Modern Masters 2015: Playing to your Weaknesses – White
(NOTE: “Playing to your Weaknesses” is a series of articles I have been doing on my own blog since Avacyn Restored that cover all of the uncommons and commons in a new expansion and which ones I would choose to use as one of the 23 cards in a 40 card limited deck. For those of you uninitiated to limited, it simply means sealed and booster draft, where you open packs and then proceed to make a deck out of them. I’ve purposely left out the rare cards because it is much more likely that you’ll see multiples of uncommon and commons in your packs/pools.)
As for my rating system, I’ll merely state if it’s a high, medium, or low pick in draft. A HIGH pick means that you should take it as soon as you see it (if it’s in your colors of course). HIGH picks are bombs that won’t come around the table a second time. MEDIUM picks are cards that have good synergies with other cards and are great at filling your mana curve or acting as role players. These cards might come around a 2nd time if you pass on them, so if there is another card that ranks higher, take that one and wait for this to come back. LOW picks are cards that are the leftovers. Maybe you need a 23rd card for your deck to round things out – THAT’S what a LOW pick is. You can take these ratings to mean the same for sealed as well. )
I said it at the end of my last article and I’ll say it again, but evaluating the new Modern Masters set is going to be my biggest challenge yet. I’ve been working on evaluating cards in a vacuum for each set that’s come out since Avacyn Restored, and now it’s time to see if I can put together all of the puzzle pieces Wizards of the Coast had made for this format. Many of the cards I never had the privilege of playing limited with, and others were way before my time. Lots of the older players have had experience with some of these archetypes, but not me.
There are a number of different archetypes in MM2 such as Affinity, Elementals, and Proliferate to name a few, but I’m not going to have the time to go over and discuss how each one works. Jake Stiles on MTG Goldfish did 2 great articles that I recommend checking out in order to see how each archetype works with the cards available in the set. You can find his first article here, and his second article here. What I’m going to go over in this week’s article is not what your the optimal deck should look like, but which cards have synergy with one another and which archetypes can be merged together for maximum effect. It’s going to be nearly impossible to put together a consistent Affinity deck in sealed, but you just might be able to have a playable Affinity/Metalcraft/Voltron or a Bloodthirst/Proliferate/Graft deck. The same will be true of drafting. If your Proliferate cards suddenly get cut, hopefully you can continue on with a Graft/Bloodthirst deck and make an effective strategy with just those types of cards.
Enough talking, lets take a look at our first segment of cards today, White.
White’s common and uncommon creatures aren’t really anything to write home about. Overall, the color seems to be packed with synergistic support cards that help to enable various strategies. In a vacuum, however, they can be pretty weak. Hikari, Twilight Guardian is an exception. There are a lot of Spirit creatures and sorceries in Black and White, but relatively few instants which means blinking it to protect it from a removal spells is almost out of the question (Otherworldly Journey can do it though). His ability can get rid of pesky enchantments though, which means the ability isn’t totally worthless in limited. I’m also guessing that Shapeshifter spells such as Wings of Velis Vel will activate this ability too, so if you want to splash red or blue for a powerful card you have a few more choices you can make. Not sure I would take him high in the first pack, but it would be a good pack 2 or pack 3 choice.
RATING: Medium to High
You don’t get better value than Spectral Procession when it comes to bodies per card. You get 3 fliers for one spot in your deck, and it can be put in any deck you want (if you’re willing to pay 6 colorless mana). Solid card in any deck, but with the amount of -1/-1 abilities/effects in this format you might not get as much bang for your back as you would in a standard limited format. Watch out for Shrivel in particular. If you can draft a lot of token makers such as Raise the Alarm or any of the Eldrazi spawn making cards, then add cards like Sigil Blessing or Fortify to the mix, you can have a pretty potent token army at your disposal. I’d take this high in draft if that was my strategy or playing a white based deck. RW Voltron, UW Affinity, GW Tokens . . . it would fit well in all of these decks.
RATING: High to Medium
There are a lot of playable artifacts in this set, even if you’re not playing an Affinity strategy. On the surface this is just a 2/2 bear for 2 mana, but if you’re playing with 3-4 artifacts as mana ramp or just to fill in a gap in your 4 drop spot, you can easily get an extra body out of playing her for very little investment. I would consider putting this in any deck where white is a support color, but especially in a deck like RW Voltron (full of equipment) and UW Affinity (well, duh!). Not a high pick, but also not a card that you want to let go around if you’re playing any of those strategies with a few artifacts in your deck.
White doesn’t have a lot of permanent removal, but it’s suite of exile and pacifism effects are decent. Nobody can ever fault you with playing an Oblivion Ring. If your opponent manages to land an Eldrazi or something equally as nasty, you’ll be happy you have it in your deck. I think having removal in this set is pretty important, so I’m going to say that this something you want to take quickly once you’ve settled on white as you main or support color.
I find Arrest to be a solid, pseudo removal card for white. For an extra mana more than a Pacifism, you get to shut down activated abilities which will be important if you’re trying to lock down a Bloodthrone Vampire in a tokens deck, or stop a Hellkite Charger from downright ending a game the following turn. I wouldn’t put too much pressure on yourself to draft it early, but I like it later on after you’re about 6-7 picks in.
I’m not too crazy about most of the equipment in MM2, but I do like the living weapon equipment. It gives you a creature while making others stronger later on. Taj-Nar Swordsmith will be great in a Voltron deck with cards like Sunspear Shikari or Skyhunter Skirmisher, but even outside of decks, it still tutors for a creature of sorts and puts it directly into play. 6 mana for a 2/3 plus a Mortorpod, 5 for a Flayerhusk, or 7 for Sickleslicer is definitely being realistic. I also like it a lot in an Affinity deck when you want to tutor for a Cranial Plating. Depending on where you are with your Voltron/Affinity deck, he could go high or somewhat later in the drafting process. I think he’d be a high pick in pack 1 or 2, or if you see Voltron like cards are going around the table and nobody is picking them.
RATING: Medium to High
With a number of ways to power up creatures in MM2 limited (Graft, Equipment, activated abilities, instants), I don’t think you’d want to pass up a Skyhunter Skirmisher. Its low toughness makes it an easy target for a lot of the removal in the set, but once you are able to pump it up this card will be able to run away with games for you. If it goes unchallenged in the air, you can be assured the game will be over sooner rather than later. I see it as a must have in Voltron decks, but also not bad in a Proliferate deck if you can put some counters on it with blue or green graft cards. It’s also really good with Selesyna Guildmage and Sigil Blessing in a token deck. Don’t overlook it.
Another solid piece of white removal. 3 damage will take out more than 70% of the creatures in the set, but you sacrifice speed for power and efficiency. Use it early, cause it’s not going to do anything against an Eldrazi ^_^. I wouldn’t mind taking it in the later rounds of draft to fill out the last spots in my 23 card deck.
RATING: Medium to Low
Other Cards that Might See Play
- Celestial Purge – Good sideboard card against black and red.
- Court Homunculus – If you’re playing either RW Voltron with equipment or an Affinity build, this is a solid roleplayer in either deck.
- Dispatch – If you have the artifacts to activate it’s metalcraft, play it. Otherwise leave it on the bench.
- Fortify – Seems good in a Tokens build and plays both offense and defense.
- Kor Duelist – Again, if you have the equipment it can be pretty strong. Otherwise it’s vanilla.
- Otherworldly Journey – good synergy with Bloodthirst/Proliferate/Graft decks, saves your creature from removal, or it can blink an opponent’s token out of existence. Solid card in a few strategies.
- Moonlit Strider – soulshift is nice if you’re playing with any spirit spells, but this guy can both protect your finishers from removal as well as push through damage at the right moment. I think it would be a decent 23rd pick in a draft deck.
- Raise the Alarm – great in token strategies, also decent in other aggressive decks. Provides fodder for sacrifice effects too.
- Sunspear Shikari – 2/2 bear(cat) that becomes pretty strong if you can equip it. Player in Affinity or RW Voltron perhaps.
- Waxmane Baku – Not sure how powerful a Spirit themed deck will be, but if you can put together a few and need a bear for your mana curve, Waxmane doesn’t seems alright. Probably a last thought card.
Coming Up Next
White Definitely seems pegged as a support color in Modern Masters 2 and I’d be surprised if anybody creates any white-centric decks with the cards they open. Elesh Norn (in tokens or anything else) and Iona (with some ramp effects) are great white cards that make playing white worth it, but I think those decks will be leaning heavily on their second color, if not only splashing white for a few strong white cards/removal.
So how am I doing so far? Did I evaluate the cards well you think? The level of complexity with the set and unfamiliarity with the cards was definitely a challenge for me. I think I got most of my choices right, but if you see another combo/synergy with the commons and uncommons that I missed, please add your ideas to the comment section down below. Hopefully I’ll be able to get another article out in the next day or two, but it might be hard to do all of them before the release weekend next week. I look forward to seeing you back here again to check them out when I post them!