Ultimate Masters Foundation

Ryan Saxe wants you thinking synergy when you draft Ultimate Masters! He has a passel of two- and three-card interactions to consider, plus a tricky Pack 1, Pick 1!

In my last article, I gave you my secret for drafting Ultimate Masters: draft red if you can, have as focused of a game plan as possible, and, most importantly, draft a deck that’s capable of winning out of nowhere.

Let’s break down what I meant by “capable of winning out of nowhere.”

The extreme of this is an arbitrarily large combo with Mikaeus, the Unhallowed; Murderous Redcap; and Bloodflow Connoisseur. A simpler instant win is Laboratory Maniac. An even simpler win is a well-fueled Rise from the Tides or Spider Spawning. There are a lot of cards that are capable of ending the game when you cast them if fostered by the proper strategy and assortment of cards.

However, in order to succeed in this format, you need to embrace this concept at lower rarities. Maximize the probability that you can make a play on each turn that feels unfair. It’s not always a crazy combo that ends the game on the spot. It can be simple. Elegant.

A three-mana 4/4 with trample is incredibly above rate. If that is my Turn 3 play, the probability that I’m ahead is quite high. Sure, my opponent could play Just the Wind, or even Faith’s Fetters if they were on the play, but they won’t always have that. And in order to facilitate my Turn 3 4/4 trampler, I only had to play a common that produces card advantage. I would do that anyway!

It turns out that the density of cards in Ultimate Masters that interact like this is extremely high. Due to this, you should look to have your draft deck include as many of these “combos” as possible. The more you have, the higher the probability you play two cards in tandem that place you in a winning position. It’s not as obvious as “Faithless Looting makes you discard and Fiery Temper has madness.” Many are subtle and require just a bit more thought, similar to Satyr Wayfinder alongside Hooting Mandrills. And some are a bit out there.

To get you thinking in the right way, here’s a long list of them, each in its own row. I promise there are plenty more too!

Hopefully that’s enough synergy thrown in your face to get you excited to try something new. Anything you haven’t tried yet in this pack?

Pack 1, Pick 1

The Pack:

The Pick:

If you haven’t drafted this set much, this pack looks a lot more powerful than it is. Dimir Guildmage and Mahamoti Djinn are cards that usually are premium in Limited, but I don’t view them as such in this format. I rarely need a top-end beater in my blue decks, as I would rather maximize spells and play Rise from the Tides or kill my opponent with Laboratory Maniac. There’s only so much room for expensive spells and you don’t really have time to activate Dimir Guildmage because there are too many powerful things to do with your mana.

Dreamscape Artist is one of the best cards for blue decks. It has substantially overperformed to the point where I’m happy to first-pick it. Pairing that card with Just the Wind or Fiery Temper provides a huge advantage, and fueling the graveyard for cards like Treasure Cruise, Gurmag Angler, and Hooting Mandrills is an awesome bonus. Dreamscape Artist is now the baseline for the rest of the cards and it’s a high bar to hit.

Kodama’s Reach is powerful, but Dreamscape Artist is just a better version of the effect. Blue wants the ramp and fixing more than green does in this format, and the ceiling is higher.

Resurrection is too narrow and goes only in one kind of white deck. It’s a powerful card, but not one I want to first-pick. The card can wheel, and would tell me Reanimator is open. If I’m starting Reanimator, I would rather start with a more powerful card like Unburial Rites.

Last, Raging Ravine is great, but it’s not better than Dreamscape Artist. Both cards provide fixing and the ability for card advantage, but Dreamscape Artist can snowball to the degree where it gets the nod here. I think it’s important to note that Izzet often wants to splash cards like Pulse of Murasa and Vengeful Rebirth for aspects of recursion, so Raging Ravine is more likely to make your deck than other two-color lands simply because it facilitates the most common splash in a fantastic color pair. That being said, I still like the Artist more and that will be my pick!