Tag Archives: Birthing Pod

Implications of Grand Prix Las Vegas 2013

The dust has settled, and Grand Prix Las Vegas is now a week past. The implications of this Magic mini-con will be far-reaching. Wizards will need to re-evaluate the potential size of GPs, prize payouts, as well as quite a bit of tournament logistics. Also prize payouts. (I know I mentioned it already, but come on. I’m not even sure even a single X-3 got a payout at Vegas. Put yourself in in that position and ask if you’d ever want to attend a GP again.) Meanwhile, there’s currently some very honest and valuable discussion around the state of Magic organized play coverage. If Wizards acts appropriately, I would expect the next year to bring about a slew of changes to both large event OP, as well as the media surrounding it.

In the meantime, we should give further consideration to the implications of Modern Masters. Last week I discussed the likelihood of MM increasing the price of many format staples despite being reprinted. With MM driving many new players into the format, the demand on the existing supply will increase noticeably, and the influx of cards will not be enough to stem the tide.

What about the cards that weren’t in Modern Masters though? The mere fact that a card wasn’t in MM could be enough to drive a price increase, resulting in their being even more susceptible to popping than the cards reprinted. Granted, Wizards hit a lot of the staples – they couldn’t just print every single format-playable card – so there’s plenty of room to look for opportunity. If our goal is to get in ahead of market shifts, we need to evaluate the current price point of cards alongside their utility, price points of similar cards, and availability.

Chord of Calling. (c) 2005 Wizards of the Coast.
Chord of Calling. (c) 2005 Wizards of the Coast.

The banner card for this effect is Chord of Calling. It used to be only a few dollars, and then early on in Modern’s lifespan it jumped up to $10-12. A while ago several financial types on Twitter pegged it as likely to rise, and by the Monday after GP Vegas, the card had nearly doubled to upwards of $20.

I would guess the ceiling on this is maybe $25 or even $30 if it sees a brief resurgence in Modern.  However, it’s not played in any other format aside from EDH, and while it’s good in Modern, it’s only good in certain types of decks.  Still, this card’s new price tag is probably not dipping much below $20. I’m not advocating you buy in on this card in particular; rather, it illustrates what can happen when seemingly underpriced cards are suddenly noticed by the market or vendors.

One group of prime targets for this is the Scars of Mirrodin Fastlands. Shortly after their rotation, all were in the $1.50 to $4.00 range. They’ve snuck up a bit since then, and I expect they’ve got plenty of room to grow. There 3 most commonly played land cycles in the format are the Zendikar Fetchlands, the Shocklands, and the Fastlands. The Fetches are all $25-$40 (more on that in an upcoming article), and the Shocks used to all be $20+ until seeing a massive reprint in RTR. Even still the shocks are all $7-$10, and by the start of the next Modern PTQ season they will see pressure to rise on two fronts – both from being the out-of-print land in standard, as well as PTQ-goers needing to finish their playsets. Those two factors will likely push them all into the $15-$20+ range. This leaves the Fastlands as the third most played cycle in the format at a lowly $3-$5. I doubt we’ll see them as high as $20, but they could easily crest $10. Recall that Jund typically played about the same number of Fastlands as shocks, as did the Birthing Pod decks. Any aggressive deck will fill up with on-color Fastlands as well.

Speaking of Birthing Pod, this is another card that seems poised to at least double. Ask anyone familiar with the Modern format what the best deck currently is, and there’s a real good possibility the answer is going to include this card. Whether the flavor of the week is Kiki-Jiki or Melira, they’re still both using four Birthing Pod.

Birthing Pod as of June 27, 2013
Birthing Pod as of June 27, 2013

This is one of those cards that only gets better as more creatures are printed (which is how Chord of Calling works as well, by the way). Birthing Pod decks provide a great deal of strategic value, and can be tuned to just about any metagame should the pilot desire. It’s been slowly creeping up since its rotation, and $10-$15 doesn’t seem unreasonable down the road.

There are a plethora of cards that fall into the same category as Chord of Calling, the Fastlands and Birthing Pod. Keep an eye out for them as you browse Modern deck lists, trade binders, and Gatherer. Anytime you think to yourself “hmm that card seems cheaper than I thought it would be,” consider that a flag to closely examine the card’s potential.

Join me next week when we consider safe investments in a post-reserved list format.

Thursday: Common Cents with Aaron Dettmann

Karn Liberated as of Feb 13, 2013
Karn Liberated as of Feb 13, 2013

After the pro-tour this weekend, we will be in the thick of Modern season. With Bloodbraid Elf and Seething Song being banned, people are looking for the next best deck, and are buying accordingly. There have already been several Modern cards that have skyrocketed (sometimes inexplicably) in price, so I’ll identify some other cards that have the potential to do the same.

First, let’s look at some of the Modern cards that have shot up in price in the past month.

I’ll start off with the great puzzler of them all: Marrow-Gnawer. This card has risen from a mere $5 to being worth almost $15 virtually overnight. What can I say; I guess Ogre Slumlord was the card that put Marrow-Gnawer over the top. Or maybe Marrow-Gnawer was underpriced all along and has enough casual appeal to sustain this new price tag. Whatever the reason, I was happy to ditch my copies for $11 to get out while the price was still high.

Now for cards that are commonly played in Modern decks:

Cryptic Command has gone up 59% in a month; from around $22 in January to its current $35 price tag. This card is used most notably in Scapeshift decks, but can also be found in Splinter Twin and in a variety of control decks. Its necessity in Scapeshift, combined with its utility in other decks, explains its price increase.

Vendilion Clique (up from $40 to $50), Aven Mindcensor ($4 to $7), and Celestial Colonnade ($3 to

Celestial Colonnade as of Feb 13, 2013

Celestial Colonnade as of Feb 13, 2013

$7) have all increased because of the new W/U/R American Midrange deck that won back-to-back online PTQs a few weeks ago. This deck has continued to place fairly well in the subsequent PTQs, so expect these cards to maintain their value.

Karn Liberated has been the big winner so far, as its price has nearly tripled when it gained $24 jumping from $15 to its current price of $39. The Tron deck plays a full four copies of Karn Liberated, and it is the centerpiece of that deck. Many people are expecting this deck to become a big player now that its worst match, Storm, has been eliminated from the metagame. Karn had been slowly creeping up in price, but really took off after the bannings were announced in Modern. People being keen to play this deck also help explain why Oblivion Stone and Grove of the Burnwillows have seen modest price increases as well.

Now for the cards I suggest you invest in:

Birthing Pod, like Karn Liberated, is also the centerpiece of a deck (two decks, actually: Kiki-Pod and Melira-pod), and they also play the full four copies of Birthing Pod. Now granted, Birthing Pod has seen print in an Event Deck, but the fact remains that people who want to play this deck must obtain four copies of the card. The increased availability from being printed in an Event Deck is offset by the fact that the card was originally printed in the 3rd set of a block, so not as many packs were opened of New Phyrexia compared to the 1st and 2nd sets in drafts. Birthing Pod, at its current price of under $4, is a steal.

Splinter Twin is another sub-$5 card that is the focus of a tier-1 deck. Twin decks also play four copies of the card, which increases the demand for it. Splinter Twin has already seen a modest increase of a dollar, but I feel the true price ascent is yet to come.

As cards across the board for Modern are going up in price, I find it hard to believe that Birthing Pod and Splinter Twin won’t soon follow suit.

Spellskite. (c) 2013 Wizards of the Coast
Spellskite. (c) 2013 Wizards of the Coast

The last card I was going to write about was Spellskite; unfortunately, this article comes a little late to the party on that card. Between last week, when I planned what I was going to write about, and this week, Spellskite has increased by $5: from $4 last week to now over $9. This is more of a utility card, but it is so universally found across many different decks that it was primed for a price increase. Most Twin and Pod decks play a copy or two of Spellskite in the maindeck, with extras in the board. In addition to that, Spellskite is also among the most valuable sideboard tools at combating not only Twin decks, but also Burn decks as well. Since it is colorless, any deck that wants the attributes Spellskite provides can play it without hesitation. Because of both its effectiveness, usefulness in a variety of situations, and the fact that any deck can play it, I figured that Spellskite was due to rise in price.

Hopefully this article gives you some food for thought as the rest of the Modern season plays out.