One of the most exciting things about an ordinary set release is getting to draft with a ton of brand new cards for the very first time. However, Modern Masters 2017 isn’t an ordinary set, and its best feature is letting you draft some of your favorite powerful cards from the past again. But, you may be wondering, will my favorite card from Rise of the Eldrazi or Gatecrash still be powerful?
Especially in a set full of reprints, it’s important that we let go of our historical biases and learn how to evaluate old friends in new contexts. Don’t mourn yet- due to the nature of Magic, we’re in luck. In general, cards that are powerful in one format will be powerful in most other formats. However, sometimes things shift in unexpected directions, for better or for worse. Sometimes, the power level of a format will change how good a specific card is in that format. Other times, it’s the speed of the format, or it’s the set mechanics, or it’s something else entirely. In order to get to the bottom of which cards get helped or hurt the most by Modern Masters 2017’s unique draft environment, I scanned the list of cards in the set that might have gone up or down from before.
Winner: Sin Collector
Certain effects scale in power relative to the power of the cards around them, such as ramp, card selection, and targeted discard. Sin Collector is going to be more powerful here than it was in Dragon’s Maze, simply because it’s going to have more powerful things to nab on average. Plus, the fact that it exiles its target gets you extra value against cards with flashback, a mechanic that was nowhere to be found in Return to Ravnica block, but is quite present in Modern Masters 2017- so enjoy the feeling of removing your opponent’s Lingering Souls forever!
Loser: Skyknight Legionnaire
When I think of Skyknight Legionnaire, I think of raw aggression. In the past, the decks that have wanted this card have been trying to end the game before turn seven, especially with the aid of the battalion mechanic from Gatecrash. But this format is much slower than Gatecrash, which was the second fastest draft format of all time, and it has no cards with battalion.
Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, W/R was a heavily supported color pair in the sets where Skyknight Legionnaire previously made an appearance. In Modern Masters 2017’s shard-based world, the practice of straight W/R decks is discouraged, and you’re rarely going to see the color pair in action without green in the middle to weaken your manabase and slow you down. However, the fierce knight is still a good card, and you’ll be glad to have a couple on the rare occasion you fall into an aggro deck.
Winner: Soul Ransom
Soul Ransom is one of those cards that looks crazy on the surface (I mean come on, it’s a Mind Control / Mindculling split card!), but then ends up disappointing you. Soul Ransom is bad for a few reasons, but it’s better now than it was before. In fact, it goes up for the same reason that Skyknight Legionnaire goes down.
When you played this card in Gatecrash, it was on a random 2/2, and then your opponent would look you in the eyes, pay the cost, untap and swing for lethal. One of the reasons why Soul Ransom was so bad in that format was that it just didn’t have a chance to affect the board when games ended that early. With games slowing down a bit in the current format, you might have a chance to make your opponent sacrifice something substantial and swing the game in your favor.
Loser: Mortician Beetle
There’s a reason this little bug from Rise of the Eldrazi was originally printed at rare, and it wasn’t annihilator (although the existence of that mechanic certainly didn’t hurt.) The abundance of Eldrazi Spawn in the set made it easy to make Mortician Beetle huge out of nowhere. While there is a sacrifice theme in black in Modern Masters 2017, it’s not quite at the efficiency of something like Kozilek’s Predator, and you’ll have to do some more work to make your beetle a formidable threat.
You don’t have to have drafted Dark Ascension to figure out that Séance was probably a last-pick rare in that format. Even though Dark Ascension was a graveyard set, the fact that the enchantment didn’t grant its tokens haste combined with the set’s lack of abusable enters-the-battlefield abilities made the card more of a sad running joke than a piece of usable cardboard. In this new environment, Séance’s problems are solved two-fold.
First, while the tokens still don’t have haste, we get to cleverly use our populate cards on them to make copies that will last beyond our next end step. Second, even if we don’t spend all that much time populating, Modern Masters 2017 has plenty of triggers that can get you some real value out of playing a card like Séance. While these factors might not exactly propel Séance to first-pick territory, they still are enticing enough to make me want to give Séance a shot.
Loser: Madcap Skills
Just like Skyknight Legionnaire, Madcap Skills was so good in Gatecrash because of the intense speed of that set’s limited format. Very few opponents had time to 2-for-1 you when you were both trying to bash each other’s faces in as fast as possible. Madcap Skills will still go into Modern Masters 2017’s fast decks, it just won’t go into every deck.
Winner: Dinrova Horror
At the risk of beating a dead horse, I would like to remind you all that Gatecrash was fast, which made slow effects like Dinrova Horror worse. Now is the Dimir wonder child’s time to shine, however, and it’s ready to provide you with soul-crushing card advantage and tempo in a neat package. Not only that, but Modern Masters 2017’s flicker effects are going to get you a lot of juice when you target this bad boy. Momentary Blink starts generating some absurd value, and don’t even get me started on Deadeye Navigator. On top of all this, there are way more tokens here than there were in Gatecrash, which means you’re going to be killing something with the bounce ability more often than you’d expect.
I’m sure that when we get to draft Modern Masters 2017 over the next few weeks, we’ll discover plenty more cards whose fortunes change in the new draft environment. If you discover anything interesting, please feel free to report back and share your findings. Until then, remember to always evaluate familiar cards in their new contexts!
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