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By: Cheater Hater, Vincent Borchardt
Apr 04 2018 12:00pm
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The final part of the Masters 25 saga (not to be confused with Dominaria’s Sagas) is here! The gimmick of Masters 25 is that it includes at least one card from every Magic set with new cards (with the exception of the original promos, since no one wants to see Giant Badger again), and it’s time to look at every single one (covering the whole set in the process). Since Wizards of the Coast didn’t follow the “no other reprints” rule I did, I’ll be typeface-coding the cards: “bold” means almost no other reprints (only a direct reprint like the Planechase Anthology or an alternative MTGO printing like the Masters Edition sets is allowed here), “bold plus italics” means no simple paper set reprint (allows things like promos, Masterpieces, online-only sets, and other weird things), and otherwise the card has been reprinted in a normal set. Now let’s get onto the list!
 
Alpha/Beta: Savannah Lions, Disenchant, Swords to Plowshares, Armageddon, Counterspell, Blue Elemental Blast, Dark Ritual, Will-O'-the-Wisp, Red Elemental Blast, Lightning Bolt, Giant Growth, Regrowth
I talked about how these cards would have fit better in Iconic Masters in the last article, and even if you don’t count Unlimited as a reprint finding one is hard due to the Reserve List finding a new reprint is hard (though Copper Tablet fits everywhere). It’s hard to find a bad reprint here though—I talked about Armageddon doesn’t seem worth the slot and neither Dark Ritual nor Will-O'-the-Wisp are needed, but otherwise it works.
 
Arabian Nights: Erg Raiders
If only Oubliette was blinkable with Cloudshift. Oh well; Erg Raiders is a fine filler—I actually have it in one of my in-progress designs, but there its Warrior type (and toughness) matters.
 
Antiquities: Primal Clay, Mishra's Factory
Two good choices minus the lack of a first-time reprint.
 
Legends: Fallen Angel, Hell's Caretaker, Stangg, Nicol Bolas, Pendelhaven
Three of the choices were great, and you might be able to stretch for Stangg representing the “weird legends” part of the set, but Hell's Caretaker isn’t worth a rare slot with all the Legends cards already in the set.
 
The Dark: Ghost Ship, Ball Lightning, Blood Moon
Ghost Ship is a fine Limited card and the other two are very iconic, though I wish they weren’t both red rares—would Ball Lightning have been too good at uncommon in a Masters set?
 
Fallen Empires: Goblin War Drums
Again, other than the lack of a first-time reprint this choice is perfect as an old card with a relatively new keyword.
 
Ice Age: Brainstorm, Pyroclasm
Brainstorm definitely works, but Pyroclasm doesn’t really scream “Ice Age” to me, though that’s probably just personal taste.
 
Homelands: Ihsan's Shade
A good choice for the character of the set, as much as Merchant Scroll or Memory Lapse is more iconic.
 
Alliances: Arcane Denial, Balduvian Horde, Pillage
Arcane Denial seems very out of place (especially as a slowtrip), but the other two are perfect.
 
Mirage: Pacifism, Flash
Pacifism is a classic (if somehow underpowered in a set full of white removal), but while the inclusion of Flash is interesting as a mechanic-namer, I don’t like it at rare. Granted, I’ve always thought Quicken-style effects aren’t rare (remember, I’m the person who put Savage Summoning at common in my version of Masters 25), so take my opinion with a grain of salt.
 
Visions: Man-o'-War, Quicksand
The jellyfish is an obvious pick, but Quicksand doesn’t seem to hold its weight in a set with a bunch of other removal (in weird colors) and five other non-rare nonbasic lands that aren’t pure dual lands.
 
Portal: Path of Peace
This feels like the first real miss in terms of a full set—Path of Peace is overshadowed by the other pieces of white removal, with only the Kavu Predator interaction propping it up. As for other possibilities, Spiritual Guardian works with the blink deck as a first-time new-to-MTGO reprint and Theft of Dreams is a straight swap for Borrowing 100,000 Arrows, just to name a couple without getting into the expensive cards like Personal Tutor.
 
Weatherlight: Doomsday
The start of the Weatherlight saga and you couldn’t pick a more specific story card? Doomsday isn’t bad, but not as the only representative (though there aren’t many great choices that fit, other than Gemstone Mine).
 
Tempest: Diabolic Edict, Living Death, Kindle, Jackal Pup
Mostly utility cards here, but Jackal Pup is an interesting downgrade and Living Death is an iconic card (that unfortunately warps the Limited format).
 
Stronghold: Sift, Mogg Flunkies, Ensnaring Bridge
Two of the cards are fine, but does Mogg Flunkies really have a place in the set celebrating Magic’s history?
 
Exodus: Merfolk Looter, Curiosity
Two classics, even if keeping Merfolk Looter at uncommon seems weird given the overall power of the set.
 
Portal: Second Age: Ancient Craving
I’m going to complain when a set’s only representation is a utility card, but there isn’t much you can do with Portal Second Age, the set most known for introducing guns into Magic (history WotC wants to forget).
 
Urza’s Saga: Angelic Page, Congregate, Horseshoe Crab, Phyrexian Ghoul, Lull
Iconic cards, important archetype pieces, and the first pure first-time reprint? A great representation.
 
Urza’s Legacy: Unearth, Rancor
Another first-time reprint (with important Pauper implications) in Unearth, and while Rancor is a contender for biggest design mistake that was never banned, it is iconic and needs reprints occasionally.
 
Urza’s Destiny: Trumpet Blast, Elvish Piper
Elvish Piper is a nice reprint, but Trumpet Blast is the kind of generic card that we see all the time yet isn’t really notable, thus diminishing the set slightly.
 
Portal: Three Kingdoms: (Kongming, "Sleeping Dragon"), Borrowing 100,000 Arrows, Imperial Recruiter
Borrowing 100,000 Arrows is the kind of card whose uniqueness (the number in the card name) diminishes the more you see it—I would have swapped it for Theft of Dreams as I said above. Otherwise the other two picks are good.
 
Starter 1999: Loyal Sentry, Cinder Storm
This was one of the most surprising hits with relatively simple tools: Loyal Sentry works great in the Blink deck, while Cinder Storm is one of the most surprising downshifts that works (and is a first-time reprint to boot).
 
Mercadian Masques: Invigorate, Rishadan Port
Two great picks from one of the more forgettable sets.
 
Nemesis: Accumulated Knowledge, Stampede Driver
Accumulated Knowledge is a great pick, but Stampede Driver is strange since it doesn’t really seem to have a reason to be here. It’s hard to hate on a first-time reprint, but Nemesis has plenty of good choices like Submerge, Flame Rift, or Skyshroud Claim.
 
Prophecy: Plague Wind
Really? To be fair, if you forget all the disappointment of Plague Wind being the last rare revealed it isn’t that bad of a pick, especially consider it’s difficult to find a good card for the set. Everyone wanted Rhystic Study but it doesn’t really fit, and Lull is the Fog variant instead of Spore Frog (my pick), but maybe one of the legendary Spellshapers would have worked. Mageta the Lion (a first-time reprint) would have been a more flashy choice than (Akroma’s Vengeance) for example, or maybe even replacing Armageddon (though people wouldn’t like that mythic pick either).
 
Invasion: Exclude, Kavu Climber, Hanna, Ship's Navigator
Kavu Climber is a bit of a miss, but the other two are great choices, even if Exclude’s upgrade to uncommon doesn’t seem necessary in this context.
 
Planeshift: Eladamri's Call
Planeshift feels like it should have more than one card, but Eladamri's Call is a great pick.
 
Apocalypse: Vindicate, Quicksilver Dagger, Pernicious Deed, Mystic Snake
These are all decent picks, even if most of them have had their shine reduced through multiple reprints.
 
Odyssey: Auramancer, Zombify, Caustic Tar, Shadowmage Infiltrator
Other than Auramancer feeling completely out of place in this set, these are fine picks. Part of me wishes Zombify was common for the splash factor, but I know that would be stupid in a set with all the landcyclers.
 
Torment: Mesmeric Fiend, Laquatus's Champion
It’s hard to do Torment justice without any of the set’s mechanics, and the two picks are decent (and of course they’re both black).
 
Judgment: Browbeat, Living Wish
Two notable themes of a forgettable set, one of which is a semi-first-time reprint? That’s about as good as you can do here.
 
Onslaught: Renewed Faith, Akroma's Vengeance, Choking Tethers, Dirge of Dread, Undead Gladiator, Skirk Commando, Broodhatch Nantuko, Krosan Tusker, Krosan Colossus
It’s still strange that Onslaught block got so much focus, but their choices were good overall. Some minor nitpicks I have are Choking Tethers and Dirge of Dread being so similar in function as well as the power level of Undead Gladiator and Skirk Commando, but not every pick can be perfect with so many of them.
 
Legions: Akroma, Angel of Wrath, Willbender
Two good choices from the all creature set.
 
Scourge: Noble Templar, Karona's Zealot, Decree of Justice, Shoreline Ranger, Death's-Head Buzzard, Twisted Abomination, Chartooth Cougar, Elvish Aberration, Fierce Empath
The landcycler cycle inflates the total a bit, but the rest of the choices are good as well.
 
Mirrodin: Chalice of the Void, Spikeshot Goblin
Two memorable cards, even if they don’t shout “Mirrodin” like some other sets’ selections.
 
Darksteel: Echoing Courage, Sundering Titan
Again, the cards are memorable, but could you really not pick an indestructible card for Darksteel?
 
Fifth Dawn: Relentless Rats
I feel like I’m repeating myself: Relentless Rats is a great choice to reprint and downgrade, but it has nothing to do with the artifact or five-color themes of Fifth Dawn. This could just be a coincidence that all of Mirrodin block feels off or conflict of what I think the set should be and what WotC thinks, but it’s still interesting.
 
Champions of Kamigawa: Nezumi Cutthroat, Azusa, Lost But Seeking
Two themes, two good picks, one money reprint, one good set representation. Pop quiz for the readers: without looking it up, do you know where the reprint of Nezumi Cutthroat was?
 
Betrayers of Kamigawa: Genju of the Falls, Genju of the Spires, Iwamori of the Open Fist
I’m not sure if my ideal Masters 25 set would have multiple Genjus in it, but they could have done a lot worse for picks from Kamigawa block.
 
Saviors of Kamigawa: Promise of Bunrei, Freed from the Real, Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
I never would have thought that not only would Masters 25 have multiple Saviors of Kamigawa cards in it, but they would all be first-time reprints that are meaningful in the set—I could easily see a universe where the only SOK card in the set was Pithing Needle.
 
Ravnica: Frenzied Goblin, Watchwolf
I don’t like that Watchwolf is still uncommon, but otherwise these are fine picks.
 
Guildpact: Pillory of the Sleepless, Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind
Another pair of good picks diminished by multiple reprints.
 
Dissension: Court Hussar, Ratcatcher, Utopia Sprawl, Protean Hulk
Dissension has a strange variety of cards: one limited-focused, one with cross-set synergy, one classic combo, and a money pick. It somehow works.
 
Coldsnap: Darien, King of Kjeldor
An obvious first-time reprint from a set with slim pickings.
 
Time Spiral: Fathom Seer, Brine Elemental, Vesuvan Shapeshifter, Fortune Thief, Assembly-Worker
I wish Time Spiral’s identity was more than a bunch of Morphs and an Assembly-Worker, but it’s hard to do that when all the cards are weird and/or have a mechanic attached.
 
Planar Chaos: Whitemane Lion, Simian Spirit Guide, Akroma, Angel of Fury, Kavu Predator
The Simian Spirit Guide first-time reprint is very nice and everything else works in the set well.
 
Future Sight: Pact of Negation, Street Wraith, Summoner's Pact, Coalition Relic, Zoetic Cavern
Of course they needed some futureshifted cards here, but I really wish one was a first-time reprint, even if it was as simple as (Patrician’s Scorn) or Bonded Fetch. I also like the Pacts as a callback to Rocket-Powered Turbo Slug (even if it wasn’t intended).
 
Lorwyn: Soulbright Flamekin, Brion Stoutarm
It’s hard to make an isolated pick from this very on-rails set, but the picks still aren’t great. Maybe Sower of Temptation as a first-time reprint?
 
Morningtide: Vendilion Clique, Ambassador Oak
I’ve already talked about how Vendilion Clique feels like a “just because” mythic, but I like Ambassador Oak as it represents the tribal theme without explicitly being tribal.
 
Shadowmoor: Cursecatcher, Presence of Gond
Sadly no hybrid, but great picks for Modern and Pauper respectively.
 
Eventide: Nettle Sentinel, Fetid Heath, Cascade Bluffs, Twilight Mire, Rugged Prairie, Flooded Grove
Nettle Sentinel is a good first-time reprint, and the enemy filterlands put at least some hybrid in the set. It still is strange to see rare land cycles in Masters sets though, though I don’t know what’s left that needs reprinting other than allied fastlands.
 
Shards of Alara: Knight of the Skyward Eye, Skeletonize, Blightning
The combination of a very iconic spell and multiple first-time reprints that are good in Limited is a win in my book.
 
Conflux: Ember Weaver, Conflux
Yes, reprinting Conflux is cute (especially since it doesn’t fit the set at all), but Ember Weaver is another nice first-time reprint for Limited.
 
Alara Reborn: Lorescale Coatl
This is one of the hardest sets to fill as there are only ten slots for uncommon gold cards and most of the cards either have a mechanic, have been reprinted to death, or don’t provide enough impact for the signpost uncommon (even if the gold cards aren’t always signposts). The combo of Lorescale Coatl and Brainstorm or Sift is cute, but not much more, and maybe something like Behemoth Sledge would have more of an impact.
 
Magic 2010: Act of Treason, Master of the Wild Hunt
Master of the Wild Hunt is a nice first-time reprint, while Act of Treason is the standard temporary stealing effect now, even if it doesn’t seem like it’ll replace the term “Threaten effect” in MTG lingo.
 
Zendikar: Luminarch Ascension, Vampire Lacerator, Disfigure
It’s surprising that Luminarch Ascension hasn’t been reprinted yet (at least in English), and the other two are staple black cards.
 
Worldwake: Kor Firewalker, Arbor Elf, (Jace, the Mind Sculptor)
Jace doesn’t really count in this category since it doesn’t have the watermark, but the other two choices are good, even if Arbor Elf isn’t great for MTGO (and certainly would have been Llanowar Elves if it wasn’t coming back in Dominaria).
 
Rise of the Eldrazi: Wildheart Invoker, Ancient Stirrings, Prophetic Prism
Somehow Rise of the Eldrazi managed to pull off the perfect trio without any Eldrazi: a card representing the colorless theme (that is a first-time reprint with Modern implications as well), a card representing the “big” theme, and a staple that has been reprinted numerous times.
 
Magic 2011: Squadron Hawk, Chandra's Outrage, Cultivate, Plummet
Staples, iconic cards in constructed, and one of the first planeswalker-aligned cards—the only way this quartet could be more perfect was if it had a first-time reprint.
 
Scars of Mirrodin: Twisted Image, Nihil Spellbomb, Perilous Myr, Heavy Arbalest
Mostly Limited cards here, but fitting in Twisted Image is nice (and all the thoughts I have of it being common are countered by Inside Out already being one of the top cards in Pauper).
 
Mirrodin Besieged: (Blue Sun’s Zenith)
This is such a strange pick, as while the blue sun is an important part of Mirrodin’s lore, the X draw spell is much more iconic as Stroke of Genius. I have no clue what else you’d pick though—(Green Sun’s Zenith) is the obvious choice, while Thrun, the Last Troll is a first-time reprint that should be cheaper (and could replace a certain tree everyone hates).
 
New Phyrexia: Phyrexian Obliterator
Of all the singletons this is probably the most disappointing as while Phyrexian Obliterator is a perfect pick, such an influential set needs more than one card.
 
Commander (2011): Animar, Soul of Elements
Another perfect pick as a first-time foil (in paper) that works well with the Morph theme.
 
Magic 2012: Phantasmal Bear, Crimson Mage, Swiftfoot Boots
Despite having three reprints, Magic 2012 may have the lowest number of spells from its set cast in Limited (outside of something like New Phyrexia) that only has a mythic)—it feels like a complete non-entity.
 
Innistrad: Fiend Hunter, Murder of Crows, Tree of Redemption
The hate against plants with large behinds doesn’t really matter here, as both Murder of Crows and Fiend Hunter are good choices—it’s strange there isn’t a single monster representative though.
 
Dark Ascension: Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Haunted Fengraf
Thalia is a good reprint choice, while Haunted Fengraf is just there.
 
Avacyn Restored: Cloudshift, Gisela, Blade of Goldnight
I’ve already talked about Gisela, but Cloudshift is a nice choice for a first-time reprint.
 
Planechase 2012: Sai of the Shinobi
Yeah, this is the generic card—yes it should have been Baleful Strix (at uncommon), but the equipment isn’t an awful choice.
 
Magic 2013: Griffin Protector, Bloodhunter Bat, Murder, Timberpack Wolf
A quartet of Limited commons, but it’s always strange when a card that showed up in the Welcome Decks comes in a Masters set a year later (though Bloodhunter Bat is more than good enough for the slot).
 
Return to Ravnica: Fencing Ace, Rest in Peace
No gold cards is weird for a Ravnica set, but Rest in Peace is an important reprint.
 
Gatecrash: Urbis Protector, Totally Lost, Boros Charm
A Limited card, a Constructed role player, and a meme: what could be better?
 
Dragon’s Maze: Notion Thief, Ruric Thar, the Unbowed
Two nice first-time reprints, and it’s cool to have Notion Thief in a set with both Brainstorm and Jace.
 
Magic 2014: Strionic Resonator
This isn’t exactly a defining reprint, but it is a neat one (even if its reminder text was removed).
 
Theros: Gods Willing, Ordeal of Heliod, Bident of Thassa, Returned Phalanx
Ordeal of Heliod feels completely out of place here as a card specifically engineered for Theros Limited, but the others work well.
 
Commander 2013: Prossh, Skyraider of Kher
Another fine commander from a Commander set.
 
Born of the Gods: Retraction Helix, Courser of Kruphix
Limited card and Constructed card—I don’t have nearly as many complaints as we get into the later sets.
 
Journey into Nyx: Nyx-Fleece Ram, Eidolon of the Great Revel
I was surprised WotC put so many Theros enchantments in the set without an enchantment theme, but I guess it’s worth it if Eidolon of the Great Revel can get a reprint.
 
Conspiracy: Grenzo, Dungeon Warden
I said a Conspiracy Legendary Creature would be reprinted, I just picked the wrong one.
 
Magic 2015: Geist of the Moors, Jalira, Master Polymorphist
A generic flier and the weirdest of the uncommon Legendary creatures? Yeah, this feels like a miss, even for a core set.
 
Khans of Tarkir: Dragon's Eye Savants, Mystic of the Hidden Way, Ruthless Ripper, Hordeling Outburst, Woolly Loxodon
Lots of morphs as expected, as well as a completely unnecessary Hordeling Outburst downshift.
 
Commander 2014: Reef Worm, Myriad Landscape
Reef Worm is just weird, but Myriad Landscape is a nice pick that gets a first-time foil here.
 
Fate Reforged: Humble Defector
While Humble Defector is a great pick for the set’s themes, it’s disappointing that a set this recent didn’t get a first-time reprint.
 
Dragons of Tarkir: Ire Shaman, Ainok Survivalist, Epic Confrontation
Two Megamorph downshifts surprising works, and of course the punch meme that doesn’t have a set mechanic is going to be in the set.
 
Magic Origins: Valor in Akros, Enthralling Victor
More memes, as well as a synergistic pick for Limited.
 
Battle for Zendikar: Coralhelm Guide, Zulaport Cutthroat, Zada, Hedron Grinder
Zulaport Cutthroat is a strange choice over the much more iconic Blood Artist, but otherwise these are fine, especially the underappreciated Coralhelm Guide.
 
Commander 2015: Magus of the Wheel
I’m surprised we didn’t see more Magi actually, so this is a good choice.
 
Oath of the Gatewatch: Baloth Null
As I mentioned in the Limited Review this seems strange, but it works well enough in the context of the set.
 
Shadows over Innistrad: Dauntless Cathar, Triskaidekaphobia, Pyre Hound, Uncaged Fury, Vessel of Nascency
Five cards from a set that just rotated out of Standard less than twelve months ago? They’re mostly just okay Limited cards (though Uncaged Fury would have worked better as the Assault Strobe Pauper wants), but it still is strange.
 
Eldritch Moon: Lunarch Mantle
This is one of the Limited reprints I’m most interested in: were the out-of-color synergies really important for Limited, or was there just nothing better from Eldritch Moon?
 
Conspiracy: Take the Crown: Deadly Designs
I talked about how this is a surprisingly good reprint from a multiplayer-focused set, and that remains true.
 
Kaladesh: Cloudblazer, Self-Assembler
Two more Limited cards that work well with their respective themes.
 
Commander 2016: Ash Barrens
I talked about how I didn’t expect recent sets to get value-oriented reprints in Masters 25, but Ash Barrens must have surprised WotC with its Pauper effectiveness (and being Treasure Chest-only online), and the rise of Pauper in paper helps as well.
 
Aether Revolt: Treasure Keeper
Cascade that isn’t the keyword is a fine enough reason for a Limited-focused reprint of a Standard card.
 
Amonkhet: Horror of the Broken Lands, Supernatural Stamina, Thresher Lizard
More great Limited choices, though ironically Thresher Lizard seems out of place now without much other support for “heckbent” (unlike in my design).
 
Hour of Devastation: Act of Heroism
Probably the most boring pick in the set.
 
Commander 2017: Izzet Chemister
This was on my short list for Commander 2017 picks, but it’s strange that the card that was probably the closest to Constructed play in the set was the pick to reprint—or maybe that’s by design, just in case it actually broke out in Legacy or Vintage?
 
Ixalan: Colossal Dreadmaw
I get that this is a simple card that’s probably going to be a core set staple for the foreseeable future, but it doesn’t look great when you reprint the exact same card (that isn’t a basic land) three sets in a row, even before you consider that it robs Ixalan of its first-time reprint.
 
Rivals of Ixalan: Dusk Legion Zealot, Ravenous Chupacabra
Not only does the most recent set get multiple reprints, it gets one of the strongest cards in that set. Again, these could easily be regular core set cards in the future and the Chupacabra works well in the set, but why isn’t that Nekrataal?
 
Almost four thousand words, but that’s to be expected when you’re covering every card in the set in at least some fashion. Now the only question is what my next article is. I have the second part of my Great Designer Search Chronicles to cover, and of course Dominaria will have its Limited Review and possibly a Treasure Chest article as well, but nothing else is really pressing right now—part of me wants to just spend my Magic time brewing Dominaria decks and thinking of possible Masters set themes. Let me know what you want to see me write about next.
 
Vincent

@VincentSIFTD on Twitter