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Switching Gears: Modern Mayhem

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Mox Opal
As everyone has probably seen by now, the entirety of Modern Masters 2015 Edition is finally upon us, and though there seem to be some mixed reviews, I have heard mostly positives feelings. The mythics certainly do not disappoint, but I can agree with some; the rares are a bit on the light side of playable. I have no issue with that, as they did manage some strategic reprints aimed toward the casual crowd that many are glancing over. The commons and uncommons certainly could have been stronger, but I believe if you crush the format every time one of these products comes out, you are only doing more damage in the long run. The Limited format looks like a blast; this is all well and good, but that’s not what I am here to talk about this week.

Plenty of people will be doing finance reviews, and that is fine and dandy if you want to throw a dart at a price sub-retail now for each card, but I would prefer to look at exactly what we are probably to see going forward with everything outside of the cards within this set.

Looking at the spoiler, I see a large focus on a few decks, while others seemed to garner next to nothing. Modern Masters originally did a great job, I felt, of sharing the love, but this time around, unless you are looking at Affinity, Splinter Twin, some form of Tron, or another ramp combo deck, you probably did not get much from this set. That being said, these decks also had some cards that desperately needed some reprint love, such as Mox Opal, and this release will finally create a few more affordable, and tiered, decks.

Since it seems Affinity will be a great launching point for many into the format, I want to start there this week and look at exactly what cards may see an impact from that increase over the coming months.

I am by no means an Affinity expert—the last time I sleeved up Robots, its main competition was Elf and Nail. The deck is fairly simple by design, and most of the cards within are relatively cheap when you compare them to the rest of the format—hence the initial draw and appeal. By no means is Affinity easy to master, but the general idea of slam-guys-and-attack still applies; much like a Burn expert, you will need a degree in calculus to ever understand every line, but the general beginner’s curve is not all that steep.

Arcbound Ravager
So now that the missing piece, Mox Opal, is confirmed for reprint, what does that mean for the rest of the deck? Clearly, it is likely that anything not currently reprinted will go up, but this deck is almost solely comprised of reprints at this point, which in and of itself is very awesome. This means Wizards of the Coast has managed to reprint the entirety of a deck over the course of years without causing any erratic market shifts, and the whole while, the deck remained among the top contenders. This, I hope, is the first of many, and it gives a positive outlook at the structure of Modern and the way they are releasing reprints.

The card I would be targeting beyond the obvious spike in Inkmoth Nexus is Arcbound Ravager. You cannot build this deck without a four-of of what made Affinity what it is today, and that is unlikely to ever change. The keyword mechanic combined with the niche area of reprint this can pop up in makes it safe—at least for another year, I would imagine. There really is not much to speculate on here unless you want to talk about small gains just due to increased play, but one place outside of Arcbound Ravager I do see Affinity gaining some traction is in the sideboard focus from other decks.

Most of the ’board hate for Affinity is already fairly high given how long the deck has existed and how much a part of the metagame it can be, but we also saw some relief in that department this time around with Smash to Smithereens. With Atarka's Command already showing up in some lists, the addition of Destructive Revelry may be better in some lists, but Smash still does see play and will probably stay out of bulk, but it is not something I want to be stuck with a lot of copies of as the dust settles. Shattering Spree, on the other hand, has application across more formats and is also old without a single reprint thus far. Though it seems to be at too a high price to move in on currently, Shattering Spree is also difficult to reprint, and at this point, it’s over ten years old, meaning the rarity that it shows on that symbol truly means very little. This is just one example of how to look forward at a format when a particular deck gains a boost. It may take a while for these cards to catch on, but when it does, you will be well ahead of the curve and able to sell into the potential hype when the market does finally catch up down the road.

There are, of course, numerous sideboard cards you can speculate on in this spot, but most are relatively new, and even with increased play, they may not see much of a bump at all. Of course, trading for most of these cards is still fine, as I expect the need for them to increase if Affinity exists within your local area, but I would not be speculating in cash on most.

The other deck I want to talk about this week that gained a real boost from this Modern Masters is Tron. I use Tron as a loose term for most of the green-based ramp decks even though they are usually going for very different win conditions. Since Modern is not my format and most of my experience against Tron has come two seasons ago with Burn, I do not know exactly what the shells look like at this moment, but Karn Liberated and the Eldrazi reprints certainly relieve the price of the deck as a whole. Most of the Mono-Green Tron I have seen functions off a great many commons and uncommons, though, like Shattering Spree, some are so old that rarity begins to mean less. Ancient Stirrings is one many identified right away for a potential jump, and though I certainly agree with that and came to the same conclusion, I believe there are a ton of other cards that also have some potential growth in them.

Though we are seeing a few reprints from the deck, one I noticed immediately the list was void of was Oblivion Stone. Though this card is not in immediate need of a reprint, I expect to see this eclipse $20 within the next six months if Tron gains any steam. If you are not quite as sold diving that deep into cards, there are a number of other choices for targets to acquire now, but I am more confidant in O Stone considering it also has a ton of possible play in Commander and now Tiny Leaders. In fact, in Tiny Leaders, this seems to be among the few mass-removal spells available in every color. Though no one of these factors is likely to double the price overnight, it can certainly put some upward pressure—enough so that multiple channels of demand can spike the card quickly once supply dries up.

Since Modern is not my primary focus, I am not certain what I will be playing this summer for the season, but I am looking into the format more as that time approaches. I may settle on Infect, as that also gained a boost with the reprint of Noble Hierarch. Along with the increased supply comes the additional cards in the deck that can in turn gain value. If you plan on playing any of these decks that gain a boost from Modern Masters 2015 Edition, I would pick up the remaining pieces sooner rather than later, as this summer is unlikely to let up as we hit the swirling sands of the Modern metagame once again.

Ryan Bushard

@CryppleCommand


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