I expect this weekend to be an important one for the Modern format. In particular, I am referring to Grand Prix San Antonio. There are a couple of reasons I'm predicting this weekend will be a big game.
First of all, it is one of the first really big, exciting Modern tournaments since the banning of Gitaxian Probe and Golgari Grave-Troll. Sure, there have been some events leading up to this—but this feels like the real rubber stamp on the new metagame. We've had some Opens and some events to learn about the new Modern metagame, but this is the event that is really going to lock it into stone.
We are about to get a glance at what the format will look like moving forward—I'll get to that in a minute, because I have thoughts about it.
Secondly, we are sort of sitting on a Modern bubble right now on the heels of MM17. People are consuming cards and waiting to see what happens next. Grand Prix San Antonio is a catalyst for change and, based on the success of various cards and decks, I expect that we will see some serious Modern movement this weekend.
Last but not least, this weekend's Grand Prix is also unique in that it is a Team Unified tournament. Team Unified means that players form teams of three individuals and must share a cardpool where no cards can overlap between decks. So, if player one has Lightning Bolt in his or her deck, the other two players are not allowed to also use Lightning Bolt.
I also think that viewers and fans enjoy the team events for a number of reasons. First, they are more fun. There is something special about watching a group of players work together toward a common goal. It's inspiring. It makes you feel good. Secondly, I think people enjoy playing in team events themselves, and will be looking to the results to inform their own deck choices.
Based on the time that's elapsed since the bannings, MM17, the overall interest in the format, and the uniqueness of a Team Unified GP, there is high potential for Modern this weekend. I think we should be expecting card prices to make some gains over the weekend.
Decks to Watch
The first thing that we should account for is that Grand Prix San Antonio is a team event, which means that we will see more different types of decks than usual. When we watch a feature match on camera, instead of just one vs. one, the format is three vs. three. That means more decks every single time!
The best place to look for value are decks that wouldn't typically see as much coverage but which, because of the team format, find themselves well positioned. The fact that none of the decks can overlap creates an interesting situation where viable decks that use mostly unique sets of cards are much, much better positioned than normal.
These decks may not be the new Tier I of Modern. But there is a good chance that they get some serious hype and love in coverage at the team GP, so they are places you might consider looking for some new value.
I've touched on Bant Eldrazi in my last few articles. There is a reason I keep coming back to it over and over again. I seriously believe it is a good place to look for upcoming value.
First of all, from the perspective of somebody who jumped on the deck late and who has learned to play it—the deck is Tier I. The deck is way better than I gave it credit for. It has a lot of play, even in matchups where I wouldn't have expected it.
With that being said, Bant Eldrazi doesn't see a ton of overlap with many other decks in Modern because it is largely Eldrazi-based. That is going to make it a popular choice among trios next weekend. The deck is the perfect storm: Tier I and doesn't overlap with other decks!
Reality Smasher is poised for an uptick at some point. The card is hanging around the bulk bin and is a format staple in Modern, Legacy, and Vintage! There is no way that trend can hold steady forever.
Drowner of Hope is actually a bulk rare right now. I don't understand it. How is a card that is a staple four-of in Modern basically worthless? Give it time, and that will change. I love picking these out of the random quarter box or taking a playset of them from somebody in a trade.
In general, I think that the Eldrazi are an interesting investment opportunity because they hit a lot of different markets. Obviously, they are good in constructed formats all the way back to Vintage, which is enticing. However, they also have flavor and casual appeal as well. They are Eldrazi and they are unique from a flavor point of view.
If a card is in the Bant Eldrazi deck, I think you could do a lot worse than to consider investing into it.
Another deck that I think is poised to have a big weekend is Ad Nauseam.
Ad Nauseam is a weird deck that's much better than most people give it credit for. It recently won a Modern Open. It is also a fact that the deck overlaps almost zero cards from any other popular or Tier I strategy, which makes it a perfect choice to include in a Modern Unified gauntlet.
There are also weird older cards in the deck that could be nice investment cards. Phyrexian Unlife feels like a good little card to hold and grow over time. It isn't exactly the easiest or most common card to track down, and still has a pretty reasonable price tag.
Living End is another interesting trio choice because it doesn't overlap much from other decks. As with Ad Nauseam, I also think players typically undervalue its competitive strengths. It's pretty consistent and can attack from a variety of angles. I love that it's secretly a land destruction deck disguised as a combo deck.
To begin with, the namesake card is a good choice. This card has never been reprinted, so you might think it's due—but the weird mechanic also severely restricts where it could appear. Unless they find a place for this strange suspend spell in a casual or supplemental product, I see it going up over time.
Not specifically a Living End card, but more of a generally great sideboard staple, Fulminator Mage is primed to gain ground in Modern.
First of all, it is great against a wide range of decks. I mean, who doesn't want to have a way of interacting with Eldrazi Temple or Urza's Tower in their sideboard? It appears in a high percentage of decks featuring black and/or red mana. Chances are that if you can cast Fulminator Mage, you should be playing it. It's just that good.
Looking to San Antonio
I'm excited to see how San Antonio shakes out and the resulting price changes. I think the stars are right and people are going to be really tuned into coverage.
Team events are great. Modern is great. People are excited to see where the format is heading and to take the next step forward into a brave new metagame. Stay ahead of the pack and try to be thinking about what they are going to learn and what they are going to want to buy next!