Cook’s Kitchen – Modern Masters & Legacy
For those of you living under a rock, Wizards of the Coast announced “Modern Masters”. You can read more about it here.
Modern Masters will be a set much like Chronicles in the past. In this case it will release cards specifically reprinted to draw more attention to the Modern format. The idea behind the set is to make Modern staples and inadvertently Legacy staples more readily accessible to the common Magic player. This means cards such as Tarmogoyf will be reprinted.
This thing is a Tarmogoyf? Seems much larger to me, but that’s not really the point. With Tarmogoyf being reprinted the price will likely drop slightly, which isn’t a terrible thing. Currently Tarmogoyf’s price ranges between 90-110 dollars depending on the site that one would use to reference prices. Meaning that a play set is about $400, anyone who doesn’t have a set from when the card was much cheaper must be distraught. While Tarmogoyf’s playability in Legacy has diminished over the last couple of years (aside from Canadian Threshold/Tempo variants), it’s still as popular as ever in Modern. It’s tough to justify dropping $400 on four pieces of cardboard for most players, but that’s the beauty of Modern Masters. For those people that already own a set of Tarmogoyf, they might be a little flustered at the idea that their cards may lose value, but it’s good for the community. The more people that have access to playable cards throughout formats the more likely it is that magic players will become more versed in a different format such as Modern or Legacy, or vice versa. This is important because if players have better cards, events across formats will have a larger number of participants meaning a growth in the game in general . Magic’s growth is something to strive for.
Bridging across formats between Standard and Legacy has always been very difficult as very few Standard cards actually end up being Legacy playable or staples, although it certainly does happen. I look at Modern as a stepping stone or a mid-way point between the two, one that is currently developing. I understand that Wizards may soon be pushing that format and we’ll get to that in a bit, but as of right now, it’s a fringe format much like extended or block where it sees plenty of play when it’s in season or there’s a nearby Grand Prix or large event. I certainly don’t think that it’s a coincidence that the shock lands were reprinted in Return to Ravnica, partially to lower cost and partially for card availability, and then the announcement of Modern Masters.
With more people acquiring Modern staples from Standard and soon to be limited, players will slowly branch into Modern and acquire some of the other niche staples of the format. While this is happening, they’ll also be accumulating Legacy cards. There’s no reason that the two formats can’t co-exist on a high level, hundreds of people on the internet are screaming about the demise of Legacy because of Modern Masters. Modern and Legacy are both unique formats with different card availabilities due to the different banned lists. It’ll be very easy to transfer from format to format with all of the reprinting of these cards in Modern Masters, From the Vault, Commander sets, Premium Deck Series (Fire Lightning & Graveborn), and the Dual Decks. Players might not have to be labelled as “Standard” players or “Legacy” specialists. Play a new format, grow a little bit as a player, it won’t kill you.
While some fear Wizards may soon be pushing Modern more than Legacy, it’s already happened, think about it. The sky has already fallen and we’re fine (as Legacy players), Modern is already a Grand Prix and Pro Tour format. While Legacy isn’t endorsed as a Pro Tour format, we can certainly hope it one day will, however unlikely that is. But with all of these reprints, it very well could be one day. It’s likely that Modern could possibly see a couple more Grand Prix a year compared to Legacy, but who’s to say that it’ll be taking away from Legacy? Extended could very well just actually die completely or they could take away a couple from Block, Limited, or Standard. It’s just not in the best interests of Wizards of the Coast to take away from a growing format. Legacy players are very passionate about their format. I like to believe that Wizards understand that. Especially considering how Star City Games endorses Legacy almost every weekend of the year with their Open Series.
If Legacy were to begin to die slowly, I don’t actually believe that it’s Wizards decision right now (I mean, they could just say it’s not a format anymore but let’s be realistic). If Wizards were to cut a Legacy Grand Prix for a Modern Grand Prix, I don’t believe that they would, but if they did, it wouldn’t kill Legacy. Star City Games’ impact on Legacy has a much larger effect on the format compared to a single Grand Prix, if Star City Games stopped doing Legacy events, I’d then say, “We have a problem.” Although, I don’t think this would ever happen. The reason being, like for Wizards, it’s not in their best interest. Unlike Wizards of the Coast, Star City Games makes money on individual cards and cares what sells and what doesn’t. Star City Games loves to sell Underground Sea at $149.99, they take them in at $100.00, that’s a $50 return on a single card. Do you realize how many shock lands Star City Games would have to turn over to equal that fifty dollars? It’s just not as wise. That company is in the business of making money based on individual card sales, events, and sealed products unlike Wizards making their sole profit based on cases of sealed products and events. Star City Games won’t be dropping Legacy in favor of Modern if they would like to keep turning huge profits on Legacy exclusive singles such as Underground Sea. I understand that even if they did switch over to modern that the dual lands would retain some value from hardcore legacy enthusiasts as well as Commander/Elder Dragon Highlander players, but the prices wouldn’t even be a fourth of what they are currently.
If my views haven’t already been abundantly clear, I don’t see Legacy going anywhere anytime in the foreseeable future. Legacy is thriving currently. While I’m not exactly thrilled with the current format, the beauty of Legacy is that it always corrects itself. I see Modern and Legacy continuing to be separate entities with equal playing time on the circuit. There are a couple of flaws to what I’ve said so far, the first being the “reserved list”, dual lands are currently on the list. Dual lands are what define Legacy as a format, it’s very difficult to play Legacy without them. Although, because Legacy is so vast, it’s certainly possible (Look at Merfolk, Goblins, Elves, Dredge, Burn, Affinity, the list continues). Wizards is not likely to reprint the Dual Lands either, meaning that the value of dual lands will continually rise over time. Especially if more players are interested in joining this format from the cards they’ve accumulated from Modern and Standard. The solution? I’m not exactly sure, but I’ve thought of a concept.
I hate white boarders like most other magic players. So why would I hate the idea of new face Dual Lands with black boarders? They would instantly kill the value of the old ones. This would happen with the reprinting of the dual lands period, but I have a feeling that because the most accessible dual lands are from revised and they have white boarders, the effect would be greater. I’m a hypocrite, I know what I said in the second paragraph when describing Tarmogoyf and the good of the game. Even though I understand that it’s for the good of the game, it would still upset me slightly. But I would suck it up and deal with the value loss so I could continue to play the format I grew up loving.
The fact that I don’t want to see “new Dual Lands” brought me to an idea everyone would like a bit more. Remember Zendikar? Remember the “Treasures” they had in the packs? Bring them back. People loved it, packs were flying off the shelves. Everyone wanted to see if they could crack something from a Plateau to a Black Lotus, more realistically they were cracking Into the Roil. But if Wizards acquired Dual Lands and other treasures to put back into the packs from stores perhaps the cards would be more accessible without a reprint. The idea isn’t as far-fetched as it seems, it would just require the “Treasures” to be slightly less rare.
Let’s say Wizards doesn’t do this, let’s say Wizards doesn’t correct dual lands and decides that Legacy is fine the way that it is. Shock lands are still a viable option. They aren’t as expensive for the people who haven’t been around as long, they’ve even recently been reprinted to be more accessible. While they aren’t the most optimal choice, they aren’t that bad and would be a reasonable substitute in a format filled with fetch lands.
Legacy will be fine, Modern will grow and develop into a real format with a little assistance from Wizards providing that push the format needs. Expect growth in Legacy turnouts in the future, players that are not currently playing Legacy will be soon thanks to all of these reprints. Try not to look at formats as dividing lines, it’s all the same game, the cards are interchangeable.
Well that’s all for this week, come back again next week! Until then, keep Storming!
Bryant Cook on MTGthesource