Tag Archives: Jim Casale

Grinder Finance – Analyzing Buyouts

price of std

Right?  The price of the winning deck at the SCG Standard Classic in Cincinnati was $555.  Two of the decks in the Top 8 cost about $200 and weren’t a red aggro deck, so we’re making some progress.  But that’s not what people are really up in arms about anymore.

It feels like everyone is all of a sudden surprised that cards started going up in price again.  With the announcement that SCG Cincinnati was the LARGEST Open in the history of SCG with over 1,000 competitors, I’m not surprised.  Oh, it was also a Modern Open.  Sorry Legacy fans, I don’t think this is your year.

Why calling price increases a buyout is bad

The reason cards go up and stay up in price is almost never due to buyouts.  It’s so impossibly hard to buy enough copies of a card to control the market price due to sheer volume.

What's not happening
What’s not happening

Nobody is getting rich off of artificially inflating the price of cards by buying a large amount of the market.  Eventually you have to find someone to sell them or you might end up just losing money.  The reason cards are increasing in price is either due to increased demand or dwindling supply.  Let’s take a look at some examples and figure out the difference.

Increased Demand

eldrazi temple eye of ugin

Steady as she goes then boom.  If you have been keeping up with the Eldrazi in Modern, this has been a “deck” for like a month. Some people won’t buy in until they see it on camera so you had time to get in cheaply.  Actually even very recently.  I don’t buy cards to get a quick buck but I had identified this as a problem early.

eye of ugin tweet

Let’s take a look at the 10th place finisher at the SCG Open this past weekend here.  Oh hey a deck that plays more than 1 Eye of Ugin and a full set of Eldrazi Temples?  The deck is also fairly cheap if you don’t include the $200 spent on the two (theoretically unnecessary) Liliana of the Veil.  Hell there is an even more budget version of the deck (here) that plays a mono-black shell and some more Standard legal bulk rares to beat people with the power of Eye of Ugin and Eldrazi Temple.  The reason we’re seeing spike here is due to REAL demand.  If a few thousand players buy 3-4 copies of Eye of Ugin and 4 copies of Eldrazi Temple people will notice and prices will increase.  It’s clear vendors feel this is a real price increase because buylist price jumps follow almost immediately.

But what happens from here?  Well other cards are going to get more expensive in the deck as people start to build and play it.  I’d recommend working on the harder to find cards like Inquisition of Kozilek and Relic of Progenitus and then getting the cards with Standard demand (like Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger and Oblivion Sower).  But please don’t go on twitter and decree that MTG finance is the reason why you can’t build the deck for pennies on the dollar now.  If anything it’s MTG finance that is keeping the retail stores on their toes and keeping the market fluid.  We may see a drop in price in the next few days as more copies enter the market but I don’t see a return to pre-spike prices and that’s okay.

Low Supply

gaddock teeg glen elendra archmage

These are not buyouts.  They’re not caused by a nefarious group of people trying to make Séance happen.  It’s clear from the graphs that multiple months of increasing buy and sell prices has just hit the “bubble” where a small increase just doesn’t get the product flowing.  Both of these cards are from Lorwyn Block and Glen Elendra only had a tiny reprint in Modern Masters.   Eventually vendors or TCGPlayer reach a breaking point where they will violently increase both prices because the market is demanding it.  This can look like a buyout because if there are 12 copies on TCG player and none in stock at retail stores it causes people to panic buy.  The reality of these spikes is they will be back down a little in the next few weeks but they will never be their pre-spike price.  This sort of price correction is really the wakeup call that leads a lot more supply to the market and is generally healthy after the first day of markups.

How to react to these price increases

Don’t panic.  Please whatever you do, don’t panic buy cards.  If anything goes up over 200-300% in one day it is so hard for it to stay that high.  Just wait a few days for the cheaper copies to reach vendors and then you can pick up your copy for less than the buying frenzy prices.  If you buy into hype you only become the greater fool and end up losing the most money.  That’s pretty much the definition of anti-value, so don’t do it!

If you’re trying to save money for cards then watch price trends.  Standard cards flat line in December and then pick up again at the beginning of the next year.  If the card you’re watching is going up $0.20-$0.30 per day (which is hard to really see) then you are better off buying in sooner.  Sometimes there is buyer’s remorse if a card gets reprinted but you stand to lose so much more money by waiting that it’s silly to wait too long in a lot of cases.

Cards to keep an Eye on

  • Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger had 12 copies in the top 32 of SCG Cincinnati.  That’s a lot of a Standard Mythic at a Modern event.  Ali Aintrazi (affectionately known as Ali Eldrazi) even went so far as to play three Ulamog and zero Emrakul.
  • Spellskite is 100% going to be an “oh shit I wish I bought this card earlier” card this year.  It’s only gone up since the reprint in Modern Masters 2015 and I don’t see it getting printed again soon.
  • Literally anything in Modern.  There is another Modern Open in Charlotte next weekend and then three weeks later is the Modern Pro Tour.  This hype train has a long track ahead of it to gain steam before more things explode in price like Scalding Tarn.
  • We may see some weird prices on the weekend with no events.  There is no event (GP or SCG Open) the weekend after the Pro Tour.  It will be interesting to see what happens to cards that weekend.

Grinder Finance – A New Frontier

Last week we looked into the year that was.  This week I want to take a look at the year that may be.  This year will be uncharted territory for the Magic community and especially for MTG Finance.  There have been golden rules related to the time of year.  There was one rotation per year in September and the summer before ushered in a huge sell off in the oldest Standard cards.  Now we have two rotations, once in September and one in April.  How will that affect the normal trends of card prices?  There is also another elephant in the room.  There isn’t significant growth in the size of the player base.  For the past year it has been pretty clear to me that Wizards is trying to sell more product to the same number of people.  This may have some impacts on otherwise “safe” picks from the past year’s standard.


We learned about the new rotation over a year ago.  Let’s revisit it to refresh everyone’s mind.

Source http://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/mm/metamorphosis
Source http://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/mm/metamorphosis

This is the old rotation.  Blocks were 3 sets and then a core set was released and then the following set caused a rotation.  This meant that fall sets had 2 years in standard and that amount of time decreased until the core set (which spent the least amount of time in standard).

Source http://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/mm/metamorphosis
Source http://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/mm/metamorphosis

The new Standard has a rotation every other set.  Every beginning of a block causes two sets to rotate out and one set to rotate in.  This means there will be an increased significance of the spring and summer set (as they stay in Standard just as long as the fall and winter sets).  The real question for us is when do people begin to sell off their cards?

sphinx's rev

Let’s take a look a card who’s price was entirely impacted by Standard.  If you wanted to get rid of your Revelations before they made their final descent, you needed to sell them in March of 2014.  That card did not rotate out of Standard until September, meaning people began selling off a full 6 months before rotation.

Khans of Tarkir cards rotate with the release of Shadows Over Innistrad in April.  If cards followed that same trajectory then I’d have to assume we’re already almost two months too late.

crackling doom mantis rider

I’m inclined to believe the boat is missed.  While these cards are almost bulk rares at this point,  I don’t advocate holding onto anything that has value left from Khans of Tarkir and Fate Reforged.  There is almost no upside in the release of Oath of the Gatewatch.

abrupt decay

Look at Abrupt Decay.  It rotated at around $13.  Right now you can find copies at retail for $11.50 (Strike Zone).  While there was a period in between you could have got out at a profit, it’s clear that dealer confidence is low and buylists reflect that.  There was also never a point where the best buylist was above the retail cost at rotation.  Now there is the possibility this is just part of the end of year slump and we see $20 Abrupt Decays July.


This is the year of the Thoughtseize.  What happens to it?  Buy price is plummeting, now out of even double digits.  Are there just too many Thoughtseizes?  Is its rotation out of Standard actually detrimental to it’s long-term price?  It’s hard to tell but it’s something to watch.  We might see a lot more seasonal ebbs and flows with Modern legal cards printed in Return to Ravnica and newer sets.  So much sealed product of those sets was available that it’s impossible for cards to retain their pre-rotation value even if they are eternal playable if there are just too many of them.  It’s possible the card will never recover to it’s $25 height-of-Standard price tag.


I haven’t done anything but eyeball it, but fellow MTG Finance writer Saffron Olive says Legacy staples are down (for the first time ever) 0.4% year over year (Source).  I’m not expecting that to change.  With the increase support of Modern and the decreased support of Legacy at a local and global level it’s hard for people to justify thousands of dollars in decks they can play maybe three times per year.  Wizards has only announced one Legacy GP and Star City Games has announced one Legacy open in the first third of the year.  Assuming there are two more opens in 2016, that gives North America only four major Legacy events in the year compared to six Opens and one Grand Prix last year.  This doesn’t count international Grands Prix (which were not on the same date as they are this year) and the Invitational or Player’s Championship.  I foresee drops to continue as long as support for the format drops nationally.  While it may be thriving in your local area, it is so hard to start grass roots support for such an expensive format.  I don’t really want to elaborate anymore on my feelings but I think we will see another year of Modern replacing Legacy as the non-rotating format of choice for a lot of players.

The Future of Making Money

With the print runs of recent sets, it’s hard to find a reason these days to invest in a Standard legal pack.  When you look at the difference between sealed boxes of Return to Ravnicai versus sealed boxes of Innistrad it’s easy to see where things changed.  Conventional wisdom of sitting on any kind of sealed product is no longer true.  I would by proxy say holding most singles from those sets is also a poor idea.  My interests now are in limited print run products.  Modern Masters sets, From the Vaults and promotions like Zendikar Expeditions are the safest places to hold money because we don’t know what the future will hold.  If you really want to trade Standard cards into other Standard cards I would suggest looking into foils.  Those are similar to limited print run products in terms of scope.  The buy and sell prices of Foil Thoughtseizes have been basically flat since July which is a start contrast to the rise and fall of non-foil Thoughtseizes that may just never recover.

Into the Unknown

I don’t think anyone could factually back up any claims on the future.  I am suggesting we consider our options and look to the past for some theories.  I don’t know how players will enjoy or dislike the new rotation but it will definitely be a defining part of the 2016 Magic landscape.

Grinder Finance – Kozilek’s Return

shrine art

Another Eldrazi Titan has entered the mix.  The one they called “Cosi” finally joins the battle.  What does he bring with him?  A wealth of options.

Ok real talk, since everyone else on MTGprice is probably going to cover the expeditions I’m gonna take some time to talk about some Standard cards.  My column is for the player, by a player.  As I jokingly said during our impromptu podcast (found here) with fellow MTGprice.com writers, Jeremy AaransonTravis Allen, and Douglas Johnson, not a lot of MTG Finance people play a ton of Magic.  There is some extra value in owning cards when you play with them.

sphinxofthefinalword crushoftentacles

Bad news blue players.  We probably have 2 bulk mythic rares right here.  Crush of Tentacles looks a lot like an Upheaval but the reality is it’s almost always worse to cast than Ugin.  Until Shadows over Innistrad this is likely to be a bulk rare.  Part the Waterveil sees “some” play and is still barely breaking the bulk bins at $2. I won’t waste too many words because Sphinx of the Final Word does not deserve many words.


Now we’re cooking with gasoline.  I think Nissa might be in an awkward spot because on it’s face value, it’s probably worse than Nissa, Vastwood Seer at the moment.  They are the same mana cost and this Nissa is more difficult to cast.  That being said, I’m pretty sure there will be some Nissa/Gideon deck coming in the fall of 2016 so we will want to look at the summer as the time to pick her up.   As with most Planeswalkers, this card will probably start pre-ordering for too much and be half the price by the next set.


World Breaker.  It’s simple, elegant, powerful.  This card looks like a literal Giant Spider Eldrazi but it’s really a lot more than that.  There is a high demand for 7+ mana colorless creatures (especially Eldrazi).  Despite the green mana symbol this guy is immune to the same removal that Kozilek himself dodges.  This mini-Ulamog plays a lot like a Pearl Lake Ancient that also plays pretty good defense.  I’m certain there are a lot of Eldrazi ramp decks that are fine trading a land for one of their opponent’s every turn.  All in all I think this guy will be too good to be $3 but probably not good enough to be $10.  Maybe if I get some camera time in Atlanta after the set comes out I can show you how good he will be.


You remember how I said 7 mana Eldrazi are a big deal?  The Eldrazi ramp deck really wants to ramp once on 3 and twice on 4 giving you access to 7-8 mana on turn 5.  This card can nicely fit into your 4th turn after a Hedron Archive and then can be “flashed back” to finish up any non-Eldrazi threats your opponents may have.  Being an instant is a big deal because it allows you to deal with some otherwise awkward threats.  This can kill dash creatures like Zurgo and Lightning Berserker and smaller manlands like the new R/W manland.  It’s also an answer to Jace that can also kill Dragonlord Ojutai and Dragonlord Silumgar.  It can also sweep up Thopter tokens that are otherwise particularly difficult for Ugin to kill.  I expect this card to be very popular even after Ugin rotates.  This card could pre-order for as much as $15 and that would be really unfortunate because I think longer term it’s probably a $5-8 card for it’s life in Standard.


Yeah this isn’t Elspeth Sun’s Champion.  While we are more likely to take off the CMC Glasses now on 6+ mana planeswalkers, this one just doesn’t do enough right now to justify playing.  I am, however, a big fan of foils.  This card’s 0 ability has a lot of application in EDH and works great in a host of popular Izzet commander decks (Niv-Mizzet the Firemind is where she shines the most).  I dont think this card has “what it takes” to get it done in standard.  I’m pretty miffed the elementals aren’t even real Spark Elementals.  They don’t have trample.  Over all  I think this is a card you want to avoid for more than $6 or $15 for foils.


I’d say traitor-schmaitor but this guy looks like the real deal.  He should be able to single handedly bring Roast back into the fold and propel flying creatures to the front of play.  While the 4 drop spot is pretty hard to get into, I think this guy following a Drana will be an unsual 1-2 punch that will leave Black aggro decks able to pull ahead of removal efficient Red aggro decks.  With the addition of more Zombies and Vampires in Shadows over Innistrad I think this guy has a lot of upside.  We’ll have to wait for preorder pricing to start tricking in but I’m a believer at $10 or less.  Without more spoilers, it’s hard to tell if this guy will be good enough without additional tribal support.

Cards that get better with the Spoilers:


Oh hey, you remember this bulk mythic?  Well with Kalitas asking you to play more Zombies and Shadows over Innistrad due to bring more competitive Zombies into the fold, this guy might get a lot better.  As I’ve said earlier, there is a lot of competition at the 4 drop slot so maybe he doesn’t quite get there right away but it’s early enough that you can get in him trades or dig him out of bulk boxes in preparation for Shadows over Innistrad.


Oh yeah.  Eldrazi is a fringe playable deck (it’s actually bonkers if your local meta game isn’t swarming with Atarka Red) that will survive two rotations.  I find it hard to believe these 2 lands will continue to stay sub $1 as color fixing continues to get worse and colorless cards continue to get better.

The Painful Truth


This card is the real deal.  Showing up in Standard (when your other card draw options are Dig Through Time and Treasure Cruise – Both of which are banned in Modern and Legacy), Modern, and Legacy is a key to long term success.  This card is a buck now and if you ever intend to play black, I can’t imagine not owning a set.

The Modern lands


Do you own all of these yet?  What are you waiting for?  I don’t know if this is the year they go up but I can’t imagine they continue to fall from here.  I  might write this again in July with a big “I told you so” but even if I don’t, you don’t lose anything by buying now.  If buying all 4 is too much, you can look at Derek Madlem‘s article describing the minimum number you need to stay competitive.

That’s all Folks

With the culmination of this article, I think we have 1-2 weeks of solid downward pressure on prices and then the bottom will become apparent.  I can’t recommend enough making sure you have purchased all that you need before this lull is over.

Next week (or the week after) I will be interviewing a local player turned card shop owner.  Do you have any questions you’d like to ask a binder grinder that has taken the step into a business owner?  Leave them in the comments below!

Grinder Finance – One win from the Pro Tour

While you usually come here to see my articles about MTG Finance, Corbin suggested I take the week off to talk about playing in Grand Prix Pittsburgh.  While I didn’t end up getting a Pro Tour invite from this past weekend, I did learn a lot about using your time wisely in a tournament.  And everyone knows time is money.

What did I play?

visual decklist

I played Naya Burn and for a very good reason.  My mental and physical fortitude was going to be tested in 15 or more rounds of Magic.  If you are not an expert Modern player, it’s hard to recommend any deck that is likely to go to time in the round throughout the tournament.  Burn has a pretty favorable matchup against most of the popular decks in the format.  Almost every 3 color deck is a walk in the park due to the pain from the mana base.  If and when a Scars styled fastland comes out for UR or BG combinations this may not be true.  You can compete with non-interactive combo decks like Bloom, Storm, Ad Nausem, and Goryo’s Vengeance decks by relying on a quick clock and Eidolon of the Great Revel.  Tron typically beats up on your worst matchups and often can’t mount any kind of defense before turn 3.  The move toward Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy and away from heavy counter spell decks made Burn a great choice for this weekend.

Card choices

I didn’t play Wild Nacatl.  While I think there is some place for “Cat Burn,” I don’t think this is a good time to be playing it.  The fact that Nacatl doesn’t have haste and people are more likely to have an answer before it can attack means it is often a liability.  The Searing Blazes over performed all weekend.  There are not many decks that have no targets but when you are able to get landfall, it is a complete blowout.  You are more likely to lose to decks that block your Goblin Guide than those that kill it.  Also, unlike Draconic Roar, you can’t counter Searing  Blaze by sacrificing the targeted creature.

The Sideboard

To be honest, some matches I didn’t sideboard any cards.  I may have gone a little overboard on things I didn’t end up playing.

  • Searing Bloods are great against the mirror, Elves, Affinity, Birds of Paradise decks, and are reasonable against infect. I wanted to make sure my good matchups stayed good and had some flexible cards for bad ones.
  • Deflecting Palm is a card that I think is pretty underrated as a sideboard option. It’s pretty good against Emrakul, Griselbrand, Tarmogoyf, Wurmcoil Engine, and Eidolon of the Great Revel, and Valakut the Molten Pinnacle but you have to be in a pretty vulnerable position to use it.   The downside is it’s miserable to draw more than one.
  • Molten Rain on the play is good against some decks. I don’t bring them in on the draw as they tend to be too slow and difficult to cast.  On the play it can punish a 3 color deck, Tron, or Amulet just long enough to get a win.
  • Destructive Revelry was fine this weekend. 4 is probably too many but I didn’t draw any against Affinity.
  • Smash to Smithereens is great against Tron and Affinity. It’s really just a 5th Destructive Revelry in those matchups.
  • Path to Exile was great. I think 3 is just the right number.  Drawing 2 feels miserable but drawing one is usually a blow out.  It’s not as clean as Self-Inflicted Wound against Tarmogoyf but I like it’s flexibility more.  I typically bring them in against anything Tarmogoyf decks, Twin, Tron (on the draw only), and any deck I suspect will play Kitchen Finks or Kor Firewalker.

Missing notables

  • Kor Firewalker is only really good in the mirror. You aren’t guaranteed to draw one and there are many other axis you can fight the mirror on.  My plan was to bring in Searing Blood and Deflecting Palm to keep their creatures off the board and counter their burn spells.
  • Blood Moon is too hard to cast. It doesn’t really do anything unless you have a creature in play and then it’s only marginally impactful.
  • Ancient Grudge may be a consideration next time. It doesn’t do any damage like Revelry or Smash to Smithereens but you’re also not just dead to a Spell Pierce.
  • Rending Volley is just worse than Path to Exile most of the time. There’s no reason to play this.


Round 1: Bye on Nothing – It was a tough battle but I managed to pull out a 2-0 win.  He shamefully dropped after the round.

Record 1-0

Round 2: Luke Bartosik on R/G Tron – This is a great way to start a tournament.  I won the die roll and proceeded to ruin his morning by attacking before his first turn with Goblin Guide.  His natural turn 3 Tron had no Wurmcoil Engine so the game ended shortly there after.  Game 2 he made a mistake of cracking his Expedition map using the colorless from both of his Grove of the Burnwillows.  This gave me an opportunity to seal the deal without fear of a Nature’s Claim.

Record 2-0

Round 3: Roman Fusco on Jund:  This was another great matchup for me.  An early creature followed by a flurry of burn spells ended game 1.  Game 2 I played an Eidolon after taking 6 damage from my lands by turn 2.  I then proceeded to take 8 damage from my Eidolon while my opponent cast a bunch of 4-6 mana spells.  The final Boros Charm put me to 3.

Record 3-0

Round 4: Matt Tumavitch on Affinity : This matchup is miserable if they draw a Cranial Plating or a Vault Skirge.  This matchup is usually unwinnable if they draw both.  Vault Skirge dispatched me quickly.

Record 3-1

Round 5: Ben Rasmussen on Jund: Okay back to Tarmogoyf and friends.  Game 1 went better than excepted as he got stuck on 1 land and Goblin Guide showed him his future of no additional lands.  Game 2 was rather close, I suspended two rift bolts with him at 4, expecting to win short of a Thragtusk.  After he -2 Liliana of the Veil targeting himself (sacrificing Kitchen Finks) and played Huntmaster I had to draw another spell to win the game.  Luckily, my deck is ~ 50% spells that do damage to my opponent.

Record 4-1

Round 6: Eric Feltner on Temur Twin: Three color mana bases are great for me.  He won the die roll but lead by fetchling a Steam Vents with a Scalding Tarn to play Grim Lavamancer, essentially saving me a whole spell.  Blind Fetch / Shock is one of the easiest ways for Burn to get ahead even if they’re on the draw.  Game 2 he played a Scavenging Ooze and that is actually way more terrifying than Tarmogoyf in most situations.  I was lucky to dispatch is quickly with a Searing Blaze and picked up another win.

Record 5-1

Round 7: Eric Blanchet on UR Twin: This is the point in the article where I had to go back and write last names because I had two opponents in a row named Eric playing twin.  This match went to three games as Burn really has no ability to play around the combo.  The crucial turn in the last game was me deciding if I should suspend my Rift Bolt or leave my Sacred Foundry untapped to represent a removal spell.  Ultimately I couldn’t beat a counter spell and a twin and if he just had a counter spell then not suspending the Rift Bolt just makes my next turn worse.  I dodged the untap, twin and won on the back of overloading their counter magic with sorcery speed burn.

Record 6-1

Round 8: Aryeh Wiznitzer on R/G Tron:  The greatest hits keep on coming and after keeping a really awkward hand with only a Lavamancer as my only creature I take a quick game 1.  After game 1 we got deck checked and Aryeh, a competitor from the top 8 of Atlanta last weekend, lamented on his loss last round to Burn.  After we got our decks back and he mulliganed to 5, I was a favorite to take the match in record time.  My turn 1 Goblin Guide into turn 2 Smash to Smithereens on his Spellskite would have been hard to beat on 7.  After another good matchup, I am locked up to play tomorrow.

Record 7-1

Round 9: Stephen Berrios on Grixis Twin: I had not played this matchup yet but got slowly killed game 1 after keeping a 1 land hand and having it tapped multiple turns in a row by Pestermite and Deceiver Exarch.  Before the end of the game he played a Thought Scour on himself and put 2 Splinter Twin into his graveyard.  “Score one for the good guys,” I chided.  We had a short discussion on whether Twin or Burn was the good guy.  Game 2 I won with a turn 1 Goblin Guide into a turn 2 Eidolon of the Great Revel.  He declined to Terminate it on his main phase so when I attacked I was able to Boros Charm to keep it alive.  The damage is a wash (since the Eidolon gets in for another 2 and then deals 2 more on the next removal spell) unless he draws a big blocker or doesn’t play more 3 or less mana spells.  I ended up ahead in that exchange as his next turn was Snapcaster Mage + Lightning Bolt to kill the Eidolon.  Game 3 was another haste creature followed by a flurry of spells.  Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy makes these decks more likely to play removal than counter spells and makes it extremely difficult to interact with Burn.

Record 8-1

At the end of the first day I did better than expected.  A number of good matchups came my way and I only had to play against Affinity once.  I ran through the rain to the nearest sit down restaurant and stuffed my face before going to sleep.

Day 2:

Round 10: Richard Roberts on Jeskai Kiki-Twin?: I was pretty confused by his deck game 1 because he played a turn 1 Grim Lavamancer off of a fetchland and a shockland.  He didn’t draw any particularly relevant threats and played a Valorous Stance on his Grim Lavamancer when I went to Searing Blaze it.  I figure his deck doesn’t actually play counter magic and take game 1.  Game 2 I missed an opportunity to kill him when he played a Village Bell-Ringer with only red mana untapped.  Luckily he played a Restoration Angel the next turn and I was able to fire off 3 instant speed burn spells to kill him from 8.

Record 9-1

Round 11: Christopher Harabas on UR Twin:  I don’t have good notes on this match but it seems like Goblin Guide revealed multiple Splinter Twins which is never good for them.  Life pad says he probably died because he fetched at 5.  Sorry if you’re reading this Chris!

Record 10-1

Round 12: Robert Cucunato on Affinity: Wheels gotta fall off somewhere, right?  This match took 5 turns after I conceded to the unstoppable Vault Skirge with Cranial Plating.  The upside was I was able to use the other 40 minutes of this round to grab food and use the restroom.  It’s great to be playing burn, right?

Record 10-2

Round 13: Adam Schop on Jund:  This was another typical play all my spells and win the game sorta deal.  I took a minute to decided if I should cast spells on my turn or not and Adam encouraged me to play faster.  I’m not sure how to take that since the matchup took 20 minutes total but whatever.

Record 11-2

Round 14:  Charles League on Abzan Company:  Well if you thought Vault Skirge was bad, I won game 1 after my opponent played 3 Kitchen Finks!  I wasn’t sure if I was in Top 8 contention but I was feeling reasonably good after dispatching someone that gained 12 life that game.  Games 2 I almost lost immediately as he played a Kor Firewalker on turn 2 but a timely Path to Exile dispatched it.  I ended up unable to assemble the exact amount of burn required to kill him before he had infinite life.  Game 3 I kept a 1 land hand on the play with multiple 1 mana spells.  Unfortunately I was unable to draw a second land for many turns and put enough pressure to kill him before he gained infinite life.  Unfortunately decks that “gain infinite life” are a bad matchup.

Record 11-3

Round 15: Matthew Rayes on Grixis Control: Game 1 was one of the longest I had played all weekend.  We were both at 1 after I Searing Blazed his lethal Snapcaster Mage but his follow up Tasigur was better than the fetchland I drew.  Game 2 I got off to an early lead with a Goblin Guide followed by a Grim Lavamancer.  Overloading his removal early allowed both creatures to sneak in some damage and the remaining burn spells put the game away.  Game 3 I played a turn 1 Goblin Guide and his “removal spell” of choice was a Snapcaster Mage doing it’s best Ambush Viper impression.  Unfortunately for him I had the Searing Blaze that was greeted by a audible look of disbelief as he fell to 12 on my 2nd turn of the game.  A few Lava Spikes later and I was packing my cards up getting ready to get on the plane.

Final Thoughts

Modern is a fine format.  It definitely has some rock – paper – scissors type matchups which are unfortunate.  Luck has a lot to do with how often you will win or lose in large tournaments.  That being said, Lava Spike is pretty much the best spell in the deck.  It’s awkward in the fact that it’s a sorcery and only costs 1 mana so it’s very difficult to counter.  It also can’t be redirected to a Spellskite. I think this deck benefits a lot from the Vancouver Mulligan rule as I was able to frequently send back 4 land 3 spell hands and keep 3 land 3 spell hands.  I would recommend it to anyone looking to make a jump into Modern as it’s relatively inexpensive and extremely powerful.