Cards to Watch
I hope no one has bulked out their Smash to Smithereens.
This Modern sideboard staple has hit a new high of $4. This card could be had at under a $1.50 in early July, when it first began to slowly but steadily increase in price all the way to around $3.90 by the end of October, before falling to $3.5 in the first week of November.
Over 14% growth in the last week has brought it to a new high of $4. The price has a little wiggle room, but I think $4 is the new price point going forward. It could go higher, but the recent increase is likely in large part due to an influx of new, cheap fetchland-driven Modern players straining the supply of stores and quickly correcting the previously bargain price.
I do think this one has some serious risk in holding for the long-term, simply because this card has a high chance of reprint. We don't know if it will be in Modern Masters 2, and it may be unlikely since Modern Masters had an artifact theme, but it’s a fit for literally any new set or special deck offering. On the positive side, A-Shattered Seraph in Khans of Tarkir means a reprint is quite unlikely in the current block.
On the topic of artifact removal, I noticed that the $3.60 Shattering Spree has seen approximately 25% growth from its low of $2.84 a year ago.
With the Replicated keyword, this card is unlikely to see reprint in a normal set, and as a Modern and Legacy staple, it’s a solid position. Don’t gloss over this one in trades and bulk buys.
Price of Progress jumped over 85% in the last week alone, currently sitting at around $10.50.
Like the other red cards, Price of Progress was a bargain entering the summer before steadily increasing until the end of October. It was just $3.5 all spring, but steady growth through the summer and to the end of October put it around $5.7, around a 60% gain. The growth accelerated the first few days of November towards $7, before a buyout at the end of last week pushed it over $10--and perhaps even higher.
I suspect this card has been underpriced for a while and had been slowly correcting itself since the spring. It was during this time that Burn strategies saw a renewed interested from the strategy. Burn was a top-tier if not dominant Modern deck by the end of last PTQ season. Eidolon of the Great Revel positioned itself as a competitive Legacy deck, a deck where Price of Progress typically earns maindeck slots.
Recently, the wave of Izzet Delver decks in Legacy has brought a renewed interested in the card. Izzet Delver is undeniably the most popular Legacy deck, and it’s a common sideboard option there.
I’m up on the air on where this will go, likely never under $7 again, but it will be hard pressed to stay much higher than $10.
It’s very important to note that this has a foil printing in the “Fire and Lightning” deck. Those are available at around $7.5 shipped from TCGplayer. It was readily available for under $5 before the buyout, so it too has seen a significant price increase but may still be underpriced by a few dollars.
Decks to Play
The SCG Open Series came to Columbus, Ohio last weekend and drew a massive crowd of over 750 players for Standard. Steve Rubin won it with his trademark Abzan Midrange:
I followed Steve’s work with Black Devotion last year, and more recently he was the original designer behind the deck Ari Lax used to win PT: KTK last month. Steve demonstrated his mastery over the format by updating the decklist in accordance with the metagame and piloting it through 14 rounds.
It’s quite resilient to removal like Bile Blight and Lightning Strike, and it’s a fine blocker. It’s also capable of quickly closing out a game if its controller clears the way. The Cat Soldier tokens it produces are particularly great at triggering the Raid of Wingmate Roc,
Abzan Midrange was a likely favorite going into Khans of Tarkir Standard. After all, it won the Theros block Pro Tour in the hands of Patrick Chapin, and the spoiling of Siege Rhino and Abzan Charm gave it two new tools more powerful than any cards the archetype could have ever dreamed of playing. There is no surprise it won the Pro Tour, and there is no surprise it continues to win.
There is really no safer or surer bet--no deck more rewarding of continued play, experience and mastery--and there is no deck more capable of being tuned week-to-week to adapt to the metagame. This is surely the deck I have my money on in future Standard events and the deck I recommend everyone picking up sooner than later, if not to play it than to know how to beat it.
Treasure Cruise has massively impacted Legacy and the effects are just beginning to be felt. The abrupt rise of Izzet Delver has shocked the format, and a strong reaction to this deck is already taking shape through the metagame.
The SCG Legacy Open in Columbus on Sunday was the most high-profile and significant event before Legacy GP: New Jersey this coming weekend, and it will be looked upon by many for inspiration.
This deck is built to control and outlast Izzet Delver decks with plenty of disruption alongside the powerful Stoneforge Mystic providing lategame inevitability. Snapcaster Mage is quite powerful with delving because delve can be used when being flashbacked from the graveyard!
This deck leans on two Dig Through Times and just one Treasure Cruise, a decision that gives the deck greater card quality at the expense of quantity. And in practice, it is likely more powerful overall.
Dig Through Time ultimately requires more mana, but as an instant it’s certainly more versatile. They will be functionally similar in terms of cost in most matches, but Dig Through Time carries significantly less variance than random draws from the top of the deck, so it’s more reliable than Treasure Cruise.
On the other hand, it lacks the same level of explosive potential that comes with hitting three relevant cards, and with less raw cards, it’s not as synergistic with Brainstorm plus a shuffle effect.
These sort of card decisions needs to be thoroughly tested, and certainly both options are fine, while perhaps a mix is the most correct. Based on his interviews, Rudy was happy with his decision and hinted that he would cut the Treasure Cruise because Dig Through Time performed so well.
I really like Rudy’s deck, and it’s exactly the sort of idea I had in mind for approaching the format. It’s able to play the control role against Izzet Delver with lots of removal and it has inevitability with its endgame. The removal package makes it strong against Elves Combo, while the stable manabase and strong creatures give it plenty of game against Death and Taxes.
This deck has all the tools it requires for fighting fair decks but has plenty of great sideboard options for attacking the remainder of the field. Containment Priest in particular was tailor-made for this strategy.
With proper testing and tuning, this deck is a great option for the GP and a deck I’d recommend to anyone with Stoneblade experience. It’s certainly the deck I’ll be working with going forward.
That’s it this week, so please scroll down to the comments section with any questions.