Category Archives: Unlocked ProTrader

UNLOCKED PROTRADER: Modern History 101 – Eighth Edition and Mirrodin


BRIEF TEMPORAL ASIDE: I’m jealous of all of you who are reading this, because you are living in a time when Modern Masters 2015 has come out, while I am currently trapped in the past. Are you gonna crack some packs? I know I am! Cracking packs is so much fun.

Rather than talking about Modern Masters 2015, I want to talk about Modern itself. A lot of writers have done individual set or block reviews (myself included!), but I don’t think there has been a narrative overview of what Magic was like when those sets were out. We are going to do that, and compile some information that often gets discarded. You’ll see what I mean as we go along.


Eighth Edition

This was the first set to feature the new card face that would later go on to kill Magic1. The set, like all pre-M10 core sets, was comprised entirely of reprints. The selling point, though, was that this set would contain one reprint from every previous Magic set that had not been in a core set already. Neat!

And while several of those reprints are underwhelming on the order of Vexing Arcanix and Skull of Orm, there are some good cards in this set! Blood Moon was first reprinted here (and later again in Ninth), and Eighth Edition put such gems into Modern as City of Brass, Intruder Alarm, and Ploooooooow Uuuuuuuuuuuundeeeeeeeeeeeeeeer (I really like casting Plow Under).

Other finance gems worth noting include Planar Portal, the Urza-tron lands, and foil copies of Fecundity, Merchant Scroll, and Vernal Bloom. The first Standard format that Eighth Edition came into was Odyssey/Onslaught/Eighth, and neither of those expert-level blocks are Modern legal—if you want to see what the format looked like, check out the 2003 World Champs. Oh, and they made a big deal about the prerelease (even though the promo was Rukh Egg), and I won mine.

Non-Foil Cards of Note

Blood Moon – This card is in good Modern decks and bad Legacy decks.

Ensnaring Bridge – Modern, Legacy, Cube, Commander, Casual.

Bribery – Commander only. [Editor’s note: Cube would like to have a word with you, Ross.]

Grave Pact – Commander only also.


Lord of the Undead – I’m beginning to sense a pattern.

Defense Grid – Mostly Commander, some Modern.

Elvish Piper – Commander, and the eventual inverse of Tiny Leaders (Okks?).

Coat of Arms – Commander and any weird tribal format.

Choke – Modern, Legacy, and anything that is dominated by blue.

Foils of Note that Aren’t Just the Same as Above

Birds of Paradise – I’m not entirely sure why, but this is one of the most expensive printings of Birds. Seventh Edition foils blows these out of the water, though.

Storm Crow – I hate that the Storm Crow people have made this happen. Retail “price” of $32, best buylist price of $4. One of those prices is off, and I think it’s the first one.

Merchant Scroll – Vintage!

Teferi’s Puzzle Box: Casual favorite, I suppose?

Ambition’s Cost: Only foil printing of this card.

Noteworthy Standard Decks


Now, I do love me some UG Madness2 and some Goblin Bidding, but that’s not really what this section is going to be for. As we roll into future sets, I’ll mention any decks that I think may be worth having on a resurrection radar—maybe an old archetype could benefit from new technology! I don’t expect much, but it’s worth looking. Also, I’ll be able to tell you if a deck was the real deal (like Karstenbot) or bogus (like Ghost Dad).


There are a lot of foils in this set that are worth money, and there are fifteen rares worth $3 or more. The downside is that the set had 111 rares, so only about ten percent of the rares are worth the typical price of admission. There are some major wins if you hit on a foil, but I’m not going to tell you to buy a bunch of old packs to hopefully open a foil rare.

This set, despite its gimmick, was not super popular, since most of the marquee cards at the time (Persecute, Birds of Paradise, Wrath of God) were cards that enfranchised players already owned. Sealed packs look to be between $5 and $8 (ignoring shipping), so that’s not quite low enough to look appealing. If you are a gambler, and your local store has had these on a shelf since 2003, maybe they’ll take $3 each just to clear up space, but even then, 111 rares is a lot. To compare, there are 73 rares and mythics combined in M15, and only 68 rares and mythics combined in Dragons of Tarkir. If you open a box and each rare is different, you are only going to open 32 percent of the rares in the set, and only about three to five of them are expected to be “hits” (versus the lower price of entry, if you can even get it).

The prudent thing to do is to stay away, which means that these cards are going to slowly keep creeping up in value. All of the cards in here are prime candidates for reprinting in a future Modern Masters or Commander product (it’s already happened for some), although some of the more powerful cards, like Plow Under, are unlikely to ever be put in Standard again.

Oh, and I’ll mention this now since we were talking about packs: don’t forget that the foil distribution process didn’t change until Planar Chaos (where the foil replaces a common), so if you open a foil rare, that is also your rare. You can’t get two rares.

Parting Words

Don’t buy packs, do look up any foils that you see in longboxes where you don’t already know the price.


This was the first expert-level set to feature the new card frame, and, to be fair, did a pretty good job as a block trying to kill Magic. This was also the first set to leave Dominaria in a long time, and we wouldn’t return until Time Spiral. The block’s theme was “artifacts matter,” and the books were terrible. I don’t want to talk too much about the block as a whole, since we are going through sets individually, which will probably help me limit my hateful vitriol to Darksteel where it belongs.

Mirrodin introduced affinity, equipment, and Mindslaver to Magic, so it certainly has had an impact. The set definitely had hype going into release, and the massive amount of design space devoted to cool artifacts has definitely given the world several casual favorites. The prerelease card, Sword of Kaldra, was a big hit with the Timmy/Tammy crowd, and the only reason it isn’t worth more is because I doubt most newer players are aware it exists3.

I remember Mirrodin pretty well, because it was around the time I started FNMing weekly as a priority. Like Eighth Edition, much of the analysis of this set in terms of Standard is going to be warped by the inclusion of sets that aren’t Modern legal (in this case, just Onslaught, one of the coolest blocks ever), and also by the fact that several of the best cards in this block got banned. I remember FNMs were getting pretty big around this time (I hopped between a few different stores). If only they knew what was about to happen…

Non-Foil Cards of Note

Chalice of the Void – Took off as anti-Treasure Cruise technology, and hasn’t come down since. The card is very good in older and more cutthroat formats like Legacy and Vintage, since there are more aggressive forms of “fast mana.” This card was a player in Old Extended with the next card on the list.

Chrome Mox – It should not come as a surprise that when WOTC uses the word “Mox” in a name that the card is very good. This card is considered to be too good for Modern, but it’s about right in Legacy, since going down an extra card when you play it is more taxing. Something to notice on Chrome Mox and some of the other top cards on this list: the buylist prices are all very good. Often a smaller spread between a buylist price and a retail price can mean copies are viewed as easy guaranteed sales, which you can extrapolate as expressed confidence in the card in the long term. If the big dealers like something, then you probably should too.

Oblivion Stone – This card went from zero to hero with the advent of EDH, and has cemented a place in Modern with the consistent success of Tron decks. Two big populations like this card, and it’s pretty good in Cube, too. This is basically Nevinyrral’s Disk to a generation of players. That’s a good thing.

Glimmervoid – Some versions of Affinity play lots of spells of different colors, so this is pretty much their best land.

Tooth and Nail – If you resolve this in Constructed, you win. There are lots of different two card combos to find with Tooth and Nail, but I’ll always have a soft spot for Mephidross Vampire and Triskelion. For a while, Tooth and Nail was an easy twenty bucks, so don’t be surprised if the current price of $8 balloons up again.

Duplicant – Popular EDH card and actual spot removal spell in Vintage (you can cast it off Mishra’s Workshop!). Yes, this is why the foil price is insane.

Platinum Angel – Despite a couple reprints, this is one of those marquee cards that is always going to keep a respectable price. “You can’t lose” is pretty appealing to most Magic players and/or Parker Lewis.


Sculpting Steel – Another card that is good because of Mishra’s Workshop, although this has largely been co-opted by Phyrexian Metamorph.

Goblin Charbelcher – Best card in Magic.

Foils of Note that Aren’t Just the Same as Above

Solemn Simulacrum – This is the original set foil version of this card. Sad Robot, perhaps, but at that price, I’d be smiling.

Lightning Greaves – EDH staple, or at least it used to be. Also original set foil.

Mindslaver – The other best card in Magic.

Thoughtcast – Again, original set foil. This card is crucial in Affinity decks, since playing your entire hand at once typically becomes a disadvantage if the game goes on for much longer.

Sylvan Scrying – Original set foil, finds Urza lands and other toolbox effects. Played as a 4x in a few Modern decks.

Talisman of Dominance – Played in Legacy, believe it or not.

Molten Rain – This card hasn’t been in either Modern Masters set yet, which is surprising. This card is very good, and I’m surprised the foils are only $10.

Noteworthy Standard Decks

Broodstar Affinity – It didn’t take long (by 2003 standards) for Affinity to be uncovered as an extremely unfair mechanic. The five artifact lands, in concert with Disciple of the Vault and Atog (yes, really), helped enable some extremely degenerate strategies.

The decks also featured Broodstar, a heavy-hitting beater that would get in large chunks of damage coming down extremely early. Broodstar was a serious threat, and is probably the only Affinity-era star to not get serious consideration in Modern. The reason why is likely because Affinity decks now lean towards strategies that better support Cranial Plating, which encourages a wide threat of small artifact creatures, rather than just a bunch of artifacts. I’m not sure if Broodstar adds anything to existing Affinity strategies or if building a new version around the flier is worth exploring, but Broodstars are currently dirt cheap and Affinity is very popular in Modern (and Legacy!). Much of the other stuff that was in these lists was later replaced by better cards in the other two sets (sorry, Scale of Chiss-Goria).

RDW – Red decks are always going to try to be as lean and redundant as possible, so it’s hard to find something that is “hidden” in terms of red deck technology. Molten Rain is probably as good an example of a hidden gem as red decks can get, which should tell you how little meat is still left on the bone. Arc Slogger does not belong anywhere near your Modern red deck. Slith Firewalker is probably not even good enough, which stinks.


Looking through the foil prices on Mirrodin, I started to realize how many good cards there are in this set. While you can never truly judge a book or a Magic set by its cover, I think it actually makes thematic sense that Mirrodin has a wide variety of cards with casual appeal. Artifacts, by their nature, are accessible to decks of every color, so the demand is more widespread—if something is good, it’s a card that all EDH players want, not just ones playing blue (like Bribery) or green (like that dumb creature that does a thing). Put a pin in this topic, we’ll come back to it in a bit.

Anyway, boxes look to be about $250, which puts packs just shy of $7. There are only eleven cards that beat that mark (or come super close, like Sculpting Steel), so buying packs is a losing proposition once again (this is often going to be the case). There are a few uncommons and commons of value in the set, including Wrench Mind, which is the closest Modern is ever going to get to Hymn to Tourach4. This is a great set to pick through when you are looking at bulk, and there are a handful of cards out of this set that may be worth a closer look (I’ll be changing the way I do my set reviews to better fit this new series in the future, so they are complimentary pieces rather than basically writing the same thing twice).

It’s worth mentioning once again that Mirrodin on release was a very popular set. Standard was still heavily defined by Onslaught, but that set, while it featured some pretty powerful strategies, wasn’t so strong that it overshadowed new tech. There were a lot of people, myself included, who were just happy that Odyssey block was gone, if you can believe that. Those sets were cool, but rewarded thinking in a way that was only clear to very good players.

Coming up next: the set that would send the tournament player base into a nose dive.

Two Sets Down…

Let me know what you thought of today’s article. It’s fun to go back and parse out what we didn’t know when all this was happening, and I try to interject what I remember personally (this will get easier as we progress and sets are more recent in my memory, except for those years where my LGS was next to an Outback Steakhouse that did happy hour right before FNM). If there is something you’d like to see me add, or you’d rather me just stick to our old set reviews, let me know. Thanks, and I’ll see you next week!



P.S. Word is that it is possible to reseal Modern Masters 2015 packs. Do not buy packs from someone you don’t trust completely, and be extremely scrupulous. Also, as a way to be respectful to other players, don’t discard the packaging in a way that other people may be able to reuse your packaging. And make sure to actually recycle them! That’s what this change was for in the first place.

P.P.S. Sounds like cards are coming out of the packs with scuffing and damage. This is likely due to the new packaging method. More on that as it unfolds.

P.P.P.S. Remember when I said to put a pin in what we were talking about before? Here’s the elevator pitch version of every Modern block in three words. Tell me which jump out as the best sets for casual cards:

  • Mirrodin: Lots of artifacts!
  • Kamigawa: Lots of legends!
  • Ravnica 1: Ten color pairs!
  • Time Spiral: Sure, why not?!
  • Lorwyn: Lots of tribal!
  • Shadowmoor: Lorwyn minus tribal!
  • Alara: Now three colors!
  • Zendikar: Lands and Cthulhu!
  • Scars: Mirrodin plus poison!
  • Innistrad: This is Halloween!
  • Return to Ravnica: You loved Ravnica!
  • Theros: Remember Homer’s “Odyssey”?
  • Tarkir: Wedges and dragons!

1 Clearly it didn’t, but that was the assumption.

2 This was also the name of one of Magic’s few webcomics. I really liked it, and it’s where I got my Mise shirt.

3 The concept of exposure is something we’ve been talking about on the forums lately.

4 Although I’m holding out for an eventual “dinosaur world” set featuring a functional reprint named “Hymn to Turok.”

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UNLOCKED PROTRADER: Picks for the Modern Season

By: Guo Heng

Modern Masters 2015 is out this weekend and may the odds of cracking mythics be ever in your favor if you are celebrating the set’s release with a draft, a sealed pool or a whole booster box. There is something else around the corner, albeit slightly further away, but very relevant to the Modern format.

The next PPTQ season, from 6 June to 16 August, is slated to be Modern. Hurrah Modern fans! Combined with the buzz for the format generated by Modern Masters 2015, it looks like we would be seeing an increase in demand for Modern cards soon. It has been a while since the format was under the competitive spotlight and there has been plenty of changes in the format. Which means a number of cards that could potentially spike when the Modern PPTQ season swings around.

There are a couple of cards that I think have a good chance of spiking come the Modern season as they are part of the new developments in Modern.


Before I go on to discuss picks, I am going to talk about a new archetype that has been making waves in the Modern metagame as two of the picks discussed below are tied to it. After all, this is a deck that is currently occupying 10% of the Magic Online metagame, tied with Abzan for the most dominant deck in the online field and has been starting to make waves in the StarCityGames Modern Premier IQ circuit.

The Rise of Grixis Delver

After Treasure Cruise sunk under the weight of the banhammer in late January, Blue-Red Delver’s grip on the Modern metagame relented. The void in the meta left by the disappearance of both Blue-Red Delver and Birthing Pod decks was filled with Abzan Midrange and Burn. Delver decks went under the radar since Pro Tour Fate Reforged (surfacing sporadically in the StarCityGames Modern Premier IQ top 8). Treasure Cruise was Delver’s answer to Abzan’s incessant card advantage, and without Treasure Cruise, Delver’s propensity to run out of gas left it once again a tier 1.5 deck.

In late March the Delver decks evolved. They adopted a new color, black, for Tasigur, the Golden Fang, Murderous Cut and Terminate. Here’s a sample Grixis Delver list, the list piloted by Nate Kahovec all the way to the finals of a recent StarCityGames Modern Premier IQ:

Nate Kahovec Grixis Delver


Murderous Cut and Terminate shored up one of the major drawback of Blue-Red Delver:  creatures with a toughness larger than three. In the old days, answering those creatures meant spending two Lightning Bolts, or a Bolt and a Snapcaster, both of which were huge setbacks in card advantage and tempo. Vapor Snag was never an ideal solution: it worked best only if you had threats on board to apply pressure. Topdecking Snags when you were behind felt miserable. Murderous Cut and Terminate were the single-card answers Delver needed and the deck felt so much better with those cards.

Tasigur on the other hand, transformed Delver decks into a whole new beast. Blue-Red Delver splashing green for Tarmogoyf was an old tech that did not really take off. I am not sure why myself as I have not tried that build of Delver due to the fact that I only have one copy of the big green monster. It is tempting to pass off Tasigur as another Goyf, but once I brought Grixis Delver out for a spin, I realized that Tasigur was on a whole new level of awesome.

A turn two Tarmogoyf is not always impressive but a turn two Tasigur is always 4/5. One of the things I really like about Grixis Delver is the deck’s ability to churn out a turn two Tasigur consistently. With the number of cantrips, fetch lands and Thought Scours, I’ve managed to resolve a turn two Tasigur more often than I had imagined. And sometimes even for just one mana, leaving you with another open mana for another cantrip, or a Delver of Secrets. I’ve had my fair share of free wins off the back of an unanswered turn two Tasigur (turn two Tasigur may not be the right choice against decks with access to Path to Exile).

Of course, resolving a mid-to-late game Tasigur is equally powerful. Buying back a Murderous Cut is backbreaking. Not to mention Tasigur is a threat you could sneak onto the board and keep up counterspell mana easily. Personally I think that the addition of Tasigur ramped up the power level of Delver decks more than the addition of Treasure Cruise. Tasigur imbued Delver decks with an explosiveness not seen before in the archetype, is a resilient threat and allows the deck to grind the mid-to-late game, which conveniently segues into our first pick:

Tasigur, the Golden Boy of Modern

Tasigur, the Golden Fang Price Graph

We are approaching peak supply for Fate Reforged as the number of DTK-DTK-FRF drafts will dwindle significantly in the face of Modern Masters 2015 drafts. Tasigur, the Golden Fang, currently at $5.71 with a spread of 39%, is probably the card from the set, and the Khans of Tarkir block to assert the most impact on the Modern metagame.

Tasigur sees more play than Siege Rhino in Modern. Tasigur is found in Abzan, Grixis Delver, Grixis Twin and even non-mainstream decks like Sultai Control and Jund. Tasigur is present in pretty much any non-combo deck that runs at least two of Tasigur’s color (in terms of color identity). statistics shows that Tasigur is the 11th most played card in Modern, present in 22.4% of Modern decks in an average of 2.1 copies. Contrast that with Siege Rhino, who is the 53rd most played card, found in only 10.4% of Modern decks, but is of course played in 4 copies in every deck she is found in.  Siege Rhino is $4.92 and is from a large set. Tasigur is just $5.71 and is from a small(ish) set.

Granted, Siege Rhino’s price is probably propped up by her demand in Standard, where Tasigur is merely a sideboard card. Nevertheless $5.71 seems a tad bit cheap for a card that is already a multi-archetype staple in Modern. There is a distinct possibility that Tasigur will break $10 on the back of Modern play. Lots of Modern play. And some Legacy play too. I don’t think you could go wrong picking up Tasigur at his price right now, which is close to the bottom or already at the bottom.

The Modern Dragons Command

Once Dragons of Tarkir rotated in, Grixis Delver picked up Kolaghan’s Command and never looked back.

Kolaghan's Command Price Graph

Kolaghan’s Command is present in one to two copies in the 75 of Grixis Delver and Grixis Twin (Rolaund Hinajosa’s winning list from last weekend’s StarCityGames Premier IQ even ran three in its 75). It seems that any deck that have access to red and black in Modern will run Kolaghan’s Command. Kolaghan’s Command seems a little pricey at three mana for its abilities, but as we’ve seen in Vintage staple, Legacy-playable Fire/Ice, its flexibility more than makes up for its mana cost. Most of the modes in Kolaghan’s Command are relevant in Modern, and the card is downright disgusting against Affinity. It also shines in decks with Snapcaster Mage: Kolaghan’s Command to return a Snapcaster to rebuy the very same Command.

Kolaghan’s Command moved a little since last week. I am not sure what triggered Kolaghan’s Command’s recent bump in price. It could either be the increasing popularity of Mardu Dragons in Standard (which I doubt is much of a factor as they only run one copy of Kolaghan’s Command) or perhaps the card’s Modern demand is already making itself felt. Furthermore, with Dragons of Tarkir approaching peak supply I am not sure how much more Kolaghan’s Command could drop. $2.28 is pretty good buy-in for a card that looks to be a mainstay in Modern.

Jace’s Return?

No, I am not talking about the possibility of a Jace, the Mind Sculptor unban however much I wish to see it, but rather I am talking about the neutered version of Jace:

Has Jace faded from our thoughts?

I did not give much thought to Jace, Architect of Thought since he rotated out of Standard besides a forlorn yearning for my Fact or Fiction on a stick. Jace surfaced on my mind recently when Gerard Fabiano took down a StarCityGames Modern Open at the end of February with his innovative Sultai Control list (a slightly modified version took down last weekend’s Modern Premier IQ in the hands of Matthew Tickal as well). In his top 8 interview, Jace was the first card that Gerard mentioned in response to the question on cards that should see more Modern play. I forgot about Jace after the event as there was no major Modern tournament since then and the Dragons of Tarkir spoilers started streaming in.

Then a couple of weeks back I was building a Gifts Tron and I was devouring all the information I could get on the archetype. I stumbled upon a Gifts Tron video by Sam Pardee. He was experimenting with a singleton Jace, Architect of Thought in the mainboard of his Gifts Tron build. His argument for Jace caught my attention.

Sam explained that he was really really impressed with Jace in his Splinter Twin deck, which prompted him to try out Jace in Gifts Tron. He mentioned that Jace blanks Lingering Souls, shuts down one half of the Splinter Twin combo and is a way to battle Liliana of the Veil‘s hand disruption. I was excited. I thought the one-of Jace was a fluke in Gerard’s list. I trawled through Magic Online deck lists and it turns out that Splinter Twin has been running a singleton Jace in their sideboard since Abzan became the dominant deck in the Modern metagame.

Now why would a card that is found as a one-of in every list that runs him worth taking a look at?

Jace, Architect of Thought

I could not believe my eyes when I first saw Jace’s price. The once mighty Architect of Standard is going for a measly $2.86! I understand that cards drop a lot after they rotate out of Standard, but casual demand usual keeps planeswalkers from dropping too low. As long as he or she is does not have a ‘Tibalt‘ in his or her name.

Which is why I was surprised to see  a planeswalker of Jace’s caliber stooping below $5. Heck, at $2.86, the Architect of Thought is about the same price as Tibalt! Looks like the Jace vs. Vraska duel deck reprint really killed Jace’s price.

I am in no position to argue that Jace should see more play in Modern. But I am confident that a card that sees play in multiple archetypes in Modern, even if he is a singleton, should not be $2.86. I am confident he would not remain at this price when Modern season swings in and Twin, Sultai and Gifts Tron players start to look for their single Jace, Architect of Thought. Pick him up now.

That is all for today’s article. Thank you for reading and do share your thoughts and questions in the comments section below, or catch me on Twitter at @theguoheng.


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UNLOCKED PROTRADER: Modern Masters 2015 Early Movements

We’re just a week away now from Grand Prix Vegas and the Modern Masters 2015 onslaught that comes with it. I know I’m looking forward to it, and I’m not alone. We have a house rented in the city, and I’m looking forward to meeting both old friends and new ones while enjoying a great week in Vegas.

Of course, there’s another reason we’re there, one that isn’t a party. That would be Modern Masters 2015, and it’s looking to be a vitally important weekend financially. Much has been said already about the expected value of the set: complaints about it not being high enough or about it being too unevenly distributed. All may have some merit, but they’re also irrelevant at this point. As someone approaching this from a MTG finance angle, your goal should not be to discuss what should have been, but rather what is. And what “is,” means a set with some value at the top end and a pretty drastic dropoff after that.


Where Will Prices Go?

The million (or something) dollar question. I’ve been aksed this more times than I can count over the past month, and I’ve given a pretty consistent answer to it: I don’t know.

I realize as an “expert” in this field that’s not the answer people want to hear, but it’s being honest. When there’s no real precedent for this set given the much-smaller print run of the original Modern Masters, it would be incredibly disingenuous of me to tell you a month ago what Tarmogoyf will cost in six months. I don’t have any information to form an educated opinion, and I would rather say nothing at all than provide misinformation based on nothing but me wanting to hear myself talk about it.

My stance from the start was that we needed some empirical data before we could draw any conclusions, and that meant waiting, no matter how unfun that was.

Well, we’re finally starting to see some data, and so I think it’s time to begin analyzing it.

The Numbers

There’s this misconception that the first Modern Masters didn’t lower prices, or actually raised them, because, “Tarmogoyf, Cryptic Command, and Vendilion Clique!”

While didn’t-lower-prices complaint did hold true for those few cards, it’s far from true across the board.

Stonehewer Giant

Stonehewer Giant is just now starting to recover from Modern Masters, and it’s not the only card in this boat. So, before I go any further, let’s be clear about that. The vast majority of cards in Modern Masters 2015 are going to get rekt (I use words like that to sound cool. Bad idea? Okay, no more).

That’s not to say every casual or EDH card in the new set is going to tank and never recover. Doubling Season, for instance, has recovered very well from its printing in Modern Masters. But Modern Masters 2015 is going to depress them for a long time to come. That means something like Tezzeret the Seeker or—perhaps the best example—Creakwood Liege is going to tank and take a long time to recover.

Creakwood Liege

I expect Liege to tank down to  below $5 and sit there for a few years to come. This is all something we can determine just from comparing to the first set, and with the larger print run of Modern Masters 2015, this effect is going to be even more pronounced.

So that handles what will happen to the low-end, and that’s information we have access to and can easily extrapolate from. But it’s the high-end that everyone wants to know about, and it’s the high-end we’re just now beginning to see some data for.

The ‘Goyf Level

Tarmogoyf 2

Take a look at that Tarmogoyf chart. We’re seeing it predictably slide down. Compare to this chart from the Future Sight Tarmogoyf when the original Modern Masters came out on June 7, 2013.

Tarmogoyf 1

You can see there that the original Tarmogoyf not only didn’t drop, it actually rose in between the announcement of the set and its release. Viewed in that lens—a price increase despite a reprint incoming—it’s really not surprising that ‘Goyf spiked after the first GP Vegas.

Magic was growing very quickly around that time, and that growth makes sense. While Magic isn’t shrinking in 2015, it’s not experiencing the growth that it was then, either. Throw in a larger print run and the fact we’re seeing a price drop this time around, it makes a lot more sense for Tarmogoyf to fall lower in the coming months.

How low? I think that’s still to be determined, and what we see the price of the newest printing do in the next month is going to determine it. While I do expect a drop, I’m not quite sure I expect $100 ‘Goyfs, and I have a few reasons why.

The first is the recent news that there won’t be a second print run of Modern Masters 2015. Wizards got a lot of heat over the print run of the first Modern Masters not being large enough since it didn’t drop prices as much as people would have hoped, but people have to remember WOTC’s goals here.

The goal isn’t necessarily to make Tarmogoyf a $20 card, or even a $50 card—it’s to make it more available. While it’s easy to conflate availability with price, it’s not the same. Yes, there may be enough demand that Tarmogoyf stays around $200, but there’s also the chance that a player might pull one from a booster pack. The median price on TCGPlayer may not move much, but that possibility counts for quite a bit.

People are going to always spend money on some sort of Magic product, and over the next few months that money will be on Modern Masters 2015. The whole, “You know what goes good with a Tarmogoyf? Three more!” makes sense, of course, but it’s always used to explain why the prices are still unreasonable. But looking at it in the context of completing a playset, someone spending their typical monthly “budget” of Magic money won’t be spending much more than they usually would, but when they open a Tarmogoyf the cost of completing a playset is no longer $800, it’s now $600. That chance of opening a ‘Goyf is something that wasn’t available to players before, even if the prices are the same.

That’s the difference between “availability” and price, and the goal of Modern Masters 2015 is to make Modern more available, not necessarily cheaper, even though there is obviously plenty of overlap.

So when we talk about the lack of a second print run, it means this opportunity is going to be available for a shorter window of time for most players, and there won’t be enough time for supply to really flood the market. That’s a recipe for some short-term price dips but long-term stagnation or even growth, especially combined with this second factor.

That factor is the apparent lack of movement from some of the cards. Sure, we’re seeing some drops from the original printings as we expected, but the versions in Modern Masters 2015 aren’t starting anywhere near as low as we may have guessed. Fulminator Mage, for instance, has always felt odd as a $30 card, and it made a lot of sense when the new version opened at $20 in preorders.

But it didn’t stay there. Those cheap copies went fast, and the next wave of preorders came at $30. It’s settled around $25, lower than the original printing but not anywhere near as low as we might have expected. This is a trend spotted in several places in the new set. Of course, this price will likely continue to dip once copies actually hit the market, but given the single print run, this dip may not be as much as expected.


I was reticent to offer opinions before we had any data, but now that we do, I’m starting to form some suspicions about where we’re headed.

To summarize:

  • Low-end cards, commons/uncommons, and casual-demand cards like Creakwood Liege are going to tank, and they’re going to stay tanked for at least 12 to 18 months.
  • High-end rares like Noble Hierarch and Cryptic Command will end up being down 25 to 40 percent. This means $30 to $35 Noble Hierarchs and $35 to $40 Cryptic Commands. This is, of course, still just educated guesswork on my part, but it’s a start to some theories that will be refined in the coming weeks.
  • The mythics will drop, yes, but not drastically. The most frequently played Modern ones like Tarmogoyf and Clique will hold up best, but as a whole, we’re looking at just 15- to 25-percent drops here. This will make these cards more affordable, but I really wouldn’t be surprised to look back at this set when Modern Masters 2017 comes out and see the prices right back where they started.

Thanks for reading,

Corbin Hosler

@Chosler88 on Twitter

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By: Travis Allen

Over the last two weeks, we’ve looked at the complete Modern Masters 2015 spoiler. We explored lots of individual cards, what this printing means for their price outlook, and the texture of the set overall. I wanted to make sure we all had as much insight as possible into what was hitting the streets, so that when it does, we’ll all be ready.


One thing I didn’t cover yet that is quite important, like yin to yang, is not what’s in the set, but what’s not in the set. The absence of some cards will have just as dramatic an impact on the market as the inclusion of others will. After all, when Emrakul, the Aeons Torn was spoiled, prices didn’t crash overnight. Yet once the full spoiler hit and Inkmoth Nexus was nowhere to be found, it more than doubled in hours. Keeping tabs on what’s in the pipeline and not standing in the way when the reprint bus barrels down the street is a good way to make sure you don’t lose money, but if you want to make money, you need to be paying attention to what’s not showing up on time.

Today, we’re looking for the gaps and the omissions. Our goal is to understand some of the reasons some of these cards may not have made it in, where they may show up next, and what all of this means for prices over the next six months.

Serum Visions 

Visions is perhaps the most egregious offender in this roundup, with public discussion regarding its curious absence more prevalent than any other card. As a $10 common played in roughly one-fourth of all Modern decks, what could possibly be a better option for a reprint? Many, myself included, thought it was coming all the way back in September when the art for Omenspeaker was revealed independent of the rules text. When the Theros block, which even contained scry, came and went without Visions, we were all a bit confused. Expectations shifted, placing Visions in MM2015. It all felt a bit like I imagine a doomsday cult must feel when the day of rapture comes and goes without even thunderstorms. People mill aimlessly, dazed, lost. Where are the Visions?

My guess is that Wizards got  caught with its pants down on this one. About a year ago, Visions was about $6—expensive, but not yet out of control. A year prior to that, it was between $2 and $3, which is true of many commons and no cause for concern. It sounds as if R&D may have considered Visions briefly for MM2015, but after deciding scry wasn’t making it in the set, chose instead to print it as a summer FNM promo. They hoped that the FNM promo would be enough to keep the price in check, not realizing that the card was destined to gain another $4 to $7 by the time MM2015 was on shelves. Unfortunately, FNM promos almost never do much to prices. Supply is low and alternate art often drives those with existing copies to acquire the promo. The new artwork for Visions is dramatic, and the result is that many that already own playsets of the Fifth Dawn copies will want a new set anyway.

Wizards is now stuck. Visions is badly in need of a larger reprint and there’s nowhere for it to go. It missed Elspeth versus Kiora, it missed MM2015, it’s terrible in Commander, and no expansion sets will have scry anytime soon.

At this point, my thinking is that there are two potential lines for Visions to take. The first is that Wizards is going to make scry evergreen, as has been done with hexproof. It’s not a terribly complicated mechanic, and it provides an additional knob with which to balance spells. If this comes to pass, it could show up in any Standard-legal set. Is any of this likely? I can’t say that it is, but it’s one possible avenue.

The second possibility is that Wizards may shoehorn it into Zendikar versus Eldrazi or this spring’s planeswalker Duel Deck. Either would be an appropriate place to include it. We saw Remand included in Jace versus Vraska last spring, which was no different.

There exists an opinion that the absence of Visions indicates a banning on the horizon. There are a variety of reasons I don’t believe that to be the case. Rather than detail them all, suffice to say that it’s possible, yet I’m not operating as if it will come true.

Unless scry becomes evergreen and is printed in Origins, none of the reprint avenues will do much to dramatically reduce the price. Showing up in a Duel Deck will take a notch out of it, sure, but not down to $3 or $5 levels. Mostly, it seems like Serum Visions is slated for continued growth, with $15 or $20 possible this summer. I’m not saying it will rise that high, but with no extra copies on the horizon and a mild panic regarding its absence, it’s not outside the realm of possibility. I’m happy to take these in trade in the short term. Pick them up now, ride any gains we see through the Modern PreTQ season, and ship them if they ever hit $15. Keep a personal set, and see just how high a modern-border common can go.

Goblin Guide

As a contender for “card your opponent hates you most for casting on turn one,” Goblin Guide has been a tool of sadists in Modern since the birth of the format. With the recent “what the hell were they thinking” printing of Eidolon of the Great Revel, Guide has only gotten stronger. It spiked dramatically last summer, and lately has been hanging around in the $20 range. It’s possible that part of the reason it didn’t hang around closer to $30 was because people expected it to show up in MM2015. Now that it hasn’t, what’s the play?

My guidance is to stay away. When Visions didn’t appear in the full spoiler, everyone was left asking, “Well then, just where the heck are they going to put it?” and, “Why is Travis using so many fake quotations?” With Goblin Guide, though, it’s just been, “Oh, I guess it’s in Battle for Zendikar.” Guide can show up in theoretically any expansion set, so long as it’s balanced around its presence. With no keywords and a name that doesn’t tie it to a specific plane, it’s the closest thing Magic has to a free agent. Knowing this, if we own speculative copies, we’re going to be biting our fingernails about whether Goblin Guide is going to show up every single time a spoiler season starts. This isn’t a position I’d like to be in. Even if they don’t reprint Guide this year and it ends up at $40, we can’t feel bad about staying away. Remember, be process-oriented.

Aven Mindcensor

While Serum Visions is the most obvious missing common in Modern Masters 2015, I find Aven Mindcensor to be the most glaring omission in the silver slot. Mindcensor has been running around Modern and Legacy for years now with a peak price of $15 for nearly all of last year. That price has since come down to around $10, but without any extra copies entering the market, we may see that number climb back towards or even north of its previous peak.

Magic 2015 brought with it Hushwing Gryff, another 2W 2/1 flash flyer with hateful text. At first blush, it seems that Aven Mindcensor may be primed to take over that slot this summer in Origins. After all, like Goblin Guide, there’s no keywords or flavor on the card that would prevent its inclusion in a core set or other expansion.

And yet, I’m highly suspect of the theory that we see it in either Origins or Battle for Zendikar. Why? Well, part of the reason Mindcensor is so popular is that it hoses fetch land activations. When someone cracks a Scalding Tarn, you flash down Mindcensor in response, and then they can only look at the top four to find an island or a mountain. No luck? Too bad. It’s a way for hatebear style decks to restrict an opponent’s resources while simultaneously applying pressure.

My concern is just how powerful this effect can be. Modern is a faster format, where losing your third or fourth land doesn’t necessarily lock you out of the game. There’s plenty of powerful ways to answer Mindcensor, such as Electrolyze or Forked Bolt. It’s dead against some opponents, and a format like Modern typically punishes dead cards much harder than Standard does.

Mindcensor in Standard would be much stronger. Games go longer and average spell costs are much higher. Stopping someone’s fifth or sixth land in Modern is often irrelevant, but in Standard, it’s still possibly a completely backbreaking play. It effectively becomes an instant-speed Stone Rain for 2W that also leaves behind a 2/1 flyer.

So long as fetch lands are in Standard, I don’t think we’ll see Mindcensor. The effect is simply much stronger in Standard than Modern as long as fetches are running around, and it’s strong in exactly the way Wizards doesn’t want it to be. Perhaps next spring, when Khans and the fetches rotate out, we’ll see Mindcensor show up. Until then, assuming Wizards doesn’t want it in Standard, it’s in the same boat that Serum Visions is: the two Duel Deck releases and maybe Commander product. If that’s the case, the short-term outlook for Mindcensor is quite rosy.

Inkmoth Nexus

This would have been great to talk about if it didn’t spike within 24 hours of the full spoiler dropping. As is: sell extras, stay away.

Blood Moon

The land denial strategy of choice in Modern, Blood Moon has a whopping five printings in the wild, and still clocks in at $30 today. Advocates of format accessibility (AFAs) were desperately hoping to see some full moon action in MM2015, but alas, we’ve seen no such exposure. There’s little debate regarding this one, either. While BMing is satisfying, it’s simply not an appropriate thing to do at your card store every Friday night. Very few would consider this a reasonable card to print in Standard, so we’re exclusively looking at supplementary product for more copies. Once again, that leaves us with a short list: upcoming Duel Decks and Commander product. Blood Moon would be a rather odd inclusion in the DD series, and putting it in a product aimed at EDH players is sure to piss off a huge swath of kitchen-table players that just want to be able to cast their spells.


We’ve seen consistent and unchecked growth on Blood Moon so far, and at this point I see no reason for it to abate. No more copies are on the horizon, avenues for reprint won’t bring many to the market anyways, and this card’s price ceiling is at least $10 away. I’m expecting $40 before the end of the year, possibly higher. Trade accordingly.

What Else?

The list of cards not in MM2015 is of course much longer than the list of cards above. I’ve captured several high-profile cards here, but I’m sure there are many more out there that stand to gain. Infect commons like Vines of Vastwood and Might of Old Krosa come to mind. What others have you noticed and think are ripe opportunities?

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