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By: olaw, Oliver Law
Nov 29 2017 12:00pm
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Hello!

Welcome to another Modern Musings!  With Iconic Masters on the shelves and drafts in full swing I take a look at the reprints in the set that might be worth picking up for Modern play.

CONTENTS

1. White
2. Blue

3. Black
4. Red
5. Green
6. Multi-Coloured
7. Artifact
8. Land
9. Conclusions

THE CARDS

White

Archangel_of_Thune
Archangel of Thune
Back when Birthing Pod was still running amok in the format, Archangel of Thune was the center of a popular infinite life combo with Spike Feeder which also pumped your team to astronomic proportions.  With Pod being banned that particularly combo is less easy to achieve and does not really see play anymore.  It's possible that the Archangel may rise again in popularity.

Auriok_Champion
Auriok Champion

Champion isn't a card that hasn't seen a lot of play but is a strong sideboard card against certain matchups.  As a Fifth Dawn rare, the third set of Mirrodin Block, it was in fairly short supply on MTGO which contributed to a fairly exorbitant price relative to its use.  Champion's usefulness may have increased now that Fatal Push is the biggest removal spell in the format.  However, Kozilek's Return is able to kill the Champion making it slightly worse that is was than when opponents were playing Pyroclasm and Anger of the Gods.

Elesh_Norn_Grand_Cenobite
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
Elesh Norn used to a reanimation staple in UW Gifts Tron and similar styled decks.  Those decks have fallen out of favour some time ago but picking up one copy of this powerful Legend could still be worth your while.

Restoration_Angel
Restoration Angel
There was a time, not so long ago in my mind, that Restoration Angel was a true format staple.  The infinite combo with Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker was perhaps the most prevalent combo in the format and even outside that it was a staple of UW Control and other creature-based value decks.  The banning of Birthing Pod really hit this Angel hard and the arrival of Collected Company gave the value decks a better value alternative to the Angel.

I really love Restoration Angel and it remains one of my favourite creatures, however, it appears this Angel's days of ruling Modern are largely over.  That said Restoration Angel still sees some play in Hatebears and the CopyCat decks.

Serra_Ascendant
Serra Ascendant
One of the most powerful creatures in the Soul Sisters decks of old.  Unfortunately it's been a long time since those decks were good in the format, and arguably they were never all that great to begin with.  There are probably worse introductory decks if you want a start in the format but be warned that a lot of opponents will be doing vastly more powerful things.

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Blue

Ancestral_Vision
Ancestral Vision
Ancestral Vision was initially banned in Modern and was not taken off the banned list until 4th April 2016.  The fear was that the powerful draw spell was too open to abuse.  The unban caused the card to steeply increase in price.  Since then Vision has been tried out in various decks but doesn't really have a home in the current metagame.  Powerful as it is, the delayed gratification of Vision has proved unattractive and cheating the wait with As Foretold is only a fringe strategy.  That said Vision is a card with a lot of potential and its time could certainly come around.

Let's take a look at a UB Faeries deck that is one of various decks looking to give Ancestral Vision a home:

Condescend
Condescend
Not a format staple but a card that saw a lot of play in Mono-Blue Tron decks back when that was a popular deck in the format.  A solid counter that also allows deck manipulation.

Cryptic_Command
Cryptic Command
Cryptic Command is a veteran of the Masters sets, having been reprinted in both the original Modern Masters and Modern Masters 2015.  There is also a promo version and a Masterpiece version of this Lorwyn original.  That said if you don't happen to have picked up copies of this card over its various reprints it remains a Control staple in Modern for its power and versatility.  Well worth picking up some copies if this if you are a Control-minded player.

Control is actually seeing a serious upswing in popularity in the current metagame with Jeskai Control and UW Control being the most popular Control decks in the format.

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Black

Bloodghast
Bloodghast
Creatures that can be recurred from the graveyard have become a theme of Black over the history of Magic.  Bloodghast is probably the best example of this type of card in the whole of Modern.  As such it has become a staple of Dredge, Smallpox and Hollow One decks and really most black decks looking to abuse the graveyard in some way.

Thoughtseize
Thoughtseize
A real Modern staple and the most powerful discard spell in the format.  Thoughtseize was running amok in Standard in the not so distant past thanks to a reprint in Theros but if you didn't pick up a playset then you have another chance here.  Also, this reprint has the original art which I personally prefer.

Black is very heavily played in the format right now and so is the discard package of Thoughtseize and Inquisition of Kozilek is very popular.  Thoughtseize is played in Abzan, Jund, The Rock, Lantern Control, GB Tron and Death's Shadow decks to name a few.  Definitely pick up a playset of these if you don't already have them.

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Red

Anger_of_the_Gods
Anger of the Gods
Anger is a strong sideboard card for red decks and has even seen some main deck play in more niche decks.  Anger is a very effective sweeper in a format where creatures tend to be on the smaller side and the fact that it exiles the creatures is very relevant against Persist creatures, Dredge and decks looking to cast Delve spells.

Kiki_Jiki_Mirror_Breaker
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
Kiki has become something of the token Red mythic for these Masters sets, as the colour seems to struggle for good cards to put in those slots.  Kiki-Jiki was a key combo piece alongside Restoration Angel in Birthing Pod decks in Modern's past.  It was also an alternative way of performing the Splinter Twin combo with Deceiver Exarch and Pestermite so saw some play in that deck.  With both Birthing Pod and Splinter Twin banned, Kiki-Jiki's main homes have been destroyed. 

I have seen some decks trying to revive Kiki-Jiki with Twinless UR decks floating around but really Kiki's usefulness has come down hard.  I remember buying Kiki-Jiki's at around 17 tickets a piece and now you can pick up copies for under a ticket.  His time may come again but multiple reprints mean that his price is unlikely to spike too highly in the future.

Magus_of_the_Moon
Magus of the Moon
Magus of the Moon was the budget Blood Moon for some time, the roles were then reversed when Blood Moon was reprinted in Modern Masters and the Magus became the more niche card.  Blood Moon is better in most circumstances and is the more heavily played card but Magus has extra utility in Chord of Calling/Collected Company decks where it can be used as a silver bullet.

Magus's demand really peaked during Eldrazi Winter when turning off Eldrazi Temples and Eye of Ugin was at a real premium.  Thankfully those days are over and so the call for Magus is less pronounced.  However, there is always a chance that the format will need to call on Magus again someday.

Monastery_Swiftspear
Monastery Swiftspear
Swiftspear is a staple of aggressive red decks and may even be more prominent than Goblin Guide in that role these days.  Swiftspear brings hasty beats and has the ability to become much bigger when backed up with cheap spells.  An excellent beater in Burn decks and once a big part of UR Delver decks that fell out of favour with the banning of Treasure Cruise.  There are some exciting Mardu Prowess decks running around that also look to abuse the power of Swiftspear.

Rift_Bolt
Rift Bolt
A firm staple of Burn decks.  Rift Bolt's uses outside of that deck are pretty limited as it's just worse than Lightning Bolt.  One mana for 3 damage is a fantastic deal and Burn is just a combination of many spells that do that.

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Green

Genesis_Wave
Genesis Wave
Not a format staple but has been a niche player.  Genesis Wave decks powered through the mana-producing capabilities of Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx can set up ridiculous turns in which they drop a huge number of permanents onto the battlefield.

Primeval_Titan
Primeval Titan
Arguably one of the greatest Green creatures of all time.  Primeval Titan has been in M11, M12 and Modern Masters 2015 so has not been without reprints.  Titan is a huge beater but also its ability to search up lands makes it a combo enabler, which is where it has seen most of its success in Modern.  Primeval Titan is a staple of the Scapeshift, speaking of that is more sorely in need of a reprint, decks and before the banning of Summer Bloom the Amulet of Vigor decks.  Titan was also a staple of Commander decks before it got banned in that format.  Titan is a card well worth having a playset of.

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Multi-Coloured

Electrolyze
Electrolyze
Once something of a staple of the format in more controlling decks like Jeskai Control and Splinter Twin.  The decline in the popularity of UR as a colour combination more generally probably contributes to its lesser presence in the metagame but still a very strong card.  It burns or kills small creatures while also drawing you a card, it's a fantastic deal but on the slower end of Modern removal spells.

Glimpse_the_Unthinkable
Glimpse the Unthinkable
UB Mill is a legitimate deck in Modern, though not one that sees so much play these days.  There are a lot of powerful mill cards in Modern and in combination they can really be formidable.  It's definitely a niche deck but a fun one that is worth trying out.  This reprint will make the deck a lot cheaper to build as it has never been reprinted up to now and was one of the more expensive cards in the deck for a time.

Knight_of_the_Reliquary
Knight of the Reliquary
Knight of the Reliquary, or KOTR to its friends, is a very powerful creature which some very powerful abilities.  Fetchlands are rife in Modern and so your average Knight will be pretty large when it hits the battlefield.  Its ability also allows you to tutor lands in to play which can be very handy.  Despite its power, Knight has never really found a solid home in Modern.  There have been a multitude of decks that have played the card but never anything you would really consider Tier 1.

I think my favourite Modern Knight deck is the Knigtfall combo deck that uses KOTR with Retreat to Coralhelm to search out all the lands in your deck and one-shot the opponent.  Here's a more recent version of the deck piloted to success by Joseph Birkenheuer at the SCG Cincinnati Modern Open:

Lightning_Helix
Lightning Helix
Helix is a classic burn spell with added life gain to keep you in the match.  It sees play in Burn and also in the increasingly popular Jeskai Control decks in the format.

Supreme_Verdict
Supreme Verdict
While not a format staple, the current metagame is seeing a rise in Control decks.  Verdict is a big player in the UW Control decks in the format as an uncounterable board sweeper that can help recover the board.

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Artifact

Aether_Vial
Aether Vial

Vial is a mainstay of a number of creature-focused decks including Merfolk, Humans, Death & Taxes & Eldrazi & Taxes.  It is used to exploit its ability to put creatures into play at instant-speed while also being uncounterable while also freeing up your mana for spells or other duties. 

Vial has seen a number of reprints, however, if you don't already have them I highly recommend picking up a playset of this powerful artifact.

Here's the hottest new Aether Vial deck, Five-Colour Humans, which was piloted to 1st Place by Collins Mullen at SCG Cincinnati Modern Open:

Mishras_Bauble
Mishra's Bauble
A fairly obscure Coldsnap uncommon that really rose to prominence thanks to the Delirium mechanic in Shadows over Innistrad Block.  Bauble is card with no cost that puts an artifact into your graveyard while also replacing itself.  This made it a lot easier to activate Delirium for Traverse the Ulvenwald making it a powerful one-mana tutor, which was a prominent part of the Five-Colour Death's Shadow deck strategy.

Bauble also sees play in Lantern Control as a one-shot look at your opponent's library and a cheap artifact that can replace itself.  Bauble is seeing less play now that Five-Colour Death's Shadow has seen a downturn in format.

Oblivion_Stone
Oblivion Stone
A Tron staple.  This destructive rock is a fantastic colourless board wipe that fits perfectly in the mana-rich Tron decks. Few cards in the format are quite as destructive as Stone not only destroys creatures but also destroys planeswalkers, artifacts and enchantments indiscriminately.  Also, if you have the time available you can save your own permanents from Obliviion Stone's wrath by putting fate counters on them.

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Land

Grove_of_the_Burnwillows
Grove of the Burnwillows
Grove has been a staple of RG Tron decks since the early days of Modern.  Rather than a painland Grove gives your opponent life which is perfect for Tron which is looking to go over the top and isn't really concerned about the opponent's life total.  RG Tron was the most popular version of Tron for some time and as such Grove was very expensive.  It also is one of a non-symmetrical cycle of dual lands from the bizarre Future Sight set, which meant a reprint always seemed a bit unlikely.  The reprint at rare is very welcome.  Thanks to Fatal Push, GB Tron is now pushing out RG Tron which makes Grove less than essential in the current metagame.

Grove also combos with Punishing Fire as a way of repeatedly recurring it.  However, currently Punishing Fire is banned in Modern for this reason.  If Punishing Fire were unbanned in future Grove could see a big rise in demand.

Horizon_Canopy
Horizon Canopy
Horizon Canopy is the other notable land from the Future Sight dual land cycle and I would argue the best in general.  Canopy is a painland that you can cash in for a card draw once it is no longer needed.  Most GW decks in the format run one or two copies and I have seen versions of Bogles running as many as 4 copies.

On MTGO, Canopy is the most expensive card in the set and it's only a rare which is quite interesting.

Recently Canopy has been used alongside Ramunap Excavator as a recurring source of card draw.  It can be tutored up with Knight of the Reliquary to trade in a land for a card draw source that also grows your Knight.  I understand the deck was popularised by Todd Anderson but here is a list from a recent Modern daily by The_Gunslingers.

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CONCLUSIONS
As far as the Masters sets go, Iconic Masters was not the most exciting for Modern players but there are a few gems in here and useful reprints.  Definitely some cards that are worth picking up cheaply now before they go back up in price in the future.  However, some of the cards are has-beens as far as the current metagame is concerned and there aren't too many staples in the set.  That said it's not a Modern Masters Set so it should not be expected to be a high value Modern set.

It's interesting to note that in terms of value, on MTGO at least this set does not represent great value.  The most expensive card at the moment is Horizon Canopy at around 17-20 tickets and then there is a big drop off to cards in the 7-8 ticket bracket.  That isn't a good thing and will discourage players for cracking packs, which is definitely not great and partiuclarly bad given the option to play Phantom Drafts.  I am certainly not an expert in this EV calculating and such like but this definitely seems like a disincentive to cracking packs or buying the product.  Let me know your thoughts on Iconic Masters in the comments.

Thanks for reading,

Oliver Law (olaw on MTGO)