The latest iteration of Modern Masters hits shelves in two weeks. Spoilers have begun with some flashy rares. Can I interest you in Zendikar fetchlands? How about [casthaven]Damnation[/casthaven] or [casthaven]Goblin Guide[/casthaven]? [casthaven]Snapcaster Mage[/casthaven] is an obvious chase mythic rare. The uncommon ranks are filling up nicely with [casthaven]Inquisition of Kozilek[/casthaven], [casthaven]Terminate[/casthaven], [casthaven]Molten Rain[/casthaven], [casthaven]Path to Exile[/casthaven], and [casthaven]Might of Old Krosa[/casthaven]. Looks like a valuable set to draft!

But what will the draft format be like? Past “masters” sets have tended to focus on hard archetypes for each color pair. With a limited print run, this approach makes sense: players won’t get that many chances to draft the set, so it needs some guideposts to help show the way that a normal will hides for deeper iteration. There’s plenty of room for variation between these reprint sets, but some type of color-based archetypes are sure to be the framework of the format.

So, what hints do we have so far? Here’s a good one:

Can you say three-color shards? I think you can. The whole cycle of Alara tri-lands show up at uncommon. There’s another cycle to confirm we’ll be trying to play Bant and Grixis decks:

Hello friend. [casthaven]Sprouting Thrinax[/casthaven], [casthaven]Sedraxis Specter[/casthaven], [casthaven]Tower Gargoyle[/casthaven], and [casthaven]Woolly Thoctar[/casthaven] round out that uncommon cycle. We may not be totally locked into playing a shard deck, but it sure looks like that’s the main plan.

But there’s another cycle already spoiled that have me a bit more excited. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a full set of ten dual lands at common? We got them in Khans of Tarkir, our last three-color draft format. The life-gain cycle really pushed Khans draft games to go long, as you may be remembering if you’ve been doing the flashback drafts online. I’ll always have fond memories of Khans of Tarkir, but I’d prefer a different cycle than the Khans common duals. Like, say, these little gems:

The gates are basically just dual lands that always enter the battlefield tapped. Being a gate is mostly irrelevant. But Wizards R&D rarely includes mechanics with no significance—occasionally they make cards with tricket text like [casthaven]Baneslayer Angel[/casthaven], but it’s a good bet that if a mechanic appears on cards, it has some significance in Limited. Maybe that means [casthaven]Maze’s End[/casthaven] is getting reprinted. It’s a fun card and might be something crazy to try in draft. But my money’s on this card showing up:

A three-color set needs mana fixing. With all ten gates in the format, the old GCV can help you cast just about any spell in your deck. It might take a couple turns, but I have a feeling you’ll have time for such shenanigans. A tiy defender isn’t that exciting on its own—though we already have [casthaven]Bone Splinters[/casthaven] and [casthaven]Gnawing Zombie[/casthaven] spoiled for sacrifice outlets. But where there’s a gate, there’s a guardian. [casthaven]Axebane Guardian[/casthaven], I mean. Maybe I’m blinded by my love for it, which is one of my favorite Limited cards ever printed. I played a lot of [casthaven]Thoughtflare[/casthaven]s and [casthaven]Skymark Roc[/casthaven]s in my Golgari decks in Return to Ravnica draft. If Modern Masters 2017 offers similar opportunities to go deep, I might bankrupt myself drafting the set.

Magic has a few other sweet “defender-matters” cards that could show up. [casthaven]Vent Sentinel[/casthaven] and [casthaven]Overgrown Battlement[/casthaven] come to mind. Both of those could show up, but there’s another favorite defender of mine that fits the three-color theme a little better. That’s right, I’m talking about the cheddar bay biscuit of blocking:

That’s pretty exciting, but the format needs a lot more than fun defenders. Flashback is, well, back. One of the most beloved mechanics of all time will be taking another turn at the wheel. We already have seen [casthaven]Momentary Blink[/casthaven] and [casthaven]Past in Flames[/casthaven] spoiled. I bet we see this classic:

That fun little number is one of the most beloved Limited cards ever printed. Between flashback and unearth, there’s a lot of graveyard fun going on already. Unearth isn’t exactly the best combo with [casthaven]Spider Spawning[/casthaven], but I bet you can make it work. I doubt they’ll set up the infinite shenanigans with [casthaven]Memory’s Journey[/casthaven] and [casthaven]Runic Repetition[/casthaven], but value spiders play well too. I mean, why not dump a bunch of creatures into your graveyard, make some spiders, then untap and unearth some friends for a big attack? Or just sit behind your wall of tiny reachers to survive while you unearth big bodies until your opponent is dead?

Here’s another card that helps fill your graveyard with creatures, and that also happens to be a solid Modern playable:

[casthaven]Traverse the Ulvenwald[/casthaven] has started to make its presence known in Modern, and this beast is a fantastic tutor target that fills a role beyond simply being a creature. Who needs [casthaven]Temur Battle Rage[/casthaven] on your [casthaven]Death’s Shadow[/casthaven] (also in the spoiler) when this thing does the same thing and can be tutored but not countered? [casthaven]Rubblebelt Maaka[/casthaven] is another great bloodrush card that might show up.

R&D has started to figure out how to balance a draft format around both great slow cards and great fast cards—Kaladesh is the first set that really nails that balance, albeit at the price of being overpowered for Limited in general. Well, masters sets are supposed to be overpowered in Limited, so I’d expect at least one of the extremely aggressive mechanics from Gatecrash to show up here. Might we see [casthaven]Wojek Halberdiers[/casthaven] too?

There’s one more sweet mechanic that I hope to see return:

Populate is a cool mechanic that plays well but is hard to fit into a regular set. Guildmages also tend to take up a lot of space in a format—you can’t have too many cycles of powerful gold cards. But in a masters set, R&D can include one or two fun guildmages without making that a major feature of the format across all colors. Modern Masters 2015 featured [casthaven]Dimir Guildmage[/casthaven] and [casthaven]Selesnya Guildmage[/casthaven]. I expect a couple from Return to Ravnica block to show up this time.

What do you think? What cards are you hoping to see in the full spoiler tomorrow?

Carrie O’Hara is Editor-in-Chief of Hipsters of the Coast.

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