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Insider: Looking Forward to Modern Season

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Before Modern season last year, Vendilion Clique was a $30 card and seemed too high. Celestial Colonnade could be had at $2. Fetchlands were less than half what they are now. Looking at today’s prices, these numbers from little more than a year ago seem kind of unreal. And while many of these cards have dipped from their peaks, they have largely retained value.

Modern season is still several months away, but I don’t think it’s too early to wonder what we can expect this year. It’s hard for me to believe that big-ticket cards will see such dramatic growth a second time. In other words, the chance of Vendilion Clique becoming Modern’s next $100 card is small. However, you can be pretty sure that it, and almost everything else, will see growth.

If you’re a player, I suggest determining the deck or decks to which you want access during the season and start obtaining the pertinent cards now. Some cards will only see small percentages increases, but you can be sure that last year’s huge spikes will be replicated this year—just with different cards. Let’s take a look through the top 16 decks from Grand Prix Antwerp and I’ll show you what I mean.

Splinter Twin

Two Splinter Twin decks made the top eight of GP Antwerp, with one of them winning the whole event. Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and Splinter Twin are the pieces that make this combo work. Kiki-Jiki spent most of the previous Modern Season at close to $30, and is now available for around $20. The lower price is certainly a reflection of Modern Masters adding more supply to the market, but also the fact that fewer people are playing Modern right now. Is there money to be made speculating on Kiki-Jiki? Probably not much. But if you want to play with it in a few months, you should have it on your radar and try to trade for copies as you see them. Getting your playset now is going to save you $20 to 40 in cash or trade value down the line.

Splinter Twin, on the other hand, seems like a pretty reasonable target for speculators. The card has been slowly rising, going from $3 at the beginning of the year to $4.50 today. The card is an automatic four-of in a combo deck that has shown it has the tools to win big events. It didn’t spike last year, but it seems poised to double up this next season. I’ll be keeping an eye out for them in trade binders and looking to scoop up any underpriced copies I see for sale.

Tron

Like Kiki-Jiki, Karn Liberated has falled off from its $35 peak during last Modern season to $28 today. This card seems like a lock to hit $40 if Tron remains a significant part of the metagame. Buying in at $28 won’t be highly profitable, but if you’re going to play the deck, you will save yourself $50 by getting these before everyone else wants them. Wurmcoil Engine also seems underpriced, though being a release promo lowers its ceiling a bit. Still, I’d be surprised if there were any copies available for less than $20 in six months.

Living End

The ship is long past sailed on Fulminator Mage and Living End, and it’s hard to believe more money can be made from those cards. Living End may have room to grow if the deck continues to put up top eights, but it’s not a four-of and is extremely specialized, so it’s probably close to its ceiling.

No, I’m going to add yet another voice in favor of the Scars of Mirrodin fastlands. This decks runs eight of them. QS Insiders have been pointing to these since last year’s rotation, waiting for the price to reflect the power level and amount of play they see. That could happen this year, and you should probably get your full set of 20 before you’re forced to pay twice as much. These can still be found in binders—you just need to prioritize picking them up.

Infect

It’s been a while since Infect did anything, and as a huge fan of the mechanic, I have to say it’s about time. Hands down, the most expensive card in this deck is Noble Hierarch. Here’s a card that was conspicuously absent from M13 (where green got no exalted) and Modern Masters. Wizards has shown they are serious about reprinting Modern staples, though, so my suggestion is to get rid of your extra Hierarchs. Yes, the shard-specific colors and exalted mechanic make this trickier to reprint than more generic cards, but I believe Wizards will find a spot for it before too long.

This deck runs Inquisition of Kozilek out of the board, which will likely see Remand-like prices come next Modern season. The card is difficult to reprint given its flavor, good against a variety of decks, and not exciting for casual releases. Its price may be depressed due to the reprint of Thoughtseize, given that many players were running Inquisition as a cheaper alternative to the former $70 all-star, but $10-15 seems inevitable if there’s no reprint.

Jund

I have to be honest: I’m not really a fan of Jund. Discussing it in depth is basically repugnant to me, so let me point out quickly that Scars of Mirrodin fastlands and Inquisition of Kozilek are also in this deck. My real pick for this one, though, is Raging Ravine. If Celestial Colonnade is over $10, why is Raging Ravine only $3? Pick this up, and take a look at the other Worldwake man-lands, too. Besides Colonnade, they all seem like they have room to grow.

Affinity

Affinity is fun because all of the expensive cards are already expensive and all of the cheap cards seem likely to stay cheap. To me, the biggest exception to this rule is Inkmoth Nexus. At only $6, this seems likely to double up in a few months and hit $15 to 20 in a year or two. There were one or two event deck printings to mitigate anything too crazy happening, but that didn’t keep the card from being $20 while in Standard. If more decks adopt this card, expect big things. The power level is high, and it was from a small set that saw less drafting than many others.

Melira Pod

I’ve said it before and I’m saying it again: Birthing Pod is going to be at least a $10 card this Modern season. Yes, it saw event deck printings. But it’s a four-of in a hugely popular deck and is even seeing mild success in Legacy testing. I’m very confident it’s going to happen, and I’m in pretty deep on the card. My biggest fear is that Wizards will pull the trigger on yet another banning, but with no copies in the top eight of this event, my guess is that we’ve avoided that for now. (For the record, I don’t think the card is so powerful that it warrants a banning, but after consecutive GP wins, I was afraid Wizards may want to shake things up again).

Kiki Pod

I’m really not sure whether to consider Kiki Pod a completely different deck than Melira Pod, given that the basic strategy of each is the same. I think I’ll err on the side of calling them two distinct decks, which conveniently strengthens my argument for Birthing Pod. It’s a four-of in two popular Modern decks, people.

Restoration Angel is down to about $5 these days, but it’s a three- or four-of in Kiki Pod, as well as seeing play in a few midrange and control strategies. I think these are well worth picking up. As a combo piece and an excellent provider of incidental value, Restoration Angel has a real future in this format and $5 is just too low.

What About Modern Masters 2?

I am of the opinion that there is no way Modern Masters 2 is coming next year. Modern Masters was one of the most popular Draft formats in recent memory, and Wizards is not going to rush the second installment. If the Draft format isn’t as good, it will sully the good name of the product line and hurt sales of Modern Masters 3 and Modern Masters 4. No, the team is going to take its time to develop another truly special set, and I think that means 2015 is the earliest we’ll see it. Supporting this is the fact that the official announcement for Modern Masters came on October 22 last year. We’re now approaching November, and unless I missed something big, no announcements have been made. Of course, if I’m wrong and Modern Masters 2 is coming next year, then Modern cards are dangerous targets on which to speculate. But I really don’t think that’s going to happen.

Last year’s Modern season was one of the craziest times in MTG finance history. I doubt this year will be as crazy, but I expect to see big financial shakeups. As a speculator, it’s not too late to start piling away cards that didn’t spike last year. And as a player, if you want to play next season, save yourself several hundred dollars and start building your decks now.

@dbro37 on Twitter

13 thoughts on “Insider: Looking Forward to Modern Season

  1. “Restoration Angel is down to about $5 these days, but it’s a three- or four-of in Kiki Pod, as well as seeing play in a few midrange and control strategies. I think these are well worth picking up. As a combo piece and an excellent provider of incidental value, Restoration Angel has a real future in this format and $5 is just too low.”

    Love the Restoration Angel call. I grabbed a set off eBay for around $14 – these are even lower than $5 nowadays if you’re patient on eBay. I’d highly recommend grabbing a couple sets now. This has got to be the low.

    1. Likewise. I made a comment about this in GP coverage thread also, but a number of decks besides Pod are finding spots for Angel, including Juza’s RW Kiki deck. Considering she was a $20 standard card and is a casual favorite, Angel has nowhere to go but up.

  2. Great article. I’m of a very similar mindset on many of my spec targets too. I am suprised you didn’t mentioned the U/W/r control decks that popped up recently and are doing quite well. They typically run a U/W control shell but with Lightning Bolt/Lightning Helix and the ability to Kiki-Jiki/Restoration Angel combo out of nowhere.

  3. I concur with a wait for Modern Masters 2! With Vintage Masters announced online for next summer, WotC will most likely not release a paper + online MMA2 set to compete with it.

    We may see reprints in dual decks, or maybe more likely in a 2014 Commander release (fetches are way overdue for those, methinks), but nothing like MMA2 until 2015, IMO.

  4. Hey Danny,

    Great article. I’m also seriuosly storing up for modern season goods anticipating the crazy winter flurry of prices as well.

    What do you think about:

    Snapcasters – I unfortunately think we’re at the price floor already. 14-17 cash on ebay were the lowest I was able to snipe them at. Still 20+ in trade value. One of those rotating states that are just so hesitant to budge. In due time, I think you have to think about the scarcity factor. Just from personal experience in my local meta, I don’t see a lot of people willing to part with these easily and my theory is that they’re going to all get bought out soon

    Thoughtseize – Pre Born to the Gods / in a few months, I’m hoping they’ll drop to 10. 15-17 on the decline now. Another huge staple – why would IOK spike if you can get thoughtseizes for almost the same price?

    Rock/Spirit Rock Stuff:
    Lingering Souls – instant 4 of to slow down affinity
    Scavenging Ooze – they’ve deflated recently to 15 ish in standard due to supply
    Garruk – 5 a pop, mythic, and double sided

    Also any specs on Affinity stuff?
    Arcbound Ravager @ 15 now
    Cranial Platings @ 1-2?
    Etched Champs?

    1. I think the biggest problem with foils in modern is that many players feel like it’s not “solidified” yet. WoTC kept banning cards so quickly at the formats outset that people aren’t as willing to pick up foil modern staples (that don’t also carry over into legacy), though I do think that one day they will be a solid pickup..my concern is that they will likely not grow that rapidly as many are already more than the usual multiplier over the regular ones. Foil pods are already at $16-18 compared to the $4-5 for regular ones.

    1. Agreed…this card is played in multiple modern decks and is incredibly powerful with many of the modern creatures. I too am picking up any extra copies I can.

  5. I like spellskite foils right now. Its an EDH staple and modern staple and cost less than 2x the cost of a regular spellskite.. Its weird that regular spellskite is a lot more expensive than B Pod but foil pod is a lot more than foil skite.

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