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Insider: All the Buzz from this Weekend – Pro Tour, Modern Masters and More

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I have every intent of writing an article to discuss one of the safest MTG investments in the game: basic lands.

Always in demand and always legal in every format, basic lands provide a steadfast foundation to a long-term portfolio. Even within such a narrow area, there is an array of possible investments ranging from the obvious (such as Unhinged foil basics) to the more obscure (such as Wald).

It’s difficult to draft up this article with all the action that has taken place this past weekend. We had a Modern Pro Tour with some interesting breakouts, another SCG Open with some surprisingly absent cards from the Top 8, and we had one of the most significant new set announcements made in Magic ever.

And then this was spoiled:

And that’s when I knew I simply could not ignore all the latest financially relevant news to satisfy my own flair for creativity. My article will have to wait yet again – at least it’s one of those articles that will remain relevant for a long time.

Pro Tour Observations

Pro Tour events have the tendency to move the market more than weekly Star City Games Opens. The masses recognize that if the Pros are willing to play given cards, then those cards are certainly worthy for their own decks. Thus when hundreds of Pro Players congregate in one place to play a major event, people take notice. And thanks to live broadcasting, everyone can be up to date on the latest deck tech from the comfort of their living room.

To begin, let’s take a look at the Top 8 breakdown. It’s interesting to notice that only one deck appears in multiples:

Jund – 3
Robots - 1
Second Breakfast / Eggs – 1
RUG Valakut – 1
Infect – 1
UW Aggro Control – 1

While the variety is surprising, the absence of some archetypes is equally noteworthy. I don’t see any Pyromancer Ascension decks. Strategies involving Birthing Pod or Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker are also missing. And what happened to that “breakout” deck that could win on Turn 3?

Well, the Twitter buzz on this deck, which relied upon Nivmagus Elemental, rapidly went from this:

To this:

Unlike the Blazing Shoal deck from a couple Modern tournaments ago, the Nivmagus Elemental deck could not handle the most ubiquitous deck of the format: Jund. Hence we see three Jund decks in the Top 8 and zero Nivmagus decks.

Needless to say, the Modern format is still maturing much like the new Standard. Going deep into strategies that rely on such a glass cannon is quite risky and most combo decks are likely to be hit or miss as the format evolves.

Looking at the other Pro Tour top performers, it seems clear that we should be focusing on steadfast strategies such as Jund, Robots, and UW builds for pickups. Or should we?

Time to Buy, Right? Maybe Not…

The other major news of the weekend came from Aaron Forsythe himself, live from the Pro Tour in Seattle. There he revealed to the world the first all-reprint set in quite some time: Modern Masters.

This limited print run set will contain all reprints from 8th Edition to Alara block and will focus on increasing availability of Modern cards. MSRP is $6.99 and with the given print run I’m willing to wager that packs will actually sell at an even higher price. All of this is being done to carefully control the amount of reprints made and protect the financial integrity of the secondary market.

Without such caution, we’d have another Chronicles on our hand. For those who may not remember, Chronicles was Wizards of the Coast’s attempt to increase the availability of many desirable cards from early Magic expansions. This included Arabian Nights, Legends, Antiquities and The Dark. The financial impact of this set was devastating since it was printed by the boatload. Even now, 17 years later, there is very little in Chronicles of financial relevance. Star City Games currently buys eight cards of the 125-card set above bulk pricing, making it one of the least valuable sets ever printed.

I do not expect Wizards to make this same mistake again. They learned a great deal from the Chronicles backlash, and the limited print run and higher MSRP is implemented to address the risk of an all-reprint set.

With this announcement, all the Jund speculation targets have suddenly become speculative at best. Tarmogoyf is already confirmed and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Dark Confidant make an appearance as well.

Nothing from 8th edition to Alara Reborn is immune to reprints. Therefore even though the release of Modern Masters isn’t until summer 2013, speculating on these cards for profit may not be the best strategy moving forward. You’ve got a full PTQ season to sell your extras for profit and make some quick flips. After that, expect values to drop simply due to panic selling.

There are some cards that may still be worth looking at from more recent sets. Fetch Lands will not be in Modern Masters since they were printed in Zendikar. And with Jund being a mainstay, Verdant Catacombs seems like a solid investment. Inkmoth Nexus and Mox Opal are two cards significantly off their financial peak that won’t see a reprint in Modern Masters. These should also be safe.

Standard Shifts

I also want to touch on the Top 8 results at the SCG Open. It seems Jund has a significant place in Standard as well, with three Jund decks making Top 8 and two making Top 4. The other two decks in the Top 4: Frites. Rounding out the Top 8 we have two U/W/R Midrange decks and one G/W Aggro deck.

Notice what’s suspiciously absent? Miracles! What happened to this beloved strategy? Has the metagame evolved? I am glad to have unloaded my 20+ copies of Terminus. And while its price has been on the rise, I think Entreat the Angels has just about hit its peak – I would recommend selling your extras. Hopefully I don’t even have to waste more than once sentence telling you to sell Bonfire of the Damned (chart from blacklotusproject.com).

On the other hand, it looks like Huntmaster of the Fells // Ravager of the Fells is here to stay. I’m surprised this guy hasn’t gone up in price yet. All three Jund decks that made Top 8 ran the full set maindeck. How Thragtusk, a core set rare reprinted in an Event Deck, is $20 while Huntmaster, a Mythic Rare from an under-drafted set, is $18 is beyond me.

If Jund remains dominant in Standard, I think Huntmaster of the Fells // Ravager of the Fells has to go up in price at least a few bucks. I wouldn’t buy 100 copies but I would trade for these and pick up a few extras at auction.

There are actually a few other noteworthy cards from this Jund deck. Dreadbore is sold out on Star City Games at $7.99. Sever the Bloodline has finally seen some price movement and is sold out at $1.99. There are still ample copies below $1 on Card Shark and eBay auctions are ending in the $1 range, despite the cheapest Buy It Now listing has them at $2 each (chart from blacklotusproject.com).

Finally, Angel of Serenity has once again proven its strength. The card is a major component of the new Frites desk, and Star City Games has been selling through copies handily at $24.99. She’ll hit $29.99 before she hits $19.99.

What may also be relevant is a card that can combat Angel of Serenity: Evil Twin. This dark Clone made itself known in one of the Star City Games feature matches. He may not spike a ton, but if people won’t give you Sever the Bloodline as a throw-in anymore, I would target Evil Twin instead.

All This News Is Good News

Magic is more popular now than ever before, and it’s great to see Wizards of the Coast keep up with the hype. By generating this buzz with great Pro Tour coverage, exciting new product announcements, and terrific new Standard sets, they are “striking while the iron is hot”. The result: this game will continue to grow in popularity.

Financially, this will ultimately be a good thing. Some cards may drop in price with reprints and metagame changes, but the overall trend will increase as demand increases. If you have a diverse portfolio, your collection will inevitably rise in value as demand for cards increases. Should new players get into older formats, older cards will especially go up in price. Modern is just a stepping stone to Legacy, after all.

Net, this is a great time to hold Magic Cards and speculate on them. I’m excited for the ride and I hope you are as well!

Sigbits

  • I tweeted about this one: Twilight Mire is $14.99 on Star City Games and foil copies are $29.99! Aaron Forsythe mentioned how Eventide was printed in smaller quantities relative to other Modern era sets, and with Jund being so popular I can understand why this Filter Land is so costly. I wonder if Filter Lands will appear in the new Modern product. Tough call.
  • Core Set Dual Lands such as Sunpetal Grove and Dragonskull Summit are up to $3.99 on Star City Games and copies are dwindling at that price! Despite being printed to oblivion, these lands are still seeing a price bump. You may want to trade for some extras and buy them if you can find them underpriced.
  • Seachrome Coast is up to $4.99 and Blackcleave Cliffs is up to $5.99 on Star City Games. That didn’t take long at all, and I expect all Scars of Mirrodin Fast Lands have bottomed and should only rise moving forward. Just look at the Filter Lands for data to support this.

-Sigmund Ausfresser
@sigfig8

11 thoughts on “Insider: All the Buzz from this Weekend – Pro Tour, Modern Masters and More

  1. Good article! I’m still digesting this whole Modern Masters thing but after reading Forsythe’s article this morning, I feel like there may be two opportunities to buy into Modern for long term profit. One being at the end of Modern season as people panic sell and another being during MM spoiler season as people panic sell once specific cards are spoiled. Forsythe was very forceful about not creating another Chronicles situation and I think people are conditioned financially to assume reprint = financial drop. I don’t see any Mythic in MM dropping that much as they are roughly 1 in 5 boxes (unless we find out the added foils skew that number or the distribution of roughly 1 in 8 packs changes). I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on this.

    Also, good call on the Twilight Mire! 😉 My gut is that they won’t “waste” 10 rare spots in MM for the filter land cycle and they likely won’t reprint only 1 or 2 of them. I guess they could move them down to uncommon but I’m not sure how likely that is either. My guess is they might start showing up in duel decks or other supplementary products to increase the supply of the ones that are climbing in price. Until then, I think Mire is going to hit $20 since most Jund lists have it as a 2-3 of.

  2. Thanks for the comment!

    I agree with both of your assessments as to when to buy. I do expect people will panic and sell things at the times you cited, which may be a solid time to buy. I will probably wait until the second event happens though (MM spoiler season) since that’s likely when the massive selling will ensue. By the same measure, I’d probably sell extra Modern stuff during the season before people start the panic selling (this is no change from the normal seasonal timings of course).

    I haphazardly discovered how expensive Twilight Mire became. The other day I remembered that I had 1 copy of Woodland Cemetery in my Modern deck. So I went to eBay and sold it for $12.89. That opened up a B/G land slot in my deck, and so I figured I’d buy a Mire since it would have better long term price stability and it was SUPPOSED to be cheaper. Doh! Now I’m getting a random foil copy that I found at $18 shipped. I may try to sell that soon for profit and use profits towards a non-foil copy.

    1. Nice score on the foil copy! I had been looking for one forever for my Karador EDH deck and found one at Origins last year. If Mire continues to go up, I may have to sell it and replace it with a golgari guildgate or something…lol.

  3. I never though of Evil Twin as a tool to fight Angel of Serenity, but that’s well pointed out. This is a card that I initially liked and had put some faith into…maybe the time for it to shine is finally coming :).

    1. I think Deathrite still isn’t a buy, even though it’s seeing a ton of play. The set is still being opened and the supply will continue to flood in, which makes the card as a spec a hard call, as it’s been floating between $7 and $10 recently.

      1. I did forget to bring up Deathrite Shaman, at least to identify its recent popularity.

        I personally bought 3 copies at just under $6 each. I wouldn’t pay much more for them at the moment, and SCG has been restocking these at $9.99 without increasing the price. It would take a lot to move Deathrite Shaman much higher being a rare. I’m tepid on it.

        Thanks for chiming in to clarify, Tyler 🙂

  4. I actually think the announcement of Modern Masters will create some opportunities as people dump their stuff too soon.

    And I’m glad to see how far ahead we were on Scars lands. I pick up 20+ in the last two weeks.

  5. Hello,

    i am a new user just subscribed yesterday, since you mentioned basic lands in the first part of the article, i would like your opinion on what is the roof for some basics i´ve been gathering.

    unhinged/unglued basics (non-foil)

    zendikar/ zendikar in chinese (full art) foil and non-foil

    i´ve been buying/trading the “un-lands” for quite a while and i have seen their price rising overall, and would like an opinion on how high can they go, i´m up to around 400 unhinged and 150 unglued, so i would really like a feedback on these ones.

    also if the prices go to high, do you think the demand for the zendikar lands will go up since they would be more affordable?

    All the best from Portugal,

    Diogo Marques

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