Last weekend's adventure turned out to be a wonderful exercise not only in competing in Magic, but also in seeing what the core Modern landscape is like right now.
This past Sunday's PTQ with Pat's Games in Austin, TX was a smashing success. My hat's off to them. Not only was the tournament on time, as well as major error-free, but the Top 8 was started before 7pm after eight rounds of Swiss. I was a little impressed on that fact alone.
What impressed me the most was 220 players though. Yes--220. For Modern.
That's typical Standard PTQ numbers. Maybe more so than usual, actually. Granted--I didn't attend very many PTQ's last Summer Standard season, there were just too many Grand Prix's on the schedule. This turnout signifies wonderful things for Modern. I've already started to officially take off the Red-Headed Step Child moniker and start hoping this becomes one of the Crown Jewels of competitive Magic. That's really what that kind of number means.
Maybe I'm just hoping too much, but it's about time stores and individuals have a reliable demand for older non-Standard singles. Legacy is great for big markets, but Modern can really help by adding a wider swath of cards back to a consistent in-demand inventory for smaller markets, too.
Having the random collection of someone that hasn't played in six years, for instance, actually have a larger number of diamonds in the rough does so many things for everyone involved. This will definitely add more lifeblood to the finance realm.
So what news do I have to report?
1) Again, the format is super diverse.
There really isn't a "wrong" deck in Modern. There are decks that place more consistenly, sure. The format hasn't been so solved that you can't play whatever you want, though. After all eight rounds, I never played against the same deck twice. Even if you count a mirror match as two copies of Jund--the entire room was a diverse crowd of many different styles, abilities and decks.
2) This means the best approach to Modern is: ________
Pick a deck, and stick to it until you know it inside and out. That's it. There will be more success this way than any other strategy.
What does this translate to as far as finance? Don't listen to the skeptics, there isn't a single "bad" card to invest in. Focus on the fundamental important cards that certain strategies hinge around. Scapeshift, Arcbound Ravager, Snapcaster Mage, Dark Confidant, etc, etc. These are all cards that are built as keystones in the format. End of story.
I continue to harp on these base fundamentals because of one key reason--not many people do them! Most of the speculators run into continue to believe that Modern is just like Standard. Key cards that make the format turn. Flip, buy, rinse and repeat. That's it, to them.
This format is a completely different animal, and while it does compare to Legacy in many ways, there's a larger percentage of copies available for Modern than for many Legacy staples. Combine those facts together and you get a weird Legacy/Standard timey wimey...stuff. You kind of get the best of both worlds. Elastic supply with high demand creating short- and long-term bubble and non-bubble marketplaces for singularly good cards that are kind of the "flavor of the month."
The format is cycling so quickly, because it almost literally comes down to pairings each tournament, that a new flavor could come up next week. It just all depends on the pilot.
The only way we will get more stability is if one person or many persons continually pilot the same decks to the top of the standings week in and week out. At that point, then the hive mind will more than likely take over. This will change the target progressions for cards as demand will begin to tunnel-vision onto those particular decks.
With that out of the way, here's what I am focusing on this week:
5) Abrupt Decay
Abrupt Decay is on a steady incline. Not only is it being played more in the many BGx builds that dot the Modern Landscape, we're also going to start seeing an increase in stores targeting this specific card as it starts to exit Standard.
We are definitely at that point where hoarding Return to Ravnica block is in full effect. Any of the particular targets you are expecting to hold for the long term, you should have already started to pick up. Abrupt Decay should absolutely be on the top of that short list.
4) Blinkmoth Nexus
Poison is picking up steam. The deck's popularity and affordability makes it a great one-two punch for many players just getting into Modern. Not only that, but the deck can easily perform.
It cares not if the main removal in the format is Bolt. They'll typically just wait for you to use it on their attack step, which is where the mistakes happen. Most players wait and try to be greedy with a two-for-one and usually end up getting blown out instead.
Affinity is also a huge proponent of the poison backup plan. Able to switch gears at a moment's notice, many victories can be had by poisoning out your opponent. While Robots is also a thing in Legacy, I have still not seen the price correction that components of that deck should have. Arcbound Ravagers have climbed some, but we have yet to see the $30 mark I believe they will be at shortly.
Part of the problem might be the $60 price tag on Mox Opals. Or the fact that Mox Opals are just impossible to find on the trade floors. Keep an eye out on both of these.
This is the one that I continually monitor. I know there aren't enough Lorwyn copies out there to satisfy demand at this moment. It's becoming more played in Modern each day, and Standard is still having a love affair with this card being back in print.
The long-term price point for Thoughtseize will easily be back in the $40-60 range. It's only a matter of time. The end-all for targeted discard is never going to fall out of popularity unless an even more efficient version is printed. I don't see that happening for at least the next year plus. And the price has stabilized consistently at $16 for the last six months.
Now that multiple formats have picked them up yet again, there could be another price point correction coming. It's tough to say though as there is absolutely a choke hold on availability. Any store that hasn't lost their mind is going to want as many copies of this as possible while we are at it's floor. A quick glance over at Star City's inventory shows almost 300 of Theros copies in stock.
Even with that, I still would have this card consistently in the back of your mind at all times. We are probably heading to it's price floor within the next few months, and with that there's nothing but up to go afterwards.
2) Snapcaster Mage
Snapcaster Mage continues to be a card that carries the banner staff for all of Modern. This card is the prime example I use of a marketplace that just does not know it's ass from it's elbow half the time. We've already experienced a price correction of -$7.00 after its spike over the last few months. I still believe it's just the calm before the storm.
Certain areas are getting their PTQ's all out of the way early on--Texas, for example, which had three in the first three weeks and two at the last fourth point of the season. And while these type of areas are going to set the bar, I'm seeing a ton of Snapcaster Mage play week in and week out.
We might be approaching another price floor to pick them back up, but honestly, I never stopped. Snapcaster is Dark Confidant just without 5+ years under it's belt. Definitely filling up as much space as possible in my long-term holds with this gem.
1) Restoration Angel
Hands down, this is the rotation point of Modern right now. Jund is not playing enough instant speed removal only because this card exists in the format. Jund can handle every other deck out there (Okay, mayyybbbee Jund has a hard time with Tron) but when Celestial Colonnades and Restoration Angels go to work, there are typically problems.
Most of the hybrid tempo decks are moving to more Restoration Angels in order to constantly be able to apply pressure backed by Snapcaster Mage, removal and countermagic. It's working, too. Though I don't believe $6.5 will be relevant any time in the future, until maybe the off season, $10 is a perfectly acceptable buy-in point at this moment.
$15-$20 could very easily be back in the future for Restoration Angel. The market has not yet begun the uptick, but as last weekend's and this weekend's results become more widely disseminated we will see more and more price corrections take place.
- Till next Week