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Ranking the Modern Masters Archetypes

Written by LegitMTG Staff on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Limited, Modern

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Those of you that have had the luxury of drafting the newly released Modern Masters set has most likely had a blast.  I’ve had success — a 10-0-1 record in three drafts and a 4-0-1 record in one sealed event — as I prepare for Grand Prix Las Vegas.  For those of you that haven’t, you need to find a draft – stat!

The format reminds me of a weaker cube draft.  There are all sorts of directions you can go, and with the power level of the cards it is normally pretty hard to find yourself short on playables (like you could in a regular draft.)  I haven’t forced any archetypes, but I have experienced playing Rebels/Storm, Sunburst/Dredge, Affinity and Fairies.  I’m here today to break down how each archetype clicks and where they currently rank for me personally.

Let’s get started!

Affinity

I would start with Affinity, wouldn’t I?  I’m sure you all know how much I adore these robotic critters.  This format is a dream come true for Affinity.  You will find in drafts that artifacts are generally under-drafted because they don’t bleed well into other archetypes.  Cards like Frogmite or Court Homunculus are more likely to table than a Peppersmoke or Glacial Ray, for example.  This makes Affinity a great choice to attempt to force if you’re so inclined.

That being said, the cards that really make the deck tick and that I generally would take highest are followed in order:

  1. Etherium Sculptor –—Awkwardly enough this is the most important card in the deck. The Sculptor allows for very insane turns, especially when you have two in play.
  2. Faerie Mechanist — This guy is what abuses the Etherium Sculptor so well. When you have 18-20 artifacts in your deck and can have four or five of these guys in your deck, they will often chain into each other.
  3. Myr Enforcer — This is the beef you will need to push through when your flying 2/2’s and ground 2/2’s can’t get it done anymore.
  4. AEther Spellbomb — The last piece of the puzzle for a deck like this. Using the Spellbomb will allow you to push through when your opponent plays something that will discourage attacking.
  5. Frogmite — These aren’t as valuable as you’d think.  Being a 2/2 that isn’t coming out until most likely turn three isn’t that exciting.  But if you draft enough you can overwhelm your opponent early.

I kept the base of the deck simple to follow, and you really need to pick the second color depending on what keeps coming at your table.  If Sanctum Gargoyle and Court Homunculus are plentiful you’ll want to head in to white; if you’re finding Pyrite Spellbomb and Shrapnel Blast, then move in to that direction. Watch out for Kataki, War’s Wage; if your opponent has one it’s pretty much impossible to come back from.  The same goes for Trygon Predator.  An unanswered Predator will eat you alive, literally.

Sunburst

Here is another archetype that benefits from not having too many cards shared with other archetypes. Being able to have cards like Etched Oracle and Sunbeam Manta table is a good problem to have.  While these are the obvious cards we will want filling out our curve, let’s see which ones you will need to have to allow these sunburst cards to have their full potential.

  1. Kodama’s Reach — The most important card in this deck.  It finds you two colors and ramps you in the process. I’d be happy with as many as five in this deck.
  2. Search for Tomorrow — Another mana fixer and ramper.  While slightly worse than Kodama’s Reach, this is most definitely a card you won’t have table.
  3. Vivid Lands — Any one will do. Having the right mana when you are playing Sunburst is the most important thing.
  4. Terramorphic Expanse — As you can see the theme here is fix mana now, ask questions later.
  5. Domain — Anything that abuses the domain mechanic.  Try taking removal higher than sunburst creatures with the logic that they are more likely to make it back around the table.
  6. Basic Land Cycling — Having a couple of basic land cycling cards is just another precaution in the goal of achieving domain.

It is my belief the best way to approach this archetype is to play green as the main color, with one support color and then two or three splash colors that have at most one or two cards.  An example would be green/black, splashing blue for a single Mulldrifter, red for a single Torrent of Stone, and white for a Path to Exile.  Playing only a single Plains, Island and Mountain with cards like Kodama’s Reach shouldn’t be an issue, and is the reason we take them so high.

Dredge

This may be the most fun I’ve had with an archetype so far.  You’ll need a Worm Harvest to pull it off, but this deck can do the most unfair things in the format.

  1. Worm Harvest — The card required for this archetype to exist, you’ll need a minimum of one and no more than three.
  2. Stinkweed Imp — The best dredger we have access to, which also happens to be the best roadblock in the format.  You want a minimum of two with no maximum.
  3. Dakmor Salvage — A mediocre dredge, what we need this for is the Worm Harvest.  Once we hit our fifth land drop the plan is to cast Worm Harvest the rest of the game.  Having Dakmor Salvage allows us to do just that easily.
  4. Greater Mossdog/Moldervine Cloak — The last remaining dredge cards, and to be honest, the most fair as far as the number of cards you dredge is concerned.
  5. Card Draw — Mulldrifter, Perilous Research, Street Wraith or anything that draws cards.  Being able to sift through our dredge cards quickly will make for a big Worm Harvest faster.
  6. Discard — Thieving Sprite, Raven’s Crime, Deepcavern Imp or anything that lets you discard your dredge cards.  A lot of the time, when you play your Stinkweed Imp your opponent just won’t attack.  Discard will allow us to put these cards in the graveyard even when our opponent doesn’t want us to.

The best thing about dredge is you can be any combination of BUG and the deck can function just fine if you find the right mix.  Just like the previous archetypes I have mentioned, this doesn’t share many cards with other archetypes and is another powerful choice. As with most of the powerful archetypes, there are a couple of hosers in Relic of Progenitus and Faerie Macabre.  Pay attention to any that may be going around the table and snag it if the option permits.

Rebels

A Time Spiral block favorite has found its way in to Modern Masters.  It has a lot of annoying little creatures, and here are the one’s you need to keep an eye out for:

  1. Blightspeaker/Amrou Scout — These two are what make the deck tick.  Being able to tutor up free rebel cards gives you card advantage that gets out of control.
  2. Bound in Silence — Quite possibly the best rebel card, you will need to take this high as other white decks will snag up this three mana Pacifism.  Being able to tutor up Pacifism with your Blightspeaker or Amrou Scout is the best thing you can do.
  3. Rathi Trapper — The next best thing to Bound in Silence.
  4. Amrou Seekers — Our best evasive threat.  Putting a card like Bonesplitter on the Seekers ends the game really quick.
  5. Avian Changeling — Another evasive threat is good to have.  Don’t expect to find many of these because of that changeling creature type.
  6. Deepcavern Imp — Simply another evasive threat.  The echo isn’t the worst thing in the world, but I wouldn’t be excited about having too many.
  7. Saltfield Recluse — Good to have as a one-of tutor target.  Sometimes having just one in play can hold off multiple creatures from wanting to come at you.

Personally, I don’t like rebels that much. It’s not that these cards aren’t good; in fact they are terrific cards.  The deck is just simply not that powerful. When your opponent is putting 6-8 worms in play on turn five or 6-8 goblins and you’re tutoring up an Amrou Seekers…well that doesn’t end well for the rebels, now does it?

Goblins


A Lorwyn block favorite gets some new twists.  This is most likely the most aggressive archetype in the format, possibly besides Affinity.  If you’re looking for speed, look no further.

  1. Mad Auntie — The Goblin lord of the set is slated in the uncommon slot.  You’ll see this come around often since he only benefits the Goblin deck.
  2. Tar Pitcher – When your opponent bogs down the board, Tar Pitcher picks up the slack.  He has great synergy with the majority of Goblins in the set, such as Mogg War Marshal and Festering Goblin.
  3. Marsh Flitter — Don’t expect to see this card every draft.  Marsh Flitter is a powerhouse in any deck containing a black mana symbol.  If you’re lucky enough to get one, producing multiple goblins is always a plus.
  4. Mogg War Marshall — Since we are a Goblin deck, it makes sense to pick up some of these.  Producing up to three goblins is something that goes really well with those Mad Aunties we picked up earlier.
  5. Empty the Warrens — You’ll be fighting over this card with the Storm players at your table.  Even as just a Goblin Rally, this is a very good card to have.
  6. Warren Pilferer — When your opponents kill off your Goblin dudes, you need a Gravedigger to bring them back.  This Gravedigger has haste.  Having one or two of these is a perfect fit to the top end of your curve.
  7. Warren’s Weirding — Clearing the path for your Goblins to run in for damage is pretty important.  Use this early and reap the rewards.
  8. Festering Goblin — Your opponents won’t want to trade their two-drop for your one-drop.  Expect him to do a surprising amount of damage.
  9. Facevaulter — Having one or two of these is nice, mostly because we are able to sacrifice our Mogg War Marshall or Festering Goblin for extra value while representing a major threat.

The great thing about Goblins is its ability to mesh well with other archetypes.  Adding a couple of rituals and/or Grinning Ignus with a couple of Empty the Warrens can go a long way in this archetype.  Even prowl can be a thing with blue since a lot of goblins also happen to be rogues.

Storm

Yes, even Modern Masters has the combo that modern players love to hate.  Let’s see what you should be looking for in this archetype-

  1. Empty the Warrens — Pretty much the only way you can win with storm.  Casting this card on turn four or five for 10 or 12 goblins will most likely win the game on the spot.
  2. Grinning Ignus — One of the most powerful players in this deck.  For each red mana you have, you get a spell towards your storm count.
  3. Grapeshot — Sometimes you need to kill everything in play. This does a really good job at doing that against most decks.
  4. Desperate Ritual — This really helps you out getting the extra red mana you need if you’re playing more than one color.
  5. Suspend — Anything that has suspend works really well with storm.  You set up a turn where all your suspend cards resolve and use the free spells to increase your storm count.  Cards with low suspend costs like Search for Tomorrow or Rift Bolt are great examples of what you want.

This is certainly one of the more fun and certainly more powerful archetypes.  Adding another color like green or blue would be my suggestion if you can’t find enough red playables; cards like Peer Through Depths and Reach Through Mists will help dig and increase the storm count, while green gives you ramp and suspend cards.

Choose wisely!  Be on the lookout for Echoing Truth. This is the one card that can single handedly ruin your day after a big Empty the Warrens.

Arcane

A Kamigawa block favorite has also found its way in to Modern Masters.  The arcane mechanic is really neat because it is one of the few mechanics that allows you to add text to cards.  When your Lava Spike turns in to Shock plus mill four cards, it’s pretty neat!

  1. Glacial Ray — Perhaps the best common in the set.  This will be the hardest card to find, mostly because every red deck will want a Shock.  The fact that it has arcane is irrelevant to them.  Make sure you take every one you see.
  2. Peer Through Depths — Most likely, you will end up with no more than three Glacial Ray.  Since you need them to survive, having cards like Peer Through Depths helps you find them.
  3. Dampen Thought — This is how you will win most of your games.  Survive on the back of Glacial Ray while Dampen Thought chips away at your opponent’s deck.
  4. Reach Through Mists — A one mana cantrip is mostly playable in any deck.  Since this one is an arcane spell, it’s very important here.  Having inexpensive arcane spells that replace themselves is what you survive on.
  5. Lava Spike — The last arcane spell, luckily it also has a cheap cost.  I wouldn’t be happy with a lot of these, but a couple is fine.

A great thing about the Arcane archetype is that it meshes very well with the Storm archetype we just mentioned.  Don’t be surprised if you’re being attacked from two different angles from this deck.  Also, keep an eye out for Chalice of the Void.  This rare is nearly unbeatable if they set it on two.

Thallids

An interesting creature type that’s been around since Fallen Empires. A surprising addition to Modern Masters, it is highly underdrafted and can be extremely powerful.

  1. Doubling Season — I don’t expect you to see one, but if you, do this card is nearly unbeatable in a Thallid deck.
  2. Sporesower Thallid — A 4/4 for four mana is pretty good stat-wise; adding on top of that the ability to put on a second counter on each Thallid every turn makes him a very powerful force.
  3. Thallid Germinator — The Germinator is a solid man.  The reason why I like him so much is the ability to give creatures +1/+1 with your saprolings.
  4. Thallid Shell-Dweller — A great way for buying time to make more saprolings.  Not many things will get through this wall.
  5. Penumbra Spider — He may not be a Thallid, but he’s the only thing that blocks those flying creatures that otherwise would go unanswered.
  6. Sporoloth Ancient — Atnother decent-sized body.  The best part, though, is the ability to remove only two counters from each thallid to produce a saproling. Let the invasion begin!
  7. Thallid — The only one-drop we have access to.  Expect to pick these up really late, since it’s not that great unless you’re playing this deck.
  8. Echoing Courage — When you’re producing saprolings at a rapid pace, you will want a way to push through more efficiently.  Make sure you get at least one of these, and don’t be afraid to take one over higher rated picks three through eight.

Although this may not be as exciting as a deck like Storm, it certainly is consistent at what it does and should be given a chance.

Giants

Giants are an unusual choice in my opinion for an archetype to include in such an illustrious set.  Regardless, WoTC did a pretty good job of making it playable.

  1. Thundercloud Shaman — The most obviously powerful card for the archetype.  Being able to Wrath your opponents’ board is pretty darn powerful – especially if after you do so you are attacking with creatures that are, literally, giant!
  2. Cloudgoat Ranger — I had a hard time deciding which of these top two is better for the archetype.  Overall, I think Cloudgoat Ranger is a more powerful card, but the Thundercloud Shaman has a more back-breaking swing.  You’ll ultimately be happy to get your hands on either one here.
  3. Stinkdrinker Daredevil — A 1/3 for three mana isn’t overly exciting for a giant deck; what it lacks for it stats it makes up in reducing those fatty giant costs.  Make sure you get two or three of these guys and you’ll be good to go.
  4. Kithkin Greatheart — Another non-giant, he holds the stop sign until those big giants come to the party.
  5. Hammerheim Deadeye — Being able to take out flying creatures is very important for a deck like this.  Giants have a hard time reaching that high for some reason, so make sure you pick up one if possible.
  6. Crush Underfoot — This is a pretty sweet spell I wouldn’t mind having a couple of in a Giants deck.  The only part I dislike is if you try to do this and your opponent has a kill spell, you will be two-for-one-ing yourself.
  7. Thundering Giant – A solid body that can surprise an opponent who thinks they only have one big guy to deal with.  He also works very well with those Blind-Spot Giants.
  8. Blind-Spot Giant – Speaking of which, you’ll want some of these.  Think of them as a giant with suspend.  He’s unlikely to do much the first two turns he’s in play, but then all of a sudden, he becomes a major problem.

Giants can certainly just over-run some of the smaller decks (like Rebels or Faeries) if they are not careful.  The powerful stats, while hopefully being reduced in cost, can be very hard to handle.

Faeries

A thorn in everyone’s side since Lorwyn Block, Faeries are back. These guys are evasive and reactive, making it a headache to combat.

  1. Scion of Oona – At rare, don’t expect to get any.  If you do, it’s near-impossible to beat in conjunction with a functional Faeries deck.
  2. Dreamspoiler Witches – The most important faerie one can have.  This guy offers what faeries is renowned for – playing spells on your opponent’s turn.  Make sure you pick up as many as you can get your hands on.
  3. Marsh Flitter – A faerie that makes goblins.  Most importantly, it’s just a really good card, making three creatures for four mana.
  4. Pestermite – A solid body that locks down a creature or taps a land for a turn can be a big deal, especially when you can do this on the play.
  5. Latchkey Faerie – Flying cantrips are good, I hear!  Getting ahold of enough two and three-drop faeries will be key for making the Latchkey good.
  6. Peppersmoke – Another fine cantrip that is very powerful when you have a card like Dreamspoiler Witches already in play.
  7. Spellstutter Sprite – A not-so-frightening faerie is still quite useful at countering low converted mana cost spells.  If you’re able to pick up a Bonesplitter or two, these become a lot more of a problem.
  8. Thieving Sprite – It’s surprising how useful this guy can be.  Since your opponents will often sandbag the important spells until you run out of gas, having this guy can snag the card they were banking on to bring them back in to the game.
  9. Faerie Macabre – An important card to get one or two of for the simple purpose of having a legitimate answer to dredge, while still being a reasonable body for cost.

Being able to decide when to pull the trigger on casting your spells will be very important.  However, when piloted correctly this can really be one of the best choices to draft.

That’s all folks!

That should cover the popular archetypes in this format. There is, of course, many other ways to draft this set, and I encourage you to find unique interactions.

If I had to rate the archetypes in order as of today considering  my experiences with the set they fall as follows:

  1. Dredge
  2. Storm
  3. Affinity
  4. Arcane
  5. Faeries
  6. Rebels
  7. Goblins
  8. Sunburst
  9. Thallids
  10. Giants

Good luck in your drafts; may you open all the Tarmogoyf and Vendillion Cliques!  See ya in Vegas!

John Cuvelier
@JCuvelier on Twitter
Gosu on MTGO

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