More on Downsizing: How Do You Approach a Format You Might Want to Play Someday?

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Yesterday, I wrote about the mental and physical benefits to downsizing one's collection. One by one, I went through the different categories of my personal stockpile, but there's one category of cards I didn't discuss: Modern staples. I'm currently in the midst of a mental battle with myself involving this format, and trying to weigh all the factors is not as cut-and-dry as I'd like.

I have a reasonably sizable Modern collection: playsets of all the Zendikar fetchlands and all 10 shocklands, all the blue staples, most of the red staples, and the most important white staples. I don't have Goyfs or Bobs, but I have a lot of options open to me, including Splinter Twin, any variety of non-Temur Delver, Jeskai or Azorius Control, or brews including most any of the cards from this, the most patriotic of color combinations.

Mantis Rider

I also have all the pieces for Birthing Pod, and although I wouldn't say I'm panicking—the non-Pod pieces may very well go on to become a new and awesome Modern deck—the banning of the deck out of the format has got me thinking about how much I really care to hold cards I'm not currently playing.

You see, I have a seven-month-old baby at home, and he's only going to become more of a handful as time goes on. I haven't gotten out to a Modern event in more than a year, and I don't see that changing any time soon. Additionally, my local community isn't super invested in Modern—Standard and Commander are the big formats here. I don't live in a major metropolitan area, so attending the random Grand Prix or SCG Open is unlikely. And the new PPTQ system is decidedly not designed for non-grinders like me (I'd much rather try my luck under the old system and have the chance to spike one event rather than basically committing myself to two). On top of that, by eliminating Modern PTQ season, Wizards of the Coast removed what would have been a dependable time of year to play a bit more of the format.

When I look at all these points, I think, "Well, duh. Sell your Modern cards. You're not playing any time soon."

But the problem is that I like Modern. I like the idea that if I move, or if the trend in my community shifts, or if WOTC brings back Modern PTQ season, or my LGS institutes a highly successful and popular Modern night, I'll be able to play. I was enthusiastic about the format when it was new, so I acquired a lot of these cards at very low prices—prices I won't be able to find again. 

Still, the whole reason I started building a Modern collection was because it was appealing to get to build a deck or two to just have ready and available in between long periods of not playing. The banning of Birthing Pod, however, has highlighted the fact that Modern is not Legacy, and you can't just commit yourself to one deck without risking getting burned. This means having staples for multiple decks, which starts to get expensive. Even though I like the idea of playing Modern in the future, there's no guarantee that the decks I have available will still be in the format when I get around to it.

I'm torn, and I still haven't decided. For now, I'm getting rid of my fifth and sixth copies of cards that I want a playset of for Modern, but also have a copy of in my Cube and/or Commander deck. If I was alternating between cubing and playing Modern a couple times a week, the extra copies would be nice. But as it is, having five Splinter Twins, six Snapcaster Mages, or more than four copies of anything just doesn't make sense. It's more of my downsizing mentality making itself manifest.

Help me out here: what do you do when you have cards for a format you like but don't really play? I imagine that with Legacy it's easier to just sit on them, but what about more transient formats where card prices are more mercurial? Let me know if you have experience with this type of thing in the comments below.

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Danny Brown

Danny is a Cube enthusiast and the former Director of Content for Quiet Speculation.

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Posted in Free, ModernTagged

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3 thoughts on “More on Downsizing: How Do You Approach a Format You Might Want to Play Someday?

  1. I would build a deck that you think/hope will always be fun to bring out when the time comes. If that means goyfs and bobs, sell the other stuff to acquire those. When that is all said and done, I would look for the right time to sell everything you aren’t likely to use with that deck.

    That said, unless you need the money, all of this is likely to appreciate over time. Stay on top of trends and reprints, and buy/sell when the opportunities arise.

    I gather I’m only telling you things you have already considered.

  2. Like you I have a few modern staples lying around and I don’t really play modern. What should one do with these cards? That is a tough question Danny! Chas Andres once said more or less in an SCG article that throughout Magic’s history the best financial play would have been to acquire the cream of the crop cards and hold them forever. But past performance is no guarantee of future results. This leads me to my prescription of hold and watch. Watch what Wizards does with reprints, how frequently new format altering cards are introduced, and how market demand for today’s staples might shift. Who knows, maybe Wizards eventually squashes any incentive to speculate and then the only reason to own a Magic card is because you intend to play it at that point in time. Don’t you love the tension of guessing at this game’s future?

  3. I have a kid too, and I’m slowly down sizing my magic collection. I also love modern.

    My tip: choose a deck. I play affinity.
    1. it’s a huge time saver. To be up to date, I only need to read the articles of Frank Karsten.
    2. Trading, buying and selling modern is very easy, and takes less time.
    I keep affinity cards, I buy affinity cards on time (chalice of the void). I sell all the rest (2 playsets of forked bolt). Not having a deck makes that more complicated I think.

    3. First thing you need to have success in this format is to know your deck. If you have no experience with your deck, you don’t make a chance. So if you ever play in an event, you want to play a deck you know.
    When I play the mirror match, I know my win percentage is above 50% because most of the time, I know my deck better than he/she does.
    in the US, there is one affinity player that made several GP T8 because he has the experience. Dickmann and his splinter twin deck is also a good example.

    So if you ever want to play a modern event, you want to play a deck you know.
    And I don’t like to stimulate people to play crappy software, but MTGO really helps me a lot to get experience with the deck.

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