I have enjoyed playing with the Masters sets in the past. They are highly synergistic sets that reward staying open and finding the right deck to be in, rather than just drafting a pile of good cards. Thus, they are rewarding to draft though can also be frustrating if you misread signals.
Wizards of the Coast helpfully outlined the synergies and archetypes they put into the set a few weeks ago, so let's go over them here:
- White/Blue flicker (lots of enters the battlefield abilities and Ghostly Flicker effects)
- Blue/Black control (counters and removal)
- Black/Red sacrifice (sacrifice outlets and creatures with the Unearth mechanic)
- Red/Green tokens (exactly what it says; overwhelm the board with a horde of tokens)
- Green/White populate (token based, but bigger creatures who you can copy with the populate mechanic)
- Esper control (combination of white/blue/black)
- Grixis graveyard (reanimator style deck)
- Jund sacrifice (as red/black, but adding the tokens of green)
- Naya tokens (combining green/red tokens with populate)
- Bant splicers (basically, Golem tribal)
The idea is to find the open deck and stick to it, hopefully as early as possible. This means reading signals and identifying what your opponents are and are not doing.
Ready? Let's go. (I want to note I am doing a Phantom Draft for the article, which means there is no temptation to value draft).
Pack 1 pick 1:
Ok, let's begin. Immediately I notice there are two cards in the pack for green/white (Eyes in the Skies and Call of the Conclave), both of which are fine. There are also some juicy Bant blink cards (Wingcrafter, Coiling Oracel, Kor Hookmaster and Thragtusk). There is a single unearth card in Grixis Slavedriver, and a red/green tokens card in Dragon Fooder.
The obvious pick, of course, was Thragtusk. It's easily the most powerful card in the pack, and will go into any green deck, not just a specific archetype (even though it will be even better in a Bant flicker deck).
Pack 1 pick 2:
Having picked Thragtusk, I'm keen to see if I can follow up with another good green card. Unfortunately, Explore is the only one in the pack and there is no way I'm happy to second pick it. So what else is there? Scourge Devil and Skirsdag Cultist both belong in the black/red deck, there is another Coiling Oracle for Bant, as well as Sensor Splicer and Tandem Lookout (which are both also fine in white/blue), and a removal spell in Chandra's Outrage. However, there is also Selesnya Signet, which has the ability to not only ramp me, but allows me to stay slightly more open. In addition, it produces green mana, so if I don't end up in green it may allow splashing Thragtusk. I took the Signet.
Pack 1 pick 3:
Sea Gate Oracle is another card good in the white/blue or Bant deck, and there is also another Sensor Splicer. There is also another Grixis Slavedriver for black/red. However, I liked the look of Seaside Citadel. It's more fixing and, having taken some fixing now, if worse comes to worse I could end up in a 3 or 4 colour good stuff deck.
Pack 1 pick 4:
This is the pack I decided to commit to an archetype. I'm not sure if a 4th pick Momentary Blink is a big sign or not, but it works so well with Thragtusk that I was happy to take it and try to go into a white/blue (splashing Thragtusk) or Bant deck. I'm hoping the two Splicers I passed in the previous two packs come back, and that I haven't put someone to my left into the same deck (which in a format like this can be a disaster).
Pack 1 pick 5:
Now that I am committed, I can focus in on the cards that work with what I am trying to do. Kor Hookmaster and Wingcrafter are the two picks here; I was impressed with Hookmaster in the one paper draft I have done to this point, so I took it.
Pack 1 pick 6:
6th pick Ghostly Flicker makes me somewhat sure no one to my right is going into the blink deck, though passing another Splicer to my left is not ideal. Still, passing Flicker would be worse, so I took it.
Pack 1 pick 7:
This pack only had Wingcrafter for me, so Wingcrafter it is.
Pack 1 pick 8:
This pack was hard. On the one hand, there was another Momentary Blink as well as Vanish into Memory. On the other, Kor Hookmaster. More flicker targets, or more flicker effects? I went back and forth, but ended up taking Blink, my thinking being it will easier (hopefully) to pick up targets.
Right, back to pack one, so let's run through these quickly:
Pack 1 pick 9:
Simic Guildgate will help splash Thragtusk, and there is nothing else I really want any way.
Pack 1 pick 10:
Drat, the Splicer did not come back. Still Coiling Oracle could be okay if I end up heavier green, though I won't be looking to splash it otherwise.
Pack 1 pick 11:
Again, no Splicer.
Pack 1 pick 12:
Pack 1 pick 13:
Pack 1 pick 14:
Pack 1 pick 15:
So, to recap pack 1:
I'm a little worried at this point that pack 2 is not going to well. The fact that the Splicers didn't come back, and that I passed some early cards that work in the deck I am not building, means that I have put someone to my left into the same deck. Let's see what pack 2 gives me.
Pack 2 pick 1:
Ugh. Soul Warden is the only card here I even really think is worth it. If I had the other Splicers from pack 1, I probably would have taken Vital Splicer, but I'm pretty sure I won't be getting passed any more Golem makers.
Pack 2 pick 2:
This pack is much better. Here I can choose between Tandem Lookout, Kor Hookmaster or Wingcrafter. There is also a Pitfall Trap if I want to take removal. I decided to take Hookmaster; with three ways to reuse him (two of them that can be used twice) he acts as a removal spell himself.
Pack 2 pick 3:
This pack has both Augur of Bolas and Centaur Healer. I went with the Augur mostly due to not wanting to heavily commit to green.
Pack 2 pick 4:
Even though Lone Missionary has better synergy with my deck, I like the power level of Rhox War Monk more. I could have also taken Spire Monitor but went with the Rhox.
Pack 2 pick 5:
In this pack, I had both Kor Skyfisher and Mistmeadow Witch to pick from. The Skyfisher is powerful, but the Witch is a repeatable flicker effect. I chose the Witch.
Pack 2 pick 6:
This was a nothing pick, as there was nothing for me.
Pack 2 pick 7:
Augur of Bolas is the only card in the pack with any synergy with my deck, so it was the pick.
Pack 2 pick 8:
Whilst Spire Monitor has no synergy with blink effects, it's a 3/3 flyer, which is just fine anyway.
The remainder of pack 2 is:
Pack 2 pick 9:
Pack 2 pick 10:
Pack 2 pick 11:
Pack 2 pick 12:
Pack 2 pick 13:
Pack 2 pick 14:
Pack 2 pick 15:
So now, after 2 packs, these are the cards I'll be looking to play:
I'm not entirely happy. I'd like to pick up some cards like Mist Raven or Flickerwisp in the next pack, but I guess I'll just have to see what comes around.
Pack 3 pick 1:
Again, no great choices here. I considered Bronzebeak Moa but wasn't overly happy with it. I ended up taking Pitfall Trap as a removal spell.
Pack 3 pick 2:
Azorius Guildgate, Lone Missionary or Kor Skyfisher were the choices here. I'm still not sure what the correct pick was, but the Skyfisher at the time seemed the best of the cards.
Pack 3 pick 3:
Again, not much here, but I'm happy enough to take Azorius Signet.
Pack 3 pick 4:
I could have taken another Kor Skyfisher or Pitfall Trap here, but instead I went with Deputy of Aquittals. This can save one of my creatures from a removal spell, or return something like a Hookmaster to my hand for extra value.
Pack 3 pick 5:
Another nothing pack. I took Jungle Shrine as it fixes two of my colours.
Pack 3 pick 6:
I don't know that I'll run all of the Augur Of Bolas I have picked up, but there was nothing else for me here anyway.
Pack 3 pick 7:
I'm not unhappy to see another Ghostly Flicker here. I just wish I had more to use it on!
Pack 3 pick 8:
And a second Agent of Aquittals. I've now seen every card and have not picked up anything great, which is disappointing. Here are the rest of the picks:
Pack 3 pick 9:
Pack 3 pick 10:
Pack 3 pick 11:
Pack 3 pick 12:
Pack 3 pick 13:
Pack 3 pick 14:
Pack 3 pick 15:
I'm not entirely happy with the deck. Apart from Thragtusk, I don't have a lot of good targets for Momentary Blink and Ghostly Flicker. I am not confident this deck will perform very well at all, to be honest, but I guess I'll find out!
Versus: Black/red unearth
There is not much to say about both games here, as they were over very quickly. Despite casting Rhox War Monk on turn 3 in both games, it was killed the before it could do anything. My opponent just played the aggro game, removing my blockers and quickly overrunning me.
Versus: Red/green aggro
This was much the same as the previous match, with my opponent just out classing me. In both games they won, they played an early Goblin Assault that I could not keep up with. The game I did win I got the Rhox War Monk out early, and they couldn't find green mana, so it was more through dumb luck than anything.
At this point I dropped from the event, as the deck was just bad.
Ugh. Well, that did not go well at all. I didn't draw Thragtusk once, and had no real good pay off cards. Blinking Kor Hookmaster seemed mediocre at best, as I wasn't able to follow up with any decent attacks. As I said during the draft, I think someone else was in the deck, and that was likely my fault for passing the early cards then moving in.
Anyway, please leave your thoughts in the comments below; I'm very interested to see what you would have done in my seat. I'll be back next week with another Modern Masters 2017 draft, and hopefully it will be much better!