Insider: How the Emergent Meta Is Shaping Modern Prices

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We talk finance here on QS, but sometimes we talk a little bit of game theory too. Obviously, there is a lot to take in when it comes to Modern prices right now.

Clearly, Modern Masters 2017 has had a profound effect on shaping the new financial landscape of Modern prices. The short and quick of it is that if it was in Modern Masters 2017, chances are the card lost some value. On the other side of the coin, if the card wasn't in Modern Masters 2017, chances are the price has already ticked up some amount and will likely continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

However, it is such a cheap and lazy tactic to assume that everything going in with Modern finance revolves around MM17. Yes, the set has serious gravity when it comes to changing the market—however, MM17 isn't the only game in town.

You may or may not be aware, but the Modern metagame has shifted considerably over the past month and a half. The bannings of Gitaxian Probe and Golgari Grave-Troll have apparently opened up new space for other decks to thrive.

It makes a lot of sense; the two decks most notably impacted by the last B&R announcement were Dredge and Infect, which were two of the most popular decks in the format and tended to have very polarizing matchups. If you know Dredge and Infect are the best decks in the format, it makes a lot of sense that people wouldn't want to play strategies that were soft to them. It also makes a lot of sense that decks that were actively good against Infect or Dredge became notably worse without those popular decks to prey upon.

Change is constant. Decks are popular... Cards get banned... Everything changes.

So, let's think about what we know about the new metagame and see if we can't find a couple of really nice picks.

All Hail King Shadow

We can have a nuanced debate about the ins and outs of what is "actually" good in Modern right now, but the consensus opinion seems to be that Death's Shadow of various shapes and sizes is the premier Tier 1 Modern strategy. We're even seeing a revival of Delver of Secrets in concert with Shadow in Sultai.

The printing of Fatal Push has really gone a long way to further this archetype. Fatal Push is a format-defining Modern card. New decks will come, old decks will fail, but Fatal Push is going to be with us as a staple until the end.

There is a great chance that we don't see a Fatal Push reprint for a long time, since it was just printed in Aether Revolt. I really like picking up Fatal Pushes now because it is likely (sans a fast reprint) that the card is near its bottom-basement price.

It is also worth noting that Fatal Push isn't a particularly good Commander card. Since Commander is about killing giant monsters and not turn one-to-three interactions. That makes me think there's less of a chance of seeing it in a Commander deck, which could easily mean years before it makes it into a Masters product.

I mentioned Delver of Secrets earlier and that could also be a spicy pickup card:

There was an error retrieving a chart for Delver of Secrets

Delver is a straight-up great card. It kind of got pushed out of Modern for a while because of the Dredge and Infect environment, but with Fatal Push by its side—well, the sky could be the limit. It also doesn't hurt matters that Delver has yet to see a reprint.

We've already seen some tremendous spikes in Death's Shadow staple commons that did not appear in MM17. While Sultai and Grixis Delver versions of the Shadow deck are not currently the most popular, there is certainly a chance that the archetype moves up in the world in the coming months. The blue versions are much better against the fast combo decks like Storm and Ad Nauseam since they can interact on the stack and don't auto-lose to Leyline of Sanctity.

They are not terribly expensive right now, which makes them a perfect "throw-in" option. I love taking chances on cards like these when they look well positioned because its hard to lose, even if you don't spike it.

Traverse is a card I've already mentioned before that I think a lot of people are sleeping on. Now it officially has a Modern home: Jund Shadow. It is an exceptionally efficient and powerful spell that does something Wizards has typically tried to avoid: tutoring. I would be shocked if in the long term Traverse the Ulvenwald didn't end up being one of the higher-ticket cards from Shadows over Innistrad block.

It also has tons of other applications outside of Modern. For one in Commander, and I even see it as having a high enough power level that it isn't out of consideration for Legacy or Vintage.

I've been stocking up on these. I think it is a wise, wise pick.

Mucho Gusto Bant Eldrazis

I've really taken up the mantle of the Bant Eldrazi. I had to learn it for GP San Antonio for the Modern Unified event and I've been really impressed. I would feel comfortable saying it is one of the best decks in Modern. Eldrazi Temple is nothing to joke about...

Eldrazi Temple is easily one of the most busted cards legal in Modern. I've said it a hundred times: an Ancient Tomb land is unfair in Legacy, more so in Modern. It simply facilitates all kinds of downhill things happening to an unsuspecting opponent way before they are ready for it.

The deck is also pretty good against the various Shadow decks because it can attack and block and deal a giant chunk of damage at once. I anticipate that Eldrazi are going to become more popular just because of how good the deck is right now.

Eldrazi may also see an uptick in Modern play because it's a great choice for the Team GP format. Outside of Path to Exile, it doesn't have a lot of overlap with cards from other decks.

I wouldn't be surprised if a very high percentage of Unified Teams take a Bant Eldrazi along for the ride! I wouldn't blame them; I'm doing the same thing, after all, and think it is a great decision.

Reality Smasher is another puzzling card to me. It is basically approaching junk rare but the card is a Vintage, Legacy, and Modern four-of staple. What gives? I'm inclined to believe that people are just being a little short-sighted on properly assessing the card in the long run.

I'm very happy to be picking these puppies up every chance that I get. It isn't like I won't be able to get out of them at a couple of bucks a pop somewhere down the line if the stars don't align.

Honestly, I have a good feeling that Reality Smasher has already hit bottom and will continue to creep up. I'm actually thinking that the my assumption of the deck as a popular pick and strong performer at GP San Antonio could be the first step of the card making some nice gains.

It is also worth pointing out that Stirrings spiked really hard last week. I see it as a realization that it is one of the more busted cards in the format and fits into a wide range of decks: Tron, Eldrazi, and Lantern. It could also find a home in other new brews, like Affinity or 8-Rack.

I think the Stirrings surge is a good reason to be looking at other unreprinted commons like Delver. Just something to note and keep in mind.

Collecting Collected Companys

The other major archetype that has been on the upward swing in the emergent metagame are various Collected Company decks. There are a lot of flavors but the lynch pin is CoCo itself.

Collected Company is probably a good place to start. It is an absurdly powerful Magic card and I cannot foresee a set of circumstances where it isn't a great deck in the format. Probably a card worth looking into.

I also think that the various CoCo decks have other opportunities worth exploring. In particular, the Bant Spirits and Bant Knightfall versions of the deck. Knight itself is an intriguing pick:

It's a really good card and hasn't seen a reprint in a while. The overall value of the card has tanked over time because of reprints and less constructed play. Nonetheless, it is a powerful card. It could also find its way into a Naya Boom // Bust style LD deck somewhere down the road. I like picking up great cards while they are cheap.


So, those are the three decks that have made the biggest meta leaps so far in the wake of the Gitaxian Probe and Golgari Grave-Troll bans. I think they are a great place to start looking for some good value. Everybody is fumbling around still trying to make predictions about MM17-related changes. They might be, perhaps, ignoring the obvious about which decks are making a bid to dominate Modern.

2 thoughts on “Insider: How the Emergent Meta Is Shaping Modern Prices

  1. I believe I remember you writing something about Reality Smasher a year ago that said something to the effect of “In what Smashed Reality is this a $4 card?” I agreed, and bought in. A year later its still a $4 card. I’m wondering if we need to look for other reasons why this and other Eldrazi haven’t begun to increase yet. Is this about supply? People playing pet modern decks and not wanting to accept their Eldrazi Overlords? Still grossed out by Eldrazi winter? Think with me! I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts on this.

    1. OGW Eldrazi are still relatively new, they are only a year old and still in Standard. I think their potential is long term, they might even fall after rotation, but as time passes and new players seek them, whether for Modern or casual, they will only have room to rise, and I don’t see them being easy to reprint.

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