You anxiously sit down at your assigned seat, three boosters before you. Seven others are quickly doing the same, a sense of urgency in the air. You look at each, one by one, knowing that they might be your very next opponent. Imagining an amazing array of cards that could be in your first unopened pack, you're jolted to reality by the sound of a voice overhead: "Open your first pack!"
Hello, friends! Kenji here, once again aiding you through your very first Draft experiences with the set Modern Masters 2017 Edition. An assortment of powerful cards awaits you, but how will you know what to do if you haven't drafted or perhaps even looked at these cards before? Don't fret. I'm here to point you in the right direction on how to draft these new cards.
If you've had the opportunity to draft either of the previous Modern Masters sets, you'll know that it's more about building an archetype than just drafting good cards. The same applies here. It's also vitally important to read the signals of the draft and the players around you. If you opened an awesome blue rare but you're getting passed only red and black cards, it might be time to rethink your plan. That isn't to say you can't take the best cards and have a deck that wins; it'll just be so much easier if you read the signals and stick to a game plan. What kinds of archetypes and game plans should you be looking for? Let's take a look at five strategies you'll commonly see in Modern Masters 2017 Edition.
Together, white and blue constitute one of the most common two-color pairings in Limited. Generally, the strategy revolves around creatures with flying and ways to halt the opponent's ground forces, but this time it also banks on accruing extra value from creatures with enters-the-battlefield abilities! During the draft, cards such as Ghostly Flicker and Momentary Blink are surprisingly going to take a backseat to creatures with powerful abilities like the lovely Mist Raven or Kor Hookmaster. You'll want to prioritize taking these creatures over the "blink" effects because they are not only more valuable, but also because many of the "blink" cards are common! You are very likely to see multiples.
Do you enjoy slowly grinding out your opponents with incremental advantage until they eventually succumb to your ways? Perfect! Here's blue-black control. This strategy looks to abuse cards that negate the opposition by whittling them away with two-for-ones in the long game. For this strategy, you will want to pick up removal early in the draft and then focus on cards other decks will not want, like Forbidden Alchemy and Dinrova Horror. The Alchemy will let you go through your deck quickly while also providing utility with extra cards in the graveyard, and the Horror is a perfect large creature to help stabilize from a slower start. One card that I believe will be an all-star in this deck is the Spire Monitor. Because you're going to be a very reactive deck, many of your spells will be cast on the opponent's turn; the Spire Monitor allows you to still develop out your board position should you choose not to cast anything else. Again, the key to drafting this archetype, should it be open, is to prioritize removal and let the powerful multicolor cards come later in the draft.
One of my favorite Draft strategies of all time was black-red unearth from Shards of Alara. Unsurprisingly, that deck looked to use many of the same synergies that you'll find in the Modern Masters 2017 version of that archetype. The beautiful thing about this deck is that your creatures are merely fodder; you generally don't mind trading them off. You're able to leverage your ability to unearth many creatures from your graveyard to gain extra damage or relevant abilities from other creatures. This makes cards such as Bone Splinters or Falkenrath Noble, already good in their own right, even better. The best part about this deck? It can run like a perfectly well-oiled machine with just commons. While there are definitely rare and uncommon cards you'd love to see in this deck, the commons are what hold it together and generally what contain all the synergy.
Red-Green Token Mass
A good, old-fashioned beat down strategy—red-green is the combination of my dreams. Who needs large flashy creatures that cost a bunch of mana when you can instead lead an army of smaller creatures at a fraction of the cost? A nice thing about drafting the red-green token mass strategy in Modern Masters 2017 is that there are a plethora of great ways to make your small tokens into powerful threats. Cards such as Gaea's Anthem and Gruul War Chant can make your insignificant 1/1s into devastating beaters in a pinch, and even if you're unable to pick up one of those uncommons, you can still capitalize on a card like Strength in Numbers for an easy one-hit knockout. The beauty of this deck, similar to the black-red unearth deck, is that you frequently don't mind having a few of your creatures die in combat if you're still able to force in damage. Losing your creatures in combat doesn't always have to happen, though with bloodrush cards such as Rubblebelt Maaka, Slaughterhorn, and the devastating Ghor-Clan Rampager lurking about, your opponents are going to have to be scared when they block a 1/1. I would recommend drafting the creatures early and look to take the pump and anthem effects later. You do need to make sure you have ways to force damage in, though, so if you're drafting and already have plenty of creatures by the time pack three rolls around, start looking for those combat tricks.
Just as black-red unearth was somewhat of a throwback to Shards of Alara, green-white populate seems to be a throwback to Return to Ravnica. Populate was a popular new mechanic, one that let you copy a creature token already on the battlefield. Modern Masters 2017 has a plethora of ways to produce tokens, and the populate deck simply takes advantage of that. I feel many people make the mistake of waiting to cast their populate spells until they have a creature token they deem "good enough." Casting your Rootborn Defense to even just get an additional 1/1 flier can often be good enough. So what about when you're trying to draft this deck? What are the early picks? At the common and uncommon slots, Penumbra Spider, Slime Molding, and Call of the Conclave are going to be your high takes. The actual populate cards should go later during the draft and don't necessarily have to be taken as a top priority. This deck is focused on synergy and creating a lot of creatures—you don't need to jump through too many hoops to make it work.
That wraps up this look at how to draft Modern Masters 2017. Have I exhausted every single deck that you can draft in this format? Absolutely not. This should just serve as a baseline to what you might look forward to if you draft this format for the very first time. As I mentioned earlier, you don't always have to draft a specific archetype—good cards can definitely get the job done; it's just that it becomes much easier when you stick to a focused plan. Another thing to note is that this set, like all the previous Modern Masters sets, has a large quantity of mana fixing. The Signet cycle at uncommon and the Guildgate cycle at common mean that you're going to be able to build all sorts of different color pairings—even five-color! This is a Draft format that I'm sure you'll love if you have the opportunity to play, and I hope this article helps you along in that venture.
Until next time,