While many folks were away kicking ass in Providence this weekend (including Evil Tim, whose team effortlessly made day two and are drafting away as I write this), I had the chance to spend a whole Saturday playing nothing but Modern Masters Limited. I drafted the set twice at the store, then played a four-man, winner-take-all sealed. In preparation for GP Vegas, I’m going to share exactly what I played and my thoughts on each event—what worked, what didn’t, what cards were awesome to play with, and what cards to watch out for.

Before we dive in, I recommend checking out the latest episode of Limited Resources if you haven’t already. The show goes over all the archetypes of the format, their key cards, and how to play them. Plus, you get to hear two hours of Marshall Sutcliffe’s sultry voice.

Off we go!

Draft #1
Pack one, pick one: Bonesplitter. Was I insane? Maybe a tad bit, but I felt it was justified. Jason Chan calls Bonesplitter “one of the most exciting cards in Magic history,” and he’s not wrong. My pack had exciting cards, sure—Bridge From Below, Rift Bolt, Empty the Warrens, Electrolyze—but they all lead you down a set path, whereas Bonesplitter is a great card and goes in every single deck in the format. The ability to suit up a random dude and turn it into a considerable clock for next to no mana is almost invaluable. Just like in Mirrodin block, I knew this axe would claim many heads, so I snapped it up and never looked back.

From there, I took a pick two Aethersnipe for its formidable body and great tempo hit. Then the Errant Ephemerons and Durkwood Baloths kept coming, so I easily slotted into UG Suspend, the Dinosaurs of this format. I also opened Tarmogoyf, which is pretty bad in Limited (I would complain about opening a Goyf), but was nevertheless a two-drop that can hold an axe. Just play a bunch of efficiently-costed dudes (in this case, criminally undercosted since suspend is a very powerful mechanic) and attack. No one wanted the Imperiosaurs, Giant Dustwasps and Penumbra Spiders—which I think is totally wrong especially for that last one—so I snatched them all up.

My deck had impressive creatures that would be hard to contend with given a proper curve-out. However, I was lacking in removal and tempo spells. Dan Black, drafting across the table a full three seats to my right, was in mono blue flyers and took all the Echoing Truths, Aethersnipes, and other little Faeries that he saw. My deck would definitely have liked them, but as it was, I was heavier on the raw power of green and much lighter on the finesse of blue. I crushed my round one opponent with ease, then got tempoed out super hard by Dan and his Kira-protected flyers. In the final round, my deck stalled and died to UW Affinity. It wouldn’t be a Modern event without me getting completely hosed by Affinity. Turn one Court Homunculus into turn two Tidehollow Sculler, taking my Trygon Predator, is pretty brutal.

My takeaway from that draft is that UG is a decent deck that is easy to assemble and requires next to no thinking piloting, but you are very susceptible to combat tricks and other shenanigans, which are going to be all over the place in this format. Remember, the power level of the set is much higher than your average Limited format, with many of these cards being old Constructed staples. And it’s not like they are just in the set all by their lonesome—many of their cohorts from the Constructed decks they appeared in also show up. Might not happen as often in draft, but for sealed (and this is especially true for an event the size and scale of GP Vegas), you’re going to run into Scion of Oona and Cryptic Command in the same deck, and you’re going to face down Arcbound Ravager with Blinkmoth Nexus backup. Hell, you might even eat a Progenitus to the face off of a Tooth and Nail (with a Woodfall Primus for value, why not). These might seem like Magical Christmas Land sealed pools, but seeing as how there will be thousands of sealed pools opened a week and a half from now, anything is possible.

Draft #2
I opened a Kira, and immediately slammed it after the trouncing at the hands of Dan from the previous pod. I decided there and then that I’d be in Ux Skies, with the most obvious choice being UB Faeries.

Sure enough, the cards lined up well enough for me to get a pretty sick Faeries deck, with double Dreamspoiler Witches, triple Latchkey Faerie, and a P3P1 Scion of Oona. I also had some sweet synergies with Marsh Flitter, Auntie’s Snitch, and Murderous Redcap. I was fighting slightly with Garrett, sitting to my right, since he opened a Keiga, but the Faeries pieces were mostly untouched as Garrett went into the Dampen Thought Arcane deck.

This deck ended up being awesome. It was very similar to the tempo/control decks that I love to play in Constructed formats, so I felt quite comfortable despite playing with many of the cards for the first time ever. It feels so good to flash in an unassuming Faerie, nibble your opponent for one damage, then cast Latchkey Faerie for its prowl cost and draw a card. And then there’s Dreamspoiler Witches, which was easily the MVP of the draft. It turned my Peppersmokes into one-mana Electrolyzes. There’s nothing quite like a one-mana three-for-one on your opponent’s turn.

I ended up out-tempoing Jason’s UG Suspend deck in the first round, adding to my suspicion that the archetype is not amazing. Again, when you think of this format less in a Limited context and more as a “Constructed Lite,” it makes more sense. The big, dumb dudes deck will have a hard time against a fully focused tribal deck with heavy synergy. Of course, anyone can suspend a bunch of Errant Ephemerons and just get there off of Air Elementals, but it’s much harder to accomplish against a bunch of Wind Drakes that mess with your combat math while holding up other shenanigans.

In round two, I played Nick on RG Ramp/Tooth and Nail. I didn’t see the Tooth and Nail until game three, when our boards were stalled and Nick hit it for its entwine cost, but by then the match had already gone long, and my Stinkweed Imp, Plumeveil (both of which were boarded in to deal with Nick’s giant monsters), Marsh Flitter and co. had already held off a Jugan and multiple Giant Dustwasps. I was afraid that he’d grab the Progenitus that was going around the table—I opened it in pack two but passed it for, what else, a Bonesplitter—but he didn’t have it. From there, it was a matter of finding a way to deal with the Figure of Destiny before Nick found his sixth Mountain. Nick could not find it in time, and my Erratic Mutation hit a Faerie Mechanist to get rid of the Figure for good. We’d go on to draw that match. Penumbra Spider was a beating the entire three games, there was just no way for my deck to deal with that card in an efficient manner. I managed to alpha past it when I drew the Pestermite I needed, and the anthem effect from Scion was enough, but for the other two games, no dice. That fucker is a steel wall (note, not Steel Wall) at common.

For the final round, I squared off against Austin’s RW Giants. Perhaps counterintuitively, I was the beatdown in this matchup, as my board could get Wrath’d at anytime by a Thundercloud Shaman. I also had to kill any Stinkdrinker Daredevils on sight, else things would escalate very quickly. Luckily, I got some aggressive draws, including the aforementioned Spellstutter into damage into full value Latchkey Faerie. I also found Bonesplitter both games, which made things a race from the very first turn against a deck that didn’t often do things until turn three or four. When you chain Latchkey Faeries against a deck that’s as slow to start as that one, there’s no coming back short of a Wrath.

Takeaways: Faeries is the real deal. Prowl is the real deal. Kira is the real deal. All three of those things plus multiple Bonesplitters is just ridiculous.

Winner-Take-All Sealed
After the second pod wrapped up, John, Dan and I cabbed it over to Milosz’s place for some late night Modern Masters sealed off of our prize packs (Luis gives out MM packs for his MM drafts, how awesome is that?). To make things interesting, it was winner-take-all. Among the shiny cardboard money were an Elspeth and a Skrillex Dark Confidant. How’s that for motivation?

My pool this time was UW Affinity. I am become that which I loath. I was initially tempted by UB Faeries again when I open a few Latchkeys, Dreamspoilers, and a Scion. However, the removal wasn’t there. No Peppersmoke, no Drag Down, not even an Erratic Mutation. There was an Executioner’s Capsule, which I ended up splashing for off of a Vivid Meadow, a Swamp, and a Traumatic Visions, but that by itself is not enough removal to make a Faeries deck. Instead, I dropped the rest of black and picked up white, which had a few nice artifacts to combo with my Esperzoa in Court Homunculus and Sanctum Gargoyle. The real draw of white, though, and I missed this the first time going through my pool, was that I had two Cloudgoat Rangers and a Stir the Pride. Go ahead and mouse over those two cards again and read what they do together. I’ll wait.

It’s bonkers, right?

In round one, I took two quick games off of John, also on UW Affinity, though his deck had more traditional robots whereas mine was more UW value guys with some artifacts. I won off of a horrendous mistake from John, having never played with Affinity before. Here’s how it happened.

Him: Land, Paradise Mantle, go.
Me: Land, go.
Him: Land, Arcbound Stinger, go.
Me: Land, go.
Him: attack, trade with my Spellstutter, leave stranded in his hand two Frogmites that would’ve both came down that turn had he not swung, along with a Myr Enforcer that would’ve come down a turn later.

I won that game shortly after, then John got an awkward draw in game two and never recovered. We played some more games for fun after, and whomever got the Court Homunculus and Bonesplitter usually won. That, or it was Esperzoa/Faerie Mechanist staredowns.

In the second round, we for some reason decided to have the winners play the losers, so I played against Milosz, who had the third UW Affinity deck. His pool was significantly more bomby, though, with Elspeth, Keiga, and motherfucking Meloku. I did not win the match. Meloku is a must-answer megaton bomb, and I just happened to only have that ExCap in my splash color. I threw away the third game when I blew my Stir the Pride way too early to try and get a win immediately, before Meloku made an impact on the board, but an Erratic Mutation changed the math and left Milosz with enough life to survive, untap with Meloku, and take over. Milosz, however, graciously scooped me into the “final” to play Dan, who I should’ve played in the second round originally had the four of us not been so braindead from exhaustion.

If you thought Meloku was bad, I’d like you to meet Oona, Queen of the Fae. Don’t let that triple hybrid cost fool you, it only means that the card essentially costs six mana from any of your lands if you’re in that color combination. Dan was, plus he was splashing Electrolyze for free off of a Terramorphic Expanse and two Vivid lands. Have you ever been four-for-one’d by Dreamspoiler Witches and Electrolyze? I have. You lose the game on the spot usually, and if you don’t immediately scoop, Oona tends to prompt that concession shortly after.

Why is she a goddamn dragon? Just, why? The mill-and-get-dudes ability is oppressive enough, why couldn’t they leave her as a 2/4 or something? I’m convinced that, short of a Path to Exile or an Erratic Mutation in an all-six-drop deck, there is no beating Oona in the format. Case in point: in game two, I alphaed with two Cloudgoats, the six Kithkin Soldiers, and entwined Stir the Pride. I went up to 37 life while Dan lived at 2. Dan won that game off of Oona making blockers and milling me out. It was demoralizing, to say the least.

Luckily, I got a good hand in game three and filled up my board with Kithkin Soldiers from a Cloudgoat and two Cenn’s Enlistment, and was once again holding Stir the Pride. Dan resolved Oona on curve, but I had been beating down with my dudes that his life total was low enough for me to kill on an alpha the following turn, assuming he didn’t hit a guy off of the mill ability. He didn’t, and enough of my guys got through to seal the deal.

The moral of the story: you don’t beat Meloku, and you definitely don’t beat Oona, short of having an Overrun effect.


All in all, it was a terrific day of Magic. There were initial fears that Modern Masters would just be a cash grab and that the format wouldn’t live up to the hype, but this past Saturday was the most fun I’d had playing Magic in a long while, and I’d be making that statement even if I didn’t end up with a Tarmogoyf and a Confidant in my collection (though they certain do help). It might be a little last minute, but if you’re still unsure about going to Vegas for the Grand Prix, stop wavering and just do it. It is serious fun, and it’ll be a unique experience that can only be enhanced by your friends joining you on this once-in-a-lifetime ride.

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