Eternal Masters is completely revealed. The set does not release until June 10th, however, giving us plenty of time to analyze it before it hits the shelves. Because it is a set of all reprints, there is little to discuss in terms of new card impacts. So instead, the focus is on popular Legacy decks and what is made available for them.
Now, there is no deck that has had every expensive card reprinted - the Reserved List prevents this from being possible for most of them, and there are key exclusions from the set for the remainder. However, it does provide at least an avenue for building towards most of these decks.
Notable Reprints: Sensei's Diving Top, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Karakas, Force of Will, Brainstorm, Swords to Plowshares
Occasionally-used Reprints: Dack Fayden, Pyroblast, Counterspell, Enlightened Tutor
Notably Not Reprinted: Counterbalance, Monastery Mentor, Blood Moon, Flusterstorm, Fetchlands
Reserve Listed: Tundra, Volcanic Island, Plateau, Humility, Moat
While Legacy has a reputation — mostly among players who are unfamiliar with it — of being a format where games end on the first or second turn, the reality of the metagame tells a very different story. Miracles is the most popular deck in Legacy, and it is grindingly, almost excruciatingly slow. Miracles is a deck that frequently wins on turn ten, twelve, or even later, generally through a Jace, the Mind Sculptor ultimate, an end-of-turn Entreat the Angels for a lethal number of angelic beaters, through an army of Monastery Mentor tokens generated and buffed by repeatedly toggling two Sensei's Divining Tops between the top of the library, or occasionally even through Snapcaster Mage, Vendilion Clique, or Venser, Shaper Savant beats.
So how is it that Miracles can thrive in a format where many decks do indeed have the capability to win on the third, second, or occasionally even first turn? It functions as the hardest control deck in the format. Force of Will provides protection against first-turn wins, and then Counterbalance sets up a lock to grind through future turns. Sensei's Divining Top and Brainstorm perform triple duty, matching up Counterbalance triggers on command, setting up Terminus or Entreat the Angels miracle triggers, and filtering through the deck for answers. Creature decks face Swords to Plowshares for spot removal and Terminus for mass removal. Noncreature permanent threats get nabbed by Council's Judgment or Engineered Explosives, and land-focused decks get ground down by Blood Moon or Back to Basics from the sideboard. Karakas holds legendary threats at bay and can recycle Vendilion Clique and Venser, Shaper Savant. Variants of the deck utilize Dack Fayden, Punishing Fire + Grove of the Burnwillows, Nahiri, the Harbinger + Emrakul, Rest In Peace + Energy Field/Helm of Obedience, or an Enlightened Tutor package as various additional answers and threats.
Many of the biggest non-Reserved pieces show up in Eternal Masters, including Top, Jace, Karakas, and Force of Will. The biggest cards that are missing are Counterbalance and the Fetchlands. Flooded Strand is still relatively accessible from its run in Standard, and Arid Mesa/Scalding Tarn can be substituted out for Polluted Delta for those that cannot afford the pricier versions. As far as Reserved List cards go, the biggest ones are the dual lands. Shocklands (Hallowed Fountain, Steam Vents, Sacred Foundry) are the most obvious replacement, but they weaken the deck against aggressive builds like Burn and Delver. The only other commonly-seen Reserved cards are Humility or Moat, usually a single copy of one of the two. Humility is still plenty cheap despite its Reserved status, and can replace the much more expensive Moat in most builds.
Check out the Miracles thread for more information.
Notable Reprints: Young Pyromancer, Deathrite Shaman, Cabal Therapy, Force of Will, Brainstorm, Daze, Wasteland
Notably Not Reprinted: Flusterstorm, Stifle, Gitaxian Probe, Fetchlands
Reserve Listed: Underground Sea, Volcanic Island
Grixis Delver is the premier Aggro/Tempo deck in the format. It utilizes a diverse array of threats — Delver of Secrets, Young Pyromancer, Gurmag Angler, and Deathrite Shaman — primarily fueled by the deck's large count of cheap spells. After resolving a threat or two, it focuses on disruption, chewing through the opposing game plan with countermagic like Force of Will, Daze, and Flusterstorm, discard like Cabal Therapy, land disruption like Stifle and Wasteland, and graveyard disruption like Deathrite Shaman. A slew of cheap cantrips bolsters the deck — Brainstorm, Ponder, and Gitaxian Probe, which can set up Delver flips and provide fuel for the other threats.
The most expensive non-Reserved cards will all be reprinted. Bloodstained Mires and Polluted Deltas are still cheap from their run through Standard, Stifle tanked when it was printed in Conspiracy, and Flusterstorm can generally be replaced with Spell Pierce, Invasive Surgery, or Pyroblast/Hydroblast. The sole Reserved cards the deck runs are duals, which again can be replaced by Shocklands, though at the expense of making the deck weaker to Burn and in the mirror.
For more information, check out the Grixis Tempo thread.
Notable Reprints: Shardless Agent, Deathrite Shaman, Baleful Strix, Hymn to Tourach, Force of Will, Brainstorm, Wasteland, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Toxic Deluge, Sylvan Library
Notably Not Reprinted: Liliana of the Veil, Ancestral Vision, Abrupt Decay, Tarmogoyf, Thoughtseize, Fetchlands
Reserve Listed: Underground Sea, Tropical Island, Bayou
For players looking to play a Midrange list, much like Jund in Modern, Shardless BUG is the obvious choice. It is a deck that grinds out repeated value, utilizing two-for-one and even three-for-one effects like Hymn to Tourach, Baleful Strix, Shardless Agent, and Ancestral Vision. Shardless Agent in particular can be especially backbreaking when it cascades into a Hymn or Vision. Backing up these heavy card advantage spells are a slew of high-powered individual cards — Tarmogoyf, Liliana of the Veil, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Brainstorm, Abrupt Decay, Force of Will, Thoughtseize, and Deathrite Shaman. Overall, the deck plays much like pre-ban Modern Jund, only with the addition of Vision, Force, and Jace over the red cards. It grinds down opposing strategies with discard and removal, and then restocks its own cards while playing huge threats.
While Eternal Masters printed a lot of cards in the decklist, there are a lot of expensive cards that were not reprinted, mostly because they are also Modern staples. A player coming from Modern Jund, who already has their Tarmogoyfs, Abrupt Decays, Lilianas, and Thoughtseizes can make the transition relatively easily — of course, having to substitute Shocklands over the dual lands if Reserved cards are outside of budget — but without that basis, it is next to impossible, as Shardless BUG has frequently been the most expensive deck in Legacy.
For more information, check out the Shardless BUG thread
Notable Reprints: Mother of Runes, Swords to Plowshares, Wasteland, Karakas
Notably Not Reprinted: Rishadan Port, Cavern of Souls, Aether Vial, Stoneforge Mystic, Umezawa's Jitte, Batterskull
Reserve Listed: None!
Death and Taxes is a deck that, on first glance, looks like a White Weenie Aggro deck, but in reality, it plays out like a control deck. The control elements just happen to primarily be creatures. It is also the most competitive deck that regularly runs zero cards on the Reserved List. Against combo decks, Death and Taxes keeps them from comboing off via taxing creatures like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and Vryn Wingmare, alongside land disruption like Wasteland, Rishadan Port, and Mangara of Corondor, buying enough time for a Serra Avenger or a Stoneforge Mystic-generated Batterskull to seal the deal. Mother of Runes gives Storm decks a headache, as even an Abrupt Decay cannot get rid of Thalia with a Mother protecting her, and Show and Tell decks risk having their Emrakuls or Griselbrands bounced by Karakas. Against control decks, Aether Vial and Cavern of Souls bypass countermagic, Karkas allows Thalia to dodge removal, and land disruption and taxing keep late-game haymakers like Jace from hitting the board. Against aggro decks, Batterskull or Umezawa's Jitte set up a losing chain of lifegain, while Swords to Plowshares provides efficient removal and Thalia can wall the ground against most small beaters. Flickerwisp is a surprisingly powerful card in the deck, as coming off of an Aether Vial it can allow permanents to dodge spot removal, lock down a key land for a turn, or get additional uses out of Mangara of Corondor.
Karakas' reprinting eases one of the major barriers to entry for the deck. However, Rishadan Port's lack of reprint means that card will eat up most of Karakas' value drop. Aether Vial, Stoneforge Mystic, the equipment, and Cavern of Souls are all oft-seen pieces that did not get reprints either.
For those interested in the deck, check out the Death and Taxes thread, which is one of the most active ones in the entire Legacy forum.
Notable Reprints: Price of Progress, Chain Lightning, Sulfuric Vortex
Notably Not Reprinted: Goblin Guide, Eidolon of the Great Revel, Ensnaring Bridge, Vexing Shusher,
Reserve Listed: None!
Burn is another popular deck that does not require any Reserved cards. In fact, it is one of the cheapest viable decks in Legacy, and is very frequently cheaper than the Modern version, as it sticks to a single color to avoid vulnerability to Stifle and Wasteland. With Chain Lightning being reprinted, and at uncommon, no less, the only expensive cards the deck runs in the maindeck are the Goblin Guides and Eidolon of the Great Revel. Some builds run Fetchlands, but those are largely not required as they only serve as Grim Lavamancer food, and many have moved away from that card. Burn is also one of the most straightforward decks in Legacy. Drop your creatures as soon as possible, and follow them up with a slew of Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning, Rift Bolt, and Lava Spike. Once your opponent is low, finish them off with Price of Progress and Fireblast for a huge burst of damage.
There are a few cards that Burn sometimes plays in its sideboard that still command a high price. Most notable among these is Ensnaring Bridge, though Vexing Shusher is several dollars as well.
Read more on Burn in the Burn Thread.
Notable Reprints: Force of Will, Wasteland, Daze
Notably Not Reprinted: Aether Vial, Cavern of Souls, Mutavault, Chalice of the Void, Cursecatcher, True-Name Nemesis, Flusterstorm
Reserve Listed: None!
For people who open a few Forces and Wastes and want to get into a blue tempo deck without the dual investment required to make a Delver list work, Merfolk is the place to turn. Common Merfolk lists run zero reserved cards, and the bulk of its base can be found for relatively cheap, with Force of Will and Wasteland being its two most expensive cards. Merfolk plays a tempo game, utilizing Cursecatcher, Daze, Force of Will, Chalice of the Void, Wasteland, and occasionally other countermagic to disrupt its opponent while the fish people knock their life total down. The huge number of lords, between Lord of Atlantis, Master of the Pearl Trident, and Phantasmal Image to copy either, means that Merfolk boards will quickly swell out of control of any deck that does not pack mass removal. Plentiful islandwalk means that most blue decks cannot rely on blocking, and True-Name Nemesis offers ground superiority for games that drag on. Aether Vial and Cavern of Souls let the deck ignore countermagic and take full advantage of Chalice of the Void by making it one-sided. Decks that stumble in the slightest are quickly overwhelmed. The deck is not without weaknesses, though. Despite being a blue deck, it runs none of the usual slew of blue filtering cantrips (Brainstorm, Ponder, Preordain), which means it has a higher than usual chance of getting clogged with dead draws. With Silvergill Adept and the usually-singleton Umezawa's Jitte being the sole ways for the deck to generate card advantage, it often falls behind against decks like Miracles or Shardless BUG which can wipe away a board position with a well-placed Terminus or Toxic Deluge. Additionally, decks like Elves or Death and Taxes that run many creatures but no Islands can block Merfolk's islandwalking beaters with impunity, fearing only the slow True-Name Nemesis.
As with Death and Taxes, the lack of Aether Vial and Cavern of Souls keeps the deck from being exceedingly accessible, and Cursecatcher is an uncommon that has passed the $15 mark. Even so, the deck is relatively cheap and everything is available to be reprinted.
For more information, dive into the Merfolk thread.
Notable Reprints: Natural Order, Green Sun's Zenith, Wirewood Symbiote, Heritage Druid, Deathrite Shaman
Notably Not Reprinted: Nettle Sentinel, Dryad Arbor, Glimpse of Nature, Abrupt Decay, Craterhoof Behemoth, Fetchlands
Reserve Listed: Bayou, Gaea's Cradle
Elves is a very interesting and complex deck. Despite being primarily creatures, it play out mainly as a combo deck. Glimpse of Nature is used as a draw engine, allowing Heritage Druid + Nettle Sentinels to produce increasing mana as cards are drawn and Elves are played. Green Sun's Zenith can be used on the first turn as a ramp spell, grabbing Dryad Arbor, or mid-combo to grab a Wirewood Symbiote, Elvish Visionary, or Nettle Sentinel to continue drawing cards and gaining mana. Symbiote is particularly powerful, as it can bounce a creature, allowing it to be re-cast, triggering both the Sentinels and Glimpse (and any enters-the-battlefield abilities of creatures like Elvish Visionary or Reclamation sage). Additionally, it untaps another creature, which can then be tapped to the Heritage Druid or Birchlore Rangers to produce more mana, or be tapped for its own abilities in the case of Dryad Arbor, Deathrite Shaman, or other mana Elves. Quirion Ranger can be used in much the same way, allowing the caster to replay the bounced Forest as their land for the turn while also untapping a creature. Combos generally culminate in a Natural Order, which fetches Craterhoof Behemoth for a gargantuan Overrun and immediate kill. Natural Order can also be utilized to find silver bullets for other matchups. Ruric Thar, the Unbowed is a frequent choice as a hard-to-kill, vigilant attacker that also prevents decks like Storm from going off.
Elves got many of its most expensive, non-Reserved pieces printed. Glimpse of Nature is one of the biggest exclusions, and is a very key card to the deck. The biggest thing that holds the deck back from accessibility, however, is Gaea's Cradle. As a Reserved-list card with a huge impact, multiple copies, and no obvious replacement, this is a necessary piece to building an Elves deck. After the first copy, however, a few Crop Rotations can be substituted in for additional copies to help smooth out the lack of the others. Bayou, as usual, can become a few Overgrown Tombs — it is not the most pivotal card anyways, being utilized mostly to play sideboard cards and for Deathrite Shaman activations.
For more information, check out the Combo Elves thread.
The above decks are just a taste of some of the popular lists in Legacy. Eternal Masters offers a little something for everyone, however. If none of the above appeal to you, you might try out Sneak and Show, a deck utilizing Sneak Attack and Show and Tell to cheat out fatties like Griselbrand and Emrakul, the Aeons Torn.
Or, if you prefer to cheat those fatties from your graveyard, Reanimator puts Griselbrand or others there with Entomb and Careful Study before using Animate Dead, Reanimate, or Exhume to bring them back. Some versions even run Worldgorger Dragon (another Eternal Masters reprint) to Animate Dead or Dance of the Dead back for infinite mana — the Dragon will enter and exile all permanents, including the reanimating aura, which then causes the Dragon to die, bringing everything back. Animate Dead then comes back, letting you reanimate the Dragon again, but not before tapping all of your lands for mana. End with another Entomb or Read the Runes to find a mana outlet like Ambassador Laquatious or Disciple of Athreos to end the game. Just make sure you have another creature to reanimate, or the game will end in a draw.
If your preference is for spell-based win conditions, there exist a number of options. High Tide, Ad Nauseam Tendrils, Belcher, and Spanish Inqusition are all decks that seek to play mana-generating spells like Chrome Mox, Lotus Petal, Dark Ritual, Cabal Ritual, Rite of Flame, Seething Song, Lion's Eye Diamond, High Tide, and Turnabout, to generate enough mana to draw a large number of cards with Infernal Contract, Meditate, or Ad Nauseam or tutor with Infernal Tutor or Dark Petition, generate more mana, and end with a storm spell like Brain Freeze, Empty the Warrens, or Tendrils of Agony.
Enchantress is a prison control deck that gradually draws cards utilizing Argothian Enchantress and Enchantress's Presence, generates mana with Wild Growth, Utopia Sprawl, and Serra's Sanctum, and locks down the board with cards like Sphere of Safety, Elephant Grass, and Solitary Confinement, before winning with Sigil of the Empty Throne or Luminarch's Ascension.
Eternal Masters also has plenty for the Commander players out there. Mana Crypt is one of the most powerful cards that can go in any deck in Commander, but its small supply and high price has kept it out of the hands of most players. Sylvan Library is a powerful Green card that has only a very limited modern-bordered printing. Vampiric Tutor, Mystical Tutor, Enlightened Tutor, and Gamble are all commonly seen in decks of their color. Necropotence is game-swingingly powerful for any list that can produce multiple black mana. Even cards like Force of Will, Wasteland, Sneak Attack, and Jace, the Mind Sculptor, while strongest in Legacy, can help power up a Commander deck as well.
At the lower rarities and values, the set is littered with Commander Gems. Karmic Guide is one of white's most powerful reanimation effects. Swords to Plowshares, Toxic Deluge, Unexpectedly Absent, Wrath of God, Nevinyrral's Disk, Vindicate, and Tragic Slip are all powerful removal spells. The set also has a number of interesting legendary creatures, including white's all-star Eight-and-a-Half-Tails, the extremely powerful Maelstrom Wanderer, and the cycle of Onslaught "Pit Fighter" legends, Arcanis the Omnipotent being the most exciting among them.
For Commander players looking to play more niche strategies, Eternal Masters offers a number of powerful Elves like Timberwatch Elf and Wirewood Symbiote, Argothian Enchantress and Mesa Enchantress to support the Enchantress archetype, and some strong Stax pieces like Keldon Firebombers and Winter Orb, which also finally gets returned to its intended wording! For a look into the impact this set has on Commander, check out The Eternal Masters list Looks EDH Amazing Thread.
Eternal Masters offers a lot to Pauper players in the form of rarity downshifts. Peregrine Drake is the most exciting of these, as it offers a replacement for the recently-banned Cloud of Faeries. It can be utilized, alongside Archaeomancer or Mnemonic Wall, to infinitely cast Ghostly Flicker, generating infinite mana, which can then be turned into infinite card draw with Mulldrifter and infinite mill with Sage's Row Denizen.
Nimble Mongoose is also a very exciting reprint, as it can play alongside its old partner Werebear in a threshold-based tempo deck. Emperor Crocodile offers a fat, undercosted body with a minor drawback. Elite Vanguard is the first Savannah Lions at common. Elvish Vanguard can be a huge beater in combo Elves lists. Night's Whisper is a more easily-castable Sign in Blood, which is commonly used in UB Mystical Teachings Control. Rally the Peasants can give aggressive RW Tokens decks the boost they need. And Warden of Evos Isle supports a blue-based Skies archetype, and can allow the cheap chain-casting of Squadron Hawk.
Between new arts, first-time foils, rarity downshifts, and amazing reprints, there is too much going on in Eternal Masters to include in a single article. Go to our Spoiler to see the set in its full glory. And join us again on June 27th for the start of Eldritch Moon official previews!