I was really hoping we’d have Masterpieces for Ixalan Block, especially after marketing materials and the leaks happened which showed a real connection with the pulp and adventure side of fiction. Exploring new places, fighting and taming dinosaurs, dealing with pirates, and a lot more occurs during the 1890 — 1940 era of pulp fiction. And this block really weaves into those core concepts tightly.
Masterpieces are fun! But as we know, we don’t have any for Ixalan. They are being saved for special occasions, with the idea that you can’t keep doing them in perpetuity. And that makes me sad. However, I would argue that the Amonkhet Masterpieces intentionally built in misses in order to save up the sexy, high profile, splashy stuff later. But there are a lot of misses here.
They might fit Amonkhet and Hour of Devastation in terms of pure flavor, but these are cards with little play and little demand in foil or promo forms. Why not run high prolife cards with casual-only appeal instead? That way you aren’t shooting all of the bullets in the gun for tournament reprints, but still making sure that the cards you open are desired. Instead of Divert, why not Bribery? Instead of Choke, why not Propaganda? Instead of Boil why not Stranglehold? You get the idea, I’m sure. Those cards would all have been just as flavorful while being more valuable and heavily chased by certain populations within the Magic community. But the number of people who want a Masterpiece Divert is much more limited than Bribery.
You could also reprint high profile cards that have been (recently) reprinted elsewhere. Here let me show you a few examples of Masterpieces that worked but had already had a promo or other high-profile reprinting, in some cases pretty recently:
- Mana Crypt — Multiple promo versions; Used to help sell Eternal Masters last year.
- Force of Will — Used to help sell Eternal Masters last year.
- Sword of Fire and Ice — Used to help sell Modern Masters
- Sword of Light and Shadow — Used to help sell Modern Masters
- Lightning Greaves — Promo already existed
- Scroll Rack – Used to help sell Commander’s Arsenal
- Entomb — Used to help sell foil Graveborn deck, and powerful reprint for Eternal Masters last year.
You get the idea. Given that, you could easily dip into other cards that have high value but already have high pimp-age rates. You could even do more than one Masterpiece copy of a card. Ancient Tomb appeared in Zendikar Expeditions, but it could easily have been an Amonkhet Invocation or even a Ixalan Evocation (that’s not it’s real name, but I do like it),which does not exist, but you get the idea. As long as you are watching to ensure nothing gets overprinted, and I doubt WOTC would do that, you don’t have much of a problem.
You can marry some cards that would have lower value, but still be reprint hits for the casual market, to make sure you had better cards below, such as the #10 and #9 cards below . . .
10. Black Market
Two years ago, Black Market would have made the top of this list easily. It was unique, heavily used in casual including Commander and never been reprinted. And then Commander 2015 came along and printed it, and dropped both prices. Two years later, it’s at $3.50 and rising, but the value here in Masterpiece is in the foil. A foil Black Market is more than $30, and a Masterpiece could easily sustain a higher price point. I’m sure we can all see a Black Market art in the Ixalan context, right?
Currently a $3.50 uncommon, never been reprinted, with a foil worth more than $20. Soothsaying is a great card for a lot of different builds in casual land and Commander. It’s a great adjunct to cards that like shuffled libraries, such as Sylvan Library, Mirri's Guile, and Sensei's Divining Top. I love doing it at the end of someone’s turn, churning whatever mana I have left into ordering my library perfectly, and thus drawing the best card, rather than a random land or whatever. Like Scroll Rack or Top, it’s about card quality and churning that library whenever you need a good shuffle, that raw card drawing. It perfectly plays that role, and a Masterpiece Soothsaying is a great pimped up version for, well, everyone. Plus, you could play into the pirate’s doing something to learn of their destiny in some seedy dive.
#8. Merchant Scroll
I think you could do Merchant Scroll pretty well. There has never been a promo version of Merchant Scroll. It’s only reprint outside of Homelands is Eighth Edition, where the foils are much pricier because of the low rate of foliage in the set and a lower print run vs expansion sets. It’s $50.00 and on up for a foil. Given how useful Merchant Scroll is in a lot of formats, doesn’t that seem pricey? You could have a stall at a wharf or market where a stand is selling these scrolls or something for the art.
7. Birds of Paradise
I’m not sure of Birds of Paradise would count as a, “Duh” entry to everyone else like it does to me. To me it’s an obvious choice, but what about you? Heavily reprinted, and still expensive, the Birds of Paradise has kept its perch as the best 1-drop mana maker of all time. It certainly fits the theme of the set. Colorful. Featherful. And a Masterpiece version would really be a hit. Typical foil Birds hit in the $15 range, and a well done Masterpiece could hit a lot higher.
6. Glimpse the Unthinkable
This could be Bribery instead, given it was not printed in the Amonkhet series. I consider this the high profile casual reprint. It’s sufficiently generic to be easily concepted for various planes and situations. You could have had it on the plane of Amonkhet seeing one god kill another or Nicol Bolas entering. You could have had it on Aether Revolt seeing your invention killing some rebels after being taken by the Consulate. You could have it on the Plane of Ixalan seeing some dark mystery of the deep suddenly revealed at night. And there it works well, right? Can’t you see it in the art? And isn’t it well past time to print this $35 card that has been printed precisely once?
5. Life from the Loam
Let’s start with the flavor on this one. Given the exploring, tropical nature of the art, mechanics, and world, I think this sort of joyfully done art that shows life growing out of the fertilized soil would be awesome. Mechanically, the card would work alongside of the land-enjoying mechanics of the set. Thus, if you cracked one open at the prerelease or in limited you could actually play it. And meanwhile, we all know it’s value across all formats, from Vintage to Commander and more. It’s expensive, and would certainly be a highlight of an Ixalan Masterpiece series, should there have chosen to have been one.
4. Cavern of Souls
I like this as a place that could be found by our intrepid explorers. You could have art showing a pirate ship sailing into the long-lost Cavern of Souls. It certainly fits the economic aspect of a high-profile Masterpiece, with a strong cachet in Modern, Commander, Legacy, and lots more. Everyone likes Cavern of Souls, even the Timmiest of players who don’t want his big creatures stopped to the Spikiest of players who want to ensure that their slick fast deck roles out to the Jenniest of players who wants to ensure her combo creatures aren’t countered, everyone wants Cavern of Souls. It’s an easy selection for a Masterpiece, and Ixalan would have been a good place.
3. Glimpse of Nature
I can see the art now, with a hidden vista beyond a wall of trees or rocks, just being seen. It fits perfectly in theme, and it’s a high-profile reprint as well. It’s the sort of potential Masterpiece that would be a solid sell. We only have the Champions of Kamigawa copy in print, so it would introduce a new generation of players to the card.
2. Tooth and Nail
This massively expensive Green sorcery is one of the most iconic “Fetch a creature from your library to the graveyard” effects ever printed. And it’s expensive in both cost and price, hitting almost $20 for both copies. It’s such an iconic card that I once had an article all about it, called, “What Your Tooth and Nail Says About You” where I delve into the individual choices players make when they cast it. You can check it out here, by the way. Can’t you see this flavored with Dinosaurs?!?!?!?
1. High Tide
Obvious cards still have value. Yes, it’s a common available with multiple art from a set whose boosters are still amazingly cheap. We know. And sure, you can get a normal one for a buck. But the promo for this is $18, and it’s not even foil. A Masterpiece High Tide would immediately become the default and pimpiest version of this card, especially if the art and such were done well.
There are other cards I thought of, and they were a little on the cheap side, or I wasn’t sure of their fit. Here are some that would work!
Flusterstorm? Definitely expensive! I was thinking about a sea storm or so, but is that good enough flavor wise?
Wheel of Fate — In a bar at a port with various pirates and bandits gambling. Think Tortuga.
Piracy – Man, if they had split second . . .
Coastal Piracy – Great choice, too cheap.
Erratic Portal? You could have the art as them leaving a port or harbor or a ship entering a mystic magical portal. Never been reprinted, and not on the Reserve List (I checked twice).
Veteran Explorer? — Two buck casual card with no foil in print.
There are also great cards that aren’t high enough in value, but nail flavor like Grinning Totem or Fountain of Youth, but no one would suggest. Fountain of Youth fits this as much as Choke or Boil in terms of flavor, but would have a similarly panned presence. So, don’t use a Masterpiece for it. Thanks!
Are you going to miss having Masterpieces in the sets? Are you ready for the subsequent rise in secondary market prices for Standard cards from them moving forward? If we had Masterpieces for Ixalan Block, what do you think of these ten cards? Was there something I missed that makes good sense?