Isn’t it Iconic, don’t you think?

Cryptic-Command-Iconic-Masters-MtG-Art

Greetings fellow Magic: the Gathering fans! I hope your week has been well. Today we’re going to talk about something that we already know about: Iconic Masters.

You may be wondering why we would talk about something we already know of, and that’s an excellent question. This set, Iconic Masters, was fully revealed during HASCON weekend this past September. It was the first ever HASCON, and releasing a set this way was definitely a great idea. Players had the chance to open a product where there was no preview season, leaks, or any articles of. Learning the set felt organic, and left a lot of room for players to explore.

However it won’t be for sale to the public until November 17th.

Since then players have been given Ixalan, and many high level (read: above FNM) Modern events have been happening, so our attention has been somewhat diverted. Is anyone even excited for Iconic Masters? Maybe. I hope so as there are some good things in the set, however there are other things we need to address. So let’s dive in.

The Good
(the reprints)

These are the most important reprints for Modern in the set (and 4 of them are important for Legacy). Although not all of them are equally played in the format just having these reprinted helps one of the most important things about the Modern format: card availability. Yes Primeval Titan has been reprinted before, however the more that big mana / Valakut type decks increase in popularity the more this key card is needed. Also we have to keep in mind how challenging it would be for Wizards of the Coast to find room for these in future sets.

Keeping the original art for the Lorwyn Thoughtseize was a great move as this should help make this card affordable going forward for those of us who want to pick up copies of the original. Making a home for the rare land cycle from Future Sight was also really key. While this has affected the price of Horizon Canopy as well as Grove of the Burnwillows the fact we have a reprint has not had it’s full impact yet (as Iconic Masters is not for sale as of this post). New art on Ancestral Vision should both help lower the price of the original, and draw interest in the card all at the same time. The amount of reprints in the set is definitely a good thing.

The Bad
(“Iconic”?)

How truly “Iconic” is Iconic Masters? If the goal of the set was to start reaching into Magic: the Gathering’s past as it begins (fiscally) it’s 25th year then the cards provided should have been…you guessed it…Iconic.

In the set we do have Serra Angel, but not with the original (read: iconic) art. There’s also a Dragon sub-theme, but no sign of Shivan Dragon or Nicol Bolas (and that draft theme is in Grixis). Sure Strip Mine may have been a little much, but it’s a non-Reserved List card that sees a lot of play in Vintage, and Commander. If Commander 1 vs 1 is being promoted on MTGO, then why not provide additional copies of this?

Where will Wizards of the Coast print Llanowar Elves again? They don’t like 1 cost mana creatures in Standard anymore, and if the sub-theme was ramping then having this in the set would have been beneficial as it was an…Iconic…thing that green has provided since day 1. The Rack is seeing play in Modern, and additional copies of that would also benefit players of the format, AND provide an iconic card for this set.

With Commander 2017 released a month prior to HASCON, and Ixalan coming out after, having creatures that match the types promoted in those sets would have also been big. Where else would a card like Baron Sengir fit? The same goes for Lord of Atlantis. These cards would have not only been great, but also enhance the true name of this set.

Yes we have Channel, Mana Drain, and Necropotence, but it seems like these cards are added reprints into a draft set to help sell the product. This set feels more like a 2017 version of this than an actual set deserving of the name Iconic:

eternal masters

The Ugly
(the leftovers)

I would put the art up for these, but there are just too many. Why? Well out of 249 cards there are about 81 of them, across all rarities, that were originally printed in the last 5 years.

That’s approximately 32.5%, and honestly…

Too-damn-high

I have no idea why in the hell we would need more reprints of cards like Tormenting Voice, or Hunt the Weak. This would have been an opportune time to insert cards from pre-8th edition into the set for the purpose of drafting. Here’s the breakdown of the number of reprints, the set they originally appeared in, and the rarity they are appearing in with Iconic Masters:

Mythics: 3
Avacyn Restored (1)
Magic 2013 (1)
Magic 2014 (1)

Rares: 9
Innistrad (1)
Return to Ravnica (2)
Dragon’s Maze (2)
Magic 2014 (1)
Theros (1)
Commander 2013 (1)
Magic 2015 (1)

Uncommons: 30
Planechase 2012 (1)
Magic 2013 (1)
Return to Ravnica (4)
Gatecrash (3)
Magic 2014 (1)
Theros (2)
Journey Into Nyx (1)
Magic 2015 (3)
Khans of Tarkir (3)
Fate Reforged (1)
Dragons of Tarkir (6)
Magic Origins (2)
Commander 2015 (2)

Commons: 39
Avacyn Restored (1)
Dark Ascension (1)
Avacyn Restored (1)
Magic 2013 (1)
Return to Ravnica (4)
Gatecrash (3)
Dragon’s Maze (1)
Magic 2014 (2)
Theros (1)
Magic 2015 (7)
Khans of Tarkir (4)
Fate Reforged (1)
Dragons of Tarkir (8)
Magic Origins (3)
Battle For Zendikar (1)

Again this is just 5 YEARS! If we move that number up to 10 years we start approaching 50%. How can something, with a 25 year history, be truly labeled as Iconic if we just had it in Standard 5 (or less) years ago? We could have had cards from the Tempest through Apocalypse blocks, or maybe even cards from Ice Age through Mirage blocks. We’re only talking about commons & uncommons here (mainly). Having older cards to draft with again would have been more exciting, and would have been fitting of the name Iconic.

They also could have had all of the cards in the set portray the original art if they wanted to make it truly Iconic, but I understand the logistics of why they don’t. Plus there is art on Magic Online that does not get the light of day on a card.

The future
(where we are headed)

What this set represents, to me, is a shift away from “Modern” or “Eternal” names. Reprint sets will have generic names, and allow Wizards some more flexibility with building a solid draft set as opposed to focusing on format specific drafting. Also the rampant confusion of the name “Eternal” over “Legacy” perhaps caused this as well. Many people thought “Eternal” was going to be the name of a format that would be Legacy without the Reserved List, and moons before we even got a glimpse of that Masters set Wizards of the Coast had to squash any conversation about that. Situations like that can make it difficult to properly promote a set.

Where do they go from here though? The only non-Reserved List card I can think of left to reprint of any note is Rishadan Port. Where else could that show up besides in Magic 25 (due out next Spring)? If we take a look at the Grand Prix lists next year there are a several Legacy GPs happening across the world. The world folks. If there is ever a time to help get more Legacy playable cards into the hands of players it’s next spring.

Before you get crazy hammering out a response please keep in mind the Reserved List has been edited several times through it’s history. A quick search on the internet will show this information, and it’s history. In the beginning it was quite broad, and although certain cards could not be reprinted it did allow Wizards of the Coast room to develop new cards. However this was in the earliest years of Magic, and back then we only had 2 formats: Vintage (Type 1), and Standard (Type 2). Legacy was not even an official format until 2004 when it was then sanctioned by the DCI. So as the game grew the number of products also increased as demand grew. Heck even in the last 6 years EDH, now promoted as Commander, has grown in popularity from the casual format built by players for players with it’s own supported product line. Wizards of the Coast is constantly growing, changing, and trying to find ways to improve the game at all levels. Look at the recent years where the focus was heavily (sometimes only) on Standard at the highest level of play. Now things seem to have shifted back the other way to include multiple formats at the highest levels of play, and include Team events allowing players to play all formats collectively. This is another reason why I feel they can reprint the original dual lands, however they would have this art instead:

Yes this is the MTGO art, and as you notice it has the M15 hologram at the bottom. Why would a digital product need to have that anyway? Are they really look for counterfeits on their own program? Yes the cost of the originals would go down, but it won’t crash. Yes there are people who only invest in the game, but there are many more who want more players. I’m not asking for the Power 9 to be reprinted (there has to be a line somewhere), but having these available increases the number of players available to play Legacy. It would also give players a chance to open a foil original Dual land for the first time ever, and thus increase interest in the game as a whole.

I know that may seem far fetched, however if these sets are going to stand alone, and have merit on their own, there has to be something that makes a set unique. Something that makes a set…Iconic.

Thanks for stopping by to read my thoughts on Iconic Masters, and what the future holds for us in regards to reprints. Please follow me on Twitter, as well as Facebook, and don’t forget to leave a comment or tell your friends. Until next time…

TAP MORE MANA!!!

-MTGPackfoils

 

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