Hello again, Modern Masters! I hope that you all had lovely weekends in Las Vegas, Chiba, Utrecht, or wherever you were (ideally getting to jam some MMA2015). While I had to cancel my Vegas plans relatively last minute, I made up for it by drafting as much Modern Masters as I could. Here are the last four decks I drafted!

Deck #1: BW Spirits

Deck #1: BW Spirits (2-0 split the finals)

Last week, BW Spirits proved disappointing. This time, armed with two copies of Nameless Inversion, three copies of Waxmane Baku, and several powerful flying creatures, I went undefeated. When this deck works, you produce prodigious amounts of card advantage while locking down or outright killing your opponent’s board. It worked this time, unlike last week, because I managed to snag plenty of the BW’s engine cards.

I believe that most, if not all MMA2015 archetypes require good engines more than they require strong cards. Affinity, for example, requires Darksteel Citadel far more than it requires Myr Enforcer, Somber Hoverguard, and Thoughtcast; all those cards are very good in a dedicated Affinity deck, but they’re relatively interchangeable and all require a high affinity count to be good (I’ll still take a Cranial Plating over Darksteel Citadel, since it’s an engine and a bomb). Spirits has three primary engines: Nameless Inversion, Waxmane Baku, and Thief of Hope, which I’d pick in that order.

Nameless Inversion is one of the best black commons and all black drafters will take it highly (so it won’t go late). However, it’s at its absolute best in a BW soulshift deck, and I’ll accordingly take it over pretty much anything (including ‘bombs’ like Hikari, Twilight Guardian and Ghost Council of Orzhova) when I’m in BW. Waxmane Baku and Thief of Hope are next best, and form the backbone of the spirits deck, but they’re lower picks because they’re only good in the spirits deck. If you’re not seeing any copies of them, you’re either fighting with other BW drafters or they’re simply not being opened—in those cases, you should probably jump to another color combination (if another B/x deck is wide open) or stay monoblack and wait for more signals.

When the Spirits deck functions, you have a good matchup against almost every archetype. You loop Nameless Inversion to kill almost all creatures and use Waxmane Baku to lock down your opponent’s remaining (and likely large) creatures. You’re control or tempo-control in most matchups and have game against almost everything. Well, everything except for RG ramp. That matchup seems like a nightmare. That’s also what I drafted thrice, after drafting BW spirits.

Deck #2: Taste the Rainbow

Deck #2: RG Ramp (3-0)

Deck #3: Taste the Rainbow

Deck #3: Taste the Rainbow (3-0)

Deck #4: Taste the Rainbow

Deck #4: Taste the Rainbow (3-0)

Ah, ramp. One of my favorite (and often the most broken of) cube archetypes. You get to play all of your best cards and nonbasic lands (because dying to Price of Progress is cool). It was one of the best archetypes in the original Modern Masters, back when you could splash Maelstrom Pulse and Electrolyze, cast a turn three Imperiosaur, and repeatedly time walk your opponent with Vedalken Dismisser and Aethersnipe.

In MMA2015, there are fewer insane cards worth splashing (like Oona, Queen of the Fae, Elspeth, Knight-Errant, and the Kamigawa dragons), weaker ramp spells than Kodama’s Reach and Search for Tomorrow, and more dependance on intercard synergy. One would expect ramp to accordingly be weaker. Instead, it’s probably the best archetype in MMA. Here’s why:

Savage Twister

1. Savage Twister (drops mic). This card is insane. Every deck in MMA2015 is creature-based and creatures are generally small. Accordingly, Savage Twister is a Wrath of God that’s sometimes a Plague Wind which spares your Skyreach Manta or Matca Rioters. It can and will single-handedly take one from badly losing a game and massively behind on board to stable on board and up on cards. It’s the best card in the deck and the biggest reason to be RG ramp (alongside similar effects like Wildfire and Comet Storm).

Rampant Growth

2. Ramp and fixing are plentiful. Rampant Growth and Wayfarer’s Bauble are the most important cards (and should be taken over almost everything), but you’ve got plenty of redundancy. Fiery Fall is fantastic and bad in most other decks. Evolving Wilds, bouncelands, Sylvan Bounty, Sphere of the Suns, and Alloy Myr all fill in the gaps. Unless you’re fighting with other ramp players, you will get more than enough fixing to taste the rainbow.

Ulamog's Crusher

3. Ramp has plenty of dedicated rewards at common. Dragonsoul Knight, Skyreach Manta, Matca Rioters, Tribal Flames, and Ulamog’s Crusher range from blah to serviceable cards in non-ramp decks, but are great in ramp. They’re low picks, accordingly, since you’ll generally only be fighting for them with other ramp drafters. That’s also saying nothing about uncommons like Pelakka Wurm, Vengeful Rebirth, and Etched Oracle, which are phenomenal in ramp and often unplayable outside of it. I guarantee you that if you draft ramp, you’ll find finishers.

Dampen Thought

4. Lastly, ramp has no enemy in MMA; it’s at the top of the food chain. In MMA2013, ramp had no sweeper to deal with aggressive decks. Now, it has Savage Twister at uncommon. In 2013, ramp had few ways to interact with the UR Dampen Thought/splice-storm deck, nor could it easily get underneath it with aggression (making it a generally lousy matchup). Now, there’s no deck that doesn’t get demolished by Savage Twister. Frankly, I think that there’s only one thing stopping ramp from being the absolute best deck of Modern MAsters 2015: itself.
Crowd Favorites

Ramp may end up being a lot like BR in Dragons of Tarkir or blue in M15; a victim of its own success and popularity. If too many drafters go into the archetype, it becomes so dilute and the other archetypes become so underdrafted (and accordingly, powerful), that all the ramp decks will be awful. My advice for would-be ramp drafters is simple: your engines are Savage Twister, Rampant Growth, and Wayfarer’s Bauble (which should be drafted in that order). If you fail to get those cards, you should be in a different archetype, just as I’d argue BW spirits should generally be avoided if one can’t acquire Nameless Inversion.

That’s all for today. I hope that you’ve enjoyed this foray into Modern Masters. I don’t expect to get many more drafts in, so this’ll likely be it for a while. We’ll be back next week, hopefully with some cube playtesting and theory. And, as always, thanks for reading!

—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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