Insider: New Metagame Modern Picks

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Modern may not technically be considered an eternal format but it shares a lot of common elements with Legacy and Vintage. In particular, Modern is a "big" format with a ton of sets that are legal at any given time. Secondly, Modern is a non-rotating format where the sets that are legal stay legal forever. Wait...? Why isn't Modern considered an eternal format again?

Well, I suppose the answer to the question is that everything isn't technically legal dating all the way back to the olden-day sets.

Another factor that Modern shares with the eternal formats is that it often takes long periods of time in order for the metagame to really settle in and become established. There are a number of factors that help this to be the case. The largest of which is that Modern hasn't had Pro Tour play in years. Nonetheless, Modern is a format where, when bannings or new printings occur, it takes an extended period of time for the effects of those changes to be fully understood.

Modern has seen a steady stream of bannings over the past few years that culminated in Gitaxian Probe and Golgari Grave-Troll being shown to the door. In addition to these major changes from the banning side of the coin, Modern has also been dramatically affected by new printings in the past year—in particular, the printing of my first pick, Fatal Push.

Fatal Push is a card that just keeps picking up steam when it comes to value. The reason is obvious: the card is absurdly versatile and among the best removal spells ever printed by every metric imaginable. The card is a staple in every Standard deck playing black and will remain so until it rotates. In addition to being a staple of every deck playing black, the fact that the card is so absurdly good ensures that black will remain one of the best colors for its entire stay in Standard.

Let's talk about Fatal Push in Modern. I don't think it's any surprise that the printing of a one-CMC removal spell that's as close to non-conditional as possible is a huge deal in Modern, where mana constraints are so important. The difference between one and two mana in Modern is similar to the difference between two and four in Standard. It's a big deal.

While there are other one-mana removal spells available, notably Path to Exile and Lightning Bolt, Fatal Push is just more efficient, effective, and a cleaner answer to more cards that routinely see play in the format. For this reason, I believe the demand for Fatal Push will remain high and the demand will only grow as the weeks continue to go by.

Now, there is certainly the potential for Fatal Push to see reprints in subsequent Modern Masters and/or precon-style decks, so the ceiling isn't infinite like it might have been in the olden days. However, with that being said I suggest that people who pick up this card will see gains before we ever see potential for a price drop.

Tasigur is another card that has been seeing more and more play in Modern these days. Being legendary makes the card less played than the omnipresent Gurmag Angler (which I also think is a great common spec) but its stock is still on the rise.

Tasigur benefits greatly from the printing of Fatal Push. Firstly, black became a much better color now that it has a great one-mana removal spell. Secondly, Death's Shadow decks that abuse delve and are hyper-efficient in their own right have risen to the top tier of Modern.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, because of its six-mana cost Tasigur is 100% immune to being pushed. I would argue that Modern-playable creatures that resist Fatal Push are among the best positioned cards in Modern, and a great place to look for investment opportunities.

Speaking of un-pushable...

Death's Shadow is the format-defining deck of Modern at the moment. The deck is so good that I believe its presence will continue to refine the metagame in the coming months. Death's Shadow is the kind of "best deck" that makes players serious reconsider playing other decks in Modern because it is so predatory against such a large chuck of the field.

What does this have to do with Reality Smasher?

Well, the answer is that decks like Bant Eldrazi and Eldrazi Tron are among the few Modern options that tend to have an actively good matchup against Grixis Shadow because the axis they fight on is inherently strong against what Shadow is trying to accomplish.

With that in mind, while I think that Death's Shadow cards are going to be a good investment, the natural foil to Shadow—Eldrazi—will also consist of worthwhile pickups.

Eldrazi Temple is such a unique card that I feel it is almost risky to add to a speculation list. With that being said, it is a very important card in the Modern metagame.

I know that I'm venturing into the land of "hot takes" here, but if you asked me what the single most important card in Modern was right now, I'd be hard-pressed to find one more impactful than Eldrazi Temple.

None of these Eldrazi decks are playable without Temple. Drawing it is the difference between quietly losing and easily smashing your opponent. Eldrazi Temple is a land that casts Rampant Growth when you put it onto the battlefield, but puts the land into play untapped. It is worth two cards, and virtually casts the second spell for free!

Right now Temple is over $10 but as the new metagame continues to unfold I could easily see it being much higher. The inclusion of Eldrazi Temple in Modern Masters 2015 certainly hurt the value of the card by creating more availability and access. However, the lull caused by MM2 might also be a boon to the savvy collector by creating lower buy-in prices and greater opportunity for gains down the road.

If Eldrazi Tron and/or other Eldrazi options continue to be one of the premier options in Modern, it stands to reason the card will gain in value. And if you want my honest opinion, I believe this is 100% true. I haven't played a non-Eldrazi-based deck in Modern in six months since I gave up on Collected Company decks.

One last Eldrazi pick: Endbringer. The biggest upside of betting on Endbringer is that the opportunity cost is nearly zero. It's essentially a bulk rare that sees play in a Tier 1 Modern, Legacy, and even Vintage strategies.

The card does have an awful foil promo version with terrible artwork that dilutes the value somewhat. With that being said, I think that buying and holding onto some regular non-promo copies will likely yield rewards down the road. The card is gas.

Forget Lightning Bolt, the actual reason to play red is Anger of the Gods!

The card has already seen some significant gains but I believe there is further opportunity for growth, especially if the card isn't reprinted in the near future (isn't that the truth with most good picks?).

Anger of the Gods may not be directly good against Eldrazi or Death's Shadow but it is an important piece of the metagame puzzle nonetheless, because it deals a devastating blow to all of the decks that try and "go wide" against the Tier 1 strategies.

I was making a joke the other day about a Modern Top 8 where I said that every deck in the Top 8 either played Anger of the Gods or folded to it! The obvious exception being Eldrazi.

One of the reasons I predict that Modern is condensing into a Shadow vs. Eldrazi metagame is actually that Anger of the Gods is so effective at putting down "go wide" decks.

For the amount of play that Anger actually sees I think it could easily continue to see more gains in the coming weeks.

It is also significant that Anger of the Gods can be slotted into any deck playing red that wants to punish "go wide" decks. Control decks like Jeskai. Ramp decks like Valakut. Shadow. I've even been angered by Burn decks! It's just a great answer to a large chunk of the metagame.

My last pick is a card that I believe is well postioned against the two best decks in Modern, Eldrazi and Death's Shadow:

Verdict is an extremly unique and powerful Magic card and a good one to boot!

The UW Control decks also tend to be a decent choice in the current metagame. These decks may not be as inherently powerful as Shadow or Eldrazi---but what they lack in overall power level they make up for by virtue of having inherently strong matchups against a large percentage of the winner's metagame.

I don't know if Azorius Control or Jeskai Control has enough gas to keep up pace with the ebbs and flows of Modern, but it is certainly an archetype that people like, and one that can spike some events.

Popularity and potential for finishes are a combination that can really drive prices up: Cryptic Command, Snapcaster Mage, and Vendilion Clique aren't perennial stock winners for no good reason. These are cards that people play and that can perform in nearly any Modern metagame. These are "long-term holds" that tend to rise over time but have high starting price tags, which makes me wary of investing in them.

I like to invest in cards with smaller starting price points so I can make more investments that have high potential to make gains over time.

Modern is taking shape as a pretty interesting format that I'm becoming more and more interested in exploring. As I learn more about the post-Fatal Push metagame I'll make my thoughts known, but for now understanding the first level is still a pretty good place to be!

One thought on “Insider: New Metagame Modern Picks

  1. I enjoyed the article. The one point you didn’t mention with regards to Fatal Push spec’s are creatures who provide a bonus regardless of whether they are Fatal Pushed like Snapcaster, kitchen finks, and Eternal Witness.

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