Grand Prix: Chicago was this past weekend and the format was Modern. How good for us! Modern moves a lot of card prices, even though it doesn't get played that much. It's the reason that Goremand and Kitchen Finks are worth so much; why Path to Exile pushes $5 in the face of so many reprints. The PTQ season is coming up and Modern cards are going to be in demand for awhile. With continued WOTC support, with Modern Masters, with shocklands being reprinted, this format is coming together... if it can deal with Jund.
A 74-card mirror Jund match concluded the event. All Jund does is get more than one cards' value out of a card through most of its deck. Do you get upset when you lose to it? After all, it's full of fair monsters and it rarely kills before turn 6 or so. It doesn't execute dumb combos. All it does is this illusion where every card it casts translates to insane value. I suppose I get frustrated when that deck goes Thoughtseize, Dark Confidant, Liliana, Bloodbraid Elf, but what can you get rid of to make the rest fair? Bloodbraid Elf is a likely target, but I feel like the core of the deck would remain.
Jund's dominance pushes on a lot of other decks. Good luck, Delver - your Geists are just going to get overwhelmed. Counterspells are a bit worse because many of the Jund deck's spells are interchangeable. It really pushes on the big Tron decks that intend to do things other than summon Karn on turn 3. Jund decks also have enough disruption so that they can reasonably fight storm combo, though the Second Sunrise deck still gives them problems.
What's worth betting on in Jund? I would have said Maelstrom Pulse, but Abrupt Decay has mostly invalidated that card. Good proof that sometimes, even the sure bets get blown out by new printings. Dark Confidant is a fine bet, since I think we'll see it in Modern Masters - which means it won't get banned before then. The lands are good and will remain good, and Raging Ravine ($1.50) is going to be good for a long time. Ravine doesn't get the love that Creeping Tar Pit does, but it's an integral element of Jund. It makes a really oppressive monster that shrugs off Lingering Souls tokens. "When I finally get through," the elemental says as it adds another counter, "it'll make up for all this chump blocking."
Lingering Souls is an obvious choice for stocking up on
Lingering Souls ($1.75) came up in Spirit Jund and in the Gifts deck. It's a power uncommon from an under-drafted set. Lingering Souls is going to be worthwhile for a long time, in spans of years. Let's just put it this way on this card: Spectral Procession ($2.75) is a worse card and it's worth nearly twice what Lingering Souls is. Do you see Lingering Souls getting played in four years? I do. That card is steady - you play it and the first copy keeps you from dying and the second makes you win.
Lingering Souls is at a nadir of price right now because it isn't seeing Standard play. This isn't going to last. Remember that Orzhov is coming up in a few months and Godless Shrine will accompany it. There will be a lot of B/W cards to try out; even something on the power level of Zealous Persecution would make the Souls great. Lingering Souls is a good card to chew up the U/W Miracles decks that are doing well, and we might even see something that stops Thragtusk as early as Gatecrash (but we might have to wait until Dragon's Maze for that).
Deathrite Shaman is highly liquid but probably at a price ceiling
Deathrite Shaman was all over the top tables, too. I came in with a dim view of this guy at the beginning. he's hard to understand, you know? It's like a bad Grim Lavamancer or a bad Birds of Paradise. Turns out, a bad version of both of those in one card is really stone-cold. Deathrite Shaman puts a lot of pressure on Lingering Souls decks, since it can scoop away their Flashback spells for value. It can really screw up a Gifts deck, since it's much harder to set up Unburial Rites + Elesh Norn. This is a very, very good little monster. I am packing Deathrites in my Gifts board and I'll probably justify some copies of Arni Slays the Troll, too. You just can't let these live, and hitting them with a Path to Exile is one of the worst feelings that there is.
The Shaman is about $8 shipped right now and there's been a lot of internal debate on the QS Forum about his price ceiling. Deathrite Shaman isn't seeing much love in Standard, so he doesn't track with Snapcaster Mage completely. However, this card is going to be gold for years to come. I don't know if he has the price durability that Ignoble Hierarch has and that's because you need to be playing both green and black to get the best results from it. Packing only black is doable, but it's not as versatile. I think Deathrite Shaman is going to top out at $10. The bad news is that we can't speculate much on him. The good news is that he's highly desirable, as evidenced by several posters talking about how quickly they traded their copies away. Trading Standard cards involves a lot of touchstones for price; trading into and out of Shamans is going to be one of those metrics.
That Gifts Ungiven deck is pretty crazy, right?
I'm big big big on Gifts decks. I wrote about a Coalition Relic Gifts deck awhile back on the site and I'm glad to see a Gifts deck continuing to do well. I actually ended up brainstorming a list that was about nine cards away from Shane's list, but he got a big check and I didn't! I think his list is about 90% there, but there's a bit of junk in it. You don't need Darkblast, for instance. The combo of Lingering Souls + Deathrite Shaman to make a turn-2 Souls is really fly, and Liliana is doing good work in this deck. I hesitate because Shamans make Gifts for Rites a lot worse, but lots of decks aren't going to have Shaman or have it in time and they'll lose.
I don't see a whole lot of profit to be made here, but Gifts Ungiven remains a powerful card in this format and it's one that people love to get and trade for. The art is sicko. This is another reason that Lingering Souls is going to be around for awhile. McDermott mentioned that the deck has issues with Jund and that it's about a coin flip, but if you dedicate some sideboard cards to beating Jund (cards like Sunlance), you can swing it more favorably. If you could fit Gideon Jura in, I feel like that match would get really silly.
More Modern quick hits
Modern Masters doesn't come out until next June, meaning that there's no sense in selling off staples just yet. The PTQs for Dragon's Maze start next spring, so Modern Masters will have zero effect on the season or the accessibility of cards. However, we'll have the full set of reprinted duals by then and I think that those, combined with Modern Masters, are going to pull a lot more people in.
Until next week,