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Insider: Top Targets from Pro Tour Fate Reforged

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As you likely already know, this past weekend was Pro Tour Fate Reforged. The event featured some rounds of draft as well as the tournament highlight: Modern.

Recall that Wizards just destroyed the best deck in the format a few weeks ago by banning Birthing Pod, while also severely hindering blue strategies by eliminating Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time.

What remained was a wide-open format, with plenty of room for tinkering.

I had additional personal interest in the event, for both financial implications as well as for ideas regarding what I should build next, seeing as my Melira Pod deck is extinct.

The top options I watched throughout the weekend were far from stimulating, and it left me scratching my head when it comes to speculation targets. In many cases, the top pick-ups are already so expensive that it forces me to question what upside remains. There’s also significant reprint risk.

Still, I have a few ideas and general observations worth sharing.

The Break Down

Wanting to build a competitive deck for myself, my sights naturally turn to the Top 8 lists. These are also the lists that will get the most screen time, dominating everyone’s attention Sunday.

However, the results are… lacking, to say the least.

*Yes the Abzan builds are different. I’m choosing to group them together for simplicity.

Abzan Decks

Seeing as I used to play Melira Pod with Siege Rhino, the logical decision could be to move towards one of the Abzan builds in the Top 8.

Problem is I don’t own Tarmogoyfs or Liliana of the Veils. They’re both already a fortune, and the former could easily show up in Modern Masters 2015 and should be approaching a ceiling.

Liliana

It is my own fault for not picking these up when Birthing Pod was banned. But now that I have perfect hindsight, I can’t bring myself to move in on the dominant Planeswalker at $87 a pop.

Innistrad was opened quite a bit. Although she’s a mythic, I can’t help but fear that a reprint will plummet her value.

Thinking about it mathematically, I see remaining upside of maybe 10-15% as she approaches $100. But downside here is huge, as a reprint or sudden shift in metagame could send her right back down to $60 again. Net, she was a great pickup a month or two ago. I missed the boat, however, and I’m not getting on here.

Sig, can’t you just run the unique Abzan build piloted by Jacob Wilson? It ran no Goyfs and no Lilis!

This is a fair point, and I considered it. But I am not thrilled about some of the cards in the deck from a financial standpoint. For example, many people are anticipating a Noble Hierarch reprint in MMA2015. I do own two copies, and I’m thrilled to see the mana dork is still relevant even without Pod decks. This should stop the downward movement in price that’s been painful to watch.

Hierarch

Being so reprintable, especially at rare, I can’t advocate buying here for financial speculation. In fact, I’ll be looking to unload my two copies in the coming months leading up to MMA2015.

I also dislike Wilt-Leaf Liege from a financial standpoint. Sure, short-term prospects seem positive. If you bought Saturday for $13, you’re likely to profit as this card breaks $20 – especially if this particular Abzan build beats out the more traditional ones.

But again, I actually do fear reprint in MMA2015. It’s just a theory, but I believe there may be a hybrid mana theme in the set, supported by filter lands. And wouldn’t it be convenient if Wizards also planned the cycle of Lieges to occur in the set?

That being said, I do see Liege going higher in the short term, so if you can find copies at the “old” price and flip them quickly, I’m all for it.

And, of course, there’s Siege Rhino. If he was dominant in Legacy, we’d see this card well over $10 already. As it stands, the rhino has been on a steady uptrend since bottoming a couple months ago. This trend will continue, and my price target is $10. That means buying at $6 isn’t that exciting if you’re in it for the profits.

But if you want copies to play with, get ‘em now.


Burn

No thanks. Not playing Burn.

But the deck is unfortunately legit. So we can’t ignore it from a financial standpoint.

Good pickups here? I don’t like Goblin Guide a whole lot. He’s too reprintable and he’s already a fortune. Grim Lavamancer may be more interesting. Although he’s bounced a bunch lately, and seeing as he was in Fire and Lightning, I don’t know what kind of upside he still has.

Lavamancer

Eidolon of the Great Revel could be another solid pickup. He’s a mainstay in Modern and Legacy Burn strategies. He’s about to rotate out of Standard, but I suspect it’s not Standard that’s propping up his price anyway. Being so recently printed, there’s even a small immunity to reprinting in the short run that also makes spirit enchantment creature more attractive. I’d try to trade for them.

Then, of course, there are the commons and uncommons like Lava Spike and Rift Bolt. They’re both in the original Modern Masters but they are far from their bottom. If they don’t get reprinted again, they’ll be destined for higher prices.


Rift Bolt

Splinter Twin

This strategy has been around for a long time in Modern, and it only makes sense that the deck gets better and better as its competition gets banned to oblivion. Twin was always a playable deck for competitive Modern, but now that so many other archetypes have been removed from the picture, it’s natural to see Twin strategies rise to the top.

It’s a good thing, too. Without Splinter Twin, there’d be practically no reason for people to own cards like Cryptic Command and Serum Visions. In fact, I’m not certain this deck alone can buoy the prices of these blue cards all that much. I’d sell both – especially with risk of Serum Visions getting a reprint in MMA2015.

I do like Snapcaster Mage here, despite already being expensive. He’s dodging reprint in MMA2015 and he’s heavily played in both Modern and Legacy. I see the human wizard approaching $50 into the summer if Twin remains a strong Modern strategy.


As for Splinter Twin itself? I think I’d rather have my money in something like Snappy. Twin can be reprinted in MMA2015 and its playability is much more narrow.

Bloom Titan

This list definitely leaves room for the most opportunity from a financial standpoint. This strategy has been around for a long while, but perhaps the recent bannings has finally done enough to make this Tier 2 deck break into the top tier.

Because it has been under the radar for so long, there are many cheap targets worth grabbing for financial speculation.

It’s probably a bit late for Amulet of Vigor, which has already skyrocketed in price.

Amulet

Despite this, other critical pieces to the deck are still cheap. Hive Mind has only one printing in a core set and is still under $3. I don’t expect this enchantment to appear in MMA2015, and it even shows up in Legacy from time to time.

Its partner in crime, Summoner's Pact, is also relatively inexpensive. Sure, it was reprinted in the first Modern Masters, but that means it likely won’t be reprinted a second time. Pact also has some appeal outside of Modern, making it a bit safer to buy into.


Azusa, Lost but Seeking is already very expensive and is only a two-of in the deck. But Primeval Titan is a 4-of and won’t be reprinted again in the near term.

That being said, I still like Hive Mind and Summoner's Pact the most for their versatility and price. They haven’t spiked (not as of Sunday morning at least) and aren’t likely to be reprinted any time soon.

What Should I Play?

The only list in the Top 8 that really interests me from a playability standpoint is the Bloom Titan deck. The others are really not exciting to me. And I’ve always been a fan of complicated combo decks!

Problem is, I really have little motivation to buy all the cards needed to play this deck. Some of them are relatively expensive, and now they’re all likely to be even more costly after performing well at the Pro Tour. Do I really want to pay $30+ for a set of Amulet of Vigors? $50+ for two Azusas? Not likely.

Still, outside of Burn (yuck), this is the cheapest deck in the Top 8. So perhaps it is the best option.

I’ll most likely wait and watch how things unfold throughout the coming weeks. Perhaps I’ll get lucky and make some money on the hottest specs from the Pro Tour to help subsidize my deck choice. And if I do decide to go the Bloom Titan route, I’ll have all the pieces of Melira Pod to sell to fund the endeavor. If anything, Verdant Catacombs and Noble Hierarchs will subsidize my new deck nicely.

No other top strategies grabbed my attention last weekend. So if I can’t make Bloom Titan work, I guess I am presently done with the format. It makes me wonder how many others are in my boat, looking for a new deck to play but not finding inspiration in what’s out there.

What do you think? Could the new Modern format feel so stale that it turns players off from it altogether? Enough so to influence prices? It’s certainly worth considering, which is why I prefer to put my money into versatile cards that are playable in Legacy as well, if at all possible. Because Legacy, as we all know, is alive and well.

Sigbits

  • Expect many cards to plummet in price coming out of the Pro Tour as well. There are a handful of cards people speculated deeply on that did very little in the main event. The biggest loser? Ghostway. Star City Games is out of stock at $8.79 right now, but don’t expect that price to rise, seeing as the card did nothing last weekend.
  • Geist of Saint Traft is another loser. I was skeptical of it myself, and I’m very happy to see my suspicions confirmed. Zero copies in the Top 8 means the creature is yet again homeless. SCG currently has 35 copies in stock with a NM price tag of $22.15. I think this goes lower in the next month.
  • Vengevine is another card that did nothing last weekend. Many players speculated on Golgari Grave-Troll breaking out during the Pro Tour, but this was not the case. They are currently sold out of regular copies of Vengevine at $19.79. They’re also out of stock of NM Trolls at $8.85 (Duel Deck) and $9.45 (Ravnica). Neither of these will hold these price tags.

19 thoughts on “Insider: Top Targets from Pro Tour Fate Reforged

    1. This was an oversight on my part! Clearly I wasn’t thinking straight, as I contradicted myself here. Liliana should be safe from reprinting. She cannot be in MMA2015. I just think she’s closer to a price ceiling since she recently jumped higher, and her risk/reward equation here is less attractive. Sorry about that!!

    2. Actually, WoTC had LoTV planned for M15, but mono-black devotion proved too strong so she didn’t make it. The point is, that WoTC doesn’t feel like she’s too powerful for standard again. However, Sigmund is correct in that neither of them will show up in MMA2015…but given both are standard strong, I wouldn’t bet against seeing either or both show up again in a standard legal set in the next year or so.

      1. David brings up the real point I was trying to make. LoTV won’t be in MMA2015, but Wizards does have their eye on the card as a potential reprint. Perhaps once Thoughtseize leaves Standard and black isn’t quite so dominant we’ll get Lili back. Either way, the risk/reward equation at $85-$90 seems unfavorable and I’d rather have my money in Snapcaster, Abrupt Decay, etc.

    1. Is it really mostly casual? I remember seeing a Modern video on Channel Fireball, where LSV was jamming Ghostway (to good success too). I figured that was a major catalyst for the speculation.

  1. “Problem is I don’t own Tarmogoyfs or Liliana of the Veils. They’re both already a fortune, and the latter could easily show up in Modern Masters 2015 and should be approaching a ceiling.”

    This statement is incorrectly worded. It should read: “Problem is I don’t own Tarmogoyfs or Liliana of the Veils. They’re both already a fortune, the former could easily show up in Modern Masters 2015 and the latter should be approaching a ceiling.”

  2. I think we will see a lot more innovation in the coming months, or at least I hope so. I am worried about an early stale format post bannings though. A meta of Twin, Abzan, Burn and affinity seems miserable. Yes amulet too but I doubt too many players will pick that up.

    1. This is my concern, Mike. I am not at all interested in playing (nor watching, for that matter) Burn, Affinity, Twin and Abzan decks. It just sounds stale. There’s no control in there either. Amulet is spicy, but I will admit watching it again and again also got a little boring since their turns can take a while.

      I sure hope there’s innovation in the future. Otherwise this is not a Modern format people will want to embrace readily.

      Thanks for commenting!

    2. It’s important to keep in mind that this PT was right after a major shift in the metagame (courtesy of the bannings) and control strategies typically take awhile to develop. I think we’ll see a resurgence of control strategies as the metagame develops more the control players will start to figure out what answers they need to the most often occuring threats. I fully expect to see a U/W/x control deck back in the limelight soon enough.

    1. Strong representation, but it didn’t quite get there from a T8 standpoint. I agree the deck is decent. It just didn’t grab much spotlight on Sunday so I chose to leave it out for the sake of article length. Great add, though!

  3. how do you feel about lifebane zombie as a good spec watching a field full of abzan? derek madlem talked about it a little in another article, any special thoughts on it?

    1. Carlos,

      That’s a very good question. It’s something I haven’t really put much thought into. I’d actually open this question up to the broader community to see if anyone’s tested the card, before buying in deeply. That being said, downside is minimal here so if you wanna pick up a set or two I see little harm in doing so.

      Thanks for posting!
      Sig

  4. Is it just me, or are the prices of literally every card in standard rotation is half of what even the basic rares were in RTR and Dragons Maze. I remeber playing mono black devotion and spent well over 12 dollars per card in the deck. Now its like half prices across the board… I hope this isn’t the sign of a zombie apocalypse…walking dead aired sunday and now im starting to question my 5 playsets of siege rhino…

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