I’m posting this Thursday night, a few hours before the PT coverage starts. I can’t stand the idea that by the time this would normally go live, I’d already be proven wrong or right. I want to give our ProTraders a little bit of a head start on some of the cards that are due for some movement, and the Modern Pro Tour is absolutely going to cause some movement.
Let’s get to the cards!
I think this is about to be a PT that requires powerful answers to the graveyard. Dredge, the boogeyman, is out there just waiting for a metagame that has devoted sideboard slots to things besides graveyard hate. Leyline has had a couple of bumps in its lifetime and the last printing was in 2010 as part of Magic 2011. Rest in Peace has also had a decent bump in its lifetime, and is still trickling down from the high of $10.
Both of these cards are excellent answers to degenerate graveyard strategies, depending on the colors being played. Leyline is one-sided and can be deployed early enough to stop the decks that want to lead off with Faithless Looting or some such. Rest in Peace has both an immediate effect and an ongoing one, it’s cheap at two mana, but it nukes your graveyard as well.
There’s other graveyard effects that people use, like Faerie Macabre, Nihil Spellbomb, Bojuka Bog or even in a couple of fringe decks, Stonecloaker.
Dredge (and for the purposes of the article, I’m including the Hollow One decks) is a deck that is a metagame decision, based on what people are going to be preparing for. Modern is a diverse enough format that you can’t prepare for everything, so you have to make some decisions. Do you include graveyard interaction? Artifact hate? Great cards for beating Burn decks? The mirror match? You can’t include everything, so you have to make those judgement calls, and if you go light on the answers because you think everyone else will, then the herd immunity wears off and we get a top 8 packed with Dredge.
I think that this weekend will prove to be a format where you really benefit from having something to deal with graveyard decks, maybe even maindeck ways to do so. RIP and Leyline each offer some growth potential, but even if Leyline grows to $30 or $35, that’s hard to gain value out of.
Rest in Peace can be had for under $7 if you buy playsets on eBay, and that’s extra tempting. If this is a big weekend for the graveyard, this will break $15 or even $20. Foils are already over that mark, and a foil RIP you pick up tonight at $20 might well be $50 by Monday morning. It’s only had the one printing and it’s a card you really ought to be playing in Commander too.
There’s more budget options out there, like Nihil Spellbomb or Bojuka Bog, and I like the latter a lot more because it’s got potential to be in some maindecks. Bog is already a popular Commander land, and it’s held at $1 even though it’s been in two Commander releases. Both of these, though commons with reprints, have foils in the $20 range, with the capability to spike pretty hard due to the limited number of foils in circulation.
Speaking of hate cards, let’s talk about Affinity.
Each of these has had its own spike, and trailed off afterwards to current levels (about $3 for each except for Stony Silence at about $5) and are all prime targets. Which you play depends on your colors, and Recall especially is likely to buy you one, maybe two turns. Affinity decks, despite playing no cards with the actual Affinity mechanic, are more than capable of dumping their hands back onto the table after a reset.
Kataki has has a couple of reprintings, including the one-time-only Modern Event deck. It’s a nice answer as it can attack and block, but it can be killed. Most Affinity builds have Galvanic Blast, and a few can add Shrapnel Blast too. There is not a perfect answer, and that’s what gives the deck such power. Sideboarded effects can lead to sacrificing a board to Arcbound Ravager, then stack those counters onto Etched Champion, and dying in two hits.
I like Vandalblast especially, as it’s got some legs in Commander. If you’re a red deck in the 100-card format, you should be starting with one of these. Shattering Spree is good too, but that’s already over $14 and not a strong growth target because you need lots of red mana to make it work. Vandalblast will solve all problems for 4R, and it’ll be a lot easier for that card to double or triple up if there’s a strong showing on camera.
Leyline of Sanctity is the last card I want to bring up tonight, and it’s a doozy. It sees play in a wide variety of decks, from Ad Nauseam to Bogles, and even in the sideboards of decks that couldn’t cast it, like Titanshift. It’s only has two printings, and while it’s odd to say that Modern Masters 2015 isn’t recent…that is two and a half years ago. In addition, that set has some of the widest gaps I’ve seen in terms of the cards. You might crack a $70 Mox Opal or a 75-cent Comet Storm at the same rarity level. Ouch.
I do not like alternatives for the Leyline either. Runed Halo has already spiked hard and is twice the price. Witchbane Orb comes down too slowly. Don’t try to get cute. If you’ve got the courage, a playset of Leyline will cost you $85-$100, but I think it’s very likely going to go up to $40 each or even higher, depending on the camera time and the decks it stymies.
Cliff is an avid Cuber and Commander player, and has a deep love for weird ways to play this game. His next project will be a light-up sign for attracting Cubers at GPs, so get his attention @wordofcommander on Twitter if you’ve got ideas or designs.