to Ikoria – the Lair of Behemoths. Yes, if I recall it’s a wild plane and full of monsters, both man and beast – all of them sure to be out for your blood. Best not let your guard down! Being a Mythical planeswalker, I have ventured there and survived its dangers time and time again. As a result, I have some advice that might just help you keep your head when exploring the depths of Ikoria Draft. So, please, listen carefully…
It’s dangerous to go alone! Companions are creatures that allow you to play them from your sideboard as long as your starting deck meets the card’s companion requirements. You should take all of them highly. First of all, they are powerful rares with hybrid mana costs. This increases their chance of remaining a relevant first pick. As long as your deck is able to play either of the hybrid colors, you can play it normally. In addition, if your 40-card deck meets their requirements, you can make them your companion. More often than not, it is worth doing this while drafting as long as you maintain an average power level. In Limited, resources are often traded fairly evenly between players and end before either player has seen most of their library. Starting a game with an extra card will end up winning you many duels on Ikoria.
Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths is not a set that supports blocking. Firstly, there’s a lot of instant speed interaction that can make combat turn out bad for you. Secondly, the value of your own creatures is high. This is especially true for decks that are built around mutating, a set mechanic that demands you have a non-human creature on the battlefield. Finally, there’s an abundance of creature removal, able to take out the biggest bombs and threats of this format.
When you are faced with a choice to block, it’s important to step back and consider if you can afford to accept this damage in exchange for one of their own blockers becoming tapped to attack. You must think about your ability to win a race, given what’s in your hand and your potential draws. After all, in an Ikoria draft, there are many cards that can help you deal damage more quickly than, and ultimately defeat, your opponent.
The first prominent type of card in this set is an efficient removal spell. Blood Curdle, Ram Through, Pacifism, and Fire Prophecy are just a few examples all found at common rarity. Using efficient removal means you spent less to deal with a threat than your opponent spent to cast it, also known as mana advantage. With enough mana advantage, you are able to develop and attack with a few creatures while simultaneously removing their relevant threats. Be aware of the strength of removal in this set and use it judiciously!
The second category I want to note is cards that have the potential to deal huge damage on the turn that you play them. There are many examples in Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths. Zenith Flare, for decks that are heavily invested in cycling. Similarly, unblocked Prickly Marmosets and several Drannith Stingers also use cycling to deal so much damage that games will suddenly end in your victory. In other decks, mutating creatures effectively grant themselves haste when merging with a non-human that you already own on the battlefield. You can easily swing a race in your favor by adding significant power (Archipelagore) or evasion (Vulpikeet/Cavern Whisperer) to an important attacker. Even the humble Lava Serpent works in a pinch to deal an unexpected 5 damage.
In this set, you should highly scrutinize every block you make, even ones that seem favorable to you. It doesn’t matter if your creature seems much larger or if you might have an instant-speed interaction spell. Ultimately, not blocking means that you avoid risking your board state and you preserve your ability to swing back on future turns. Then, with the aid of the aforementioned spells, you can deal the final points of damage for an exciting victory!
You should take 1 mana cycling (1MC) cards more highly. Particularly if you’re in pack 1 of the draft and there are no above-average playables. These are likely to end up being good picks for several reasons. First, if you end up in the cycling deck, you will definitely play the card. Second, this signals to others that the cycling deck is closed off to them which will help you move into the archetype. Lastly, even if you’re not cycling or of it’s a cycling card you can’t play, they can be used as a colorless cantrip to effectively reduce your deck size. Instead of playing an average 23rd card and a 17th land, you can simply stick two 1MCs in your deck. This increases your chances of drawing powerful cards you want to play.
Keep in mind, however, you’ll need to reduce your land count proportional to the amount of 1MCs you play. Otherwise, you risk drawing too many lands and flooding. Personally, I tend to treat them as non-cards. So, for a deck with five 1MCs, I would build a mana base for a 35 card deck. Meanwhile, others use ratios such as one land removed per every three 1MCs.
No matter what, pay attention to how the deck feels while playing. There’s no exact science to the proper amount of lands when cheap cycling is available. Many factors are involved: cards that cycle for higher costs, the number and quality of your cycling payoffs, whether you’re playing Best-of-One on Arena which uses a hand smoother to improve starting hand quality, etc. All these affect the number of lands a cycling deck might require. The most important thing one can do is stay observant!
An Ikoria draft is not a place for inflexible pick orders. It’s more important to build a deck that synergizes with itself than to end a draft with a mixed bag of “strong” cards. Even some removal is hard to play in certain styles of decks. For example, Rumbling Rockslide has a lower value in streamlined cycling decks. Such decks often posses a low land count both in the library and on the battlefield. In fact, such decks usually look to defeat their opponent before Rumbling Rockslide becomes respectable removal. In those same decks, you will likely want to play Cathartic Reunion to avoid flood. Meanwhile, hardly any other archetype would want such a card. It is one of many cards in this set that may look bad but are useful – somewhere.
You must be able to recognize when a card goes from barely playable to above-average in your deck. Otherwise, you will struggle in this set. A pick order cannot tell you when such moments occur, so you’ll have to determine them for yourself.
Thanks for listening to my words, friends, and may fortune favor you on Ikorian battlefields. Check back here next Wednesday, May 6, for my next article breaking down Ikoria’s many archetypes and themes. It will be a great guideline for understanding the synergies of the set and thinking flexibly about your card evaluations. If you’d like to join me and a great community of players in our explorations of the Ikoria draft format, enter our Discord server at https://discord.gg/5nRhMGV. During this time of quarantine, Three Kings Loot still fires draft tournaments, using MTG Arena and 3rd party sites. Come play with us Monday, Friday, and Saturday at 19h30 Eastern Time!
-Evan, Chewer of Thoughts
We’re back for some more Conspiracy draft archetypes! I’ve had the good fortune to draft some more of this set since the last article went up. My conclusion: it’s baller.
Each color combo is super deep, but today we’ll be focusing on the more prominent synergies for the allies. If your looking for the enemy color pairs, check out this article.
Okay, let’s get started.
Key Commons: Messenger Jays, Jeering Homunculus, Wild Griffin
Key Uncommons: Coveted Peacock, Guardian of the Gateless, Ascended Lawmage
Sweet Bomb You Want to Open: Platinum Angel
Let’s start off with a true classic. Not much has changed for blue-white flyers in this set; you’re looking for your titular flying dudes, quality blockers on the ground, Pacifism-type effects, stuff like that. Your creatures might be relatively small, but the evasion gives you a huge advantage.
As quality flyers go, I really dig Ascended Lawmage. Three aerial damage each turn is nice. Three aerial damage each turn that can’t be targeted is even nicer. Also, you have the perfect opportunity to quote Sylvester Stallone when you cast it. If that’s not reason enough to draft it, I don’t know what is.
In regards to our blockers, I really like Jeering Homunculus in this deck. It’s a nice early drop that halts little attackers early and distracts bigger attackers later. That’s exactly what you’re looking for in one of your defensive creatures. Also, the art is outstanding.
And then there’s Guardian of the Gateless, which is good on both offense and defense (especially defense). It’s just such an amazing deterrent, especially for decks that might be swarming you with with a bunch of little creatures (we’ll get to those in a second).
Though I like this color combo, be warned: other players aren’t going to like it nearly so much. Board wipes are going to hurt, especially considering that many of your best offensive threats are vulnerable to spells like Hurly Burly and Infest.
Key Commons: Prey Upon, Ravenous Leucrocota, Ill-Tempered Cyclops
Key Uncommons: Nessian Asp, Domesticated Hydra, Sulfurous Blast
Sweet Bomb You Want to Open: Splitting Slime
For the stompy people out there, this is a fun one. Just draft big dudes, make them bigger, then smash faces. The monstrous ability is an old favorite and a great way to use your mana whenever you have it.
Since Conspiracy is a mutiplayer format, you’ll have more time than usual to ramp. Take advantage of that time to build up a mana base, throw down some threats, trigger monstrous, then rumble. It’s a simple game plan, but it’s a fun one.
Sulfurous Blast is very nice in this deck because your creatures are going to be so darn big. You’ll easily turn a three-for-one profit off this, if not more. That’s big upside, even in multiplayer.
And now the downside: this deck feels a little one dimensional. Your big dudes are big, sure, but when you invest 12 mana into your Nessian Asp and then your opponent nukes it with a one-mana Regicide, you can’t be happy.
From what I’ve gleaned in my limited playtime with this format, small flyers are a big problem for this deck. Therefore, I recommend prioritizing life gain and creatures with reach. You might even try mainboarding a Plummet. Trust me—you’ll find juicy targets (except for that stupid Lawmage).
Key Commons: Driver of the Dead, Assemble the Rank and Vile, Shambling Goblin
Key Uncommons: Fleshbag Marauder, Havengul Vampire, Gang of Devils
Sweet Bomb You Want to Open: Harvester of Souls
We’ve got another returning classic in red-black sacrifice. Look for cards like Shambling Goblin, which give you a bonus when they die. Looks for cards like Driver of the Dead, which resurrect the Goblin when they die. You should also snatch up Assemble the Rank and Vile, which allows you to get even more sacrificial fodder when your named creatures die.
At the uncommon slot, Fleshbag Marauder is primo in your deck. Weakening each opponents’ board is sweet, and since you’ll probably benefit from whatever creature you sacrifice, this dude makes for a nice turn three play.
Havengul Vampire is also sweet, quickly growing into a straight up beefer from all your sacrificing. Oh, and did I mention that the Vampire gets pumped not just for your creatures dying, but for your opponents’ as well? That means you can throw down the aforementioned Fleshbag, dump four counters on your vampire, then swing for six. And if your victim happens to have no blockers, throw another counter on there after combat. I’ll take a playset, please.
I think this is one of the strongest archetypes in the set. With twice the number of players, twice the number of creatures are going to hit the bin.
Key Commons: Mnemonic Wall, Regicide, Canal Courier
Key Uncommons: Into the Void, Shipwreck Singer, Spire Phantasm
Sweet Bomb You Want to Open: Sphinx of Magosi
This is one of the less synergistic pairs in the set, but it’s still powerful. Blue-black wants to generate two-for-ones, recursion, and solid card advantage. Luckily, there are all kinds of cards that fit that bill in these two colors.
Regicide shines in this archetype. Though one-for-one removal takes a bit of a hit in multiplayer Magic, it’s not every day that we get one mana, instant speed, nearly unconditional removal. Sure, your opponents get to choose what colors you can target, but even if you draft just two Regicides, you’re guaranteed four colors to target. And if you’re lucky enough to draft three? You can kill anything. For one mana. At instant speed!
Other than removal, look for Mnemonic Wall, which can recur your sweet removal. Spire Phantasm is another nice one here. If you can guess correctly—which isn’t as difficult as it seems—you get to throw down a four mana, three-power flyer that even draws you a card. Sweet!
Last thing: no control deck is complete without a big ol’ game-ender. I’d be looking for Sphinx of Magosi, Guul Draz Specter, or Archdemon of Paliano to do some work for you. It’ll be a slow build to get to the fatties, but once you do, they’ll end the game quickly.
Key Commons: Raise the Alarm, Lieutenants of the Guard, Strength in Numbers
Key Uncommons: Juniper Order Ranger, Overrun, Gleam of Resistance
Sweet Bomb You Want to Open: Forgotten Ancient
Everyone’s least favorite standard deck is back for Conspiracy. Well, sort of.
This is an interesting color combo. While white seems to have the token makers, green appears to offer the payoffs for making them. Your strategy is simple: wall up behind a lot of tokens, then give them a massive boost, swing for a win. Sounds fun, right?
Tokens are a bigtime archetype in multiplayer for a reason. Though your tokens are generally 1/1s and 2/2s, you’ll often have enough of them to serve as a strong deterrent for attackers. In addition, when you yourself decide to attack, a wide board usually makes for big damage.
The card you’re looking for when you draft this deck is Overrun. Triple green makes it a little annoying to cast, but when you cast it, the upside is huge. A lot of times you’re going to catch players when they’re tapped out, maybe even when they have no blockers, and you’re going to hit them hard. +3/+3 is no joke, and trample breaks through for even more.
The problem with a deck like this is that it’s pretty obvious what you’re doing from the get-go. Furthermore, for colors like red or black, disrupting your plan will be fairly simple—all it takes is a well-timed Sulfurous Blast or Infest to really ruin your day.
Whew, that’s all for now. Happy drafting!
Ever since Brago got stabbed in the neck, I know you’ve been excited to play this set. All the weird draft mechanics and fun multiplayer action from the first set are back and better than ever.
Though this format is deep enough to support more than one archetypes per color pair, we’ll be looking at the most prominent ones for the enemy color pairs today. In Part 2, we’ll look at the allies.
Without further ado, let’s get archetyping!
Key Commons: Wings of the Guard, Deputized Protestor, Goblin Tunneler
Key Uncommons: Custodi Soulcaller, Grenzo’s Ruffians, Akroan Hoplite
Sweet Bomb You Want to Open: Adriana, Captain of the Guard
Attacking is red-white’s bread and butter, so it’s no surprise to see that again here. Melee is the new twist—it’s a keyword which buffs your attackers based on the number of people you’re attacking.
I won’t deny that attacking three people at once sounds fun… until all three of them attack you back. This has always been red-white’s Achilles heel in multiplayer. Aggro is effective in one-on-one, but struggles when more people join the table.
My suggestion is to leave one player unattacked each game and do your best to form an alliance with that player. If you’re at a four player table, taking on two players is certainly more doable than taking on three—especially if that third player helps you out every now and then.
Key Commons: Kiln Fiend, Garbage Fire, Repulse
Key Uncommons: Guttersnipe, Into the Void, Besmirch
Sweet Bomb You Want to Open: Charmbreaker Devils
Though there’s a decent amount of goad cards in this color combo, the spells path has the bigger payoff. Expect to have a lower creature count with this deck. In game, my guess is you’ll lay back until someone seems vulnerable, then blow them out with three or four spells in one turn. Sounds pretty sweet.
However, the funny thing about multiplayer is, people’s imaginations scare them even more than what’s actually on the board. So if you sit there doing nothing and playing no creatures, there’s a fair chance your opponents might attack you out of fear of what you might have.
My suggestion is to leave everyone alone—unless they attack you. When that happens, drop a Garbage Fire on their dude. Do that a few times and people will probably stop attacking you. And then you can go back to building for your big turn.
And remember those goad cards I mentioned? You’ll want to prioritize them. Since you won’t have many creatures, cards that divert attackers to other players are going to be lifesavers.
Key Commons: Assemble the Rank and Vile, Borderland Explorer, Orchard Elemental
Key Uncommons: Pharika’s Mender, Smuggler Captain, Keepsake Gorgon
Sweet Bomb You Want to Open: Assemble the Rank and Vile
Of all the color pairs, I find this one the most difficult to nail down. There’s not a lot of synergy here, but that’s made up for in raw card advantage. Assemble the Rank and Vile replaces anyone who dies, Pharika’s Mender revives both creatures and enchantments, and Smuggler Captain functions as a nifty tutor.
In general, look for creatures which serve dual roles. Squeaking out added value whenever you can is a big deal in multiplayer, so I expect this color combo to be pretty strong, even without big synergies.
Key Commons: Voyaging Satyr, Opaline Unicorn, Lay of the Land
Key Uncommons: Explosive Vegetation, Manaplasm, Coiling Oracle
Sweet Bomb You Want to Open: Expropriate
This one’s pretty simple: search up some lands, tap ’em, play big stuff. There’s a good number of monstrosity creatures in green just waiting to munch on some delicious mana, plus a few more in blue.
I like this color combo because there’s enough mana fixing to get you into a third color for a big bomb. If you’re lucky enough to open Birds of Paradise, for example, you have access to any color. If not, Opaline Unicorn is a serviceable substitute. Look out for bombs with high costs or unusual mana requirements such as Subterranean Tremors, Protector of the Crown, or Leovold, Emissary of Trest. While other drafters might fear these cards and pass them, you can snag them and smile. Just don’t look too smug.
Key Commons: Throne Warden, Thorn of the Black Rose, Garrulous Sycophant
Key Uncommons: Knights of the Black Rose, Palace Jailer, Ghostly Prison
Sweet Bomb You Want to Open: Queen Marchesa
Purely from a fun standpoint, this might be the best archetype in the whole set. I love the game-within-the-game aspect the monarch token presents. Plus, now we finally have an excuse to wear a crown during a game of Magic. Thanks, Wizards!
Why would you want to play this archetype? So you can say “Garrulous Sycophant” repeatedly, of course. Also, being the monarch produces a tremendous amount of card advantage; at the beginning of your end step, if you’re the monarch, you draw a card. Though any player can become the monarch, you’ll benefit most from it thanks to cards such as Throne Warden and the aforementioned Sycophant. Plus, if you’re lucky enough to draft Ghostly Prison, it’ll be extra hard for your opponents to steal your crown.
But let us not forget the dangers of being a monarch (just ask King Joffrey). Everyone likes drawing cards, so players won’t hesitate to steal your monarch token. Therefore, be conservative with your attacks and leverage those extra cards for a late-game win.
Which archetype are you most excited to draft? Let us know in the comments below. And don’t forget to come back when we take a look at the ally color pairs.
Until then, watch your back. There’s a conspiracy afoot!
By Kyle A. Massa – Play the Ten Drop
You can reach Kyle at @mindofkyleam on Twitter or through his site www.kyleamassa.com
Join the Three Kings Loot team as they do their official Eternal Masters Unboxing Booster Case ! We dive into this set head first with draft analysis, draft picks, value (both in play and money) and other typical TKL shenanigans. Enjoy! Check out the full card list and gallery.
As an added bonus, check out the official Eternal Masters unboxing of the freight case. #boxinaboxinabox
If you’re in the Montreal area this summer, Three Kings Loot (3KL) will be hosting a variety of Magic events for the casual and competitive alike. There are a number of upcoming tournaments in various formats that merit mentioning here and I figured I’d do an article to cover those events. If these events sound interesting to you, you should definitely come down to check them out.
On Saturday, 4th June and Sunday, 5th June, 3KL will host a fund raising tournament for the Junior Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). Founded in 1970, the JDRF is a major charitable organization dedicated to funding research toward ending Type 1 diabetes (T1D) as well as trying to improve the lives of those that suffer from T1D.
Each event costs $40 CAD, of which $12 CAD will go directly to the JDRF. Both events will be Shadows Over Innistrad Sealed events, meaning you’ll be getting 6 boosters of SOI to crack open and build a deck with. If you’ve never played a Sealed tournament before – or even if you have – this will be an excellent opportunity to practice all the deck construction strategies covered in my recent three part series on Sealed deck construction.
Two SOI booster packs will be added to the prize pool per player. Sounds fine, but that sort of seems par for the course, doesn’t it? That’s why 3KL is adding an Oath of the Gatewatch booster box, a 2015 Commander deck and an Intro deck to the prize pool as well. That’s what we in the Magic community call “value”. This is a great opportunity to play some Sealed Magic while helping a fantastic cause and possibly walking home with a booster box of a recent Standard set! Seems like a win-win all around for everyone.
Eternal Masters (EMA) drops next weekend on Friday, 10th June and 3KL will be hosting a draft of the hotly anticipated new format that same night!
The draft environment looks to be quite challenging and exciting and is something you won’t want to miss. If you’d like to know more about Eternal Masters, you can check out our article highlighting the set here and preview the entire set of cards here.
There are a lot of amazing cards to be opened and Friday’s draft is a perfect opportunity to do so. If you’re unavailable on Friday, have no fear! 3KL will be hosting a second Eternal Masters draft the following week on Thursday 16th June.
Remember! Eternal Masters is a limited release product, meaning there will be very low quantities of product available. This means that unfortunately there won’t be many opportunities to draft this set, so be sure to take advantage of these drafts while you can! The price to draft EMA will be $50 CAD for three booster packs or $5 CAD to participate if you bring your own EMA packs.
The best night of the week is getting even better. Three Kings Loot announced a complete overhaul of their Friday Night Magic events for the summer months and will be offering something for almost every type of Magic player!
The kick off to 3KL’s revamped Friday Night Magic will be absolutely free Standard events starting at 6PM. Standard is quite diverse at the moment and many players are looking to get extra practice time for upcoming GP events or the upcoming World Magic Cup Qualifier in Montreal on 18th June. This is now the perfect time to bring your Standard decks to FNM to challenge fellow competitors.
If Standard isn’t your cup of tea, 3KL is hosting Modern events starting at 7PM. Modern is the fastest rising Constructed format in Magic with more and more players in Canada (and North America in general) favouring the deeper complexity and challenging intricacies found in Modern. FaceToFace Games’ Tournament Series have been increasing in popularity across the country and the large majority of those tournaments are Modern. For $5 CAD – with all entry fees added to the prize pool – you can practice piloting your Modern decks at 3KL!
Last but not least, there’s the 8PM Draft. For $15 CAD, players can draft the newest Standard set at FNM. If you’re late to one of the events or if you’ve 0-2 scrubbed out of the Standard event or if not enough players show up to fire one of the earlier events or if you simply prefer Draft over all the other offerings, you can still play Magic by joining the 8PM Draft.
I don’t know what would happen if you tried to play all three events at the same time, though. Most likely the universe will divide itself by zero, so let’s not try that, okay?
Best of all, each event gives you a chance to win a shiny, new Friday Night Magic promo card, which happens to be Sylvan Scrying this month, featuring fantastic new art by Christine Choi.
There truly is something for every type of Magic player at Three Kings Loot’s new FNM, so be sure to check it out! Bring your friends!
These are just a few of the fun events and excellent opportunities to play Magic this summer. Let’s be honest, wouldn’t we all much rather be slinging spells in a nice air conditioned store than be stuck outside in the blistering summer heat? Did you find this article helpful and informative? Leave a comment in the Comments section below! And hopefully I’ll be seeing you at one of these events!
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
It may not be Friday the thirteenth, but we’re in for some frights!
I originally wanted to do my Top 13 Shadows Over Innistrad (SOI) cards in honour of today being (unfortunately, not a Friday) the 13th… what with thirteen being of such relevance in the world of Innistrad). Ultimately, I felt that was a little too cliché.
Instead, I’d like to try something a little different. Hopefully you’ll all enjoy it. Since this week is the release week for Shadows, I felt that this would be the best time to do something we, as Magic players, all love to do: Let’s open some booster packs!
Ah! That new card smell, that satisfying sound when cracking a pack, those sweet new cards. There’s a reason this game is colloquially referred to as Cardboard Crack.
I’ve set aside three packs to share with you. We’ll be cracking them for the fun of it, but we can also play “Pack 1, Pick 1”. Pack 1, Pick 1 (also known as P1P1) is a quick game Magic players will engage in when cracking packs. The purpose is to determine which card would be the “first pick” in a draft environment. Since we’ll be opening three packs, we can play this two ways: 1) For each pack, what would be our P1P1 if this were the first pack we would open in a draft and 2) What would be our pick if these were opened sequentially in a draft (i.e. pack 1, then pack 2, then pack 3).
Let’s dive into our first pack, shall we?
Here’s a look at our Common cards from our first pack.
No, we’re not jumping right to the rare. It’s called “building suspense”. If you really want to spoil the surprise, there’s nothing stopping you from scrolling down.
So what have we got here? Well, truthfully, nothing really stands out for me amongst these Commons. I’m a big fan of Vessel of Ephemera, which I talked about in my last article. It provides bodies on the board and fuels Delirium if we end up in a Delirium deck. The other Common I’m looking at is Howlpack Wolf. I’ve found the card to be extremely strong in Limited. Its “drawback” of not being able to block without another Wolf or Werewolf on the battlefield isn’t detrimental enough for me to not include it in a deck. More often then not, attacking is what I want it to be doing anyway. A 3/3 body on turn 3 in an aggressive RG (Were)Wolf strategy is exactly what I want. Like most Red mages say, “what is blocking?”
That’s all I’m really looking at in terms of these Commons, though. Let’s see if there’s something spicier in the Uncommons…
Eek, nothing fantastic here either. I like Tenacity. It’s a good combat trick that people often don’t see coming. I’m also a fan of Spectral Shepherd, especially in the Spirit deck. I really like his synergy with Apothecary Geist; Using the Geist as a blocker that I can bounce back to my hand with the Shepherd and then recast him again to gain life is pretty fun. I’m not sure, however, if either of those cards are first picks at this point. Let’s check out the Rare and Double Faced Card (DFC) and see if we’ve opened something exciting.
We opened a Mythic Rare! Seasons Past is a very neat card and I like the potential it harbours, but it’s a very difficult card to build around in Draft. Breakneck Rider, on the other hand, looks amazing right now. He’s a little more mana intensive than the Howlpack Wolf, but the Rider’s potential explosiveness when he transforms into Neck Breaker is worth it to me. That attack bonus is exactly what I want if I’m playing Red aggro. He’s a strong contender for P1P1, so let’s take another look at the pack before we make any decisions, just to make sure we’re satisfied with that pick.
Overall, not the best first pack to open but I feel the Breakneck Rider // Neck Breaker really saves it. I would be happy with P1P1ing the Rider. When this pack comes back to me in a draft, I would be hoping to “wheel” either the Howlpack Wolf for the synergy, Tenacity if I end up in White or the Wicker Witch if I’m in an aggressive deck.
So far so good! Let’s move onto our second pack!
Check it out, our second Vessel of Ephemera. This pack also has a second Vampire Noble as well… Wait a second! There’s only eight Commons here! This means we either have a second DFC in the pack or perhaps a premium card. This is exciting!
In terms of P1P1, if this had been out first pack, I like the Vessel, as I mentioned before, but I also like the Voldaren Duelist. I think it has a good ability on a solid body. If we view this pack as our second pack in the draft, following our Breakneck Rider pack, I like the Voldaren Duelist even more since he’s in our colours. Let’s take a look at the Uncommons, see if anything strikes us as better.
I love Silverstrike. I think it’s one of the best Common/Uncommon removals in the format. Sure, it’s a little expensive and it requires an attacking creature which isn’t irrelevant, but the three points of life has gotten me out of quite a few jams in games so far. I also like the Graf Mole. A 2/4 for 3 is an excellent defensive creature and he’s very solid in the Clue deck. That being said, if this were our P1P1, I’m definitely favouring the Silverstrike. If this were our P2P1, assuming I’m in Red with Breakneck Rider, I’d consider splashing White for Silverstrike. I don’t know if I could say the same about the Mole. I feel I would only pick the Mole if I was already in Green.
We’ve still got our Rare and DFC to check out! Will they be better than our last pack?
BOOM! Flameblade Angel, Accursed Witch and foil Silverfur Partisan. All of these cards are great. Personally, I’m really happy to have opened the Silverfur Partisan because he’ll be going into my Tribal Cube for the Wolf support. What’s a Cube you ask? That’s another topic for another time. But I digress…
For now, of these three cards, as much as I really like Silverfur Partisan, I do feel he’s the weakest of the batch. Accursed Witch is very strong and was an integral piece in my Release Day Sealed pool deck that lead me to a 5-0 victory, so I’m certainly going to give her pause. That being said, Flameblade Angel is the very definition of a bomb and will win games on her own. She’s currently my top pick, but let’s review the entire pack once more before we make a decision.
If this were my P1P1, I’d be hard pressed to choose anything over the Flameblade Angel. I definitely like Silverfur Partsan, Accursed Witch and Silverstrike, but I feel the Angel is the clear pick. Assuming this was our P2P1, following the Breakneck Rider pack, I’d be windmill slamming that Angel. She’s in our colours and she’s a fantastic top end to a Red deck.
This is going pretty well so far! Let’s see what’s in store for us in Pack 3…
Boo! Nine Common cards. Oh well; No foil or extra DFC for us. There’s the Apothecary Geist I was talking about before that could have combined well with Spectral Shepherd. If this were our last pack after our P1 Breakneck Rider and P2 Flameblade Angel, I have to say, I’m not a huge fan of either of these Red card. Hulking Devil is underwhelming and Ember-Eye Wolf is a 2 drop that I’m fine with including in my deck, but I’m not particularly excited to do so. If this were our P1P1, I’d be leaning toward the Murderous Compulsion. It’s cheap, efficient removal with a slight drawback that could be negated if we wheel that Stern Constable.
Let’s move on to our Uncommons.
Now these cards are a little more exciting. Pale Rider of Trostad is a very interesting card for the Skulk/Discard/Madness decks but I think I like Incorrigible Youths a little more. It’s a big beater with Haste and its Madness cost makes it an insane value card if you can cast it on turn 3. Youths is definitely at the top of my list right now. Let’s see if our Rare or DFC can beat it…
DISREGARD EVERYTHING. We opened the Man in the Popped Collar Leather Jacket on Top of a Hooded Cloak himself, Jace, Unraveler of Secrets. Lambholt Pacifist, you’re a pretty good card, especially in a deck with Breakneck Rider and Flameblade Angel, but I think the pick here is Jace. Just to be sure, let’s review the pack one more time.
It’s Jace, right? Jace? Yeah, I think it’s Jace. If this were our P1P1, it’s definitely Jace. If this were our P3P1, it’s still Jace because come on, it’s Jace. If Jace wasn’t in this pack, I’d be looking at the Youths or the Murderous Compulsion. That being said, he’s in the pack and I don’t think I have the fortitude of character to simply pass Jace, although I can tell you stories of those who have. But I digress…
I hope you enjoyed our very first “pack cracking” here on Optimum Jank. I’d be very interested to hear if you agree or disagree with my picks. Would you have gone in a different direction? Would you have passed the Jace in Pack 3 if you were already solidly in Red? Leave a comment in the Comments section and share your thoughts. If you’re in the area, Three Kings Loot hosts SOI drafts on Monday, Thursday and Friday. You should check it out if you enjoyed what you saw here and would like to try it yourself!
JP Vazquez – Optimum Jank