The latest installment in the “Masters” series of supplemental products by Wizards of the Coast, 25th Anniversary Masters, will be released to the public on March 16th and is currently in the middle of its one and only week of previews.

Gavin Verhey had a lot to say about this product and about the future of the Masters line in general. 25th Anniversary Masters is somewhat unique in that the product theme is to showcase exciting cards from every expansion in the 25-year history of Magic: the Gathering.

There’s a lot to like about this product, but there’s probably a lot more to dislike based on what we’ve seen so far. Welcome to the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: 25th Anniversary Masters Edition.

The Good

Who doesn’t love nostalgia, right? This set is basically what Time Spiral should have been a decade ago. It’s a supplemental product full of crazy old-school cards that everyone can have a good romp about with but it won’t result in an overly-complicated Standard environment or PTQ limited environment that ruins everyone’s lives for a year or so.

Nostalgia is great but it’s difficult to pull off and Time Spiral was very hit-or-miss. On the one hand, that set was full of throwbacks to old mechanics and old themes as Magic returned to Dominaria for the first time since the end of the Karona wars. On the other hand, having a hundred mechanics in a set wasn’t the best idea for a simple limited environment. New World Order as a way to create more simple and more fun limited environments may have been a direct result of Time Spiral’s complexities.

But, 25th Anniversary Masters hits all of the nostalgia highlights with the benefit of everything Wizards R&D has learned about tuning a limited environment in the last ten years or so. Lightning Bolt, Counterspell, Armageddon, Giant Growth, Ball Lightning, Nicol Bolas, Dark Ritual, Goblin War Drums, and Balduvian Horde are just a few of the high notes this set hits, and there are surely more to come before the full list has been revealed.

The Bad

What on earth is this limited format? Nostalgia for the cards is great but nostalgia for old-style decks is going to skew heavily in favor of one or two colors. Let’s think about this for a second and realize that one of these things is not like the other…

  • Mono-White Tokens
  • Mono-Blue Draw-Go Control
  • Mono-Black Zombies
  • Mono-Red Goblins
  • Mono-Green Elves

So, four colors focused on traditional tribal creature combat and one color gets, hmm, all the best control and draw spells. I wonder if blue is going to be heavily drafted?

Don’t get me wrong, the format might be “fun” (for whatever definition of fun makes it worth $30 to draft) but you might want to value Red Elemental Blast pretty highly even if you’re running mono-black Zombies.

Of course there are still a ton of cards to be revealed, but it’s hard to tell if this is going to pan out to be like Vintage Masters which was fun or Iconic Masters which was “fun” in the sense that Wizards actually apologized for that set.

Time will tell, but I’d draft blue or I’d draft anti-blue if I were you.

The Ugly

You see, when you look at the symbols at this size, on a large screen, you’re probably thinking to yourself, wow, those are distinctly different colors. But when they’re shrunk down to their size on a card frame, and put against a white card’s background, well…

Is that a common or an uncommon? Hard to tell. Sure, you can just check for the letter C or U in the bottom left-hand corner, but overall this is a pretty egregious error that should have been obvious but, well, quality control doesn’t seem to be much of a priority these days (hashtag-card-stock-quality-don’t-forget-to-like-and-subscribe-and-donate-to-my-patreon).

This isn’t even the first time this happened. Anyone remember Coldsnap? Is this a common or an uncommon?

Sure, at high-resolution (thanks Scryfall!) and on a large screen you can easily tell it’s got that silver shading. But the large amount of black shading makes it very hard to differentiate between the common and uncommon expansion symbol while shuffling through stacks of cards.

Honorable Mention

Did they un-ban Jace, the Mind Sculptor just to move product? Doubtful. I’m sure Tree of Redemption would have been sufficient to move product. Just kidding! Ensnaring Bridge and Chalice of the Void plus a bunch of Commander reprints likely would have been enough to push this product pretty hard even without the Jace reprint.

Not to mention plenty of sweet chase rares like Pact of Negation, Summoner’s Pact, Cascade Bluffs (and friends), Mikokoro, Center of the Sea, and this welcome reprint:

Yeah, I think we can lay to bed the speculation that this set needed Jace unbanned in order to push product.

Rich Stein is a retired Magic player, an amateur content creator, and a Level 2 Social Justice Sorcerer. He hopes to eventually become a professional content creator and a Level 20 dual class Social Justice Sorcerer/Bard but he’s more than content to remain a retired Magic player. You can follow his musings on Twitter @RichStein13.

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