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Insider: Mental Exercises Concerning Modern Masters 2015

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Greetings, Speculators!

This feels like a slow week. There were some exciting play-related shenanigans over the weekend, but an SCG Open and a Team GP, while good to watch, didn't teach us a ton about finance. Fate Reforged Spoilers are over and the cards' prices are beginning to establish themselves. Dragons of Tarkir spoilers are a month away.

Wait, what? Only a month? The last set literally just came out and we're already a month away from the start of spoiler season? Wow, okay.

I don't really know what's going to be in Dragons of Tarkir. There will be hundreds of cards and 99-100% of them will be brand new cards with set-specific abilities they haven't announced yet. We can speculate, but only the kind of speculation that makes you sound like a nerd unless by some miracle you hit a lucky guess and end up looking like a genius.

I won't speculate about Eldrazi in the last set of the block, Ugin's role in the lore, a new Sarkhan planeswalker or any other silliness. That's not even speculating; that's guessing and if I wanted to get paid to guess, I'd get a job at a carnival. I have something much more fun in mind.

Non-Baseless Speculation

It's never too early to talk about Modern Masters 2015. Why? Because we need to make our moves now if we're going to make them. I think this week I will cover what I think will be in the set and why I think that and next week we can talk about how to act on that information. Unless I don't do that next week.

I'm not contractually obligated to stick to vague plans I make spur of the moment, so stop acting like I am. I mean, regardless of what happens next week, this is what's up for this week, so buckle up, nerds; I'm about to drop knowledge bombs.

Just, you know, small knowledge bombs because we don't know a ton. What do we know?

Modern Masters (Hereafter Referred to as Modern Masters 1, I guess) had "a total 229 cards, consisting of 101 commons, 60 uncommons, 53 rares, and 15 mythic rares. Each booster pack contain[ed] a foil card. Reprints [we]re Modern-legal cards ranging from Eighth Edition through Alara Reborn." We don't know exactly how many rares and mythics will be in Modern Masters 2015, but we can extrapolate. MM1 had 229 cards and MM15 has 249 cards. With 20 more cards, we can get a rough estimate.

There were 101 commons before, so 101/229 = 0.441 and 0.441 x 249 = 109.8. I am guessing there are 110 +/- commons.

There were 60 uncommons, so 60/229 = 0.262 and 0.262 x 249 = 65.24. I am guessing there are 65 +/- uncommons.

There were 53 rares before, so 53/229 = 0.231 and 0.231 x 249 = 57.6. I am guessing there are 58 +/- rares, but maybe as many as 60.

There were 15 mythic rares before, so 15/229 = 0.066 and 0.066 x 249 = 16.3. I'd guess there are probably exactly 16 mythics.

This is all extrapolation. This would give us the 20 missing cards keeping the exact same proportions as last time.

Interesting to note, last time there were nearly the same number of uncommons and rares, making uncommons overprinted due to the small pool of uncommons printed three to a pack. This means that while Modern Masters didn't do much to curb the price of mythic rares, it had a real effect on the price of uncommons, or at least would have if there were really any high-priced uncommons in that set. No one was too worried about the price of Incremental Growth or Krosan Grip.

I predict they get a bit ballsier with uncommons in the next set. They can really curb some nutso uncommon prices on cards like Remand and increase availability on cards like Inquisition of Kozilek if they want to. The real question is whether they are going to.

I want to avoid having this article turn into a wishlist of cards that we'd all like to see come down in price. I think we want to have as realistic expectations as possible, so let's look at what we know about how they want to build the set based on what they've said.

What We Know

"Modern Masters (2015 Edition) takes players back to some of the most remarkable planes from recent history, including Zendikar, Mirrodin, Ravnica, Lorwyn, Kamigawa, and Alara. Featuring new artwork on a number of cards, every card in Modern Masters can be added to your favorite Modern-format decks. But first, enjoy a fresh Limited experience that combines some of Magic’s most iconic cards in new ways."

The press release tells us a few things. Make no mistake, this set is going to do the same thing the last one did and err on the side of draft archetypes rather than just an excuse to reprint a ton of cards. That means if we can figure out a few of the archetypes, we can figure out a few of the cards.

I think I would rather make educated guesses I'm reasonably sure of than try and guess every rare and mythic, so let's just base what we can on what we know. The last bit of information we have is that Etched Champion and Emrakul, the Aeons Torn are confirmed in the set. I'm going to milk as much out of each clue as I can.

Zendikar, Mirrodin, Ravnica, Lorwyn, Kamigawa, and Alara

This tells us more about what won't be in the set, frankly. Everyone, including me, has made a big deal out of how Innistrad cards like Snapcaster Mage and Geist of Saint Traft are safe from MM15 reprinting, so let's not belabor that.

It also gives us a range and a few sets to look at which have cards that are used in Modern and EDH that are a bit pricey.

Mirrodin listed as a plane alone doesn't tell us Scars block is included, but the inclusion of Etched Champion at least makes it impossible to rule out cards from that block. Last time we had a cycle of Kamigawa dragons at mythic which was a kick in the pants. If we're paying $10 MSRP this time around, it's reasonable not to rule out the cycle of praetors from this block.

All five praetors are used in EDH and Elesh Norn is a casual favorite whose price needs to come down. I won't call this a foregone conclusion, but if they want to include a cycle at mythic, this is a better choice than the spirit dragons were last time, as much as a cheaper Kokusho helps. I don't have much evidence for this other than, "they did a cycle last time and this one seems perfect," but I'm still reasonably certain we'll see these cards. They're good in Limited, after all.

There are a lot of good rares and mythics in these sets and if we're going to try and elucidate any of them, we'll have to look at how they construct limited sets and try and extrapolate from a very small list of known cards.

Every card in Modern Masters can be added to your favorite Modern-format decks

It's worth pointing out that every card needs to be legal in Modern. It doesn't have to be playable but it needs to be legal. This rules out cards like Birthing Pod, a card that seemed like a shoo-in last month.

But first, enjoy a fresh Limited experience that combines some of Magic’s most iconic cards in new ways.

This tells us that cards that have synergy and have never appeared together in Limited before will be here, but nothing specific. However, them repeatedly pointing out that this is a set that emphasizes its Limited playability is important. Why?

Emrakul Is in the Set

How do you play Emrakul in Limited? A Limited deck has 16-18 lands, and you're going to need all of them to cast Emrakul unless you have some help.

Jamming Emrakul is almost a combo since it's so tough to pull off. I see two possibilities as being likely and a third we can rule out.

I don't see a rare enabling Emrakul and I think we can rule that out. Cards like Through the Breach, Goryo's Vengeance etc. are good combos in Modern but not in Limited.

Last time we had the Kiki-Jiki/Pestermite combo with Pestermite at common. People who first-picked Kiki had a nearly 100% chance of getting a Pestermite in the draft if they tried. Pestermite was good on its own and fit with Faeries, Kiki was good on its own. Most importantly, Kiki was castable. Emrakul drafted early without a Summoning Trap or Goryo's Vengeance can't go in your deck and that feels bad. I don't imagine the only enabler for him is at rare.

The first is there are lots of Eldrazi. Three at mythic, maybe one or two at rare and the rest at uncommon and common. Cards like Skittering Invasion and possibly other Eldrazi enablers could be in the set to make drafting an Ulamog's Crusher or Artisan of Kozilek in almost any deck possible.

Another possibility is Urzatron lands with cards like Expedition Map. Tron lands would be good if the set has Scapeshift as well and multiple expensive spells. All of a sudden, Karn Liberated looks like a possibility.

Or both.

Etched Champion Is in the Set

This card is bad if metalcraft isn't possible. He's not an affinity card per se, but he doesn't pair poorly with artifacts. It sounds like there will have to be quite a few colorless cards in the set. Not the entire set, but enough that there are two different archetypes that have large colorless components. We may not see the affinity cards we saw last time, but rather metalcraft as a theme. Cards like Ezuri's Brigade that were underwhelming last time could get jammed in. We don't know.

What seems like a slam dunk is the inclusion of Mox Opal. With the high price it fetches and its applications in metalcraft and affinity, this seems like a strong possibility. We could speculate forever about other inclusions; Arcbound Ravager, Spellskite, Phyrexian Metamorph, Birthing Pod (you nerds wish!), but I would actually bet my money on Mox unlike the rest. We have a small number of slots.

That's really all the concrete information we know. Let's look at the mythics last time and see if we can use what we know to fill in some blanks.

  1. Yosei
  2. Jugan
  3. Keiga
  4. Kokusho
  5. Ryusei
  6. Tarmogoyf
  7. Dark Confidant
  8. Elspeth
  9. Kiki-Jiki
  10. Clique
  11. Fire and Ice
  12. Light and Shadow
  13. Shackles
  14. Progenitus
  15. Sarkhan Vol

Half of these are kind of disappointing to have at mythic but this is a good list. What do we think we'll see for mythics next time around? Based on what we've gleaned from the clues, I think my list would look something like this.

  1. Tarmogoyf
  2. Dark Confidant
  3. Vendilion Clique
  4. Emrakul
  5. Karn Liberated
  6. Mox Opal
  7. Vorinclex
  8. Jin Gitaxis
  9. Elesh Norn
  10. Sheoldred
  11. Urabrask
  12. Planeswalker #2 (Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas?)
  13. Ulamog
  14. Kozilek
  15. Linvala / Iona
  16. Will there be a 16th mythic?

A lot of this is conjecture, and the other Eldrazi are far from assured. But the mechanics of building a set in a way that a marquee card, Emrakul in this case, is castable dictate that they need a lot of enablers at common and uncommon, and having multiple Eldrazi seems reasonable, especially given their high price.

Next week we can delve into what we should do whether my list of mythics is accurate or not. I think there are moves to be made in the meantime leading up to the beginning of spoilers. Check in next week. Until then, try and see if you can guess the 15 or 16 mythics that will be in the set.

5 thoughts on “Insider: Mental Exercises Concerning Modern Masters 2015

  1. Another red mythic feels pretty likely to me (to fill the cycle of Goyf, Dark Confidant, Vendilion Clique, Linvala/Iona), either in the 16th mythic or the 2nd Planeswalker slot. When you look at the list of format staples over $1, there really aren’t too many candidates. If they want to stick with cards that were already printed at mythic, you’ve basically got Kiki-Jiki, Koth, Ajani Vengeant, and two Chandras. If they’re willing to rarity shift upwards, they could go with Splinter Twin, Pyromancer Ascension, Goblin Guide, Blood Moon (basically can rule this out), or Fulminator Mage though I doubt any of these get shifted upward. Kiki-Jiki definitely seems likely to me since it’s still the only mono-red card over $20.

    1. The only one that seems all that likely to me to get a rarity upgrade is Goblin Guide. That being a promo foil didn’t do much to curb its price. A lot of people want to beat face and you need 4 Goblin Guides to do it. I think Guide at rare would be good for Magic but Guide at Mythic would be good for sales. We’ll see.

  2. There probably won’t be 16 Mythics. There might be 17, but I wouldn’t count on it.

    Magic cards are printed on 121 cards sheets. For the rare/mythic sheet for large sets, the distribution is that every Mythic is printed once on the sheet, while every rare is printed twice.
    121 = 15 Mythics + 2×53 Rares
    You could have 17 Mythics and only 52 Rares, but not 16 Mythics.

    http://www.mtgsalvation.com/forums/magic-fundamentals/magic-general/529435-mythic-rare-ratios-for-smaller-sets

    I suspect the extra 20 cards will be either something in a land slot (like in FRF), or extra uncommons, which is a tactic WotC has used several times over the last years in order to spice up drafts.

  3. I would like to see one of the higher profile people here start a betting pool. I would put up a $25 rare up front to gamble on my list of cards being the correct one. Each person ante’s up front, posts a list to the forums which cannot be edited. I would post down to uncommon, not common. I would start it myself but with so few transactions here I doubt many people would have confidence I would ship.

    Any takers?

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