In preparation for GP Prague I’ve drafted Ultimate Masters. As per usual I would like to share my findings with you. We will go through the format in general, which archetype I like to draft and how to draft strategies successfully. As an additional bonus, we’ll finish with a few tricks you might not know if you’re unfamiliar with this set.

The set is filled with build around strategies, which means there are lots of cards with good synergies which makes it hard to get a great deck. For example, you can be stuck with too many Madness outlets and too few madness cards or the other way around.

There are so many synergistic cards in the se, that you can’t avoid having them in your deck. To make sure you have a good balance in your deck, you must keep more focus than usual on this aspect of the Draft in Ultimate Masters. Simply put, the games are long and how well you play your match obviously counts, but I believe most Drafts in this format are won during the picking of the cards.

Let’s take a look at the main worthwhile synergies in Ultimate Masters!



This is Ultimate Masters!

Ultimate Masters Olivias Dragoon by Chris Rallis

Olivias Dragoon by Chris Rallis

The strategy exists in any combination of Jund (BRG). There are plenty of good Madness outlet like Wild MongrelWild Mongrel, Mad ProphetMad Prophet and Olivia’s DragoonOlivia’s Dragoon to mention a few. Meanwhile you still have plenty of payoff Madness card like Basking RootwallaBasking Rootwalla, Reckless WurmReckless Wurm and Twins of Maurer EstateTwins of Maurer Estate.

Be aware though: I find it very hard to build an all-out aggressive deck in this format. The closest you get is a red-green Madness deck that relies heavily on Madness outlets like Wild MongrelWild Mongrel and so they have to draw the right combination of outlets and Madness cards to be truly fast.

Delve and Reanimation

Fill the bin, then go recycling

Ultimate Masters Frantic Search by Mitchell Malloy

Frantic Search by Mitchell Malloy

This archetype is in any combination of Esper (WUB). Good enablers to keep an eye out for are Frantic SearchFrantic Search and Deranged AssistantDeranged Assistant. To make use of the graveyard, you’ll have to pick cards like ResurrectionResurrection, Unburial RitesUnburial Rites, Gurmag AnglerGurmag Angler and Treasure CruiseTreasure Cruise just to mention a couple.

Heroic Auras

I heard you like Voltron

Ultimate Masters God's Willing by Mark Winters

God’s Willing by Mark Winters

You can draft this in any color combination of Bant (WUG). If you’re passed this, you have cards like Heliod’s PilgrimHeliod’s Pilgrim to find Auras. And they are plentiful in this format, just as the creatures fitting well into this strategy. Especially with all the Umbras, God’s WillingGod’s Willing will be great in your deck to protect your creature when you play an Aura on them, also triggering Heroic as an added bonus. Playing Auras becomes a better and less risky strategy, since the removals are scarce. In the common slot Black has premium removal like Last GaspLast Gasp and Unholy HorrorUnholy Horror, Red has Fiery TemperFiery Temper and White has Faith’s FettersFaith’s Fetters. From there on the quality of the removal declines a lot.

There are other options than these, but I don’t think they’re worth drafting. You’ll just randomly get a few of those synergies in your deck.

The Format in General

Late is the Name of the Game

Ultimate Masters Unburial Rites by Ryan Pancoast

Unburial Rites by Ryan Pancoast

This format is slow and clunky, because with synergistic decks you risk only drawing one end of your synergies. If that happens, you’ll have overcosted creatures or creatures you can’t cast because you need to get them to the graveyard and resurrect them.

When aggro decks are slow, I tend to go for the best control deck. I try to make sure that my deck has inevitability to win the late game. When I draft Ultimate Masters, I prefer to draft UB Madness/Graveyard to take advantage of two strategies. This is possible because they both want discard outlets which gives the two a natural synergy.

In the beginning I valued powerful and stronger cards over the discard outlets and often ended up with clunky decks with too many 8+ mana spells and 3/5 creatures for 5 mana.

How to combine synergies

Drafting UB Graveyard Control

Ultimate Masters Treasure Cruise by Cynthia Sheppard

Treasure Cruise by Cynthia Sheppard

The key to make this deck happen, is to find the right balance. Make sure you have good early drops that can function as outlets. Examples are Olivia’s DragoonOlivia’s Dragoon, Deranged AssistantDeranged Assistant, Patchwork GnomesPatchwork Gnomes or Crow of Dark TidingsCrow of Dark Tidings, all of which will do the job. Next, get strong midrange blockers like AethersnipeAethersnipe, Twins of Maurer EstateTwins of Maurer Estate or Moan of the UnhallowedMoan of the Unhallowed. After that, get something to end the game with. Either some good rares, Eldrazi or Mohamoti DjinnMohamoti Djinn can do the trick.

Last but not least, I feel like I mostly encounter slow midrange decks or control. So it’s important to me that I have cards that give me an edge in the very late game. Cards like Unburial RitesUnburial Rites, Death DeniedDeath Denied, Treasure CruiseTreasure Cruise or FoilFoil are important to have in the deck. Any bomb rares can also substitute here, but I’d rather not rely on opening those. Basically, anything that gives you a boost in card advantage.

A controlling Draft Walkthrough

What a strong Ultimate Masters deck looks like

Here is the last deck I drafted:

Martin Dang Drafting Ultimate Masters

I did play the Creeping Tar Pit, just didn’t add lands before taking the screenshot.

I first picked a Forbidden AlchemyForbidden Alchemy. My second pick was Unburial RitesUnburial Rites and after that the tone was set. I picked the Frantic SearchFrantic Search high, maybe during picks two to four. I think that card is very busted in many situations, especially with Twins, but also to get cards in the graveyard. And yes, I rarepicked the Cavern of SoulsCavern of Souls, I am not immune to value.

This deck has all the components I mentioned and is strong. Even though this deck has many cards that are not always easy to get a hold of, lots of these cards are replaceable. Angel of DespairAngel of Despair could be any Eldrazi and Unburial RitesUnburial Rites could be Treasure CruiseTreasure Cruise. The deck wouldn’t have been as powerful, but I have won with less and have faith it would have still done nicely.

The cards in Ultimate Masters are currently not worth much on MTGO. I think it’s because so many people draft it and players migrate to MTG Arena due to Wizards announcements. However, MTGO is still alive and kicking, and Ultimate Masters has lots of staples, so I feel it’s a good time to invest and draft.


Ultimate Tips and Tricks

Things you should know to Master the Format

Ultimate Masters Dreamscape Artist by Jim Murray

Dreamscape Artist by Jim Murray

I’ll leave you some pointers you might not be aware of in Ultimate Masters, that might give you an edge.

  • Blast of GeniusBlast of Genius does not draw the card if the target disappears.
  • You can evoke creatures and before they die, use Turn to MistTurn to Mist on them to get the effect twice and have the creature stay in play.
  • Fume SpitterFume Spitter is good against Persist creatures. Use it before you kill the creature and it won’t come back with Persist.

So if you’re bored around new year’s or just want to practice for the first ever EU MagicFest, give this format and strategy a go. I really enjoyed drafting it, once I got to know it.

Merry belated Christmas and a Happy New Year!


This article was written by Martin Dang in a media collaboration with mtgmintcard.com

Martin Dang

Martin Dang

Martin Dang is a Danish professional player and #mtgdad. He won Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir in 2015 and GP Liverpool 2015.