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Insider: The Modern Metagame and the Market

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The Modern metagame has been in motion since the banning of Gitaxian Probe and Golgari-Grave Troll. Then we added Aether Revolt and the printing of Fatal Push, which may now be the single best removal spell in the format, ahead of even Lightning Bolt and Path to Exile. It’s format-defining to be sure, and it has brought about a black renaissance in Modern.

The changes are troublesome for creature decks like Infect and Death's Shadow Zoo, which lost an important card in Probe and now have more efficient removal to fight through. The pressure on creature decks is a boon to combo decks, which struggled to keep up with these aggressive strategies. Midrange and fair strategies also win as they finally have room to breathe with Dredge having been kicked down. There are some trends emerging in the metagame with real market implications, and today I’ll explain what’s happening.

The biggest story in Modern this week has actually been the “Cheerios” combo deck based around Puresteel Paladin and free equipment, which is suddenly mathematically viable because Aether Revolt brought us Sram, Senior Edificer, which functions identically to Puresteel Paladin in its ability to draw cards from equipment. In a goldfish situation, the deck is extremely fast, capable of winning the game on turn two, and early reports are that the deck is a very real force in Modern, and it’s already putting up results online and in paper.

It has meant big things for the prices of its cards, especially Retract and Puresteel Paladin. These have already spiked, and it’s unclear if they will grow further, but there are other cards to watch as well. Paradise Mantle has seen some very real gains on Magic Online, spiking to over a ticket after sitting below a tenth of a ticket for years. The price of the paper version has been suppressed since the Modern Masters reprinting, and I expect there will be nothing but upside in the future of the card unless it is reprinted or the Cheerios deck is banned, both of which I think are unlikely.


Sigil of Distinction can be cast for free and is thus a great inclusion in the Cheerios deck, and its paper price has approximately doubled from $0.4 to $0.7, and I have to imagine it’s headed for $1 or more when Cheerios becomes popular.


Mox Opal is also a key part of the Cheerios deck, and it has seen some small gains. It’s also part of Affinity, which has been the best performing fast creature deck in a world without Gitaxian Probe. It’s also seeing an increase because it was slightly suppressed before because of its potential to be banned last announcement. It’s on the Modern short list, and now that it’s part of a new combo deck it might more likely to be banned now than ever, so I’d tread cautiously.


Many of the market changes revolve around black and Fatal Push, like the spike of Esper Charm after a Fatal Push-wielding Esper Control deck finished in ninth place of the 230-plus player SCG Modern Classic.


Countersquall has risen to unlikely heights on the back of Grixis Control, now sitting at $7. Corey Burkhart has won with the deck for the past year, highlighted by winning the Modern MOCS a couple events ago. Now, the deck has access to Fatal Push and is likely to become a tier-one competitor.


The banning of Golgari-Grave Troll has meant people are cutting back on graveyard hate, and it has created an opening for Goryo's Vengeance decks in the metagame. They have performed very well at the last two SCG Modern Classics, finishing third in Columbus and winning in Richmond, and the prices of the deck's staples have seen an increase online. Besides its namesake, Worldspine Wurm is also on the move, and I’d pay attention to Through the Breach as well.


Another great graveyard interaction is the new Renegade Rallier and Saffi Eriksdotter, which can go infinite with a sacrifice outlet like Viscera Seer to scry through the deck. The price of Saffi Eriksdotter has seen a huge spike already as the combo is adopted into the Abzan Company deck, but I’d pay attention to the archetype and target its cards in general. A card with big potential is Voice of Resurgence, which has become very attractive as a way to generate value against Fatal Push.


The push back against Fatal Push has already started, and there is specifically a renewed interest in more expensive threats that avoid it. Thragtusk has been discussed as one of the best five-mana creatures that is strong in general against midrange and control decks. The price spiked online after the bannings before falling back to pre-spike levels, but in the lasts few days it is back on the rise. The paper price has been stagnant for a year and a half, and it’s due to start rising if it sees more Modern play.


The germ token of Batterskull can be destroyed by Fatal Push, but overall it’s a very robust card that over the long game will beat any amount of removal. It’s also a great tool for control decks that might be using Fatal Push, which could explain its steady rise on MTGO. I’d pay attention to paper copies, which were suppressed after a Grand Prix promo printing a few years ago.


There is also renewed interest in alternative combo decks. The banning of Summer Bloom knocked down the Amulet of Vigor archetype, but it has survived as a rogue deck that could return to the metagame in a world without the fastest aggressive decks. Online, Azusa, Lost but Seeking is now the highest it has been since the banning, and the paper price began increasing this month after months of decline.


Keep Temporal Trespass on your radar, It has been increasing all month on MTGO and in paper, where it hit $3 after being $1.50 on New Year’s Day. The Takin’ Turns Modern deck cracked into the top 16 of the SCG Modern Classic in Richmond last weekend, so there’s some proof the deck has become competitive, and any of its staples could be due for a rise.


Breaking // Entering combines with Aether Revolt’s Expertise cycle, which can cast both halves of split cards for free. Its paper price continues to rise, and has now hit $2 with an upward trajectory.

What do you make of the Modern metagame and its market implications? Leave a comment below!

--Adam

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