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Insider: My Current Modern Specs (Part 1)

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Welcome back readers. In today's article I'm going to discuss my current spec targets (i.e. what I have sitting in my "speculation box"), specifically the ones I've targeted for the Modern format.

Keeping Track of Specs

Before I start digging into specific card choices, I thought it would be wise to first discuss how I maintain my specs.

It's very easy to become "too diversified" when it comes to speculation targets and end up just having a box of random "good stuff". The danger here is that while it takes the least amount of effort, you often forget what may or may not be in the box. This can cause you to miss out when a spec actually does spike due to hype (and you need to flip it quick).

So the first thing you'll want to do (and it can be daunting) is to open up a spreadsheet and start compiling all your spec targets onto it, along with quantity. I also note which format the spec is related to. This will give you a tool to quickly check how many copies of each target you have in the case you want to sell to a buylist or list on a website. That's one half of the work right there.

The next step would be to organize your specs in one fashion or another. An obvious one would be to sort alphabetically, though you could also color-code the sleeves by format, depending on how big your spec box actually is.

The Spec Box, A-H

Abrupt Decay

This is one that a lot of us have been touting for quite a while. It's currently sitting at around $16 on the mid and its low was $6.50 back in November of 2013. This was a pretty obvious pickup as it immediately found a home in Standard, Modern, and Legacy and proved to be a very powerful, versatile removal spell. For a while it even had its buddy Deathrite Shaman in Modern to really strengthen the Golgari color combination.

Academy Ruins

This incredibly powerful land was $14+ before plummeting back down to the $6 range. I picked it up a while ago and it's already nearing the all-time high again, despite the MMA reprint. This land just gets better and better as more artifacts are printed and it pairs extremely well with Engineered Explosives (which is a pick a bit farther down).



 

Bottled Cloister

This was a cheapo spec (my buy in was around $0.3), that combos extremely well with Ensnaring Bridge and also provides continual card advantage. It can't get hit with Abrupt Decay, but is extremely weak to Ancient Grudge. If we ever see Grudge start to fall out of favor this could definitely see some growth.

Chord of Calling

I advocated on here for everyone to buy these when they were $3.5-$3.75 as it seemed like an obvious home run after its previous high of almost $40. The fact that it was reprinted in a core set (which wasn't heavily drafted/cracked) only added to its potential. I'm very happy with this spec and have almost tripled my buy-in.



 

Clifftop Retreat

I picked these up back when Innistrad rotated out as I felt that buddy lands were underutilized in Modern (and expect them to see more play in the future) and unlike the allied-color ones, these lands were limited to just an Innistrad printing. Boros is a strong color combination in Modern on the aggro end of things and I still think these have room to grow.

Copperline Gorge

Back when Blackcleave Cliffs first jumped up to around $5, the rest of the Scars fastlands were still very low. At the time Jund preferred Raging Ravine to Copperline, however, the fact is in a format that has multiple decks that can win on turn 3-4, dual lands that come into play untapped and don't hurt you to tap for mana are a huge boon (especially when Burn is prevelant).



 

Damping Matrix

This is one I picked up after reading Brian DeMars talk about it on one of his QS articles. The buy-in is quite low and the card is extremely powerful. Unfortunately this card is currently overshadowed by Stony Silence in Modern (which is all around better) and thanks to white having the best removal spell in Modern (Path to Exile), it's played enough that if you can run Stony Silence over Damping Matrix you will.

Dark Confidant

This is a more recent spec target, but with his continual drop after Treasure Cruise took over Modern and the MM2 printing this once-$90 card could be had for as low as $30 at one point (I bought one from a vendor for that at GP Charlotte). With a resurgence in Jund/Junk and a need for continual card advantage I see this guy moving back towards $60.



 

Darkslick Shores

This one follows the same reason as Copperline Gorge, except for the longest time blue-black was barely seen in Modern. With the arrival of Grixis Control decks to the format, this one has doubled in value since I bought in.

Disrupting Shoal

I remember when this card spiked hard after a Travis Woo deck (Ninja Bear Delver) jumped into the Modern spotlight. As the format's closest thing to Force of Will it went from near bulk to $5 all of a sudden, then petered back down to around $2 when I picked them up. They have since rebounded twice to a current almost $14.



 

Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite

This is a recent spec pickup. This Modern, Legacy, and casual power house was close to $30 at one point before the MM2 printing obliterated its price. However, good cards are still good cards and the fact that she was reprinted at mythic in a short-printed set still means she has a lot of upside.

Engineered Explosives

As I previously mentioned, this is another card that once sat at nearly $20 when it was all the rage in Legacy. The MMA reprint killed the value and MMA copies could be had for around $5. It avoided a second reprint in MM2 and has since recovered back to almost $17.



 

Falkenrath Aristocrat

This once mighty pillar of Standard sat at $22 (while in Standard) before plummeting to its current $3 status. I picked up a good bunch at $1.75 (after offering that sum to my LGS to buy all 10 copies they had at once) as a long-shot mythic. Should it show up in Modern, it could easily return to $15+ (thanks to coming from Dark Ascension, which outside of Mikaeus, the Unhallowed and Huntmaster of the Fells has nothing over $7 in it). I'd heard rumors of someone porting The Aristocrats deck to Modern and I wanted to get in early with this one. So far it has stayed flat and hasn't moved since I bought it.

Fulminator Mage

Another more recent pickup. I remember when this guy was sitting at $40+ (thanks to the single printing of Shadowmoor and limited options for non-red decks against Tron in Modern). Thanks to the MM2 printing his price plummeted and I was able to pick up MM2 copies for $15 at GP Charlotte. He's currently sitting at around $21, but nobody in my area is willing to trade any copies so I expect to see him slowly climb back towards $26-$30.



 

Garruk Relentless

The only flip Planeswalker before Origins debuted. He's a four-drop planeswalker with strong abilities, he can be slotted into Junk/Jund in Modern, and for WoTC to reprint him they'd have to include the flip card inserts again. Thanks to the power of Collected Company I feel the four-drop slot has a ton of competition in Modern now, but he fits well into BGx EDH decks and I still have hope for him finding a home in Modern (likely as a mirror breaker).

Gavony Township

I bought these while watching PT DC and the dominance of Junk/Siege Rhino decks that used Gavony as a mid- to late-game powerhouse.

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Geist of Saint Traft

I feel like Jeskai aggro is always on the verge of playability in Modern (with Mana Leak, Geist, Bolt, and Lightning Helix) and I can't think of a better threat than Geist for the deck at the three slot. Hexproof is an incredibly broken ability and it's easy for this style of deck to make sure he never dies.

Gideon Jura

I remember when this card first came out in RoE and people were trading away Baneslayers/JTMS's for him (shortly after release). His plus ability is incredibly powerful against aggro decks, Twin, and Infect. He's incredibly hard to kill, and he's a powerful mono-colored planeswalker in one of the best colors in Modern.



 

Gifts Ungiven

I've had a weak spot for this card since shortly after Modern's inception, when a friend played a Gifts control deck against me that repeatedly reanimated Elesh Norn or Iona (depending on what I was playing) and just neutered my deck. An instant speed search that can get both a giant monster and the reanimation spell with flashback into your yard is just stupidly powerful, and a lot of the control decks in Modern now splash a Gifts package (since it doesn't take up a lot of sideboard space, but can stop a lot of decks cold). I still feel like it has room to grow, but I'm happy that I got my MMA copies at around $4.

Hero of Bladehold

This is sort of a "casual" Modern card, as the B/W Tokens decks rarely do well at major events (though I do recall seeing someone play one on camera at PT DC). However, the Hero is a very powerful four-drop that can quickly take over a game (similar to Goblin Rabblemaster, but much harder to kill thanks to the four toughness).



 

Hinterland Harbor

As I previously mentioned, all the buddy lands are more powerful than many realize and are the perfect land drops after turn one (ideally you fetch up a shock tapped) and have perfect painless mana from that point forward. Blue-green is one of the weaker Modern color combinations (typically only seeing play in RUG Twin or RUG Scapeshift, the latter which doesn't really want non-mountain nonbasics). I've held onto them for awhile now, and though the gains have been modest, I feel like these are a strong long-term spec, barring reprint.



 

And there you have the first half of my Modern specs. Join me for the next article when I'll cover the other half of the alphabet.

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