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Minutes to Modern


Modern. Really, I could say a number of things about this format. As I do not have enough experience to talk about what exactly is the best deck going forward, I have been instead looking back at once-viable decks that the bannings may have stirred to the surface. Last week, I talked about some of the more fringe-playable decks that I hope to see show up, and though I would love to continue that trend and venture off into a world that involves Séance and rainbows, I will not. Instead this week, I want to take a look at what I have been seeing online as people are testing for post-banning play.

Keep in mind that this testing was a bit skewed due to the honor system, in which people could still play the banned cards up until recently. This made true testing more difficult, but after enough games, I feel that I have a few choice contenders for where I would want to be this weekend if I were in Washington D.C.

The first is a deck that I have been playing online in order to fill all of this testing: Burn. Though I am not completely mono-red, I still use the same deadly tools such as Blood Moon out of the ’board to create havoc for my opponent while I aim seven spells—or in most cases five or six—to the dome. Though this deck, similar to its Legacy brethren, garners little respect overall, I feel that it is a great choice going into the weekend. It also contains a few cards that could certainly see price boosts if even one copy breaks the Top 8.

Eidolon of the Great Revel
While I am a big fan of Burn as a wild-card-style deck, I do not have much experience in the format, and I would not probably have the time to test given how quickly the event approached. Burn is a deck that can certainly ride a strong Draft finish to a Top 8, as it is likely a few people will be ready for you, but at the Pro Tour, you can afford a few losses, making a deck like this ideal if you do not know the format. The deck is fairly straightforward and will just steal wins solely because someone was not ready. A lot of people seem to be on some sort of Dredge variant, and while I would love to see that in action, this feels like the sleeper “combo” deck to me.

Goblin Guide has been down a significant amount recently, and it does not seem that it would take much to drive that price back up. I feel any time a buy-in is this steep for something printed so many times, I would hesitate to spend cash unless you want them to play with, but acquiring them in trade should be easy enough this weekend, as even if the deck is doing well, it is rarely flashy enough to turn heads like the new tech can be.

Eidolon of the Great Revel continues to impress me, and though I do not see a major spike coming immediately—though I also do not rule it out—I think this card will be a great pickup to mentally stock away for rotation. If these ever fall to a few dollars, I would want in on as many as I could find.

A lot of pressure has been on Blood Moon’s price these past few months, and even if you have not noticed, due to some random spike, it has nearly doubled since it was reprinted in Modern Masters. I am not sure just how deep I would go due to another possible reprint, but it is clear that this card will continue to grace the sideboards of red decks for years to come, and that means this upward trend will be continuing if we do not see an immediate reprint.

Another deck I expect to see in the contender’s spot again is Scapeshift. I was not seeing much of this deck at all when I first started playing, but over the past few weeks, it seems to have picked up a great deal in popularity. With the ability to both control the game and combo off, it fills much of the same role as Splinter Twin decks in the metagame, with a more fragile mana base and fewer cantrips. That being said, I feel this will be something we see this weekend, and there are a few cards to watch for.

Most of the cards I want to cover from this deck have relatively nothing to actually do with the success of the actual deck. Cards like Remand and Electrolyze have been unsung heroes of this format, and though both have seen reprints, it has been long enough that the demand—even more so after this weekend—will have increased to bridge that void that the extra supply had created. Both cards have steadily climbed in price, and with the fanatical buyouts on older commons and uncommon, it would not surprise me to see one of these cards—or a card in a similar situation—spike to well over what it is worth. I have been saying for months to pick up the commons and uncommons you need while they are cheap because, eventually, there will be a point at which the market and player base will realize just how necessary those cards are and that the supply may not have been as deep as they once thought.

Obstinate Baloth has seen some steady growth this year from bulk to over $1. I expect this trend to continue as people scramble to keep up with the midrange decks and offset the life-loss from cards such as Siege Rhino. This card’s popularity is greatly based on how well Liliana of the Veil is doing in the meta at that point, but considering just how scary she is right now, I would want to pack these in my ’board if I could. I think the buying is still low enough to make a solid turnaround—the only issue is whether this is the event to showcase what this card can do. It may be another year for this card, but I can see it hitting $5 or more if the meta shifts back in the Baloth’s favor.

Before I depart for the week to watch a great deal of coverage (luckily on my time schedule this time), I want to quickly glance over Standard and talk about the deck I am looking to run for the end of the Pro Tour Qualifier season. I will update a list next week after the Modern hype has blown over and I can actually purchase the cards on Magic Online without signing over my house.

Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
Though I am sure this is nowhere near the optimal list, I think it has been a great launching point to bring me into the archetype. I was having a hard time finding a deck that drew enough cards to make me happy after last season with Heroic, but this deck does all of that and more. It was a bit of a shift to move to control, but I really like the way this deck continues to pressure less aggressive opponents through Kiora, the Crashing Wave and Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver while setting up for a late-game Ugin, the Spirit Dragon war and ditching the dead cards as fodder for Dig Through Time. I am not positive I will be championing this deck, but it certainly has my attention away from aggro at the moment.

Thank you as always for reading, and enjoy the coverage this weekend. Next week, I will briefly brush over what Modern has done, but in reality, it will probably be too late to move in on much unless some of the decks are overshadowed by a few new breakouts. I look forward to seeing where Modern goes from here . . . or if it just devolves to Modern a year ago. Who knows? On the plus side, it is time to return to my element and dive directly into Standard theory-crafting next week, so tune in, and get those lists rolling in!

Ryan Bushard


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