The Watchtower 2/20/17

By: Travis Allen

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Fans of the best Magic were treated well this weekend, with Modern events in both Brisbane and Vancouver. 18 hours and 12 decklists different, each offered its own perspective on the format. Vancouver was, at least in the top 8, overrun by Sam Black and team’s Death Shadow, with three copies and the hoisted trophy. Over in Brisbane we saw a crowd-displeasing Lantern Control take first, with a pair of Dredge following up, Living End rounding out the top four, and then some more familiar lists to fill.

Overall it’s hard to argue that there isn’t something for everyone. There’s more GP-viable decks in Modern than any other constructed format — Merfolk took second, for God’s sake! — and there are dramatically different play styles available. With Modern Masters 2017 close on the horizon and looking to ease access for new players and provide established players discounted staples, it’s a good time to be in the market to cast modern-bordered cards.

Breaking // Entering

Price Today: $2.50
Possible Price: $10

While Beck // Call was the more immediately exciting fuse card after the reveal of Aether Revolt’s various Expertises, Breaking // Entering is catching up quickly. This weekend a GPT at Vancouver was won by “Expertise Fuse,” which is four Kari Zev’s Expertise, four Sram’s Expertise, four Brain in a Jar, full sets of both fuse cards, some fast mana, and a pile of gigantic monsters to be Entered.

Your overall strategy with the deck is to fuse a Breaking // Entering targeting yourself, flip an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, and swing with haste. This is technically possible on turn one (thanks to “why isn’t this banned” Simian Spirit Guide), though turns two and three are more likely. Brain in a Jar gives you a repeatable, if slow way to cast the fuse cards, and Beck // Call is there mainly to be tremendous value for a strategy that’s already going through the effort to play it.

From a pricing perspective, there’s a lot of dead ends here. All the monsters (Emrakul, Griselbrand) are basically already saturated. Both of the Expertises are brand new and still in print, which means their prices are going to have a hell of a time climbing. Brain in a Jar is also still very fresh. That card could see some percentage gain, but not enough to gain materially in price. Really, the only two cards in this deck that have meaningful price potential are Beck // Call and Breaking // Entering.

We’ve talked about Beck // Call in the past, so I’m not going to rehash that here. Breaking // Entering is similar, though subtly different. While it doesn’t have the synergy with Elves or other strategies that may really want the Glimpse effect, it is a strong mill card that appeals to casuals independent of Modern viability. It’s also theoretically a stronger card, given that you can in essence put a hasty (and permanent!) Emrakul into play for two mana. That’s basically Goryo’s Vengeance. It’s also more critical to this particular build, though I can’t guarantee that will be the case week in and week out.

Copies are available around $2.50, and supply seems to be drying fairly quickly. There’s less than a page of both the promo copies and the regular ones, so if it isn’t already being bought up because of this emerging strategy, that means that there’s an existing steady demand profile. If that’s the case I like the trajectory even more on this, because there’s not going to be many copies out there for the people that want to play an Expertise strategy. Given how easily Retract is selling at $15, I’m very comfortable with an outside combo deck generating enough demand to sell Breaking // Entering sets at $40.


Living End

Price Today: $8
Possible Price: $20

Do you guys remember this deck? Someone at Brisbane did, and he scored fourth place with it. Do you guys also remember that Living End used to cost $15? I do.

The eponymous card of the archetype, this also had new life breathed into it with the introduction of Expertises. Brisbane’s list only played a single Expertise, and still kept to three Living Ends in the main, but that may evolve over time. Hell, we could even see the deck lean into Rishkar’s Expertise as a late-game strategy. Who knows.

What I do know is that Living End is a surprisingly resilient, strong deck that can wreak havoc if a metagame isn’t prepared for it. I’ve lost more than one game to the strategy that involves them simply activating Fulminator Mage four times in four turns. There was a time in the past that it was a strong tier two contender, and with new tools at its disposal, there’s no reason to think it couldn’t come back at any time.

With a former price of $15, we know there’s fertile ground here. There’s fair supply right now, but not enough to field even a couple of players from each state. Another run on this would land it firmly in the $15 to $25 range. Remember, it’s only got one printing, and that was Time Spiral. So long as this doesn’t show up in MM3, it will be one to watch closely.