Magic: The Gathering’s Modern Masters Set Isn't Only For Masters

In my early high school years, Magic: The Gathering was the cool kids’ card game. Granted, the only real competition it had was Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh!. But in my young, enthusiastic eyes, there were few things more intriguing than the monsters and magic depicted in the cards’ beautiful artwork.

Magic: The Gathering’s 2017 Modern Masters set, due for release on March 17, features a selection of cards from sets ranging from Magic 2014 all the way back to Eighth Edition, released 14 years ago in 2003. It also features new artwork on a number of the reprinted cards.

This release has a significant selection of multi-coloured cards — 69, over double the number included in the 2015 set, and over three times that included in the 2013 set. Combined with the inclusion of Guildgate lands (which can produce two different types of mana), triple colour lands, and Signet artifacts (tap and pay one mana of any kind to gain two mana of different prescribed colours), this Modern Masters 2017 is clearly pushing for players to try multi-coloured decks.

Magic: The Gathering players commonly stick to two coloured decks, as they allow versatility without over-complicating mana management. So this encouragement to construct a three colour deck — or even a five colour deck — is exciting. The Modern Masters are an example of how to mix up both your cards and approach to the game — you don't have to wait for the next set release to change up your experience.

Left: The Modern Masters reprint. Right: The original card. Images: Wizards of the Coast

I've only been messing around with the set for a few days, but I haven't yet come across any cards that have jumped out at me, which is disappointing. Though, to a degree, it is to be expected in a Modern Masters set. Rather than being a collection of best hits, like an infomercial CD you can order now with just five easy payments, these sets are more like playlists put together by a DJ. The cards are curated by a game designer, who combines cards across sets and mechanics to find new themes and new ways for them to complement each other that players may not have considered. The result is that while you may not be amazed by any one card, the set as a whole should be cohesive.

One of my main gripes whenever a new Magic set comes out is figuring out how to incorporate the new mechanics into my old decks. Some find their joy in building a new deck for every game, discarding the old and busted for the new hotness. I, however, find my joy in perfecting a small selection of well cared for decks, like sharpening a collection of fine knifes.

It can be frustrating when a mechanic comes out that doesn't appear to work well with previous releases, because even if you are inclined to build a new deck, it feels as though your options are limited to cards within that set (here's looking at you, Kaladesh's energy counters). I found that such problems were lessened with this patchwork set, as the mere fact that it was put together from different sets meant that it didn't introduce any new mechanics and the cards work with previous sets.

Modern Masters 2017 encourages players to experiment, which not only freshens Magic for veterans, but helps less experienced delve deeper into the game. I know I have a white/blue/green Planeswalker that is just begging for her own custom deck, and now I might have the cards to do her justice.


    It might not be only for masters, but it's certainly only for the rich.

    At like $17-$20 per pack and $350 for a box (compared to a regular set, $7 and around $160) it's really not a cheap draft. Gonna wait till everyone else has cracked it, the prices come down, and I can buy the singles I want. Which is a shame, looks like a sweet draft environment.

      I'd wager you could make a hell of a cube using this set as the basis.

        You could, sure, but again it's not a cheap way to go.

        I do have two boxes of Conspiracy 2 sitting there, once we draft them I'm going to make a Conspiracy cube. Figure I should have a pretty decent spread of all the cards there, can bring it back to a more-or-less singleton and maybe pad it with some mana fixing

          Everything uncommon and below should be relatively cheap a few weeks after release. Obviously the chase rares aren't going to work but I think that replacing them with fun draftables would be the fun part of putting the cube together.

            I've been out of the MTG game for a long time now, first I've heard of cubes. Am I doing it right?

              That's what always come to mind first for me. I was introduced the format as "tower", not "cube".

              Now I want to see this person's take on a powered cube.

              For those playing at home, "Cube" is a custom draft format of Magic where you build the booster packs out of a pre-determined pool of cards. Powered Cubes have ridiculously expensive cards in them, including but not limited to the "Power 9".

            Eh, ive already got a mate with a modern-ish cube. Conspiracy cube leads to shenanigans, and i like shenanigans.

            Besides if i had a bunch of these cards I'd put them in commander decks

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