Ultimate Masters Draft Archetypes!

In his always welcome early Draft analysis for the new Masters set, Ryan is laying out all the archetypes he’s already identified! Which looks strongest to you? Here’s the first few picks of a practice draft to help you out!

Ultimate Masters
seems like a fairly deep format from an initial glance. These are the
archetypes I see after glancing at the full set:

Note: “x” can be any color.

  • Azorius Heroic/Auras
  • Selesnya Heroic/Auras
  • Izzet Spells (Rise from the Tides)
  • Sultai Graveyard (Spider Spawning)
  • W/x Reanimator
  • Boros Heroic
  • Rakdos Madness
  • Rakdos Aristocrats
  • G/X Ramp
  • Gruul Madness

I’m sure there’s more, as these sets tend to have a bunch of
Easter-egg-esque archetypes, but this is a good starting point. Let’s see
what the first couple picks of a draft have to say about these archetypes.
And remember,

only vote for the money rare if you think it really is the pick

. These are phantom drafts!

Pack 1, Pick 1

The Pack:

The Pick:

At the beginning of a format, it’s hard to narrow down the picks. I’m sure
after a couple weeks of drafting, one card here will stand out. The one
thing that I’m sure of is that the pick is not Unholy Hunger. Removal
spells are safe picks in most formats, but Masters formats tell a
different story. In Modern Masters 2017, every creature had such
good value when it entered the battlefield that removal wasn’t all that
great. You played it, but it wasn’t premium. A five-mana removal spell that
conditionally gains life is not at all what I’m looking for. Add in the
fact that totem armor is a common mechanic, and I’m not even sure I’ll want
more than one copy of Unholy Hunger in my black decks.

Between the blue cards, I would actually take Circular Logic. I could see
both Deranged Assistant and Treasure Cruise being better, but given the
density of discard outlets, Circular Logic seems very good to me. Look at
how it combines with Mad Prophet – a one-mana counterspell that cantrips is
unheard of, but that’s the ceiling on the card! This ceiling is comparable
to that of Treasure Cruise, but early on in a format I value learning
highly and would take Circular Logic because it’s uncommon and the value of
the card is likely to be more variable than Treasure Cruise.

Kodama’s Reach is a phenomenal Magic card. It’s one of the few ways in this
format to both ramp and fix your mana, and it’s card advantage to boot. I
expect it to be one of, if not the, best green common, but I’m not
convinced it’s a card I want to first pick. If I wanted a piece of card
advantage so badly, I would likely lean harder on Treasure Cruise.

Mad Prophet is one of the rarity downshifts. I expect looters in this
format to be very powerful because of all the graveyard synergies and
madness. Zero-mana discard outlets will be at a premium, and this one draws
cards too! I actually think Mad Prophet is the pick and with both Fiery
Temper and Reckless Wurm at common, it won’t be hard to turn the Prophet
into a must-answer threat! There’s merit to a lot of cards in this pack,
but I think the Prophet is the best choice.

Pack 1, Pick 2

The Picks So Far:

The Pack:

The Pick:

Platinum Emperion is a very powerful Magic card, but eight mana is a lot of
mana. This is where knowing the archetypes is crucial to a pick. If I was
just walking into this draft with no knowledge of the format, I would not
take Platinum Emperion. However, given that Resurrection was downshifted to
common and I already have a discard outlet, it’s definitely possible to
draft a Boros reanimator deck (or any white color pair, to be honest).
Let’s look at the rest of the cards first, but the Emperion is a good
follow up to the Mad Prophet.

Miraculous Recovery is also a very good Magic card. Reanimating a threat at
instant speed gets around sorcery speed removal and has the upside of
sometimes eating a creature in combat. With reanimator as a theme in this
format, I think Miraculous Recovery is a solid first pick, let alone

I spoke about Circular Logic in the last pick, and it’s even better
situated here now that I have a Mad Prophet in my pool. This pick is
defensible, and I wouldn’t fault anyone for taking it, and if you’re taking
a blue card, you should definitely take Circular Logic over Deranged
Assistant. I wouldn’t be surprised if Assistant was close to Logic in a
vacuum, but with the Prophet already, I don’t think that’s close.

Garna, the Bloodflame is a powerful card meant for the aristocrats
archetype, but it’s also pretty cool with Mad Prophet! That said, I think
all the cards mentioned previously are better pick ups at this point in the

The last card to consider is Apprentice Necromancer. This card is very
powerful because this format has multiple Eldrazi creatures with
annihilate, so reanimating them for one attack for one mana is certainly
worth a card (especially if it’s Emrakul, the Aeons Torn). However, if I’m
taking an instant speed reanimation spell, I’d rather take Miraculous
Recovery because the creature sticks around.

So, this pick, in my opinion, is between Platinum Emperion, Miraculous
Recovery, and Circular Logic. Without any experience in the format yet,
it’s very hard to tell which is correct. I think the best approach is to
take Platinum Emperion because it’s a mythic. I won’t have many chances to
play with the card and given that I know I can pick up reanimation spells
since there’s one at common, I think it’s not as risky a pick as it looks!

Learning is crucial to success at the beginning of the format, so if you
see a rare and you’re not sure what to do, my default heuristic in the
initial stages of a format is to take it.