It’s been a pretty exciting week in the Magic World. Results from Pro Tour Theros are still being digested as the Standard meta-game adapts to the new world of Devotion. Meanwhile, Grand Prix Antwerp showcased the Modern Format on the Pro Tour for the last time in 2013. The Top 25 going into GP Antwerp saw some small movement, but mostly remained unchanged since Dublin. Finally, Wizards announced two new products for 2014. The first, which will release as a box set in March, is Jace vs. Vraska. The second, which will release online only in June of next year, and is of great excitement, is Vintage Masters.

Vintage Masters

Mike Turian began last week with a bang when he announced Vintage Masters. Here are the facts: This set will be online (MTGO) only. It will be non-redeemable, so there will be no new paper copies of any Vintage staples. The set will be “similar in size to Modern Masters.” Packs will be priced at $6.99 (like Modern Masters) and will contain the same 10-3-1-1 split of Commons, Uncommons, Rare/Mythic Rare, and Premium Foil distribution that Modern Master had. But, there’s one major caveat with that last slot in the pack according to Turian:

1 premium foil card (any rarity, including the extremely rare premium foil Power Nine Card), OR 1 Power Nine Card

That’s right, the Power Nine are coming to MTGO outside of cube drafting. Not all the details are known, but it appears that the foil slot in the pack can contain either a foil, a P9 card, or a foil P9 card. The actual distribution numbers are not known at this time, so it’s pointless to speculate on just how many Power Nine cards are going to end up in circulation online. A lot of people are going to want to make guesses one way or the other. Some will say that the distribution will be extremely low to maintain collectible value. Others will say it must be low for a balanced limited format. Meanwhile, there will be those outraged unless they are affordable for everyone. Regardless, we simply don’t know enough to come to any conclusions on the fate of the Power Nine.


A lot of very powerful cards that are staples in Vintage and Legacy are prime candidates to be reprinted in Vintage Masters. Many of these cards have already been printed online, but in limited quantities. Cards that immediately come to many people’s minds are Force of Will, Wasteland, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, and Mana Drain. Also, significant portions of the restricted list are likely to get reprinted, such as Demonic Tutor, Vampiric Tutor, Balance, Library of Alexandria, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Merchant Scroll, Sol Ring, Tolarian Academy, and so on. Finally, there will be plenty of other format staples making a reappearance in Vintage Masters. Likely to be found are such well-known powerhouses like Bazaar of Baghdad, Mishra’s Workshop, Gush, Brainstorm, Dark Ritual, and many, many more.

But what’s the point of it all, really? The cynical point of view is that this is an easy money-grab for Wizards. It costs them very little to produce digital-only sets since they get to bypass the printing costs. In exchange, they’ll sell tons of packs at $6.99 each for a pretty hefty profit. It’s easy to argue that people are paying for a virtual product, which does not exist tangibly, and therefore they are getting ripped off by paying for nothing. Except, this point of view is far from accurate.

Vintage Masters is a product that is seven years in the making. It all began in 2007 with the release of Masters Edition, an online-only set which reprinted cards from Magic’s past on MTGO, with no redemption option, in order to bring those cards to more players. The limited format was very difficult, and people shunned the idea of an online-only set, but it was enough of a success that Wizards stuck with it. In fact, they would go on to make three more Masters Editions, bringing all of the original dual lands to MTGO alongside various format staples finally making Legacy a playable format online.

Then, earlier this year, the first “Masters” set was printed on paper with Modern Masters, a culmination of learning from the four online-only Masters Editions that came before it. Now, we will be given Vintage Masters, the latest and likely the greatest Masters set to date. You may scoff at that claim, especially since it will cost $25 to draft this set, but hear me out. For the first time in nearly 20 years, players will be able to open packs and find Black Lotus, Ancestral Recall, Time Walk, and the rest of the Power Nine. In addition, this set will be loaded with powerful cards. It will almost be akin to cube drafting. Will you first pick Sol Ring all the time? How good is a card like Trinisphere in this kind of environment? The depth of this draft format and the excitement of opening amazingly powerful cards  is going to be far and beyond anything Modern Masters had to offer.

So mark your calendars, because in less than eight months I guarantee we’re all going to be talking about this set non-stop.

Pro Tour Update

13 players moved positions in the Top 25 last week, prior to GP Antwerp. Only one player, Tzu-Ching Kuo, dropped out of the rankings, making room for Canadian player Jon Stern who finished in 2nd place at GP Louisville last weekend. 9th overall in the world heading into this weekend, Stanislav Cifka continues his world tour of domination, finishing in 25th place in Antwerp. (18) Raphael Levy was the only other ranked player to pickup points in Belgium, finishing 51st overall. (11) Jeremy Dezani and (14) Martin Juza were also in attendance, but came up short.
The top prize this weekend went to local student Patrick Dickmann, who took down the event playing an up-tempo Splinter Twin combo deck. The entire top-eight was comprised of unranked players, so perhaps we’ll start to see some people creeping into the official rankings. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see one or two new faces in the list this week.

The Quick Hits

  • Wizards announced Jace vs Vraska will be the spring box set [Magic Arcana]
  • Lorwyn/Shadowmoor take on Alpha/Beta in the Battle of the Blocks [StarCity Games]
  • Jacob Tobey compares testing for local events vs large tournaments [TCGPlayer]
  • Brandon Iselib discusses how his LGS handle sexual harassment [Gathering Magic]
  • Natasha Harrington continues her discussion on the positive power of Magic [Gathering Magic]
  • Mark Nestico educates on becoming a better student [StarCity Games]
  • MJ Scott lists ten easy MTG costumes, though I’m dubious about Earthbind [Gathering Magic]
  • Wen Fun applies Myers-Briggs personalities to EDH Commanders  [LegitMTG]
  • Monique Garraud asked folks anymously how they feel about playing against women [Grinding it Out]
  • Rich Hagon and BDM review Pro Tour Theros [Friday Night Countdown]
  • Nate Laurence is the new owner of LegitMTG [LegitMTG]
  • Conley Woods asks if you’re taking Magic too seriously [Breaking Through]
  • Wizards reminds us that FNM promos are now awful [Magic Arcana]

Wallpaper of the Week

I was hoping for some Commander 2013 wallpaper this week but it looks like we’re sticking with Theros for now and Gift of Immortality, perhaps appropriately, was given the task of following up the five gods of Theros. I actually don’t hate this one, surprisingly. The style is simplistic, and while I think it could have been a little bit sharper, the effect of the clouds juxtaposed with the warrior is very satisfying.

Grade: B+

The Week Ahead

Standard returns to the spotlight in Chile this week with Grand Prix Santiago. Also, Commander 2013 is out this week, so pick that up if you’re into it.

What We Learned is a weekly feature here at Hipsters of the Coast written by former amateur Magic Player Rich Stein, who came really close to making day two of a Grand Prix on several occasions. Each week we will take a look at the past seven days of major events, big news items, and community happenings so that you can keep up-to-date on all the latest and greatest Magic: the Gathering community news.

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