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Ode to Blood Moon—Exclusive MM3 Preview


As I'm sure you probably know, the clock is ticking down until release day for the newest Masters series set: Modern Masters 2017. Because Wizards is super awesome, today we get our very own exclusive preview card to share with all of you! As far as I'm concerned, getting a preview card—any preview card—is one of the biggest honors a content creator can get, so I'm always super happy and thankful, no matter what the actual card happens to be. However, sometimes the planets align and you get to preview your all-time favorite Magic card, and today is one of those days! If you haven't already guessed what it is, I'm not going to keep you in suspense any longer, so have a peek:

Blood Moon - Modern Masters 2017

That's right, Blood Moon is back in Modern Masters 2017! While it's not especially good for limited, the red enchantment is a great reprint. For one thing, it's currently super expensive, both in paper and on Magic Online, and getting more copies into the wild will help bring down the price and let even more players experience the joy of casting a Blood Moon on Turn 2. It's also a true Modern staple, currently coming in as the 23rd most played spell in the format and seeing play in a wide range of archetypes, from aggressive decks like Affinity to combo decks like Goryo's Vengeance to control builds like Blue Moon. So, not only is the reprint good from a value perspective, but it's important from a game play perspective as well!

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From a competitive perspective, Blood Moon does two things for the Modern format. First, it helps make sure that Modern doesn't turn into Battle for Zendikar Standard, where everyone just plays the most powerful cards in all five colors. Because Blood Moon is in the format, there's a very real cost to building a deck without any basic lands (or with very few basic lands). While some people argue that this makes Blood Moon unfair or unhealthy, I see it exactly the opposite. While there is no doubt that getting Blood Mooned is punishing and swings games, it's punishing players for being too greedy and for taking a calculated risk during deck building (playing fewer basic lands to have better overall mana), unlike a card like Choke or even Armageddon, which punishes non-greedy players who are just trying to play Magic.

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Second, Blood Moon actually makes some archetypes possible all by itself and is a large part of why Modern is such a diverse format. While we occasionally see tier decks splashing Blood Moon (like Affinity or, for a short time, Jund), most of the time, Blood Moon is supporting (and perhaps even creating) archetypes that otherwise wouldn't exist. If we didn't have Blood Moon in Modern, we wouldn't have Blue Moon or R/W Control or Skred Red, and while none of these decks are breaking the format, they are competitive second-tier options that help make Modern such a broad and diverse format. On a more personal level, there are three huge reasons why [Blood Moon]] is my all-time favorite Magic card. 

#1: It Makes My Favorite Deck Work

When people ask me which of the decks I've built is my favorite, my answer is usually Free Win Red. Drawing from the old All-In Red decks in Extended, the basic idea of Free Win Red is to get a Blood Moon on the battlefield as quickly as possible—hopefully as soon as Turn 1. While playing a Blood Moon fairly (on Turn 3) is fine, getting a Blood Moon on the battlefield on Turn 1 is game over against a surprising number of Modern decks, since it prevents the opponent from fetching out basic lands over the first two turns of the game, which often leaves them without the ability to cast any of their spells. Eldrazi decks can't cast anything, Jund and Abzan are hoping to luck into one of a tiny number of basic lands, and even Burn decks get some of their most powerful spells (like Boros Charm and Atarka's Command) invalidated. After sticking our Blood Moon, we protect it (and ourselves) with things like Chalice of the Void and Ensnaring Bridge, and then finish off the game with planeswalkers like Koth of the Hammer and Chandra, Torch of Defiance or, more commonly, by our opponent scooping in frustration when they realize that they don't get to play Magic

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 *blood moon art*

Now, this might not sound like fun to you, and getting Blood Mooned (or casting Blood Moon, for that matter) certainly isn't for everyone, but to me, Blood Moon is one of the hallmarks of the Modern format. Quick—when you think of Legacy, what's the first thing that comes to mind? For me, it's Brainstorm and Force of Will. In Standard, it obviously varies by format, but right now it's Winding Constrictor and Heart of Kiran. In Modern, it's Blood Moon. The ability to color screw your opponent is every bit as much a part of the fabric of the Modern format as Brainstorming is to Legacy or crewing a vehicle is to Aether Revolt Standard. If it isn't already, add "casting a Turn 1 Blood Moon" to your Magic bucket list—there's nothing quite like it. 

#2: Blood Moon Enables Jank

While I try not to use it too often, one of the secret cheat cards of building Modern Against the Odds decks is Blood Moon. Just like Collected Company can make any bad tribe somewhat playable, Blood Moon can turn a "clearly too slow for Modern" deck into a "you'll actually win some games because your opponent can't do anything for 10 turns" deck. 

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For example, back in the early days of Against the Odds, Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded was the winner of our weekly poll. Now, if you're not familiar with Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded, at this point, he is basically a meme and widely known as the worst planeswalker ever printed. This seems like the setup for a really bad week on Against the Odds, right? Not with Blood Moon in the picture!

The deck we ended up with was actually super sweet, using Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded to discard flashback spells and then killing the opponent with the help of Burning Vengeance, but make no mistake about it: the deck would be way too slow to actually be competitive if we played the Tibalt / Vengeance combo fairly. However, when we stick a Blood Moon on Turn 3, it buys us three, five, or even 10 turns to durdle around with Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded while our opponent attempts to navigate their color problems. 

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This is the reason that, even though I have made a conscious effort not to go back to the Blood Moon well too often, it's shown up in a ton of the decks I've built (or played) for various series. Want to play 20 planeswalkers in Modern and actually have a chance to win? The solution is to play Blood Moon. Want to win a bet with your friend that you can make Angel tribal work? Blood Moon. Trying to get the Braid of Fire merit badge, win with Door to Nothingness, or play Werewolves in Legacy? Blood Moon, Blood Moon, Blood Moon!

As such, as far as I can tell, Blood Moon often gets a bad rap. A lot of people consider it to be an "unfun" card, but in a lot of cases, it actually does the exact opposite and enables fun, different, new decks that otherwise wouldn't work at all. Sure, there are times when your opponent plays a Blood Moon and you do nothing, which isn't especially fun, but Blood Moon also enables a ton of really interesting and fun decks and synergies, buying them just enough time that they have a chance to compete with more powerful and streamlined decks. 

We'll have to see how far the price drops, but if the Modern Masters 2017 reprinting ends up making Blood Moon cheap enough, it will be one of the best options for building competitive but budget-friendly decks in Modern. This is because in the games when you resolve an early Blood Moon, you'll have enough time to win with your semi-underpowered cheap cards while your opponent is stuck with their extremely powerful and super-expensive Tarmogoyfs, Karn Liberateds, and Liliana of the Veils rotting in their hands. 

#3: The History

The last thing I love about Blood Moon is that it's a throwback to a different era of Magic, and it's one of a very small number of cards that supports the playstyle from Magic's early years that is legal in the Modern format. From a more modern sensibility, Blood Moon seems like a pretty absurd Magic card. I mean, it essentially color screws an opponent for the entire game for only three mana. In a world of three-mana counterspells and four-mana land destruction, Blood Moon almost looks like one of those crazily overpowered mock-up cards you see in various forums and not an actual Magic card that you can play with.

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From a historic perspective, Blood Moon is a good reminder of the initial design philosophy of Magic, back when Sinkhole was an uncommon, Stasis was a reprintable card, and Wasteland was actually a fixed version of Strip Mine. Many current-day Magic players would consider the early days of Magic "not playing Magic," because there were numerous cards that would simply keep you from doing anything, Blood Moon included. 

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In a world that is increasingly filled with new TCGs, one of the biggest things Magic has going for it is its 25 years' worth of history. There are so many cards, stories, players, and tournaments that make up the Magic world, which none of the newer games can even come close to matching. Sets like Modern Masters 2017 and reprints like Blood Moon offer new players a window into this world and into the history of the game. While we probably shouldn't return to printing Blood Moons, Wastelands, and Stasises in Standard-legal sets, having cards like Blood Moon show up in sets like Modern Masters 2017 is a great way to introduce newer players to the game's history and play styles that aren't supported in the modern era, and show these players that there is much more to Magic than slamming midrange creatures into each other.

Blood Moon - Modern Masters 2017

For me, it's cards like Blood Moon that keep me coming back to Magic over and over and over again, not so much because of how Blood Moon plays in an actual game of Magic (although I do love casting Blood Moon) but because Blood Moon exemplifies the depth of cards, formats, and playstyles that make Magic the greatest game ever made. Hopefully, with its return in Modern Masters 2017, Blood Moon can bring this sense of exploration, wonder, and discovery at just how big, sprawling, and epic the game of Magic really is to a whole new generation of players. 

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. Again, huge thanks to Wizards for not only giving us a preview card but the best preview card! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.


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