It’s been a huge week for Magic – we’ve seen a new world champion, the rise of Daneblast, and perhaps most exciting of all, the announcement of Modern Masters 2.

The first Modern Masters premiered two years ago and was a smashing success. Its only Grand Prix, in Las Vegas, holds the record for largest TCG tournament ever. As a Limited format, Modern Masters was among the most powerful and complex we’ve seen in a long, long time. It kindled enthusiasm for Modern and made many of its staples more widespread and affordable (even though its high rarity reprints, like Tarmogoyf and Dark Confidant only increased in price). Can Modern Masters 2 stand up to the hype? What will it look like?

unexpected results

The original Modern Masters had clearly defined draft archetypes (with plenty of cards that fit in multiple archetypes, like Marsh Flitter, and cards that didn’t fit cleanly in one, like Moldervine Cloak). Presumably, most, if not all of MM2’s draft strategies will be different from the original’s. Here’s what they were and the sets they were originally draft archetypes in:

WU – Affinity/Robots (Mirrodin block + Shards of Alara’s Esper)

UB -Faeries (Lorwyn block)

BR – Goblins (primarily Lorwyn block)

RG – Suspend/Storm (Time Spiral block)

GW – Tokens/Thallids (Time Spiral block)

WB – Rebels (Time Spiral block)

UR – Arcane/Storm (Champions of Kamigawa block + Time Spiral block)

BG – Dredge/Graveyard (primarily Ravnica: City of Guilds + Time Spiral block)

RW – Giants (Lorwn block)

UG – Ramp (relied heavily on Champions of Kamigawa’s Kodama’s Reach, Time Spiral’s suspend cards, and Mirrodin’s sunburst cards)

Deep Analysis

We see several different flavors of tribal deck: Faeries, Goblins, Thallids, Rebels, and Giants all encourage playing a specific type of creature. Affinity is also a tribal deck, of sorts – it encourages playing synergistic artifact creatures. Modern Masters 2 could explore other tribes – Elves, Treefolk, Merfolk, and Spirits are likely candidates, although we could see the rarer Kithkin, Ninja, or Elemental types supported. Additionally, the Morningtide classes could become archetypes (though they do suffer from the fact that ‘class’ is not easily distinguished by art as ‘race’ is).

We also see that the majority of draft archetypes hail from Time Spiral and Lorwyn. There are plenty of archetypes and mechanics to port from the less-used blocks. Ravnica: City of Guilds could support Dimir mill, Boros blitz, a +1/+1 counter theme with Simic, or Gruul stompy (to name a few options). Unearth (to reinforce a graveyard strategy), Exalted (to reinforce W/x aggro), and Cascade (to be awesome in anything) could make for exciting mechanics from Shards of Alara (though Exalted would suffer a tad since MM2 won’t contain Magic 2012). Shadowmoor could encourage monocolor strategies with hybrid mana cards or reward multicolor drafters with Eventide’s mimic cycle.

Future Sight

In short, there’s a lot of untapped design space in the original Modern Masters . Of course, Modern Masters 2 will not only subsume every set from the original (8th Edition to Alara Reborn), it will also add Zendikar block, Scars of Mirrodin block, Magic 2010, and Magic 2011. This adds a wealth of new strategies (as well as potential chase cards).

Zendikar could introduce the Ally tribe, support hyperfast aggressive decks, or lead to a landfall theme. Rise of the Eldrazi brings a host of archetypes, from WU levellers (which is, admittedly, restricted to the one set and very parasitic), Aura Gnarlid/totem armor, and UR Kiln Fiend to R/G Eldrazi spawn and R/G/B Eldrazi ramp (a likely choice, since Emrakul, the Aeons Torn will be in MM2).

Scars of Mirrodin could push Affinity in a more color-heavy direction with R/W Metalcraft (a near-certain returning mechanic, given the reprinting of Etched Champion), support B/G poison/wither, or encourage multicolor play with Phyrexian mana spells. Proliferate could also have wonky interactions with everything from +1/+1 counters and charge counters to poison counters and level counters (imagine if Contagion Clasp were a common!). In short, there are a lot of options to choose from.

Now, I could provide a series of possible archetypes (technically, I already have), but I’d like to ask you for your thoughts. What archetypes do you believe will exist? What do you think each color pair will be predisposed to do? Do you expect that tricolor (or more) or colorless archetypes will be encouraged? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Worry Beads

On a different, but related line of thought, Grand Prix Las Vegas has been been nagging at me. I was there in 2013 for the original MM Grand Prix, and it was absurd—I’m delighted that I went and have been eagerly anticipating another. Wizards announced that there will be not one, but three MM2 Grands Prix next year, and all will be on the same weekend (so one can’t attend more than one). They’ve organized the events so that all of them can concurrently tie or break GPLV’s record. I’ve found my initial excitement give way to a fair amount of hesitation (it’s excited hesitation? Hesitant excitement?).

First of all, I believe that Grand Prix Las Vegas was so successful because it wasn’t competing with any other Modern Masters Grands Prix. It was the only one, so over 6,000 Magicians flew from all over the world to be in attendance. Now, European and East Asian players will have far more accessible events. This is great, ’cause traveling’s expensive. This will also make breaking records (if that’s Wizards goal) more unlikely – if twice as many players attend as did two years ago, they’ll be distributed among three events and none will have close to GPLV’s attendance. This should make each event better, since enormous events make for logistical nightmares, but will also make each pale in comparison to the grand absurdity of the original, and only, Modern Masters Grand Prix. Or I could be wrong and every Magic player ever will be out for the greatest and craziest weekend of Magic ever (well, until MM3 comes out two years later).

Secondly, the MSRP for MM2 boosters is $10 ($7 online) and the printing will be limited (as was MM). With MM, boosters and boxes were generally impossible to find at the $7 MSRP and routinely sold for $12 each. Hopefully, MM2 will actually sell for MSRP (not at all guaranteed with it having a limited print run), but even if it does, it means we’re looking at $30+ drafts. That’s an outrageous price (that many of us, yours truly included, will still pay), but it will make getting in multiple drafts to practice and improve difficult.

Lastly, and on the same topic, there will only be a week between MM2 releasing (5/22/2015) and the GP weekend (5/30/2015). This is a very short window that might not allow folks time to get in many, if any drafts, before descending on Chiba, Utrecht, or Las Vegas. MM had twice as many time between its release (6/7/2013) and GPLV (6/22/2014), which isn’t a lot of time, but is appreciably more. I’m curious why Wizards made this choice (to encourage folks to play MM2 for the first time at the GP).

Goblin Snowman

That’s all for this week, folks. Don’t forget to vote on our next Flashback Draft (the vote’s tied right now). I hope that you enjoy your holidays, whatever they may be.

—Zachary Barash

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 and improviser, creating entire musicals from scratch every week. Zach has an obsession with Indian food that borders on being unhealthy.

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