The Future of Modern

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By: Camden Clark

I talked two weeks ago about the picks I made and how the Pro Tour set the metagame that will go into the Pro Tour Qualifier season.

I was and still am really optimistic about the future of Modern in both the short and long terms. There are a lot of people who really enjoy this format. Wizards has been throwing so much at this format to make it work that Modern will not fail.

With Modern there are so many more copies of each card in print than, say, Revised. There are simply more copies of Verdant Catacombs than Bayou out there. Herein lies the genius and the pitfall of Modern. Wizards could decide to reprint a popular Modern playable, crashing the price but significantly increasing accessibility. As the reserved list prevents Wizards from printing more copies of Bayou there will be no room for more players to get in and the floor will only get higher and higher.

Although there is the potential for these pitfalls (see Remand) overall the trend for Modern has been up. This will only continue into the summer and beyond.

I want to avoid proselytizing the death of Legacy. However, the huge Modern GPs show the inevitable adoption of the Modern format as a semi-eternal format that has higher accessibility. Star City Games has a LOT invested in Legacy cards. They will not stop doing major Legacy events. The recent spikes of dual lands worries me for the future of the format. There are quite a few people who have their Legacy card collection from buying the cards years ago. These players do not grow the format unfortunately. The players that grow the format are ones who buy into the format. If decks cost six thousand dollars or more, who will pay that just to play one event a year?

Decks that are $1,000 to $2,000 are much more reasonable.

This is the main reason why I like investing in Modern in the short term and long term. There are huge opportunities to make money on commons, uncommons, rares, and mythic rares. I would like to elaborate on the short term picks that should rise going into the summer.

Electrolyze

I am a huge fan of this card right now. It has a major role in most URx decks that are not Storm. Lots of spikes who will play in the PTQs love to play their control decks. Many of them will choose these decks. Electrolyze is really strong against almost every deck in the format. It even has utility against Storm as it draws a card while killing one of their enablers, Goblin Electromancer.

The effect on this card gives it major utility even in matchups where it is dead. If you are leaving up a counterspell, and they pass the turn, you can play Electrolyze to draw a card. This makes a huge difference in the playability of this card. I can’t see this not going up and it will be a major staple of trade binders going into the summer.

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All of the Fetchlands

Players will pay ANYTHING for the fetchlands.

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Most everything has been leading to my belief that there will be no fetchlands in M15 or Conspiracy. M15 will still have shocklands for a brief period of time. Wizards is not going to let fetches and shocks in at the same time in Standard. It’s pretty clear Conspiracy was designed to be a beginners set at this point and it is quite unlikely that fetches will be in that set.

All this means is that our investments are secure through the summer. There is only an infinitely small chance of a reprint before “Huey.”

With that confidence, if you want to play with or invest in fetches, buy as soon as you can. You will never get a better opportunity than the one that has been presented right now.

I especially like Scalding Tarn as a choice. This card will probably reach one hundred and fifty dollars in the height of PTQ season. As I said earlier, the people who need these cards REALLY need them. And they want a playset. Stock up on these. You can sell them for hilarious premiums on eBay later in the summer. If you just want to play with them, you won’t get a lower price than now heading into PTQ season. After you play with them, you sell out again. Fairly straightforward.

The other fetchlands have not dropped in price as much. However, they are still great pickups. If you have the money or trade, put it into fetchlands. There is little risk here going into the summer.

The only fetchland you should be concerned about is Marsh Flats. This one might be getting a reprint in a pre-con. Be wary. Do your research.

Gifts Ungiven

Lots of players have been trying to make this card work. There are quite a few Gifts decks out there. 4c Gifts and UW Tron are playing this and use it for massive value. There aren’t too many copies of this card out there. There will be people who want to play this in casual formats and Modern. I do not see this going any lower especially since it was in Modern Masters. This is an easy card to move in on.

Rest in Peace

This one will probably stay stagnant until someone decides it is too low and buys it out. After it is bought out, the price will double or triple. I would not want to miss out on this spike. There would be no warning. It seems almost inevitable at some point.

Let’s move on to more long term picks.

Thoughtseize

As PTQ season and Standard winds down, there will be a massive dropoff in demand for Thoughtseize. The price of the card will drop off immensely. That’s the time to pick it up. It will still have a year in Standard and an infinite time in Modern. This card is a pillar of the Modern format and will rise to the unreal prices it had before the reprint. Look to move in on these after selling out of your Modern picks.

Shocklands

The price of these will also dramatically decrease in the double loss of cycling out of Standard and PTQ season ending. Your window here will be very small. Moving in on this one would get you some nearly assured profit in a year or two. Trade for these, buy them on eBay, whatever you have to do. You will not regret this decision when the PTQ season far in the future hits.

It is worth mentioning the power of foils here. Many will be very interested in foiling out their decks. Take a look at the graph for foil Stoneforge:

e88f019004b9b4357faf2583978c9a8e

I predict the exact same thing will happen with Modern. People will want to invest into making their decks look awesome. In one year the price quadrupled.

The price graph of foil Steam Vents is shown below:

270349763d6b65ab20d52ee8ab90e616

Bold prediction: next year, in April, a foil Steam Vents will be 90 dollars. There is very little to stop the price of these from skyrocketing. I would trade for and buy these aggressively. If your bankroll can handle it these cards are amazing.

I now want to talk generally about the future of Modern and its relationship to Legacy.

Three things could happen:

  1. Modern could fail and Legacy remains the major eternal format
  2. Modern and Legacy coexist
  3. Modern becomes the major eternal format and Legacy goes the way of Vintage

The first option won’t happen. Wizards has invested too much into this format for it to die. Modern Masters’ popularity showed the interest in the format. The Pro Tour and GPs have cemented that interest and proved that Modern is here to stay.

Three is quite unlikely in the near future. Star City Games will support the card market for Legacy. They have quite a bit invested into this specific market. There will continue to be Legacy events ran all around the country.

Two is the most likely. Modern does not spell the end of Legacy necessarily and will merely substitute it for less serious newer players.

What this does mean is that Modern is here to stay. There is no ceiling on the cards in this format anymore. Who could have predicted hundreds of dollars for a dual land? If you did, you’d probably be rich. Now, we have empirics for how eternal formats can drive prices sky high. Foils are even crazier. Modern is where the money is and will be for the next two years at least. Buy in cheap while you still can.

What do you think the relationship between Legacy and Modern will be going into the future? Hit me up on twitter: http://twitter.com/CamdenClarkMTG

Thanks for reading.

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Hey, it Really is Better than Born of the Gods: Journey Into Nyx Review

By: Travis Allen

Journey Into Nyx is upon us with prerelease events just a few days away. Does anyone else feel like we just did this for Born of the Gods? I’m still nowhere near knowing all the cards in the BTT draft format, and here we are adding a whole new pile.

A few words before we jump in. First, the dynamic of this block structure is familiar to veterans, but may actually be new to a good deal of rookie players. The big/small/small structure is the “normal” structure, but the last time we saw it was actually Scars of Mirrodin! We’ve added a whoooooole bunch of new players since then, so things are going to be a bit different.

Cliff talked about it in the past, and I’ve mentioned it as well, but it bears repeating: the ratio of packs opened for Theros:BoG:Journey will be 6:2:1. That means that (roughly) for every six of a rare opened in Theros, only one will be opened in Journey. This will have a real impact on the price, although by how much remains to be seen. Keep this in mind as the prices unfold over time. What would have been a bulk rare in the past may actually hold a price tag of a few dollars. I tried to accommodate for this effect in my pricing, but I may have been too conservative. Watch the prices closely, and if things aren’t dropping by as much as you or I thought they would, then we know it’s having a dramatic impact.

Speaking of bulk, everything I put there I expect to be about a dollar or less. Some of it may end up doing a little better because of casual markets (Dictate or Erebos) or the metagame may shake out in a way that it’s actually reasonably represented (Setessian Tactics.) I’m not dismissing these cards out of hand, I just think that it’s likely most of them won’t end up doing enough to matter in the next six months.

I’ve only given prices out through six months because I’m not prescient. What the format looks like after the fall rotation will be so different that it’s impossible to know at this point which meta-dependent cards will thrive and which will fall by the wayside. We’ll reconvene after the block Pro Tour and see how things are looking at that point.

White

Bulk:
Dawnbringer Charioteers
Dictate of Heliod
Launch the Fleet
Skybind

 

Aegis of the Gods
1-2 Months: $1
Rotation: Bulk

Aegis of the Gods looks a lot more exciting than it is. True Believer has been in Legacy and Modern for quite some time and sees no action, so Aegis isn’t bringing much to those formats they don’t already have. Yes, Leyline of Sanctity is awesome, but that can be cast for free and doesn’t die to Bolt. That leaves only Standard to drive this guy’s price. If your opponent plays with Thoughtseize and has reason to fear this guy, they can still fire it off on turn one of either the play or the draw to make sure they nail your whatever.

Aside from not really solving the Thoughtseize problem, there’s still not going to be a lot of decks that would want this ability on a small body. He may show up here and there, and may even float around a dollar or two instead of bulk, but only from the barest casual support. Mostly narrow, single-format demand will keep his price low.

 

Deicide (Day-ah-side, not dee-side.)
1-2 Months: $1-$2
Rotation: Bulk – $1

A lot of people were very angry when this card was spoiled. “What of our gods?” they cried. Their lamentations filled Twitter. “Why punish us for worshipping?”

This is a safety valve, the same way that Grafdigger’s Cage and Glaring Spotlight and Renounce the Guilds were. Wizards has plainly proclaimed that they are keeping cards like this in formats at almost all times to ensure that nothing runs away with Standard entirely. Their goal is that the cards shouldn’t be consistently maindeckable, but if certain strategies get too strong they can be temporarily promoted to the front line. That’s exactly what we’ve got here.

Grafdigger’s Cage didn’t stop Birthing Pod from being played. Glaring Spotlight and Renounce the Guilds couldn’t stop Geist of Saint Traft. Deicide will occasionally punish people leaning hard on their god, but it isn’t going to mean the end of Thassa entirely. Athreos will still be entirely playable.

This is definitely reasonable enchantment removal, and may even see play as a one- or two-of in certain builds. It answers things like Courser of Kruphix or Herald of Torment nicely with an occasional added bonus. It doesn’t do squat against Desecration Demon or Polukranos though, so it’s not going to be saturating the format. It will see more play than Renounce the Guilds did, but not enough to matter. It will hang around a dollar or two for awhile as people grab their copies, but it will slip by rotation.

 

Godsend
1-2 Months: $4-$7
Rotation: $2-$3

Godsend looks pretty awesome but won’t play nearly as well as it reads. Any of the “Sword of Yin and Yang” are going to be better in Modern and Legacy, so that leaves us with Standard and EDH. +3/+3 isn’t the most threatening thing to tack onto a creature, so blocking is only going to be done in dire situations. Admittedly it makes a great rattlesnake on defense. But at six mana, does it matter? It’s expensive to play and equip, and offers no protection except against maybe Mizzium Mortars.

The preorder is high now because it’s splashy looking and sounds exciting. Lack of results will send the price crashing. It will likely hit “mythic bulk,” which is $1-$3. It may not be a bad idea to grab them at that point though. There are going to be very few copies in the market in general, and there should be enough casual demand after rotation (next year) to see it become a slow, sure gainer.

 

Blue

Bulk:
Daring Thief
Hypnotic Siren (unless it breaks out in Mono-Blue)
Polymorphous Rush
Scourge of Fleets

 

Battlefield Thaumaturge
1-2 Months: Bulk – $1
Rotation: ???

This guy is a real unknown for me. Will he break out, which is a very real possibility, or will he falter and fall flat on his face? He’s a got a reasonable cost and a reasonable body to go with it. 2/1’s are completely capable of doing work in constructed, as Snapcaster has proven. The real question is the unique ability that we haven’t really had much of in this fashion before.

Making your spells cheaper is always worth a very close look. The difference between 1B and B or 2U and 1U is pretty severe. Imagine Hero’s Downfall at BB and you’ll begin to appreciate what he’s capable of. How about this spell? “2U, Return three target creatures to their owner’s hands and Scry 1.” That’s limited all-star Sea God’s Revenge with Thaumaturge in play. Much more appealing at 2U rather than 5U, isn’t it? The secondary ability is probably mostly irrelevant. It will serve as a potential way to protect him from spot removal should the need arise, but right now there isn’t a lot in the format that would really make this silly. We’ll see what the fall brings.

I don’t think Thaumaturge will take off right away. There isn’t anywhere he belongs yet so it will take time for him to find a deck. Delver took some time before he had a proper home, after all. We may even have to wait for rotation and the subsequent cardpool/metagame to undergo a major shift. He’ll require the right enablers for sure. If we get the right mix of spells he’ll be a format role-player, but if we don’t get the tools he’ll be filling boxes of shame nationwide. His best chance today is probably going to be with Young Pyromancer.

At the end of the day, I’m pretty confident in predicting that he will matter at some point before fall of 2015. He’s got a reasonable body and a potentially absurd ability. With the quantity of JOU that’s going to be in circulation it won’t take much to push Thaumaturge into the $10+ range with only mild success, and $15-$20+ if he’s a rare Delver.

 

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Dictate of Kruphix
1-2 Months: $1-$2
Rotation: Bulk-$1

Howling Mine effects have a history of being fairly popular. Font of Mythos is an $8 card. Dictate is a Mine with upside on the timing. You can hold up counters or removal or whathaveyou and only pull the trigger if you deem it appropriate. It’s certainly the best Mine effect we’ve seen since Temple Bell in M11.

However, Temple Bell is currently well under a $1 and was that cheap even before it was printed in Commander 2013. That’s pretty damning for Dictate. Temple Bell is very similar in that it’s the same CMC and your opponent doesn’t get the first card. On top of that, Bell also has the advantage of not requiring colored mana and is capable of being turned off if things get out of control. You need to ask yourself why the average player would ever pick Dictate over Temple Bell. I’m not coming up with much, how about you?

In Standard there isn’t too much in the way of flash decks floating around, so there’s not a whole lot looking for this effect. Control decks have things like Sphinx’s Revelation to play to, which are much safer when you’re trying to take control of a game.

 

Sage of Hours
1-2 Months: $3-$4
Rotation: $2-$3

First, the best part of this: in Standard, you can go infinite with Sage, the new Ajani, and Vorel. Ajani dumps three counters on Sage, Vorel doubles them to six, and then Sage gives you another turn. Rinse/lather/repeat. There’s typically a three-card infinite-mana combo floating around Standard, but there’s always the question of what to do with it. A three-card infinite-turn machine is another story. It’s clunky, but at least if you assemble it you actually win the game instead of passing turn with a billion mana in your pool. Of course with Thoughtseize in the format this is probably all irrelevant. Still, it’s at least worth being aware of if you spot some way to streamline the process and possibly make it competitive.

Outside of Magical Christmas Land, Sage should behave similar to most extra turn effects. He’ll preorder high, as the weeks after release roll by and the card doesn’t break the format it will sink towards a bit above mythic bulk, and then it will slowly gain from there on out. Make no mistake about it, without a reprint this card will be $10 or more by the end of 2016. If this guy gets down below $2, he’s a slam dunk so long as you’re willing to wait. Take a look at Temporal Mastery. See that tiny uptick at the end there? That’s not going to stop.

Capture

 

 

Black

Bulk:
Dictate of Erebos
Doomwake Giant
Extinguish All Hope
King Macar, the Gold-Cursed
Silence the Believers
Worst Fears

 

Master of the Feast
1-2 Months: Bulk – $2
Rotation: Bulk? $10?

Master of the Feast is a curious one. It’s easy to compare him to Herald of Torment and Desecration Demon. He’s inexpensive, a real threat in the air, and comes with a drawback tacked on. This formula isn’t new to us. The real question is how rough does the drawback have to be before it’s too much to deal with? Herald of Torment’s one life per turn is not preventing anyone from casting him, although he’s not quite as abstractly powerful as the other two. Desecration Demon’s seems pretty severe in text form, although it quickly becomes irrelevant when the guy with the demon also has fifteen pieces of removal. Master of Feast’s drawback seems to be the worst of them all.

When you’re the guy trying to kill people with a 5/5 flyer for three, you’re racing their ability to answer him. Giving your opponent more tools to deal with your threat isn’t something you’re pleased with. If they gained two life each upkeep or returned a creature from their graveyard to their hand or something that you could mostly ignore it would be fine. But an entire unrestricted card each turn is always going to have a chance to matter .

The flipside of this is that the way he’s worded it isn’t as punishing as it could be. They don’t draw the card until your upkeep, which means that if they kill him with sorcery speed removal then they either offed him before they drew the card or they took five in the air. The basic tradeoff is that without an instant speed answer, for each card they get you also get an attack phase. That can add up to a lot of cards, but it’s a lot of attack phases for a 5/5 flyer as well.

Master of the Feast is going to be an all or nothing card. Either the drawback is going to be too much and he’s going to end up at total bulk, or he’s going to pull a Desecration Demon and climb to $10+. Either way, I think he’s hitting $1 before he gets his chance to shine so you’ll have some time to make a decision either way.

 

Red

Bulk:
Bearer of the Heavens
Dictate of the Twin Gods
Harness by Force
Spawn of Thraxes
Twinflame

 

Eidolon of the Great Revel
1-2 Months: $2-$3
Rotation: Bulk – $1

Probably more important for Legacy and Modern than Standard, Eidolon is a Pyrostatic Pillar on legs. In Standard your opponent can get a two-drop down ahead of this on the play and stall until they can take the game over with cards with four CMC or more. On the draw it will be more painful, but an otherwise vanilla 2/2 will be awfully vulnerable. If you’re the guy casting the Eidolon, remember that your opponent isn’t just going to jam small spells into it over and over. If they cast a spell that shocks them, they’re doing it because they think it’s worth more than the two life it’s going to cost them. On average I’d say you’re likely to get an average of much less than two damage from their ability for each Eidolon cast in Standard.

The Legacy and Modern implications will be different. Both formats are packed with small spells so he’ll have much more relative strength. He’ll die more often for sure, but at least anything that’s killing him is probably going to shock it’s controller.

The biggest issue financially is that there’s going to be exactly one deck in each format that wants to cast him. This isn’t like Courser of Kruphix that can go in any deck that makes green mana. Eidolon only goes in the most aggressive of red lists, which means the overall demand for him will remain lowish. I see him slipping towards bulk prices, but I don’t think he’ll get too far below $1 or so. I don’t believe that he’s a Vexing Devil or Goblin Guide, but he’s still better than Firedrinker Satyr. If he has a very slow descent or even seems surprisingly resilient after the honeymoon period is over, that probably means the casual market likes him, which will make him safe as a long-term pickup regardless of his tournament success.

 

Prophetic Flamespeaker
1-2 Months: $4-$7
Rotation: $8+

I’ll get this out there: I’m a big fan of Prophetic Flamespeaker. Any mythic that isn’t huge, flavorful or splashy warrants attention because it means it may be mythic due to power level. Prophetic Flamespeaker falls into that latter category. He’s got non-square numbers (a sign of significant balancing in development) and a lot of potential power. The hook, of course, is making use of it.

It’s easy to look at Flamespeaker and think that turn three feels late, or that he doesn’t win a lot of battles without help, or that his ability can miss. I think that it’s just as easy to do this as it was to look at Desecration Demon and see all the ways he would fail his owner and do nothing. Cards don’t exist in a vacuum though, and the support you pack your deck with has a huge bearing on how well they do. Sure, Flamespeaker is relatively unexciting when staring down Courser of Kruphix. What about when you slap a Madcap Skills on him? Or have RG up representing Ghor-Clan Rampager? Or you played Imposing Sovereign on turn two and their turn three play can’t block? Or you just Lightning Strike their X-3 and get in? Or you manage to get him down on turn two?

In case you missed it, that ability does in fact trigger twice if he gets in unblocked. That’s two temporary cards drawn for the turn. Here’s a scenario for you: Untap on T4 with Flamespeaker. Use two mana to slap Madcap on him, get in for eight damage, and exile your top two cards. One of them is a land, which you play, holding the land in your hand for next turn. The other is a Lightning Strike, which you use to kill one of their creatures or even point it at their face since you won’t be able to cast it next turn anyways.

Prophetic Flamespeaker doesn’t hand you wins, but he has a lot of raw potential to work with. A little bit of work is going to pay you handsomely. The only thing that is really holding him back is the RR in the casting cost. At 2R, he’d be the breakaway mythic of the set. At 1RR, he’s good but a little narrow. Hopefully he will be good enough to get away from only being viable in Mono-Red. If the mana can support him he could easily show up in any type of R/X aggro deck. Being a mythic from a small spring set as this, it won’t take much to get his price up. I think he’s going to come down from his roughly $10 preorder price in the near future, but will climb above $10 again when people start realizing how much power he puts on the table.

 

Green

Bulk:
Dictate of Karametra
Hero’s Bane
Hydra Broodmaster
Pheres-Band Warchief
Setessan Tactics

 

Eidolon of Blossoms
1-2 Months: $2-$4
Rotation: $3-$7

My windows are a little large, but bear with me. What are we working with here? Well, first of all it’s the Buy-a-Box promo. I spoke about this in my Theros review, and the sum of it is that BaB promos are usually pushed for constructed. If a card is a BaB promo, we need to pay attention.

So how good is it? Elvish Visionary is 1G for a 1/1 that draws you a card when it comes into play. Solemn costs four and gives you a card on his way out, but he’s got a pretty sweet front side too. Both were fixtures during their time in Standard and see play in other constructed formats, so we’re in good company on “ETB:Draw a card.” Blossoms is obviously not as amazing as Solemn off the bat, but few creatures will be. In Blossom’s defense it’s at least guaranteed to draw you a card and has the potential to get out of hand.

A turn two Mana Bloom gives you a turn three Blossoms with a guaranteed enchanment in hand for next turn and Bloom is repeatable cycle for G each turn after. That alone is fairly tempting. Courser of Kruphix is another excellent green enchantment, and Boon Satyr isn’t bad either. You’re likely not playing Mono-Green, so there will be other options as well. Hey, you know what got reprinted in Journey? Oblivion Ring. (Sort of.) The double green in the casting cost is also probably a good thing since it powers up Nykthos quite well. I recall really wanting a four mana draw spell when I was playing Gr Devotion after PT Theros, and this is pretty close.

I expect Eidolon of Blossoms to very slowly dwindle towards $2-3 but it may be sticky due to people wanting to try it out and likely needing three to four copies. I don’t think it will really get a whole lot lower than that as some people will always be interested. Beyond that, if it does turn out to be solid it will behave like Courser of Kruphix and Sylvan Caryatid. I wouldn’t get rid of these at the Prerelease, and if it’s the type of card you see yourself playing, don’t feel bad about trading for a playset. The worst that happens is that you trade for them at $2-$3 and they end up at $1.

 

Gold

Bulk:
Revel of the Fallen God

 

Ajani, Mentor of Heroes
1-2 Months: $17-$20
Rotation: $9-$13

Domri Rade has been a four-of in a tier one Standard deck for basically the entire time he’s been legal. He also sees light Modern play. Currently he’s about $25, his peak was $30-$35, and his floor was about $10. He averaged maybe $20 for the last eighteen months.

Ajani is not as good as Domri.

I’m not going to ramble about the nuances of his Standard applications because as the banner Planeswalker of the set plenty of other people can do it better than I. Suffice to say that he’s not going to perform as well as Domri. He won’t perform as well as Elspeth either, who is about $20. There will be your typical honeymoon period while people grab their copies and he gets tried in bant Planeswalkers, but for the most part when he does manage to show up it will be as a one- or two-of. As Xenagos has shown us, even mild play isn’t enough to keep the price of a Planeswalker over $10.

The one thing Ajani has going for him will be his relative scarcity. That may push his price a bit higher than we would normally see for a fringe Planeswalker. If he does about as well as I expect, he should mostly be in the low teens and even under ten. If he sticks around $15, it will be because of the spring set bump.

 

Athreos, God of Passage
1-2 Months: $20-$25
Rotation: $14-$18+?

Hoo boy, now that is a God. He’s aggressively costed, revives a previously-successful Standard archetype, and will be popular in EDH. Those are all markers of a hefty price tag. The only reason I’m not expecting $40+ is because there is a little too much else going on in this set for him to turn into a Voice of Resurgence.

People think Athreos is good, and for good reason. Because of that his price will be slow to fall. If he sees very little Standard play, I don’t think he can get much below $10-$13. If he’s part of a major Standard deck, expect him to stick closer to $20, or perhaps even more depending on how pronounced the small set effect is.

 

Iroas, God of Victory
1-2 Months: $12-$15
Rotation: $6-$9

Iroas is pretty threatening, don’t get me wrong. He’s got a huge front end and he makes blocking miserable for your opponents. My concern is that he’s not terribly versatile. He’s got the Koth thing going on where there’s only ever really going to be one deck for him, and even there it’s unlikely you’ll want the full set. People will play him, and there will be some casual appeal, but it won’t be enough to keep him inflated with several other spicy mythics and rares in the set. The small set effect should keep him above Nylea and Heliod, but not by too much.

 

Keranos, God of Storms
1-2 Months: $8-$10
Rotation: $6-$9

On the one hand, Keranos has the best or second best text box of all the gods this time around. He is always doing something that matters, whether it’s putting cards into your hand or draining your opponent’s board/life total. On the other hand he’s a little expensive and it will take some time for his ability to really take a game over. I think he’s nearly as playable as Athreos is, but unlike Athreos will likely not be a four-of wherever he ends up. We also don’t have a home for him to slot into right away which makes it tougher for him to maintain his current $10-$15. The best advice I can give on Keranos is to expect nothing in the short term, but pay close attention to the block Pro Tour.

 

Kruphix, God of Horizons
1-2 Months: $5-$6
Rotation: $3-$5

Ugh.

 

Pharika, God of Affliction
1-2 Months: $5-$7
Rotation: $4-$6

Pharika is preselling on Channelfireball right now for a whopping $7 so there obviously there isn’t a whole lot of hype surrounding her at this point. Most people are relatively unimpressed, but I’ve heard from a few intelligent people that there’s some silver lining here. She’s cheap with a nice fat body. She’s in green, so we can see her come down on turn two, potentially allowing you to put four colored mana symbols into play on turn three and swing for five. She recycles your dead bodies into threats, which is great in attrition decks, a common theme for GB. Perhaps most importantly and mostly under the radar, those snakes she puts into play are enchantments. That means they trigger constellation, such as on Eidolon of Blossoms or Underworld Coinsmith or Doomwake Giant.

Will any of that be enough to keep her above bulk god prices? Honestly, probably not. She’s going to slip before she rises again, and if she ever does make it back above $10 I don’t think it will be overnight. You’ll have time to react if she sees an uptick in play and price.

 

Artifacts

Hall of Triumph
1-2 Months: $1-$2
Rotation: $1-$3

Honor of the Pure, Glorious Anthem, and the colorshifted Gaea’s Anthem are all $1-2. This is considerably easier to cast at the cost of being a tad more narrow and legendary. Being legendary hurts, but being an anthem effect in colors that don’t normally get one is important. Mono-Blue could possibly be in the market for two of these, and decks running Prophetic Flamespeaker could conceivably be interested as well. I believe this will always manage to stay a little above bulk, and will probably climb towards $5 in the months and years after rotation.

 

Lands

Mana Confluence
1-2 Months: $10-$15
Rotation: $9-$12

Comparisons will be drawn to Cavern of Souls, but I think Nykthos is more appropriate. Cavern of Souls is used in Modern, Legacy, EDH, and Casual. Outside of Standard Mana Confluence is irrelevant to all but dredge players, so we’re not getting any real extra demand. Casual players hate paying life for mana, so there’s not much of a market there either. The price is basically completely driven by Standard. Those players will definitely want the land, but this isn’t an auto-four-of by any means. Aggro decks will max out but midrange and control lists aren’t going to be eager to pay that much life.

Nykthos sees mild play right now and hangs around at $7-8 so that’s probably Confluence’s floor. There will be considerably less copies of MC around, but Nykthos enjoys a bit of extra demand. Overall MC should hang out at a bit more than Nykthos if it sees comparable play. I’d say we’ll see this in the $10-$12 range for the most part, but it may take some time to get there. If it ends up overperforming we’re probably looking at it being $15+. If Thoughtseize can’t break $20, I don’t think MC can.

 

 

The Temples
1-2 Months: $5-$6
Rotation: $7-$8+

Most of the other Temples are in the $5-$6 range and there will be considerably more of those than there are of these. Lands nearly always rise at rotation and there’s no reason to expect ones with such a strong effect to behave any differently. Don’t hesitate to trade or buy your set now. You pretty much can’t lose. Hoard any you can get in trade because it’s likely enough that they break $10 that it’s totally worth risking them being $4-$5.

Journey Into Nyx Coming Our Way

By: Jared Yost

All of Journey Into Nyx has been officially spoiled so l want to identify cards that have received a fair amount of buzz from the set, what the preorder price of those cards are, and what I think will happen in the future once the cards start seeing Standard (or other) play.

GODS

I think that Athreos is the most powerful god in Journey Into Nyx. He will fit well into future B/W/x aggro strategies and will make your opponent think twice before wiping the board. At three mana he is the cheapest of the gods along with Pharika. Is he worth it at the current preorder price of $20? Unfortunately, after much consideration I can’t say that I am comfortable with a $20 buy in and my advice is to wait this one out. I don’t foresee him becoming a format staple like Sphinx’s Revelation across multiple deck archetypes or providing the signficant backbone of several decks like Domri.

Athreos is not going to drop much (or even at all) as many people see the power that he offers Standard. However, Standard is going to need a shakeup before the Athreos will see gains in price. In the mean time, I recommend that you look into other potential pieces of the Athreos deck and see if you can’t get them for cheap:

Obzedat, Ghost Council
Xathrid Necromancer
Imposing Sovereign

I am thinking Keranos will see Standard play in U/R/x builds because he gives you incremental advantage every upkeep which is exactly what control decks are looking for. The closest comparison I can think of is when Staff of Nin was in Standard. That card saw play as either one or two copies in control decks and I can see Keranos filling that same role especially because his ability interacts so well with scry. You can really take advantage of his ability and have more power over choosing whether you want to deal damage or draw cards if you can scry for two or more (Prognostic Sphinx anyone?).

Preorder prices are averaging $13 for this god which I believe is accurately assessing his power level and the amount of play he will see. I don’t think he can go much lower than this so trade for your copies if you know you want to play him. His ability is powerful but I doubt that any player will need more than one or two for their deck as he is rather expensive and doesn’t have an immediate effect on the board. He doesn’t have much room to drop and growth could be substantial if he is adopted across several archetypes. Foils of this will be sought after.

Iroas really excited me the first time I saw him. It’s basically a combination of Gruul War Chant and Dolmen Gate that is indestructible!? Sign me up. This guy is going to be awesome in R/W aggro builds that want to take advantage of his ability. The only downside is he is really just a win-more card. He can’t help you against control decks but can be insane as a finisher card in an aggro deck.

At the current average of $14 I would wait a bit to purchase him even though his abilities are really powerful. I would be looking to pick him up over the summer in anticipation of seeing him in Theros-heavy aggro decks during Standard rotation at the end of the year. Until then I don’t think his $14 price tag is worth the preorder price.

At first I wasn’t very impressed with this god. I was expecting something a bit more overtly powerful but I reassessed the card and realized that Kruphix is a deceptively powerful god. Being able to float any of your mana, whether from lands or mana rocks, is a crazy powerful ability in Commander. Also having no maximum hand size is great for casual formats since blue based decks generally draw lots of cards and can’t use them fast enough. I would expect foils of this to command a premium.

Kruphix is preordering for $9.50 which is close to it’s real price but I think there is still room to drop. In Standard he just doesn’t offer enough to command a price near $10. I think that $6-$7 is where Kruphix will end up and that you want to be on the lookout for copies once it starts dipping down in price.

I had such high hopes for the B/G god that cost only three mana but we only got a card that is marginally worse than Scavenging Ooze which sees play in only about 12% of decks. Making deathtouch snakes is a pretty cool effect for casuals and Commander but Standard will not drive its price very far at least for now. Stay away and wait for her to drop into Karametra range before picking up.

DICTATES

    

I like the dictates for what they offer in casual and multiplayer formats but I don’t see them making a big splash in Standard, except for maybe Dictate of Heliod as one or two copies in an aggro deck. I’ve noticed a lot of sellers offering Dictate of Heliod at around $0.35 to $0.50 preorder – this is really low for a potentially game breaking effect. Certainly trade for these if you feel that you will be playing a white based aggro deck in Standard.

LANDS

  

Mana Confluence is a powerful land that will have an impact on Standard throughout its life. No more does the two color aggro strategy need to hope for the perfect draw of colored lands or tapped fixing in order to play out their hand – City of Brass 2.0 comes into play untapped and lets you execute whatever plan you need based on the cards in your hand.

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding Mana Confluence’s price. Some think that it will break the $20 barrier and stay there for its entire life in Standard. Some say that it is clearly overhyped to the max and will drop down to a more reasonable $7-$8 while it is in Standard because control decks clearly don’t want to play this and aggro won’t be so keen on having to keep pinging themselves in order to cast their spells.

It is currently preordering for $17-$18 without much wiggle room between vendors. I think a lot of people are going to scramble to pick up this land right away because they feel they will need it in Standard. Due to this mad scramble, I honestly think this land won’t be dropping below $15 for the entire time is in Standard. If you need them, they will only go up as we approach the fall rotation because mana fixing is going to be even harder once shock lands rotate out of Standard.

As for the new scry lands, I would pick them up if you need them but otherwise stay away until the summer. The U/R scry land in particular will be be a good pickup for the future because I foresee Keranos getting some play if not in this Standard season then definitely next year.

First Green and White Planeswalker!

Though in my opinion the laziest ultimate of any Planeswalker, I still think the first two abilities are solid since they are both +1 effects that enable G/W decks to accomplish amazing feats. Pumping up your creatures permanently or searching your deck for auras, creatures, or planeswalkers are powerful effects. At five mana this version of Ajani is pretty pricey but since he is in green I could see him coming out a turn earlier quite often. Starting at four loyalty is a nice bonus as well.

Ajani is currently pre selling for around $24, which is very surprising as I think he is much better than Kiora which is still around $20. Still though, at $24 is he worth it? I would say – not yet. There isn’t an established G/W deck that is currently rocking Standard, so if you do buy in at $24 and the deck doesn’t appear until next year you are sitting on Ajani for quite a while when instead you could be picking up unrealized Modern potential. Also at five mana I can’t see him being played that much, but again I was wrong about Elspeth, Sun’s Champion so this could indeed see a lot of play inside a Junk or Naya shell. At least he will retain the appeal of being the first G/W planeswalker.

Godsend

This equipment is pretty crazy, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think we’re quite on the level of Batterskull here. I see this card being very powerful in Legacy where True-Name Nemesis is all over the place and this equipment makes their TNN unable to successfully block any of your guys. It also prevents them from casting future TNN’s if they do decide to block.

Unfortunately, this equipment does not offer any type of “real” protection (as in, protection from a color, hexproof, etc.) nor does it have an immediate impact on the board state once it hits the battlefield. It also is restricted to white, so again unlike Batterskull the applications are more limited in formats like Legacy and Modern.

In terms of Standard, I can see it making an impact in white based aggro strategies but right now those strategies are suppressed by more dominating decks. I would wait until summer to get this equipment as I don’t think its current average of $13 is worth buying in. Once more aggro decks are present after Return to Ravnica rotates then it will be in higher demand.

Enchantment Creatures

   

All of these enchantment creatures, while having unique and somewhat powerful effects, all say “almost” to me.

While Eidolon of the Great Revel seems like it would be good in Legacy, its older brother Pyrostatic Pillar sees almost no play currently. Storm decks have been nerfed over the past decade by more powerful creatures as the game starts to stabilize itself as a creature based rather than spell based game. While Eidolon of the Great Revel is a step in the right direction I don’t think it will make a significant impact on eternal formats outside of being played in Legacy Burn. For Standard, I don’t think it will be played much either because you really want this in a control deck but control decks aren’t casting early creatures just to wipe them out later.

Eidolon of Blossoms has a sweet Constellation mechanic, probably the most powerful in a bottle from Journey, but being printed as the buy-a-box promo does stabilize the value significantly. In addition, its sisters Enchantress’s Presence and Argothian Enchantress are strictly better in the the Legacy Enchantments deck. Verduran Enchantress has existed for a long time and has never seen Legacy play so I don’t think this one will either. Whether or not it is played in Standard remains to be seen but I think if it goes below $0.50 you may want to pay attention to it.

Master of the Feast is a bigger body than Herald of Torment, but I think that the card advantage this offers your opponent is too much over the course of the game. I don’t think this will enable it to see top table Standard or other format play.

Aegis of the Gods grants you hexproof, which is nice, but like True Believer and cards that have come before it this is a sideboard ability at best. It is a Soldier, which puts it in a better creature type, but most of the time this guy won’t be any better than Goblin Piker until the right matchup comes along.

Other Goodness

  

Deicide is a great removal option for the plethora of gods that Standard will eventually see. A cross between Erase and Memoricide/Cranial Extraction for gods, I have a feeling that this will see a lot of sideboard play in Standard. However I do not think that being a sideboard card warrants it to maintain a price above $3. It is currently preselling for about $3.20 so I would wait a bit for this one to drop in price. Sideboard cards usually wind up in the $1-$2 range before going back up if they are really important against a particular strategy. Trade for them when they get close to a $1 because I feel they will see plenty of Standard play. See Grafdigger’s Cage as a prime example. It only recently started trending upwards in price. During its time in Standard it was around $1.

Capture

Prophetic Flamespeaker is quite interesting. It has double strike and trample, a combination never seen before on a card. It also allows you to cast spells whenever it hits a player and even potentially play a land and cast a spell. At first I thought the spells were free, and if so then I would be all over this guy. Alas, the spells are not free. Yes if you hit your land drops accordingly and the spell is on curve you could play it but you otherwise need to have enough mana to cast those spells. Being a 1/3 for three is also pretty marginal without any kind of evasion. You really need something like Madcap Skills to make this work, which I think is starting to ask for a lot when trying to build a strategy around him in addition to not playing your lands or saving mana for spells he will reveal. Wait this one out. I have a feeling he will either stay at his $8 price due to untapped potential or coming further down in price if he sees no play.

Battlefield Thaumaturge is pretty amazing with Fireball and its cousins like Comet Storm. This makes it awesome casually but is this ability enough for it to see Standard play? It makes your removal cost one less when targeting your opponents creatures which is cool. However, Standard removal is already pretty efficient for the colors it needs to be so I don’t really see this mattering much in Standard. Giving itself hexproof until end of turn is nice but I don’t think it really makes it that amazing when you have to cast a card to make that happen. He is currently preselling for $3 which I think is too high. I would wait for this one to drop a bit more before picking up.

Summary

Journey Into Nyx shares one similar characteristic to Born of the Gods which is that I’m not advocating that you preorder anything from the set, at least from a Standard perspective. This isn’t that surprising though because 99% of the time preordering cards for profit won’t work. Casually the set is filled with all stars and the casual cards have a significantly higher power level than Born of the Gods. If you are looking to pick up cards for casual purposes there are plenty of fairly priced preorders for this because in the far future many of the cards will still hold casual appeal and the price should reflect that.

Heading into the near future the cards to watch are:

Athreos, God of Passage
Iroas, God of Victory
Dictate of Heliod
Mana Confluence
Ajani, Mentor of Heroes
Godsend
Eidolon of Blossoms
Deicide

You want to keep an eye on Temple of Malady and Temple of Epiphany as well in the summer so that you can pick them up on the cheap. Then trade them later when Return to Ravnica rotates out of Standard.

Weekend Update 4/20/14

By: Jim Marsh

Every week, some cards from Magic the Gathering increase and decease in value based upon a number of factors.

Let’s take a look at some of the cards whose values have changed the most and the factors behind why those changes have occurred.

10 Big Winners of the Week

10. Sneak Attack
$44.50 to $58.13 (30.6%)

Sneak and Show has had a strong presence lately in Legacy.

Emrakul, the Aeons Torn and Griselbrand are two of the most explosive creatures you can surprise your opponent with. They both generate massive card advantage while throwing a lot of damage through the air.

Typically the deck wants to bring them out with a quick Show and Tell. Sneak Attack gives the deck another method of hurling Demons and Eldrazi at your opponents.

I don’t see the price coming down unless a ban of one of the above mentioned cards occurs.

What surprised me was that the Judge Promo is only $75. There is no way the two should be so close in price. I would try to get my hands on the Promo before it jumps past $100.

9. Price of Glory
$1.49 to $2.00 (34.2%)

I will be honest. I had to look this one up to see what it did. It is an uncommon from Odyssey.

It sends a strong signal to your opponents not to play instants (like Counterspells) or cards with Flash (like Vendilion Clique or Snapcaster Mage) on your turn.

I could see it being useful if your friends have been getting too cute during multiplayer games. I just don’t see any decklists or chatter to justify the sudden spike in price. I smell a buyout.

8. Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord
$1.47 to $2.02 (37.4%)

Sometimes it is hard to remember that standard can have an impact in the financial side of Magic.

Jarad has been used alongside Scavenging Ooze, Lifebane Zombie and Herald of Torment to great effect in Goglari Dredge.

The upcoming printing of Temple of Malady will only help the archetype.

Jarad has been printed in a Duel Deck and is set to rotate at the end of the summer, so I would be surprised to even see him get to $4. His price ceiling is just too close to his current price.

7. Silent-Blade Oni
$5.05 to $7.19 (42.4%)

Another week and another spike/plummet for Silent-Blade Oni. This swing was smaller than last time. It is possible that it is stabilizing. I would not buy into this card at this price.

I think right around $7 seems about right.

I would not mind trading into these (especially if you can get them at $5.)

It is nearly impossible to reprint outside of a supplemental product and the effect has dramatic potential.

In the long term I see this as a slow grower if you can stomach all of the turbulence.

6. Phyrexian Tyranny
$1.73 to $2.52 (45.7%)

It seems as though Commander players just cannot get enough of Nekusar, the Mindrazer.

Unlike most of the cards that have been spiking from Nekusar, this does not force others to draw cards. Instead it constrains their mana or amplifies their life loss.

If you have Nekusar out then you do not need to worry about your mana. You are probably already winning. Your opponents will be bleeding to death or have their hands tied.

It was a rare that was only printed in Planeshift so supply is pretty meager. I doubt it will continue at this rate but I don’t think it is coming back down. I would trade for these.

5. Teferi’s Puzzle Box
$1.78 to $2.78 (56.2%)

Like King Midas, everything that Nekusar, the Mindrazer touches turns to gold.

Even a seemingly harmless artifact has nearly tripled in value since his printing. It has had five printings so the supply is ready to soak up the increased demand, but I feel that the price will hold.

It is a free Winds of Change for every player on every turn. Nekusar turns that into a free Storm Seeker or Trouble (from Toil // Trouble.)

With economic power like this, I can’t believe that Otherworld Atlas is still less than fifty cents.

4. Damia, Sage of Stone
$7.43 to $12.88 (73.4%)

Here is the power of casual demand. This is a solid creature who screams card advantage. She is a powerful Commander and has even seen play in Legacy BUG Nic Fit.

She is only available in the original Commander products. The explosion of the format and the number of Magic players has led to her nearly doubling in price. I don’t see her maintaining that in the short term. I think she will come back down to $10 and sit there quietly growing until she is reprinted in another Supplemental Product.

3. Ponder (Textless Magic Player Rewards)
$7.69 to $13.49 (75.4%)

This card is doing surprisingly well considering it is a common that has seen four printings and is currently banned in Modern.

This means that the only interest is from Vintage and Legacy. Fortunately Legacy loves its one mana cantrips. Legacy players also invest enough in their decks to get the premier versions of each card.

It is not only pretty. It is powerful.

It can set up powerful Miracle cards lime Terminus and Entreat the Angels or help you flip your Delver of Secrets.

I like textless Ponder as a long term hold. It would look at other textless cards that see play in eternal formats for potential.

Lightning Helix is still holding at $10. Pyroclasm and Day of Judgment are under $4 and they are both used in numerous Modern and Legacy decks! There may be some opportunities there.

2. Sigil of the Empty Throne
$2.32 to $4.99 (115.1%)

There have been a few attempts at Azorius Control and Mono-White Prison decks in Modern. Hiding behind a bevy of enchantments like Ghostly Prison, Runed Halo and Detention Sphere allows the deck to play defense while building up a flying army.

Every Constellation card and god from Journey into Nyx that gets previewed only heats up the excitement. I would try to trade for these. Once Modern season gets started this could see $8 or even $10 if the rest of the deck lines up.

1. Endless Horizons
$2.67 to $7.80 (192.1%)

What a difference a day makes! It soared from $3 to $13 and is on its back to settling around $5 to $6. You may even have a few in your junk rare binder.

It is used as a one of in Mono White Control and Prison style decks to allow you to hit your land drops while drawing spells each turn.

Once you have the four mana to cast it, you can play almost everything else in the deck. The deck does run Sigil of the Empty Throne and Sphere of Safety, so hopefully you can keep it for at least one turn to get that last Plains you need. After that it is gravy. You are almost guaranteed to draw fuel for the rest of the game.

I think this was pretty much just a quick buyout. The card was a rare from Eventide which was not a widely opened set, but it is not a linchpin for the deck. I would get out while you can.

Bonus: Maelstrom Wanderer
$9.00 to $19.00 (111.0%)

This one seemingly came out of nowhere, but it is interesting.

Maelstrom Wanderer is one of only four RUG Commanders, and it is one of the most powerful.

The double Cascade and Haste it grants means it almost always has an immediate and impressive presence on the board.

It is only available in two printings: Planechase 2012 and Commander’s Arsenal. Copies are not easy to get a hold of due to the limited printing of both products.

Several of the Commanders from the first round of Commander decks and Planechase decks are getting some attention in the market right now. I don’t think Maelstrom Wanderer will be able to retain this price for long. I see it settling around $15.

There are still several other Commanders from these sets with room to grow like Riku of Two Reflections, The Mimeoplasm, Ghave, Guru of Spores and Karador, Ghost Chieftan.

5 Big Losers of the Week

5. Iroas, God of Victory
$16.76 to $14.99 (-10.6%)

Let us all take a second to bask in the irony of the God of Victory being listed among the Losers of the Week.

Not many cards retain their Pre-Order price. This is the cold truth of preview season. There will be a lot of excitement and hype. Some cards will be all-stars. Some will be flops.

I don’t think that Iroas will be either. He is a powerful card and I would not mind opening him up at the Prerelease.

I just think that as further preview cards appear that prices are adjusted accordingly.

I still think he is a little overpriced and will probably settle with some of the other gods in the $7 to $8 range.

Speaking of which, Karametra, God of Harvests is still available for under $3! She may not see a lot of play right now, but as a god and potential Commander she is sure to have long term casual appeal.

4. Animar, Soul of Elements
$14.95 to $12.99 (-13.1%)

Weren’t we just talking about how great the Commander Legends are doing? I still count Animar among their number.

It is possible to do truly degenerate things with it.

The problem is that it tried to jump too high, too quickly for a card whose entire price is propped up by Casual players.

It went from $8 to nearly $20 overnight. It was a classic buyout. It is recovering but I would not hesitate on any copies that you could find for $10 or less.

3. Hurkyl’s Recall
$23.72 to $20.45 (-13.8%)

This card is still a powerful deterrent in Modern and Legacy.

A month ago this was a $15 card. I think that the jump to $24 was a little too aggressive.

It has come down a bit, but I think it will hold steady at $20. Don’t sell in panic.

2. The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale
$682.47 to $555.27 (-18.6%)

This rare from Legends is used in 12 Post, Lands and Junk Depths. Even when it is used, there is only one copy in the deck.

The big problem is that these decks are not showing up in the Top 8 of any major tournaments. Top 16 is good but not quite the same.

It is on the restricted list so there are only so many copies and there will never be any others.

I still think $700 was a little ambitious. However, if you wanted to get your Tabernacle for under $600 then this is your lucky day.

I don’t see it dropping further and may even possible recover. I would buy now if you are planning on using it in a deck but otherwise $550 is a lot of capital to tie up in a card that is probably going to bounce back $100.

There are better returns for your investing money.

1. Lotus Petal (From the Vault: Exiled)
$50.00 to $40.00 (-20.0%)

This is even more interesting than it looks at first blush. It was hovering around $20 for a while. It dipped to $14 on its way to $50. This week it dipped back down to $30 and has already recovered to $40.

It is looking for a new floor. This card sees a lot of play in Legacy decks like ANT, Sneak and Show, Imperial Painter and Oops! All Spells!

Its power and versatility tell me that this it is going to keep its price. Try to snag them when you see dips.

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