Predicting Masters 25 Reprints
Good news. Masters 25 spoiler season officially begins in less than a week. We already got a sneak peek at Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Azusa, Lost but Seeking, but there are plenty more where they came from. What else might we expect to see?
Before we get started, let's take a moment to recall everything we know about the set so far. Here's the official description from Daily MTG: "A Masters set that celebrates the 25 years of Magic's history." From an aesthetic standpoint, each card will also bear a watermark of its original set.
Maybe not super descriptive. However, in last year's official Announcement Day video, we've been told that Masters 25 will have "249 cards from across Magic's entire history." And Head Designer Mark Rosewater promised us "stuff from every single set."
Wow. So we should even expect to see cards from Alpha. Now that we know what to expect, here are my predictions for the cards we'll see in Masters 25. For the purposes of this article, I'm going to stay away from the more obvious choices, such as Lightning Bolt. Instead, I want to focus on cards that have never been reprinted, or have only been reprinted a handful of times. Here we go!
No, not with the original Legends artwork. I'm talking about the Nicol Bolas art you see above, which made its debut in From the Vault: Dragons, the very first of these sets. Alexander Gregory knocked it out of the park with this one. While the original art could be described as "classic," it doesn't quite capture the menace and power that we've come to associate with the modern treatment of the character. This version certainly does.
There's previous precedent for Masters sets to feature rarely released artwork on their reprints. In fact, we've already seen this for Azusa—her Masters 25 art is from a judge foil. Furthermore, I think it would be difficult to have a set that's representative of Magic's first 25 years without the game's greatest villain. Expect to see him at mythic rare.
Wizards included Jace, the Mind Sculptor in this set knowing it would be legal in Modern. Why not do the same with Bloodbraid Elf?
Bloodbraid is one of those classic cards that slots well into almost any environment. It made an appearance once before in Eternal Masters, for example, where it was a high pick, but certainly not overpowered. I think players would love seeing her back again. Question is, which of the three artworks do they use?
As the progenitor of an entire tier-one Modern archetype, this card is in desperate need of a reprint. The first and only time we saw it was in 2008's Morningtide, so it's certainly been a while. Plus, it carries a price tag of nearly $50, so it get it back into circulation.
Animar, Soul of Elements
For Commander players who bought any of those pre-constructed decks, you probably already know how amazing they are. In my opinion, they're still the best Commander decks ever printed. All of the legendaries, including Animar, perfectly capture the wedge color identity. Furthermore, they all feel super diverse and even have gorgeous artwork.
Almost every set these days is designed with Commander players in mind, and the Masters sets are no different. Look out for this elemental. Though it was originally printed at mythic, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Animar appear at rare in Masters 25.
Originally printed at uncommon, this is a classic land from Tempest. (Not sure how it ever got printed at that rarity, but oh well.) Even though it costs a lot of life, this is an incredibly powerful land. It sees play in Commander, Legacy, Vintage, and Cube.
Another plus for reprinting this one: the artwork still stands up to modern standards. Though these sets are known for their new artwork for classic cards, Masters 25 is likely going to play on nostalgia more than any other set. This is a celebration of Magic's history, after all, so it's likely that we'll see more of Magic's classic art than we might otherwise.
So far as I know, this is the only Land Creature in Magic's history, which seems like a good reason to add it to a historical set. It combos famously with Green Sun's Zenith (X equals zero, fetch this from your library). Could Green Sun's appear in the set alongside its friend? Possibly.
Masters 25 is probably the product best suited to get this card back into circulation. It's certainly not a good fit for a Standard legal set, and Commander seems unlikely as well. A Masters set is the way to go because it gets the card into circulation again without format-warping effects or issues in balancing preconstructed decklists.
Another Modern staple without a reprint. This one is certainly combo-tastic with Cascade cards (such as the newly unbanned Bloodbraid Elf) and is definitely an oft requested reprint. It also works with the Mono Blue version of its namesake deck, the one which uses As Foretold. My one request: keep the artwork! Greg Staples did a fantastic job on this one.
Now here's an interesting one. Originally printed at rare, modern design standards now classify Savannah Lions as a common. And since it first came out in Alpha (Magic's original set), I'd say this is an excellent opportunity to reprint it at common.
Word of Command
Speaking of Alpha reprints, how about this one? Forget Cryptic Command. This is the Command we've all been waiting for. Word of Command wins games by timing opponents out; they'll spend the rest of the match reading the card over and over, wondering what it actually does. And what is that picture supposed to be? Great win con for any black deck.
Just kidding. Back to business.
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
Now this is what I'm talking about. Ugin is an important character in Magic's lore, and he's never been reprinted outside of Fate Reforged. (Yes, there was an alternate art version for the supplemental Ugin's Fate, but technically this was still part of the original set.)
What I like most about this reprint is its implications for the future. WOtC has hinted at Ugin's relevance to the world that they've created. Reprinting him in a celebrating-the-game type set would be confirmation of that. Plus, if we assume that Bolas will appear, it makes perfect sense to have the yin to his yang included in the set.
The Ally Fetch Lands
It's been a while since we last saw these ones—four years, in fact. Though they're probably not quite as in-demand as the enemy-colored fetches, they've gone longer without a reprint. And they're as powerful as ever.
Since the Khans of Tarkir versions are so dragon-themed, they could even go with new art for each one. Or maybe they'll use the Onslaught art. Either way, I think these would be great inclusions. Players reacted quite positively to the Modern Masters 2017 fetch lands, so I think another round of them would go over well. These are essential for most Modern decks, after all, so printing more of them has to be a good thing.
Every Masters set has a tribal theme, so I think Masters 25 will, too. Goblins are one of the original and most beloved of all Magic tribes—they've been around since Alpha! So why not include one of the original lords, Goblin King?
With the inclusion of so many goblins in Ixalan, I think goblins are set to make a comeback in the forthcoming Dominaria. Further support for my theory: R&D loves to seed themes between sets, even if they don't necessarily intersect in every format. Just look at all the vampires in both Commander 2017 and Ixalan block. Though you can't play your Edgar Markov in Standard, you can certainly play your Elenda, the Dusk Rose in your Markov Commander deck. That was an intentional overlap, one which I think will be mirrored in Masters 25.
Vintage players rejoice! Next to Wasteland (which we already saw in Eternal Masters), this might be the most iconic land destroying land in Magic. In fact, it's so powerful that it's only legal in Vintage and Commander. And even in Vintage (the most powerful format there is), it's restricted.
Perhaps the best one-mana cantrip of all time, Preordain is far better than it looks. It's so good, in fact, that it's banned in Modern. Playing four of these increases deck consistency to an unfair level, especially if you're playing a combo or storm deck.
That said, the designers of Masters 25 need not worry about bannings. It's not a Modern Masters set, so they might as well ignore the Modern ban list. Instead, they can focus on adding classic cards from Magic's history. I think Preordain most certainly qualifies.
It's also played as a four-of in many Pauper decks, so if R&D predicted (or better yet, preordained) the format's popularity, they might've included it. I love the Svetlin Velinov art, though it's the type of card I could easily see getting new art, too.
That's all for my predictions. Do you think I missed any? Are there any reprints you can't wait to see? What about the ones included here? Do they sound right to you? Let us know! We would love to hear your thoughts.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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