Spoiler Season is well underway for Kaladesh and I’m even more surprised this week than when I wrote last week’s piece. This is largely because of the recent Wizards of the Coast announcement unveiling its new “Masterpiece Series.” For those that missed it, you can read Mark Rosewater’s explanation of what that entails here. In short, moving forward, all Standard-legal Magic expansions will contain extremely rare, thematic reprints similar to the Expeditions in Battle for Zendikar. Unsurprisingly, the Kaladesh ones are artifacts.
This new addition looks looks to change the face of Magic forever for numerous reasons. I think this change is quite positive and why it’ll be the focus of my article this week.
The Masterpiece Series: What does it mean for Magic?
More product being purchased to collect pieces of the series
Magic has grown so large that each new set can bring unprecedented amounts of orders and preorders along with it. Hype is a very real selling point for new products, especially if the idea driving the hype has the ability to give the product more longevity while it’s in circulation. The Masterpiece Series has the ability to do just that.
Expeditions were a great idea when it came to increasing the sales of the product. Full-art versions of old classics clearly became sought-after collectors items and players looking to bling out their favorite decks just got a brand new toy.
I have a critique of the Expeditions though: they didn’t quite feel like they tied into the central story enough. With each new set Wizards is trying to create their own unique world for those cards to live in and with Expeditions there was a disconnect there between them and the story of the world they were set in. When I picture what Battle for Zendikar entails, the first thing I envision is large Eldrazi and how they warped the world around them. Yes, Zendikar was a block focused on lands, but I think the Masterpiece Series looks to be doing a better job at tying into the world of the block rather than just being on-theme.
Take Kaladesh for example. Each of the Kaladesh Inventions will have a wispy copper border that looks like something straight out of the Inventor’s Fair! Each card in the series also is an artifact, and as Kaladesh is an artifact themed world, this fits perfectly. Finally, most come with detailed flavor text that explicitly justifies the card’s existence in the specific block. With all of these tie-ins, there will be a stronger connection between the world they are trying to create and the cards in the set.
This is especially important for newer players. Even though they won’t necessarily be able to play with all of the cards from the series in a Standard deck for instance, the existence of these Masterpieces will still inspire them to look into Magic’s history and find out more about the cards contained therein. This in turn could inspire them to purchase not only more Kaladesh to acquire more of the series, but to also look to expand into the older areas that the series highlights.
More newer product being opened puts more in circulation which drives down the secondary market price
As a player looking to get more into Magic, whether that means playing with your friends or finally affording a competitive deck for constructed, have you ever felt frustrated to find out that the price of the card you were looking for was wayyyy out of your price range?
Well, the Masterpiece Series looks to change that. As suggested above, the mere existence of Masterpiece Series cards in future expansions means that, more than likely, significantly more product will be opened moving forward. Having more product opened means there will be much more of each other card in circulation. Marketers will have much more to sell and prices will naturally go down as individual cards will be easier to come by.
This is also great for the price of sealed product. Sealed product can fluctuate massively especially if a set is deemed undesirable, but the Masterpiece Series looks to add longevity to the set not only with collector value but also through the lore. Getting people invested in the story of the series will make them interesting in completing it, so they can feel like they’ve had a part in telling the story themselves.
The Masterpiece Series caters to competitive players
Another great thing about the Masterpiece Series containing cards from all of Magic’s history is that it hits all areas of play. As a frequent Affinity player I would love to get my hands on the Mox Opal and Steel Overseer and that’s just from this set! There are sure to be many more Masterpiece cards that personally appeal to me in future series.
The important part here is that even if all of the cards do not apply, at least some will. So even if you are not personally vested in completing the series yourself, you may at least interested in acquiring the ones that slot into your existing decks, especially if they happen to be personal favorites, like Affinity is for me.
Very large design space with plenty of room to be explored
Like I said above, Expeditions were a fine starting point, but being limited to lands made them a very limited design space. The Masterpiece Series broadens it by including anything that fits the theme of the set being explored. This gives Wizards plenty of room in the future to choose cards that fit well with the overall theme to encourage players to engross themselves in the world and to also give themselves enough to work with to keep it interesting for many sets to come.
I’m going to close with some thoughts on a few of the newly spoiled, soon-to-be Standard-legal cards that caught my eye:
Consulate Surveillance seems like an extremely reasonable control card. White already has access to great sweepers like Planar Outburst and Descend Upon the Sinful, and with Dromoka’s Command rotating out this is exactly what a white control list might want to bridge the gap between sweepers.
Part Tooth and Nail, part Collected Company, Dubious Challenge is an intriguing card because of the interesting tension it creates. It seems great in a redundant creature-based combo deck where you are just looking for a piece to kill your opponent but that piece can be any number of cards. In Modern Abzan Company for instance, both Melira or Anafenza are essentially interchangeable for comboing purposes, so you basically eliminate your opponent’s ability to influence the decision by making the choice wrong either way. Just having that option and the fact that this looks at 10 cards, which is a lot for an effect like this, means Dubious Challenge can be a very powerful card in the right shell.
Kaladesh as a whole has me more excited than any set in recent memory, with new amazing mechanics, the Masterpiece Series, and some of the best planewalkers every printed. I can’t wait!!!
See you on the Battlefield