Insider: Modern Buys Before Pittsburgh

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The Modern Grand Prix in Pittsburgh is just a week away. With the Legacy market slowing down, Modern is the place where the money is going.

GP Pittsburgh is the first Modern Grand Prix since Star City Games announced the end of their support for Legacy, and major financial players will be looking to make moves into Modern. SCG itself hosted Grand Prix Atlanta this weekend, and I’m sure their buyers were eyeing Modern cards too.

Buyers are sure to be in a frenzy at Grand Prix Pittsburgh. We're likely to see buylist and retail prices of many staples increase after the weekend concludes.

The future of eternal formats is Modern, and there is no better time to prepare than now.

The Modern metagame has been pretty diverse this year, as the banning of Birthing Pod, Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time completely gutted the top archetypes and opened up the field to new contenders.

All sorts of different decks have found success this year, but nothing has proven dominant. Pittsburgh will help develop the format further, and financial implications will follow from archetypes that exceed, or fail to meet, expectations.

Archetypes on the Rise

Today I'd like to highlight some specific Modern cards that caught my eye as prospective buys.

These cards hail from archetypes that will be popular at the Grand Prix, which makes them great to have in showcase stock or trade binders. They also have future growth potential as specs, especially with a standout weekend at the tournament.


The price of Scapeshift has been stagnant all year, currently down to $20 from $24 this past winter. The Scapeshift archetype in Modern is on the rise, particularly due to Bring to Light. The adoption of the Battle for Zendikar rare has added redundancy to the archetype, as well as access to a versatile toolbox package.

Scapeshift is relatively straightforward to pilot and cheap in terms of cost, priced less than even Burn and Infect. So as Modern grows, I expect Scapeshift will be an attractive option for many players.

On MTGO, Scapeshift has grown by over 25% in the past two weeks, up to nearly 30 Tix. This is further indication that the card is due for a paper price increase.

Nearly absent from Modern for some time, Prismatic Omen is half the price of two years ago. It’s currently making its way back into Scapeshift decks. The enchantment makes all lands Mountains, which combines with Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle to make Scapeshift lethal with just six lands in play.

Omen has played a key role in past versions of Scapeshift, notably the old Extended version. If it becomes a staple again it’s sure to rise in price.

Hulk Combo

At the SCG Modern Open in St. Louis last month, a combo deck based around Protean Hulk and Footsteps of the Goryo shocked the world by making Top 16. This deck attacks Modern from a new angle, is clearly competitive, and has put the spotlight on cards that were otherwise Modern throwaways.

The price of Protean Hulk didn’t react immediately to the SCG finish, but this past week it grew from $2 to nearly $3. Assuming the archetype becomes a player in the metagame and Protean Hulk becomes a staple, the price is only going higher.

Footsteps of the Goryo remained at $0.5 after the finish, but this past week it nearly doubled to $0.9. An obscure card from an under-opened set, its price will grow to a few dollars if the archetype becomes a fixture of the metagame in any capacity.


This week pieces of the Grishoalbrand deck spiked on MTGO, and I expect the deck to be popular among some of the best players in Pittsburgh.

A high-profile finish there will certainly increase demand and prices of staples. But many of these cards have strong future prospects because of their applications across a wide variety of Modern archetypes, and even casual formats.

Griselbrand was once over $30, but it has steadily fallen down to under $15, with the price currently suppressed by the massive run of Grand Prix promos. As this promo is phased out next year, the price of Griselbrand will rise.

I love this card because it’s the go-to creature for any deck looking to cheat a creature into play, in any format it's legal in. Griselbrand is simply the best creature ever printed if you ignore mana cost, and it's sure to be in a demand for a long time.

The foil promo version with alternate art is only slightly more expensive than the original printing right now. It might be the better buy if you want insurance against a possible reprint.

Through the Breach is another critical piece of the Grishoalbrand deck. It flatlined at $20 and is currently in decline. A big finish could push the price over the $30 it spiked to after Grand Prix success this spring.

Nourishing Shoal's price pattern is nearly identical to Through the Breach, with two successive spikes in the spring followed by a subsequent crash. It's currently sitting at $10.

If the Grishoalbrand archetype becomes more popular, expect Shoal, which appears as a four-of in the deck, to spike back towards $15.

Blue Chip Cards

Here are two “blue chip” cards I like as long-term Modern investments. Keranos, God of Storms is a sideboard staple for Modern’s longest-lived and most successful archetype, Splinter Twin. Master of Waves, on the other hand, is a four-of staple in the growing Merfolk archetype.

These mythics share the distinction of being freshly rotated out of Standard, so their prices are depressed. Given Splinter Twin’s certain future in the format, and the surge in Merfolk’s metagame stock and popularity, I see the prices of these two cards going nowhere but up in the long term.

I’m reticent to hold onto cards from the Amulet Bloom decks; some players have been very vocal recently about their desire to see Summer Bloom or Amulet of Vigor banned. While there has been no indication from WotC that this will happen, it’s always a looming possibility if the archetype became too prominent.


2 thoughts on “Insider: Modern Buys Before Pittsburgh

  1. I honestly don’t understand why WoTC hasn’t banned something in amulet bloom (likely the Bloom it is what truly makes the deck explosive) given their argument of no turn 2 kills (and the deck can do just that). I wouldn’t invest in cards for the deck until after the B&R announcement.

  2. Great article Adam, Pittsburgh is going to draw in a lot of players I’m anticipating. You touched on a lot of the cards that lined up with mine, and I’m glad we’re both in the same mindset about these.

    I’m sure most (if not all) of these archetypes will be showing up.

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