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Arclight Phoenix Breaks Out in Modern
Arclight Phoenix has a new notch under its belt after winning the Magic Online Modern Challenge last weekend. It’s not a huge Grand Prix or even an online Pro Tour Qualifier, but it’s competitive. What’s more important is that the news has been more widely publicized by content creators and figures in the community, which made it the hot Modern topic of the week.
The online market has already made a big reaction, and the price of Goblin Lore tripled. Manamorphose, another staple, grew by about 50%. More surprising is the more than doubling in price of Copperline Gorge, which is just used in the deck for sideboard Ancient Grudge. This all points to a bunch of new players picking up the deck to play, although I am sure some speculators are involved too.
As far as its paper impact, there really isn't a lot of room for paper cards to spike since most are already well-known quantities. The deck has a few inclusions that don’t see much if any play in Modern—Gut Shot and Fiery Temper—but those are cheap commons.
It seems like the best way to bet on the deck would be to buy in on foils. These have some potential to spike, and are solid long-term holds if the deck becomes a mainstay.
Another potential card is Shrine of Burning Rage, which is used in the sideboard.
Tangentially related to the Arclight Phoenix deck’s success is Thing in the Ice, which is commonly used in the Izzet version. It had been steadily growing all month, up to $8 from $6, but this week spiked to $12. There's no card specific to this deck I'd recommend targeting, but know that Fiery Temper is a staple of both, so it might be the best overall target.
The Standard metagame continues to evolve weeks after rotation, and it seems like everyone only has great things to say about it. That’s great news for a format that just a couple years ago was plagued by bannings and seemed to be on life support.
Happy Standard players means they are buying cards, and demand looks strong. A couple cards have showed some significant growth this week. Both Treasure Map and Niv-Mizzet, Parun grew from under $5 to over $6.
These cards have been appearing together lately in Jeskai Control, a trend started by Adrian Sullivan’s Grand Prix Milwaukee-winning decklist. Players are finally starting to wise up about how good these cards are, and they are starting to become popular online. Treasure Map and Niv-Mizzet, Parun are now also appearing together in Grixis, and they are both increasing in popularity apart.
The most successful Mono-Red deck online last weekend was a more midrange deck with four maindeck Treasure Map, and now there are some Izzet Drakes decks using Niv-Mizzet in the maindeck. I can imagine a world next year where Treasure Map, a highly-accessible artifact, is used in multiple different top decks and demands $10.
Niv-Mizzet, Parun is just getting started, and has two full years left. I never expected the card to demand a high price because it never looked like a four-of, but if it’s indeed more Torrential Gearhulk than Nezahal, Primal Tide, then it too could head towards $10 once Guilds of Ravnica is no longer drafted and supply starts to dry up.
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria quietly crept up almost 10% this week. Its market price is now at $50, and it's retailing at $55. Jeskai Control has firmly established itself as one of Standard’s best decks, and it’s only going to get better in two months when Ravnica Allegiance brings Hallowed Fountain. There's also the potential for great new Azorius cards. The set will also make Esper, and even Bant, serious contenders, so the planeswalker will have additional opportunities.
It’s truly one of the best cards in Standard in years, maybe since Jace, Vryn's Prodigy. This makes me believe its price could head towards the $100 that card once held. That’s probably a bit optimistic, since part of the reason for Jace's price was that Magic Origins was under-opened. But something like $70 for Teferi does not seem out of the question come spring, especially since the Modern- and Eternal-playable won’t crash on rotation.
Ultimate Masters Online Release Details
This week we received details about Ultimate Masters on Magic Online, where its impending release has already done a lot to suppress prices of reprinted cards. It will only be live for Limited events for two weeks, which is along the lines of past Masters releases. This is a short window. Much of the set's impact on prices will be from Treasure Chests, where all of the box toppers are being added, which will do a lot to increase supply.
This is compounded by Modern—and the market in general—being sluggish at this time of year. That said, the new Magic Online season starts right before the release, and I expect things to really pick up into the spring. The next few months could provide great opportunity to buy some cheap staples, whether for play or speculation.
Artists Boycott 2019 Grand Prix
The most poignant news of the week is that a group of Magic: the Gathering artists have banded together to boycott attending Grand Prix in 2019, due to worsening conditions at events over the past year. Hopefully some changes will be made and the issue resolved, but if not there could definitely be some financial repercussions.
As I see it, getting cards signed is something we now take for granted, since we have had such great access to artists at events over the years. If there is a day when artists at Grand Prix are a thing of the past, then signatures won’t be so easy to come by. At that point I assume they would start to hold a bit more value.
Last weekend was a Banned and Restricted announcement, and there were no changes. That makes it something of non-news, but we can rest easy knowing that there won’t be any new banned or unbanned cards to worry about until the next announcement on January 21st.
Looking to Next Week
Next Thursday the 6th is the date of the “major e-sports announcement” Hasbro teased at in an interview and announced in this article. They said it would be significant for the future of competitive Magic. What exactly that means is anyone’s guess, but you can be certain there will be some financial impact.
Keep your eyes peeled for that announcement. Afterwards no doubt we'll have plenty to say about it here at Quiet Speculation, so check back for all the details and analysis of what it means for the future.