Eternal Masters exists. Force of Will and Wasteland are coming back, along with many more Eternal staples. We’re getting another Masters product, with more variety than Modern Masters and more paper release than Vintage Masters. That’s awesome!
So, what are the potential ramifications of Eternal Masters? Where are we now? What can we expect to happen or change? And how does this affect Modern, the much-maligned, appreciably-adored, ostensibly-unsustainable format on everyone’s mind?
Eternal Renewed – a triumphant return for Legacy and Vintage?
For the last several years, Legacy, particularly North American Legacy, has appeared to be on the decline. Star City Games went from having near-weekly streamed Legacy tournaments to having significantly smaller near-weekly tournaments (most of which were Sunday side events, rather than main events—the big money was in Standard and Modern). Legacy on Magic Online suffered from the switch to Play Points and the decline of Daily Events. Streamed Legacy events seemed to have great viewership, but there were nevertheless fewer events.
Eternal Masters has the potential to reverse that trend. Vintage Super League has brought Vintage to the masses and Legacy Leagues promise to make Legacy available to all. Eternal Masters can ride that wave, giving players enough cards to build Eternal decks (particularly on MODO, where Power and dual lands cost a fraction of their paper costs), and revitalize those formats. Perhaps we’ll even see more big paper Legacy tournaments.
The Masters Effect – increased interest, increased supply, increased demand.
If the two incarnations of Modern Masters are any indication, Eternal Masters should drop prices for reprinted cards and raise prices for non-reprinted staples. Serum Visions spiked when it was revealed it wouldn’t be in MMA2015, then dropped when it became an FNM promo. Inquisition of Kozilek is holding strong at $25 and Blood Moon (which was in the original MMA) is $50. Eternal Masters should also raise prices of format staples which can’t be reprinted, such as the original dual lands and other cards on the reserved list.
There’s also the chance of Eternal Masters creating more demand than it does supply; if so, it’ll raise prices across the board, rather than substantially drop them. I consider this more unlikely than it was with Modern Masters, simply because Legacy and Vintage have much higher barriers to entry (namely, the prices of their manabases).
All Reprints? – will it be like every Masters product before?
Every Masters product so far has contained only reprints. Other supplemental products, such as Commander, Planechase, and Conspiracy, have had new cards, and all have changed the Eternal metagame: Flusterstorm, Dack Fayden, True-Name Nemesis, and Baleful Strix all came from supplemental sets.
Mark Rosewater has confirmed that Eternal Masters will contain only reprints. The tradition is upheld.
There’s no telling whether or not Eternal Masters will follow the Masters trend. If it breaks it and contains new cards, it could contain new dual lands that are similar enough to the Alpha duals that they’re cheaper, reprintable replacements but not so close that they violate the spirit of the list.
Ethical Concerns – did retailers know in advance?
Eternal Masters has been rumored for months. I heard these rumors most when Oath of the Gatewatch was spoiled late last year, specifically that dealers knew Eternal Masters was coming this year.
If that’s true, I’m not surprised; tournament organizers and retailers need to order product in advance (perhaps even six months in advance?). However, this gives them a fair amount of actionable information. Imagine you knew what we know now last month; would you be shipping copies of Force of Will for $110, knowing that they’d probably be cheaper to buy back come June? I’m not terribly concerned about this possibility, but it’s worth asking: just how much advance information do non-Wizards folks have access to?
No Eternal Masters Grand Prix – it’s not and won’t be on the schedule.
There’s little room on the schedule for an Eternal Masters Grand Prix. Sao Paulo is the only (Team) Limited Grand Prix in that window, so we wouldn’t be looking at something akin to the record-shattering MMA2015 Weekend. Helene Bergeot has gone on record to say that there won’t be any such Grand Prix:
— Helene Bergeot (@HeleneBergeot) February 15, 2016
Dang. Perhaps Star City Games or Channel Fireball will host their own large Eternal Masters tournaments. It was great fun grinding MMA events, not just because they were fun (’cause they totally were), but because it was also tournament practice for the world’s largest TCG events.
No More Conspiracy, Planechase or Un-sets? – perhaps Masters sets are just too compelling.
Thus far, Modern Masters has been a biannual product. With two installments, that’s not much data to rely on, but given its apparent success and popularity, its regular return seems assured. The interim years have had more experimental supplemental products, such as 2014’s Conspiracy or Planechase 2012 (which I admit predated the first MMA). With Eternal Masters this summer and Modern Masters 2017 quite likely next summer, that removes the space dedicated to these other supplemental products. Perhaps I’m wrong and there won’t be an MMA2017 or there will be a winter supplemental slot to mirror the summer slot, but if I’m not, it may be a long while before we see another Planechase, Conspiracy, Un-set, or Archenemy product.
If so, I’m not terribly surprised; I’d expect Masters products to have higher margins and more sales than the alternatives. Still, it’ll be unfortunate to have fewer experimental products.
A New Eternal Format? – Legacy without the Reserved List?
Here’s the wild speculation. It’s no secret that many (including many at Wizards) consider the Modern PT to be a mistake and Modern itself to be a problematic format. Modern is also a wildly popular and much beloved format (yours truly happily counts himself among this crowd), but let’s focus on Modern’s shortcomings at present.
The Pro Tour was defined by linear decks—Eldrazi, Robots, and Infect eschew most interaction to swiftly beat their opponent’s skulls in. The post-Pro Tour metagame seems to be either play Eldrazi, play robots, or play a deck that can destroy Eldrazi’s manabase (and we’ll see this brave new world tested on the Modern GP Weekend of March 5th). Some have said that as Modern grows, this is its fate—without a safety valve (which is always either Wasteland or Force of Will), there will never be a strong enough control deck to keep linear aggro/combo decks in check. Every game will be determined by the die roll, mulligans, and sideboard cards.
Now, while I don’t subscribe to this theory, I see the arguments. I also recognize that there’s no comparable alternate non-rotating format: Legacy is prohibitively expensive for many (the Reserved List is at the core of this problem). Wizards has nevertheless demonstrated an eagerness to reprint Eternal and Modern staples and support both formats. Well, if Wizards supports non-rotating formats, what if it created a new format to potentially replace or coexist with Modern and/or Legacy? What if there were Eternal, a Legacy without the reserved list? Imagine most of the power of Legacy at the cost of Modern?
Could it happen? Sure? Would it be an enormous shift? Absolutely. It is unlikely? Yup. But it’s worth thinking about.
That’s all for this week. I’m looking forward to saving up for a big (and expensive (and ideally AMAZING)) summer, as well as seeing Legacy react and Modern evolve. Only time will tell what happens, ’cause Magic is always in flux, which is a beautiful thing.
And as always, thanks for reading.
Zachary Barash has been playing Magic on and off since 1994. He loves Limited and drafts every available format (including several that aren’t entirely meant to be drafted). He’s a proud Cube owner, improviser, and game designer (currently going for an MFA in Game Design at NYU). He has an obsession with Indian food that borders on being unhealthy.