Predictions: Modern Masters 2015

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This year, Modern Masters 2015 (the sequel to 2013’s Modern Masters), a set designed to increase the supply of hard-to-find or pricey Modern staples will be released. Very few preview cards have thus far been released, with only the Eldrazi god, Emrakul, the Aeons Torn at mythic rare, and Etched Champion thus far being confirmed. (Etched Champion is not technically confirmed for sure, but Wizards has used the card’s picture, making this almost a lock for the set.)

Back in 2013, I had posted my predictions for the original Modern Masters set. I did fairly well; I had correctly predicted 9/15 mythics, and 19/53 rares correctly; this meant that I was 40% right, which was a good enough success rate that I considered this round of predictions to be a success.

With all that in mind, I figured I’d throw my predictions out there for the sequel set to Modern Masters. Today’s article will be my predictions for what will be in Modern Masters 2015, so let’s go!

ModernMasters2015

The original Modern Masters set was one of my favourite sets of all time, and certainly my favourite to draft. I don’t often do much drafting (I normally just draft a set once or twice, then get bored of it), but with Modern Masters, I just kept drafting this set on MTGO over and over, and had just a ton of fun doing so.

The first set had a lot going for it in draft. Wizards had built into the set a ton of Limited archetypes, and it seemed like the set just had something fun for everyone to play. There have been many draft formats that I’ve played with multiple draft archetypes that were enjoyable to draft; triple Innistrad draft, triple Rise of the Eldrazi draft, Ravnica block draft and Invasion block drafts were all some of my favorites. None of these sets had anything close to the complexity and enjoyableness of a Modern Masters draft, in my opinion.

In this one set, you had all these archetypes that could be drafted:

• U/R Storm
• W/R Giant tribal
• U/B Faerie tribal
• G/x Thallid tribal (normally either G/W or G/R)
• B/x Rogue tribal (normally U/B)
• U/G Suspend creatures (otherwise known as U/G Fat dudes)
• R/B Goblins
• U/W Affinity
• W/B Rebels
• Five-colour green (base green decks, splashing powerful cards)

…And probably a bunch more that I’ve forgotten. That’s a lot of archetypes for one set to have, a lot of complexity, and it made the set a joy to draft and play.

I heard many people say “If I could draft nothing else but Modern Masters for the rest of my life, I’d be happy,” and I completely agree with this. It is a very sad thing to me that it was only available for a short time and in such limited quantity, as I would gladly have drafted this as much as I could.

The main reason I bring up all these different draft archetypes is that I think that’s where Wizards will be starting once again with Modern Masters II; they’ll be looking to make the set as draftable as possible, with many different draft archetypes first, and then worry about which rares they really need to include after. The reason I’d only gotten half of the mythics/rares right for my predictions for the first Modern Masters was that I hadn’t thought about draft archetypes at all when I wrote up my predictions; I just figured Wizards would cram as many cards into the set that needed to be reprinted as possible, and the draft format would likely be a mess.

Well, this time, I won’t make that mistake again! Modern Masters 2015’s tagline is actually “Draft Like a Master,” so it’s safe to say that they’re banking on this set being super fun to draft. Hence, I’ll be looking at possible draft archetypes first, and then I’ll go over my predictions for the 15 mythic rares and rares that will make up this set.

POSSIBLE DRAFT ARCHETYPES:
From Wizards’ announcement of Modern Masters II: “Modern Masters (2015 Edition) takes players back to some of the most remarkable planes from recent history, including Zendikar, Mirrodin, Ravnica, Lorwyn, Kamigawa, and Alara.” Going by this list of included sets, I have a couple predictions we can make for the direction that Modern Masters II will take with its draft archetypes.

• From Time Spiral block — Storm
This one depends a lot on whether or not Wizards want to reprint anything that was already in the first Modern Masters… Storm was a very fun archetype, but took a lot of work to be able to win with it. It was the very definition of high risk, high reward, and could be a blast to play. In the original Modern Masters, storm played well with the suspend cards… if those do not make it in Modern Masters II, I could see storm not making the cut either.
I would, however, love to see storm make a comeback for the Limited hijinx that would ensue.

• From Shards block — R/G/B Devour
Devour was a mechanic from Shards block, where your creatures would eat each other to get bigger. Over the past ten years, there have been a number of creatures printed that like to die, or give you benefits when they do so. Depending on how slow this Limited format ends up being, devour could be quite strong.
Devour would also happen to work quite well with the next thing on the list:

• From Rise of the Eldrazi — R/G/B Eldrazi Spawn tokens (to power out giant monsters)
I have the feeling that this set, like Rise of the Eldrazi, is going to be heavy on gigantic monsters (as evidenced by the first card spoiled, Emrakul, the Aeons Torn). If Wizards includes the entire cycle of Eldrazi gods in this set, then a reasonable assumption is that the cards that create Eldrazi Spawn tokens will return as well, to ensure that you can actually cast these gigantic threats in draft. There were a number of cards in red, green and black that made Eldrazi Spawn (cards like Nest Invader), and I think we’ll see them in Modern Masters II.
Worth mentioning is that if the Eldrazi Spawn token-makers do make a return, they are a natural foil for the next mechanic, since you’ll always have chump blockers.

• From Shards block — Exalted
One of the cards notable for being missing in action from the first Modern Masters set was Noble Hierarch, a true Modern staple and excellent mana producer. Hierarch is great because it’s both a mana dork, and with exalted, can turn any creature (including itself) into an offensive threat. Since Hierarch has never been reprinted, I think we’ll definitely see it here in Modern Masters II, and as such, the exalted mechanic will return as well for Limited.
If exalted does make a return appearance, I believe we’ll see it only in green, white and blue (the black cards from Magic 2011 will likely be left out).
This prediction is actually twofold, because exalted happens to play well with the next mechanic in Limited:

• From Scars block — B/U/G Infect
This was one of my least favourite mechanics ever for Limited play… and yet, I definitely could see this making a return in Modern Masters II, depending on just how many Scars block cards Wizards wants to reprint. This would work well with any green power-pumping Auras (see G/W Auras below) or any pump spells, as well as the proliferate mechanic, if they brought that back. Notable cards with this mechanic were Glistener Elf, Blighted Agent, and most notably, Inkmoth Nexus, a land that definitely could use a reprint.
Depending on whether or not infect makes a return, we could also see the next mechanic to go along with it:

• Also from Scars block — Proliferate
Proliferate was a mechanic that I’m pretty sure everyone liked (unlike infect). It played well with +1/+1 or -1/-1 counters, planeswalkers, and anything else that used counters, by adding more counters as a benefit. If any of the mechanics that use counters in this list are used (devour, level up, infect, etc.) I can definitely see this making a comeback.
Worth noting with proliferate is that it happens to work very well with the next two possible archetypes:

• Also from Rise of the Eldrazi — U/W or U/B Level up creatures
Level up was one of the major mechanics from RoE, and made that set a lot of fun to play in Limited, since you always had something to do with your mana. The various level up creatures were all excellent in draft, played well at every level, had a common that made them extremely aggressive (Venerated Teacher), and were great in a slower draft format. If Wizards does make Modern Masters II as a slower format (so that you can actually cast the Eldrazi monsters), I could easily see level up coming back as well.

• From the original Ravnica block and Magic 2012 — R/G or R/B Bloodthirst
Bloodthirst was a fun ability to build decks around, since dealing damage to foes is something you want to be doing in Limited anyway. Getting a bonus in the form of +1/+1 counters is even better, making your creatures into even better beatdown monsters. I could easily see bloodthirst being either the R/B or R/G mechanic; cards from Magic 2012 like Gorehorn Minotaurs would coexist very well alongside Scab-Clan Mauler, and make for an exciting and aggressive draft archetype.
This archetype would also work very well with any proliferate cards, and infect would be a natural foil for it (since infect creatures deal damage to other creatures in the form of -1/-1 counters, negating the +1/+1 counters from bloodthirst).

• Also from Scars block — Metalcraft
This one is practically a given, since one of the product images for Modern Masters II is Etched Champion. I think the inclusion of metalcraft cards makes a lot of sense here; an artifact creature draft archetype would mirror the popular Affinity archetype from Modern Masters, and cards with the metalcraft mechanic could be spread among all five colours (cards like Vault Skirge, Galvanic Blast, and so on).
Worth mentioning here is that one of the major decks of the Modern format is an artifact creature deck called either Robots or Affinity; reprinting all the key cards for the deck in Modern Masters II would make a lot of sense (especially Mox Opal, which now has a large price tag).

• From Zendikar block — R/W/G landfall
This is yet another Zendikar block mechanic that I have a strong suspicion will be in the set (my main reason for this is that I believe this set will finally see the reprint of Zendikar’s enemy fetchlands, ie. Arid Mesa). Landfall happens to play very well with fetchlands, and so I think we could definitely see the mechanic return, with Steppe Lynx, Plated Geopede, and Searing Blaze being excellent candidates to make a return as well.
Another thought here is that landfall cards can be well supported by mana ramping spells that put land into play from your library (ie. Primeval Titan, Summer Bloom, or something like Explore). If Wizards wants some form of five-colour deck to be supported in this format once again, I could easily see Terramorphic Expanse and/or Evolving Wilds return at common to support both landfall, and a five-colour manabase. Mana ramp spells would work well with the giant Eldrazi monsters that I think will be in this set as well, and so I could definitely see landfall coming back.

• From multiple sets — G/W or monowhite lifegain
There are two different subthemes I could see working in G/W, and one is lifegain. There is a fringe Modern deck built around Serra Ascendant and Martyr of Sands; I could easily see the key cards from this deck be put in this set. In recent years, Wizards has even had a number of cards printed that work with lifegain cards, such as Voracious Wurm; this could work well in Limited, and there are a number of rares and mythics that could be reprinted to go with this theme (Batterskull and Baneslayer Angel come to mind).
Worth noting as well: If Wizards does have lifegain as a subtheme, it has a natural foe in infect, since infect creatures don’t care what your life total is, they just kill you with poison counters.

• Also multiple sets — G/W Auras
This is the other direction I can see for the G/W archetype, and there are a number of notable cards needing reprints here as well. An existing Modern deck is called G/W Boggles, which runs a number of hexproof creatures, and beefs them up with problematic Aura cards. Much of this deck could be reprinted here, including key card Daybreak Coronet, which definitely needs a reprint. There are even on-theme commons, like Aura Gnarlid, that would fit right into this strategy and play well with it.
The major issue I have with the Boggle style of play is that hexproof creatures are very hard to interact with; Wizards would have to have a number of Diabolic Edict-style sacrifice effects to combat this in Limited.

• Also multiple sets, but most notably Ravnica block — U/B Mill
There have been many, many sets where Wizards has tried to make U/B milling into a draft archetype, and in some cases (the original Ravnica) they have succeeded; in most cases, they have failed. For the U/B colour combination, this is one of the more likely draft archetypes, and could even let us finally have a reprint of pricey Ravnica rare Glimpse the Unthinkable.
If G/W lifegain is a draft archetype, this is also a natural foil for it, since you don’t care what their life total is, you just care how many cards are in their library.

• From a number of sets — UrzaTron lands
If ramping to Eldrazi titans is going to be a thing in this set, I have a strong hunch that the UrzaTron lands (Urza’s Tower, Urza’s Mine, and Urza’s Power Plant) will be reprinted here, possibly at common, to help ramp up to them. If Modern Masters II has a heavy colourless theme, with lots of artifact creatures, Tron is even better at casting them. Tron is a popular deck in Modern, so I think reprinting these lands would be a good fit for this set.
If Tron is included, there are a number of enablers that can be reprinted to find Tron lands as well: Reap and Sow, Sylvan Scrying, Tolaria West, and Expedition Map.

• From M10 — White-based Soldier tribal
With the original Modern Masters, Wizards showed that they could make tribal archetypes work in a draft set that already had so much going on in it, and I definitely think we’ll see a return of that here. M10 had a lot of Soldier enablers that would be the backbone for such a draft strategy: Captain of the Watch, Rhox Pikemaster, and the duo of Veteran Armorsmith and Veteran Swordsmith. This strategy could be backed up by Soldier cards from Lorwyn, like Veteran’s Armaments and Cenn’s Tactician, or by other cards from across the various sets, like Raise the Alarm.
The white Soldiers could easily be backed up by red Soldiers as well, since there are a number of those from both Ravnica block and Eventide. Cards like Rise of the Hobgoblins, Hearthfire Hobgoblin, and Sunhome Enforcer would work very well with the tribe, and could produce a strong, aggressive strategy.
This would be a very linear draft strategy, but I think that Wizards is going to want to focus on tribes once more.

• From Time Spiral block — Five-colour Sliver tribal
Since Wizards has already said that Lorwyn is one of the blocks they’re focusing on in this set, there are a number of other tribes they could include to good effect. The Slivers from Time Spiral block are a casual favourite, can be included and supported in all five colours, and has an easily-included mythic with an absurd price tag that casual players love: Sliver Legion, who definitely needs a reprint to drive down the price.
Slivers are a very easy include, since Wizards only has to include one or two Slivers at each rarity, and there are a ton of good ones from Time Spiral block. Virulent Sliver in particular is worth mentioning, since he plays well with infect.

• From Lorwyn block — G/R Warriors or G/R Shamans
There are lots of tribes that are supported in Lorwyn block, but these are the two that I’d like to see make a comeback. Warriors was supported with several cool cards, like Obsidian Battle-Axe and Rhys the Redeemed, while Shamans had a quieter cast in Lorwyn block; nevertheless, they also had some cool cards in Wolf-Skull Shaman, and the pricey Fulminator Mage. These are not the tribes I’d expect to see supported in Modern Masters II, but Rogues was supported in the original Modern Masters, so these could well make a comeback.

• Also from Lorwyn block — Blue-based Merfolk, or blue-based Wizards
The other major blue tribe from Lorwyn block was Merfolk (the one everyone remembers, of course, was Faeries). Merfolk were mostly U/W, and were very good at stalling opposing attacks with cards like Judge of Currents and Silvergill Douser.
Worth noting here is that several of the blue level up cards from Rise of the Eldrazi are Merfolk (Coralhelm Commander, Skywatcher Adept, and Halimar Wavewatch), so the return of Merfolk could make sense. If level up is included, Merfolk tribal could make sense.
Wizards was another blue-based tribe supported in Morningtide, with cards like Sage of Fables. There have been a ton of powerful Wizards printed over the years, so supporting them could also happen (again, Rogues were in Modern Masters, so this could happen). Worth mentioning is that just about every Merfolk is also a Wizard, so both tribes could actually be supported at once.

Looking over that list, I’m pretty sure that the draft archetypes we’ll get with Modern Masters II will look like this:

R/B – Eldrazi Spawn tokens
R/G – Eldrazi Spawn tokens, landfall
W/G – Hexproof Auras, exalted, landfall
W/U – Level up, exalted, Merfolk tribal, Wizard tribal
U/B – Infect, proliferate, level up
W/B – Level up
G/U – Infect, proliferate, exalted
G/B – Infect, proliferate, Eldrazi Spawn tokens
U/R – Wizard tribal, metalcraft
R/W – Soldier tribal, landfall, metalcraft

Five-colour – Proliferate, metalcraft, Slivers
Colourless – Eldrazi titans

Those are a lot of archetypes for one set to handle, but Wizards has already proven once with the first Modern Masters that they can make a ton of archetypes work. I think they can do so once more.

LOOKING AT INDIVIDUAL RARES AND MYTHICS:

The next thing we’ll be looking at is a quick list of rares/mythic rares from the last ten years, to see what the major rares that need reprinting are. (I should note here that I’m assuming that the entire set will be made up of cards that were not in the original Modern Masters, so no re-reprint of Tarmogoyf.) Going over all of the rares & mythics printed since Mirrodin, this is the list of the cards that would be worth opening a $10 pack for (it’s actually a fairly short list, and I’ve left off any cards that were already reprinted in the original Modern Masters):

Base sets:
Baneslayer Angel
Primeval Titan
Leyline of Sanctity
Serra Ascendant
Steel Overseer
Master of the Wild Hunt
Time Warp
Fauna Shaman
Angelic Destiny
Phantasmal Image
Omniscience
Thundermaw Hellkite
Ensnaring Bridge
Phyrexian Arena
Bribery
Elvish Piper
Hurkyl’s Recall
Seedborn Muse

Mirrodin block:
Oblivion Stone
Auriok Champion
Crucible of Worlds
Staff of Domination

Kamigawa block:
Azusa, Lost but Seeking
Threads of Disloyalty
Through the Breach
Goryo’s Vengeance

Ravnica block:
Glimpse the Unthinkable
Cloudstone Curio
Remand
Priveleged Position
Infernal Tutor
Voidslime

Time Spiral block:
Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
Vesuva
Daybreak Coronet
Glittering Wish
Grove of the Burnwillows
Horizon Canopy
Magus of the Moon
Damnation
Akroma’s Memorial
Sliver Legion

Lorwyn block:
Gaddock Teeg
Sower of Temptation
Bitterblossom
Scapeshift
Fulminator Mage
Rhys the Redeemed
Creakwood Liege and Wilt-Leaf Liege
Bloom Tender
Hallowed Burial
Regal Force
Filter lands (ie. Mystic Gate)

Shards block:
Noble Hierarch
Ajani Vengeant and Tezzeret the Seeker
Ranger of Eos
Maelstrom Archangel
Lord of Extinction
Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund

Zendikar block:
The enemy fetchlands (ie. Arid Mesa)
Goblin Guide
Sorin Markov
Eldrazi Monument
Bloodghast
Oracle of Mul Daya
Iona, Shield of Emeria
Celestial Colonnade
Dragonmaster Outcast
Eye of Ugin
Linvala, Keeper of Silence
All is Dust
Splinter Twin
Eldrazi Conscription
Vengevine
Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre

Scars of Mirrodin block:
Mox Opal
Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon
Elspeth Tirel
Inkmoth Nexus
Blightsteel Colossus
Thrun, the Last Troll
Consecrated Sphinx
Spellskite
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
Karn Liberated
Sword of Body and Mind, Sword of Feast and Famine, and Sword of War and Peace
Batterskull

There are a number of other $10+ rares and mythics that I could have included in this list, but these are the ones I think are most likely, due to either playability in Modern, playability in EDH, or both. The price tags on many of these mythics are out of control (and let’s not even talk about Noble Hierarch‘s price tag!) Adding a large supply of these cards to the existing Modern pool would hopefully do much to balance out their absurd prices, and help get more people into the Modern format.

MY FINAL PREDICTIONS:
The original Modern Masters set had a total of 229 cards, consisting of 101 commons, 60 uncommons, 53 rares, and 15 mythic rares. Modern Masters 2015 has 249 cards, and Wizards has not yet said what rarity those extra 20 cards will be; hence, I’m going to be using the breakdown for the original Modern Masters set here (15 mythics and 53 rares) when doing up my predictions.

This is what I think the final list of mythics and rares will be for Modern Masters 2015:

Mythic Rares:

Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, Kozilek, Butcher of Truth, Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre, Karn Liberated
Mox Opal, Blightsteel Colossus
Thrun, the Last Troll, Primeval Titan
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite, Linvala, Keeper of Silence
Thundermaw Hellkite, Splinter Twin
Bitterblossom
Omniscience
Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas

This list gives us a good mix of needed cards for Modern, as well as playing into the archetypes that I’ve predicted for draft. The three Eldrazi gods (Emrakul, Kozilek, and Ulamog) show up to represent the top end of your curve; while both Primeval Titan and Omniscience can help cast these big monsters. Blightsteel Colossus is here to both represent infect, and also goes along with the ‘giant monsters’ theme. Splinter Twin (plus Deceiver Twin at uncommon) are here to mimic the Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker/Pestermite interaction from the first Modern Masters, Thrun goes with the G/W hexproof Auras subtheme, while Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas and Mox Opal support the metalcraft theme.
Finally, the rest of these cards are here to drive down their pricetags, which are all much higher than they should be.

Rares:

All is Dust, Eldrazi Conscription
Steel Overseer, Etched Champion, Ensnaring Bridge, Crucible of Worlds, Spellskite, Oblivion Stone
Noble Hierarch, Elvish Piper, Genesis Wave, Oracle of Mul Daya, Prismatic Omen, Scapeshift, Azusa, Lost But Seeking
Auriok Champion, Serra Ascendant, Mirran Crusader, Daybreak Coronet, Idyllic Tutor, Kor Spiritdancer, Ranger of Eos
Damnation, Bloodghast, Phyrexian Arena, Infernal Tutor, Hand of the Praetors, Phyrexian Crusader, Goryo’s Vengeance
Goblin Guide, Magus of the Moon, Pyromancer Ascension, Through the Breach, Kargan Dragonlord, Dragonmaster Outcast, Shatterstorm
Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir, Venser, Shaper Savant, Hurkyl’s Recall, Mindbreak Trap, Coralhelm Commander, Sower of Temptation, Bribery
Fulminator Mage, Wilt-Leaf Liege, Sovereigns of Lost Alara, Radha, Heir to Keld, Voidslime, Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind, Rise of the Hobgoblins, Creakwood Liege, Deathbringer Liege
Inkmoth Nexus

The issue here, of course, was trying to balance cards that are needed for Modern, with cards that are needed for EDH, with cards that would be excellent in Limited play. I opted to go with the original Modern Masters rare scheme, of 7 cards in each colour, and one card in each two-colour multicolour pairing (the U/B card is Tezzeret, in the mythic slot).

Several cards were cut just because I needed the space for good Limited cards. The most notable exception in my list is the pricey Leyline of Sanctity, which I couldn’t find room for, Iona, Shield of Emeria, Phantasmal Image, and Sliver Legion.

With this few rares, I unfortunately had to cut several lands that I’d wanted to add. If the 20 extra cards in the set end up being split between rare and uncommon, and assuming that there are slots for ten more rares, then these cards would also make the cut: Grove of the Burnwillows, Horizon Canopy, Celestial Colonnade, Creeping Tar Pit, Graven Cairns, and the five enemy fetch lands (ie. Arid Mesa, Scalding Tarn, Marsh Flats, Misty Rainforest, Verdant Catacombs)

Conclusion: So there you have it! After much thought and looking at cards for far too long, this is my list of predicted rares and mythics for Modern Masters 2015!

I’m looking forward to seeing what Wizards does end up doing with this set; have I correctly identified the draft archetypes, or will they go with something completely different? When Modern Masters 2015 is released, I’ll be going over the results of my predictions, so stay tuned!

 

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