Modern Masters 2015 looks to capture all the exciting elements of high level draft that the original Modern Masters captured and will very likely be the highlight set of 2015. Part of the excitement is in all the new cross synergy between the various modern blocks, and the intriguing ways that old cards can create new and exciting interactions. I've deconstructed the spoiler to highlight the draft archetypes of each color pair and their main goals. We'll know more about these once the set releases but this should give you a good initial understanding of what the set is trying to achieve.
Today I'll look at the allied color pairs and next time I'll examine the enemy colors. Each time I'll mention the key common/uncommons for the archetype. I left off Dismember from each list since I didn't want to write it in every single time. Let's get to it!
This color pair looks less focused than the rest, but does have a lot of token synergy to go wide against the opponent. The token payoffs are either mass pump spells or convoke spells that can take advantage of having lots of creatures lying around.
What's interesting to me is that outside of Kavu Primarch, green isn't really looking to just go bigger than the opponent unless you get to 7 mana for Pelakka Wurm. This means green needs to rely on synergy much more than it does in most sets where green is there to simply outmuscle the competition. There is some potential for ramp since GW already wants Eldrazi Spawn for the 0/1 bodies. Ulamog's Crusher is reasonable in this archetype for that reason, but is certainly not its focus.
GW looks like a snowballing archetype such that once it starts getting its tokens onto the battlefield it will be very hard to stop, but the deck is not all that fast. Slower decks will need to be prepared for GW's finisher spells and faster decks will need to keep GW off balance long enough before it gets going. I want to just briefly mention that thrive looks like it's in the set to enable GW but I'm not convinced that it will be good. It takes a ton of mana and needs a board state where GW is likely to be favored already, but I'm willing to be proven wrong.
If it ain't broke don't fix it. That's WotC's strategy with UW which focuses on artifact themes like it did with the original Modern Masters. We have metalcraft this time to go a bit bigger, but affinity for artifacts is still here and much of the core strategy to the color combination is the same.
One key card UW had access to last time to punch through damage was Blinding Beam. There are still tempo spells like Repeal and Vapor Snag that UW can play this time, but a focus on evasion and big threats seems to be more important. Rather than focusing on raw synergy, UW can simply play more good cards this time and win a slower game. There are also more engine cards like Myrsmith and mana sinks in the form of equipment, so an all-in approach is less needed, and makes cards like Frogmite and Court Homunculus less good though still reasonable.
As well as Darksteel Citadel (if your mana can afford it).
Wither combines with proliferate to grind out the opponent's creatures. The deck is slow and virulent just as many UB cards depict. Games will typically go longer with UB, so it will want access to cards like Stoic Rebuttal which can answer the multitude of powerful threats within the set. Since blue does have graft creatures, the deck will often be using proliferate in many different ways and have lots of options at its disposal.
The deck will tend to win via card advantage combined with many 1-for-1. Spread the Sickness and Grim Affliction are perfect examples of what UB is trying to achieve. Certainly they're 1-for-1s on the surface, but with a little work they can achieve much more and continue adding -1/-1 counters. Remember that +1/+1 counters and -1/-1 counters cancel, but if you Grim Affliction a creature with a +1/+1 counter on it, you'll still get to add a second -1/-1 counter before the two types cancel out since that cancellation only checks before and after a spell resolves.
Bloodthirst is the name of the game here and RB wants to beat down fast. It's very reminiscent of Magic 2012 where RB was the best archetype, and many of these cards are by no coincidence from that set. When bloodthirst is turned on, these creatures are simply above the curve, and RB's goal is to end the game before the opponent gets a chance to do anything.
Focus on efficiency when drafting RB. If the game goes long, chances are RB is not winning. There isn't a ton of reach in RB in this set so a good early curve is even more important than normal. Red does have some tough-to-brawl with creatures that work well with combat tricks, and with the opponent on the back foot trying to trade to survive, the value of cards like Brute Force and Blades of Velis Vel goes up.
RG can function as a big creature deck backed by burn spells, but it is also the most likely deck to try and splash colors because of the cards with domain that encourage such a strategy. There are many payoffs for going the full 5 colors, and at that point you can just play any awesome splashable bomb or efficient card like Mulldrifter. The 5-color green deck will be harder to enable this time around because losing Kodama's Reach is a real loss, but there are plenty of artifact fixers which don't all help toward domain but do benefit both sunburst and Worldheart Phoenix/Dragonsoul Knight.
This deck likely takes the most practice to get right, but certainly looks like a lot of fun. If you have a chance to do some practice drafts before GP Vegas, try going for this and see what ends up working!
As well as the bouncelands.
Next time we'll look at the enemy color pairs!
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