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By: one million words, Pete Jahn
May 31 2013 12:00am
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Modern Masters – Uncommons and Commons

PureMTGO gets to preview five Modern Masters cards today. Now obviously these are not new cards, since Modern Masters is composed entirely of Modern legal cards from Eighth Edition to Alara Reborn. The set has 101 commons, 60 uncommons, 53 rares, and 15 mythic rares.  We also learned, way back last October from Aaron Forsythe’s intro article, that some rarities would be changed to balance the limited environment. All five of our preview cards have been so changed – from uncommon to common. 
Did you pauper players catch that? Your format just got five new cards.
 I’ll get back to that later. 
To start, let’s look at some blue cards.
We have two very different blue cards here. 
Perilous Research was a Coldsnap card. That was a very strange draft format, but I remember liking Perilous Research, even if I could not say the same about Cold Snap drafts.   The trick to making Perilous Research work is to have something that you don’t mind sacrificing.   Ideally, you can pair this with a Threaten effect, and sacrifice your opponent's things.  It appears that Vedalken Shackles is in the set. Shackles plus a couple copies of Perilous Research could be really demoralizing for an opponent – but Shackles is a Mythic.  I have not yet seen a Threaten effect at common or uncommon, but I am writing this just halfway through week one of the spoilers, so there are far more cards I have not seen than seen. 
Threaten, sac is a best case scenario. For more often, Perilous Research ends up sacrificing something you cast, but no longer value – like the 2/2 for two that you draw turn 11 when the board is jammed full of 3/3s or better.  That works - it's like cycling the bear for two cards.   Perilous Research gets better, however, is when you can sacrifice a creature that is chump blocking, or you can fizzle an opponent’s removal spell. Getting that sort of benefit wasn’t too hard in Cold Snap, and I would not expect it to be any harder in this set.  
Let’s move on to Dampen Thought. Back in Champion’s block, this was also an uncommon. Now it is common. The question is – is mill a viable strategy in Modern Masters? I think we have to assume that it is. I can’t see Wizards wasting a slot on this if mill was not a thing - the Modern world was not crying out for more copies of Dampen Thought.  I think having it in Modern Masters means we can also expect to see some common Arcane spells to splice on to. 
If we are trying to build a mill deck, the Arcane spells we would like to see are probably Spiritual Visit (which puts a 1/1 flier into play) Glacial Ray, Consuming Vortex, (Horobi’s Whisper) or Eye of NowherePsychic Puppetry would be okay - or even Torrent of Stone.   At uncommon – assuming they don’t change it to common – the spells you want are (Candle’s Glow) and Eerie Procession.  The trick will be to get enough Arcane spells to make Dampen Thought work.  We won't know if that's reasonable , or even feasible, until we have the whole spoiler.    
Best case scenario: you open four copies of Dampen Thoughts in your sealed pool, plus Consuming Vortex and a Candle’s Glow.   You draw them all by turn six.   On turn five, you cast Candle’s Glow, splicing on the two copies of Dampen Thoughts and chumping with the 1/1 token. On turn six, you cast Consuming Vortex to bounce the biggest threat, splicing on two copies of Dampen Thoughts. Turn seven, you can cast a Dampen Thoughts, splicing on the second Dampen Thoughts, then cast the second Dampen Thoughts. At that point, you will have milled 28 cards, and your opponent should be dead. 
That’s a best case scenario – and one predicated on opening several Dampen Thoughts and a couple extra Arcane spells. Modern Masters has 101 commons in the set.  The odds of seeing one Dampen Thought in any given booster pack is about 10%.  In the average draft, the players open 24 packs, for an average of about 2.4 copies of Dampen Thought per draft. That’s about the same odds as (Jace’s Erasure) or Mind Sculpt in Core Set drafts - and we all remember losing to those decks. In Modern Masters, I expect Mill to be the same sort of thing:  not an every draft strategy, but something you can luck into on occasion.  You may also want a fallback plan, in case your opponent presents a 52 card deck for game two.      
Another possibility – we know that Dredge is a thing in the format. Dampen Thoughts might go into the Dredge deck, both as a way to get dredge started and as a way to get a second use out of good arcane spells like Horobi’s Whisper or Glacial Ray. We won’t know that until we see the card pool, but it is something to consider.  In some ways, that seems more likely than seeing Mill as a serious path to victory.  Dampen Thought could be a way to find your good dredge cards.   If you really want to give your opponent a good kick, splice Glacial Ray onto Dampen Thoughts, and mill a Moldervine Cloak.  Moldervine Cloak?  Yup - I'm previewing that, too. 
Moving on to Black, we have another former uncommon being “downgraded” to common: 
So far, I have only seen this seeing play in Modern in Living End decks, but it does see play there. It has also shown up, on occasion, in other 60 card decks. In limited, though, a 3/4 Swampwalker for 3BB is a highly playable card. It gets better if you can equip it, or even slap a decent aura on it. Speaking of which, here are green’s entries:
Imperiosaur is a fast fattie. Imperiosaur can be a bit tricky to cast, but Search for Tomorrow – the suspend Rampant Growth – is already confirmed and Kodama's Reach is rumored.  A fast 5/5 is useful – although he would be a lot better with Trample or some sort of evasion.  Alternatively, you could slap a Moldervine Cloak on him.  An 8/8 without evasion is at least an (Abyss) for the opponent each turn, unless they have a regenerator or removal. Removal, of course, only kills the Imperiosaur, but you can get the Cloak back easily enough. Moldervine Cloak was a high pick back in Ravinca. It seems like a fine common both for green decks and dredge decks in Modern Masters. 


Our preview cards were all once printed at uncommon, but are now printed at common in a set released on MTGO. That means they are Pauper legal online and could play a part in Pauper decks. Let’s take a look. 
The card drawing spells look reasonably playable. Perilous Research might be better than Accumulated Knowledge in the early game, especially when Rats is wiping the board, but it will need a lot of testing. It is situational – and in most cases I think I prefer Ponder or Mulldrifter.  Street Wraith has been playable in the Living End decks in Modern, but Pauper does not have a Living Death equivalent, nor a strong, fast combo deck that wants no-mana cycling.  In short, I see both Perilous Research and Street Wraith as specialized tools that we don’t have a use for, yet. That said, I do want to try Perilous Research in the blue aggro decks that feature Ninja of the Deep Hours. 
The green cards also have potential. Imperiosaur is a fine creature, and maybe a green beats deck is just one solid four drop away from Tier One. I’m not sure – I don’t brew that sort of deck. I’m more interested in Moldervine Cloak, which seems to fit well into the hexproof auras decks. Admittedly, I’d rather slap an Armadillo Cloak on my Silhana Ledgewalker, but a Moldervine Cloak is not bad at all – and better if they have sweepers or Naturalize effects.
In the end, I am most intrigued by the idea of building a UWR mill deck using Arcane spells and Dampen Thoughts. The deck could have fogs, like Ethereal Haze, Spiritual Visit, (Terashi’s Cry) or Psychic Puppetry. It could have bounce with Consuming Vortex and Eye of NowhereReach through Mists, Sift through Sands and  Murmurs from Beyond can draw cards, and Peer through Depths can search for Dampen Thought. More importantly, if you have 1U free and a Dampen Thought, you can splice it onto all of these cards. That means you can mill four cards over and over – potentially more if you have two copies and 2UU free. Add in  (Jace’s Erasure) and Mind Sculpt and you just might have a deck. It would require some tweaking, but it has some potential. 
Against the Auras decks, you have Cut the Earthly Bond from the sideboard, although it will not hit the Hexproof creatures. You could add black for removal like Horobi’s Whisper, or splash red for Glacial Ray and First Volley – and even a couple (Ire of the Kaminari)s. For that matter, Lava Spike is Arcane, but that works better in a burn deck than a mill deck.  .  
A mill deck needs some early defense, preferably something that can mill.   Door Keeper and Halimar Excavator spring to mind, along with more expensive cards like Vedalken Entrancer.   Hedron Crab would be nice, but it is uncommon.   If you splash red, Nivix Cyclops would make a great wall, which could often kill attackers. 
Here are two very rough builds, one mono-blue and one blue red. I have not tested these decks in actual combat, because before this article goes live, my nondisclosure agreement prevented me from explaining why I wanted to play Dampen Thoughts in a Pauper decks. Now that’s over.
Mono-Blue Arcane Mill
thought experiment for Modern Masters Preview
4 Door Keeper
1 Drift of Phantasms
2 Mulldrifter
7 cards

Other Spells
4 Jace's Erasure
4 Dampen Thought
4 Mind Sculpt
1 Tome Scour
3 Thought scour
4 Eye of Nowhere
4 Peer through Depths
2 Murmurs from Beyond
4 Reach through Mists
30 cards
18 Island
3 Halimar Depths
2 Quicksand
23 cards

Dampen Thought



Do these decks need work? Probably. However, I think the shell is there. The trick will be to live long enough to make the mill work. It won’t be easy, but I think it could be done. It would be sweet to see a new archetype in Pauper. 

Enjoy Modern Masters.
“one million words” on MTGO


Songs of the Damned by MagicGatheringStrat at Fri, 05/31/2013 - 01:19
MagicGatheringStrat's picture

The Songs of the Damned Pauper deck (albeit a very rare 3-1 in the Dailies) surely welcomes Street Wraith (as does Tortured Existence, as Blake pointed out)

Perilous Research looks by KaraZorEl at Fri, 05/31/2013 - 09:33
KaraZorEl's picture

Perilous Research looks brilliant for when you have to chump block in sealed.

Yeah, there is no way by greyes3 at Fri, 05/31/2013 - 20:24
greyes3's picture

Yeah, there is no way Research is better than AK (even in the early game). Wraith is pretty interesting at common. There should be some Pauper decks that want him. He would have been solid in combo before the ban. MM seems like an interesting set for sure. I just don't see enough EV yet to justify people drafting it a lot online. Time will tell.