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Insider: The Formats They Are A-Changin’

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The Shadows over Innistrad (SOI) have descended. The Eldrazi have been vanquished from the Modern format. Mages near and far are using all their stored up gold coins, rupees and gil to purchase Scroll of Ancestral Vision and Sword of the Meek in order to learn these newly unbanned spells in Modern.

What an exciting Magical age we live in. And in this age we are in money spending season, so break out those wallets, credit cards, and store credit and get ready to spend, spend, spend. The fact of the matter is that things are being shaken up and anybody looking to play competitively is likely going to need to "pay to play" right now.

Let's take a look at how the two most important formats in Magic, Standard and Modern, have changed to see if we can't find a handful of spicy financial specs.

Standard

It's a great time to trade off many of the cards we've been holding onto waiting for their day in the sun.



Anybody who put their money on white made out like a bandit. Now is the time to move on these cards as they will likely never be higher than right now. These cards are not particularly desirable, except to people trying to buy in on the hot deck of the week. Sell.


Card is so ridiculously overpriced. I predict it will be sub-$10 in two weeks time.

On that note I also think Thing in the Ice // Awoken Horror is overpriced right now. However, it could be better in Legacy and Modern than I'm giving it credit for. Either way, no matter how much Star City Games is trying to prop this card up and pretend it's the "next Snapcaster Mage," it probably isn't. Not even close. Sell this sucker before you get caught holding the bag.

The first Open of the season has wound down and the results are pretty interesting. It looks like, at least after the first week, the format is Collected Company and white midrange decks.

It isn't really surprising when one considers that Collected Company is probably the objectively best spell legal in Standard and that most of the best cards from SOI are white.


As of writing this article Sunday night, Collected Company hasn't really moved in value so far. I would be looking to pick up more copies. It's going to be a format-defining archetype moving forward and a solid, popular Modern staple. As people look to buy into new decks the demand will assuredly rise.


I'm not going to say move on a card that is already $40 because it probably is a losing investment. The price will come down. I mean, look at Siege Rhino---Modern-playable, best card in Standard, and settled at about $4 for most of its legality. This obviously doesn't help if you need it to play Archangel Avacyn // Avacyn, the Purifier next weekend at the Invitational or Open, but if you can afford to, I'd wait it out.

Archangel is the best card from the new set and sure to have a tremendous impact on Standard. When the dust settles I expect it will play a big part in warping the format around it.

If you're looking for good investments I would specifically target cards that play nicely with Collected Company and Avacyn.


Standard has the colorless fixing and enters-the-battlefield abilities to really make this card shine. It pairs well with a number of excellent white cards people want to play anyway. It's great with Avacyn, Reflector Mage and Knight of the White Orchid.

I've played Displacer in Legacy, Modern and Commander. So I'm going to say foils are probably a good thing to hold onto long-term. The card is also pretty sick in cube formats. Ultimately it's just a generically good card and cream always rises.


Speaking of KOTWO, did you see this card spiked to $5 on SCG? Seriously, who would pay $20 for a playset of this card? It's been printed multiple times. There are a zillion copies in existence. I can't even imagine.

Anyways, I'm a sell on this card---in two weeks, once people who are literally allergic to making wise decisions with their money have all gotten their copies, it will settle back down around $2.

We still have the Invitational and the Pro Tour to help define this metagame. I'm sure the pro teams will figure out things the grinders haven't thought of yet. I'd be kind of surprised if there wasn't a red deck of some kind. I'd also be surprised if a black aggro deck didn't make waves. If some of the red and black cards start to slip or people are willing to let them go cheaper, I'd be looking to pick them up.

Modern



You shouldn't need to be told this but the price on both of these cards is absurdly high and all but certain to come down.

Personally, I don't think either are likely to go into Tier 1 decks. For starters, Wizards hasn't unbanned a card in Modern that is truly great yet. They tend to unban cards that are just niche players. Wild Nacatl is the one exception---and that card isn't even close to needing to go back on the banned list. If they unban it, my intuition tells me the safe bet is on a medium power level.

Sword of the Meek plus Thopter Foundry is the kind of thing that attracts people who like to durdle in droves, so it's going to affect prices as people try to build new decks and sideboards.


Scooze got way better. It is good against Reanimator, Thopter Sword and Dredge. And with Eldrazi gone, decks like Jund get much better. More Jund players plus more need for graveyard hate equals rising stock for Scavenging Ooze. I've been writing about Ooze being a good investment forever, so why stop now.


Etched Champion should become more popular in Affinity decks with Eldrazi virtually eliminated from the format. The reason the card disappeared was that it was terrible against colorless Eldrazi creatures. I suspect colored creatures are going to make a pretty big comeback in the coming weeks.

Also, most people don't seem to realize that Thopter Foundry makes blue artifact creatures which means that Etched Champion can skate right past them with a Cranial Plating. Not saying that Etched Champion is great against assembled Thopter-Sword combo, but it is something worth noting.

Champion has fallen to the dregs of its current price point because it hasn't been good in Affinity for a while. I predict an uptick as people figure out it's good again.


The best sideboard card in Modern somehow got even better. Stony Silence is very close to approaching the territory where it may be one of the 5-10 best cards in the entire format! The fact that it will also be good against Thopter Foundry decks that go all-in on artifact mana and synergies is just gravy for this powerful enchantment.

I'd be surprised if Stony Silence doesn't hit the $20 tag at some point in the next two months. I fully expect this to happen.


R.I.P. has already seen some growth lately but it will basically just continue to rise in price until it gets a reprint. The card is absurdly awesome. It is the best graveyard hate card ever printed by a mile. It shuts everything down.

You may have heard that Thopter Sword uses the graveyard... This newest development is a testament to the true power of these sideboard hate cards. When new combos and other degenerate interactions come along, it's often the narrow hate cards that keep them in check. The fact that the list of cards they hose keeps growing larger signals a bright future.


Cage may not interact with the Sword combo but I still think it's undervalued at the current price tag. The card is so effective at doing what it does for one mana that I doubt we will ever get anything like it again. It's just a great Magic card. It costs one, the magic number of playability. It will be great forever.


Everything I said about Grafdigger's Cage applies to Needle. The card sees a ton of play across multiple formats and I'm not sure why people like to think of it as "just above a bulk rare." As it gets further into the past since the last printing we'll continue to see a steady rise in price, and at some point it's going to really bump up.

Summary

Modern and Standard are undergoing some pretty significant changes right now, and we really want to pay attention and take advantage of potential value gainers.

In Standard, we should look for growth in cards that are great with Collected Company and Avacyn Archangel because those appear to be the best strategies right now. If you want to take some risks, I'd look at red and black aggro as strategies that could have strong showings at the Invitational and PT.

In Modern, I'd look for cards that got better with the departure of the Eldrazi, as well as cards of general quality that acquire added utility against fair decks and Thopter Sword. These are the decks that clearly got better post-banning and will be the main force driving Modern players to buy new cards.

New formats are always fun---even more so when you can make a few bucks off them!

3 thoughts on “Insider: The Formats They Are A-Changin’

    1. Plus RtR seems to have settled out – shocks are slowly rising, so only a matter of time before other modern staples from that block follow suit!

  1. Bit surprised to see Collected Company as a buy with rotation at the end of the year. I would expect this to follow a trajectory similar to fetch lands – small bumps, ultimately settling around $15 once it’s out of memory in standard.

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