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Insider: A Look at GP Kansas City

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As I'm writing this, day one of GP Kansas City is already in the books.

Even though Modern PTQ season is still a couple months away, it’s always worthwhile to stay up to speed on the metagame for finance reasons. The format is still young enough for a breakout strategy to appear at any event. Additionally, the banning of Second Sunrise and the release of new sets could impact the metagame.

This morning (Sunday) I took particular note of what decks appeared at top tables. Not surprisingly, Birthing Pod decks continue to display their strength and robustness. I fully expect this archetype to remain strong going into Modern PTQ season.

Jund also remains strong, as do an array of other consistent strategies. Tron, Splinter Twin, UWR Control, and even Scapeshift all put up consistent results. It is interesting to note how popular combo decks have become in recent months. Jund and Tron continue to thrive, but combo strategies are heavily represented towards the top and many pros are on such strategies.

What do these results imply for the upcoming Modern season? Are there still opportunities to acquire cards for profits? Let’s take a deeper look and find out!

Birthing Pod – The Elephant in the Room

Hey guys, Birthing Pod is really good! Oh, you all already knew that? Then why is this card still worth only a few bucks!?

 

Well, while this card seems like it would be a ton of fun in EDH, Modern is the only format driving demand for it. But shouldn't that the same for Chord of Calling?

I think what we’re seeing here is a difference in print run between an older set like Ravnica and a newer set like New Phyrexia. As Magic gains in popularity, more and more cards of a given set are printed. My suspicion is that many more Birthing Pods exist than Chord of Callings. The invention of the mythic rare in recent sets also magnify this difference. Back in Ravnica block, there were no mythics.

With all this in mind, I still think Birthing Pod can go higher, assuming it isn’t banned from Modern for power concerns. It may take much longer, and the price ceiling will be much lower, but the potential is certainly there. After all, with such a strong showing demand will certainly be sustainable.

Other Pod Deck Ideas

Want to invest in something with even lower risk? How about the namesake of the Melira Pod deck herself, Melira, Sylvok Outcast?

Melira hails from the same set as Birthing Pod, so again the price ceiling will be much lower. But this morning I noticed a major discrepancy–-foil Meliras are currently sold out at SCG with a price tag of $6.99. Foil Birthing Pods on the other hand sell for $24.99!

This is a major gap. Granted, all nine Pod decks obviously played Birthing Pod at the GP, but not all decks played Melira, Sylvok Outcast. Still, the Melira version of the Pod deck represented five of the nine total Pod decks at the top tables. Clearly this is a preferred variant–-I expect these foils to rise. So much so, that I’m going to buy a few right now (don’t worry, I won’t make you wait).

Okay I’m back.

There’s another linchpin of the Melira Pod deck worth keeping in mind. It’s a card many QS subscribers likely already own. While I’m not an advocate of going excessively deep on a given speculation target, I want to emphasize the importance of an underappreciated land.

LSV put it best in a recent tweet:

Anybody else see this Tweet? Comments like this reassure me that Scars fast lands will eventually pay out. My hope is that we finally see a price bump this Modern PTQ season. And it’s quite possible Razorverge Thicket goes from underloved and underappreciated to the most played version. Buying a few more copies for under $2 can’t be bad. But I wouldn’t pay more than that.

Other Decks

I’ll admit I’m incredibly biased–-I have been on Melira Pod ever since Modern was “founded” and I’ve enjoyed the format ever since I first gained infinite life and dealt infinite damage. But there are certainly other decks worth noting from the GP.

Jund is still a deck, and I believe the higher prices for Dark Confidant and Tarmogoyf will stick as long as they aren’t printed more prior to the PTQ season. Liliana of the Veil is of particular interest to me nowadays-–as rotation out of Standard looms, her price has actually dipped a tiny bit.

Still, the curve seems more flat than downward and I don’t expect her price on mtgstocks.com to dip much below $40 if at all. Demand in eternal formats will keep this card higher regardless. She may never hit $100+ like Jace, the Mind Sculptor, but her playability in both Modern and Legacy means demand on this planeswalker may one day exceed that of Jace. If you want or need copies, it may be best to just pull the trigger now rather than wait for a further dip which may never happen.

Speaking of dips that will never materialize, I’m willing to wager that Snapcaster Mage is appearing in some of the UWR control strategies. Flashing back a Path to Exile or Lightning Bolt, two of the premier removal spells in Modern, can provide so much value. Demand may fade right now, but SCG still has these stocked at $24.99 (although they have dozens of copies in stock). Price memory and Eternal demand will likely keep these above $20 as well.

By the way, both Liliana and Snapcaster keeping their elevated prices (especially in foils) makes an investment in Innistrad boxes seem pretty solid. Just saying…

More to Come

I’m writing this article Sunday morning, so I don’t even know which decks will make Top 8. I will make a rather obvious prediction-–-there will be at least one Pod deck in the Top 8. Okay I’ll go bolder. I expect two Pod decks in the Top 8, and at least one of them a Melira Pod variant.

But one Grand Prix isn’t enough to dictate an entire metagame. Much more evolution will take place in the coming months. Will Scavenging Ooze disrupt strategies that revolve around Kitchen Finks and Snapcaster Mage? Will Wizards ban or unban something? Will M14 finally bring enough Merfolk to make Corbin’s Merfolk dream come true in Modern? At least two of these three questions are uncertain–-I’ll let you decide which ones.

In the meantime, investing in the backbones of the most consistent Modern strategies will be the way to go. And while some cards have higher price ceilings than others, the general trend will continue to rise as Modern increases in popularity.

Modern Masters will likely get more people involved in the format, and this will inevitable drive prices higher. Owning cards which haven’t shot up in price yet is a safe way of making solid gains with minimal downside risk. That’s exactly why I suggest Birthing Pod over Chord of Calling and foil Melira, Sylvok Outcast over foil Dark Confidant. Buying low and selling high remains, as always, the best approach.



 

Sigbits

  • Holy Casual Batman, some cards have really risen in price substantially. It seems every day Winds of Rath shows up on the Interests page of mtgstocks.com. SCG is sold out at $2.99 and I fully expect that price to rise when they are back in stock. Finding these may be tough, but acquiring them in trades or at your LGS may be a way to make a few bucks.
  • SCG has Scavenging Ooze for $14.99, but they aren’t fooling anyone. These are officially ten dollar bills since they come with a purchase of Magic 2014 Duels of the Planeswalkers. That being said, I wouldn’t mind picking up a few when they bottom. They are still strong in eternal formats and will eventually recover in price a little bit. But nonfoil versions will likely not exceed $20 again this decade.
  • Horizon Canopy has gotten some mention on Twitter in the context of GP Kansas City. If the W/G color combination continues to thrive then this nonbasic land may be a solid pickup as well. SCG is sold out at $14.99 and they’ve been steadily increasing in price on mtgstocks.com as well. Not being in Modern Masters means this land could have further to run.

-Sigmund Ausfresser
@sigfig8

24 thoughts on “Insider: A Look at GP Kansas City

  1. I have never liked Birthing Pod as a speculative target. The deck is complicated and doesn’t get adopted by a lot of Modern players as a result.

    There was also some twitter chatter last night about a potential ban in the wake of a second GP in a row where pod decks did well.

    @thepchapin Between Portland and #gpkc my guess is that a case is mounting against Birthing Pod.

    1. The case may be mounting, but it isn’t compelling enough yet. Wizards has decided to leave all formats alone this time, and I think that’s the right choice. It’s no coincidence that Birthing Pod has won back to back Modern GP’s, but the card isn’t necessarily dominating the format…yet. There is still a ton of diversity, and the Pod deck is VERY difficult to pilot perfectly.

      I think Pod continues to rise into Modern PTQ season, personally. Though, I wish I got on foils when I had the chance.

      Thanks for the comment!

      1. A card doesn’t have to be dominating the Modern to be banned in Modern, it just has to be played a lot. Two examples. Bloodbraid Elf wasn’t dominating the format, but it was ubiquitous in Jund. Wild Nacatl wasn’t banned because it was dominating the format, it was banned because it kept down other aggro decks not named zoo.

        Pod was close to 20% of the field at GP KC, and I suspect that number has been rising over time. As of today, I’d make an even money bet that Birthing Pod is banned at the next opportunity.

        1. That says a LOT about how poorly WoTC’s decisions are regarding banning and the modern format…they let Cawblade wreck standard for quite some time before they finally did anything about it…it seems they are babying modern too much and thus putting off potential players.

        2. BBE has a history of being problematic. I don’t think Nacatl needed banning. But these cards were also banned because they forced you into corners with deck selection. If you wanted to play aggro, it had to be Naya Zoo with Nacatl. If you wanted to play midrange it had to be Jund because of BBE.

          But you don’t have to play Pod if you want to play combo. There are so many other combo-esque decks out there right now and all have a legitimate chance of winning a given tournament.

          Of course, I am COMPLETELY biased because I play Melira Pod in Modern. If they banned Pod or Melira, I’d probably quit Modern. If they banned…say…Chord of Calling…I’d be pissed but I wouldn’t quit if I could still find a way to make Melira Pod work (not saying I could, mind you).

        3. BBE and Wild Nacatl are bad examppes. Jund WAS dominating and BBE was how they got so far ahead in tempo and card/board advantage. The problem with Nacatl isn’t necessarily power concerns (thats part of it) but also diversity concerns. If you want to play aggro, you need Nacatl. If you play Nacatl, you need to play naya colors. Its very limiting. They’ve also stated they don’t want decks that can combo regularly on turn 3. Pod cannot consistently go off turn 3, it doesnt limit diversity much as there are different ways to build it, it’s hard to pilot so I cant see it taking over the format completely, and there are multiple ways to hate it out. Also if you look at storm and Jund bannings you’ll see they dont like banning the card that makes the deck but a role player instead.

          1. Duncan, you hit it exactly on the head. That’s why Pod is safe for now and BBE / Nactal are suboptimal comparisons. Thanks for commenting!

          2. Except now…there’s virtually no aggro decks in the format because they can’t win faster than the Combo decks and that style of deck tends to run very little disruption (unless it’s attached to a creature)…so now instead of “if you’re playing aggro you’re playing nacatl” you’re just now “not playing aggro”.

      1. Banning Kiki-Jiki would be a nice punch in the crotch to those who got them from MM….but it would eliminate a lot of “infinite” combo’s…of course if WoTC had better counterspells in modern than the combo decks would be kept in check…as they are in legacy with FOW/Daze.

        1. David makes a good point here with regards to MM and Kiki-Jiki.

          Pod does have the “feel” of a ban-worthy card, but I just feel it’s far too soon for Wizards to act upon it. Banning Melira instead of Pod seems awful, as it destroys the deck altogether. Usually Wizards tries to take a deck’s power one notch rather than destroy it altogether when they decide to ban something based on format dominance.

          1. I’m not sure any is necessary but who knows what WoTC does. Could be nothing, could be Splinter Twin and Emrakul.

            Todd Anderson finished 11th one point from top 8 with Goryo’s Vengeance and won on turn 2 or 3 multiple times. He lost in 1st round then won like 10 in a row. Had a deck tech feature as well so Emrakul, Vengeance, Fury of the Horde and Through the Breach could see a bump at some point. If he had top 8ed probably would have had it already.

              1. Sweet, thanks. Interesting deck. I am sitting on three griselbrands, and wondering what to do with them. I might sleeve this up for modern.

  2. Feel free to bash this argument but I can’t help but think that any card that saw an Event deck reprint, just doesn’t grow in price like other staples. Inkmoth, Razorverge, even Stoneforge all seem to have deflated value because anyone can just spend $20 and get at least one.

    1. Kyle,

      Thanks for the comment – no bashing merited, you do bring up an excellent point. Now at some point these Event Decks should go up in price as they become harder to find…so while Event Decks can impact a card’s price ceiling, I am not sure if the card has no growth potential as a result.

      Inkmoth and Razorverge have definitely stagnated in price despite heavier play – Event Decks are clearly a factor. I personally feel that downside is still very limited on these even if upside is not as tremendous. Also, at $2 each Razorverge Thicket still seems exceptionally cheap even if it is in an Event Deck.

      Stoneforge is a good case study though – perhaps $7ish is a price ceiling for event deck cards. But even if that’s the case, there’s still upside on Razorverge.

  3. Modern needs some unbannings. Tired of wotc neutering everything. They can’t make modern feel underwhelming and expect people to be passionate about it.

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