Insider: Tales from the Buylist #4 – Legacy Foreshadowing, Modern Horizons

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After the insane price spikes of last year we're at a relative low point for many Reserved List cards, and nothing puts pressure on these items quite like the Legacy format. Classically, a high-profile Legacy tournament will cause movement across the board for cards like the Revised dual lands, Force of Will, and Wasteland.

Looking ahead to the near future, there are two important tournaments that will more than likely have an impact on the price Legacy. The first event, SCG Syracuse (March 1-3) will serve as a precursor event to GP Niagara Falls (April 19-21). With the combination of high-quality SCG coverage along with the revitalization of video coverage from Channel Fireball at Grand Prix Niagara Falls, we'll be seeing the first significant spotlight on the format since the 25th Anniversary Pro Tour.

We've had some fantastic articles recently that point at these possible upcoming price spikes, but I'd like to review and highlight a few more picks for the format in the wake of SCG Syracuse.

Pillars of the Format

It's difficult to talk about Legacy without first using this card as a baseline. Yes, it is legal in Vintage and Commander but the price of this card is largely determined by its omnipresence in Legacy. Funny enough, you can glean a lot of information about how healthy Legacy currently is from the market price of Force of Will. It will tell you the strength and popularity of the format as a whole, as well as the prominence of blue decks in the format.

Force has never truly received a large supply-boosting reprint unless you count the Eternal Masters version at mythic. Supply can very quickly dry up come tournament time, and many players will be looking to complete their playsets right up to the week before the event.

If you're in the market for these, I'd be looking to eBay or TCGplayer for deals, as the average retail price is sitting around the $90 mark. Many are speculating that this could be a marquee card in the newly announced Modern Horizons which would severely hurt the value of this card. The future is a bit uncertain with current information. However, I'm confident this card will continue to rise in price until we know more details about the set list.

The second pillar of the format is Wasteland. Legacy is one of the most powerful formats not only for the spells you can cast, but also for the lands you're allowed to play. As with Force of Will, I believe this card is a signpost for format demand.

The original dual lands from the ABUR sets are the premier targets for this card, though many strong utility lands such as Karakas and Cavern of Souls aren't bad either. Many strategies such as Death and Taxes and RUG Delver rely heavily on playing efficient threats accompanied by mana denial, in the form of Rishadan Port or Stifle respectively, in tandem with Wasteland. The card currently holds a large share of the metagame, and is trending upward despite its Eternal Masters reprint at rare.

ABUR Duals

All of the duals are high-priority pickups for most Legacy players, with Underground Sea and Volcanic Island being the most important duals in the format. It's no secret that Legacy is a blue-centric format. Being able to cast Brainstorm and Aerial Responder with the same land that you use for Thoughtseize or Pyroblast is crucial for many strategies.

The metagame at large has plenty of room for non-blue decks, but you can expect most players to be looking to blue decks as their first choice for premier level events. Underground Sea is the most expensive dual (expect to pay nearly $600 for a Near Mint copy) and will be the one to target first if you're looking to get into the format.

Tundra is currently the least expensive blue dual and is moving closer to the forefront of the metagame with UW DelverBlade, Stoneblade, and Miracles variants top-eighting more events. Even with the banning of Deathrite Shaman last year, Delver of Secrets // Delver of Secrets strategies are still the most popular in the format. UW decks are becoming exceedingly proficient at dealing with their usual suite of threats with tools like Swords to Plowshares, Terminus, and Council's Judgment in the main deck.

It is worth noting that Tundra is played in lower amounts compared to other two and three-color decks, as many of these strategies rely on Back to Basics to punish the rest of the format.

Namesake Strategies

I've been yammering on about the prominence of blue here, but perhaps the most prevalent combo strategy at the moment is Dark Depths. Cheating an indestructible, flying 20/20 into play and swinging for the kill on turn two turns out to be a potent strategy. Prices for this card are steadily rising, and I recommend getting in early.

We're not very far out from its recent reprint in Ultimate Masters at mythic, but these are at a low enough price point and supply to easily be bought out. Complements such as Crop Rotation, Sylvan Library, and Thespian's Stage could see slight upward movement.

One of the more prominently featured decks on SCG coverage this weekend was UB Death's Shadow. This deck was previously seen as a "budget" strategy, as the required Watery Grave playset will run a hell of a lot cheaper than even a single Underground Sea.

Josh Utter-Leyton's incredible performance at Pro Tour 25th Anniversary really showed off how powerful the deck can be against the metagame. The price of the original printing, as well as the Modern Masters 2017 version, have been creeping upward since then. Goes well with Street Wraith and Stubborn Denial, I hear.

Arclight Phoenix decks are a very non-budget strategy. These will run anywhere from five to eight duals including Underground Sea and Volcanic Island, making the base price of the deck pretty steep. Many entrenched players will be looking to acquire cards for Arclight Phoenix to try something new in Grixis colors.

Arclight strategies are currently looking like the best way to win in Modern, and I don't think it's too far off from doing the same in Legacy. Related items to watch alongside the success of this deck are foil copies of Cabal Therapy and Buried Alive.

Odds and Ends

Many people in the #mtgfinance sphere get asked the question, "what is a good place to park my money right now?" One of the most common answers I see recently to this question is dumping it all into as many copies of UMA format staples as possible.

Karakas and Ancient Tomb are by far my favorite reprints for this strategy. The price of these two lands in particular fell a lot further down than many had anticipated and they're likely to hit their price floor very soon if they haven't already. Normal copies of these cards are easily found around the $20 mark on TCGplayer, and are a fantastic pickup for future growth.

Bob has been seeing a huge resurgence in play in both Modern and Legacy. Playsets of this card are back in the Jund and BG decks of Modern. In Legacy, it finds in a home in Dark Depths, 4-Color Loam, and even Arclight Phoenix decks. Copies can be found around $50 between TCGplayer and eBay, but I expect that price to fully correct toward the $70 mark in the next few weeks.

Surgical just keeps climbing to new heights every week! With its supposed exclusion from Modern Horizons, this along with cards like Leyline of the Void, Extirpate, Grafdigger's Cage, and even Relic of Progenitus will be seeing a lot of pressure. Degenerate graveyard strategies in Modern have become so unbeatable in Game 1, it has driven many players to start mainboarding cards like Rest in Peace in UW control decks.

Save for Relic, all of these are frequent sideboard options in Legacy for graveyard hate post-board. Surgical Extraction is in a unique situation because of its Phyrexian casting cost, which has proven difficult to reprint in supplementary sets, but I would expect a new printing to come very soon. This could even happen as early as War of the Spark, though I won't be holding my breath.

In my opinion, Chalice is by far the most powerful card in Legacy right now. Artifacts that stop your opponents from playing spells, like Trinisphere, Sphere of Resistance, and Thorn of Amethyst are becoming more common winning strategies against a metagame dominated by fair blue decks.

Mono Red Prison is the most notable of these decks. A first-turn Blood Moon or Chalice of the Void can shut the door on most decks in the format if not immediately answered. This card was recently reprinted in Masters 25 last year which really tanked the price, but it's starting to recover and will easily reach the $60 mark in the coming months.

The last card I'd like to highlight is Preordain. It's not as ubiquitous as Aerial Responder or Brainstorm in Legacy, but is often used to supplement playsets of those cards in the combo decks of the format. This card is widely played not only in Legacy, but also Commander and most notably Pauper.

With paper Pauper events such as the recent MCQ at MagicFest LA getting off the ground, I expect this card to start mimicking the price trend that Serum Visions had before its first reprint in Conspiracy. Supply is dreadfully low in comparison the other cantrips I've listed here and is already at a shocking $5 from most retailers.

Its currently sitting on the Banned List in Modern, and I don't expect it to come off any time soon, considering how successful Storm and Arclight decks are right now. This will probably exclude it from reprint in Modern Horizons. What's more, I'm fairly certain this card will be dodging a reprint in the next few supplementary sets slated for release for the early part of the year until Commander 2019 rolls around in August.

Wrapping Up

Over the next few weeks I expect to see a lot of attention around Legacy from newer and returning players.

Modern Horizons is one of the most unprecedented products Wizards has cooked up, and predicting the long-term effects it will have on Legacy is difficult with the information we have. The newly spoiled Cabal Therapist we saw last week shows a willingness to experiment and pay homage to cards from Magic's past, and it's hard to say whether or not we'll get true reprints of cards like Force of Will into Modern.

If you're looking for good investments, I'd stray away from anything that could possibly be in that set. Cards that are currently doing well like Dark Confidant, Chalice of the Void, and Death's Shadow would be my primary targets. If you're looking for lower buy-ins, I think any of the rares I mentioned from Ultimate Masters will be safe bets. Keep your eyes on Preordain.

That does it for this week! You can follow me on Twitter @chroberry or Instagram @chroberrymtg if you want to see extra goodies and spoilers for next week’s article. Feel free to let me know how you feel about my targets here in the comments, or if there’s anything you think I missed!


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