This week has been a relatively busy time for me—as I imagine it has for most. The holidays are right around the corner, and as anyone who owns a small business knows, the amount of work you need to put in to take a holiday break can be overwhelming. During all of the holiday rush, I managed to find time to play in what I thought would be my last Pro Tour Qualifier, and I finally—after months of trying—found that spark again that lit my competitive fire. I know I do not have time to grind as I did when I was younger, but now that business is approaching the slower season, I think I will be giving an honest attempt at attending any events that are drivable.
This week, I figured it would be best to reflect on my thoughts about the upcoming Modern Masters and what I have derived from what little information we have. This is not so much an article set for what to buy or sell; instead, it's an organization of my thought process and information I have gathered from others since the announcement. I will elaborate on this subject as the months pass, but for now, we do have some valuable information to draw from.
The first and most obvious reprints come in the form of the legendary Eldrazi; Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre, Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, Kozilek, Butcher of Truth are all but surely in the set, and that means that if you have any lying around, now would be the time to move them. The demand for the cards are certainly there now, but considering that Emrakul is not Commander-playable and the other two are only really playable in Commander, it seems unlikely they could remotely hold close to their current values. I imagine these are all mythic rares, which does lend to higher prices down the road, but for now it seems logical to get out and back in right after the set releases.
So, knowing we have a set of three Eldrazi coming at mythic, we probably have two more colorless cards and then two of each color. These numbers can certainly be shaken up, but I have not seen an exact set outline yet, so there is no telling for sure.
We also have information—or should I say a picture—of what looks to be Etched Champion, and that means the artifact subtheme this time is probably based on metalcraft rather than affinity. Of course, this means we have the potential, and in all likelihood, we will be seeing Mox Opal. I imagine this is printed at mythic again, just due to the word Mox alone, but no one can be sure. Either way, the price now is hardly sustainable at either rarity.
Karn Liberated. This guy has been a marquee part of Magic since the beginning, and he is among the few characters still involved in the story from that era. What better to bring back with the Eldrazi than a colorless Planeswalker. After looking through the list for potential reprints, it really would not surprise me if more than just five of these were at mythic; perhaps most of the mythics will be colorless, but that again is just a wandering thought and baseless speculation.
I believe infect was a mechanic that we are unlikely to see again in a Standard environment, and the same is true of Phyrexian mana; this, of course, would be the perfect platform to reprint both while tailoring the limited environment to be able to both interact well and keep each mechanic in check. I imagine we will be seeing Spellskite and possibly some other friends at rare, but little of note outside of that jumps to mind. Black may have a mythic, or even a rare, spot for Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon, but as I believe we may see the return of the Praetor cycle to replace the Dragons from Kamigawa, it seems unlikely we will have both legends.
The difficult part of this process I have found is figuring out what cards fit what rarity. The first Modern Masters proved that Wizards is willing not only to upgrade cards to mythic before the rarity existed, but also to downgrade cards, even from rare to uncommon. I do not believe this means we will have a set full of rares that used to be mythics, but I do believe it allows them the room to work around what cards need to be reprinted or are provide positive impact on the Limited environment rather than how many spots they can fill at each rarity.
I know this is a bold statement, but I have to believe we are getting some of the same cards from Modern Masters back this time around. Though cards like Tarmogoyf certainly alleviated some of the demand at the point of release, it did not take long for the player base to pick up on that and, in turn, the market. Now Tarmogoyf is even harder to find than it was before the reprint, as so many were hoarded by people finally able to complete a set once they opened one or two. The demand is still very high, and I have never had one in stock for long, Wizards knows this demand still exists, and though the reprint helped, it has not been enough.
Mox Opal, so dumping them also means you have the chance to buy back in, and if they are not reprinted, expect the price to jump almost immediately.
One last subject I want to touch on this week is the often-overlooked uncommon slot. Sure, the mythics are flashy, and the rares are always great to see drop in value, but the uncommons are really what see significant hits, often going from being worth more than most rares in those sets to suddenly being worth less than a bulk rare; Trygon Predator is a great example of this. Any uncommon that is not seeing play will take a significant dive upon reprint, but there are some ways to both protect yourself and profit from this information. It seems that everyone wants to focus so heavily on the rares in the set—and on what was safe from reprint to suddenly go up once the spoiler is out. I look at the uncommons and even the commons. Cards like Spell Pierce, Smash to Smithereens, and Gitaxian Probe, all commons, have chances to suddenly be the next Counterbalance or Aether Vial if they are not reprinted soon. For some cards, Wizards has the option of putting them in a Standard set, but for others, with more difficult mechanics or with direct storyline ties in their name, it can be more difficult. Any card that fits this description and is not in the set is sure to be a strong pick-up through the summer.
Well, that is enough for this week. I have other ideas and information I am trying to process, and as I said, I plan to reapproach those down the road, but for now, I want to hear what you guys think will happen. Any cards you think are certain for the reprint? Any you believe to be safe?
Before I depart, I want to try something new next week, but I want to get an idea of what the readers think. Given the holidays and relatively quiet nature of the competitive season, I wanted to work a bit more on W/U Heroic. I normally try not to spend too much time talking about the deck, as I know that is not my usual focus, but given my very different approach to the deck and my reasonable results as of late, I want to write a primer for the list and address what has led me to the numbers I have and how I approach each matchup. I have had a number of people contact me about this subject, and I understand if this is not something that interests you, but I decided the best way to find out was ask.