Recently, I have rekindled my interest in Magic: The Gathering. As Hearthstone has grown a bit stale and I have been diving head first in Gwent in Witcher 3, the TCG of all TCGs has been silently calling my name.
My favorite part of any TCG has been the deck building and brewing. I prefer and enjoy scoping out the metagame, and then building the hate deck of fringe cards that people don’t expect or undervalue. A lot of the time this leads to awful decks, but it at least keeps me interested.
Now, I downloaded MTGO and logged in for the first time in a long time (for reference, I’ve had MTGO since it was in its Beta). I was greeted with four Scalding Tarns I had completely forgotten I had (or indeed, how I got them). So I got excited about rebuilding the collection on MTGO with its new leagues, but also a bigger incentive.
Modern Masters 2017 releases online today. While I have typically played Standard when I was into Magic, Modern has grown in appeal given my familiarity with the card pool, and also the bannings that have created an incredibly diverse metagame. In the past, the cost of entry with just the mana base had been off putting. However, MM17 has the ability to change that.
The full spoiler for MM17 is available online. The last couple weeks have seen the trickle of spoilers, with the initial bombshell of the reprint of fetch lands being a focal point. The spoilers just kept revealing more and more value (Tarmogoyf, Liliana, Snapcaster), leading to speculation that Wizards is trying to greatly reduce the cost of entry into Modern.
With that extended preface, here are some of my favorite picks from MM17. These are not necessarily the super sexy cards, or just the highest value cards, but rather cards I’m glad were chosen for this superstar set, and that hold a special place in my history of Magic.
The big bombshell that the select few had speculated may reappear. These Modern mana base staples were begging for a reprint, and Modern Masters was a great fit.
The price on these should drop given the increase in supply, but some commentators pointed out that they could’ve been part of a Standard set, and thus have a greater circulation. However, as a counterpoint, Wizards has signaled they’d like to keep fetchlands out of a potential Frontier format.
Modern has access to the shocklands, which the fetchlands are often fetching. This allows smooth draws and diverse color combinations. With Scalding Tarns getting to ridiculous prices online and in paper, the entry into the format for simple lands should be somewhat contained.
Furthermore, increasing access to fetchlands has benefits in deckbuilding. Landfall triggers go off more often, along with the color fixing. The “search” function implicates Leonin Arbiter and other annoying cards, but also fringe cards like Archive Trap.
All in all, this helped reduce the cost of format staples, gives some minor fixing in limited, and throws a bone to those trying to enter the format or get creative in deckbuilding.
What? Who gets excited by this card? Well, I am excited because this card reminds me of a past time, but also embodies several of the traits I enjoy in Magic.
First, I enjoy the full Battlemage cycle. Invasion block competes as one of my favorite set blocks of all time, and these little Planeshift uncommons were in many of my decks back then. I really enjoyed the art, but also the utility of each.
I always enjoy utility creatures that can create value in multitude of situations. Thornscape does this within friendly colors. You get a 2/2 body, but can also Shock something, or destroy an artifact in the kicker. Or you can do BOTH. Talk about VALUE. It just packs the potential I love.
Furthermore, I have always been fond of Red/Green and so I am slightly biased towards those colors. I’m not sure what pushed me that way, but I did win a small event way back in Invasion/Masques standard playing Fires. Yea, that deck was quite powerful at the time. Yes I played Thornscape in some of my versions.
Simic Sky Swallower
Ravnica is another set that I really enjoyed, and this card was just a great fatty that was built to close out a game.
You’ve got the evasion, you’ve got the trample, oh, and it can’t be Path to Exile’d. When I’m playing blue, I typically have the desire to control the game, clear the board, and drop a big man like this guy and watch the opponent squirm.
Also, I am a fan of multicolored cards, and those same cards always make a nice foil. Extra points for that.
While not a big money card, and having been popular in a not-so-old Standard, Restoration Angel is probably not all that exciting to many folks.
Restoration Angel is just one of my favorite cards to start building around. The whole blink archetype has some many directions or flavors to add or subtract. In Modern, you get the full slate of options, and can explore a variety of colors to interact with, given the Angels measly single Plains cost.
Instant speed creatures are always fun, especially with all the tricks Resto Angel can pack with enter the battlefield effects. Not only that, but the Angel itself can turn around and start beating face. A 3 / 4 is not shabby and of course the flying is always relevant (compared to the “restriction” of not targeting Angels).
I’m currently inspired to rebuild a blink variant, hopefully abusing the blink of a morphed Akroma, Angel of Fury to cheat a nice beatstick into play.
I’ve also got to give another art shout-out for this card. It’s one of the better of this bunch.
Call of the Herd
Perhaps another odd choice to most, but Call of the Herd was just one of my favorite cards of all time.
Originally an Odyssey rare, this value sorcery was pumping out Elephant tokens in Standard and also Extended back in the day. A 3/3 for 3 was a pretty big deal power-wise at the time too.
This card obviously hits my outdated need for “value” in a single card. But this card moved my deckbuilding focus at the time into graveyard strategies, which were pushed with Threshold, Flashback, and the like.
When MTGO was in beta, all the packs and drafts were free for the test period. I spent a lot of time getting all the pieces to The Rock incarnation of the time, which ran Call and Pernicious Deed and Wild Mongrel (another one of my all time favorites). Call was a critical component for that deck.
All in all, I’m excited to get back into Magic at a time when Modern Masters is releasing. With the current state of Standard in disarray due to some power imbalances, the gigantic card pool of Modern, along with the cost cutting measures of MTGO and this new set, will propel me to try some new brews in the future.
Do you still play any Magic? Have any good memories of decks of the past? Comment below!