The phantom draft pods of Masters 25 are cheap online, so I decided to give them a whirl. The format is supposedly all about nostalgia, and it includes cards from every set in Magic’s history, more or less. In other words, it has a lot of good blue cards. Seriously, I’m sure you can do powerful things in other colors of Masters 25, but for me it is all blue all the time. The drafting process is made easier by how many great blue cards pop up in each pack.

I did three drafts, and all three were blue. My first was a blue-white value-morph deck with nothing especially powerful. I went 2-1, losing in the final round. That deck was a lot of fun—Cloudshifting a Cloudblazer in response to Lightning Bolt never gets old. But my favorite card was Willbender. In cube, Willbender seems like more hassle than it’s worth most of the time. Who plays removal anyway? But in Masters 25, the removal is not that plentiful, and the blowouts when you redirect it are intense.

Then there’s this inexplicable game state:

My opponent obviously wasn’t doing a whole lot, but I was slowly chipping away against the turn two Nyx-Fleece Ram. By some stroke of luck, my opponent decided to block my Man-o’-War with the ram, put the summoning-sick Stampede Driver on my morph, followed by Giant Growth. Instead he had an 0/5 blocking a 5/5 and a 1/1 blocking a 1/2. Oops.

The true star of this deck was Kongming, Sleeping Dragon. Who needs Favorable Winds in your Azorius fliers deck? Making morphs into 3/3s is good work, and Dauntless Cathar proved especially good. I guess having two Merfolk Looters didn’t hurt either.

My second draft went blue-black. Nothing good came my way, other than the usual commons and stuff, but I did pick up Hell’s Caretaker to go with three Bloodhunter Bats. That seems pretty bad, but then I end up here in the final round:

Yes, I ran into an Ensnaring Bridge prison deck and won by chaining Bloodhunter Bats for six turns. My opponent was not happy. But their deck didn’t do much, at least after I Plague Winded away all the tokens and garbage. Returned Phalanx is still great, by the way. I don’t think Plague Wind is good, though. Nine mana is too much, and I had it stuck in hand during the opening round while I lost to moderate aggression.

My third draft went the best, perhaps because I started out staring down Jace, the Mind Sculptor for my first pick. Yes, please. I love playing with planeswalkers in draft, so I didn’t mind the phantom whammies too much. Here’s the deck I ended up with:

Jace is ridiculous in draft, of course. The rest of the deck was a ton of fun. It’s not quite Upheaval/Psychatog, but you get the idea. Zulaport Cutthroat is my kind of card, and I loved having two sacrifice outlets to combine with them along with the amazing-in-this-deck Living Death. As a straight-up wrath, Living Death can be hit-or-miss in a Limited game. But I could reliably set up to sacrifice my board and get it all back while sending the opposing board to the grave. My lack of removal spells helped, as I rarely actually killed opposing creatures.

I even managed to pick up Street Wraith and Horror of the Broken Lands for full cycling value. There aren’t enough cyclers around to make the Horror much more than a 4/4, but I did manage to cycle Street Wraith while tapped out in response to Chandra’s Outrage on my Horror in one game. These are the small moments we live for.

And then there are the big moments. I call this one, “I’m dead to Counterspell anyway.”

Yes, I cycled Street Wraith and sacrificed my board to Phyrexian Ghoul before Living Death into this board. I didn’t have much choice, and the result felt great. Oh yeah, this was a Jace mirror. I did this game one, then stuck a turn four Jace in game two for the ultimate rub-ins. I usually prefer to play face-to-face rather than online, but in this moment I was happy I didn’t have to see my opponent’s expression. I mean, how do you handle losing like that?

Overall, Masters 25 seems fun to draft. Blue is very good, and that’s no surprise. I can’t give any tips on how to open Jace, the Mind Sculptor, but I recommend Counterspell, Exclude, Ghost Ship, Willbender, Murder of Crows, Fathom Seer, Man-o’-War, and Mystic of the Hidden Way. I’m not sure how much value there is in cracking real packs, but you can have a lot of fun at a reasonable price in the phantom queues.

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

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