The Kitchen Table #261 - A Hypothetical Masters Edition 3
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In an earlier article I chastised what I thought were poor card choices for Masters Edition 2 because they had been printed online in booster packs already. Now before I go too far some of my readers may be wondering what I am talking about so let’s back up the train and start from the beginning.
Wizards of the Coast has been making sets called Masters Edition for online consumption consisting of cards from before Mirage and the Portal sets. These sets have new commonalities and give players a chance to open up some of the old classics but they come with a cost. The older cards do not meet the demands of the modern color pie so the drafts are a bit wonky. (Which I love!) Also the sets are very limited in their release so you have to get the goods while you can.
I believe that the sets should be providing the online world with cards that were not previously available in boosters. That means cards like Lightning Bolt should be seeing print. I also am fine with them printing cards that were available online but not in boosters. Kjeldoran Outpost was previously a promo and cards like Ashen Ghoul and Brainstorm were from Coldsnap precon decks. I’m fine with their publication.
What I don’t like to see are cards like Pillage and Counterspell. These were already available online in boosters so I do not feel that they needed to be printed again. They also reprinted Giant Growth in the set which is from far too many online sets to count. It appears to me these reprints were done for limited reasons. Sometimes I felt they chose poorly. For example in Masters Edition 2 they reprinted Incinerate which was a mistake to my mind. There were still two unprinted three damage spells in Red online Fire Ambush (A Volcanic hammer from P3K) and Chain Lightning. They could have easily printed one in ME2 and another in ME3 in order to increase the total number of cards available online. They chose not to do so and that is a mistake. The whole purpose of ME is to add cards to online so you should make that choice every time.
In any set Limited play matters. I don’t believe anyone was clamoring for Royal Trooper or Armored Griffin to be printed from Portal and Starter but they were printed nontheless. They were printed to give the colors some cards to help them out in Limited and I appreciate that. I’ll do the same.
A third Masters Edition might be the last one and I’d like to see it be the best of the lot. Each of the previous two have had strong winners (like Moat and Force of Will) alongside major stinkers. I want to massage the stinkers while also helping to include the remaining winners.
MED2 had 245 cards in it 80 of each rarity and 5 snow-covered lands. MED the original had just 195 cards including 15 lands and 60 of each rarity. So it looks to me like I can just choose any amount I want. MED2 included hardly any cards from Portal and Starter sets just Ravages of War Imperial Seal Personal Tutor Temporal Manipulation Sea Drake Imperial Recruiter and a few cards to round out the limited play (like Righteous Fury Brimstone Dragon Angel of Fury Screeching Drake etc). I intend to modify that significantly.
Today I have built my own hypothetical Masters Edition 3. Would you like to take a look? I thought you might.
For the basic lands I have included the Portal: Three Kingdoms lands. Most players do not have them and getting them in black border (and foil) online is rather tasty.
Another problem was good creatures especially at the rare level. They reprinted a ton of the best choices for rare creatures from Seraph and Sibilant Spirit to both Fire and Brimstone Dragons to Ihsan’s Shade and Angel of Fury they grabbed most of the good choices for rare creatures. Look at what I have left. Elder Spawn. Cosmic Horror. Island Fish Jasconius. Mold Demon. Come on now. There are a few good creatures in the rare slot and you’ll see those in my set. However the only way that I was going to improve the quality of the rare creatures and the creatures base overall was to include gold legendary creatures from Legends. I only included those with abilities that might demand people play them. I could not reprint them all so I just chose some favorites and moved on from there.
Since this may be the last gasp I wanted to add a variety of cards to the set and that includes every tribal card out there that has yet to be printed. From Goblin Caves to Heart Wolf to Didgeridoo I wanted to get the last tribals out there. That way fans of dwarves goblins and minotaurs could get the final pieces for their decks. The only exception to this is Tourach’s Gate. I could not in good conscience include it in a set with no thrulls. It should have been printed in MED or MED2 when thrulls were getting printed and now it’s too late. Besides Black was the tightest color around with a lot of good and unusual cards running around than the other colors. Red creatures were also tight and I had to include one extra Red creature at each level to fit them all in and make up for the lack of quality creatures with all of the tribal stuff running around.
Here we are:
We have three flyers the 2/3 Spotted Griffin Carrier Pigeons and inflatable Wild Aesthir. The Pigeons and Aesthir are birds which makes Soraya the Falconer happy. War Elephant works with the Elephant Graveyard included in the set. We have a selection of typical White effects including a Pacifism variant in Serra Bestiary saving creatures moving damage and so forth. Shu Soldier-Farmers are a powerhouse in the limited creature base make no mistake about that.
There are no true Giant Growth effects left so I went with Earthlore in the common set to balance Limited. Argothian Pixies and Fire Sprites work with the faerie tribal cards. Jungle Lion is a reprint a lot of people will be happy to see. Zodiac Rooster is a fun little Plainswalk creature to throw people off. We also have artifact removal a Fog effect land search life gain and creatures large and small. The Whiptail Wurm is the biggest non-rare creature in the set.
Balancing removal for Red is hard. Here I chose to use Chain Lightning and then more Limited supplemental removal in Vertigo Corrupt Eunuchs and perhaps Blood Lust can suffice. Goblin Artisans Hulking Goblin and Goblin Cavaliers work with Goblin Caves and Shrine. Raging Minotaur works with the Minotaur lords later. Heart Wolf is the only tribal creature at common because there is just one Dwarf in the set in Red since most of the others were used elsewhere. Note that Red has one less spell because I included both remaining unprinted Kobolds. Artifact destruction is Primitive Justice joins the chaos of False Orders to round out the color.
Here we have your normal selection of Black commons. A Terror effect is running around with Hand of Death. Weakness adds another traditional style of removal. Moor Fiend gives you a strong swampwalker. Deception is a Mind Rot for the hand. Casting of Bones gives you a very Black way of drawing cards. Insidious Bookworms loves to get sacrificed for various effects. We also have Rats a Shade and other traditional Black abilities here.
Blue has a sub-theme of helping tribes without having any tribal cards itself. Here you see two birds for Soraya and a minotaur as well. Omen is a two mana Ponder. Force Void and Mystic Denial add traditional but poor counters to the mix. Talas Air Ship gives you a solid flyer while other cards add a variety of various abilities to the color. Note that Blue in the early days made mana and this set will have several cards to do that including the common Benthic Explorers.
There are 70 commons.
The ubiquitous angel is here. The uncommons also give us enchantment removal and countering in Arenson’s Aura. Blessing is powerful. False Defeat although virtually identical to Zombify spells gives the set some extra power and a lot of players online will not mind seeing it get reprinted. Rashka the Slayer adds some power and Champion Lancer has an interesting ability. Righteous Charge although a sorcery is very powerful in Limited and gives White something approximating an Overrun. Temple Acolyte is simply powerful to the max and I cannot say enough good things about it.
Because of the tribal presence of Green’s faerie boosters a small number of small flyers appear throughout Green which is normally unusual for the color. Pixie Queen here not only is a small Green flyer but for a lot of mana can Jump another critter into the air. We also have the classic Desert Twister seeing its day as an artifact enchantment land and creature destroyer (and Planeswalker too). Fanatical Fever is the closest this set comes to an actual Giant Growth but it is not good. Nature’s Cloak is interesting. Hunting Cheetah is a very powerful preprint from P3K. Some of the other creatures are okay but not outstanding.
Here we have several tribal cards including Goblin General Dwarven Lieutenant Kobold Drill Sergeant Kobold Overlord and Anaba Ancestor as creatures and Goblin Shrine and Caves as enchantments. Because of the severe tribal theme I added more creatures than normal. Disharmony gives Red its normal trickery and Cinder Storm is a nice little…well…big burn spell. Joven adds to the possibility to axing artifacts for Red. Frost Giant is just a tasty reprint and Ogre Arsonist gives Red its only Stone Rain effect in the set although it is attached to a nice 3/3 body.
Several of these cards do things we’ve seen before but in new ways. Predatory Nightstalker comes into play and Edicts a person. Endless Cockroaches is a nice tool for Johnnies as is Cemetery Gate. Pestilence was not online until now. Gate to Phyrexia gives Black a very out of color way to off artifacts. Spoils of Evil makes mana and gains life but you had better have something to do with the mana or else you will lose the life you just gained. Demonic Torment is just odd and I like it as a result.
Blue’s commons are very weak but this is where it makes up for it. Control Magic Cloud Dragon Strategic Planning - these are cards that can be used to fuel a deck. Reveka is expensive (and is technically a Dwarf continuing the theme of Blue helping other tribal colors out) but can tap to deal two. Energy Tap and Soldevi Machinist join the Blue makes mana theme. Copy Artifact is an established card but with less artifacts in the set than others it’s limited value drops. The same is true for Drafna’s Restoration. Phantasmal Forces is acceptably solid too.
Note that Clockwork Avian is now a bird for Soraya to love. There is a cycle of five legendary creatures here each in two friendly colors.
There are 70 uncommons in the set.
Land Tax is a nice reprint for those interested. Kongming will be a massive casual present and they will embrace this card with open arms. Soraya pumps the various birds in the set. Some of these cards are classic White such as Sworn Defender Angelic Voices Exorcist or Harsh Justice.
There are no good large rare creatures left they have all been used previously so I moved the tribal cards here. Faerie Noble and Willow Satyr assist the other faeries in the deck. Meng Huo can pump all Green creatures including his own Horde at the common level (similar to other reprints in MED2 like Kaysa). Willow Satyr is a nice hoser for the large number of legendary creatures in the set. Green’s rare power lies in its spells not creatures. Channel Fastbond and Regrowth have all had extended stints on the Vintage restricted list at various times. Drop of Honey is odd and Living Lands has long been established as an all in card usually poor because of the gamble although supplemented by Kongming it might be worth the stretch.
Dong Zhou is a favorite at my table and I’m sure audiences everywhere would appreciate a chance to grab them online. Zodiac Dragon is a mega reprint that will whet people’s whistles. Varchild’s War-Riders are a classic creature that will be fun to play. Sedge Troll is a solid card and Anaba Spirit Crafter is the other minotaur lord. Two-Headed Giant will also make some people smile. Brand of Ill Omen is interesting Fork is a known quantity Goblin Warrens join the goblin tribal theme and Devastation is a better (or worse) Jokulhaups for one more mana. It will keep artifacts around which you can build around making it potentially much better than other strategies.
Dread Reaper is a typical Black creature. Guardian Beast helps other artifacts. Sorceress Queen The Wretched and the Minion are good enough to help the color. Rain of Daggers adds to Black’s selection of mass removal spells from Plague Wind to Damnation. Word of Command might be really powerful or relegated to the casual rooms but let’s give it a chance. Grim Tutor is a reprint that will make a ton of people happy. Finally All Hallow’s Eve is not as good as other cards but with the modern tech of suspend the card has been cleaned up so it’s time to give it the light of day.
The Blue rares are hit and miss but I suspect most won’t mind seeing the hits of Old Man of the Sea and Mana Drain here. The reprinting of Stasis may not make many friends but it is a classic Blue card and if people want to try and break it in Online Classic or Legacy they have to get through a lot in order to do it. Transmute Artifact likes the artifacts running around in the set. Recall was once restricted but that time is long since gone and there’s no reason not to reprint it. Serendib Djinn might see play in a Blue Skies sort of deck. Thing from the Deep and Marjhan are just typical big Blue dumb creatures. Piracy is subtle and nice.
Didgeridoo is a minotaur enabler. Illusionary Mask can be used with Phyrexian Dreadnaught to make powerful decks and might have an impact online. Black Vise is obviously a powerful tool for the right decks but the eternal formats are so fast even online that it might not matter much. Ashnod’s Altar is a fun tool for Johnnies. Ring of Ma’ruf is not good but it is fun. Sword of the Ages is so... um… powerful that it was restricted once. Long ago. Now it’s just okay but very expensive. Perhaps time will be kind again to Candelabra of Tawnos and Cyclopean Tomb will be a hit for the casual crowd.
There is no surprise with the placement of the other five duel lands in this set. The remaining three lands are bombs that will have serious impact. Bazaar has a lot of value for its use it sifting filtering putting cards in the graveyard and so forth. Maze of Ith is a major tool for players everywhere and The Tabernacle can just hurt various creature decks. In Limited Ogre Arsonist and Desert Twister can take out these cards and both are good enough to get played main deck so there are answers.
Rohgahh of Kher Keep
Gwendlyn Di Corci
Jacques le Vert
Of the cycle of Elder Dragon Legends two just have an additional keyword (one has trample the other has rampage). I chose to add the other two which have other abilities one Castles your team and the other pumps in three colors.
There are a lot of other gold legendaries here and no attempt was made to balance these out from a color perspective. Some are good in limited some in constructed and others are just hanging on. Rohgahh is a Kobold enabler. Note that Rubinia Soulsinger is a faerie and plays well with other faerie lords.
Some are cheap like Halfdane or Tetsuo Umezawa. Others have some serious expense like the Elder Dragons. Rasputin Dreamweaver is a classic. People have tapped Nebuchadnezzar for years. Ramses Overdark is another classic. Gwendyln Di Corci is a legend that everybody knows and has a serious reputation in the game of Magic. Stangg is a clever card. Gabriel Angelfire is a fun card that a lot of players like.
There are 80 rares instead of 70 like the other rarities. Unlike a real life set where the numbers tend to match (probably for printing reasons) with an online set you can do anything you want and so I made this a bit rare heavy to get in a lot of fun legendary creatures.
I hope you like the result. I spent a lot of time on this project probably about seven or eight hours poring over cards spoilers and building the set in a database program. The result is a fun set printing pretty much every card left that has value except for those that are overwhelmingly powerful (Ancestral Recall Demonic Tutor Strip Mine Time Vault Moxen Sol Ring Mana Vault Time Walk Library of Alexandria Timetwister Balance Wheel of Fortune and Black Lotus) or problematic (Chaos Orb Shahrazad Falling Star).
I was surprised at some of the cards that are not available online and was happy to bring some of these classics of Magic back. From Pestilence and Blood Lust to Sorceress Queen and Desert Twister there are some cards out there that are classics of the color and it’s important to give players a chance to acquire these cards.
I also really worked Portal for some cards. Although some like Jungle Lion are likely to be tournament caliber and played frequently most of the cards are useful for casual players or limited events. I don’t think anyone was clamoring for the reprint of Thing from the Deep Spotted Griffin or Whiptail Wurm. On the other hand cards like Zodiac Dragon Kongming Shu Soldier-Farmers Rain of Daggers Meng-Huo Corrupt Eunuchs Predatory Nightstalker or Endless Cockroaches are likely to be big hits with the causal crowd.
I expect a few Portal and Starter imports to have value in decks outside of the casual room. Those will probably be Hunting Cheetah Strategic Planning Jungle Lion perhaps Devastation Grim Tutor Temple Acolyte and Ogre Arsonist.
I believe this would be a fun Masters Edition 3 with the needed cards some fun cards cards for spikes johnnies and timmies and a set that fills a lot of holes by printing the remaining duel lands tribal cards power cards that aren’t too powerful and more. From legendary creatures to kobolds from Green faeries to minotaurs from Portal to original set cards these run the gamut from power to limited from casual to tournament. I hope you fund some cards in here that you enjoy and thanks for reading!