Modern Masters Reactions

I don’t actually play much Modern, but like many other MTG addicts, I’ve been following along as pieces have been revealed and planned a trip to Vegas with the MM Grand Prix as my flimsy excuse to go. Now that the whole set is out and I’ve gotten to play it I thought I’d share some of my reactions:

• The limited environment is fantastic. Kudos to Erik Lauer and everyone else involved for another absolute home run. (I say “another” because the esteemed Mr. Lauer was also lead developer of Innistrad, which was also a tremendous limited environment.) The boxes have 24 packs with the obvious intent to draft, and wow, it’s fun to draft and to play. I wasn’t actually playing for most of the Modern run and it was terrific to see all these archetypes that I’d heard about but never actually played. The strategies seem well-balanced and fun things abound. I don’t think it’s possible for me to say quite enough here about how good this was to draft. I’m not sure it will go quite as well as a sealed environment, but we’ll have to see. But there was all kinds of cool stuff going on all over the place at my FLGS’s MM draft event, such as:

– A mono-red Storm player won by suspending four Rift Bolts on turn four, then on turn 5 following those with two Grapeshots. GG.
– I lost a game to turn 3 Vedalken Shackles followed by Kira, Great Glass-Spinner. However, I won the match in game 3 by countering a key Peppersmoke with a (foil) Spellstutter Sprite. (Note: I had never played Faeries before. Wild mirror.)
– A rebels deck winning where something like 18 of the damage in the game was dealt by 4 copies of Blightspeaker.
– A match won by one player playing Lotus Bloom on turn 1 both games, then getting one of the Kamigawa dragons on turn 3—two different dragons in the two different games.

• I will say that I am flummoxed by a couple omissions from the set. Note that this is not because I desperately wanted these cards or that I’m upset that they weren’t included, but I just found certain omissions very surprising. These were the two: Thoughtseize and Remand. I seem to recall that both of these cards have been labelled “too good to be reprinted in Standard” so I was surprised they wouldn’t be reprinted here, because they don’t seem like they’d adversely affect the limited environment to have those around (assuming Thoughtseize would come in at Rare). I guess I was a little surprised, though less so, that Cranial Plating and Mutavault were also not printed (though I’d think Plating would be an uncommon in this environment). Great to see Lightning Helix and Elspeth, Knight-Errant, though.

• The set’s “limited” print run is a bit of a problem. I understand that WotC is trying to walk a very fine line here, trying to bring more people into Modern while stabilizing the prices on the money cards but not collapsing them. I acknowledge that’s a difficult task. However, so far it looks like it might have gone a little too far on the side of the collectors, which, frankly, seems like the wrong direction to go. Maybe it’s because I’m not that much of a collector, but I’d rather see cards in play than cards being hoarded for dollar value. Boxes being sold for $300 and local stores running $50-60 drafts is just ridiculous. Why put in the effort to make this a fantastic draft set if it’s going to be prohibitively expensive to draft it? If the goal is to support draft, then it’s got to be at least kind of affordable to draft. If the set is primarily for collectors, why worry so much about the limited environment? Seems like a very mixed message. Again, I realize this is a difficult line to walk and WotC has a tough job to do here, but it does appear they fell over one side of the line, and unfortunately I think it’s the wrong side. Maybe it’s just that I want more drafts!

So, the TLDR version: home run in terms of draft fun, too bad it’s so co$t-prohibitive to make one happen.