Brave New World

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By: Travis AllenCapture

You don’t get a much bigger shakeup than this.

All three of those were recognized as possibilities, but not a single person dreamt that all three would occur. This is going to result in sweeping changes across the format, and prices will (and have) followed quickly. We’re going to look at what has happened so far, and what may happen in the future. Bitterblossom

We’ll start with the most obvious change: Bitterblossom. BB doubled in price in the last few weeks ahead of the B&R announcement, up to about $30. Immediately after the announcement went live and the market was drained, the first to hit TCG again were $100. They’re now in the $55-$60 range as of Tuesday afternoon, and they may slip even more by the time you read this Wednesday.

What’s the new “real” price for Bitterblossom? I’d guess it’s somewhere between $40-$50. What are the factors at work here?

  • It’s from Morningtide, which was six years ago this month. Remember how much the playerbase has increased in just the last four years. To give you an a sense of scale, I’d guess there are roughly 1/6th to 1/7th the number of Bitterblossoms as there are any of the Theros temples.

  • The card has a legacy, and with it, a bit of a price memory. People remember how powerful Fae were the last time around, and they remember how good this card was in that deck. Regardless of how good it actually ends up being now, it has quite a history backing it.

  • Many players, especially spikes, loved playing Fae. There’s a reasonable chance that anyone you know who played when BB was legal is going to want to run the deck again. Playing that type of deck is very appealing to certain personalities.

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  • It was an auto-4x in every single deck that wanted it.

Given all of that, I really doubt we’ll see Bitterblossom below $40 before the Pro Tour. And given how popular the deck is with players like PVDDR, along with how good it was in the past, I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t see it sub-$40 for a long time, barring a reprint. (There’s a lot of speculation around what the Modern event deck will be, and BW tokens is a popular theory. I wouldn’t expect it to have more than one BB, and even if it has two the price would likely only be suppressed in the short-term.)

So Bitterblossom went nuts. What else? As I’ve talked about in the past, Mistbind Clique went wild as well. It looks like NM copies are just under $20 at the moment, up from about $3. I was hoping people wouldn’t have caught on quite that fast, but maybe it means people were listening to me? Wishful thinking, probably. Secluded Glen

Mistbind is a Time Walk stapled to a 4/4 flyer, and is going to be a big part of the first wave of faeries. If it doesn’t pan out it will likely stabilize around $8-$10, but if its good, expect prices closer to $20. Remember that regardless of what we see at the Pro Tour, it’s entirely feasible that PVDDR and co. don’t figure out the optimal Fae build in time.

Secluded Glen is now about $15, up from the roughly $1.50 it was last week. I am seeing a lot of people talk about how this is absurd and the card is bad and blah blah blah. Why? Because none of the other ones are currently useful? Take a look at the last PTQ format Bitterblossom was legal in. There are four Glen in basically every single list. It’s essentially a painless dual land in a deck that A. wants to cast Cryptic Command and B. minimize bleeding, as it’s already playing Bitterblossom and Thoughtseize. As long as Fae is real, so will be Secluded Glen. The real price for this will be between $6 and $15, depending on how the deck does. Start digging through that bulk!

Fae may even want to add white for Restoration Angel and Path to Exile. Resto was already a good medium-term pick, and her ascent may come sooner than later depending on how the format shakes out. Meanwhile, start watching out for Darkslick Shores, Sunken Ruins, Sower of Temptation, and Sword of Feast and Famine. Those all stand to benefit as well.

River of Tears seems awful to me, by the way. That doesn’t mean it won’t see a spike, but I can’t see Fae ever actually wanting this, especially more than a single copy.

Alright, so the Bitterblossom unban had a lot of immediate impacts on the market. How about the Deathrite Shaman ban? Well, Noble Hierarch is $55 now. Part of this is probably people “realizing” that Pod is about to be amazing, and hopping on the train.

Knight of the Reliquary too has moved a bit as a result of DRS and Wild Nacatl switching places, although not by much. This feels like a ‘tense’ card to me. The market is wary, but a good showing at the Pro Tour will push Knight hard. That Modern Masters reprint will only keep her in check for so long.

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Foresight

Let’s look past the immediate impacts and try to get ahead of the market.

What does it mean if DRS is banned? Well, GB/x/x decks clearly take a hit. Straight GB is probably gone. DRS allowed the turn two Liliana as well as put insane pressure on your opponent four turns later. Without that, GB simply won’t have the power to keep up. Doran, the Siege Tower

Jund hasn’t been without both DRS and BBE before, so this is new ground for them. The core of Tarmogoyf / Dark Confidant / Liliana of the Veil / Thoughtseize is still going to be strong, but the question is what to do with it. Without Bloodbraid Elf, it feels like Jund will probably turn away from red for the time being. Red was only ever really popular for BBE and Bolt anyways, both of which can’t or don’t need to be included.

Those core four cards (“the core”) aren’t going to stick to two colors because for at least the time being there isn’t enough power there. We’ve still got fetches and shocks, so the question is what color to head to next? I’m guessing white. With Fae being an anticipated popular deck, the core will be looking for a way to deal with the flying menace. (An apt way to describe them, I assure you.) Voice of Resurgence and Loxodon Smiter are both going to be powerful threats against Fae, and white provides the best sideboard in Modern. The core will also get Path to Exile and Lingering Souls, both great cards in their own respect. They could even toss in a Blood Crypt if they still want to cast Ajani Vengeant. This puts Stirring Wildwood, Doran, Tidehollow Sculler, and Murmuring Bosk on the table as cards of interest. Don’t forget that extra pressure will be placed on Scavenging Ooze as well, as it’s now solely responsible for graveyard duty in game one.

DRS missing has quite a few other impacts on the format. There are a lot of cards that are suddenly worth considering now. Vengevine, Demigod of Revenge, Life from the Loam, Worm Harvest, Goryo’s Vengenace, Unburial Rites, and Raven’s Crime are suddenly worth checking out, along with every support card they bring with them.

I think Goryo’s Vengeance is particularly noteworthy here, as that card is way faster than the format is supposed to be, from a very underprinted set relative to the current market, and the type of card that really hates GY disruption. Meanwhile, my thirty second analysis is that Fae and Zoo are both favored against Tron, a deck that has four maindeck RelicsMagus of the Moon

The absence of DRS presents another vector that was previously weakened as well: Blood Moon strategies. It used to be that you’d cast Blood Moon, they’d float GB, and Abrupt Decay it after it resolved. When they didn’t have the Decay in hand, DRS would get them whatever color they were missing when they finally drew it (or Maelstrom Pulse). But without DRS, if the core moves into a three (or more) color build, they will be considerably more vulnerable to a resolved Moon effect. Fae also probably doesn’t want Moon effects around either, as they typically play a lot of nonbasics to ensure they can cast Cryptic Command.

If Blood Moon is good against the core, Fae, Tron, and maybe even Pod and Zoo, that opens up space for a deck that mains the effect. A card I’ve always felt wants some number of maindeck Moons is Through the Breach. That’s the type of card that doesn’t necessarily need to kill you immediately and is happy to play under a Moon. I already consider Through the Breach a spicy target, and this shift in the format seems like Breach may benefit.

Breach loves it some Simian Spirit Guide, a common from an old winter set with one printing. Are we going to see $6 Apes in the near future?

By the way, you know what pairs well with Through the Breach? Goryo’s Vengeance.

The return of Wild Nacatl has had the least impact so far, at least financially. Sacred Foundry and the Naya shocks stand to gain a little, and we already talked about Knight of the Reliquary. I think the biggest gainer here is probably Geist of Saint Traft. Zoo was already leaning towards Domain for Tribal Flames, and Geist is a heck of a three.

It’s tough to see what else stands to gain beyond that. Baneslayer Angel, maybe? Thalia? I’m no Zoo expert, and the deck could look a lot different this time around than it did last time. I’d wait for the Pro Tour to see what Kibler is casting and go from there. (Also, those $10 Wild Nacatl FNM promos are absurd. Don’t buy them. The art isn’t even that good.)

This B&R change is probably going to be responsible for the largest change in the Modern metagame since the format’s inception. There are going to be pitfalls and springboards all over the place in the coming weeks and months, so tread carefully and think critically. As for me, I’ll just be over here quietly casting Genesis Wave for fourteen.

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