Drafting throughout the Ages

As many of you might know, Magic the Gathering turns twenty-five this and Wizards of the Coast wanted to make sure they celebrate this landmark birthday with some exciting releases. Soon we will be returning to Dominaria for the first time in a decade, but before we get to that we get to draft cards throughout the entirety of Magic’s history with Masters 25.

The latest in the continuing line of premium draft sets, Masters 25 aims to take players both young and old on a tour across the many sets and explanations that Wizards have released over the years. Personally, I love drafting these sets. Sometimes they can be a little hit or miss in term of their expected value and potential return on investment, but these sets are designed to be drafted. If the Limited environment is solid then I’m happy to have a crack at it, and maybe I’ll get lucky and open something shiny.

Unfortunately, I was going to be very busy with my day job over the course of the release weekend, and it was looking like I might have to wait until we could have one of our kitchen table drafts before I could have a crack at the format. Lucky for me, Magic Online decided to release the set a whole two days early. So, on Wednesday night I booted up my laptop and jumped into a M25 league to test the format out.

For the spoilers I had seen I had noticed several combos possible in this set, and that there were decent aggro strategies possible (red looking very much like my jam), so I was very keen to see what my pack one pick one would be. Sadly, it wasn’t a very exciting pack. My rare was a Notion Thief, a solid card but not the kind of gold card that anyone would want to first pick. There was no decent removal in the pack and all my uncommons were very subpar. In the end I decided to first pick a Frenzied Goblin in the hopes of getting passed some decent red in the next couple of packs. Then I got passed a foil Vendilion Clique.

With some other decent blue in the pack I decided to pick them up and see what other blue the player on my right would pass me. The next couple of packs where very kind to me, as I managed to pick up a Cursecatcher, a Mystic of the Hidden Way and even a couple of nice white cards like Loyal Sentry and Griffin Protector. I wasn’t positive I was going to play white, but it seemed to be more open than red at this point. As the draft went on I ended up getting some great pay offs for going blue and white, with Court Hussar and Cloudblazer being some of the highlights. In the end I finished the draft with a pretty strong tempo flyers pool. After a few minutes of tweaking, this was the mainboard I settled on.

2 Loyal Sentry
2 Brainstorm
1 Cursecatcher
2 Phantasmal Bear
1 Angelic Page
1 Fencing Ace
1 Nyx-Fleece Ram
1 Pacifism
1 Coralhelm Guide
1 Dauntless Cathar
1 Borrowing 100,000 Arrows
1 Court Hussar
1 Vendilion Clique
1 Griffin Protector
1 Kongming, “Sleeping Dragon”
1 Sift
1 Ghost Ship
1 Mystic of the Hidden Way
1 Cloudblazer
1 Noble Templar
1 Shoreline Ranger
8 Plains
8 Island

Overall, I was very happy with what I had drafted. My plan was simple. Get in with some early damage thanks to the Bears and Sentry, then finish off my opponents with some pumped up flyers. So that was my plan, but how did it go?

Round One; Mono Black Aristocrats

In the first game I was able to amass a pretty sizable board, with both my Phantasmal Bears, a Loyal Sentry and a Cursecatcher piling on the pressure while my opponent just played swamps. But things quickly went wrong for me when they played a Phyrexian Ghoul followed by a Death’s-Head Buzzard, which they sacrificed and then returned to the battlefield with Unearth to sacrifice again, wiping out my board. Unable to recover, I quick lost and we went on to game two, with much of the same kind of shenanigans going on. Soon I was 0-2, but I still had a chance to win some packs if I could beat my next two opponents. No pressure then.

Round Two; Blue/Red Aggro

In game one I manage to get off to an early start, mainly thanks to my Phantasmal Bears. Soon however, the board became clogged up with creature and we found ourselves in a bit of a standoff. Lucky for me, I found my Mystic of the Hidden Way. Turns out a 3/2 that can’t be blocked is a bit of a beast in Limited. He was quickly teamed up with Kongming, “Sleeping Dragon” and my opponent scooped. In game two I was able to follow the same line of play, but instead of my Mystic I amassed an army of flyers to perform the beatdown. Despite my opponent’s best efforts, I was able to close out the game pretty quickly. On to round three.

Round Three; White/Black Midrange

While not as fast out of the gate as some of my previous games, I was still able to put on some decent pressure with my Griffin Protector while my opponent did very little. On my turn five I draw the Vendilion Clique and decide to see what my opponent is planning. It is at this point I relies that they literally have a hand of all six drops. I decide to get rid of their Urbis Protector to prevent them from blocking my flyers, and they quickly concede. In game find ourselves in a board stall, and things look slightly hair when they resolve a Darien, King of Kjeldor. Lucky for me I once again found my Mystic of the Hidden Way, which gives me just enough of a clock to out race has army of 1/1 tokens.

So, I finished the league 2-1, winning two packs of Masters 25 for my troubles. I was also able to trade the foil Vendilion Clique for some Modern staples, which was a nice little bonus. But the question remains, how was the draft experience? Was it worth the money?

Overall, I have to say that financially Masters 25 falls a little bit sort of the mark. If it had not been for the foil Clique I would not have even come close to the value of the three packs I opened. However, as I stated earlier I don’t look to Masters set to make my money back, I want a solid draft experience and on that point Masters 25 knocked it out of the park. I have played and watched many more M25 drafts over the last few days and I have to say the limited environment that Wizards have created is a ton of fun.

Whether you want to bounce all your opponents creatures with the Horseshoe Crab/Retraction Helix combo, destroy all our opponent’s lands with Boros Charm and Armageddon, or just draft a mountain of Relentless Rats, Masters 25 offers Limited players a vibrant and fun draft set to be enjoyed at the kitchen table or your local LGS. If Wizards of the Coast would just consider dropping the MSRP on packs, selling this set to around $7, it would truly be a home run of a product.

What do you think? Have you had chance to draft Masters 25 yet, and if so did you find it a fun experience? Do you agree with me that the most important part of these sets is the draft environment, or do you think the price tag warrants some more impressive reprints? Let us know what you think in the comments below, and while you’re there why not subscribe to the site to keep up to date with all the latest from us here at Master of Magics. But until next time remember, Good Luck and Have Fun.

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