Moving Forward After Modern Masters

Feature Article from Corbin Hosler
Corbin Hosler
3/30/2017 11:01:00 AM
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Modern Masters 2017 has come, and while it hasn't quite gone, the truth is we're now being inundated with Amonkhet previews, and that has shifted the conversation away from Modern Masters 2017. The product was a success in almost every consideration – it carried a bevy of much-reprints for Modern, had Damnation, had a lot of Commander staples, featured a great draft environment, had Damnation, was printed in enough quantity to keep players and stores happy, gave Pauper some new goodies, and plenty more.

Did I mention it had Damnation? It's about time.

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 Damnation
$21.32
$15.90
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VGMX Magic 2 $15.90
Achieve Gaming 5 $16.50
TD4W Games 2 $16.73
Rare Singles 1 $16.96
Had Matter Games 1 $17.00
JC Games 1 $17.00
PiracyGaming 1 $17.00

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One of the best parts of Modern Masters 2017 is what it has done for accessibility concerning Modern. Scalding Tarn and friends threw up an absolutely roadblock to players looking to enter the format, and while they're still not exactly cheap after the reprint, they are much more widely available. This reprint alone did more to increase Modern accessibility than anything since the creation of the format, and that includes what is now three Tarmogoyf reprints.

That's not all there was. We got Liliana of the Veil, Snapcaster Mage Blood Moon, Goblin Guide, Voice of Resurgence, Death's Shadow, Path to Exile, Abrupt Decay, Inquisition of Kozilek… the list goes on and on. It is the best thing to happen to Modern in years, and players are taking notice. We've seen prices over the past two weeks actually creep up on cards in Modern Masters 2017 despite the fact more and more product is being open. Players are savvy, and they recognize that the sale on Modern staples may not last long.

Plus plenty of cards not in the set have gone even more crazy. Mishra's Bauble, for instance, went from $20 to $40 in a matter of days, and it's not the only card to see movement. With so many key staples being in reprinted in Modern Masters 2017, players are rushing to pick up the other cards they need to complete their decks after opening a box or two of the newest set.

My goal today is simple: hit on some of the more important Modern cards that haven't been reprinted but are just as important to the format. The tricky thing about Modern is that every time it becomes more accessible, more players buy in and prices can quickly take off again, so while everyone else is looking at awesome Amonket previews (and they are sweet), you can probably save some money by rounding out your next Modern deck instead.

Burn Pieces

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Western Ohio Gaming 1 $9.69
Critical Hit FL 2 $10.15
OmahaMTG321 2 $10.20
four broke nerds 1 $10.26
CirclesOnCircles 1 $10.30
ShopOfMagic 1 $10.54
Taunting Elf Cards 1 $10.76

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Burn is one of the best decks in Modern right now, and just picked up a ton of reprints. Headlining the list is Goblin Guide, but Wooded Foothills and Arid Mesa are just as important. Heck, even Rift Bolt – what was a $2 common – is getting three copies printed in the Mind vs. Might Duel Deck.

Burn is, well, hot right now. Eidolon has already climbed above $10, but it may not even be done climbing. Meanwhile, Lava Spike is on the verge of becoming the next Serum Visions – a common that pushes past $5. It's over $3 right now, and climbing. Its last printing was in the original Modern Masters, and with so many players moving to Burn this is going to keep climbing.

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 Lava Spike
$4.89
$2.42
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Play More Games 1 $3.06
TD4W Games 1 $3.21
Don Palabras 1 $3.46
TerraCrux Games 2 $3.80
Snapcasters Gaming 2 $3.85
The Gypsies Den 2 $3.89
Emerald City Games 1 $3.95

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If you pull back and look at the Naya version of the deck, Atarka's Command sees a lot of play. Considering its counterpart Kolaghan's Command is $12 and still climbing (take note of that), it seems likely that Atarka's Command could also push well past its $7 pricetag.

Whatever flavor you prefer, Burn is well-positioned in Modern right now, and it's always a popular entry-level deck that, at least for now, actually has entry-level prices.

Ad Nauseam

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 Ad Nauseam
$10.57
$7.15
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TD4W Games 2 $7.15
Game Cafe 1 $8.02
Top Tier Games 1 $8.64
SE MN Gaming 4 $8.64
NW Gamers 1 $8.99
The magic den 1 $9.00
BanHammerCards 1 $9.35

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Ad Nauseam is a fascinating deck. It's the only creative use of Simian Spirit Guide in the format, but it's been through an interesting life cycle. Despite basically no major changes happening to the deck in years, things have cycled around to where it may actually be the best combo deck in the format.

And players have been flocking to it. Ad Nauseam – which for years was a bulk rare – is now $7 and climbing. As a one-printing rare dating back to Shards of Alara, there's not exactly a lot of supply out there for this one. Likewise, Lotus Bloom is pushing up there in price as well, and Simian Spirit Guide is on the verge of breaking $10, which it will before too long as players continue to feel the pull of drawing out their entire deck with impunity, their own life total irrelevant thanks to Angel's Grace or Phyrexian Unlife.

Lands

This is a pretty broad topic, but that's self-explanatory. The truth is there are a lot of land cycles that missed a reprint in Modern Masters 2017, and some of them see heavy Modern play.

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 Darkslick Shores
$10.35
$6.42
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End Boss 1 $8.51
The Game Shoppe 1 $8.86
Athoria Games 3 $8.89
Magic Cards Fast 1 $8.91
TerraCrux Games 1 $8.97
Magic Cards Fast 1 $9.38
Spell Bound 1 $9.62

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Darkslick Shores is sitting at an all-time high, and the entire cycle of ally-colored fastlands is sitting near their peaks. With no reprint on the horizon and no reason to expect them to see less play anytime soon, the window to pick these up at a reasonable price could be slipping.

There are so many other lands I could list in this section, because Modern has so many good ones that are in short supply. But if I had to make a shortlist, Eldrazi Temple would certainly be on it. Eldrazi are one of the decks better positioned against Death's Shadow, and players are moving in as a result. For that matter, the Oath of the Gatewatch Eldrazi should be picked up sooner rather than later if you think you may take up the Eldrazi.

Also a consideration is Inkmoth and Blinkmoth Nexus (Nexii?) Inkmoth is a four-of in all the Affinity decks that are going to be picking up in play, and while the card is already expensive at $20, there's not much to suggest that price is coming down anytime soon. As for Blinkmoth, the same logic applies, and fortunately it's only $5 so there's little downside in the staple.

Artifacts

Let's finish getting Affinity out of the way first. This is a great starting deck for Modern that scales with the skill of the pilot, and a lot of its key pieces dodged reprint. Mox Opal and Arcbound Ravager are already expensive, but again there's little reason to expect that to change anytime soon, so if this is the direction you're planning on going in Modern there's nothing to gain by waiting. Etched Champion, on the other hand, has remained relatively affordable but with Death's Shadow and Kolaghan's Command everywhere protection from colors is pretty important, and copies are making their way back into Affinity main decks.

Spellskite has leveled off after its reprint in Modern Masters 2015, and the all-around staple certainly isn't getting any worse – or much cheaper than its current price. Similarly but more under the radar is Relic of Progenitus – another staple sideboard card and one that is quietly $2 despite multiple reprints, most recently in Eternal Masters. This is exactly the kind of card that sneaks up to $5 when you're not paying attention, so with Eternal Masters still in binders this is one of those cards you should always have access to for the sideboard.

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 Relic of Progenitus
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$0.99
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Game Heroes 1 $0.99
Hypersonic Games 1 $1.25
Gametraders 2 $1.45
MegrimCards 1 $1.49
CriticalHitLLC 1 $1.49
Two Headed Games 1 $1.49
North Valley Games 1 $1.50

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Creatures

I'll start with my favorite: Merfolk. With Harbinger of the Tides being a pretty clean, if temporary, answer to Death's Shadow, the fish are making waves yet again. There are a lot of moderately expensive pieces to the deck, with Aether Vial going into its own category at $40, but one I think worth picking up early is the three-drop spot. Merrow Reejerey is a given in the deck, but recently after that it's been filled with Vendilion Clique or the standy Kira, Great Glass-FSpinner. Both are some of the more pricey aspects of the deck, and both should be first on your list to acquire before the rest of the pieces if your goal is to put together Merfolk, or as I call it, the best deck in Modern.

One of the best cards in the traditional Death's Shadow deck is Traverse the Ulvenwald. Primeval Titan decks are also a real threat in Modern. Everyone plays fetch lands.

What do all those have in common? Searching the deck. Leonin Arbiter is a key part of various Death and Taxes builds, and all of them rely heavily on the cat to turn off opposing decks. This is the type of hate card that is going to stick around a long time in Modern, and at just $3 it's one of the easier pieces of the format to invest in.

Spells

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 Anger of the Gods
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UndeadGamesCCG 1 $3.00
TD4W Games 3 $3.34
Mom's Basement Games 1 $3.35
Misc and Others 1 $3.35
Game Heroes 5 $3.49
Djuump 2 $3.50

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Anger of the Gods is going to be $5-6 before we know it. These are still available around $3, but they won't be for long for what has become Modern's premier sweeper.

On the countermagic front, Cryptic Command finally avoided reprint, and the price is responding as such. It's pushed up from under $20 to nearly $25, and it was just a few years ago that we had $40 Cryptics. Pure White-Blue Control decks are as good as they've ever been in Modern, and Cryptic is heavily featured in a number of decks these days.

In your most recent edition of Phyrexian Mana is Broken Monthly, Surgical Extraction has become the go-to hate card for a plethora of strategies, most notably Dredge. It's going to be $20 before we know it.

Speaking of graveyard strategies, Living End is actually in an interesting place right now. Once Modern's premier graveyard deck, it had fallen mostly off the radar by last year. But a few things are working to change that. First, it got Kari Zev's Expertise in Aether Revolt, giving the deck a way to make use of Living Ends drawn. And with cycling being a major part of Amonkhet, we can almost certainly expect the deck to get a few new cards. As a result, Living End is already starting to move in price, and it's worth keeping an eye on the deck if you think there may be some cycling in your future. On that note, Goryo's Vengeance doesn't show any signs of slowing its ascent, either.

Another deck picking up steam is Abzan Company, which has a lot of redundancy and the tools to fight Death's Shadow. Collected Company and Chord of Calling form the backbone of the deck, and both are off the radar right now given the difficulty of clicking through the combo online limiting its exposure. Magic 2015 is rapidly retreating in the rearview, and with it the opportunity to pick up Chord of Calling and Collected Company under $10.

Speaking of Death's Shadow, most of the pieces have already moved – just look at the recent spike on Street Wraith. But it's also worth noting this seems to finally be the deck that's pushing Thoughtseize, and with so many new players entering the format it won't be long before we see the Theros version of the card climb back to $20.

Putting it All Together

There's a lot going on in Modern right now. We have a shifting metagame, a new Modern Masters set to digest, and quickly changing prices as a result of all that. I've talked about a lot of cards today, and my goal is to help you navigate your way to the end goal of a completed Modern deck.

The most important thing is to decide what you want to do in Modern. Is it pick a deck and learn it well? Have all the format staples so you've covered no matter what? Play Merfolk so you can play the best deck in Modern?

Whatever it is, it's important to keep your eyes on that goal. Rather than bounce all around Modern, picking up a lot of cards but never finishing a deck and then being behind when the latest card spikes, I suggest figuring out what your endgame looks like and working toward that. I covered a wide swath of the format today, and this info should help you prioritize your purchases for reaching whatever your goal is.

This is pretty far outside my typical fare here on TCGplayer (though in a previous life I wrote a lot of content like this), so I'd love to hear your feedback on this piece. Is this the type of content you would like to see more of in the future? My goal is to help you reach your desired endgame in Magic, and I want to tailor the content to fit those needs. And, of course, if you think there's a card I missed mentioning in this article, let us hear about it in the comments!

Thanks for reading,

Corbin Hosler

@Chosler88




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