Hello folks, and welcome back to the column that brings us the casual. Today I want to help out a few readers who asked for this column. It’s the first column on Magic: the Electronic since, well, you know. I still haven’t logged onto it until this writing (although I’ve seen others play on the horrible version III the past few months. Yuckie software. Frankly, after seeing that, and the loss of the many things that II gave you like leagues and casual formats that were not bugged, I’m glad I haven’t been playing in the last few months).
However, some readers were interested in me doing another Masters review, similar to the one before.
I really struggled with this. I promised that I wouldn’t write these anymore, back in January. Since then, I haven’t. However, as a Magic writer I have an obligation to the casual community above my personal grievances. Still, I am a man of my word, and if I promised something, I feel that I am bound by my promise.
In a previous article, I advocated that Wizards reverse their position on the reserve list, like they did a few years ago when they took Alpha/Beta/Unlimited commons and uncommons off the list, and then reprinted them, which people loved. I feel they should do the same with low value rares such as Yare.
They had promised that they would never reprint those cards to collectors, and then later went back on it, which was good for the game. I hate going back on a promise, but on the other hand, perhaps my eight month ban is sufficient to express my severe disappointment.
I remember this time that a local store called Mr. Pizza just absolutely hammered our Magic group with a bad order. Then when we called to get the extra food, they claimed we didn’t order it, but we paid for it! We redid the math, and they had charged us for an item, then not delivered it, but they claimed we had not ordered it! It was a ridiculous claim, and math proved they were wrong, but they held their ground.
So we refused to order from them anymore. For a year, no one in our play group ordered from Mr. Pizza on weekends. Then, after a year, they sent out a coupon book with the line “Under New Management” as part of their campaign. I decided to give them another try. Their food was good, reasonably priced, quickly delivered, and they had tons of order options. As such, I supplied the group with menus, and the group moved to order regularly from Mr. Pizza’s for the remainder of the time I was there.
I am reminded of Mr. Pizza’s second chance. I am reminded of Wizards going back on a pledge and it being good for the game. Perhaps I should give Magic: the Electronic a second chance. Let’s log back on, take a look around, play some Prismatic and other cool formats, and get used to the online game again. I am content to fulfill my obligation to the general Magic community and write this article, despite my previous claims to the contrary, and I hope you understand where I am coming from.
Without further prelude, allow me to get to the meat of the article.
Masters Edition 2 is being published in a few days on the 22nd. Prismatic is basically an online Five Color with some exceptions, namely most tutors are banned as well as other cards like Sundering Titan, Detritivore, and Rude Awakening. Even Grozoth is banned, and I think we could safely unban him and be fine. I personally don’t see how Grozoth is banned but Idyllic Tutor is not. They cost the same to tutor and there are more enchantments than nine casting cost cards in the game. I don’t think Idyllic Tutor should be banned, nor do I believe Grozoth should be either.
The format also has the generous mulligan rules of Five Color, 250 card minimum, and 20 of each color required. It’s a lot of fun, and the last time I was online before these past two weeks (which again, was like 8 months ago), it was commonly played, giving you a chance to roll with the big guys.
Except there are some issues. First of all, the Big Deck Mulligans are not working. You have to Paris or nothing, and that’s it. BDMs are still in the rules, but not online. Probably another issue with Magic: The Electronic III. Second, when I click on the rules for Prismatic on the Wizards page it takes you to the French page. I can read, write, speak and understand French, so I’m fine, but I doubt most are this way. Third, the format has some problems with tutors. Tutors like Grozoth are banned but Trinket Mage, which gets Sensei’s Divining Top, is allowed in fours. The games often devolve into a Top on Top battle which can take ten minutes, and for a fun format, it’s crazy. Either axe a bunch of tutors, from Idyllic to Beseech the Queen to Trinket Mage, or axe the Top. I prefer to see the Top gone from the format.
I went to ask the Adepts what’s up with no Big Deck Mulligans for Prismatic, since the rules say you can get BDMs. (A Big Deck Mulligan is when you have zero, one, six, or seven lands, you get a free mulligan. This is vitally important in a format with such big decks). They said that there was no BDM in Prismatic except in the multiplayer room, that this is always how is has been (untrue) and they knew of no plans to change it. They then sent me to two links where developers talk about what’s coming next and getting fixed next, and nowhere did it say that Prismatic would be getting fixed, so right now the format is not working as designed or previous played.
This is a perfect reason why I should not have stopped writing about MTGO. There needs to be as many writers as possible writing about these things. From columnists to bloggers to forum posts, people have to write and express their opinion on things like this. The client has been out for months, and yet one of the first casual formats online does not have a basic rule initiated for it. Not having Big Deck Mulligans for Prismatic is like not having four-card maximums for Standard.
Nobody seems to know if this is a permanent issue or a temporary one. The Adepts I spoke to don’t know.
Masters Edition 2 is a set that publishes cards printed prior to Mirage (or Portal sets) that are not available online. They can print any card at any commonality, and thus the prices can vary radically from previous ones. Let’s take a look at what cards are getting printed that I think you might want to snag for your Prismatic decks.
Unlike my normal reviews, we are going to go by commonality and color, because that is how the spoilers online are listed (this is being written about two weeks before publication). Here we go.
There are a lot of crappy cards here. How many people wanted to see the reprint of Brine Shaman or Dry Spell? This is also a very Fallen Empires heavy set. There are 80 commons in the set. How many are from Fallen Empires? Looks like 15 (perhaps I miscounted). How many commons were in Fallen Empires? Just 36. With such a small card pool, getting 15 cards in the commons feels like a large chunk of the set.
Necrite – I hope they use the Drew Tucker artwork, because it’s one of my favorite pieces, but I bet they use the Rush one.
Kjeldoran Dead – I actually like this for reanimator and 187 type decks. There are a lot of decks that want to sac a creature in play, and you can do it with this card for just one Black mana and get a 3/1 regenerator out of it. This is solid.
Songs of the Damned – This is a card that is quite abusable in decks that want to fill up the graveyard. Look at Tolarian Serpent, a rare from Weatherlight, as a good start for a deck like this.
Portent – It’s both stronger and weaker than Ponder. You draw the card as a slow trip, but you can target opponent’s libraries, which makes the card really strong.
Brainstorm – As a common, this card is really strong, and it will also drop the price of online Brainstorms since the only way you can get them now is out of Coldsnap precons. This plus Portent and Ponder give you a lot of cheap deck filtering, while replacing themselves. They have established uses, and are quite powerful in getting you land or pertinent cards early and late.
Whiteout – The value in this card is in returning to your hand, and with the introduction of more snow-covered lands to the environment with these packs, you can run enough to reliably bring this back to your hand in order to activate various effects.
Death Spark – In funky reanimation decks, Death Spark is a pretty saucy card. It doesn’t hit for a lot, but it can regularly recur to either discard, or plink away at creatures or life totals.
Here we start to have some valuable reprints.
Ashen Ghoul – Awesome. We currently only get them in Coldsnap precons and they have a lot of value. Along with cards like Death Spark and Kjeldoran Dead, you could easily build a Five Alive style deck, with recursion, reanimation, and fun. This is a good card for Prismatic because it swings on the turn it is played, only costs one Black mana making it easy on the manabase, and comes back after the inevitable removal that is played with abundance in the format.
Knight of Stromgald – I am not a fan of these types of creatures for Prismatic, but I know a lot of aggro aficionados who love cards like these for their deck, so I mention it here.
Demonic Consultation – Like most tutors, this will likely be banned shortly after release, but if it isn’t, grab four.
Dance of the Dead – This gives you another reanimation option, but the upkeep isn’t grand. Perhaps Soul Exchange, also an uncommon in this set, might be more up your alley.
Personal Tutor – See Demonic Consultation above.
Counterspell – I can see them putting cards online that were only available as promos before, like Kjeldoran Outpost, and cards that were only available in the Coldsnap precons, like Ashen Ghoul and Brainstorm. However, cards like Giant Growth and Counterspell bother me because you could already get them from packs. Especially Counterspell, since they had a little value, being common back in 7th Edition, and thus having some rarity attached. This shatters that value.
Elvish Spirit Guide – This is a great reprint, giving players access to a card that could easily make the cut in some tournament decks. Prismatic decks that use base Green to play land searchers will love this. Drop a land and use this on the first turn to drop Sakura-Tribe Elder or a similar effect, then search for a land. It’s very nice, and allows your Green land search cards to get Green mana, just in case you did not start with any. Besides, you can always drop it as a Grey Ogre later in the game.
Night Soil – This is a great reprint because it hoses decks that rely on creatures in the graveyard, from Genesis to the newly printed Ashen Ghoul. It also gives you small 1/1s, which are more valuable than you might think, giving you attack or defense options.
Gorilla Shaman – Ah yes, the infamous Mox Monkey. Well, without printing the Moxen and other assorted goodies, its value is not as high, but it is nice to see an old friend, you know?
Pillage – This would have been a great reprint if we didn’t already have it from 7th Edition. Another waste.
Order of the White Shield – Just like Knight of Stromgald, this isn’t really my style, but hey, that’s just me.
Swords to Plowshares – This is a perfectly acceptable reprint, going for a lot online because again, you could only get it in the Coldsnap precon. I like it, and it is great for almost any deck. Grab four.
Finally we have some true powers, along with some questionable choices. Was anyone really hankering for a reprint of Ebon Praetor? Still, there are some good cards here.
Krovikan Horror – This completes the self recursion theme that we have going in cards from Whiteout to Death Spark to Ashen Ghoul. It’s also a virtual Goblin Bombardment while out, and a 2/2 creature, and I am sure you can find some space for it somewhere.
Imperial Seal – This is a great, great card. It is already restricted in Classic and my guess is that it will be banned in Prismatic sooner or later, so no need to collect a bunch of them. Still, I like it as a reprint. Solid choice.
Necropotence – You won’t be rolling with the triple Black casting cost in Prismatic, but like Imperial Seal, it’s a solid choice and you might want to snatch a few for your 60-card decks.
Sea Drake – The beaters called and they want to swing with massive damage in the air. Four-powered flying for three mana and a major mana development setback. It’s usually worth it, but beware of cheap removal like Lightning Bolt or Swords to Plowshares taking out your threat and leaving you with a tempo loss.
Temporal Manipulation – I think this was a poorly chosen reprint because Tempest will get published soon online, and it has Time Warp, and that gives you way too many ways to take extra turns. This is a fun card, and I’d grab a set for your Prismatic, where I suspect it will be quite useful.
Stunted Growth – This is a very powerful card in a duel, and guess what? Your Prismatic games are duels, so grab some of these to slow down your opponent. (Obviously if you play Prismatic solely for multiplayer, your needs may vary.)
Imperial Recruiter – I think this might be one of those cards that’s clever enough to slip past the heavy Banhammer that is used in the format. If so, these get some significant value as a way to get a variety of creatures, including ones that get you mana, destroy lands, artifacts, enchantments, or creatures, and pure beaters.
Ravages of War – I hate seeing another Armageddon getting put online. Yuck.
Lodestone Bauble – This is a cheap way to get some lands back post â€˜Geddon or Ravages or anything else. You can also play it and sac it for a card, in order to keep going when you don’t need it.
Phyrexian Portal – Note that this card can be used over and over again, nets you a card, and shuffles your library, making it very powerful. We banned it in Five Color ages ago, well before I started playing, and it is still thought by many to be too powerful to unban. This is a card that you can do a lot of damage with, so I’d get some and roll with it.
Underground Sea, Taiga, Tundra, Savannah, Badlands – The five friendly dual lands are getting printed in this set, and you want to get as many as you can. These are the best lands for mana ever, and they will have a demand, since Online Vintage (er… I mean Classic), Legacy will want them as well. Don’t trade those you crack, and try to get more.
I suspect that they added cards like Incinerate and Giant Growth to make the set more playable in draft. However, there are other options that could have been used. Bounty of the Hunt, for example, could have been dropped to common easily in order to give the set a Giant Growth like effect. You could have printed Chain Lightning instead of Incinerate. Crumble instead of Disenchant (I know it’s not a true analogue, but it still gives you a common artifact removal spell). Or even print Gate to Phyrexia.
If printing cards that already in print online from booster packs (such as Disenchant, Incinerate, Counterspell, and Giant Growth) is so important for limited purposes, then why have some odd combinations? For example, both Soul Exchange and Dance of the Dead is uncommon. Why have two Zombify type effects in twelve cards if limited balance was such a concern?
As for the Fallen Empires analogue, let’s take a further look. A quick glance shows another 16 cards in uncommon and rare slots. That’s 31 cards from Fallen Empires. There are 102 cards in Fallen Empires, so almost one third of all FE cards are in Masters 2. This does not count those reprinted in the first Masters Edition.
Now, compare that to, say, The Dark, in which I counted 119 cards (WoTC’s card set pages are down, so I had to do it manually). You might think that a set with many more cards would have a bigger representation in ME2, but it doesn’t. A quick glance showed no cards in the commons from The Dark there.
If they are pushing the Thrull theme so hard, why not print Thrull Champion?
I guess like I feel like I could have made a better set for cards for your decks, or a better set for draft, and this set doesn’t do either. Ah well, there’s always Masters Edition 3 in order to get your Jungle Lions, enemy duel lands, and more. Perhaps that set will see Candelabra of Tawnos joining Sword of the Ages, with Elder Dragons Legends not named Nicol Bolas finally getting printed online and The Dark might make an appearance with cards for goblin decks with Goblin Caves and Goblin Shrine. We can only hope.
Good luck cracking your Masters Edition 2 packs next week!