7 Quick Tips to Master Your Masters 25 Release Weekend
Happy birthyear, Magic: The Gathering. You're officially 25 years old!
Though we'll return to Dominaria in a little over a month, Magic's nostalgia party is just getting started. Put on your pointy hats and bust out your kazoos, because Wizards of the Coast is giving us players some much-anticipated gifts.
What's the first of those gifts? Masters 25!
Masters 25 is a format unlike anything you've ever played. It's a 249-card, all reprint set featuring cards from the game's entire back catalog of sets. Yes, you read that right. Masters 25 contains at least one card from every Magic set, ever. Those snazzy watermarks in the text boxes represent the set where each card first appeared. And as of today, this amazing gift is finally here!
Before you go sprinting off to your nearest card store, I've got some tips that will make your release weekend even better. Let's get started!
1. Prepare to Draft
Since Masters 25 isn't a Standard-legal set, this weekend's events aren't technically a prerelease. Therefore, you're far more likely to be playing a Booster Draft than a Sealed Deck event. Plan accordingly!
Yes, Masters sets have a higher average power level than do regular releases. But the same rules of drafting still apply, generally speaking. Find the open colors, stick to two colors if possible, and make the best 40-card deck you can. Shuffle up, play, and have some fun.
One more note: Since Masters 25 contains such valuable cards (we'll get to them in a second), a Booster Draft of this set cost more than usual. Were you paying about $12 or $15 for your Rivals of Ixalan drafts? For Masters 25, you'll want to come with double that, if not more.
Yeah, that is a lot to spend on a single draft. But you can earn back that investment (or even surpass it) by opening some valuable cards. And since Masters sets have a limited run, you likely won't draft it more than once, anyway.
2. Get Acquainted With the Money Cards
Remember those high-value reprints I mentioned? Before showing up to your event, get a price check on the whole set.
Some money cards are obvious. Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Imperial Recruiter, Chalice of the Void—you probably already know these are valuable. But don't look only at the rares and mythics. There's plenty of value to be found at uncommon, and sometimes even common!
For those naughty players who don't check prices before showing up, they might get carried away by rarity bias. One might open a Tree of Redemption and think, Wow. We've really done it. After all, it's a mythic rare from original Innistrad, featuring very cool artwork and an unusual ability. To the untrained eye, Tree of Redemption might appear far more valuable than that silly Street Wraith sitting next to it in the pack.
The funny thing is, Street Wraith is actually two times more valuable than Tree of Redemption. The only way to know is to check prices beforehand.
One more thing: be aware of those foil prices. That's because every Masters booster pack contains one random foil version of any card in the set. Foils are always worth more than their non-foil counterparts, so figure out which are worth the big bucks. Don't feel like you need exact figures for every one—just try to get a general sense of what's valuable. This way, you'll be more likely to cover the cost of your draft.
3. Take a Look Through the Spoiler
If you haven't already, browse the spoiler and take some mental notes about what's in the set. If your opponent passes with a white mana up, those who've read the spoiler will know exactly what cards to play around. Those who do not will be in for a birthday spanking.
Another advantage of checking the spoiler: you'll have a clearer picture of possible draft archetypes and synergies. In regards to the former, pay special attention to the gold cards. The presence of Kaladesh's Cloudblazer, for example, makes it pretty clear what blue-white decks should be doing in the format: blinking creatures! You'll also notice cards like Cloudshift and Whitemane Lion which support such a strategy. That's some great insider information to have when you sit down at the draft table.
4. Stay Open During Your Draft
Enough about preparation. Let's talk draft strategy.
I've already drafted Masters 25 twice on Magic Online, so I'd like to share some intel with you. Granted, it's difficult to draw hard conclusions from just two drafts—but hopefully you'll get some ideas about what's going on in the format.
My first Masters 25 pick was Ruric Thar, the Unbowed. (I know, first picking a gold card isn't really staying open. But when you're drafting a two-headed ogre warrior with an axe for a hand, exceptions will be made.) With my second pick, I selected the mono-black Laquatus's Champion.
I picked these two cards knowing it was unlikely we'd play both in the same deck. However, I think that was still the right decision. Because in Masters sets, you get way more playables than usual. Remember, these cards are hand-picked by R&D to make an exciting limited format. That means you can afford to waste more early picks on powerful cards. If you see an excellent card, don't be afraid to speculate on it!
5. Don't Expect Super Synergies
Senior Magic Designer Gavin Verhey wrote it and I agree—Masters 25 is a lot lighter on synergy than its predecessors. Many Masters sets of the past have featured super linear archetypes that demanded very specific components. Think Affinity, Spirits, or Tokens.
The archetypes of Masters 25 feel a great deal more flexible. The design philosophy behind the set, according to Mr. Verhey, is a back to basics style. In the words of the man himself, "it's much more about building traditional archetypes." Forget Fairies or Walls (yes, the latter was a real thing). This set is all about aggro, control, and midrange decks.
I think this commitment to a stripped down, unplugged style of Limited works quite well. The format feels more open since you don't feel like you're at a total disadvantage when you aren't playing some broken strategy.
My first draft deck was a very fair red-green beatdown deck featuring that Ruric Thar I mentioned. (As predicted, I didn't play the Champion.) Thar was about the flashiest card in the deck, yet I still went 3-0. I say this not to brag, but to illustrate exactly how stripped down the format is (and maybe to brag a little). Just draft a solid deck and you can expect good things to happen.
6. Snap Up the "Collect Me" Commons
As a fun little wrinkle to the Booster Draft format, Masters 25 offers a five color cycle of common cards which get better based on the number of duplicate copies you draft. Take a look:
Remember: In Limited, you can play any number of copies of a card you draft or open in a pool—the maximum four copies rule applies only to Constructed formats. I'd recommend drafting and playing any number of the above five cards. No really. Any number.
In my first draft, I played six copies of Timberpack Wolf and it was awesome. I'll admit, I was a little hesitant to do so. I've never played M13 before (the set in which Timberpack was originally printed), so I wasn't sure how good the card would be. Turns out it was amazing—all six copies of it. In my final game and match, I got stuck on two lands but still won thanks to my Timberpack Wolves. I cast one on turn two, another on turn three, and a third on turn four. Oh, and then I cast Echoing Courage.
The earlier you take these collect-me cards, the better. If you snap up every copy you see in packs one and two, any additional copies opened in pack three are likely to float downstream to you. In my draft, for example, I went into pack three with five Timberpack Wolves. I picked up my sixth copy with about five cards left in the draft because for all my opponents, the Wolf was just a 2/2 for two. But for me, it was often a 3/3 for two, and sometimes even larger.
And don't forget. There's actually a sixth collect-me card which can go into any deck:
Self-Assembler is a little less powerful than the others simply because you can't pack too many of them into your deck; most Draft decks aren't playing more than four creatures which cost five mana. Still, Self-Assembler is a solid card. It's worth spending picks to acquire multiple copies.
What's more, Self-Assembler looks for Assembly-Worker creature cards, not just copies of itself. You'll notice that the three drop Assembly-Worker fits the bill. If possible, draft multiple copies of both cards.
7. Have Fun!
Masters 25 is not a cheap set, so I'm guessing you won't draft it quite as much as others. Therefore, make the most of it! Draft strategies that you like, take cards you want to use in your personal collection, and enjoy yourself. Good luck out there!Kyle Massa is a writer and avid Magic player living in upstate New York with his fiancée and their two cats. When he's not writing, you'll find him down at the East Greenbush Flipside store jamming booster drafts. For more of Kyle's work, visit www.kyleamassa.com or follow him on Twitter @mindofkyleam.
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