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Modern Shake-Up, the Shakedown


So, as I am sure everyone is aware of by now, Modern got a bit of a shock these past few weeks with the banning of Deathrite Shaman and the unbannings of Wild Nacatl and Bitterblossom. Though it is probably too late to act on anything even remotely related to those cards, it does shake up the metagame enough that the inevitable answers to the new decks are only on the horizon. This week, I want to concentrate on some of the less-known—or at least less-talked-about—cards that we may be seeing in the next few months and what that may mean for their value.

Deathrite Shaman
First, let’s start by evaluating the format, which, as a whole, seems to have sped up due to the banning of Deathrite Shaman, allowing for some combo potential and a much better field for aggro. That being said, combo decks gained nothing from the unbanning, whereas aggro gained a tried-and-true 1-drop in the form of Wild Nacatl. If even aggro proves to be the worse deck down the road, it seems most people’s focus is currently in that direction. Another strong player in the form of W/B Tokens is also likely to make an appearance next weekend at the Pro Tour due to Bitterblossom allowing the format to shift even more toward aggro and midrange.

That being said, as a financial mind, I am usually focused on the next evolution in the metagame to pull a card to invest in—rarely the current decks, as they are usually already inflated. Since most of the Zoo and Faerie pieces have already risen, we probably have little to look at regarding the new cards unless a new adaption involving Bitterblossom emerges. So instead, let us look at some of the more high-risk decks that become better when the metagame is dominated by aggro. A great example is Through the Breach combo; though it’s already a known deck, it rarely shows in force, and that leaves it under most people’s radars. So, looking at the financial opportunity contained within that deck, our options are actually fairly limited, as I expect very little more out of Griselbrand or Emrakul, the Aeons Torn in the near future, as they both have taken hefty spikes in the past year. We have the two combo pieces in the form of Through the Breach and Goryo's Vengeance, but even those are already fairly expensive. I do believe both have opportunities for forward movement. Through the Breach in particular has been seeing more Legacy play as of late in Sneak and Show. If you can find either in trade for around $10, I would suggest picking them up, but if you like to deal with cheaper cards, I suggest we take a look at the commons and uncommons.

Simian Spirit Guide
Simian Spirit Guide, in my opinion, has been too cheap anyway, still hovering just under $1 in most places. I don’t know if there is enough potential gain without the deck dominating the format to make it worth buying in, but certainly watch for these to make a move up to the $3 or $4 mark if the deck becomes a contender. Legacy has had a recent combo eruption as well, it seems, to answer many of the True-Name Nemesis decks, and if that continues, Simian Spirit Guide has a real chance to hold that value or grow even more. Pentad Prism is another card I expected to move when Modern became a real deal, but surprisingly, we did not see it in a ton of decks beyond this one. If the deck moves in any way, this card has nowhere to go but up, as they are currently a quarter or less in many places. These types of cards usually spike without reason just due to how old they are, and that is why watching for the undervalued commons and uncommons in Modern is lucrative.

Fury of the Horde is the last card to note from the deck. I very much like this deck, but the other cards have chances in other iterations of Modern, whereas this is probably specific to this archetype. That does not mean I would mind picking them up—you just have to be aware that if you are getting into any number of copies of these, you are pulling for a particular deck rather than hedging your bets with other combo decks as well.

Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
Another more known combo deck, Splinter Twin, has been established and had reasonable showings for the past year, leaving most of the cards right where they should be. Much like Through the Breach and Goryo's Vengeance, many of these cards, such as Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, could see a spike, though I can’t imagine it being enough to make any real money in the conversion when buying in. That being said, when we look at the commons and uncommons again, we see cards that spiked over the past few years, such as Serum Visions and Sleight of Hand, but that have been relatively flat since then. With the recent shake-up, I imagine both of these will come back to the forefront of the format regardless, and that means they could see huge spikes. Though both have multiple printings, they can also still be acquired relatively cheap considering how many potential decks want access to them. I would not be surprised to see these double this Modern season, and unlike most of the other cards, this does not rely on any particular deck.

Looking beyond combo, we do have some cards that have made no real movement even given the recent boost to their archetypes. First of all, Lingering Souls and Spectral Procession both have seen no movement in the recent weeks even though it seems that W/B Tokens is the place to be with Bitterblossom over Faeries. Zealous Persecution, though not the focus of the deck, has also gone nowhere since the unbanning, which leads me to believe these could see a huge gain if the deck has any showing at the Pro Tour. Most of the rares and mythics have already gone too high, with the exception of Sorin, Lord of Innistrad. This guy can still be found under $4, which seems like a steal for a card that is guaranteed to rise over time regardless of Modern. The fact that this may see any amount of play just seems like icing on the cake. Only time will tell if Bitterblossom is where people want to be, but these all seem like sure bets, as I imagine at least a few people will show up to Spain supporting the token approach.

Ravager of the Fells
Some other notable cards that may not have a particular home but that seem relevant going into the new format are Sower of Temptation and Huntmaster of the Fells. Though I don’t expect Faeries to be dominant, there will certainly be some people looking to relive the good old days, and Sower has stayed tried-and-true at $10, unlike the other Fae cards, leaving it as among the few cards I can see having any movement from that deck. The speculation on Huntmaster, on the other hand, is more a result of me looking a ways down the road to when midrange decks arise to be able to control combo while still being able to face down aggro. Huntmaster is a card I compared, and was chastised for, to Master of Waves, and that is seeing Modern play, which leads me to believe the format is not so fast that we will not have a R/G/x midrange deck emerge. Deathrite Shaman did not kill this archetype; it merely made it look for new direction, and this is one I feel it will head toward.

That being said, expect the obvious moves going into this upcoming season regardless of this Pro Tour. When I say “obvious,” I mean cards such as the fast-land cycle from Scars of Mirrodin—they have already spiked some from last season, and the past year has not made them any easier to find. Fetches will continue to gain, though I cannot recommend putting any stock in them not being reprinted in the coming months, so I would avoid them until that point and then pick up any I can for under what they are at now. Birthing Pod avoided the chopping block once again, allowing me to once again advise people to snag those while they are, for some reason, still cheap. This cannot and will not last, and by the end of this season, if Pod continues to place strong showings, I cannot imagine the namesake card will not rise.

That is all I have for this week. As always, thank you for reading, and please let me know what you expect to be the next big hit in Modern. I believe this season—as with last season and this year as a whole—will bring about a number of price hikes that it is best to be prepared for. Many of the cards I talked about this week are aimed toward the player looking to get in on the bottom floor, and though it can seem that Modern can be overwhelming, it is best to pick up any cards you may believe you will play this time of year rather than waiting. As always, check in next week for more up-to-the-minute financial information!

Ryan Bushard


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