Category Archives: Legacy Corner

Initial Reactions to MT. GEMA

Yesterday, WoTC announced the Eternal Masters set. (Full announcement found here.) I was unable to join Monday Night Magic this week due to a work commitment, so I have have written the following post with my initial reactions to the news. I had not seen any spoilers or read any articles about this announcement as of the writing of this post, so these are simply my own knee-jerk reactions.


 

Eternal Masters was announced today via the WotC website, and we are still in “early times” with respect to what its eventual impact will be. At this point we know the following:

  • WotC has had mixed success with the two “Modern Masters” sets in the past few years. The first was a great success, creating a great deal of buzz, anticipation, and player excitement. It lead to the (at the time) largest Magic GP ever, and contained at least a few sought after reprints. The second was somewhat successful, and although it did not quite live up to the levels of excitement seen with the first Modern Masters, it still lead to the now largest (as of this writing) Magic GP. This reduced enthusiasm may have been due to the low perceived EV on boosters that cost $10 MSRP.
  • Eternal Masters will contain 249 cards, all reprints.
  • Two of the cards reprinted will be Force of Will and Wasteland.
  • None of the cards reprinted will be from the reserved list.
  • Pack MSRP will be ~$10.

The “Masters” series is an odd duck in that it seems to have multiple, possibly mutually incompatible, purposes. First and foremost, these sets are designed to create a good limited environment. In order to do that, it is claimed that you cannot simply pack them full of powerful sought after cards. While players who design cubes would tend to disagree, this is the party line from WotC. A limited environment must have a conservative base power level with at least several different archetypes present. These archetypes can be simple “connect the same creature type dots” or more broad and difficult to recognize synergies, but WotC feels a need to ensure that even inexperienced players are able to see some target to aim for.

As a whole, the previous Masters series has done a reasonable job with this. What limited (pun intended) experience I have with these sets showed them to be enjoyable for limited play. The question of, “Was it worth the price tag?” can be debated, and in the end I suspect that the answer to this will vary greatly from person to person.

The second purpose is to put more copies of some important “format staples” into circulation. It is unclear if WotC’s intent is to help hold the upward price spiral in check, but giving players more opportunities to get their hands on the cards that they need for decks outside of Limited play is a function of these sets. While it is undeniably true that the Modern Masters sets put more copies of some cards into circulation, their ultimate effect on the secondary market prices may not be so simple.

In the weeks following the release of the first Modern Masters, Tarmogoyf shot up by around 20%. Even before the release of the second Modern Masters, ‘Goyf had plateaued at about 65% higher than it was pre-Modern Masters one. The price stayed essentially flat after MM 2015. It is certainly true that this is only one example, and that I am not extremely well versed in the world of MTG finance, but it is not the only case of a sought after card increasing in price following the Masters reprint. (See also, Blood Moon.) Card prices are highly contingent on the state of the metagame as well as demand driven by player participation. The key point is that simply reprinting a card does not necessarily reduce secondary market prices. It is more complex than that.

Finally, a goal of the Masters sets is to increase player interest in a format. Give the players some experience with a card pool or environment that they may not have previously been interested in and perhaps they will find that they enjoy it. I think it would be difficult to argue that the two Modern Masters sets had no impact on Modern as a format. It would be difficult to disentangle this influence from the other drivers of interest, including Modern Pro-Tours, but I believe that a causal connection is highly suggested.

So we are left with some questions and a great deal of speculation. What cards could possibly be reprinted to justify the price tag? What sort of archetypes can it support without being degenerate and busted? If the Force of Will and Wasteland are the opening salvo of cards, what, if anything, did they hold back? Ultimately, who is Eternal Masters actually for? Current Legacy and Vintage players don’t need to be convinced to play eternal formats. Some would welcome lower card prices with open arms, others would lament the loss of “investment.” All would likely welcome greater interest in the eternal formats as it could mean more of an opportunity to for local game stores to run eternal tournaments. But I am unconvinced that this is a good thing for the long term health of the eternal formats.

There is a Baloth in the room, and it is the Reserved List. Eternal Masters will NOT re-print any cards from the Reserved List. If it is successful in driving interest in the eternal formats, it may actually lead to an overall increase in the prices of reserved list cards. This may happen even if it is able to drive down costs of non-reserved list staples, which I remain unconvinced it will do successfully. Increased interest in Legacy and Vintage may, paradoxically, actually hasten their demise. Legacy and Vintage live on a razor thin path. Too little interest and they may die. Too much interest and they may die.

I welcome any support for my beloved eternal formats from the folks in Renton. I do want others to see and experience the formats that I enjoy. But I have very mixed emotions about this announcement, and I don’t think that its impact can yet be predicted. Until a solution to the Reserved List problem can be found, true eternal formats tenuously cling to a rather precarious niche.

Legacy Corner – RUG Delver

The deck currently known as RUG Delver had its beginnings in the Canadian Threshold deck of days past. Around 2007, Canadian Threshold was pioneered by (and took its name from) Canadian David Caplan. That deck sought to use aggressive green creatures like Nimble Mongoose and Tarmogoyf to beat down opponents while disrupting with blue counterspells and some red burn for removal or to finish. This was a tempo strategy that still describes how the more recent RUG Delver operates.

The Threats
RUG Delver wants to kill you with creatures. Key players here are Nimble Mongoose, the green shroud one drop that just won’t stop, and Tarmogoyf. The latter of these can get very, very large very, very quickly in a format full of fetch lands and counterspells. Goyf can easily become a perfect roadblock for other “fair” creature decks or an amazing clock when the ground is clear. Joining the dynamic green duo is Delver of Secrets, the most aggro one drop to be printed in recent years. (Printed in blue because they didn’t already have the best toys. They needed the best creatures, too…) These make for a potent combination of evasion, size, and resilience that can test even the most robust of removal packages.

The Blue
With access to the accursed color, RUG Delver makes the most of it with disruption like Force of Will and Daze. To smooth out draws, and set up Delver transformations, full sets of both Brainstorm and Ponder are typically present as well. Some builds also run Stifle (an underrated card in my opinion), so be careful with the timing of your own fetch-lands.

The Red
Ah, glorious Mountains! Expect your early creatures against RUG Delver to eat a faceful of Lightning Bolt should they clear the counter-spell gauntlet. In fact, if a creature hits the table in the early turns, they may just be saving the counter-spells for something that won’t die to a well timed bolt. Should your life total drop under the critical three point threshold (ha!), you are likely done for as well. Other burn, such as Forked Bolt or Chain Lightning, may crop up as well.

The Land
While RUG has a fragile and greedy mana base with mostly fetches, Volcanic Island and Tropical Island, it also runs Wasteland to punish the other suckers doing the same thing. While you may be tempted to think your own Wastelands will be a great avenue to victory, don’t forget about Stifle

The Game Plan

  1. Make threat
  2. Disrupt
  3. Remove anything else
  4. Hit you

Repeat steps 2-4.

So, how do you survive? Make better threats? Have better counterspells? It is hard to say. RUG Delver is, sadly for the rest of us, a good balance of threats and answers.

 


 

This is part of an ongoing series of posts introducing you to different Legacy decks. It began as a semi-re-occurring series on Monday Night Magic. This deck was discussed on Episode (UPDATE_NUMBER_WHEN_I_FIND_IT).

You can find the introduction to this series here. You can find more articles in this series by looking for the Legacy Corner tag.

Legacy Corner (Introduction)

Legacy is my favorite format in Magic. We recently started a reoccurring series on Monday Night Magic where I get to ramble about a Legacy deck for a while. The idea is to give a quick, basic introduction to some of the deck archetypes of Legacy. It will (hopefully) give a bit of context for some of the tournament results we discuss on the show.

I love to talk about Legacy, but I don’t think that the Legacy crowd is MNM’s core demographic. This being the case, I don’t want to ramble too long about it on the show. Then I remembered that I have a website.

My plan is to write a post here each week to accompany the segment on Monday Night Magic. I will talk about the key cards of the deck and some of the important interactions, as well as provide a link to the episode of the podcast that mentioned the deck.

I will get things wrong, I promise. I do research the decks, but I don’t actually play all of them. These discussions are not meant to be huge, in-depth how-to-play guides, just an introduction to the basic concepts. They will be in the “Legacy Corner” category, and I will try to tag them with “Legacy” as well. They should happen about once a week, although I have two to catch up on before that schedule starts.

Although we have comments disabled on the site, you can always give me feedback via twitter or at the show’s mtgcardadvantage gmail account.