Tag Archives: #mm2015

Pick it or Ship it: Financial Decisions with Modern Masters 2015

By: Houston Whitehead

With my recent trip to Vegas, I struggled to come up with a Vegas relevant finance topic to write about while Modern Masters 2015 singles prices are falling to their predicted, yet affordable, prices.  A popular uproar over the weekend was Pascal Maynard’s foil Tarmogoyf pick over Burst Lightning in Sunday’s Top 8 draft.  As a player that doesn’t have a sponsorship to unlock an almost infinite card pool for constructed events or paid entry fees for wearing a T-shirt, the foil Tarmogoyf was an easy pick. But not every player is like me.  From an objective point of view…

goyl gp top8…was Pascals Decision Right or Wrong?

Both.  When it comes to picking the strategically correct card for a deck, the choice easily whittles down to one or two cards. But when you add card value to the mix, only the player drafting knows the correct card to pick. You can be rich, poor, have foil constructed deck preference, non-foil constructed deck preference, need one more to make a playset, or no need to collect.  All are viable reasons to pick a valuable card.  With the variable of price, any opinion besides the drafter is irrelevant.

This got me thinking, where is the threshold between picking the money rare and shipping the money for a main deck playable?  If we can’t calculate a system, what guidelines can be applied to turn a grey answer into a black and white answer?

Modern Masters 2015 has tested this threshold more than any other set (because pulling a chase mythic in the first Modern Masters felt next to impossible).  I sat down Saturday morning to receive my sealed pool for the GP Vegas main event. With no byes, I opted not to purchase the sleep in special that would exclude me from passing my registered pool.  I remember thinking to myself, “Please, don’t open well.  I don’t want to be forced to drop.”  I told myself I would only drop if I pulled a foil Tarmogoyf no matter what the pool was.  I came to play.  Also, it’s frowned upon to drop before passing pools but that’s another topic for another day.  During the first draft of day two, I recall thinking up a similar sentence before looking at my first bare booster pack.  I dodged these hard decisions all the way up till the second draft.  Thumbing to the back I see an orange Modern Masters icon surrounded by a blue border.  It was a Vendilion Clique. My heart somehow fluttered and sank at the same time knowing it was time for a hard decision.  Thankfully, Clique is playable in limited, but Spectral v clique vegasProcession was the card in the pack I’d rather start the draft with.  Seeing no other playable white in the pack and only mediocre cards in the other colors, I decided to take the Clique and force my neighbor into white.  The next pack had two tier 1 white cards so I took one and cut his white the rest of the draft.  Obviously, my decision happened at the beginning of the draft and was also a playable card in any deck that plays blue but soon after blue went dry and I settled in W/B Spirits (my favorite archetype).

The point of the story is…I broke my own rule.  I told myself the only thing that trumps taking an off color money card is a foil Tarmogoyf.  Some say rules are made to be broken, but I still feel going into a Modern Masters 2015 draft with a set of rules can only be beneficial to not only save time but also help keep a clear conscious for the rest of the tournament.

Here are a few examples/options:

  • I will only take ‘X’ card(s) over the best pick
  • I will only take cards than surpass the first place prize.
  • I will pick the best card to benefit my limited unless it’s a card I need for a Modern constructed deck.
  • I will take anything over pack value ($10)

toughAs silly as it might seem to make rules for picking or shipping money cards, it really does help me enjoy my draft experience and overall minimized my feeling of regret when you lose to land screw in the first round.

Sometimes other factors come into play that can bend/discards these rules, like the following:

  • The money card is the #2 pick in the pack, like my situation, and its playability helps justify the pick.
  • Only picking the best cards for your limited deck to give yourself the best shot at reaching a goal (winning your first draft, prizing at a GP, earning an invite to a Pro Tour Qualifier (PTQ) or winning an Invitational Qualifier (IQ)).
  • Could open a door to an archetype you like. Ex: Mostly green with a few blue picks pack one for graft and opening an Eldrazi and switching to G/R ramp and looking for Savage Twister and basic land cycling commons.


We all want to pull money rares AND win the draft.  Sadly, the booster packs don’t cater toward that type of lifestyle.  Drafts are already full of tough decisions.  The more valuable a set it, the more decisions are added to the pile.  Having some list of guidelines before I sit down at the table helps me enjoy the game, draft experience, and the opening of each lottery ticket aka booster packs.

As always thanks for reading



Financial Five: Modern Masters 2015

By: Houston Whitehead

Though the majority of the MTG community seems to be in an uproar about the amount of value placed in Modern Masters 2015, profit can still be accumulated.  As with many sets, cracking cardboard lottery tickets to push out those last few proxies in your Modern deck is not a road worth traveling.  In fact, I wouldn’t take a road at all.  I want to sit in a lawn chair off the beaten path with sunscreen on my nose and wait for the tidal wave of Modern Masters 2015 singles to wreck the complacent prices that have become accepted as part of a Modern player’s life.

The Twist

Normally, a Financial Five article will cover five new cards from an upcoming release I deem to possess profitable potential.  Since Modern Masters 2015 contains 100% reprints, we already know many of the roles it plays or decks lists play four copies.

We all know…

…reprints bring prices down (unless you’re Tarmogoyf).

…format staple prices will recover over time (proven by the first Modern Masters).

…Modern will never be as cheap as you want it to be.

So this time on Financial Five, we’re going to discuss five cards worth picking up at the bottom of their financial decent that also have the most potential to recover over time.

Cryptic Command (TCG Mid $41)cryptic mm

From four copies in the UWR Control deck down to a double copy in Splinter Twin variants, it’s the Swiss army knife every blue player loves and everyone else hates.  The top shelf $60 price tag was simply out of reach for anyone wanting to dip their toes into Modern with being forced to play the handful of budget aggro decks.  During the early months of 2014 (six months after the Modern Master release) Cryptic sat at an understandable $25.  I think the 2015 print will bring it back to that desirable price and slowly start to creep back up as early as the Origins release.  Pick up $25 or under.


Karn Liberated (TCG Mid $36)karn mm

Starting at $50, Karn has already taken a couple steps down but I don’t think he’s done yet.  Though he honestly only sees competitive play in TRON variants, I think Commander players will have a large influence on recovering his price.  Though the recovery will be slower than Modern staples, like Cryptic Command or Noble Hierarch, I think he will land $25 or under and creep up in the long run. Pick up $25 or under.

Splinter Twin (TCG Mid $21)splinter twin

Love it, hate it, or still want it banned, we have to respect the power of Splinter Twin.  Over the last year this card alone has spawned so many variants you’d have to go to college to count that high.  It’s the definition of a format staple and a worthy reprint.  Twin’s price wasn’t out of control yet but was clearly teetering on the edge.  I expect the bottom price to land around $10 and stay close to it for the next year. Pick up $10 or under.

Spellskite (TCG Mid $21)spellskite

This little 0/4 has been the chief of Splinter Twin’s security detail for close to three years.  It’s won over a slot in Modern and Legacy Infect lists and, more importantly, can take a bolt.  Though Spellskite’s price has been increasing faster than Meandering Towershell, I still feel a $10 price tag should be the lowest it will go before heading back up. Pick up $25 $10 or under and your future sideboards will thank you.

Noble Hierarch (TCG Mid $41)noblehierarch mm

Let’s be honest, this price was getting WAY out of hand. I doubt Modern Masters 2015 will drop Noble low enough to satisfy every Modern player, but she sees too much competitive play to fall into a $10 range.  I honestly feel $30 will be a reasonable price to go in at.  You could get greedy and wait for a lower bottom but it won’t take long for the price to ascend quickly after hitting the bottom.  Its existence in Infect, Zoo, and a variety of Junk (Abzan) decks will welcome all those looking to investing in Modern therefore keeping her demand high.  If supply can’t keep up with all the new Modern players she might be back at $50 before you know it. Pick up $30 or under.

Wrap Up

I’m excited for the Modern Masters 2015 Limited format but don’t feel popping open $10 lottery tickets have enough to reward me financially.  I think attacking trade binders and single cases is the best way to unlock those decks you have been wanting to pilot.  I’m still thankful for the Modern Masters series Wizards of the Coast is printing though.  Las Vegas weekend is going to be one for the record books.

If you’re attending Grand Prix Las Vegas and want to meet, hit me up on Twitter.

As always thanks for reading