The Top 5 Reprints That Needed To Happen In Modern Masters 2017, And Why
This week, I’ll be taking a break from my usual Top 5 series to talk about the new set everyone is so hyped about: Modern Masters 2017 (MM3). Despite the changes to premier play we have seen recently concerning Modern, Wizards has really seemed to make an effort with this set to give the players what they have been asking for, and the result is quite astonishing. There are no Comet Storms in this set.
Not only have they made some really fantastic draft archetypes that look to make for a very fun Limited environment, they have also managed to squeeze in just about every major Modern staple that has a hefty price tag (excluding only a couple of cards). Some of these reprints have been cards people have been asking for for a long time, and here I’m going to discuss the most important ones, what they are used for, why the reprint was needed and what it will mean for the cards and the players.
So, here are what I believe to be the top 5 most needed reprints:
5. Snapcaster Mage
Snapcaster Mage is a card that has had quite a volatile price history. Right now, it’s nowhere near as expensive as it has been in the past, particularly around the release of Modern Masters 2015 when it spiked impressively to near $100. However, this card still has a pretty high price tag at around $40 and can be a difficult obstacle to someone trying to build a blue deck, given that it’s a 4-of in most of the Modern decks which run it.
Snapcaster Mage was originally printed at Rare in the first Innistrad block, back in 2011. It was the very last of the player-designed Invitational winner’s cards, and the original art has that year’s winner Tiago Chan depicted on it. Some of the previous Invitational cards were very good (Dark Confidant, Meddling Mage), but Snapcaster was really off the charts – it saw a ton of Standard play during its rotation during the blue/white control decks, and now is in most blue decks in Modern, and has even found its way into Legacy and Vintage. Even in casual formats like Commander, there is high demand for this card, which explains the hefty price tag.
So, why the reprint? Well, the price is certainly a factor, as the recent RPTQ promo didn’t really do very much to affect it, alongside the fact that it’s a staple integral to a number of decks. It certainly fits the draft archetypes well, as there’s a blue/white blink theme in there. In addition, they have been reprinting the Invitational winners’ cards with different arts one by one for some reason, and aside from the RPTQ promo, there has not been an alternative Snapcaster art yet; Ranger of Eos is also in this category, and was also reprinted in MM3. This was one of the cards that everyone saw coming, but everyone was still very glad when it was spoiled; a classic Modern staple that’s good value for a Mythic and needed more copies in circulation. The price of the new printing will probably be less than the original one, which is good for those who are interested only in building decks with it, and it means there is one less obstacle to building control decks.
4. Cavern of Souls
Cavern of Souls is a card that has been on many peoples’ ‘to watch’ list for a long time. It’s quite inconspicuous, in that it’s just a land, and the price wasn’t too high all that long ago, as it only saw play in a couple of tribal decks like Goblins or Merfolk, and the occasional Commander deck – however, slowly but surely, it’s been creeping up and up for the last couple of years, as first Titan Bloom made its mark, and following that, Eldrazi decks became popular in Modern, Legacy and Vintage.
Cavern is, obviously, a brilliant card. The ability to make your creatures uncounterable has been a part of what’s put decks like Merfolk on the map for quite a while, and with the recent rise of the Eldrazi (pun intended) it serves double time, as it can tap for colourless mana if necessary, but can also tap for one of the generic costs if against a control deck and the uncounterability is needed, or provide coloured mana for Eldrazi Displacer or Drowner of Hope. Back in the heyday of Amulet Bloom, having an uncounterable Titan come down on turn two, at a point in the game when counterspells are all your opponent really has to protect themselves against such a threat, was massive.
So, with the new landscape of Modern the way it is, the card certainly needed to be printed somewhere. The issue is, you need a really strong tribal theme to argue printing it into a Standard set. It was originally printed in Avacyn Restored, and so when it wasn’t reprinted in Shadows over Innistrad, which everyone thought was a possibility, all eyes turned hopefully to Modern Masters 2017 as the price hiked up and up to nearly $65 – and, as seems to be a recurring theme this week, MM3 delivered. The new printing is at Mythic instead of Rare, so it remains to be seen how this will affect the price long-term, but at least for now, it eases the pressure on those who want to build Eldrazi, as that is otherwise (Noble Hierarchs aside) quite a cheap deck.
3. Liliana of the Veil
Liliana of the Veil is commonly referred to as one of the best planeswalkers of all time. Alongside Jace, the Mind Sculptor, she is played a lot in Legacy, and is a staple of the Modern Jund and Abzan lists that have been a part of the metagame for so long. However, despite how much play she sees, she has only had one Standard printing at Mythic and an RPTQ promo, so the price of the card has always been a massive obstacle to those wanting to build these kinds of decks. (As is Tarmogoyf, but that’s a whole different kettle of fish.)
The difficulty Wizards face with reprinting planeswalkers is that it’s hard to fit them flavourfully into anything other than a Masters set. They tell the story of who the character is at the time, and the abilities are supposed to depict their actions and powers during that time in the lore. Liliana of the Veil was first printed in original Innistrad, when we were on her ‘home’ plane for the first time and she had been enraptured by the power of the Chain Veil. When the story moves on – as it has, in Liliana’s case, with the new Innistrad set – it’s hard to return to the older cards, because she is a main character in the current story arc and she isn’t Liliana of the Veil at the current time.
Therefore, even though the price tag of this card has been $90-$100 for a long time, it wasn’t an easy thing to fit in anywhere, particularly since they chose Jace for Eternal Masters last year instead of her. With the reprint of this card at Mythic, I still don’t think the price will sink too much (though it will not remain at $90), particularly with the amount of play this card sees, but it will definitely help the current quantity of copies in the secondary market, and perhaps means that even just a few more people will be able to afford to build Jund or Abzan.
Damnation has been the meme card of reprints for years. Every time a new set was spoiled, Standard or not; every time Wizards have announced anything to do with eternal formats; every time Wizards have announced anything about anything, there were people posting Damnation comments.
Originally printed only in Planar Chaos as a timeshifted card, Damnation is the black Wrath of God. It is very rare for any non-white card to have this effect, and the only reason it was done was due to the strange effects of the time shifting in the Planar Chaos story arc, therefore it was very unlikely to ever be printed in a Standard set again. Unfortunately, the card turned out to be really, really good.
Giving black decks access to this kind of effect means that the non-white control decks have a really decent answer to early aggro boardstates, or a late game panic button, combined with the efficiency of black removal and hand attack in one-for-one trades. It’s like red having a counterspell. It’s the full package. Naturally, every Jund, Grixis and Abzan player can’t wait to get hold of one for their sideboard.
Except, it was only printed in Planar Chaos, a very old set that’s hard to get hold of, with no likelihood of ever being printed in a Standard-legal set again. Cue demand. Cue price hike to around $65. Cue many, many, many Damnation memes – and finally, cue MM3. The answer to Modern and Commander players’ prayers – a reprint at rare.
Soon, cue the price of Damnation crashing through the floor.
Now, some will argue that Damnation was the most necessary reprint of this set. Yes, it had only been printed once before, a long time ago, and was very expensive; and yes, it was very unlikely to see Standard print again. However, there is another candidate for top spot which fulfils both those criteria, and which sees a lot – a LOT – more play than Damnation ever will.
1. Zendikar Fetches
Yes, finally we are to see a reprint of the enemy fetch lands. After the allied lands were reprinted in Khans of Tarkir, everyone was overjoyed to see the prices drop, and Khans became the most opened set of all time as all the players wanted to get their hands on them. Fetch lands see play everywhere – Modern, Legacy, Vintage, Frontier, Commander, Tiny Leaders, you name it. If they’re legal, they’re played.
The trouble with the Khans of Tarkir fetch lands was the Standard environment they bred. Coverage became 50% play and 50% shuffling, and the time it took to properly shuffle after each fetch in Competitive and Professional play was staggering. Additionally, at one point four-colour decks were the regular thing to be playing, when for a brief period Khans and Battle for Zendikar overlapped and the tango lands could be fetched. This is not the kind of Standard environment Wizards were keen to foster, and so once they rotated once more and everyone breathed a sigh of relief, it seemed that we might be waiting a long time for a reprint of the enemy coloured lands.
Of course, it is possible to play your Modern deck without the expensive ones. A Bant deck can use Polluted Delta in place of a Misty Rainforest, or a Naya deck can replace Arid Mesa with Bloodstained Mire. This works fine for the majority of players, but when you take your deck to a GP and all of a sudden it really matters and you need to fetch that basic, you will curse yourself for not being able to afford the right lands. People watched helplessly as MM2 came and went, and Eternal Masters came and went, and the prices of these lands went up. Many asked MaRo on Blogatog where and when these lands would be reprinted, and he never had a straight answer.
Thankfully, as it always has, Modern Masters 2017 delivered.
Though the prices of these cards won’t fall as much as their Khans counterparts did, and result in mass hoarding, it will enable those people who have been struggling with the wrong fetch lands to pick up the copies they need. It will allow people who have been wanting to build a control list but just can’t do without Scalding Tarns to buy a playset and make their decks. It will ease the pressure, just a little bit, on the price of lands in Modern, and that can only ever be a good thing.
Do not expect these fetch lands to remain low in price, especially as they have been printed in a Masters set. Look at the Khans reprints for an idea of what will happen to the price – and if you need them, pick them up now! They will start to rise again as soon as this set is out of print.
So, what do you think of my assessments? Are you pleased to see these cards in MM3? Are there other cards you would have liked to see more?
Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section!
Thanks for reading,