Modern Masters 2017 Edition is releasing next week, so I thought now would be a good time to review the latest Masters set and it’s impact on Commander. The number one goal of Masters sets beyond draft experience is to get more copies of cards in circulation, either to alleviate price spikes or to simply meet a growing demand. While the set is focused on Modern, there are many good cards for other formats like Legacy, Pauper and even Commander. All of the cards listed below are great in EDH or have their own niche use. Look to acquire these cards in the coming months if you’re looking for cheaper copies, foils to pimp out your favourite deck, new art that you really love, or just a card you didn’t know existed until the set was released!
The list will not be following an alphabetical order or that of power level/usefulness. Instead I’ll just be going in order of the cards I see on the Mythic Spoiler MMA 2017 spoiler page. Mythic Spoiler is a very useful site for looking at the latest spoilers and can also help you get a quick visual rundown of a new set; thanks to the card image layout it can be pretty easy to absorb a lot of cards at once, much more than text pages or Gatherer could help with.
Linvala, Keeper of Silence – Linvala used to be a Modern tech card against combo decks like Birthing Pod or Splinter Twin since those combos relied on creatures. By shutting down the abilities of those creatures, Linvala kept the combos in check. With those decks being banned, she has seen less play in Modern and more demand for her in EDH has kept the price steady, also due in part to having a low number in circulation. She is incredibly useful against mana dorks and all the rampant creature abilities that are everywhere in the format of Commander.
Snapcaster Mage – Like it or not, Snappy is back with updated art. The previous art, which featured Magic Invitational winner Tiago Chen as the face of the Mage, was replaced with a more generic mage with a very heavy blue feel. Love the art or hate it, the reprint is a huge boon to every format he is legal in, hopefully driving the price down to a more reasonable amount. Run this card in your control deck for extra copies of specific effects or in your spellslinger lists if you just want some extra value or insurance on a win condition.
Past in Flames – A staple of Storm, this lets you recast a bunch of spells from your graveyard. The new art is a bit literal and physically dark, but if you want to pick up a cheaper foil for your Mizzix of the Izmagnus deck then this will be a good opportunity.
Craterhoof Behemoth – A lot of people really hate this card. Many of those people want it to be banned in EDH. Frankly I don’t blame them, even if I don’t agree with them. The premier win condition of any creature oriented green deck (which is almost all of them), Craterhoof slams down out of nowhere and makes your board incredibly lethal, often to the point of extreme overkill against even multiple opponents. The fact that it’s in green also means it is incredibly easy to tutor up and/or cheat this out with Tooth and Nail or similar makes it all the more potent.
Temporal Mastery – Miracles is a deck archetype in Legacy that is famous for manipulating the top of their deck withSensei’s Divining Top to take advantage of the Miracle mechanic and Counterbalance. Although the Legacy version doesn’t run Mastery almost ever, some fringe Modern versions run this card. Price has been decently high for a fairly average mythic largely due to lack of quantity. Sees lots of play as a relatively cheap Time Walk for decks looking to take all the extra turns. See Narset, Enlightened Master.
Entreat the Angels – The win-condition of the aforementioned Legacy Miracles, it is not hard to see why beating in with several 4/4 fliers is strong. In EDH expect to be able to generate at least 10 angels when you need to, which is not too difficult. 40 power is enough to kill one person or keep yourself alive against better boards.
Bonfire of the Damned – A lot of people underestimate how strong this card is. The ability to miracle for essentially just X means you can dump the exact amount of mana you need to this to wipe your opponents’ board and hit them for a million. Often you might as well do it for as much as you can afford, which is in itself not a bad play either.
Terminus – Terminus is the other key card in Legacy Miracles, since it allows them to keep opposing creature strategies at bay by wiping the board at will for a single W. In EDH, tucking creatures (putting them into the library) is more useful than regular destruction since many decks pack recursion and some decks like Meren of Clan Nel Toth are particularly poised to take advantage of creatures dying.
Cyclonic Rift – The best blue card in EDH. No questions asked. Another people debate about banning, it is the best board wipe in the colour that usually least interacts with permanents on the board. Resetting everyone’s creatures, mana rocks and enchantments while keeping your own is usually a recipe for a swift victory. Being an instant means you can hold it up on opponents turns and even if you don’t have it in hand many will respect the possibility and avoid triggering a response from you.
Blood Moon – Mass land destruction is probably the single most controversial strategy in Commander and with good reason. Big spells and creatures are the defining aspect of the format and you can’t cast either without mana. But there is something to be said for punishing the formats’ greedy mana bases or overextending ramp players. Blood Moon sees play in mono-red lists that are the least punished by the effect. With much less interaction with opponents than most other colours, Red often has to go to extremes to keep itself competitive.
Damnation – It’s a black Wrath of God. Why is this ~$40 and Wrath hovers around 5 bucks? Supply and demand. For a long time it was the only real black sweeper that didn’t cost a ton of mana and gave Black access to an effect previously found only in White. Seeing very little play in Modern or Legacy, Damnation’s price is largely due to an incredibly low availability from Planar Chaos and an ever growing demand for the card in EDH. This is probably the second most impactful reprint for our format in this set.
Scavenging Ooze – Graveyard hate isn’t something people pack enough of. Recursion and reanimator are everywhere in the format and are easily answered by a few choice hate cards. Scooze is one of those cards, being a cheap creature with an efficient ability. You can often just leave one or two G available and your opponents won’t try any funny business. Not to mention it sometimes gets +1/+1 counters and gains a life, which has synergies with decks focused on those themes.
Cackling Counterpart – Instant speed clones are pretty solid. They can answer removal spell or give surprise blockers as well as double up on powerful creatures or ETB abilities. Being able to flashback just means you can do it all again.
Zealous Conscripts – Normally Threaten effects are of questionable use in Commander since they aren’t permanent removal and everyone’s boards are large enough that one creature doesn’t usually make a difference. But stretch it to stealing any permanent and it becomes more playable. Add a hasty creature with this effect as an ETB means it is ripe for abuse. It just so happens to go infinite in mono-red with Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker if you need to end the game.
Thragtusk – Thragtusk was a terror in Standard back during the time I joined the game. Two very strong bodies for five mana meant it was resistant to removal and the 5 life it gave meant it was hard to race an opponent who dropped this on the field. While less effective in a format of bigger creatures and 40 life, Swagtusk still shines at getting value for little investment. Once you add blinking or saccing for value you get to see where this card really shines.
Restoration Angel – Similarly a terror, Resto was often combined with Thragtusk and/or Snapcaster Mage to maximally annoy your opponents with constantly flickering boards and lots of value. Restoration Angel itself isn’t amazing but does have some good uses in decks with ETB effects, in particular Brago, King Eternal since it can get an extra trigger on another creature per Brago attack.
Hellrider – Aggressive red decks love this card. It’s a solid body and has a relevant ability that can help ping down your opponents by adding the extra damage necessary for a finishing blow or can help you reach those hard to touch Planeswalkers.
Deadeye Navigator – The third card on this list that is arguably ban-able, Deadeye is the king of value. Flicker any creature you want indefinitely as long as can afford it. Make infinite mana with Palinchron. Counter everything with Mystic Snake. Frustrate everyone with Acidic Slime. The list goes on. Deadeye does everything.
Mizzium Mortars – Mizzium Mortars saw some notable Standard play during it’s time for being a cheap spot removal spell that also doubled as a one sided sweeper in the late game. These exact reasons keep it relevant in Commander, in particular for aggressive or token focused red decks like Purphoros, God of the Forge which don’t want to wipe their own board if they can avoid it.
Primal Command – Modal spells see lots of competitive play due to their versatility and the same i true in Commander. Most often you’ll use this to tutor up an important creature or get rid of an annoying permanent. Shuffling the reanimator players grave into their deck is a subtly powerful yet oft-ignored ability of Primal Command as well.
Phantasmal Image – Cheap clones are powerful even when they come with downsides. Phantasmal Image is the most mana efficient clone in the game that comes at the cost of dying to any targeting ability. The upside is that targeting is usually from a removal spell that will kill it in the first place.
Stony Silence – If you don’t rely too heavily on artifacts, because you are in say white-green, then you can run this card to really slow down your opponents. Broken combos, equipment, even mana rocks all get shut down by this simple 2 mana enchantment. And remember, enchantments are the hardest permanent type in the game to remove after planeswalkers.
Extractor Demon – Self-mill and regular mill decks really like this card. Being able to mill 2 whenever a creature leaves the battlefield is pretty efficient, especially considering all the myriad ways there are to achieve this in your games.
Summoning Trap – Cheating out creatures is a staple green effect but usually isn’t at instant speed. Summoning Trap lets you dig deep for your big fatties and also comes with the upside of being free if an opponent countered the creature you tried to cast before this.
Blade Splicer – Efficient token makers are strong and Blade Splicer is one of the best. Play in ETB focused decks like Brago.
Ulvenwald Tracker – Green is lacking in creature removal, so they’ll take what they can get. That said, Tracker is exactly what they want. Fight cards are generally lackluster but being repeatable and relying on your already massive creatures makes Tracker a step above the rest.
Unburial Rites – Reanimation spells are really powerful when you’re bringing back the biggest, baddest monsters in all of Magic. Doing it again makes it feel unfair.
Path to Exile – Second only to Swords to Plowshares for the best spot removal in EDH, having a backup copy is nice. Note that ramping your opponent is a serious downside, but against some decks they might not have a basic left.
Compulsive Research – Drawing cards is important when you’re trying to defeat multiple opponents. Being able to do so efficient usually comes at a cost but for Compulsive Research the downside is relatively low. You should often have an extra land to pitch and in some decks you may want to intentionally discard other cards to reanimate them later or because they have flashback.
Harmonize – Green usually doesn’t get straight card draw, so having access to what would otherwise be a mediocre card is pretty useful for a colour that tends to run out of cards if it isn’t careful.
Rewind – Counterspells are useful answers to many problems. It’s even better when they’re free, even if the “free” here means you only untap the lands you used to cast it. Note that this can net you mana with lands that tap for more than one mana or with discounts.
Seal of Primordium – The other Seals have seen some reprints lately and the green Seal finally has its place. Naturalize is a staple effect of the colour but some decks prefer having it in Seal form, notably Enchantress decks or decks looking to abuse permanents. Also triggers Revolt quite nicely.
Soul Warden – A staple of Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim lists Soul Warden helps you gain life in one of the easiest ways possible while also being a body to sac to various outlets as well as blocking when necessary.
Mystical Teachings – Need a counterspell or kill spell? Check. Need it again? Double check.
Olivia Voldaren – This saucy and popular Rakdos general had been steadily climbing in price over the last few years. Getting a reprint should help alleviate that issue. She is pretty fun, letting you turn your opponents creatures and then gaining their allegiance while growing in power. She also goes well with deathtouch to allow you to mow down your opponents creatures.
Voice of Resurgence – At one point this card got up to ~$50 dollars because it was from Dragon’s Maze and nobody liked Dragon’s Maze. I guess you could argue that it’s an amazing card and powerful cross format all-star, but we all know it’s because everyone hates Dragon’s Maze. That set is awful. Voice taxes opponents performing shenanigans on your own turn and is also decent insurance against boardwipes.
Sphinx’s Revelation – If you’re playing UWX, this is the premier Stroke of Genius variant because the lifegain, while minimal, can often make the difference. Also interacts nicely with Alhammaret’s Archive and Rhox Faithmender.
Domri Rade – Domri gives Gruul access to some removal and some card draw, which they desperately need. If he ever gets his ultimate off you should have little difficulty in winning the game.
Broodmate Dragon – Jund decks love value. It’s in the name. Broodmate gives you two reasonable bodies for one card. Also it’s a dragon, so it has that going for it for people who like such things.
Evil Twin – Evil Twin is an interesting clone variant from Innistrad that lets you kill whatever it clones. This is useful for ensuring maximum symmetry breakage. Of note, Spy Kit was printed in the most recent Conspiracy set and allows Evil Twin to kill any creature on the board. That sounds spicy.
Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius – If you want to play Niv-Mizzet flavour decks or just want to do weird Izzet stuff without a focus, Dracogenius is the commander for you. He sees less immediate hate than his original counterpart from Ravnica block, mostly due to his inability to go infinite with Curiousity.
Cruel Ultimatum – The most powerful of the ultimatums, Cruel Ultimatum is the ultimate (haha) in really beating down on your least favourite opponent and reaping the inverse rewards. It is totally awesome in Jeleva, Nephalia’s Scourge which doesn’t have to worry about the casting cost.
Falkenrath Aristocrat – A free sac outlet that also attacks is not a bad card. Add in tribal support and occasional indestructibility and you have a real winner.
Zur the Enchanter – Like Olivia, Zur has been climbing in price and is another very popular Commander. Cheating out cheap enchantments might not seem like a huge deal but you’ll be amazed by the number of sheer rage inducing cards your opponents will pull from their library with Zur. Also a staple of competitive EDH everywhere.
Wall of Denial – The name says it all. You can’t remove it. You will have a hard time getting past it. Cards useful for just blocking don’t get much play but Wall of Denial is possibly the best at its job and you should try playing it more.
Coiling Oracle – It’s cheap, it’s got loads of trial support, it ramps you, it draws you cards. It’s in the two best colours in the format. Put Oracle in more decks.
Wort, the Raidmother – Wort is an unusual commander in that she is a Gruul general that promotes spellslining and token making in place of attacking. Doubling up on some awesome spells in her colour like Mizzium Mortars or Chord of Calling leads to interesting games that are unlike typical Gruul games.
Mistmeadow Witch – Mistmeadow was printed in Shadowmoor and reprinted in Commander 2013 as a perfect example of a W/U hybrid card. Being able to blink is in both colours and doing so repeatably is a very powerful effect even if it isn’t the most mana efficient. Of note you can blink opponent’s creatures to remove them from combat or you can protect your own creatures from board wipes.
Torrent of Souls – Reanimation usually comes at the cost of tempo. If your creature doesn’t have immediate impact, it has to wait a full turn cycle to see any use. Torrent solves that problem by granting both it and all your creatures haste, and also pumps them, meaning you may be able to use this card as a finisher if you time it right.
Grafdiggers Cage – More graveyad hate! Seriously, there are not enough people running grave hate cards. It’s the most abuse-able zone and is easy to prevent. Grafdiggers is efficient and also stops some library shenanigans. The price on this one will hopefully finally get to a more reasonable number in the next few weeks if it hasn’t already.
Damping Matrix – Want to shut down your opponents with Stony Silence but don’t want to make them feel bad or shut off your own rocks? Damping Matrix is a great card that combines the best of Silence and Linvala with none of the rage that mana-shutoff tends to produce.
Basilisk Collar – Works great with Olivia as mentioned before. The best and most powerful deathtouch granting equipment you’ll find. Works wonders with pingers, first strike or just as a good stall to keep opponents away.
Azorious Signet and friends are probably the most played mana rocks in Commander after Sol Ring and it’s not hard to see why. They’re cheap, they ramp you, they fix your colours. And they go in almost every deck. Great reprint choices and finally getting every single updated art for them in one place is great. Hold on to foils of these.
Cavern of Souls – A staple of Tribal decks across every format, Cavern keeps counterspells from ruining your day. Cavern also is good if you really need to resolve your Commander.
Arid Mesa and the other Zendikar fetches are the best reprints in the set. Many of them have already dropped a huge amount in price and while they might not stay that way it is a great time for Commander players. Fetchlands, and by extension mana bases, are the most important aspect of deck building. Being able to fix colours and fetch dual lands is a very useful ability to have as is marginally thinning out your deck and shuffling it. Staples of every format, mana bases are the king of your deck. Do them justice.
That’s all I have for this week, I hope you gained some new insights that will help you achieve mastery of your next Commander game. Until next time.