Modern Masters has been out for a couple weeks now and it’s a confirmed blast to draft. It has also lowered prices of Modern singles by releasing tons of staples into the market. All of these are great qualities, but I do have a few questions about the set. Some are specific, while others are a little more general. These are just thoughts that have occurred to me as I’ve been getting more familiar with Modern Masters 2017, along with my feelings about them.
1. Temporal Mastery over Time Warp? What’s with these miracles?
Temporal Mastery is about a $5 card. Time Warp is about $15. Both cards fit into the niche Taking Turns deck that I’ve played more than once on Modern Monday (and which I personally enjoy, despite the often one-sidedness of the games). If the purpose of Modern Masters is to make Modern cards more accessible, or to make it easier to play some of the more obscure decks in Modern, then it feels like we should be reprinting the more expensive card that’s likely harder to get a hold of.
Time Warp also feels more iconic. It was the first “take another turn” reprint after Time Walk itself. I wasn’t sure if Time Warp was an actual contender for Modern Masters 2017, since they usually only contain cards from a specific time period, but apparently 8th Edition was the cut off, and Time Warp was printed in M10.
I get that the set has a kind of miracles theme, but I’m not sure why. Thunderous Wrath and Banishing Light aren’t super great at cost, and none of the rares are even played in Modern—cards like Bonfire of the Damned and Entreat the Angels also aren’t particularly balanced in Limited either. Sure, they’re expensive if you draw them in your opening hand or in the early game, but they’re still game winning when you’re able to amass a good amount of mana to naturally cast them.
There are a ton of cards in Modern Masters, in the rare slot no less, that don’t actually see play in Modern, and don’t make much sense in Limited. If we’re using this set as an excuse to reprint Commander cards that’s one thing, but I wasn’t aware of that being a purpose, or sub-purpose.
2. On that note, why is Simic Sky Swallower in the set?
There are a good number of cards in the set that, while awesome, don’t make much sense. I would love to say that they’re in here solely for Draft, but honestly, these are some Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief-level cards. I’m not just talking about Simic Sky Swallower either, but rather any of the first pickable rares that hover around $0.50. Cards like Broodmate Dragon, Desecration Demon, Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius, Obzedat, Ghost Council, Falkenrath Aristocrat, and Deadeye Navigator to name a few. If they’re in here exclusively for their Limited applications, that doesn’t make much sense, because these cards are all extremely powerful and can take over games. You know how hard it is to kill a Deadeye Navigator without instant-speed removal? It’s still not that easy with instant-speed removal!
It doesn’t help that there are about four cards in the set that can return creatures from your graveyard to either your hand or the battlefield. In my first Modern Masters Draft, I played Unburial Rites solely because I had a Broodmate Dragon in my deck—and black was my splash color! After all, I bet you know what’s better than 1 Broodmate Dragon…
I do get why Call of the Herd and Mizzium Mortars are in here. They’re not particularly busted—they’re just solid cards. They’re also both useful and on theme with specific decks in the format. I would love to be a fly on the wall when someone said, “Yeah, you know what Modern Masters 2017 needs? Simic Sky Swallower!”
3. Why is Unflinching Courage an uncommon while Gift of Orzhova is a common?
This was pretty confusing when it first occurred to me. Flying is better than trample when it comes to evergreen mechanics. I think the degree of difference is also larger than a power and toughness discrepancy of +1/+1. Additionally, Gift of Orzhova is arguably easier to cast. You can put it in a black deck and cast it for BB, you can put it in a white deck and cast it for WW, or you can put it in a black-white deck and cast it for BW. Unflinching Courage, however, has to be played in a green-white deck (sure, you can splash it, but it’s still harder to cast than Gift). I guess you could argue that the green-white deck might benefit from Unflinching Courage more than the other decks might benefit from Gift of Orzhova, so they made it less common, but the green-white deck can just play Gift of Orzhova too!
4. Why are there such feel-bads in this set?
One of the things I was most worried about—which I mentioned on every outlet I was able to, from Magic TV to my podcast—was the concern that, while all of the initial card reveals for the set were valuable and chase, this had been the case with every initial Modern Masters set. We always end up seeing great card after great card spoiled, and get super pumped about the set, only to realize we saw the 17 or so good rares in the set. And that’s the actual number!
There are only 9 of the 53 rares and only 8 of the 15 mythics in the set that are worth about as much or more than a pack. That means only 17 out of the 68 rare slots, or 1 out of 4 packs, contain a card that you don’t lose money on. While there are some cards that are worth a good deal more than a pack, there are plenty (three times as many to be exact) that aren’t.
This impression of immense value is built up at the very beginning where we see all the amazing cards included like Tarmogoyf and Snapcaster Mage and Cavern of Souls and Liliana of the Veil—there are even fetchlands!—only to realize that we’re not seeing the other 51(!) rares, 29 of which are worth under a dollar.
Is the set awesome? Yes. Is drafting it awesome? Most definitely. Do I still want to rush out and buy packs as much as I did during those first few days of previews? Not really, no. Am I glad the set of Tarmogoyfs I will eventually pick up is getting cheaper? Completely. Those are my feelings on the matter. Let me know your own in the comments and thanks for reading!