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Insider: Modern Picks from Innistrad Block

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I don’t have enough words for a long introduction, there’s too much to cover below. Let’s skip that nonsense and get to the discussion. Below are the cards from Innistrad block that are pertinent to Modern (and Legacy to a lesser extent):

Clifftop Retreat / Hinterland Harbor/ Isolated Chapel / Sulfur Falls / Woodland Cemetery

Other than Sulfur Falls, none of these have seen significant Modern play. That said, it is almost always correct to pick up lands at rotation. These are currently all sitting above $5, so don’t start picking them up just yet. But if they drop to around $2 or $3, you can’t go wrong trading for as many as you can.

Delver of Secrets // Insectile Aberration (foil)

For some reason foil Delver is currently only sitting around $5. Given that the card sees Legacy and Modern play, this seems criminally low, even for a common. I’d trade for copies at this price, and I’d even go deep if they see a significant drop after rotation (which probably won’t happen, as the card hasn’t seen Standard play for the last year). There might even be marginal long-term upside to picking up non-foil copies.

Gavony Township

This card sees play, usually as a three-of, in both of the popular versions of Birthing Pod decks in Modern. If that deck isn’t nerfed by bannings in the next year or two, Gavony Township could see some nice gains. I have a hard time seeing it getting as high as $10, but $5 seems extremely likely if nothing in the meta changes. Currently selling at around $1, with some copies as low as half that, this seems like a great throw-in target for the next several months.

Geist of Saint Traft

This is one of the more powerful creatures that has ever been printed, and its current price tag in excess of $20 reflects that. I’m not sure how much this will drop at rotation, as many players will be keeping their copies for Modern. For my part, I’ve decided to hang on to my playset, as I picked them up for $11 each and I’m not sure the card will ever go lower than that. If it does, well then you’d better have some sweet trade bait to get as many of these as you can. The only thing keeping this from hitting Vendilion Clique-like prices is how much more Innistrad was opened than Morningtide. Still, with the game growing steadily, there may not be enough Geists to go around in a year or two.

Geralf's Messenger

There was a brief period where Jund played this card over Kitchen Finks. Nowadays, Modern Jund lists don’t run either card, so I’m not sure how strong a pickup it is. Currently sitting at $2.50 or so, I’d only pick this up for Eternal purposes if it dropped below a dollar. Even then, it might never see play again.

Gravecrawler

Sam Black’s Legacy Zombardment deck has kept this card at around $4. Given that the deck hasn’t dominated in any way and this card hasn’t seen any Modern play, I’m not looking to pick any of these up. I am, however, holding on to a playset out of an abundance of caution. The card gets better with each new Zombie printed, is from a small set, and is objectively powerful. Trading these was the right call a few months ago, but at $4, I’m holding. If it drops below $2, I might consider picking up a few more, but Zombies hasn’t seen Standard play for a while, which means this card’s price is likely coming from Legacy and casual players.

Griselbrand

Griselbrand is sweet, there’s no doubt, but I’m going to keep away. He’s above $10 so the buy-in is high. He is banned in Commander so there’s no casual demand. And Wizards has shown in the past they’re willing to ban this type of card-draw effect. He will probably grow steadily for a while, but I feel like sitting on any of these for an extended period is risky business.

Huntmaster of the Fells // Ravager of the Fells

It appears that Huntmaster of the Fells // Ravager of the Fells has replaced Bloodbraid Elf in Modern Jund lists. If Jund continues to be as heavily played as it was last season, there’s virtually no way this doesn’t see long-term gains, especially being from a poorly-received small set. It’s currently sitting at $10, which seems like a reasonable price to get a playset, but I’d like to see it dip to $5 or $6 before I start investing for speculative purposes.

Liliana of the Veil

Liliana is still over $40. This price is almost entirely based on Modern and Legacy play, so I don’t know if we’ll see any drop at all come rotation. Sigmund Ausfresser has been pointing out for a while now that the card as seeing more Legacy play than Jace, the Mind Sculptor. I don’t know if the future price trajectory for Liliana will mirror Jace, but it’s possible. That said, I don’t like to invest in expensive cards like this, as the risks are much higher and the potential gains are much lower. If you need a set for play, you probably want to pick these up as soon as possible after rotation.

Olivia Voldaren

Olivia has seen some occasional Modern play, but usually as a one- or two-of. At its current price of around $8, I’m staying away, but if it drops to $3 at rotation, this becomes a fine target.

Past in Flames

Before Storm was nerfed, this would have been a sure-thing, as its price has always been fairly low. As is, I’m advocating picking up this card on power-level alone, not because it sees any current play. It’s only $1.50, so there’s not much to lose.

Restoration Angel

This is one of my favorite Magic cards ever, so I’m pretty biased in its favor. Still, I think it receives the same evaluation as Olivia: stay away at $8, pick them up at $3-4. In Restoration Angel’s favor, the card is a four-of in Kiki Pod and sees some occasional play elsewhere. However, it’s only a rare, which might keep its long-term price depressed somewhat when compared to comparably-priced mythics.

Snapcaster Mage

Snapcaster Mage pretty much held steady above $20 its entire time in Standard. I’m very interested to see where it ends up long-term. It is an inevitable reprint for Modern Masters II, but we don’t know how long it will take for that set to drop. It’s worth noting that Dark Confidant and Tarmogoyf were printed at mythic and both have seen price increases, so Snapcaster might not be doomed to a value-destroying reprint. I’m holding my playset (plus one for EDH) indefinitely, but I’m keeping an eye on the rotation price before I decide whether to pick up any more.

Stony Silence

In my last article I claimed I learned my lesson on narrow sideboard cards, but there’s always an exception. This gets a mention because it shuts down certain strategies in Modern, but is currently at bulk prices. I wouldn’t go out of my way to pick these up (Rest in Peace is better), but these are the types of throw-ins that might have some long-term upside.

Terminus

This is one of the few cards on the list I think is worth picking up right away. It hasn’t seen any Modern play yet, and its Legacy play in Counter-Top has been held down by Abrupt Decay, but $3 is extremely low for a one-mana wrath that keeps cards out of the opponent’s graveyard. This has been as high as $11, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it reach that point again in the next year or two.

Thalia, Guardian of Thraben

Thalia was hurt by the Event Deck printing, for sure. The card was around $6 and then, BOOM, that price was cut in half. Although its upside has probably been downgraded from $15 to $10, I think this is another card worth picking up right away. It’s seeing more Modern play, and if Maverick ever sees a resurgence in Legacy, Thalia will be a moneymaker.

Zealous Conscripts

I love this card, and I have ever since I used it in draft to kill a Tamiyo by using her ultimate ability. It sees play as a one-of in Kiki Pod, so I don’t know how much upside there is. It’s only a dollar, though, so if you can pick them up as throw-ins, you should.

Odds and Ends

It’s worth being aware of the following cards, but I don’t have high hopes for any of them to break through in Modern. Still, a sentence for each seems appropriate.

Bonfire of the Damned: powerhouse in Standard; probably won’t make the jump to Modern, but anything’s possible.

Craterhoof Behemoth: lots of combo potential here.

Desolate Lighthouse: I’ve seen it in Kiki Twin lists, but it’s not exactly efficient.

Entreat the Angels: Counter-Top doesn’t really see play and this was only good in that, but maybe something will change someday?

Falkenrath Aristocrat: the power-level is high and an aggressive deck might want this as a curve-topper.

Garruk Relentless // Garruk, the Veil-Cursed: has actually seen fringe Legacy play; can be removal, tutor, and token-maker.

Heartless Summoning: will Theros produce an enchantment-matters card that might make this consistent?

Kessig Wolf Run: probably too mana-hungry to make the jump.

Moorland Haunt: sees occasional Modern play as a one-of; not a lot of upside, but a good throw-in.

Nephalia Drownyard: if Modern control ever becomes a real thing, this might be a part of that.

Sigarda, Host of Herons: sees occasional one-of sideboard play out of Pod decks; too high now, but keep an eye on post-rotation price.

Vexing Devil: the price for this is annoyingly high due to casual demand, but it sees occasional play in Modern burn decks and is worth mentioning.

Last Thoughts

The adjustment to the PTQ season schedule could have some profound effects on Modern card prices. It's possible the best time to pick up Modern specs isn't directly after rotation, but three to four months later, when Theros Standard is in full swing and Modern is still a few months down the line. The good news is that we're going to have more time to stockpile our targets. The bad news is we're going to have to wait several extra months before we find out if our speculation paid off. Invest accordingly.

13 thoughts on “Insider: Modern Picks from Innistrad Block

  1. Very thorough analysis. Thanks for the shout-out re: Liliana. I struggle to drop $40 on a card rotating out of Standard as well, but I did pick up a foil Liliana with the hopes these don’t drop in price at all at rotation. The Legacy and Modern market should keep this price high with lots of upside.

  2. With respect to Snapcaster, I’m not sure that Innistrad is automatic for MM2. Maybe if it doesn’t come out till 2016 — Shards was five years old when MM was released.

  3. Fairly certain that Garruk Relentless is seeing play in the BG decks in Modern as well now. Still in small numbers, but might be that getting his foot in the door there will help him out long term.

    1. I like Garruk Relentless a lot…the fact that he’s a doubled sided card REALLY limits the chances of a reprint (as it requires the checklist cards too for any sort of limited format though they would be necessary for any format where he could be played w/o sleeves)

  4. Also, Cavern of Souls should likely be mentioned as a four-of in Legacy Goblins, most non-Elves tribal, and in demand for casual (EDH and other) use across the board.

    1. Cavern of Souls is a major omission on my part, thanks for pointing this out. This is another card that held $20 it’s entire time in Standard and is an excellent pick-up at $10 (if it drops that far).

  5. Griselbrand – Plenty of brewing potential for this in Modern and has already proven itself in Legacy. It probably has some casual demand outside of EDH due to its iconic nature. I just can’t agree with you on this one; I’ll be picking these up cheap whenever I can.

    Kessig Wolf Run – This is a 1-of in Living End. This is a very powerful land and I wouldn’t be surprised if other usages for it crop up as Modern evolves.

    I do like the format of your review, though. Straight to the point.

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