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By: Cheater Hater, Vincent Borchardt
Jan 17 2018 12:00pm
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Welcome to Part 2 of Designing Reprint Sets: Masters 25! Last time I covered the big picture of the set, so this time I’m going through every single first-time reprint in my design: where they fit in, which ones are solid locks, and which are more flexible. Let’s start in chronological order:

 

Alpha/Beta/Unlimited: Ice Storm

A nice choice for RG Ramp/Ponza, though I might be pushing it a bit by leaving it at common.

 

Arabian Nights: Oubliette

The easiest lock, it’s nice here in WB Enchantments, beside the generic removal aspect.

 

Antiquities: Argothian Treefolk

A sketchy choice; this is a reasonable GW Toolbox card (against UR Artifacts), but I’m worried it’s too good for common (Masters Edition 4 moved it to uncommon, but that was more focused on artifacts and a lower power level overall).

 

Legends: Reset

One of the old-school marquees, this also technically has a place in UW Control, though I assume it’ll just be a limited last-pick (in phantom contexts).

 

The Dark: Tangle Kelp

Not good choices, but Tangle Kelp is an interesting removal spell (and new to MTGO, which I have a bias towards).

 

Fallen Empires: Basal Thrull

I guess this works in BG Death, but it’s mostly here as one of the few good choices in Fallen Empires.

 

Ice Age: Forgotten Lore

This was hard—it’s an interesting regrowth effect (and BG Death doesn’t mind those), but again, there were no good choices.

 

Homelands: Clockwork Gnomes

Hooray, a Homelands card that’s relevant to an archetype (UR Artifacts)! Again, this was shifted to uncommon in Masters Edition 4, but I’m keeping it at common here, as it’s relatively low powered.

 

Alliances: Casting of Bones

A nice find, this could fit into either WB Enchantments or BG Death.

 

Mirage: Dwarven Miner

This fits perfectly in RG Ramp/Ponza, but is it too unfun, even in a Limited format where you’ll have plenty of basic lands?

 

Visions: Phyrexian Walker

Surprisingly this has never been reprinted, so I’ll keep it for both UW Control and UR Artifacts synergies.

 

Portal: Lava Flow

A generic expensive removal spell that also can hit lands seems perfect for RG Ramp/Ponza.

 

Weatherlight: Tendrils of Despair, Striped Bears

Striped Bears is a very boring GW Toolbox option, while Tendrils of Despair is an interesting discard spell for BG Death.

 

Tempest: Pit Imp

An interesting choice for UB Saboteur, but is it too low-powered for a Masters set?

 

Stronghold: Tortured Existence

A nice outlet for BR Madness that also is a Pauper card, though I did move it up to uncommon.

 

Exodus: Medicine Bag

Another strange choice, this mostly exists as a discard outlet for BR Madness, and it should do that job well enough.

 

Portal: Second Age: False Summoning

I guess this is for UW Control since it’s a counterspell, but Essence Scatter isn’t really an archetype card.

 

Urza’s Saga: Opal Gargoyle

Urza’s Legacy: Opal Champion, Lurking Skirge

Urza’s Destiny: Lurking Jackals

All four of these are old-school Enchantment Creatures for BW Enchantments, and are one of the best examples of me crossing over multiple blocks.

 

Portal: Three Kingdoms: Hunting Cheetah

Our first big money choice, it also fits well in RG Ramp/Ponza—I just hope it isn’t too expensive for uncommon (heck, Masters Edition III put it at common).

 

Starter 1999: Goblin Settler

Another money choice that works well in RG Ramp/Ponza. I almost put Grim Tutor in since its price is reasonable now too (it’s in the same price range as Mana Drain, but this set wants Demonic Tutor more, and Grim Tutor can be saved for the next set.

 

Mercadian Masques: Kris Mage

Nemesis: Bola Warrior

Both of these are nice red Spellshapers for BR Madness—I hope Kris Mage is bad enough that it can be a common pinger.

 

Prophecy: Spore Frog

A surprise highlight from one of the worst sets of all time, this is a nice addition for GW Toolbox.

 

Invasion: Absorb

One of the highlight rarity downshifts for UW Control, this sadly isn’t as exciting as it could be in a world where Dissolve can be common now.

 

Planeshift: Eladamri's Call, Sinister Strength, Skyshroud Blessing, Cavern Harpy

Eladamri's Call is a signature for GW Toolbox (and worth something), Sinister Strength was a late addition for a generic pump Aura for WB Enchantments (it’s strictly better than Dark Favor if the color-changing doesn’t matter), Skyshroud Blessing is a very niche card to counter all the land destruction in this set, and Cavern Harpy is a nice semi-Ninja that sees constructed play.

 

Apocalypse: Suffocating Blast

A surprisingly hard selection, as almost everything is tied to color-matters, proto-clans, or Kicker. As such, I’m picking a generic counterspell, even though it’s weird to put it at rare while Absorb is uncommon (shocker: three damage is more impactful in limited than three life).

 

Odyssey: Testament of Faith

Another enchantment that becomes a creature for BW Enchantments, though this feels more like a UW Control card.

 

Torment: Violent Eruption, Restless Dreams

Violent Eruption is the one good Madness card that’s red or black in Torment (other than the over-reprinted Fiery Temper), while Restless Dreams is another enabler that fits in the Raise Dead slot.

 

Judgment: Earsplitting Rats

Yuck! Yes, this is a Madness enabler, but it might be the worst card in the set—I wish there was something better.

 

Onslaught: Riptide Entrancer

Legions: Branchsnap Lorian, Nantuko Vigilante

Scourge: Root Elemental

All of these are Morphs (for UG Morph), though it was surprisingly difficult to find one for Scourge—most either break the five-mana rule or are explicitly tribal (or CMC-matters, in the case of Scornful Egotist), and while I did pick Riptide Survivor, it doesn’t count since it was reprinted in Commander 2014.

 

Mirrodin: Granite Shard, Predator's Strike

Granite Shard is a good Rod of Ruin that seems good for UR Artifacts, while Predator's Strike is the generic pump spell I’m choosing with the idea that it works well with the endless 2/2’s from Morph and all the saboteur effects.

 

Darksteel: Darksteel Pendant

A perfect choice for my vision of UR Artifacts (since it’ll stick around), and it would be nice to print a version of it that says Scry on it.

 

Fifth Dawn: Lantern of Insight

Call off the dogs! This is a purely constructed reprint that sucks in limited yet needs a reprint (assuming it isn’t banned between now and March), and I even upgraded it to rare (mostly for space reasons).

 

Champions of Kamigawa: Indomitable Will

Slim pickings here (Azusa, Lost But Seeking was a judge promo), so I chose a Flash enchantment for instant-speed Constellation (even if the card itself isn’t great).

 

Betrayers of Kamigawa: Tendo Ice Bridge

Unfortunately the Ninjas don’t count, so instead I get aggressive and move Tendo Ice Bridge to common under the Scion of the Wild precedent (Crusader of Odric was uncommon, just like Aether Hub).

 

Saviors of Kamigawa: Mikokoro, Center of the Sea

A nice value pick from an awful set.

 

Ravnica: Clinging Darkness

I like variety in my enchantments for my Enchantment decks, and this removal spell fits that niche well.

 

Guildpact: Debtors' Knell

I’m shocked this hasn’t been reprinted yet. It could have been rare, but it feels like a mythic effect and my WB rare is a tighter fit to the archetype.

 

Dissension: Infernal Tutor, Twinstrike

Lots of Hellbent here, as you would expect.

 

Coldsnap: Kjeldoran Gargoyle

Not many good choices, so I took an expensive creature and put it at the top of UW Control’s curve (I wish it was Lifelink and not “Spirit Link”, though First Strike mostly mitigates that)

 

Time Spiral: Dark Withering, Mwonvuli Acid-Moss

Planar Chaos: Big Game Hunter, Fatal Frenzy

Two good Madness cards, but I’m surprised there are so few—cards from Time Spiral block got reprinted a lot, despite the multiple themes it has (and I’m using). Mwonvuli Acid-Moss also might be too good, despite me moving it up to uncommon. The final choice here is Fatal Frenzy which seems dangerous, but isn’t too much of an upgrade over the underwhelming Rush of Blood.

 

Future Sight: Judge Unworthy, Unblinking Bleb, Grave Scrabbler, Gibbering Descent, Whetwheel

Now here’s the pile of random cards Time Spiral block was known for: we have two Madness cards as expected (and one has Hellbent too) but we also have two Morphs and a removal spell that works well in UW Control (since its curve is relatively high).

 

Lorwyn: Oona's Prowler

This downgrade to uncommon has been a fixture of my RB Madness designs for a while, but it’s also a nice flier for UB Saboteur.

 

Morningtide: Idyllic Tutor

I don’t know why this is in Morningtide, but it’s a money choice for BW Enchantments.

 

Shadowmoor: Greater Auramancy

Another money choice for enchantments, though it might be too strong with Enchantment Creatures (at least it doesn’t work on the Opals/Lurking creatures, since they stop being enchantments when they become creatures).

 

Eventide: Aerie Ouphes

Not many great choices here, so let’s have a GW Toolbox card that helps get Persist to the minimum threshold.

 

Shards of Alara: Courier's Capsule

I’m surprised this was never reprinted (the other two Capsules were), but both UW Control and UR Artifacts can appreciate it.

 

Conflux: Scepter of Insight

Another blue card-drawing artifact, but I feel this is different enough (Courier's Capsule is more UR Artifacts, while this is more UW Control), and the downgrade to uncommon makes it notable.

 

Alara Reborn: Skyclaw Thrash

Yes, this card’s only notable aspect is being a UR Artifact, and having a coin flip is awkward, but it’s still a decent card overall.

 

Magic 2010: Gorgon Flail

There are shockingly few choices here, so we’re left with a random utility Equipment.

 

Zendikar: Kazandu Blademaster, Trusty Machete

Worldwake: Hada Freeblade, Akoum Battlesinger, Talus Paladin, Roiling Terrain

Mostly Allies here, though Roiling Terrain is a nice build-around for the Ponza side of RG Ramp/Ponza and Trusty Machete is an equipment which is apparently too strong for current sets.

 

Rise of the Eldrazi: Unified Will

This counterspell has needed a reprint for a while, and it works well when there are multiple blue decks based around creatures.

 

Magic 2011: Fauna Shaman

A perfect choice for GW Toolbox as both a creature and a tutor.

 

Scars of Mirrodin: Galvanic Blast, Kuldotha Phoenix

Mirrodin Besieged: Kuldotha Flamefiend, Spin Engine, Pierce Strider, Piston Sledge

Another surprise: Mirrodin-block sets have a lot of artifacts and artifact-synergy cards (though I’m surprised Mirrodin Besieged ended up with four once everything shook out).

 

New Phyrexia: Inquisitor Exarch, Blind Zealot

Two decent creatures for two specific archetypes (GW Toolbox and UB Saboteurs specifically).

 

Commander (2011): Magmatic Force

Here’s a ramp target for RG, but I wonder if it’s too good for rare in a Limited context—I know it’s been overpowered when I’ve played it in multiplayer.

 

Magic 2012: Stonehorn Dignitary, Devouring Swarm, Angelic Destiny

As a creature with an interesting ETB effect, Stonehorn Dignitary is perfect option for GW Toolbox, while Devouring Swarm has a role in BG Death and UB Saboteur. Angelic Destiny technically goes with WB Enchantments, but it’s here mostly as a marginal mythic, and being a first-time reprint is a bonus.

 

Innistrad: Lantern Spirit, Balefire Dragon, Ambush Viper, Woodland Sleuth

Lots of varied choices: a flier that works in either Control or Saboteur, a flashy mythic dragon, a nice toolbox creature, and the expected Morbid creature for BG Death.

 

Dark Ascension: Ulvenwald Bear

Dark Ascension, on the other hand, only has the Morbid creature.

 

Avacyn Restored: Natural End

The slightly more expensive Naturalize effect works well in a set where both artifacts and enchantments are archetypes.

 

Planechase 2012: Sakashima's Student

Sakashima's Student is the main reason why UB Saboteur is an archetype in the first place.

 

Magic 2013: Harbor Bandit

This is a perfect fit for UB Saboteur, but it might be too strong.

 

Return to Ravnica: Ethereal Armor, Loxodon Smiter

Ethereal Armor is a good Aura choice for WB Enchantments, and needs an upgrade as a result. Conversely, Loxodon Smiter is interesting for GW Toolbox, but might be too aggressive a downgrade to uncommon—I feel like the all-creature deck needs something like that against the control deck though.

 

Gatecrash: Angelic Edict, Nightveil Specter

Angelic Edict is a generic removal spell here that’s interesting since it can exile enchantments as well, while Nightveil Specter fits well in UB Saboteur (though I’m not sure it counts since it was a buy-a-box promo for the set).

 

Dragon’s Maze: Blood Scrivener, Ruric Thar, the Unbowed

Blood Scrivener is a nice Hellbent card (that needs to be re-labeled) destined to be the rare everyone hates to open, and Ruric Thar is a nice top-end for ramp.

 

Magic 2014: Savage Summoning, Strionic Resonator

Magic 2014 was surprisingly one of the hardest sets to find a choice from—the Savage Summoning downgrade to common might not work at all under actual testing, but Strionic Resonator comes in as a random artifact rare that has some synergies with GW Toolbox and RW Allies.

 

Theros: Hammer of Purphoros, Boon of Erebos

Most of the Enchantment Creatures in Theros were Bestow or Devotion-centered, so instead we have one of the few red artifacts for UR Artifacts. Boon of Erebos, on the other hand, is just a combat trick.

 

Commander 2013: Angel of Finality

A random GW Toolbox card (though I don’t think it’s that helpful, other than the random Raise Dead effect) that should be reprinted at some point.

 

Born of the Gods: Archetype of Courage

While this is an enchantment for WB Enchantments, it’s also an interesting option for GW Toolbox.

 

Journey into Nyx: Harvestguard Alseids, Grim Guardian

Now here are the actual Constellation cards for WB Enchantments.

 

Conspiracy: Muzzio, Visionary Architect, Deathreap Ritual

Muzzio works well with the UR Artifacts theme (though I hope the mythic to rare downshift is fine for a Masters set), while Deathreap Ritual is the perfect signpost for BG Death.

 

Magic 2015: Scrapyard Mongrel

This is the perfect card for my “threshold 1” design for UR Artifacts—Aeronaut Tinkerer would be here too, but it got a promo so it doesn’t count.

 

Khans of Tarkir: Woolly Loxodon, Pine Walker, Icefeather Aven, Secret Plans, Witness of the Ages

Lots of UG Morph cards here as you would expect.

 

Commander 2014: Angel of the Dire Hour, Flesh Carver

Angel of the Dire Hour is a nice rare for UW Control, especially after it dodged an Iconic Masters reprint, while Flesh Carver is a very strong rare for BG Death—maybe even too strong?

 

Fate Reforged: Lotus-Eye Mystics

A strong Auramancer is more interesting when it can regularly get back an Enchantment Creature in WB Enchantments.

 

Dragons of Tarkir: Qarsi Deceiver, Epic Confrontation, Obscuring Aether, Collected Company

Epic Confrontation is a strong variation on the traditional fight spell for the set, while Qarsi Deceiver and Obscuring Aether are Morph-relevant cards that don’t have Megamorph. Oh, and there’s a Company spell that seems to fit perfectly in GW Toolbox since it plays creatures at instant speed—I’m sure no one would ever play it.

 

Magic Origins: Faerie Miscreant, Zendikar Incarnate, Blood-Cursed Knight, Reclusive Artificer, Ramroller

A lot of my archetypes line up with the Magic Origins archetypes at least in part, so I get three gold uncommons from there, a nice blue flier for UB Saboteur, and another “Threshold 1” artifact card.

 

Battle for Zendikar: Ondu Champion, Firemantle Mage, Chasm Guide, Munda, Ambush Leader, Angelic Captain

Oath of the Gatewatch: Ondu War Cleric, Kor Sky Climber, Zada's Commando, Pulse of Murasa

Allies, Allies, Allies (and Pulse of Murasa)! These sets weren’t great otherwise, especially since I don’t want to touch Eldrazi (though maybe I should, since it is a part of Magic’s history—it would probably be an old one in that case though).

 

Commander 2015: Daxos's Torment, Daxos the Returned, Ezuri, Claw of Progress

Other than the Constellation card, we have two Experience Counter cards, which is a surprise. Normally I wouldn’t choose a Commander-centric mechanic, but these two fit so perfectly in their respective archetypes that I’m willing to make an exception.

 

Shadows over Innistrad: Twins of Maurer Estate

Eldritch Moon: Stromkirk Occultist, Bloodhall Priest

Madness cards, though I thought I’d picked more recent ones (though I want to keep the most-recently stuff relatively sparse, so this is fine).

 

Conspiracy: Take the Crown: (Spectral Grasp)

A clear plant for Masters 25, this is just Pacifism in 1v1 while being interesting in its native (multiplayer) environment.

 

Kaladesh: Inventor's Apprentice

Another great “Threshold 1” artifact card, though I wonder if I’m pushing it too hard by downshifting it to common.

 

Commander 2016: Entrapment Maneuver, Ash Barrens

Not many great choices, so have this removal spell at rare—and then I realized that I needed one more common mana-fixing land and Ash Barrens needs a reprint for Pauper (it unfortunately breaks my “three-of” mechanic rule, though WotC regularly breaks that rule with Cycling variants specifically).

 

Aether Revolt: Destructive Tampering

Red needed a Shatter of some sort with an artifact deck in the format, so here’s an interesting variant that also gives me a Falter effect.

 

Amonkhet: Thresher Lizard

A common from the past year that fits in an archetype (RB Madness/Hellbent)? Perfect!

 

Hour of Devastation: Aven Reedstalker

A boring Flash creature for UW Control.

 

Commander 2017: (Kheru Mind-Eater)

Another plant, though it does fit in UB Saboteur.

 

Ixalan: Sheltering Light

It seems weird to downgrade something that just came out, but this is mostly (God’s Willing) and smells plant-ish.

 

Rivals of Ixalan: Shake the Foundations

A surprisingly hard choice, as there weren’t that many generic cards in the set. Thrashing Brontodon would have fit perfectly but wouldn’t fit in the crunch, so the Seismic Shudder effect gets in instead, though it’s another downgrade that was just printed (though this effect is normally common and was likely upgraded due to Enrage, which isn’t a factor here).

 

Whew! This was a strange article that goes deep into design talk, and likely won’t have any effect on the actual set (even if they do choose the “card from every set” gimmick). If you’re interested in the set as a whole, I have my full spreadsheet for my design here. As for my next article, I normally wouldn’t have much until Masters 25 coverage starts (other than possible Flashback formats, such as the delayed Lorwyn one), but there’s a complication: I’m working on my Great Designer Search 3 submissions right now. There’s nothing stopping me from writing other articles as of this moment (in Stage 1), but I’ll certainly be busy, and later stages (almost certainly if I get in the Top 8) might gag me even on unrelated Magic topics. I’m not expecting anything (you can’t with over 7,000 entries, and I have no clue how good my non-reprint set design is—to be honest I mainly want to take the multiple choice test), but if I go silent despite stuff I should be covering coming out, you’ll know why. Until then.

 

Vincent

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