This Month in Magic: Ultimate Maaaaaaasters

WRITTEN BY

Howdy folks, and welcome to yet another edition of This Month in Magic! I'm Joe, and I'm back with some more chatting about what's going on in the world of Magic.

Before we get started, I want to note that I'm currently doing a contest on Twitter where I am giving away five sets of Vintage Masters Power Nine on Magic Online to five lucky winners! If you're interested in checking it out, check out this Twitter post! The contest runs through the end of the month so there's plenty of time left to enter.

Now that we got the hullabaloo out of the way, let's talk about some Magic.

 


If you haven't heard, a big Eternal MTG event happened at the beginning of November. U.S. Eternal Weekend was some sweet times, but unfortunately an event I missed out on making it out to this year as I had just returned to home from Wisconsin the week before. Awkward. Regardless, it was awesome to see copious amounts of Legacy and Vintage on camera, and of course awesome to see winners Brian Coval and Patrick Green take down Vintage Champs and Legacy Champs respectively.

Ultimate Cash Grab

Moving forward, if you've been living under a rock, you might not know that there's another Masters set coming. As in, next month. As in, December 7. Wizards decided to clue everyone in on this by mailing out a bunch of "Ultimate Box Toppers" as a preview to those users who had tried to use the atrocity that is Hasbro Toy Shop to order the Guilds of Ravnica: Mythic Edition and either failed (called it) or had issues (called it again). Even users who actually ended up getting their boxes got a Box Topper for their issues.

During that weekend we were inundated of pictures of those cards, showing off some incredibly spicy reprints from Cavern of Souls to Liliana of the Veil. Full art and foily just like the Mythic Edition Planeswalkers, a lot of speculation was thrown about the meaning of the cards. A lot of folks speculated that they were Buy-a-Box promos, and in a way, they were right.

Enter Ultimate Masters, a Masters set to end all Masters sets. Literally. UMA is set to be the last Masters set in quite a while—this I feel is a good thing. Masters sets have had a very strong identity crisis and a big problem is knowing who their audience is. Are they for collectors or are they for players who just want cheaper access to cardboard? Are they for Modern players or for Eternal players? Does Wizards themselves even know? Players clamor for awesome reprints but then forget that Masters sets are designed for drafting, so of course, they're going to include lots of cards that are good in Limited and not exactly always Constructed-quality cards.

Iconic Masters and Masters 25 didn't really help this perception. Those players getting swept away by the hype of Ultimate Masters forget that the hype levels for both IMA and A25 were similar (and let's not forget that Wizards actually apologized for IMA and called A25 the "Masters Set you've been waiting for"). As it stands, Wizards' track record for Masters sets is actually pretty abysmal.

Now, of course, none of this would be any surprise with Ultimate Masters if it were sold at a regular price point. But Wizards decided that they wanted to not acknowledge the secondary market by inadvertently acknowledging the secondary market by making the MSRP of a box of 24 packs $335. This even came with a statement of "Yes, we know this isn't for everyone," but again, this boils down to the argument that Wizards themselves don't even know who they're designing these sets for. To "justify" this price increase, we go back to the Box Toppers: Each box will contain a sealed Box Topper inside.

The real issue at hand here is, of course, the hype level over 40 cards in a set of 249. I may be a little pessimistic here, but I'm not impressed. Are the reprints they've shown us already pretty great? Sure. There are some cards that dearly needed a reprint (Karn Liberated, Noble Hierarch) for instance, but it also comes with cards at mythic like Temporal Manipulation (whose value is propped up by the fact that it was printed in a Portal set and a Judge promo) and Lord of Extinction as well as Balefire Dragon. There are also a few cards that in my opinion didn't really need the reprint, but they did it anyways. The Eldrazi Titans do carry a small price tag, but they're nowhere near on the level of cards like Noble Hierarch or Liliana of the Veil do.

While there are some solid rare reprints mixed in (Ancient Tomb looks amazing, and Through the Breach has the best new art out of every card spoiled), we still have to consider the fact that we only know about 40 cards. There's still 209 (well, 208, thanks Entomb) that we know nothing about yet. I can easily speculate on at least one rare, Dig Through Time, because of the packaging artwork. A card that's banned in every major Constructed format and restricted in Vintage. So, great value there guys.

Long story short, I'm not super thrilled with the idea of Ultimate Masters and its price tag, and while it will for sure have some effect on prices, I think the hype level will peter out once people start getting their boxes. It's a pretty common effect of the last two Masters sets, and I don't think this one will be any different. Spoilers start today so let's see if my pessimism is warranted. 

Modern!

It probably comes as a surprise to some people that being as big into Eternal formats as I am, I actually relatively enjoy Modern as a format. I've tried my hand at a lot of different things the format has to offer, from Scapeshift decks to Control, but the one archetype that's always managed to draw me in has been Dredge. I played the deck before Golgari Grave-Troll got re-banned and then recently got back into the deck with the printing of Creeping Chill.

I've been pretty pleased with the deck as I continue to play and tune the list, but the past two times I've played it at Friday Night Magic, I've gone 3–0–1 and 3–1 respectively, even somehow getting to beat Martyr Proc on camera in a 2–1 match.

Speaking of my Friday Night Magic's though, I would like to give a shoutout to my LGS, Epic Loot Games & Comics, because they are indeed super awesome, and an even bigger shoutout to our local area judge Eric Searfos-Miller, who you can find on Twitter here. Very recently we brought in around 104 players between two Modern FNM-type events and a Standard FNM event all in the same night. Insane. Not to mention, they also stream their events! Very cool stuff.

Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have for this month folks! I hope you all have an awesome Turkey Day month, and we'll be looking forward to next month when we can hopefully have more interesting things to talk about besides cash grabs (doubtful).

Until next time!

Joseph Dyer (@volrathxp) is an avid Legacy enthusiast. He's admin of the /r/NicFitMTG subreddit, as well as a regular participant on the Source and MTGLegacy subreddits. His knowledge of the Legacy format is deeply rooted in constant analysis, playtesting, and lots of discussion of the format. Joseph's primary accomplishments include a 10–5 finish at GP Columbus 2016 with Rhino Fit, and a 32nd place finish at SCG Columbus Legacy Classic with Sneak Fit. 

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