Insider: Modern Masterpiece Finance

Are you a Quiet Speculation member?

If not, now is a perfect time to join up! Our powerful tools, breaking-news analysis, and exclusive Discord channel will make sure you stay up to date and ahead of the curve.

Spoiler season still isn’t in full swing yet for Aether Revolt, but we’ve already gotten so many presents! The latest one we received is the Masterpiece Series Invention list for the set. Based on what had been printed the first time around and the strong dip in coolness Oath of the Gatewatch gave us with its Expeditions, my expectations were about as low as they could be. As it turns out, though, Wizards knocked this one out of the park! We knew we were going to get the other Swords to finish the series, but we also are getting so many sweet reprints too.

The primary aspect of the Aether Revolt part of this series is that all of these cards are playable and solid inclusions in Legacy, Modern, and Commander. Black Vise, Meekstone, and Defense Grid seem the weakest of this group, but there should be buyers for them as well. Today we are going to take a look at many of the cards that stand out to me, their implications for Modern, and the finance that we might expect from them.

First up, we have what I always keep in mind as my benchmark for the Modern format. Any time I’m putting a deck together, I always consider this archetype because it’s a huge part of the format. Take a look at a typical version of the deck that did well recently.

Despite newer cards printed that could fit in this archetype – like Ensoul Artifact, Hangarback Walker, and Smuggler's Copter, the more traditional version keeps coming out on top. With Affinity staying strong as a format staple, plus the Inventions providing more ways to pimp your deck, there are lots of reasons to invest in this archetype.

In addition to Mox Opal and Steel Overseer, which we already had from Kaladesh, now Aether Revolt is bringing us Arcbound Ravager and Ornithopter. So if you are hardcore with how sweet you want your deck to look, you can soon include four different Inventions in your deck!

These four Inventions should hold strong prices due to their inclusion in this strategy. Ravager is preselling for over $100 and the available-at-common Ornithopter is up around $50 right now. While these presale numbers aren’t set in stone and will likely change, those numbers showcase the devotion from the artifact players out there.

If you are targeting Inventions, these seem like two great ones, as do their counterparts from Kaladesh. As of right now, I don’t advise a huge investment in the Masterpiece Series, though. The Expeditions have taken a huge hit since their initial peak started trailing downward. I think much of this has to do with the Inventions, and future inclusion of Masterpieces in each set scaring investors into believing their scarcity is lessened. A year or two from now, these super mythics will be worth as much as they are now, but most likely a lot more.

The second part of the Invention series should follow the same pattern as all of the other Masterpieces, though. The initial preorders and release prices will be high, and they might go higher than that starting point, but then they will start declining at least a bit. The high-end cards from the cycle could dip as much as $50 dollars, so if you don’t need these cards to show off for an event, be patient and find a good deal. The lower-end cards are typically more stable, but even those should cut $5 to $10 from their price tags by a month or two after release.

Let’s dive into the next group of our new Inventions with Chalice of the Void and where it’s seeing the most play.

Todd Stevens took down the Knoxville Modern Classic with this new addition to Modern. This hate-based deck locks down the game by not allowing its opponent to play the game. This archetype features Blood Moon, Chalice of the Void, and tons of removal spells of all sorts.

Some decks aren’t prepared for the hate that comes from every angle, and this deck does a great job shutting opponents down. The weakness of the strategy is that since the goal is to shut down one-cost spells, the deck doesn’t rely on any of its own. That means you will have to play less efficient versions of the same spells, like Blessed Alliance and Journey to Nowhere. This deck might take a slightly slower approach, but it’s legit and not to be underestimated. Make sure you have removal for these hate cards in your sideboard.

One thing is certain, though: Chalice of the Void is the truth. I’ve been on board since Eldrazi Winter and now others are noting how broken Chalice for one really is. While it's true that some decks fold to Chalice, there are some strategies that it doesn’t affect much. Affinity has a hard time with Chalice for zero if they are on the draw, but set at one it's manageable. But even decks like Tron have a tough time fighting through Chalice on one. I locked down my buddy last night in a local Modern tournament with this matchup.

Chalice of the Void is preordering at a staggering $200! I couldn’t believe the numbers I was seeing for preorders for this card. Around the $100 mark seems much more believable to be me, but we’ll see what happens once the bigger stores get their stock listed.

Tom Ross wrecked SCG Columbus with his innovative version of UrzaTron by utilizing white instead of red mana in his list. He still included many of the staples we’ve come to expect in the archetype, though. The main differentiation from the red and white swap is the type of removal you have access to. Tom basically told us with his actions that Path to Exile and Blessed Alliance are better than Lightning Bolt and Pyroclasm. This choice seems much better in the mirror as well as against a number of other matchups.

The other reason I bring this deck up today is because Aether Revolt is granting some Inventions to this deck as well. We will now have access to Wurmcoil Engine and Oblivion Stone in Masterpiece format. Neither of these are four-ofs in this deck, but I’m sure players will want them regardless. I wouldn’t expect either of these two cards to be on the high end of the spectrum of Inventions from this set, though. O-Stone is hanging around $100, but Wurmcoil is dropping down to almost half of that amount. Either way, all of these Modern Masterpieces seem great to me.

There are so many great cards in this series and I think they will really drive sales for the set. Other Modern playables like Engineered Explosives and Ensnaring Bridge are strong inclusions, and so are older cards like Grindstone and Sphere of Resistance.

The last deck I want to cover today may not have any Inventions coming out for it, but there are some other positive qualities I want to mention.

UR Prowess isn’t a deck you likely expect to see on a regular basis in your metagame. This exact deck won an IQ in Columbus, though, and is generating a following from the budget crowd.

At my store, many of the Yu-Gi-Oh! players are transitioning over to Magic. These new players, as well as others that frequent my business, find the non-rotating aspect of Modern to be a huge boon for them. It may be a large investment initially, but players want to find their own route into the format. Budget options like this blue-red aggro combo deck are an easy way to do just that. There are other options as well, but the main aspect is that they must be reasonably cheap. No matter what strategy you choose, there will always be expensive cards that you could play to streamline your strategy.

The main reason I bring this deck up is not just to give you a heads up about a deck you could face at your next local event, but also to shape what you put in your trade binder. Cards from this deck as well as other budget strategies are great trade fodder for players working their way into the format. So, stick a playset of Delver of Secrets and your left over Thing in the Ices into your binder and wait for someone who needs help building a new deck. You’ll not only be helping them out but also get some value as well.

Summing up Inventions

It’s a little early to say these trends are typical patterns that we will see with each set, so watch the market and adjust based on what’s happening. I’ll be here to update you on what’s happening too, so click on back here each week for your two essential components: one part strategy, one part finance.

Until next time,
Unleash the Force!

Mike Lanigan
MtgJedi on Twitter

Join the conversation

Want Prices?

Browse thousands of prices with the first and most comprehensive MTG Finance tool around.

Trader Tools lists both buylist and retail prices for every MTG card, going back a decade.