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Card Critic #6 - Modern Masters

14. 09. 11
posted by: Super User
Hits: 1893


Click Below to Watch the Video Review!

What is Magic the Gathering Modern Masters?

Magic the Gathering Modern Masters is a set developed to reprint several cards that would be used in the “Modern” format for the game. These cards were all powerhouses during their time and the popularity of the set is quite large, as of the writing of this review. I, for one, was very interested when I saw this set because it actually gave me access to several of the cards that I missed out on during my still ongoing hiatus from Magic. They do a great job making you want to play the set from the cards in their preview gallery. For some of the cards, this is going to be their first time inside the new card frame.

Picture Credit:

Picture Credit:

The set is printed in a pure booster format, meaning that there will be no pre-constructed decks associated with this set. This makes sense as these decks would run the risk of being extremely powerful. The new rarity system of Common, Uncommon, Rare, and dare I say it, Mythic Rare are now in the set. This is a double edged sword as many of these cards were printed before this rarity even existed. One other notable change with this set is that the booster boxes are significantly smaller being only 24 backs as opposed to the 36 packs commonly supplied in booster boxes from other sets.

The Cards in the set are Awesome!

The Modern Masters set is composed of 229 cards all of various rarities and from sets currently legal in the Magic the Gathering Modern format. Some of the fantastic reprints in the game include some of the super rare and still extremely powerful Planeswalkers such as Elspeth, Knight-Errant. I keep eye balling this card, but every time I think about getting back into the game, the price on this card upsets me. Having a reprint will help allow potential players that want to enter the game to have a cheaper alternative for power cards. This marketing is very similar to the gold editions and battle packs that exist within the Yu-Gi-Oh! card game made by Konami.

Pictures Courtesy "The Gatherer"

Two of the most notable cards that are reprinted in Modern Masters are the Dark Confidant and the Tharmigoyf(?). The Tharmigoyf demands, at least during the writing of this article, at least 150 dollars a piece for the future sight versions and the same amount for the new Modern Masters MYTHIC Rare versions. I find it interesting that a card that was originally a Standard Rare is now magically a Mythic Rare on this already overpriced set, but I am getting ahead of myself.

Pictures Courtesy "The Gatherer"

Another noteworthy card in the set is the Dark Confidant. This card is part of the tournament prize cards that were created to immortalize the champions of the Magic the Gathering. These cards were drawn with artwork and had abilities that reflected their persona's appropriately. Dark Confidant was for the magic champion from 2004 Bob Maher. His title was the Great One and likewise the card had his title hinted at within the card's flavor text. This card asks for close to seventy dollars for its Ravnica version and the card is of course a Mythic Rare in Modern Masters.

What is the “Modern Format?”

Magic the Gathering has always been a game where over 70% of the cards in the game are legal in any tourney formats. Back in the stone ages when I played Magic the Gathering, the now deemed "Standard" format, was called Type Two where the only other format was Type One. The formats are carried over in a lot of the early Starcat Product vault games to explain the power of a lot of the cards I made back in the early years.

Information from

The Type Two format allowed players to only use cards from the two most current blocks of cards and the newest reprint edition set. This is how the company that prints the Magic the Gathering cards they make almost all the tournaments in the game be for this standard format, which is handsomely dubbed Friday Night Magic. This A makes players buy the new cards, B makes player pay money to win prizes at tourneys, and then C make the most money possible for the company.

For more info on the modern format, click Here!

This format reminds me greatly of the traditional format of Yu-Gi-Oh!, as the format focuses on balance. Almost every card that has a good chance of dominating the format takes a slot on the ban list. Many of such cards I am talking about at least during gene eras when I played this game is cards like Skullclamp and Chrome Mox. Another notable staple that has been removed from the magic modern format is the use of the Legacy and Vintage staple Sensei's Divining Top. How this is similar to Yu-Gi-Oh! is that it forces players to use cards in the game that are not always high tier victory. I do really give game companies a plus when they can balance the whole lot of cards created in the game rather than just a small percentile. This cannot be said for the designers for Magic and Pokemon.

The set was designed for a drafting and other sealed type play styles.

The Magic the Gathering Modern Masters is a set designed for formats such as booster drafting. You can grab a box of these cards and have the minimum amount required, which is 24 packs. It provides 3 packs for 8 people. This is great for players that enjoy such formats, as you will be able to play cards that greatly benefit the limited deck styles allowed. I, for one, am just rubbish at playing with what I call a fair odd against the other players. I take particular glee in knowing the format and using higher end cards against other players. Just because I am bad at it though does not make this a bad point and it is nice that certain sets focus on other aspects of such a diverse game.

Advertisement for Modern Masters and Top Four Prices on for a booster box.

If you are not familiar with drafting for Magic, I will give a brief explanation based on my experiences. The game starts with each playing having three booster packs. The players will each pick one cards the pack has then pass the pack on to another player next to them. This process will continue until each player has another stack of 15 cards each chosen from the depleting stacks passed from player to player. This process continues until the other two packs are depleted. Players then must make a minimum 40 card deck and they can use any number of basic lands to provide the mana curve needed. One popular method people play when a new set comes out is to Rare draft, which is the process of picking only cards they need for decks or would be worth something later on either for money or trade value.

What is the price of a booster pack compared to modern masters?

First Auction list for a booster pack on Ebay!

While there is a lot of room for praise for the Modern Masters set. There is one blaring aspect that cannot be avoided while discussing this set of cards and should definitely be a large source aggravation for many players. That aspect is the overall price for the set of cards. Modern Masters has a suggested retail price of 6.99! This is about three dollars more than a regular expansion pack for the game. Also, this is just the suggested price. Many retailers requested more boxes than they were shipped and thus meeting the demand for the area. This in turned causes the price to go up to 10.00 to 12 dollars a pack.

Top entry for a booster pack on, notice the One and a half stars.

This is one thing that has always bothered me about marketing to young gamers. Do these companies think we are made of money? The Modern Masters set is designed for drafting, yet the price of the damn packs is about 75% more in cost? "Hey guys, let’s go play Magic each Friday and drop near 40 bucks per play session!" This is pure insanity. One other thing, if the set was designed for drafting then why the HELL does it have Mythic Rares in the set? Should sets designed for drafting have almost equal probability of all cards in set since after all drafting is designed for limited play style and not for high end constructed play?

Why I hate it – Don’t want to flood the market?

Several people say that the vendors are overcharging for the packs, but at the same time after talking with at least two vendors they told me that Wizards undershipped their orders. Thus causing the demand for the packs to go out of control. This concept is borderline outrageous to me as this is an artificial demand increase. The MSRP for these packs is seven dollars so even if the orders are short printed, the company Wizards/Hasbro still only gets their cut of that seven dollars. Given the fact they want to market the set for drafting only compounds this issue. People need to buy new packs in order to draft the set, If a boat load of the packs cost as much as the price that three or four more people could play a different set, Modern Masters does not get chosen as the set for the draft!

Card Advertising the Modern Format

I have read in several sources that Wizards does not want to flood theater, and this is why they printed the cards they did at the prices chosen. Here's the truth to that, they are scared of a format that is barely managed. They have all of these cards in the game, yet thy only really cater to the standard format. Modern Masters should be a set of cards that is always made like the editions that allow players to strengthen their decks for other formats.

It costs to damn much!

The fact they fear the market will be flooded is absurd. They make NO money, currently because they do little to nothing to manage the game in its entirety. There are thousands upon thousands of cards to sell in the game and many formats to play. The mere fact they fear the unknown is baffling and what cards they did print, they made sure to modify the rarities to ensure they kept their third party value.

Third party value hurts players new to the game. Veteran players always have the advantage of having more cards and often more money to put into the game. Removal of high third market values is an essential to allowing players to compete in non-standard formats. Modern Masters only continues to flaunt the fact if you want to play outside of standard you got to have a lot of money.

The demand is there, but Wizards will not provide the supply. If the set was built for draft and other formats, then why is the supply so low?

As stated prior, many of the card shops I have visited have one common complaint about Modern Masters. They were all short changed their orders. The main advertisement on the back of token cards distributed in packs was labeled "You and Seven friends. Best. Draft. Ever." This would hold true if the cards were easily obtain, but this is not the case. This is corporate financing at its finest everyone. They keep the need up by forever short printing the orders to allow that MSRP to keep going up and up. It is quite simple, you keep the demand high, your prices can stay high. The patents that Wizards/Hasbro have keeps competition away, where the only close contests are Yu-Gi-Oh! and Pokemon. Both of these games have one strike against them, they are kiddie and focus on anime based artwork. It is still going to be several years before the patent expires for trading card games, so get used to the Magic and anime filled market.

Conclusion – Dark Confidant is the key card for the set and they removed the artwork that was supposed to be the tournament prize for the player it represents.

Players who won the world championships were allowed to be immortalized in the game with a card specifically designed to represent them in the game. One of the main cards in the game known for this is the Dark Confidant and the Meddling Mage. Now, take note that Meddling Mage is not in Modern Masters but does hold a relevant place in what I am going to talk about. These cards were designed to immortalize the players. Guess what the artwork looks like for each of these cards and the one for Modern Masters prominently displayed on the booster pack for Dark Confidant?

Dark Confidant's New Artwork by Scott M. Fischer

If you are a diehard Magic fan and enjoy spending a majority of your paycheck each week for a 40 dollar draft then this is the set for you. I would strongly recommend just look for the singles you would want for this set. This set was designed to help people get involved with the modern format, however it only introduces players to just how expensive competitive play could be as well. Designed only for the most diehard fans, Modern Masters offers a lot to players, but due to a high third party markup makes the set more of a chore to purchase.

Overall: 6/10