Insider: Masters of Modern (and Nivmagus Elementals)

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Let me guess how you checked in coverage from the Pro Tour last weekend, which featured the Modern format.



While the Top 8 certainly matters, you have to remember that Pro Tours are a split format, so the Top 8 is sometimes a reflection of a person’s draft skills as much or moreso than their Modern skills.

Instead of focusing on just the Top 8, this page is what you need to pay attention to, along with this one. These pages give you the best picture of what performed well at the event, and figuring out which decks are primed to do well moving forward because how they performed as a whole is much more important than focusing on the one deck at the top. Especially, in this case, when that deck (Eggs) is a one-tournament deck that is very susceptible to hate. It’s also noteworthy that only three of the eight players playing the deck made it to Day 2.

Now let’s talk about Nivamagus Elemental, the other big “mover” of the weekend. As I talked about on the podcast this week (Brainstorm Brewery), hype does not equal investment. A few big name players were on the deck, and it looked fun and created cool stories by killing on Turn 2.

But Round 2 is not the time to buy in for a card that’s anything other than a bulk rare. You’re exposing yourself to a lot of risk jumping the Nivmagus bandwagon in Round 2 as the price is already going up. Sure, it’s possible the card hits and you did great, but as we saw this weekend you can also get screwed. As GerryT said, the deck lost to “hand disruption plus removal.” In other words, Jund, the most-played deck at the tournament.

Like I suggested with Huntmaster when I called it a few Pro Tours back, I did so with inside information from the PT (like Nivmagus), but we also didn’t advise you to go hard on it until we had 4-6 rounds of results from the Pro Tour from the group playing it. That was a move based on results, not hype. Remember the difference, even if it means your margins could be lower.

So what decks did well as a whole in Modern? Obviously, you should all just play Merfolk, but provided that’s not your style, here’s what we know.

This is a really interesting chart. Here, we see that Affinity actually had the best showing, despite the fact that it’s certainly not what you would guess. That said, nothing is going to move here (at least not from this event). In all honestly, there’s not a lot of surprises here, though we do see that Scapeshift made a pretty decent showing. Prismatic Omen, however, did not. If you haven’t already gotten out of it by selling into the hype (as I’ve always advised), then you should try to move it immediately.

But Scapeshift itself is probably pretty steady, so if you invested in that (or just Valakut), then you’re probably doing all right.

The big winner, financially, of the weekend is probably Jund. It only lost a few percentage points from Day 1 to Day 2, and it put several copies into the Top 8. That means the deck is primed to go up in price, right? Well, yes, in the short-to-medium term, something we’ll get into soon with Modern Masters, but you all know that. Instead, I want to highlight a few cards in Jund that aren’t quite as obvious but should make for good trade targets before Modern season rolls around.

Inquisition of Kozilek

This has to be one of the biggest. You can still occasionally get it for $2-3 in trade, and I have a huge pile that I’ve gotten at that price over the last year. This will likely be $5+ during the height of the PTQ season since so many non-Jund decks also play it.

Remember, with Shocklands coming to Standard the barrier of entry for the format is lower than ever, so medium-tier cards like these should see a nice spike.

Deathrite Shaman

We all said this was better in older formats than it was in Standard due to the fetchlands, and that appears to hold true. This Shaman does a ton of work. That said, I don’t love it at $10 since it’s going to be opened more and more in the next two months. Instead, the opportunity will come when people have forgotten to an extent about Modern as Gatecrash previews start rolling in. That also coincides with the start of Modern PTQ season and peak RtR supply, so it should create an opportunity.

Fulminator Mage

This has started to pop up more and more, and it’s the real deal (albeit usually out of the sideboard). While a deck like Living End uses it mostly for a full-out LD plan, it’s a sweet value card in Jund that hoses Tron and Valakut while also occasionally providing just some nice value along the way.

Raging Ravine

This is one of those cards that slips into the background, but it’s actually being played all over the place, and is occasionally even a 4-of in Jund builds. As I predicted a few weeks back, Scars lands, particularly Blackcleave Cliffss have taken off, so I’m not sure why Ravine is still $1.50 out of Worldwake. SCG has a ton in stock at that price, so I’m not ready to go deep on these or anything, but it’s probably not the worst card to target to close out a trade.

Mastering Modern

Okay, time to address the 800-pound Lhurgoyf in the room.

Modern Masters series.

This is a dead horse being beaten everywhere already, and I just wanted to throw my two cents into the ring (all the metaphors, right there). Mr. Forsythe (as @JasonEAlt tells me I must call him) went to great lengths to point out this was not the second coming of Chronicles, where Wizards reprinted basically everything worth any money. It led to the Reserve List, the root of all evil, and we know the rest of the story from there.

This is not Chronicles. This is a good thing. The print run on this is going to be so limited I don’t think it’s going to have a drastic effect, especially at higher rarities. I don’t have any hard numbers to back this up yet since we don’t know what the print run will be, but I imagine when it’s all said and done (accounting for new players entering the format), we’re going to see about a 20-25% drop for the Mythics, and probably a 30-35% drop for the good Rares. The Uncommons and commons will be closer to 40-50%, and I think this is perfect.

Yes, $100 Tarmogoyfs suck, but that’s not all the cost of the deck. Jund, in particular, is incredibly expensive, but Wizards can’t just blow up the secondary market. That means you can’t flood the market with Goyfs, but people aren’t going to be as upset if their Kitchen Finks halve in price. This keeps things reasonable as far as drop-offs in price are concerned, but a few dollars here and there on every card adds up very quickly when considering the full 75 in a deck.

In other words, I think Wizards has handled this perfectly. Yay! I also think it creates an opportunity. You can probably pick up Modern cards at a discount in the next month or two as people overestimate the impact on the set. This means you can likely score some great deals on Modern staples, and since the set doesn’t come out until next year you’re still going to be able to flip these at max value during the PTQ season.

And, most importantly, Zendikar isn’t included in Modern Masters! That means my gigantic stash of Misty Rainforests and Scalding Tarns are safe, so my new car fund is too 🙂

Thanks for reading,

Corbin Hosler

@Chosler88 on Twitter

5 thoughts on “Insider: Masters of Modern (and Nivmagus Elementals)

  1. Nice, you have hit a few of my modern targets 🙂 like Inquisition of Kozilek and Deathrite Shaman. Regarding Fulminator Mage, the card is nice but financial speaking I am not a huge fan of it. However you are not the first one to pointed it out so I have to take a look at it.

      1. I am selling the blue ones, now. With people asuming the others will go up, too, I am using my blue fetch money to buy verdant catacombs before they also spike.

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