Insider: Modern Market Movements after the Bannings and Aether Revolt

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The big Magic news last week was the early Aether Revolt banning announcement that brought Standard to its knees. The announcement also included Modern bannings. These have been somewhat overshadowed by Standard discussion but are no less important.

The Modern landscape has been significantly changed, and that has big implications for the market. There have now been almost two weeks since the announcement, and there have been some important price changes to take note of during the interim. Most importantly, there is indication that there are more price shifts to follow.

The banning of Gitaxian Probe in Modern will lead to a decline of unfair creature decks. Death's Shadow Zoo is dead until proven otherwise, and so are the Blue-Red Temur Battle Rage decks. Infect was arguably the best deck in Modern, and this banning has kicked it down a notch. It loses an intangibly important part of its strategy, which will make it less consistent, and it removes Become Immense's best enabler. This change is going to make life easier for the decks that struggles against these aggressive decks, which has implications for the market.

A natural result in the decline of Infect and other Gitaxian Probe decks is that other aggressive decks now have opportunity to fill the niche. An obvious winner from this is Affinity, which is now the de facto best aggressive creature deck.

The announcement has also ticked up the price of Mox Opal, which many have on the top of their shortlists as a Modern card that should be banned, on the news that it’s safe for at least another few months.

The bannings also seem to bode well for Aether Vial decks like Merfolk and W/G Hatebears, which can prey on midrange decks in the relatively slower new metagame.

Land strategies, which are slow and fall prey to the fastest decks, are the biggest gainers on Magic Online since the announcement. One of the top gainers is Scapeshift, which could reemerge in the metagame.

Another card to keep in mind is Primeval Titan, which is played in some versions of Scapeshift and has crossover from other decks that improve from the bannings, like Through the Breach decks and even Amulet of Vigor decks.

When Scapeshift and Primeval Titan are on the rise, that means Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle won’t be far behind.

Take note of Urzatron, which has seen all of its staples appreciate on Magic Online since the bannings, and has seen paper staples like Karn Liberated begin to follow suit.

Ugin, the Spirit Dragon is another Tron staple on the rise, but crossover appeal from the Frontier crowd has driven its price up significantly.

As land strategies rise to prominence, so do hosers against lands. Modern’s staple land destruction is Fulminator Mage, but Boom/Bust is also receiving attention.

The banning of Golgari Grave-Troll is a major hit to Dredge, and as its use rate declines in the metagame, so too will graveyard hate. That opens up room for other graveyard strategies to succeed, which explains the growth of Goryo's Vengeance on Magic Online.

There’s a renewed interest in other graveyard strategies as well, so Living End has seen growth online.

So has Gifts Ungiven for its versatile ability to enable the graveyard for cards like Unburial Rites.

Aether Revolt is also quite influential in Modern. The biggest standout is Fatal Push, which now contends with Lightning Bolt and Path to Exile as the best removal spell in the format – and it's arguably the best of all. That’s a boon to black decks of all sorts. Grixis Control has been a second-tier contender in Modern for the past year, driven by the unbanning of Ancestral Vision, and Fatal Push could push the deck to the top.

A natural gainer from the new world where black is the best control color is that Watery Grave becomes a premier shockland, and the price is rising accordingly. There’s a great opportunity to get in on this relatively cheap shockland before it begins to appreciate relative to the others.

I’m also a fan of Darkslick Shores, which is more desirable when black is more important

A somewhat surprising winner recently has been Countersquall, a staple of Grixis Control, which has now spiked over $5.

One deck that’s back on the radar is Faeries, which would be a perfect home for Fatal Push. That has begun to move the price of Bitterblossom upwards online.

The new Sram, Senior Edificer offers an ability similar to Puresteel Paladin in its ability to draw cards from equipment. There is already a casual Modern deck built around going off with Puresteel Paladin, but now with another draw engine, it could become a legitimate contender. The price of Puresteel Paladin has spiked hard, and it doesn’t have more room to grow unless the deck becomes a true top-tier contender. There are other pieces of the deck, however, like Retract, that could provide some return.

The new cycle of Expertise cards, particularly the cheapest, Kari Zev's Expertise, opens up the possibility for a new style of combo deck that seeks to play split cards for free. It’s not clear whether or not this is a novelty or a new broken strategy, but at the very least it’s a great interaction that I expect we will see plenty of in casual formats if it doesn’t prove competitive, and it’s nothing but great for the prices of split cards.

Aether Revolt brings a renewed focus on counters with the powerful Winding Constrictor, which has increased interest in other cards that could benefit from it. I assume most of this interest is from a casual and EDH crowd, but there is certainly plenty of Modern crossover, with players like Tom Ross saying publicly that he wanted to break Winding Constrictor in the format. Lux Cannon has seen gains, but more surprising is Inexorable Tide, as proliferate can get out of hand with Winding Constrictor.

What do you make of these Modern market movements?


One thought on “Insider: Modern Market Movements after the Bannings and Aether Revolt

  1. It would be interesting to read an article on how Smuggler’s Copter and Emrakul, the Promised End could impact Modern and understand better their potential as speculation targets under a constructed-wise perspective.

    Thanks and regards,

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