Did you have a chance to draft Modern Masters? If so, what did you think? I heard a lot of discussion about how Modern Masters is many people’s favorite Draft experiences (in a booster-pack format, as opposed to something like Cube). It’s a lot of fun for a lot of folks, so yay!
For my money, nothing compares to Masters Edition III!
Wait, what was that?
In real life, we never had these boosters. It was exclusively an online booster set. Online booster sets began with the first Masters Edition as an attempt to add pre-Mirage cards to Magic Online. The goal was to create a draftable set that would be fun while also adding good cards for your deck stock.
The third set’s themes were pretty simple. It was built around legendary creatures in general—and both Portal: Three Kingdoms and Legends specifically. It embraced horsemanship, common and uncommon legendary creatures, and so forth. It was a massive burst of quirky fun.
Why do I like ME3 so much?
I still remember my first Draft. I was in B/R, and suddenly, a tenth-pick Sivitri Scarzam was staring me. That’s a lot of beef. So I grabbed it and splash blue so I could drop the 6/4 dork. I also picked up Tetsuo Umezawa late in the Draft. I splashed two legendary creatures; that’s when I was hooked!
Well, it played unlike any other Draft. Not even Kamigawa block has as rife a legendary theme as this set did. It was awesome drafting the five enemy dual lands, crazy legendary dorks, horsemanship bodies such as Wei Strike Force alongside actual flyers such as Scryb Sprites, plus cards that were both quirky (Astrolabe) and potent (Mana Drain, Mind Twist). Want to draft a set with the Elder Dragon Legends?
So it was a blast!
Freyalise's Winds and Sorrow's Path that don’t make a lick of sense in the set. We also have bad cards that are here, such as Heal or Cinder Storm that could be a lot better.
What I would love is an updated ME3 that embraces the theme of legendary creatures and horsemanship mixing it up along with quirky cards while leaving behind the pre-Mirage aspect and instead embracing cards that are the best fits for the Draft format. In other words, I want to change Masters Edition III into a draftable version of Modern Masters.
And that’s where today’s project comes in. What I want to do is spend the next few weeks working on updating and streamlining Masters Edition III into an even better Draft environment. After all, it’s among my favorite Draft sets, so let’s enhance it! Today, I want to go over how I intend to do that, present a few questions and issues, and then ask for your help in spotting ideas or suggestions going forward. In a few weeks, I’ll come back with the full card set.
And then we can play it in real life (or electronically) if we want! Feel free to create cards for those you might not have, and draft away! We can call is Masters Edition Thirty or 3.1 or something like that—rather than ME Three.
Disenchant, Desert Twister, or Forked Lightning.
The original set had 220 cards. (Masters Edition II had 245 cards, by the way.) I wanted to keep them, but I am looking at Theros’s 234 instead since it’s nice, trim, and firm. We’ll be adding mythic rares to the set and a few other tricks of the trade.
The current Masters Edition III can be found here.
You’ll note a few side themes, such as a Minotaur tribal theme from Homelands—quite appropriate for today’s Greek-inspired block. Perhaps we can develop that a bit. You’ll spot a few here and there in other places, too (such as Faerie Noble).
What sort of issues come up? Well, let’s take a look at the common lands, artifacts, and gold cards from ME3:
Masters Edition III
So, we have a full double cycle of common, double-colored legendary folks. While that may be awesome, we really don’t have the mana-enabling necessary to help with that. We can fix that!
And perhaps we could add another post-Mirage blue dork in the set as a solid uncommon cycle. (We already have Reveka, Wizard Savant). Legendary creatures were improved with the recent change, so why not enhance that with our cards here?
The format already has legendary hosers—Arena of the Ancients, Willow Satyr, and Karakas are all running around. What about some legendary enabling? We already have Loyal Retainers at uncommon. But we could add in Sword of the Chosen, Day of Destiny, Reki, the History of Kamigawa, or Time of Need.
Now, I don’t want to go legendary-crazy. I don’t want to turn this Draft into a heroic version of Coldsnap, with too much of an insular theme. But stretching the theme a bit into new space makes sense. ME3 probably didn’t run a bunch of legendary enablers because they didn’t exist in the sets that are emphasized.
Now, the Kamigawa-block cards can feel a bit too Japanese for my MEIII tastes. And yet, we’ll have loads of Chinese flavor, so it’s not out of the question to basically have a pan-Asian thing going on. So say no to cards like Vassal's Duty, and the Kamigawa-block enablers that are overly Spirit-centric don’t fit flavor-wise.
Yomiji, Who Bars the Way. Would the Japanese flavor of it as a Spirit get in the way of doing what it wants? What do you think?
Another example is the Legends cycle from the set (Urborg, Pendelhaven, Karakas, Hammerheim, and Tolaria). I could pull it for the rare land cycle of legendary enablers like Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep or Eiganjo Castle. That would make all (but Karakas) better, giving us strong upgrades. Again, is the Japanese flavor too much, or is it perfectly fine?
Don’t forget that Tetsuo Umezawa is a rare in ME3, so there’s that.
Another question: How much horsemanship is enough? How much flying is enough? It’s very similar to Tempest block because you have three flanks to worry about, not just the normal two—flying, ground, and horsemanship. We need enough creatures to keep both flanks open and honest. As a result, I want to steer largely clear of cards that have traditional evasive abilities, such as landwalk, intimidate, fear, and such. A few are all right, but we need to emphasize horsemanship and flying. The original ME3 has fifteen flyers, and eight of those are multicolored legendary cards. It has no flying at all in mono-colored white, blue, or black—mono-colored flyers are Scryb Sprites, Fire Sprites, Faerie Noble, Killer Bees, Crimson Manticore, Fire Drake, and Firestorm Phoenix. The color that “doesn’t fly” has four flyers!
Crimson Manticore, that can tap to punish attackers of various stripes, can be quite useful here. So we need to look for answers to these problems—even though all of the colors have flying and horsemanship.
Updating this format should be a blast of fun!
We can include cards from all up and down Magic’s history. Shoot, if we want, we can even rock cards from Theros block!
One of the things I would like to do with this project is find additions that are a bit quirky but that really work well. For example, we currently have both Chain Lightning and Fire Ambush as commons. Perhaps I could upgrade the Chain to a normal, instant-speed Lightning Bolt. Then, I could find an uncommonly-known card that works well for the Ambush other than a renamed Volcanic Hammer.
At first, I thought I would want to skip cards with block-specific keywords in order to keep things simpler. For example, if Firebolt is the best replacement for Fire Ambush, I might be inclined to investigate elsewhere. But I did a quick look at Modern Masters, and it really played havoc with keywords. (It has evoke, basic landcycling, split second, modular, prowl, changeling, retrace, kicker, dredge, delve, splice, echo, and storm, and that’s just in the first two pages of Gatherer.) I changed my mind. So if Firebolt is the best choice, in it goes.
We also might have some flavor decisions to make. Should I retain Capture of Jingzhou? Perhaps Temporal Manipulation would be the better card. The set still has a Time Warp variant from Portal, but the less specific name might be better. And perhaps Burning of Xinye could just be Wildfire. Or do you prefer the flavor?
Labyrinth Minotaur and Minotaur Illusionist. B/R might be about direct damage and have a few tricks built there. So a card like Anaba Shaman might work both roles. That’s just me brainstorming, but you get the idea. I want to be cognizant of that.
In summation, here are some things I will be conscious of:
- The tribal elements – Should Minotaurs and Faeries be pushed or reduced? How much should legendary cards be improved?
- Balancing flying and horsemanship – Does every color have legitimate answers to both of these threats? Are they common to find? A few rare or mythc answers aren’t going to cut it.
- The mana to make this work – We need to include elements up and down the rarities that will tie together the multicolored elements of many of these legendary creatures. In the original ME3, we have fifty-eight legendary creatures, the vast majority of which are multicolored from Legends. The mana has to be there.
- The right card – A lot of this is going to be about uncovering the right card to suit the right need. What is the right removal, the right 1-drop, the right card-draw, and so forth?
- Balancing it all – Finding the right ways to balance the colors and themes is key to success.
Let me know what comments, ideas, suggestions, or concerns you have in the comments below!
When the project is done, feel free to try out the Draft for yourself!
See you next week,