By: Travis Allen
This was originally shaping up to be a rather bland Pro Tour. With Treasure Cruise having completely overtaken Modern, resulting in massive shifts in the metagame, it was looking like we were going to get an answer to a question nobody really wanted to ask: “what’s the best Cruise deck?” Thankfully Wizards saved us from this outcome, and in fact gave us more than we could have hoped for.
I’m sure at this point you’re probably sick of reading about the ban list changes, and that’s fair. Sell Grave-Trolls and Worldgorgers, buy everything, blah blah. You’d think it was the only thing that happened in Magic that week. Yet it would be foolish to ignore the fact that we haven’t yet fully felt their implication. Since the announcement there’s been a paucity of Modern events. We’ve seen a handful of dailies, two SCG Modern Premier IQs, and a lot of untested lists posted on Reddit. With very little in the way of results, and some of the world’s best brewers keeping quiet until after the Pro Tour, there’s no way to truly know what is possible in a post-Cruise, post-Pod world. For three glorious weeks we get to pretend Seance is playable and anyone can win any event with any seventy-five, so long as there’s a megathread about it somewhere.
Seven days from now reality will rear it’s uninvited head once again, reminding people that Cranial Plating is still legal, Thoughtseize is still the fun police, and Snapcaster Mage targeting Cryptic Command is why you quit this bullshit format the last time.
Since Khans of Tarkir released card prices have been out of whack, and they’re just now starting to re-align with what we would expect. While Liliana isn’t $40 anymore, plenty of cards still have room to grow, and the Pro Tour results this weekend are going to be a big part of it. Let’s run through some of the cards to watch this weekend.
Liliana of the Veil
Post-Tour Potential: $90-$100
Liliana was a card I pointed to a few days after the B&R update as a definite gainer. She’s at her best when she’s grinding your resources into dust, which is damn near impossible in a Cruise-infested meta. Now that the fear of your opponent top-decking Ancestral Recall is gone she’s back in a big way. Before the update there were copies as low as $45 on TCG. As of Tuesday afternoon, you’re looking at $75 each on TCG. Clearly people were not waiting for the results of the PT to roll in; they knew she was going to be good again and they didn’t want to wait.
For just under two months she was $90 on MTGPrice, and for about eight months she was at least $80. We’re close to those numbers again, so there’s not too much room for her to grow, but I think we could definitely see a higher ceiling than last time. If Abzan decks featuring Thoughtseize, Tarmogoyf, Liliana, and Siege Rhino make as strong a showing as is to be expected, that will at least account for a $5-$10 bump in price.
Where she stands to really gain is during the Modern Masters II boom. We know that Innistrad doesn’t fall within the range of MM2 sets, so she’s safe from a reprint there. We also know there are going to be promos distributed at regional PTQs, but those are going to be in very limited numbers relative to the Modern-playing population. With that RPTQ printing on the horizon, I highly doubt we see more copies this year. Between the possibility that Abzan takes over Modern, a near-zero likelihood of more copies entering the market this year, and another explosion in Modern interest thanks to the upcoming MM2 release, I’d say $100 is well within reach.
Post-Tour Potential: $30-$40
Now that Golgari Grave-Troll is on the loose there’s renewed interest in funneling a stream of creatures into your graveyard again. If this strategy is successful, it’s almost definitely going to include Vengevine. He’s been relatively quiet in Modern for the last few years, but that’s been more of a result of the metagame than a lack of power. Deathrite Shaman meant that any Vengevine strategy was DOA for quite some time, and if it wasn’t DRS suppressing the thing from little shop of horrors, it was decks like Birthing Pod flat out being a better choice. Pent up demand for Vengevine to be relevant has already driven his price from $15 to $20 in the last two weeks since the update. There’s more to this than just fevered dreams of madmen, too: this past weekend two Dredge decks placed in tenth and twelfth at the SCG IQ, each running a full set.
If anyone shows up on camera at the Pro Tour and puts a Vengevine into their graveyard, he gains $5. If it actually wins a few games, we could easily see this break $30, and $40 isn’t out of the question in the short-term. Original copies are now several years old, and with the only other printing a limited-run WMCQ promo, there will be a real constraint on copies if there’s a spike in demand. Remember, though, that Zendikar is on the table for MM2. It’s hard to predict whether a card like this will be reprinted or not, but if there’s a large spike due to PT fervor, ship hard and ship fast. Take the guaranteed money instead of being unnecessarily greedy.
Post-Tour Potential: $20
As goes Vengevine, so goes Bloodghast. It’s hard to imagine one showing up without the other. Bloodghast has been treading water around $8-$10 for awhile now, and it feels like it’s juuust on the edge of spiking. Any camera time at the PT could cause a buy-out. Like Vengevine though, Bloodghast is liable to be reprinted in MM2, and he seems much more reprintable than Vengevine is. Regardless of what happens this weekend, I’d sell all my excess copies after the Pro Tour.
Post-Tour Potential: $50
Remember this guy? He sort of disappeared a few months ago. Don’t worry though, he may have been forgotten, but he’s not gone. Unlike Liliana though, Snapcaster didn’t suffer as much after Khans, nor has he rebounded after the update. One may think that this means he wasn’t impacted by Cruise, and therefore his price won’t budge much. One may be wrong.
Even if Snap didn’t take a price hit, the decks he performed well in certainly did. UWR lists were beaten into submission by the brutal efficiency of Cruise. Now that that’s all behind us, I expect UWR decks to come back in a meaningful capacity, just as they were prior to Khans. With them will come a surge in the number of Snapcasters played, which will only help his price. The fact that his price didn’t drop over the last three months mostly indicated that players were unwilling to accept the fact that he was irrelevant, which kept his price shored up. A meaningful return to the metagame would simply increase the strength of people’s beliefs.
What really stands to serve Snap well this time around is that like Liliana, he too is out of contention for MM2. With no reprint visible on the horizon, his price may spiral out of control. That isn’t to say we won’t see him again at all this year, but we know that it at least won’t be there. He’s been $40 in the past, and there’s no real reason he couldn’t be again. PT excitement could well push him towards a $50 price tag in the near future, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see that price be relatively sticky for a format staple.
Post-Tour Potential: $20-$30
Amulet Combo is most likely to drive Titan towards $30, although there could be other vehicles that get him there as well. In Amulet decks he’s a consistent four-of, and central to the strategy. If only Amulet wants him in Modern, maybe he’s in the $20 range. If it turns out some other deck is in the market for that effect as well, he could clear $25 without a reprint.
Amulet Combo is no joke, by the way. It won this past weekend’s SCG IQ, and recently put up three 4-0 results in a Modern daily. Matthias Hunt had a good run with it a few Pro Tours ago as well, which caused the initial run on Amulet of Vigor. If the pilots can find a reliable way to beat the metagame, this deck is very capable of winning the whole shebang. On that note,
Amulet of Vigor
Post-Tour Potential: $5-$8
Post-Tour Potential: $5-$10
One is the card the deck is named after, and the other has become the de-facto irreplaceable alternate win condition. Amulet already had its day in the sun and spiked to $10 after the deck’s previous performance, but there’s no reason it couldn’t double in value from here. Hive Mind never saw much of a price bump, but if the deck performs well again, I’d be surprised if this didn’t hit at least $7 or $8. Hive Mind is a very unique card that is just begging to destroy any format with Pacts. It’s currently a solid win condition in a format where you have to pay six for it. Imagine some sort of enabler that sneaks it into play on turn three or four? Pfft. Rocketship.
Post-Tour Potential: $15-$20
Abrupt Decay has been a solid investment for over a year at this point. Possibly the best removal/utility spell in both Modern and Legacy, it’s a wonder this is still only $10. It’s been creeping up for months, little by little, and with Abzan poised to dominate the PT metagame, the time for a true price correction may be due. Even better is that Return to Ravnica falls well outside of the realm of MM2.
I don’t know if this will be the event that pushes Decay up towards $20 where it probably belongs, but it’s certainly possible. If it does break $15, I’ll be considering selling my extra copies. I can’t shake the feeling that Wizards wants to reprint Decay this year but maybe that’s an unwarranted fear.
Post-Tour Potential: $15-$20
I don’t need to sing the praises of Restoration Angel; you’re all well aware. Instead, let me point out the newcomer in the room, Siege Rhino. Boy that would be one hell of a card to blink in response to a Path, wouldn’t it?
Knight of the Reliquary
Post-Tour Potential: $10+
We’re now two years past the third printing of Knight of the Reliquary. She’s lost some of her former $20 glory, but there’s no reason she couldn’t reclaim some of it. I’m not exactly sure what shell will be best suited to take advantage of her abilities. A list with Dredge elements would certainly supercharge her stats. Perhaps it will be a more traditional Zoo list. I don’t know where we’ll see her, but I know that she’s only got one direction go head from here.
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Post-Tour Potential: $10+
Prime Poobah Jackass of the H8BEARZ clan in both Modern and Legacy. You’re legally allowed to hit anyone that casts this turn two on the play. Any deck with real camera time featuring Thalia should be a catalyst for an overdue price correction. Remember the entire Innistrad block is outside of the MM2 range, which means there is no event on the horizon that would keep her in check.
Geist of Saint Traft
Post-Tour Potential: $30+
As UWR lists are back in vogue with the departure of cruise, so too is Geist. He’s already up from a low of $12 or $13, so there’s less gravy on this train at this point than there was before. Still, a strong performance in a deck like Tribal Zoo or a UWR tempo deck would send him above $30. He’s the WMCQ promo this year, but I don’t see that doing too much to dampen a spike should he perform well at the PT. What seems more likely to be a drain on his success is the growth of Liliana and Thoughtseize decks that have been absent the last several months. Nothing is as debilitating as your turn three Geist being met with a turn three Liliana.
Grove of the Burnwillows
Post-Tour Potential: $45-$50
GR Tron plays both Karn and Oblivion Stone in Modern. Guess which card is both of those, and is already making an impact in Standard and Legacy? Everyone’s favorite ancient dragon Ugin, of course. Tron is the most immediately obvious home for Ugin in Modern, and the work he does there is no joke. Tron always picked on Jund in the past, and the ability to slam Ugin on turn four to clear out Tarmogoyfs and Lilianas in a way that the deck couldn’t before is just savage.
Most of the other pieces of the deck already seem to be value-saturated. Karn and Oblivion Stone are already at basically lifetime highs, Wurmcoil was just reprinted, and Emrakul is on the horizon in MM2. Grove was over $50 this past fall, and a top eight performance could very well get it there again.
Will a better Dredge enabler finally break one of these two cards? Turn one Thought Scour flipping a GGT, turn two dredge GGT into Griselbrand, cast Vengeance, alt-cast Fury of the Horde is a potential two turn win. Is this the year???