Drew weighs in with his first impressions about Iconic Masters and why he’s excited to draft the set!
Ever listen to a greatest hits album? From the first to the last, every single song is, well, great! You can play it from start to finish, you can put it on shuffle, or you can just go straight to your personal favorite. Masters sets are just that: a greatest hit set featuring tons of powerful cards to create an awesome draft format. And one thing that is true for every Magic player is that we all love to play powerful cards! And with every card being a reprint, we already know how strong these cards are as they have been tried and tested in their respective formats already. Whether you are smashing your opponent to a pulp with Thundermaw Hellkite or burying them in card advantage with Consecrated Sphinx, everybody enjoys playing with these kinds of cards.
So what can we expect from Iconic Masters Draft and Sealed? Combat. Lots and lots of combat. While Modern Masters 2017 featured a lot of powerful card advantage cards such as Opportunity and Urban Evolution as well as tons of great creatures with enter the battlefield effects, Iconic Masters looks to be a set all about attacking. Unleash, Prowess and Reknown creatures always want to be attacking. Even in blue we have Jhessian Thief and Shriekgeist, creatures that care about dealing combat damage to get an effect.
I think this is a great shakeup from Modern Masters 2017. While I would be ecstatic to get a couple Rewinds in my Modern Masters draft decks, I think counterspells are not going to be what you want in Iconic Masters. Most blue decks are going to be content getting Mana Leak, but I imagine this will serve better as a tempo card rather than a “lock” counterspell like Rewind was. The Defender sub theme in the set continues to emphasize combat, enforcing that even the control decks need to get creatures on the board. Wizards has made sure to include ways to punch through walls though. Deathtouch in particular is a great way to get through walls. While in a vacuum I don’t think a card like Virulent Swipe is very good even with rebound, in this set it may prove to be a key card to let your offense punch through your opponent’s walls. Bala Ged Scorpion is another great answer to most Defenders, doing a great Flametongue Kavu impression when it kills a creature. Black has some good discard spells as well with Thoughtseize, Duress and Haunting Hymn to disrupt any slower control decks. If you’ve never been on the wrong side of a Mind Twist or Haunting Hymn, it can be really painful to lose your entire hand from one spell.
There’s still going to be other decks besides the aggressive ones. Ramp looks to be a real deck, utilizing Search for Tomorrow, Mind Stone, Star Compass and powerful uncommon accelerants such as Thran Dynamo, and like any Masters set, there are a ton of great payoff cards. One advantage with ramp is that unlike a streamlined aggressive deck, it is much easier for you to cast off color rares. These payoff cards are so important too you’d be willing to change your colors mid draft to support a bomb rare. This is also the flexibility of artifacts, as you can spend several of your early picks taking colorless cards and keep yourself open much longer than an aggressive deck can. Shifting colors is much easier too, as you likely only have a couple cards of any given color halfway through the draft.
There are more decks to explore, including a mill deck and a defender deck. I’m going to be tentative to try a mill deck. It’s rare that those decks payoff in most formats. The intrinsic problem with milling is that it does nothing to affect the game in any meaningful way until your opponent actually loses because of it. The defender deck does show some promise, as this is a deck that impacts the board well by playing defensive creatures with high toughness, and has a couple finishers with Doorkeeper and Vent Sentinel. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this deck bleed into the ramp deck a bit, as that deck also wants cards like Overgrown Battlement and Wall of Roots.
I can’t wait for Iconic Masters to come out. Every Masters set has always been a ton of fun to draft, and on top of that there’s a lot of value to be found in these sets. The valuable cards also tend to have a pretty steady value, as they’re not subject to the volatility of cards in new Standard sets. You can be sure if you take a Horizon Canopy for monetary value, it’s still going to be a sought after card in a year. Remember if you’re going to buy a box, try to find people to draft with! The best way to enjoy the classics is on vinyl, afterall. I mean drafting. The best way to enjoy the classics is drafting.